17th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S. Rosevear) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– In view of the quality of the motor spirit that is being retailed in Australia, will the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs consider a reduction of the price that is charged for it?
– On behalf of the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs, I assure the honorable member that the fullest consideration will be given to his request.
-I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether, as has been published, the recommendation of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions that food ships should be sent to Indonesia cannot become effective until it has been endorsed by the majority of State labour councils in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart. If so, will this mean further protracted delay in the despatch of these ships to Indonesia? Can the honorable gentleman state what action the Government is taking to speed a decision ?
– A decision is not being delayed by reason of the fact mentioned by the honorable gentleman. Work may proceed on these vessels when those responsible for their loading are ready to discharge their obligation. The recommendation of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions furnishes proof that that body is in favour of the continuance of loading operations and is opposed to any hold-up. If there is any failure on the part of the bodies affiliated with the council to give effect to its recommendations, it maybe necessary for the Trades and Labour Councils to enforce the decision. I expect to meet some of the officers on Monday. When I return to Canberra next week, I may be in a position to advise the honorable gentleman further.
– Has the AttorneyGeneral noted the statement of the general secretary of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions, Mr. Monk, that the Communist party was endeavouring to get an observer on board the trial relief ship which it is proposed to send to Java, and that this observer would report on the general situation in Java rather than on the distribution of food? If so, will the Attorney-General inform the House what action, if any, the Government intends to take to put an end to the ban on the loading and despatch of relief ships, and does he propose to take any action against Communists responsible for the hold-up?
– This matter has recently been debated in the House, and in my statement on Wednesday I referred to the Indonesian position generally. The Government is doing its utmost in a very difficult situation. As for an observer, negotiations are pending-
– With the Communists?
– No, with the Australasian Council of Trade Unions, and I hope that an early agreement will be reached. The Government is not prepared to allow any outside body, whether it be the Communist party or the Country party or the Graziers Association to dictate to it as to who shall be appointed to observe conditions in another country.
– Can the Minister repre senting the Minister for Health inform me whether the legislation providing for free hospital treatment is yet in operation in all the States? If not, will he say in what States it is being operated, and the reasons for failure to operate it in other States?
– The Commonwealth Hospitals Benefit Act is already in operation, and its provisions are being applied in five States. New South Wales is the only State which has not yet passed the necessary legislation, although hospitals in that State have been accepted as registered bodies under the scheme. I do not think that the failure of the Government of New South Wales to introduce the necessary legislation is due to any hostility to the proposal. The State Parliament has been very busy, and the hospitals benefit legislation has not yet .been dealt with. In the other States benefits have already been received by many people.
– When the Minister for Health introduced the bill providing benefits for sufferers from tuberculosis, he said that the Government intended to make cash allowances to sufferers for the support of their families. “When will such benefits become effective? ,
– The Tuberculosis Act provides ‘that an amount of money shall be allotted to the State® by the Commonwealth for diagnosis, radiology, ,&c, and it is also provided that, while a patient is in hospital or receiving treatment at .a clinic, a living allowance shall be paid to his family. The scheme is to be administered by the States, although the money is provided by the Commonwealth. I cannot say how many persons have yet applied for relief under the proposal, or just what the States have done in the matter, but I shall make inquiries of the Minister for Health, and I shall then be in a position to give more detailed information.
– Is the Minister for External Affairs able to make a statement to the House about relations between Russia and Persia? Is it not a fact that the policy being pursued by Russia is similar to that applied by Germany before the outbreak of war in 1939 ?
– Order ! The honorable member may not ask the Minister to debate that subject.
– Then, I ask the right honorable gentleman whether the initiative has been taken by the Government to convene .a meeting of the Security Council of the United .Nations to deal with the dispute?
– I think the honorable gentleman’s desire, with which I sympathize, is that we debate this important matter. We shall have the opportunity to do so next week. I am not certain that the dispute in relation to Persia will go before the Security Council, of which
Australia is a member. I hope it does in order that the whole matter may be investigated and the facts fully inquired into and made known. I think the rest of the honorable gentleman’s question should be deferred until we resume the debate on international affairs next week.
Rutherford District: Purchase oi? Homes.
– Is the Minister for Works and Housing aware that in the Newcastle-Maitland district about 500 people cannot get work because they are not tradesmen? Is he further aware that if more houses were built adjacent to the Rutherford factory for the accommodation of key men the necessary machinery could be transferred to that factory to give employment to another 1,000 men and women? Since key men will not go there because they cannot obtain housing nearby, will the Minister take steps to ensure the erection of at least a dozen houses near the factory to” accommodate them in order that their employment at the factory may provide work for the unemployed?
– I was not aware of all that the honorable member for Hunter has stated, but I will immediately place his request that houses be built in that area before the Housing Commission of New South Wales and urge that they be built.
Sir FREDERICK STEWART.Does the Prime Minister concur in the statement attributed to the PostmasterGeneral yesterday, that the purchase of a home was in the nature of a corrupt investment? Are we to take it that this declaration of policy by one of his Ministers, following the recent statement by another leading Minister that the Government was not prepared to encourage small capitalists to purchase homes, explains why the War Service Homes Commission, which has had applications for homes from 4,000 ex-servicemen in New South Wales, built only two homes during the eight months which ended on the 28th February last?
– No such statement by the Postmaster-General has been brought to my notice. If that mentioned by the honorable gentleman is contained in ‘ a press report, I should want to verify its accuracy by reference to the Postmaster-General. The Government has endeavoured to encourage home builders. In the agreement between the Commonwealth and the States, it has. made provision that the homes built under that scheme may be available, for purchase. In addition, a housing department has been established in the Commonwealth bank, for the purpose of encouraging home building. That institution has agreed to make extensive advances when required to co-operative societies throughout Australia, particularly in New South Wales, for the purpose of home building. The clearest evidence of the Government’s sincerity in regard to the building of homes is furnished by what it has already done. This matter may be debated later on the War Service Homes Bill which is now before the House.
Preference in Employment : Exclusion of British Soldier - University Studies.
– Has the AttorneyGeneral seen the report in the Sydney Morning Herald to-day wherein it is stated that “the Central Preference Board yesterday refused, preference to Major C. R. Stephan, a British army officer, on the grounds that the intention of the Re-establishment and Employment Act was that (preference under section 32 should be granted only in respect of service in relation to ‘ the war in which Australia was engaged, not to the war of the British Empire and her Allies’”? In view of the definition of “the war” in section 4 of the act, I ask the AttorneyGeneral whether he will examine the decision of the board in order that the Crown may appeal against its’ extraordinary interpretation of the definition? If that is not possible, will he bring down an amendment of the section so that it shall be impossible to read such a narrow meaning into it?
– The Central Preference Board has jurisdiction to include in the category of those entitled to preference in employment persons who in its opinion should be so included. It consists of five gentlemen, every one of whom is a returned soldier of the first World War, the second World War, or both. It is an administrative body to which the discretion has been committed under the statute. The view which this body has taken is that, having regard to the great number of men who have served Australia in this war, the plan of the statute is to give preference to those who, in substance, have served in the Australian forces, that preference being valid to them as against other Australians who have not served, or who may have served to a lesser extent. I shall do as the honorable member for New England suggested, but the matter seems one for the discretion of this board rather than for intervention by the executive, although it is a subject, of course, for discussion by the Parliament.
– It is largely a matter of policy as to reciprocity with other Dominions.
– -Order! The Attorney-Genera] is replying to a question by the honorable member for New England.
– The honorable member for Fawkner said that it is a matter for Government decision.
-Order! Will the Attorney-General assist the Chair by ignoring the interjection of the honorable member for Fawkner?
– I should like to answer it, because I consider that it is relevant.
– I rule that the Attorney-General may not answer it.
– I ask the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction whether it is a fact that because many servicemen have insufficient points to secure immediate discharge from the Forces, they will be denied ‘ the opportunity of enrolling for this year’s university courses? If this is so, will the Minister confer with the university authorities with the object of providing additional facilities to enable such service personnel to attend special classes to begin at a later period of the year?
– It is a fact that some servicemen, because they have insufficient points, will not be discharged until later in the year, and so will not be able to embark on university studies in the courses that begin generally during this m on th. I shall discuss with the university authorities whether arrangements can he made to provide special classes later in the year for such individuals.
– In view of the adverse climatic conditions affecting fruit, vegetables and crops generally in Tasmania, will the Prime Minister give consideration to a comprehensive scheme, in conjunction with the Tasmanian Government, to grant financial assistance to producers who have suffered losses as the result of those conditions?
– I am not familiar with the matter raised by the honorable member, but I shall arrange to have it examined.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn to Wednesday next, at 3 p.m.
– I consider that it is due to the House that the Chair should make some explanation of two very recent incidents. On numerous occasions I have pointed out that one of the most important privileges which members of this House possess is t o question Ministers at the commencement of each sitting. In asking those questions honorable members have to take t heir turn. When an honorable member asks a question, the Minister concerned has the option to reply or not to reply. But it is unfair to the honorable member who asks the question if another honorable member interjects, and diverts the Minister’s attention from his reply. I cannot keep questions in order unless I have the co-operation of Ministers, and I hope that, in future, I shall not have to repeat what I have said on previous occasions, namely, that when an honorable member asks a question, he is entitled to an answer to it, and it is totally unfair, and out of order, for another honorable member to interject when the Minister is replying. I also consider that it is entirely wrong for the Minister to take notice of the interjection.
The next matter which I desire to clarify is this: I have called two honor able members in succession from the Opposition side of the chamber. The honorable memberfor Wilmot (Mr. Guy), who had risen on a number of occasions, intimated to me that he desired to leave within five minutes, and I extended to him the courtesy of allowing him to ask a question ahead of his turn.
– In view of the inability of business men and the public generally to secure the installation of telephones, due, we understand, to the lack of equipment, will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General ask the Postmaster-General to take immediate steps to investigate the possibility of an Australian firm manufacturing the whole of the equipment, with financial assistance from the Government, if necessary? I have particularly in mind Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, which I consider is quite competent to manufacture the whole of the equipment required for telephone installations.
– I shall be happy to bring the question and the suggestions contained in it to the notice of the Postmaster-General and ask him to give immediate consideration to them.
Views of Sir Thomas Blamey
– Does the Prime Minister agree with the view expressed by Sir Thomas Blamey that the first step in the establishment of an adequate defence scheme for Australia should be the provision of a national register? Is any action of this description contemplated by the Government?
– The only move of that kind, at present proposed by the Government, is the taking of a general census. No other form of inquiry has been indicated so far. I do not consider that I should be asked whether I agree with Sir Thomas Blarney. In the past I have both agreed and disagreed with him.
– Will the Minister for the Army inform the House of the reasons for the delay in determining the action to be taken against Major Cousens, who is alleged to have made treasonable broadcasts from Tokyo during the war? Is anything being done to bring Major Cousens to trial? If not, what steps will be taken in relation to his case?
– I informed the House yesterday that this matter has been the subject of consultations between the Army legal authorities and the Commonwealth Crown Law Department. I am not yet in a position to say definitely what form of action will be taken, or when it will be taken. We do not desire to prejudge the case. I assure the honorable member that it is not being overlooked. I hope to make a statement in regard to it next week.
Proposed Appointment oi? Economists.
– I notice that the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction proposes to attach eleven more economists and professors to his department to give advice on economic policy, and that the advertisement inviting applications for these positions stipulates that applicants must hold university degree3: Whilst I agree that a university degree may be a desirable qualification, I ask the Minister whether he will not also agree that some practical experience of the affairs of life should be a main qualification of the persons to be appointed to these positions? Tf so, will the honorable gentleman widen the conditions to enable persons acting. as public accountants and as officials of the trade union movement to offer their services?
– The qualifications for appointment to the positions referred to by the honorable member have been decided in consultation with the appropriate body, the Public Service Board.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs examine the controls that are still operating in the Division of Import Procurement which are restraining trade between Australia and Great Britain? I have received a letter from a Melbourne importing firm which applied for a licence from the Division of Import Procurement. The matter had to be referred to Sydney, and a delay of several, months occurred. After the firm had sent many reminders, it was informed that it was not a base-year importer, consequently a licence could not be granted to it. Does it matter now whether or not a firm was an importer in 1939? Will not this decision .prohibit many servicemen from engaging in the importing business? Will the Minister examine the existing controls, with a view to removing those that are unnecessarily restrictive?
– The controls imposed by the Division of Import Procurement in connexion with imports from Great Britain were imposed after consultation and by agreement with the British Government, which desires that only a proportion of British production of certain lines shall be exported. If a limitation has been placed on imports for that reason, it is only fair that those firms which were engaged in such distribution before the war should be given a prior right to handle the imports that are allowed into Australia. I shall have the matter examined, with a view to determining whether any action may be taken to overcome the difficulty mentioned by the honorable gentleman.
– In view of the shortage of potatoes in Stales on the mainland, and the large quantities available in Tasmania, which are rapidly deteriorating in the ground because of delay in having them dug, will the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping state whether there is any possibility of shipping being diverted to Tasmanian ports to meet the present emergency ?
– A similar question was asked recently by the honorable member for Wilmot, and I replied that shipping for the coastal trade was very scarce at the present time. The service authorities have taken much of the coastal shipping in order to meet their requirements in the islands, and only very gradually is it again becoming available for the coastal trade. Frequently, repairs are necessary before vessels can be commissioned for that trade after they have been released by the service authorities, and these occupy considerable time. Everything possible is being done to ensure that all the shipping that can be made available shall be diverted to Tasmania to bring potatoes to the mainland. I assure the honorable member that the position is being watched continuously, and that nothing is being left undone to secure extra shipping for that purpose.
– Nine Lives having been lost and damage estimated at £3,000,000 having been caused by the floods in north Queensland, will the Prime Minister take up with the North Autralian Development Commission the matter of investigating the possibility of implementing the Bradfield plan, both as a water conservation measure and also as a means of preventing flood damage which occurs practically every year during the wet season in north Queensland ?
– I understand that the commission, in respect of which recommendations have been made by my colleague the Minister for the Interior, should be commencing its investigations at a fairly early date. I shall ask that the matter raised by the honorable member shall be considered.
– Will the Prime Minister state the present position in connexion with the payment of the war-time concession, the seamen’s war-risk bonus? Does the right honorable gentleman consider that, the war having been over for nearly seven months, there is now any justification for the continuance of this payment? Will he ensure that this burdon will be lifted from the shoulders of the taxpayers without further delay?
– This matter has been considered by the Government on several occasions. It was intended that some reduction of the war-risk bonus should be made; but the evidence disclosed by an examination of the position of seamen operating under the control of the United States of America and the United Kingdom indicated that* those countries had continued the war-risk bonus on a reduced scale. In view of the practice still being followed by other countries, it was represented to the Government that in Australian waters the war-risk bonus should be continued at a reduced amount compared with what it was during the early stages of the war, subject to examination and review from time to’ time. The decision has been made to permit the present bonus to continue, and to review it in three months time.
– In view of the marked success achieved directly as the result of the co-operation of Pacific countries through the establishment during the war of a Pacific War Council, with head-quarters in London and Washington, will the Minister for External Affairs consider taking the initiative to establish a Pacific council, such as is suggested in the provisions that have been made for regional areas in the United Nations Charter?
– The honorable gentleman lias mentioned one of the objectives of the Government. It is being pursued, mid we hope that some such body will come into existence in the near future.
Mi’. Falstein. - Are we taking the initiative?
– We cannot be accused of not taking the initiative. We have made certain suggestions in relation to the matter.
– Can the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction supplement his remarks of yesterday by stating the increase of incomes of primary producers in the various income groups?
– I am delighted to be able to place these figures before the House, because they show how much better off primary producers are under a Labour Government than they were under previous_governments. The figures are as follows : -
– Having regard to the figures placed before the House by the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs regarding the incomes of primary producers-
– Is the honorable member in order in asking a question based upon a question previously asked?
– When I hear the question I shall be able to give a ruling.
– Will the Minister give consideration to the payment of a dole to the meat producers of Victoria so that the people of Melbourne may be able to obtain fresh meat?
– -There seems to be nothing wrong with that question.
– I shall consider the matter.
– Are priorities for building materials, including galvanized iron and fibro, determined by the State or Commonwealth authorities? As the priority for primary producers is No. 4 on the list, no material is available for the construction of cow bails, barns, &c. Will the Minister take the matter up with the State authorities in order to ensure equitable distribution, especially since some seaside homes are being erected for people who already have other dwellings.
– I shall take the matter up with the department immediately, and see that it is attended to as quickly as possible.
– Has the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs seen a report which has been published in a wide section of the press to the effect that liberty ships are rusting in American harbours in large numbers? Will the Government take steps to obtain some of these ships to carry Australian cargoes which do not need refrigerated space?
– I have read some of the reports referred to. I shall discuss the matter with the Minister for .Supply and Shipping, who is probably more concerned than the Minister for Trade and Customs, and we shall see what can be done.
– Has the Minister for External Affairs seen a report in the Sunday Sun in which it was stated that Australia had refused to participate in talks now current in Washington regarding proposals by the United States of America to assume control of 25 islands in the Pacific at present owned by Britain and New Zealand ? If so, will he say why Australia refused to participate in the talks!
– The honorable member will understand why it is not advisable to state publicly the contents of confidential cables dealing with such matters. So far, there have been no talks on a ministerial level on this subject. The whole matter of bases in the Pacific will be discussed at the forthcoming conference in England which will be attended by the Prime Minister. For that reason, we are not participating in the talks now taking place in the United States of America.
– Oan the Prime Minister say whether the Government’s referendum proposals will be debated by Parliament before the Easter recess or after he himself returns from Great Britain.
– As soon as the necessary legislation has been prepared it will be brought before the House. I hope that it will be debated and passed through Parliament before Easter.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Supply aware that it is proposed to import 3,000,000 superficial feet of Port Orford cedar, and that, according to reports, all of it is to be allocated to New South “Wales? Will the Minister investigate the matter, and see that the timber is equitably distributed among the States?
– The importation of timber comes under the control of my department. I assure the honorable member that the department keeps a careful watch on supplies, and ensures a reasonable distribution to the various States according to their requirements.
Transport to Australia
– I understand that on Wednesday evening last a deputation representing members of the Air Force waited upon the Prime Minister urging him to expedite the bringing to Australia of the overseas wives of servicemen. Will he inform . the House what answer he gave to the deputation?
– I can add very little to what I told the House earlier a bout the efforts that had been made, first, by the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) in personal representations to the British Prime Minister, Mr. Attlee, secondly, by the then Acting High Commissioner, Mr. Duncan, and then by the Resident Minister in London, Mr. Beasley, to the Minister for War Transport, Mr. Barnes, and the Dominions Secretary, Lord Addison. Each of them pressed for the provision of as ‘much accommodation as possible. As I have already told the House, the Minister for War Transport waa not able to indicate what would be possible in the immediate future, but agreed to make every effort to provide additional accommodation. Since then, the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Frost), through myself, has made representations to the Government of the United Kingdom that consideration be given to shipping some of the brides to Canada or the United States of America, and transporting them by land to ports where they might obtain berths on American ships. I think Monterey, Mariposa and Matsonia were the vessels he had in mind. I was not able to tell the deputation that waited upon me any more than I told the House on the last occasion on which I spoke on this matter and the additional information that I have supplied this morning. Every effort is being made to transport the brides to Australia.
– I ask the Minister . for the Army why not much publicity has been associated with the campaign to recruit volunteers to relieve servicemen in the islands and on the mainland, too, who wish to return to civil life? Will he take steps to ensure that the , Army authorities shall institute a vigorous recruiting campaign in order that those men may be relieved as soon as possible?
– Many public statements have been made about the recruitment of men for the garrison forces and to relieve and reinf orce the Australian occupation forces in Japan. So far, the response has been satisfactory. If it should be thought necessary to take additional steps - I assume the honorable gentleman has in mind advertising, public meetings, broadcasts-
– Yes, as in previous recruiting campaigns’.
– Well, action will be taken along those lines if it should be deemed advisable. I can understand the honorable gentleman’s anxiety for as many recruits as possible to hasten the day when the men on the islands will be relieved.
Airlines Acquisition Litigation
– Can the Minister for Civil Aviation say whether airline companies have applied to the High Court for leave to appeal to the Privy Council against certain aspects Of the High Court’s decision on the validity of the Australian National Airlines Act ? If so, is it the intention of the Government to proceed with the appointment of a general manager of the Australian National Airlines Commission at. a salary of £3,000 a year and with the appointment of a secretary at a salary of £1,500, pending, that decision?
– It is correct that the airline companies have applied to the High Court for leave to appeal against its decision to the Privy Council. It is also true that the positions of manager and secretary to tho commission at the salaries stated by the right honorable gentleman have been advertised, and it is the intention of the Government to proceed with the appointments, as it believes that the High Court’s decision will be upheld.
Report of Mr. Justice Clyne
Debate resumed from the 14th March (vide page 349), on motion by Mr. Beasley -
That .the following paper be printed: - Australia First Movement Inquiry - Report of Commissioner (Mr. Justice Clyne) appointed under the National Security Regulations.
Upon which Mr. Fadden had moved by way of amendment -
That” all the words after ‘-‘That” be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - “ a commission be appointed, consisting of a justice of the High Court of Australia, a member of the Government and a member of the Opposition parties, as may be agreed upon, by the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and .the Leader of the Australian Country party, to investigate and assess the compensation, if any, which should be paid to the Australia First internees for .the loss of income and status in the community, which they unjustly suffered through their internment”.
, - Replying to the important debate that we have had on the report of Mr. Justice Clyne, I want to” say first that the Government has no complaints of any kind about the anxiety shown in this House from time to time whenever the principles of liberty and civil rights are involved. The matter of war-time restrictions, especially in relation to liberty, is one of supreme importance, and it is fortunate, in one way, that the governments that have been administering the war effort of this country have come, first, from one group of parties and, secondly, from the Labour party. I mean by that, that all parties have had experience of the practical difficulty .of conducting “war, ,and know that it is absolutely essential to put into the balance of our war effort some restraint upon liberty that would not be tolerated in time of peace. That is the way in which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) approached this matter in his speech yesterday. He said that it was not a party question, that mistakes might occur, or were practically bound to occur, in the administration of precautionary measures authorized under the laws of this country. In the first place, the legal authority for what was done was, as was well emphasized by the right honorable gentleman and by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), an act of Parliament, the National Security Act, passed not by the present Government but by its predecessor, and, at the time of the first detention of these men, the law in force, the regulations in force, the procedure in force, and the method of appeal in force - all were those laid clown by our predecessors. Whilst I pay tribute to several honorable members who have been throughout anxious about this matter, there were one or two speeches, especially that of the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison), so wide of the mark, so grotesque in their statements of the facts, and so unfair in their imputations that they should be commented upon. The honorable member for Wentworth was not one of those who showed any early anxiety for these men, whereas honorable members like the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), and the late honorable member for Bourke, Mr. Blackburn, the honorable member for Barker, and the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott), showed concern about this matter at a very early stage. I do not know that the honorable member for Wentworth, in his speech, which had neither beginning nor middle, and for a long time seemed to have no prospect of an end, did anything except put before’ the House statements given to him by interested persons. I must say that I think some of the speeches in criticism of this matter, which, made positive suggestions, were of great value and of great assistance, because we want to ensure that this matter shall be viewed in its proper light. Of course, it does not involve the Government in any way. Mr. Justice
Clyne, in his report, says most expressly - I need not quote the passage - that my colleague, the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde), when he had reports from trusted Army Intelligence officers that it was essential in the public interest to detain certain persons, in the course of the war against Japan, would have been recreant to his duty if he had not acted. As a matter of fact, the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony), on the 2nd September, 1942, is reported on page 55 of Hansard as having said -
I have no quarrel with the action of the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde), in the first place, in ordering the detention of these men.
– I repeated that last night.
– Yes, quite fairly. The honorable gentleman at that time, however, went on -
That was his obvious duty, in view of the Japanese menace to Australia.
The men were detained. I shall deal with the facts in a few minutes, in order to explain certain matters to the House. I have no desire to do more than discuss fairly the report of Mr. Justice Clyne from two aspects.
The administration of these difficult regulations was a matter of great anxiety to the Government. On the one hand, the supreme duty cast upon the Government was to make sure that no menace to the security of the country could arise from within while our armies were fighting the enemies from without and trying to keep them from our shores. That was our view. Yet, on the other hand, we were always anxious. When the matter came before me on my return from a mission to Washington and London in August or September, 1942, the administration was transferred from the Army to my department, simply because it was considered that many legal matters were involved. Earlier, we had established a Security Service in addition to Military Intelligence. The Security Service was under the direction, first, of Mr. Mackay, Commissioner of Police in New South Wales, and later Brigadier Simpson, who administered this section until the armistice. When I became Attorney-General, more than 7,000 persons - an enormous number - were interned in this country and it seemed to me that we could not rely merely upon the existing regulations to justify our saying, “ Oh, well, you have had your right of appeal. You have lost it, and, therefore, will remain in internment “. No, we took the view that as the war developed and this country became more secure against attack after the battles of the Coral Sea, Midway, and Milne Bay in 1942, we should continually review these cases. But a Minister cannot personally review all of the cases. Therefore, I caused to be established an aliens classification committee which consisted of the present Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell), Senator Cooper, Mr. Dovey, K.C., of Sydney, Mr. Barry, K.C., of Melbourne, and Mr. Cutler, who was one of the first of our troops to win the Victoria Cross in the Second World War. They kept a constant watch on this problem. Later, when Mr. Cutler was appointed to the Repatriation Commission, Mrs. Street replaced him on the tribunal. The committee worked unceasingly to ascertain whether cases should be reviewed. But this body did not devote its attention wholly to aliens; it also examined the cases of British subjects, and within less than two years the number of persons in internment was reduced from about 7,700 to between 600 or 700. I pay tribute to that committee, for its work.
I do not desire to say any more about the general question, except that honorable members on both sides of the chamber have been good enough in all these debates to acknowledge the anxiety which the Minister for the Army and I shared. The country came first, and if any person threatened its security we could not merely observe the ordinary peace-time processes of the law. I take my full share of the responsibility for that, and I am sure that the Minister for the Army takes his share. Our predecessors will also accept their share of the responsibility, because many hundreds, I suppose thousands, of people had been detained before Japan entered the war.
Our predecessors had instituted an appeals system. Persons detained were told that they had the right of appeal, and the appeal tribunals usually consisted of a judge and two assessors, or a distinguished lawyer and two assessors.
Those appeal tribunals were continually operating. When I reviewed the matter in August or September, 1942, I considered that certain defects in the organization, which had been pointed out in debates in this House, notably by the former member for Bourke, Mr. Blackburn, and the honorable member for Barker should be corrected. The regulations contained no provision requiring the tribunal to tell the person who had been detained what was really the essence of the charge against him. We amended the regulations to make that mandatory upon the tribunals. There was also enormous extortion, 5n some cases, of these unfortunate people, particularly aliens, who had been detained. Fantastic fees were being charged ; we limited them. We did everything possible to make the appeals system work more smoothly and quickly, and it did.
I have told the House some of the general results. I apologize for having done so, but that is the background against which honorable members’ must look at these particular cases. A few honorable members have kept these matters prominently before the House, and in doing so, they did their duty. I believe that they performed a public service. Several newspapers also have kept the matter before the public eye. Their motive in doing so does not matter. Their motive may be political or it may not ; but when civil liberty is endangered, and they consider that an injustice has been done, they have the right to ventilate the matter, particularly in war-time. That is the background of this problem. Later, other honorable members came into the picture. For instance, the Leader of the Opposition moved the adjournment of the House in 1944 and selected a particular case which, he said, “was one of grave injustice. I shall not mention the name of the person concerned, because I do not desire to cause any distress unnecessarily by what I have to say. The Leader of the Opposition stated that all that was proved against this particular person was that he once purchased a copy of the Publicist or paid a subscription to that journal. But Mr. Justice Clyne devoted two-thirds of a page of his report to this case. Much more was involved than the right honorable gentleman stated, and Mr. Justice Clyne said that this . man had been not only properly arrested in the first instance, but also properly detained. So much confusion has been introduced into this matter as the result of honorable members directing attention to individual cases. An honorable member cannot possibly know all the facts. He has not got the files, and cannot be familiar with all the evidence. The inquiry conducted by Mr. Justice Clyne occupied fourteen months. In 1944, the Leader of the Opposition devoted most of his speech to the case of a person who, Mr. Justice Clyne found, was properly arrested and whose internment was proper rand in the interests of the country. Last night the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) asked the Government to review the decision of Mr. Justice Clyne regarding a particular person.
– Is the AttorneyGenera] referring to the Harley Matthews case?
– No, I am not. The Matthews case is in quite a different category.
– Is it not a fact that the man to whom I referred was offered a job with Military Intelligence after Mr. Justice Clyne’s finding?
– I do not desire to repeat his name.
– I shall repeat it. The man is Corporal Downe.
– The Leader of the Australian Country party has mentioned the name. I ask honorable members to read Mr. Justice Clyne’s report. Nearly twothirds of a page was devoted to Downe.
– And honorable members should also be aware that Military Intelligence offered him a job after that. It was a very secret commission, too.
– If Military Intelligence offered him a job after that, that fact must have been brought out in the inquiry conducted by Mr. Justice Clyne.
– How could it? He was offered a job after that.
– After what?
– After Mr. Justice Clyne had made his report.
– Is the right honorable gentleman sure?
– It was : in 19441 ‘
– Mr. Justice Clyne’s report was not delivered to the Government until 1945; the Leader of the Australian Country party should make sure of his facts. He may be quite right. I have not mentioned any names, but I have referred to two cases - one mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition, and one by the Leader of the Australian Country party in respect of which Mr. Justice Clyne, after examining all the documents and taking evidence, made certain findings. That is my point. It is purely preliminary to my main submission.
What are the facts ? Let me summarize them for the information of the House. Twenty-one persons were involved in the inquiry by Mr. Justice Clyne. Eight of them were exonerated by his findings. They are the eight to whom most of this debate has related. The judge recommended the payment of compensation or costs to these eight persons. There were thirteen others against whom the judge made findings in relation not only to their original arrest but also to their continued detention. His Honour said that such action was justified as a matter ‘ of necessity. He found that the Minister was right and also that Military Intelligence was entitled to take action. The judge, however, was critical of Military Intelligence in certain respects. I make it quite clear that the judge found that Military Intelligence was justified in arresting these thirteen and that their subsequent detention, was also justified. The Minister, of course, had no option but to act on the advice of Military Intelligence.
– May I ask the AttorneyGeneral a question?
– I. ask the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) to withhold his question for the time being. The honorable member has always discussed this subject on a high plane in this House. He did so last night in a moving speech. I consider that there is a complete answer to what he said, but I assure him that I shall be willing to answer any questions that he asks me. The fundamental fact that I am establishing at the moment is that an inquiry lasting fourteen months and costing thousands of pounds was made into the cases of twenty-one persons. Eight of these .were exonerated by the judge who declared them to be free of any criminality and to be loyal persons whose original arrest and subsequent detention were not justified. Nothing that I shall say will cut across that declaration in. any way. It was the declaration of a tribunal appointed to deal with the matter, and the persons concerned are entitled to say at any time, that, as the result of a public inquiry and an examination of all the facts, they were completely exonerated. No one dare point a finger at those eight men.
– May I ask my question now?
– By the time I have finished I believe that I shall have answered the honorable gentleman’s question. I am not avoiding it. Eight persons were exonerated. The thirteen others were not convicted of an offence. That, of course, touches the whole basis of this preventive detention. This is a procedure that no one would tolerate in peace-time. No one likes it even in wartime. It is, however, a responsibility that a government charged with the duty of trying to protect the country against an invader must assume ; if it will not do so it must let some other government assume it.
There were no convictions, except in two cases. I refer now to the four members who were arrested in Western Australia for seditious conspiracy. I am not using the precise terms of the indictment. Two of these four persons were sentenced to fairly long terms; the other two were detained by order of the Chief Justice of Western Australia, who was the chairman of the tribunal that dealt with the cases. In respect of those two individuals His Honour said, “They have been acquitted of the charge against them, but it is unsafe to allow them to be released. They must remain in detention “. I hope that these broad facts are fully appreciated and understood. Only two individuals were convicted by a court. One of the serious aspects of this whole business is the fact that there is no jury. It is not a case of persons being convicted of a specific offence against the Jaw. It was thought that owing to the circumstances there were reasonable grounds for their detention because, had they been released, they might have tried to cause some mischief or even disaster to the country.
– That risk cannot be taken in war-time.
– As the Leader of the Australian Country party says, we can-, not take that risk in war-time.
I come now to the organization itself. I hope that what I shall say in this regard will be satisfactory. Honorable members opposite have naturally drawn attention to the cases in which the individuals concerned were exonerated by the judge. Other speakers, notably my colleague the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward), have drawn attention to the conduct of the thirteen others who were not exonerated by Mr. Justice Clyne.
– The Minister imputed similar conduct on Ihe part of those who were exonerated.
– Oh, no, he did not!
– I think it fair to say that he did. not. The Minister devoted his attention to the persons against whom findings were made by Mr. Justice Clyne. There was nothing that could be objected to in that. He also devoted some attention to the point that the Opposition had said nothing about these persons. I shall not go into that.
I wish to consider now the case against the two members who were convicted. We have to recognize that there was an inner core to this organization. I ought to mention, in order to clear the ground, that the four persons against whom action was taken in -Western Australia, including the two who were convicted, were never shown to have had any association with the New South Wales group. I made that statement away back in 1942.
– I also said it.
– That is my whole point.
– That, however, could not have been apparent to Military Intelligence at the time the arrests were made. The facts came out at the trial, but I made the point as far back as August, 1942. I say again that even in regard to the inner group in New South Wales, it was not shown that they were associated with the actual conspiracy in Western Australia. It was proved to the satisfaction of the tribunal in that State that two of the persons charged were prepared to assist the Japanese had they landed in Australia.
My reference now is to the inner group of New South Wales members, and to the facts that were stated in Mr. Justice Clyne’s report. This movement had a number of objectives. As the honorable member for New England has said, many of these were plausible and some could even be considered attractive. There was nothing in the avowed objectives of this organization which was completely subversive in character, but behind the avowed objectives there was undoubtedly a group which was pro-Japanese, and enthusiastically pro- Japanese even after Japan came into the war. They were pro-Hitler and Fascist. The Hitler philosophy was featured in their publications. There was the anti-Jew attitude. They followed the same course that Hitler followed in Germany. First they denounced the Communists. Very few would stand for the “ reds “ who were attacked. Then the Jews were attacked, and so on. The whole method and propaganda were the same as Hitler adopted. There was undoubtedly this inner group. Associated with it in some way there were other groups of men, which included the eight persons exonerated by the judge. I do not intend to mention their names. It is not necessary to do so. The loyalty of those eight men was ultimately affirmed by Mr. Justice Clyne.
– May I ask my question now? I would like the Attorney-General to say whether he confirms that I have at no time, from the time when this matter was first raised in this House, used any names except those of the eight persons who were subsequently exonerated?
– I believe that is so; but I do not think that that attitude was adopted by some other honorable gentlemen. Other names were bandied about. Even when the inquiry was mooted and the matter was raised on a motion for adjournment, I said that, if any injustice had been done, compensation would be paid. I shall give from the judge’s report three examples of the nature of what might be called the inner group of this body. At page 10, dealing with one man, His Honour said -
He . . . was prepared … to resort to violence cither t« change or to preserve the existing order of things and he thought that if Parliament was not doing its best for the country and some other party could do better and the only method of removing the present Parliament wes by violence and bloodshed, he would lend himself to that end in order, as he said, to preserve the monarchy. The expression of these views justifies thic conclusion that he believed in revolutionary change.
At page 13, His Honour reported another person as having said -
Only the weak or sinister can accuse the Japanese of being disrupters of pence. He considered the Chinese war-lords were the aggressors in the conflict with Japan, and early in March, 1042, in reference to a Tokio broadcast that Australia’s fate was sealed, he said that lie for one had no excuse to disbelieve them, and at the same time he considered, that Australia was Japan’s for the taking.
The third quotation is at page 9. His Honour reported, in reference to the person whom he there mentioned, that he- had a strong bias in favour ot Germany, and I think was ready and willing, had it been necessary, to advocate a separate peace with Germany and Japan. He said he was an advocate of Pan-Aryanism and admitted having a plan to transfer all the world’s Jews to Madagascar at their own expense. In my opinion, these were sound reasons for his detention.
In a body of this sort, the Hitler technique is bound to be found. I shall read the judge’s findings, and shall then come to the final point about those who were completely innocent. At page 6, line 40, Mr. Justice Clyne said -
I think I am justified in coming to the conclusion that, despite tho formal aims of the movement, the activities of some of. its members were likely to have caused a .distrust of Australia on the part of her allies, and to have created such ill will and hostility in the community as would have impaired Australia’s war effort.
At page 5, line 5, His Honour said -
Some members were, I think, led to advocate the separation of Australia from the British Commonwealth, not because they were convinced that such a course would bring advantage to Australia, hut because of their inveterate hostility to Britain ; others were sympathetic to Japan. , . .
At line 5S of the same page, His Honour said -
The movement generally was hostile to the Jewish race.
At page 8, line 36, His Honour said -
But behind the movement’s ostensible aims there wen: on the part of certain members activities which, in my opinion, were intended to cause disaffection against the Government and calculated to promote ill will and hostility between different sections of the community and to cause prejudice to the war effort of Australia.
At line 6 of that page, His Honour said -
When these persons were arrested there is little doubt that Australia was in a critical position; because of this the Army Intelligence authorities were entitled, and, in fact, bound to take all necessary steps to prevent any conduct which might possibly endanger the security of the Commonwealth. Having received the message referred to from Western Australia-
That is the message suggesting the existence of a conspiracy in Western Australia - they were, I think, justified in arresting the persons who were in fact arrested. . . .
At page 9, line 4, His Honour said -
On the whole of the evidence it is difficult to resist the conclusion, however strange it may seem, that they were planning to assist the Japanese who were threatening to invade Australia.
His Honour was there referring to the people in Western Australia, not the Sydney group and the Melbourne group, I have given illustrations of what a few of these men said, and have quoted some of His Honour’s findings. I believe that I have driven home the point that there was a core or inner group of people who were pro-Japanese. Looking back, even now, it is hard to imagine that there were Australians who really wanted this country to be overrun by Japan. Yet they seemed to have been prepared to do all the things which would indicate that they would regard a Japanese invasion as a good thing. They were not tried in courts. They were heard, of course, before Mr. Justice Clyne, and some of them were heard before the appeal tribunals. They were never convicted by a jury. It may be - I hope so, at any rate - that they bitterly regretted having been associated with this movement at a time when our country was in such danger.
I come now to an entirely different class, which we have to keep separate in our minds. Their case is the basis of the amendment. I want to show exactly what Mr. Justice Clyne has said about them, because it has been completely misinterpreted by the Leader of the Opposition; I can absolutely satisfy the House on that point. [Extension of time granted.] It is tragic that men who were drawn into a movement of which they had no control, probably through some idea of performing a public service or of benefiting Australia, should have had to suffer. I agree with everything that has been said in that connexion. Those of us who have the slightest imagination can realize what they must have suffered, and how they must have been humiliated by this experience. One name was mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition - not the man ho mentioned on the adjournment motion in 1940. I refer to Harley Matthews, who was detained in 1942. This, I consider, is the worst case. The judge found that he should not have been detained. It is perfectly clear that he should not have been detained, and in my view he would not have been had Army Intelligence officers done their job properly. I saw the file in respect of Matthews in August, 1942, when the matter came before me, and I read the whole of it. The difficulty was that Mr. Matthews felt his position so keenly that he did not exercise his right of appeal to the statutory tribunal. That was my difficulty.
– His reason was that it was a secret tribunal.
– It was a secret tribunal. The Government of which the honorable gentleman was a supporter made it such.
– The present Government was not obliged to retain what another, government had put into operation”.
– It was not. I pointed out earlier that we altered the procedure, not to provide for a public investigation, but to let the man concerned know what was alleged against him. That had not been the practice previously. Some of the worst cases that have come before me concerned men who had appeared before a tribunal and did not know even when the case had been completed what had been alleged against them. There have been instances of a man having said to a tribunal “I should like to know what there is against me “, to which the chairman replied : “ We are not allowed to say what it is “. Everybody has been at cross purposes. Beading the documents, one has a feeling of utter despair at the lack of not only humanity, but also common sense. I do not say that in the long run there necessarily has been a miscarriage of justice. What I wish to convey is that men have run the risk of not having the nature of the charge revealed to them. I altered the regulation to make it mandatory on the chairman of the tribunal to say to every person appearing before it, “ The charge^ against you is this. What is your answer to it? “. It is perfectly true that the proceedings were not open to the public. How could they be when the very matter being’ investigated by tile tribunal affected the security of the country? We all know that there were enemy agents in Australia. If the proceedings had been open, information given to the tribunals would have come into the possession of those enemy agents and the very disaster which detention was designed to avoid would have been facilitated. Mr. Matthews did not appeal. It is said that he objected to the hearing being held in secret. I believe that he made that statement. His failure to appeal made the situation difficult. These men were advised to appeal. Had the appeal system worked smoothly, he would have been released promptly. But he did not appeal. The’ officer concerned said to me, “ Matthews has not appealed. What can we do about it? “
– A formality ought not to have been allowed to interfere with justice.
– That exactly is the view that I took in regard to Matthews, and my colleagues in Cabinet endorsed it. I said, “I shall establish a tribunal before which Matthews can appear. There must be some means by which these people can be given the right of appeal. The matter should not he allowed to go by default “. I appointed a special tribunal composed of security officers to make a report to me, and I received its report in the course of a day. The order for the release of Matthews was issued on the very night on which he came to see me. There was no evidence against him. He was not included in the list of those exonerated by the judge, but he was recommended for compensation. I have no doubt that he feels bitterly the injustice that he has suffered, because it was an injustice. He was enmeshed by his association of a most innocent kind with other persons, and thus suffered as the result of preventive action taken by the authorities. When these matters were brought to my attention in 1942, I did not always adopt the recommendation of the appeals tribunal, nor did I always accept the recommendations of the security officers. In no case did I or the Minister for the Army make a recommendation less favorable to the men* than that of the security officers. In one case, I did not agree with the recommendations of the appeals tri.bunal. There might have been grounds for the original detention in March, but those grounds did not continue to exist, and I released the persons concerned. All the persons exonerated by the judge were released by the Government by September, 1942. There has been talk of this matter going on for years, but it should be remembered that the actual detentions did not continue for years.
– Masey was detained after September.
– He He was. the only one, and the difficulty in his case was that the appeals tribunal found against him.
– These men have for years been under a cloud, even though they were released.
– That is one of the circumstances that must be considered. The Leader of the Opposition said that the only compensation awarded by the judge was compensation for pecuniary loss; that is to say, if they could prove that they had lost money as- the result of their internment they would be awarded that amount and no more. That is not what Mr. Justice Clyne did. The essence of the matter is contained in this paragraph of the terms of reference -
Whether, in the. case of any of the said persons, it is proper that they should receive any compensation “ from the Commonwealth, and if so, what amouit?
Thus, the matter of compensation was left to the judge, who was allowed judicial discretion to do what he thought fair. At the bottom of page .19 of his report, the judge stated the position as he saw it. I am not using the men’s names, because I am certain that the great majority of them do not want their names bandied about in Parliament. They have had their exoneration from the judge, and all but one of them have drawn their compensation. Therefore, they do not seek advocacy here. The judge actually said -
The compensation which these persons should be granted is a question of some difficulty, though in the cases of Hooper and TinKer-Giles it is somewhat less difficult inasmuch as these two persons have stated in evidence that the only compensation they seek is that- they should be reimbursed the costs and expenses incurred by them in connexion with their appeals to the Advisory Committee and in connexion with this inquiry, and in the case of Hooper, in addition, the medical expenses which he said were incurred by him as a consequence of his detention.
– How were they housed ? Were they treated decently?
– I think so. The manner in which they were housed during their internment is a separate matter. I have received no complaint about it, nor, I think, has the Minister for the Army. From first to last, there has been nothing in the nature of a complaint on that score. Of course, detention in itself, with all the indignities which are incidental to it, is a serious ground for complaint. I wish to make it clear that the judge, when awarding compensation, considered every circumstance, and not merely the pecuniary loss suffered by those detained.
– Did he not say that it was impossible to assess the injury suffered in terms of financial compensation ?
– Of course he did. Let me read what Mr. Justice Clyne said on that point -
In dealing with the question of compensation, it may reasonably be said that it is impossible to grant adequate compensation to a person who has been deprived of his liberty and branded as disloyal.
But the judge, in fact, attempted to do so. In a serious case of libel, when a jury gives a verdict in favour of the plaintiff, the judge will say that it is really impossible to compensate the injured person for fine injury he has suffered-. Such injury is almost infinite, extending throughout the whole range of his human associations, and certainly the damage cannot be assessed according to any mathematical formula. However, the judge continued -
T think, however, that it must not be forgotten that the persons who were wrongly detained, were largely to blame for the misfortune which overtook them. They were associated with certain persons who were using the Australia First Movement to cause dissension in the community and to foster opinions prejudicial to Australia’s part of the war. In my opinion, they did not fully recognize their obligations to aid the community at a critical time in its history and failed to appreciate the danger which might have been caused to Australia’s war effort by agitation and the stirring up of strife.
– I thought these men had been exonerated.
– They were exonerated, but the judge looked at the facts. Let honorable members be honest, and not seek to misinterpret what the judge has done. [Further extension of time granted.’] In a sense, this House must be regarded as an appeal tribunal from the finding of Mr. justice Clyne.
– That is exactly the purpose of the amendment.
– The amendment proposes to set up an appeal court consisting of a High Court judge, a member of the Opposition and a representative of the Government. Politicians representing both sides of the House are not fitted to sit on a tribunal of that kind. Mr. Justice Clyne said that thirteen people detained were not entitled to any compensation. Two of them were convicted, while the other eleven were not. The judge asked what would be fair compensation for those who were wrongfully detained. Two of them answered the question themselves, because they say they wanted only to be reimbursed for their actual outlay in connexion with their appeals. In respect of the others, it is a matter of fixing compensation for unlawful arrest, and we know that, in some instances, juries have fixed very large amounts for damages for this reason. I remind honorable members of the case of Johnson and Walsh who, some years ago, were dragged out of their homes and kept, in confinement on Garden Island for some weeks. It was thought that such procedure was legal, but the court ruled otherwise, and ordered their release. They claimed compensation, and the case was heard before a Sydney judge. The judge directed the members of the jury that they must ask themselves what would be, in the circumstances, fair compensation, and said that they must consider the men’s previous conduct. The jury awarded £50 damages to one of the men and £25 to the other. In cases of this kind the judge directs the jury to examine the circumstances and to consider the degree of suffering. I do not say that that is a fair way to assess compensation, but I mention it now merely to make the point that the circumstances of the case must be considered. Personally, I think it was a severe judgment of Mr. J ustice Clyne to say that the men were in some measure responsible for their own misfortunes because of their associations. The report goes on -
I think, however, that the persons wrongly detained are entitled to a public declaration that they were in fact wrongly detained and were not disloyal, and such a declaration should afford them some measure of redress.
The final part of the quotation is the only one which the Leader of the Opposition quoted in his speech. Then His Honour recommended what amounts they should get. The Leader of the Opposition says that those amounts are given as compensation for pecuniary loss, but I ‘ say that that is incorrect. The judge has clearly and unequivocally addressed himself to all the circumstances and has stated the impossibility of “ fixing adequate compensation to a person who has been deprived of his liberty and branded as disloyal “. In his report he has. criticized these people for their having been associated with the inner group of the Australia First Movement, and has stated that they did not show a full consciousness of their obligations to Australia. Then he says what is a fair thing to do: First, a public declaration of their loyalty. Is that not the great thing to do? This document is a part of the redress, because it makes that public declaration of their loyalty. The judge’s recommendation was concurred in by the Government. The declaration was repeated by me. In a libel action the defendant goes into court and justifies his libel, but if he goes into court and says, “ I made a mistake ; I should never have libelled him; it is false and I bitterly regret it”, all the judge tells the jury is, “ This is not a case in which the defendant .has persisted in the libel. The defendant now wants to do what is right and just in the circumstances and the jury will take that into consideration too”. Here the judge says that you cannot assess compensation by any mathematical rule, but that you can look at all the circumstances. He then says, “ I am not going to overlook the fact that they were blameworthy and got mixed up in something that they should not have been mixed up in. during Australia’s crisis. But I am going to give them a public declaration of their innocence and loyalty, and they are also entitled, I think, to some compensation for pecuniary loss”. The Leader of the Opposition read that part of the report. That is such a clear statement that, I am sure, the honorable gentleman must accept it. Then His Honour says -
Haying regard to the considerations that I have mentioned-
I have already read those considerations to the House - and making the best attempt I can to arrive at a reasonable result, I consider that the persons entitled to a grant thereof- should receive the following compensation: -
– It is only a coincidence, then, that in every case, except one, the amounts of compensation are exact reimbursements ?
– Is the honorable gentleman criticizing a judge?
– Of course he is. I think I have driven home my point that the judge has not fallen into the utterly ridiculous fallacy imputed to him by the Leader of the Opposition, which was that the judge, like a first-year law student, said, “ I am going to fix the pecuniary loss, and they shall get no more “. He does not do that. He says, “ I looked at all the circumstances and I give them a declaration of innocence “. That is better than anything else he could do; it is better than money. Do they want money ?
– I do not believe it. I do not want to inject any heat into this debate. The honorable member for Par ramatta says that the judge, after having examined all the circumstances said that he was going to do something, and then forgot it in the next breath. That is . ridiculous. I .agree with what the honorable member for New England said last night, namely, that there are cases in which compensation is measured in a broad way. I think that that is what the judge has done in this case. But the most ‘ valuable thing to all the men concerned is their clearance, the public declaration by a federal judge that they are loyal men.
– The other should follow.
– It is not a question of anything following anything. That public declaration of their loyalty is a part of their redress. In a libel action a plaintiff who is given a verdict for, say, £50 walks out of the court, and that is all he has.
– Why is it that, before giving them their cheques, the department has asked these men to sign written declarations that they accept the amounts set down in the report as the full and final compensation?
– I intend to deal with that point last. I hope honorable gentlemen will not divert me from the point that I make. I have ‘had no difficulty in utterly destroying the argument of the Leader of the Opposition that the judge limited himself to pecuniary loss. Clearly he did not. He looked at all the circumstances and then made a declaration of their loyalty and, secondly, recommended monetary compensation.
– How many persons were interned ?
– Twenty-one were interned, and the judge said that thirteen of them had been properly interned, and that compensation or some equivalent should be given to the other eight. They have been given their compensation. The amounts are not insignificant. There are three amounts of £500, one of £700, and one of £350. Another received the amount of the costs incurred by him in his appeal to the Advisory Committee, the inquiry by Mr. Justice Clyne and medical expenses incurred in consequence of his detention. The £700 was given to
Harley Matthews. To the widow of Watts the payment was £400.
Mi-. Morgan. - Did they receive legal costs as well ? ir. EVATT. - I am coming to that. This report was accepted by the Government. Last night the honorable member for’ New England made an important contribution when he said that the Government should apply the old legal formula of England, the Attorney-General’s fiat, “Let right be done!”. In other words, the Crown waives its immunity. We are not bound to pay one penny to these people for a breach of law.’ Mr. Justice Clyne finds that, “ Let right be done ! “, is what the Government said when it appointed an independent judge to make the inquiry from which this report emerged. We said to Has Honour, “ Here are the facts of the .case. Go into them and let right be done. If compensation should be warranted give it to them.” This report is the answer. This is the judge’s award. This is what came at the end, not at the beginning, of the inquiry. This is what he thinks is the right thing in these difficult circumstances.
There are only two matters to mention in conclusion. One was referred to by the honorable member for Barker. It is perfectly true that departmental officers asked these men, before they were paid the money, to sign a full acquittance for the Commonwealth. They objected, and, when the matter came to me, I said, “ No ; do not do it. Pay them “. I do not think it makes the slightest difference whether they sign an aquittance or not, for Mr. Justice Clyne says that they have no legal right of action. The next point is important. It concerns the costs of the investigation. These men had to bear the cost df the fees of counsel and all other costs associated with the inquiry. The judge recommended that they be recompensed with the substantial sums of money set out in the report. They would seem large sums of money to many people. I remember that when I appeared for Walsh and Johnson one got only £50 damages and the other £25.
– Their case was different.
– Of course it was.
– The right honorable gentleman does not place the cases on the same footing?
– No, but although I thought the award to Walsh and Johnson was inadequate, it was fixed by the jury, which was properly charged by the judge. In this case there was a commission of inquiry, and eight of the men involved were vindicated. Mr. Justice Clyne made no recommendation for the payment of their legal costs; but, as it was shown that they were’ justified in going to the commissioner for vindication, and as they had had to meet the expenses involved, I decided to recommend that the Government pay their costs. It is a substantial sum of money. The inquiry lasted for fourteen months, and occupied 64 sitting days.
I claim that greater consideration has never been given to the rights of citizens of this country than has been given by this Government. We have tried to protect to the utmost the civil liberties of the people, subject only to the overriding interests of security. When it appeared that an injustice had been done in certain cases, which were raised in this House, we said, “ Let right be done. Let an independent judge inquire, and we will abide- by his decision”.’ We have done more than abide by his decision. In addition to paying the compensation that he recommended, we have borne the legal costs of the men exonerated. The amendment of the Leader of the Opposition now asks that, after the expenditure of thousands and thousands of pounds and the tendering of thousands of exhibits and the taking of hundreds of thousands of words of evidence, of which the honorable member for New England read parts last night, we start all over again and appoint another judge to inquire, but that this time he not be allowed to sit alone but have with him a representative of each side of this House. The suggestion is not fair to any one concerned. It is most unfair to the men involved. I. have tried to avoid the unnecessary mention of names. I declare the eight men exonerated. I even declare them free from taint. I declare they are loyal men. I declare, too, that they have been compensated. The compensation has been drawn by all but one. They will receive their legal costs at the inquiry. I think that is their vindication. No one henceforth shall be able to say with impunity anything to their detriment in connexion with this matter.
– Order ! The Minister’s extended time has expired.
- Mr. Speaker-
– Order !
-Does the honorable gentleman want to ask a question?
– No; I want to speak on the amendment.
– Order ! The arrangement reached last night by the House was that the Attorney-General’s speech would close the debate.
– Then, may I ask the Attorney-General a question?
– I do not mind answering it.
– No : the right honorable gentleman’s extended time has expired and he has not been given further leave to continue.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the question (Mr. Fadden’s amendment).
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. j. S. Rosevear.)
Majority . . 20
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Sitting suspended from 12.37 to 2.16 p.m.
Debate resumed from the 14th March (vide page 318), on motion by Mr. Lazzarini -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This bill proposes to make four principal changes in the original act.. Three of them are desirable. They will improve the act, but whether they will produce more houses is another matter with which I shall deal later. One proposed change is an increase of the statutory loan limit from a maximum of £950 to £1,250. As the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Frost) is well aware, many organizations and many honorable members on this side of the chamber have urged this improvement. It was obvious that the limit would have to be raised eventually because of the increased costs of labour’ and materials. This amendment will mean that men who previously could not build homes, because they could not supply the difference in cash between the limit of the loan and the actual cost of a house, will now be able to purchase homes. Of’ course mortgages will be bigger. The Government should consider a means of lightening this burden upon exservicemen. A man may have to spend most of his life paying off the principal and interest on his house, even though it may not be a palatial one. I suggest that the
Government consider making a portion of every war service home loan free of interest. The New Zealand Government has such a scheme for farm properties. I do not suggest, that loans be made completely interest free, but the increase of labour and material costs might well be taken into account. People who stayed in Australia during the war and were able to. build before costs increased very much did not suffer to the same degree as men who went overseas. Another amendment proposed in the bill relates to the value of land on which war service homes are erected. The Government has wisely decided that the fair value of the land will be taken into account instead of its capital value. This will be of some benefit to a borrower, and will make it easier for ex-servicemen to build their own homes. Another proposal in the bill is to enable loans to be granted in respect of houses erected on perpetual crown leases. This will help ex-servicemen who wish to build in the Australian Capital Territory, in certain mining districts and in other places which are excluded under the present law. That is a reasonable and commendable proposal.
However, there is one provision of this bill to which the Opposition raises very strong objections. I am sorry that the Government has included it with the other acceptable amendments. This contentions proposal is to extend all the benefits of the War Service Homes organization to seamen employed during the war on ships which traded around the Australian coast. This attacks the whole principle which gave rise to the establishment of the War Service Homes Commission.
– The original act provides for assistance to seamen who served on ships which travelled overseas in wartime.
– This proposal is not as simple as that. The original act covers all men who served in the Navy, Army, or Air Force, and also men who served overseas in the Merchant Marine during the war. A man had to go overseas in. order to become eligible for assistance. Now the Government would have us believe that it is merely rectifying an anomaly by providing that, since men who went overseas in ships are eligible for loans, those who served on ships in Australian waters should also he eligible. If that should be so, there is no reason why munitions workers employed in Australia during the war should not be included as well. The result would be the destruction of the very instrument which was created to help ex-servicemen.
– The Minister has not given the matter enough thought.
– Those men took war risks from Japanese submarines and everything else.
– I do not want to make invidious comparisons. We all admire the work done by seamen who served on ships operating in coastal waters. They did a good job. However, a man serving on a ship trading between Port Phillip Bay and Tasmania, and who had a home in Melbourne, could not be classed with a fighting man who served overseas. A fireman working on one of those ships receives £10 14s. 6d. a week, which includes a war risk bonus which is still paid, although the war is over. The Prime Minister said to-day that the bonus will be paid until the position is reviewed in three months’ time. A man employed under those conditions is able to spend a great “deal of time at home and enjoy the advantages of home life. During the war he had the opportunity to join a building society in order to build a home for himself. Servicemen who were abroad for five or six years had no such amenities or opportunities to build. Does the Minister consider that the two classes of men are comparable? The firemen received twice the rate of pay of a Spitfire pilot or a man who flew bombers over Germany. How can the Minister place them in the same category?
– The benefit of the original act -was applied to seamen who served during the 1914-18 war.
– That is not so. Only men who went overseas were eligible for assistance from the commission.
– War risks were greater during the war that has just ended.
– Yes, but a man who served in Bass Strait did not take the same risks as a man who went to New Guinea or any other theatre of war. If the Government includes the thousands of seamen who served on ships in Australian coastal waters it will destroy the value of the department established for the purpose of assisting ex-servicemen. In case the Minister is not clear about the matter I shall provide some figures for his enlightenment.
The War Service Homes Commission established a creditable record after the 1914-18 war. It built 21,379 houses. However, during the last war its activities were practically negligible. Nobody will deny that. Nevertheless, it retained its directors, deputy directors and architects in all States, and a staff of over 100 persons. Its administrative expenses each year amounted to nearly £60,000. Yet ‘very little building was done. The Commission’s report for the year ended the 30th June, 1944, is very disheartening when we consider the number of ex-servicemen who are unable to obtain homes. But the Government now proposes to extend the aid of the commission to merchant seamen who served in Australian waters. The number of applications for assistance received by the commission during 1943-44 was 1,915. The number approved was 164. No houses were commenced. Nine houses were purchased. That is a shameful record for an instrumentality that costs the nation nearly £60,000 annually. We know that it has the ‘ability to build homes because it did so prior to the war. I advised the Minister when I returned from abroad in 1943 that the Government would bc “ caught out “ and unable to provide houses unless it started work immediately. But no houses were built in 1944. The number of applications for assistance to build houses in 1944-45 was 3,519, and of this number 294 applications were approved. Why should less than one-tenth of the number of applications be approved ? The number of homes placed under construction in that year was 72. Only eight of them were completed, leaving 64 still under construction. One contractor in any small suburb could produce more than .eight complete houses in one year. Building materials are available, and the Government has the necessary facilities for securing priority of supply. If the Government includes civilians, who cannot be classed as ex- servicemen, and gives them equal opportunities with ex-servicemen it will destroy machinery that should now be allowed to operate to full capacity. I hope that the Minister will not insist on forcing this provision through the House. The Opposition will definitely oppose it in the committee stages.- Cabinet should consider whether it is worth while weakening this form of preference and almost nullifying it at a time when ex-servicemen are unable to secure homes. The Minister for Repatriation is aware of numerous questions that I have asked him from time to time about housing for ex-servicemen. . refer now to one typical example. An ex-member of the 9th Division, who was discharged two years ago, after serving at Tobruk and suffering wounds and illness, applied1 for a war service home. He was told that his name was 90th on the priority list.
– The honorable member knows that no building was in progress at that time.
– The man was living in a garage in my electorate with his wife and baby. He applied to the commission over and over again and each time he was told, “ Nothing doing “. As the Minister interjected, there was no building in progress when he first applied. Since that time - and the Minister cannot deny this - only eight war service homes have been completed and not many others are in course of construction. That man’s name will not come to the top of the priority list for years. In spite of this serious state of affairs, the Government now proposes to extend the assistance pf the War Service Homes Commission to the whole of the members of the Seamens Union. The members of that union have other facilities for home-building. The union is a powerful body and is financially well-off. It could do what many other organizations do, namely, start a housing scheme of its own on co-operative lines.
– Those seamen went on strike during the war.
– I will not. go into that in detail. Many soldiers and airmen had to load and unload ships on the Australian waterfront during the war, and they did so without complaint. Seamen who worked on interstate vessels during the war should not be brought within the scope of the scheme. Those who did travel overseas are already included. The inclusion of home service sailors will make the legislation absolutely grotesque and futile and will bring down upon the Government the strongest possible protests from every ex-servicemen’s organization. I say that, not in any partisan spirit, but having in mind the practicalities of the situation. In view of the present slow progress, those ex-servicemen of whom mention has been made will not obtain a home for years. What is the use of fooling ex-servicemen and seamen by leading them to believe” that this department will provide them with opportunities which they have not previously enjoyed ?
I commend the three features of the bill to which I have referred. It is a pity that the Government has embodied that highly political and undesirable amendment which I have criticized. It weakens an otherwise excellent measure, and if enacted will merely hamper the department in giving a service to men who have given service to their country. I hope that the Minister will give further thought to the matter, and in committee withdraw this obnoxious provision.
– In the main, I applaud the bill. It makes provision with respect to a matter that I have brought before this House on many occasions. I have endeavoured to secure an amendment of the principal act which would permit ex-servicemen holding 1 -] in mining centres in Queensland,, and other perpetual leaseholders, to secure war service homes. Under the act as it stands, residents of mining centres such as Gympie, in which the land is held under a mining lease, have been debarred from participating in the benefits that have been conferred by it. Similar conditions exist in Charters Towers- and other great and small mining centres throughout Queensland. As it has been the policy of the Queensland Government to permit township allotments to be held under perpetual lease, such allotments have been taken up in large numbers. Private institutions, as well as the Queensland Government, regard this tenure as sufficient security. As promised, the Minister at last has been good enough to bring down an amendment of the act which will benefit a large number of exservicemen who hold land under the perpetual lease tenure. In that regard, I applaud the measure. I am sorry, however, that many other alterations of the act advocated by members of the Opposition have not been provided for by the bill. We shall have to continue to make representations to the Government, in the hope that later it will bring down another measure embodying in the act more generous terms.
As the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) has pointed out, the bill provides for an increase from £950 to £1,250 of the amount that is to be available to ex-servicemen. It has been shown that that amount has been made necessary owing not to the better- class of house which the ex-servicemen will seek to obtain, but to the existing excessive cost of building. In the circumstances, the Government should assess the increase that is due to phenomenal factors, and in some degree to frequent strikes, and make itself responsible for the difference. Such a gesture would be worthy of what ex-servicemen have done on behalf of this country. I urge the Minister to consider the possibility of making provision in that connexion.
Under another proposed amendment of the act, the privileges that it confers will be made available to classes of persons other than those who hitherto have come within its scope, and these persons will in consequence cause others to suffer some disadvantage in that they will be subjected to further delay in obtaining a war service home. The bill provides that a member of the Merchant Marine employed in Australian waters during the war period will be entitled to come within the scope of the legislation, and the exserviceman is not to be given any priority. The Minister should consider the desirability of giving priority to ex-servicemen in the building of homes. Many of them will be married after they return, whilst others who will rejoin their wives have not previously had a home. It is incumbent on the Government to ‘make such a gesture. It could not be characterized as generous, but would be logical and fair.
The provision in relation to the fair value of the land, taking into consideration the time at which the home is to be built, could operate both advantageously and adversely. I hope that the basis of fair value will apply, but that in no case will it be greater than the capital value.
– That certainly will be the position.
– According to my reading of the bill, the controlling authority will take into consideration fair value instead of assessing on capital value. Should the fair value be less than the capital value, the ex-serviceman would benefit, but should it be greater than the capital value, he would be at a disadvantage
– He will get it both ways. The capital value will be the maximum value. If the value ruling in an area is greater than the capital value, the latter will be adopted, but should the capital value be the higher, the basis will be that of fair value.
– I am pleased that that provision is now being made. . There is another aspect of home-building for ex-servicemen, namely the delays that are occasioned by reason of the inactivity of the Government in many instances. During the great strike that occurred in New South Wales a few months ago, when the .production of iron and steel was curtailed and galvanized iron was not manufactured, .the production of other materials that are essential in house construction was interrupted because of the effect of the strike on hundreds of thousands of persons who were not directly concerned in it. The strike necessitated obtaining from America 20,000 tons of iron, to enable employment to be provided for certain persons in the iron industry. Strikes cause chaotic conditions, and are being continued to-day. In all house construction, delay has been occasioned by the serious shortage of nails, but building contractors cannot obtain thom because the wire from which they are made is not being manufac tured owing to the strike. There i» now a further strike in the iron industry, and once more we are told that it has bee» fomented by Communists. This will have a serious effect on future building operations. If the Government does not lay down the conditions under which materials required for home building shall .be made available it will be impossible to provide more houses quickly. The Government’s inability to handle the situation, and its failure to attempt to do so, are deplorable factors, and the position is made worse because .strikes are prompted by those who desire to cause chaotic economic conditions. No doubt these strikes are fomented with a deliberate purpose. One cannot escape from that conclusion. A strike has now occurred among the employees of Lysaghts Newcastle Works Proprietary Limited, thus denying further supplies of an essential building material. In Queensland, contractors are informed that they must apply for materials to the State Minister of Works. The Commonwealth authorities have handed the control of galvanized iron over to the State departments.
– That was done at the unanimous request of the Premiers of the States.
– I am aware of that; but when the contractors refer to the State authorities, they are simply informed that the iron is not available. They are advised to go to two manufacturers of asbestos sheets and similar materials, wto tell them that those goods cannot be supplied because of the large number of orders already on hand. Thus further delay is occasioned in the building of homes for ex-service personnel. It is imperative that the Government should keep the wheels of industry moving. It should approach the army authorities with a view to the temporary use for the housing of ex-service personnel of large buildings such as that erected in Brisbane adjacent to Victoria Park. Such buildings are to be found in all of the States and by their temporary use as residential quarters hundreds, if not thousands, of families could be housed at very small cost. Proposals have been advanced for the demolition of these large structures, but surely that work could be delayed to enable temporary accommodation to be provided in them for those sorely in need of housing.
– Could those buildings not be used as Government offices ?
– Yes. That would suit some people, but I shall not discuss that matter now. I hope that the Minister for Works and Housing will take all possible steps to expedite the manufacture and delivery of all building materials.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Sheehy) adjourned.
Formosan ex . Prisoners of War and Internees - Mr. R. A. Henderson - Liquor Trade: Bottled Beer - Barbed Wire - Re-establishment : University Studies - Land Acquisition : Melbourne - New Guinea : Civil Occupation - Dairying Industry : Drought Relief - Volunteer Defence Corps: Rifles.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) proposed - That the House do now” adjourn.
– I draw attention to the following report, published in the Sydney Daily Mirror: -
The managing editor of Cinesound Review (Mr. Ken G. Hall) said to-day there was no “ mystery “ about the cover by Cinesound of the Yoizuki incident before the vessel left the wharf in Sydney.
He was replying to a speech in the House of Representatives last night by the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell), who is reported to have said : “ What I want to know is how did the newsreel people know all about the Yoizuki so as to be there by 7 a.m. on the day it sailed ? “
Mr. Hall said Cinesound was advised in the routine way - two days ahead - by Army Public Relations that the vessel was due to embark passengers at 6 a.m. and would sail about 6.45 a.m.
That is a statement by a person who obtained information regarding the date of the departure of Yoizuki. We have been informed in the House by the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) that he had no information as to when the vessel would leave until twenty minutes after it had sailed, and that he had not been notified of its sailing time two days beforehand. The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) said that he had not been informed of its departure until 6 p.m. on the day when it left. It seems to me to be necessary to make an investigation in order to discover what is happening among certain officials in the Army Public Relations branch. Why is the Minister for the Army kept ignorant of the departure of a vessel, when the representatives of the Cinesound Review and newspaper people get two days’ notice of it? It is a peculiar state of. affairs when a section of the public can obtain information on a matter of that kind and the responsible Minister is left in total ignorance of it.
In a speech in this chamber a couple of days ago the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) made reference to Mr. Henderson, general manager of the Sydney Morning Herald, and called him a Quilp-like individual. I looked up Charles Dicken’s Old Curiosity Shop, and found a description of the character of Quilp which is worth reading to the House. It is as follows: -
An elderly man of remarkably hard features and forbidding aspect, and so low in stature as to be quite a dwarf, though his head and face were large enough for the body of a giant. His black eyes were restless, sly, and cunning ; his mouth and chin, bristly with the stubble of a coarse hard beard; and his complexion was one of that kind which never looks clean or wholesome. But what added most to the grotesque expression of his face, was a ghastly smile, which, appearing to be the mere result of habit and to have no connexion with any mirthful or complacent feeling, constantly revealed the few discoloured fangs that were yet scattered in his mouth, and gave him the aspect of a panting dog.
Such hair as he had, was of a grizzled black, cut short and straight upon Mb temples, and hanging in a frowsy fringe about his cars. His hands, which were of a rough coarse grain, were very dirty; his finger nails were crooked, long and yellow.
The creature appeared quite horrible with his monstrous head and little body, as he rubbed his hands slowly round, and round, and round again - with something fantastic oven in his manner of performing this slight action - and, dropping shaggy brows and cocking his chin in the air, glanced upward with a stealthy look of exultation that an imp might have copied and appropriated to himself.
– Mr. Speaker, I call attention to the state of the House.
– There is a quorum present, and I hope the honorable member will not raise any more frivolous points.
– The description continues -
Mr. Quill, could scarcely be said to be of any particular trade or calling, though hia pursuits were diversified and his occupations numerous. He collected the rents of whole colonies of filthy streets and alleys by the waterside, advanced money to the seamen and petty officers of merchant vessels.
Indeed, the ugly creature contrived by some means or other - whether by his ugliness or hi i ferocity or his natural cunning is no great matter - to impress with a wholesome fear of his anger, most of those with whom he was brought into daily contact and communication.
I now refer to another matter which I desire to bring to the attention of the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Dedman), and I quote from an article in a Sydney newspaper headed “ Private Beer Hoard in Sydney Morning Herald - Bottles Stored iii Office Loft”. It is, in part, as follows: -
A large, private hoard of bottled beer is stored in a loft above the ninth or top floor of the Sydney Morning Herald office, corner of Pitt, Hunter and O’Connell streets.
Newspaper employees, mystified as to how the Fairfax-owned Herald got the beer when it is virtually unobtainable for the ordinary public, claim that the bottles are under the Sydney Morning Herald roof in quantities that “’ dazzle the eye “.
The beer was taken into the Herald office through the Pitt-street goods entrance.
It went up to the loft in the Pitt-street goods lift. . The palatial Herald building has nine floors, with a loft arrangement above the ninth.
Motor cars are said to have brought the bottles through this Pitt-street entrance.
Arrival of loads of bottles in. beer-waggons at an institution like the Herald office would have excited comment.
This Herald beer hoard is now being widely discussed in the newspaper world. Estimates of the quantity in the hoard run as high as “ hundreds of dozens “.
In view of the acute shortage of bottled beer, and the widespread black-marketing which exists, I ask the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs to have an investigation made with a view to learning whether a sly-grog shop is being conducted in the Sydney Morning Herald office, or whether the beer was obtained through ordinary trade channels.
.- I hesitate to rise after listening to the diatribe of the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Bryson), which was an insult to his own intelligence and also to the House. I wish now to raise a matter which is of particular interest to those who are trying to produce more food in Australia. I have previously mentioned it in correspondence, in interviews and in deputations to the Minister for Munitions (Mt. Makin). I refer to the supply of barbed wire for farmers. At present, the position is very bad. The only barbed wire available was released by the Army, and is sold by the Commonwealth Disposals Commission. It is black wire which was practically useless before the war ended. About 20,000 tons were released, and many farmers, because they were desperately in need of wire, bought it at prices which should never have been charged, namely, about £18 a ton. So badly rusted was the wire that it lasted sometimes only a few months. Indeed, it was hardly worth putting up. It was a case pf the Government profiteering at the expense of the farmers, and taking advantage of their desperate need. The whole transaction reflects little credit on the Government. At the moment, this is the only kind of barbed wire available, but I have a suspicion that the Army is’ holding large stocks of good galvanized barbed wire which it is holding on to until the Commonwealth Disposals Commission has sold all the black wire. My opinion is supported by the fact that recently the Tick Control Commission of New South Wales wanted 500 tons of galvanized barbed wire, and this quantity was made available from Army stocks, but farmers are unable to get any. I know the difficulties connected with the manufacture of barbed wire at the present time, and I am not blaming the Government on that score, but I urge that an examination should be made of Army stocks to see whether it is really true that thousands of tons are held which ought to be distributed. If it be true that we must wait a long time for galvanized barbed wire to be manufactured in Australia, I suggest that, in the interests of producing more food for Britain, representations should be made to the British Government asking for the release of 10,000 to 15,000 tons of barbed wire so that farmers might sub-divide their properties and grow crops. I cannot suggest what the Government exactly should do, because I do not know what supplies are held by the Army or other agencies, but I know the position is desperate in all country districts. It is unfair to foist useless black wire on to farmers, and to take advantage of their need to force them to buy it at prices which only a black-marketeer would demand. I hope that this matter will be given serious attention by the Government.
– I believe that I can fairly claim that members generally are troubled by the policy of the Government in relation to those members of the services who desire to be released in order to take up university courses this year. I have seen press references which indicate that many members opposite have expressed to the Government views which I believe are held also by most honorable members on this side of the House. In my opinion, the Government is taking a short view of this matter, which is unfair to the persons concerned. Only a very small proportion of the total number of persons in. the forces are likely to be affected by any decision which is made. The bona fides of those persons can be promptly and easily investigated. The Government can soon discover, either from the previous academic records of the persons concerned or by consulting the schools or tutors who trained them before they joined the services, whether their claims’ that they propose to take on university courses are correct. If it can be established that a young man or young woman proposed, prior to engaging in war service, to undertake a university course, I believe that the Government is acting, unfairly, and at the same time unsoundly in the national interest, by deferring these releases, so that, at best, the persons concerned will have to come in late in the academic year, or at worst, may miss their opportunity altogether this year, and thus waste another year of their training time. Even under normal conditions, a university course is a protracted business for the person concerned. It places a heavy financial burden on the family, and the student himself must, in most cases, wait many years before he reaps any substantial benefit from the course which is under taken. Yet we all believe that it is in the best interests of the community that we should have a high proportion of people who have gone through the necessary academic and specialist training which only a university course can provide. My experience, which probably is similar to that of other members, is that a number of persons who clearly were destined for a university course, and were preparing accordingly before the war, are now finding it impossible to obtain an accelerated release in order to undertake university training. I find in the present attitude of the Government a different policy from’ that which was indicated to us in the House towards the end of last year by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman). He then said that the matter was receiving careful consideration, and that everything possible would be done to arrange for the early release of these persons. The Minister estimated that about 10,000 men in the services would ask for professional training at universities and stated that it would be physically impossible to provide accommodation and teachers for all of them at once. For that reason, he said that a scheme of priority was being considered, and that the Government would release, as exceptions to the points system, the largest number of prospective university students with whom it would be possible to deal. It cannot be claimed that’ the largest number has been released because the chairman of the Universities Commission, Professor Mills, announced at the end of a two-days’ conference held recently that “ all ex-servicemen reconstruction trainees could be accommodated this year at Australian universities, and that very few, if any, civilian students would have to be refused this year “. It may be that some of the technical courses, such as medicine and dentistry are filled, but many other courses for which prospective students desire to enroll are not filled. When we have regard to the length of time which normally must elapse before the person concerned can reap any substantial return from his university training, and also that even in peace-time one of the difficult social factors that people who engage in university careers have to face is a deferring
Another matter which I hope will receive the consideration of the PostmasterGeneral (.Senator Cameron) has been brought to my notice by two .municipalities in my electorate, namely the municipalities of Melbourne and Malvern. The two matters raised by the municipality of Melbourne relate to the acquisition by the Commonwealth, for government purposes, of two areas in what have been set apart by the council as residential areas of land. On one site I understand it is proposed to erect a self-supporting steel tower 200 feet, in height, and surmounted by a mast approximately 40 feet high, for the national broadcasting service. I am informed that that structure is to be erected at Jolimont-terrace, Jolimont, in the Albert ward of the municipality of Melbourne.
– In whose electorate is the land situated ?
– It may interest the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) to know
– That means progress.
– The Prime Minister interjects, I think facetiously, that that is progress. I do not think he really means that.
– The provision of facilities is progress.
– The right honorable gentleman was a member of a localgoverning body in his own constituency, and I think that he would have been piqued, to put it mildly, had a government acted against its policy as this Government is acting towards those of the Melbourne and Malvern city councils. The Malvern municipal authorities say that if consulted they would be able to suggest alternative sites that would not conflict with their policy and would give equally efficient service to the Commonwealth. As for the erection of a 200-ft. tower at Jolimont, I do not know whether the Prime Minister is familiar with that area, but I cannot imagine that it could other than disfigure one of the closer residential suburbs of the City of Melbourne. I hope that if the PostmasterGeneral has not already committed himself too much in this matter, he will attach some weight to the representations made not only by myself but also by two of his own colleagues.
– I desire briefly to support what the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) said about university students. I have taken up several cases with different Ministers, some of them a long time ago, but without satisfaction in a great many cases. I took up one with the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Makin) this week and twenty-four hours later I received a written communication that the lad in question would not be released from the Navy. A lot of lads enlisted in the Navy, the Army, or the Air Force at an age which would have entitled them to start a course at a university. Had they done so and then enlisted they would have been entitled under the scheme that the Government has laid down to go back to the university, but because they forwent their right to go to the university and enlisted as soon as they reached the age at which they could enlist, they are told that they must continue to serve where they are until released under the points system. That is unfair on two counts. First, compare their case with that of men who started a university course and then enlisted. They have certain rights granted to them by the Commonwealth. Secondly, compare their case with that of men who started a university course but were protected from enlistment by the man-power authorities and carried on their courses. It would be well for the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), even now - I think most universities open this week or next week - to bring these chaps out, because no one can tell me the Navy, the Army, or the Air Force will fall to pieces as the result, for, in my electorate, where there are 65,000 electors, only about six lads want to be released from the forces in order to start university courses. The thing is too thin.
I can confirm everything said by the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) about black barbed wire. I bought some of it. I was lucky, for the coil I got was in good order, except that it was black, and, like the Government, I hate things black. I concede that the Government intimated that it was black. Many people have told me, however, that the black barbed wire that they have bought has obviously been left on beaches partly covered by sand and partly washed by the waves at certain tides. The result is that half of the 00] is rusted and half is in good order, and when it is unrolled one finds 9 or 10 inches in good order and 7 or 8 inches in bad order, according to how it has been affected by the sand and by the salt water. The Commonwealth Government says, “ There is to be no picking and choosing. Take what we send you. That’s that “. That is a matter that the Government should examine.
Another interesting matter is that this morning I received an account for 400 cwt. of wire. I waa told that the Prices Commissioner has got down to such fine details that business firms aTe not allowed to give discounts for cash. He has laid it down that prices shall be for cash only and that no discounts shall be allowed. It is about time that the activities of the Prices Commissioner were brought a little more into line with common sense than they have been for some time past.
Two or three weeks ago I asked the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Senator Ashley) whether people in the coastal parts of my electorate, particularly Kangaroo Island, could avail themselves of the right to purchase some of the barges and other types of small craft that have been so successfully used by the forces in the islands. The answer I received is not an answer at all, ‘because I am told -
I should have been pleased to assist the residents of Kangaroo Island in this matter, hut I am advised by the Commonwealth Disposals Commission that no supplies of ex-army barges are at present held in Port Adelaide.
I have never suggested they were. Neither have residents of Kangaroo Island. What they want is information as to the carrying capacity of the barges, whether they can be brought on to the beaches and loaded with stock, because stock transport arrangements from Kangaroo Island to the mainland are very unsatisfactory, whether they would be of such a nature that residents of Kangaroo Island might purchase them for use to transport goods in fine weather over the short distances between the mainland and the island. But I did not receive an answer. All I had was an attempt to fob me off with the statement that there are no barges at Port Adelaide. I could have told the Minister that. I want to know whether there are any available anywhere and whether the information desired can be supplied to people in my electorate, particularly on Kangaroo Island and on the coast. Surely to goodness that is not too much to ask.
– I bring to the notice of the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) a case of first importance concerning a pioneer of New Britain, a returned soldier, a man who has devoted 34 years of his life to establishing plantations there and thereby developing our island possessions. In World War I. he served in the 25th Battalion in Gallipoli and France. When New Britain was invaded’ in World War II. he assisted civilians and soldiers who were trapped. He got them round the coast of New Britain and eventually, after perilous experiences, including the loss of vessels and other means of transport that were seized on the way, he got them to safety. He has applied for permission to return to his plantation, which is of great value. He has 13,500 rubber trees, 25,000 cocoa trees, and 30,000 coconut trees, and he has been away from those possessions for five years. He employed 100 natives. It now costs Australia about £45,000 a month to feed them with tinned vegetable and whatever is possible. Yet, for some reason or other, this man, this pioneer of New Britain - and he is not the only one - cannot get past the responsible Minister. The reason for the refusal was not given. It is not because he has not persevered with his application. He applied first on the 12th September, 1945, and to that request he received the following telegram from the Minister for External Territories (Mr. Ward) dated the 8th October:-
Cannot say when civilians will he able to return to New Britain. Application noted.
He again applied on the 12th November; and to that request he received the following reply dated the 19th November : -
Matter is being referred to the AustraliaNew Guinea Production Control Board for consideration and advice. Will again communicate.
On the 19th November, he again wrote to the department, and received the foi-‘ lowing reply dated. the 6th December: -
Reply from Australia-New Guinea Production Control Board received to effect it may be possible for you to return in the near future,, in the meantime your reply will be referred to the Department of the Army . . and I will again reply as soon as practicable.
On the 8th January, 1946, he again wrote to the department and received the following reply dated the 14th January -
A decision is still awaited and will advise decision. The matter has been taken up with the authorities.
On the 5th February last he interviewed me and I sent this telegram to the Minister -
Can you advise when Mr. J. Maclean can return to his properties Baining, New Britain. Application made 12th September last.
The Minister for External Territories replied as follows: -
Received telegram reference application J. Maclean for permit to return plantation Baining, New Britain. As this area still under military control and not yet available for return of civilians permission cannot be granted at present. Matter will receive attention immediately circumstances permit.
Mr. Maclean has now received a letter from a friend stating that he and four other civilians were permitted to return to Madang, New Guinea, in June, 1945, before the cessation of ‘hostilities. What is the reason for this discrimination against Mr. Maclean? His position is desperate and returned soldiers in the d district in which he now lives are incensed at the treatment. meted out to him by the department. Two days ago I received the following telegram from the president of the Redcliffe sub-branch of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia: -
Refer your letter 11th February, 1940, re application J. Maclean, Woody Point, Queensland, return to Baining, New Britain. Supporting renewed application. Airmail letters posted with enclosure evidence that personnel were allowed to return Madang as civilians in June, 1945. Excuse Baining, New Britain, under military control apparently used to sidestep issue. Kindly press claims of applicant.
Every effort has been made by this man to obtain permission to return to hie plantation, which he was obliged to leave five years ago. He knows that the plantation is now in a bad way. He claims that he should be there to take advantage of the disposal of goods in respect of which priority should be given to returned soldier pioneers in that area. Those goods are now being sold to civilians. Yet this pioneer is not allowed to return to his property on which he left buildings valued at £4,000, 400 head of stock and machinery valued at £2,000. The Government should be only too ready to enable this man to recommence production of rubber which is urgently needed for the manufacture of motor tyres. This is not the only case of its kind; but it is a specific case, and I urge the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) to give it immediate consideration. Mr. Maclean tells me that, according to newspaper reports, there has never been any military or Japanese internment camps within 30 or 40 miles .of the Baining district. All enemy internment compounds are on the south coast of New Britain. The Government should be only too ready to enable this man to return to his plantation and to employ the large number of natives which he previously employed and thus save the taxpayers the cost now incurred by the Government in feeding those natives because employment is not available for them. The Government should do justice to this returned soldier. I ask the Prime Minister personally to inquire into the treatment of this man, which I regard as victimization.
.- I desire to raise a matter of grave concern to dairy farmers in the north-eastern district of Victoria. Following the very serious drought of last year, the Commonwealth Government, realizing the position in Victoria as it affected many dairymen, agreed to contribute the sum of £50,000 upon the condition that the Victorian Government agreed to contribute a similar amount, the total sum of £100,000 to be used to provide relief to dairymen who had suffered very serious losses in the drought. It was decided that the distribution of this money as drought relief should be made upon a formula based on losses which dairymen had sustained as indicated by butter-fat production. Thu period to be taken into calculation for this purpose was from the 1st July, 1944, to the 30th June, 1945; and the closing date for applications for relief was fixed as at to-day. At Wangaratta, last Saturday, a big meeting was held of dairymen from the whole of the north-eastern district of Victoria. That meeting requested me to make representations to the Commonwealth and also requested representatives of State electorates in the district concurrently to make representations to the Victorian Government on two points relating to this matter. First, they submitted that the period chosen as the basis for assessing drought losses of production due to the drought was not the correct period. They pointed out that the losses of cattle, which were serious, almost invariably occurred or reached their peak towards the end of the drought, and the resultant effect upon production was not so much indicated during the year of the drought as towards the end of the drought. They stated that their losses of cattle were sustained during the autumn and early winter months of last year, and that their reduced production was mostly in the subsequent months. Therefore, they ask that the period for assessing production loss should be the period from the 1st January, 1945, to the 31st December, 1945. I have seen figures of butter-fat deliveries at some butter factories in that area, and they bear out the point made by these dairymen. As the Government saw fit, in a manner which has been very greatly appreciated, to make the money available,
I urge it to consult with the Victorian Government with a view to determining whether the objective of the relief would not be better achieved by changing the period as suggested.
The second point which these dairymen make is that during the most intense period of the drought the Government and the people alike were appealing for increased production, more particularly in the dairying industry than in any other primary industry. Many dairy farmers responded to the appeal to increase their herds. They purchased additional stock, and utilized grain and hay, which they had grown for sale, to feed their expanded herds. Many dairymen have suffered greatly from the severity of the drought, which caused heavy losses of stock and feed. Some were obliged to expend hundreds of pounds on the purchase of feed, but an examination of their deliveries to butter factories will not show a substantial reduction of their production if compared with the normal base period chosen a year or two earlier when their herds were smaller. The explanation is that, in answer to the Government’s appeal, some doubled the size of their herds, thereby incurring the obligation to expend much more money on feed. The objective which the Government has in mind in providing money to succour those who sustained losses will not be met if those who increased their production do not receive assistance. Instead of maintaining or expanding their production, they could have allowed their cattle to die, or sold their herds. Some dairy farmers did that. The men who responded to the Government’s appeal by maintaining and actually expanding production should not be debarred from receiving assistance on the ground that figures show that they delivered as much butter fat as they did in a previous year. I urge the Commonwealth Government to consult the Government of Victoria regarding those two matters with a view to determining whether acceptance of those two points, which were’ made at a mass meeting of dairymen at “Wangaratta, would result in a more equitable distribution of the money which the. Commonwealth and Victoria have already provided. Pay-
Mr. McEwen. ment of a drought subsidy on each pound of butter fat produced during the drought year by the dairy farmers affected is the method of relief requested.
.- Recently, the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Lemmon), the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Mountjoy), the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Johnson), and quite a number of others have had discussions with me regarding rifles issued to members of the Volunteer Defence Corps. They pointed out that members of the Volunteer Defence Corps in country districts had given their time gratuitously during the war in training for a possible emergency, and they had been issued with Volunteer Defence Corps rifles. Many of those men sought permission to retain the rifles, pending a decision as to the future of rifle clubs in Australia, because the rifles were required for the destruction of pests. I have given consideration to the matter, and a decision has been reached that ex-Volunteer Defence Corps personnel who returned rifles on issue to them may, on application, be re-issued with the weapons pending a decision on future policy regarding rifle clubs. That applies particularly to ex- Volunteer Defence Corps personnel living in country districts who desire to use the rifles for the destruction of pests. Applications for rifles which are received from ex-members of the Volunteer Defence Corps living in any metropolitan area will be .referred to the head-quarters of the Australian Military Forces for decision. Obviously, exmembers of the Volunteer Defence Corps residing in cities or suburbs are in a different category from former members of the Volunteer Defence Corps who live in country districts. The necessary instructions have been despatched to all military formations, but such instructions do not affect orders issued during October, 1945, that members of the Volunteer Defence Corps who desired to retain their rifles may do so.
– in reply - The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) alleged that the Army was retaining surplus stocks of galvanized barbed wire until it had disposed of stocks of black barbed wire. I shall ask the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) to ascertain whether any surplus stocks, as suggested by the honorable member, exist.
The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) referred to the acquisition of land for automatic telephone exchanges and for other purposes, lt appears to me that at least the areas which already possess those facilities are at an advantage compared with other districts which are clamouring for such facilities. Evidently the honorable member does not object to the provision of telephone exchanges, but the local authorities consider that they could sugge-t better sites.
– I referred also to a high tower for broadcasting purposes.
– That is another grievance, and I shall discuss it with the Postmaster-General (Senator Cameron) with “ a view to ascertaining whether another suitable site can be acquired.
The honorable member for Fawkner and the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) mentioned the plight of certain students in the forces wishing to undertake university courses. The Government is giving a great deal of consideration to “ this difficult subject. Many young men, soon after they matriculated, went into the fighting services and - their university .courses have been delayed for some years. But such students are not the only persons affected ; apprentices, who arc more numerous than students, have been similarly handicapped. Their plight is one of the great hardships of war, and my colleagues and I have the deepest sympathy for them. The Government has discussed the subject on a number of occasions, and recently the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) again brought the matter before Cabinet. The Government then considered that the policy which had been laid down should not be varied except in cases where young men had actually commenced their studies at a university. The Government was of the opinion that it should not readily depart from the points system. When I visited our troops in the islands, I found that the bitterest resentment existed against the demobilization of men out of their proper turn. I can understand that feeling, because some of the troops in the islands have served for a number of years, and they consider that it is wrong to discharge a man simply because he proposes to take up a university course. That constituted easily the outstanding grievance among the troops. On one occasion, when a vessel called at Morotai to embark 89 troops for demobilization, a considerable proportion of them were to be discharged on occupational grounds. That arouses keen resentment among longservice troops. At one period occupational releases rose to between 23 per cent, and 26 per cent., and created such profound dissatisfaction among servicemen that the Government decided to reduce the percentage to a minimum. That attitude is supported by many leading Army officers who have been associated with post-war rehabilitation and demobilization. One of them felt particularly strongly about the Government continuing to allow releases of personnel on any occupational grounds whatever. However, no one is more sympathetic to university training than is the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, who is in charge of demobilization. He has had the benefit of such training, and is able to appreciate its advantages. I have been informed that although the first university term has already commenced, it will be possible for some of these men to enter universities at the start of the second term, although, of course, they will be at some disadvantage in so doing. However, I understand that the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction promised this morning to have the matter re-examined.
I am not aware of the position with respect to the barges referred to by the honorable member for Barker, but I shall have inquiries made.
The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) dealt with the return of planters to New Guinea. _ Apparently some of these men are experiencing difficulty in obtaining permits to return.
– I was referring to a man named Mr. Maclean.
– I shall talk that matter over with the Minister for External Territories (Mr. Ward).
The honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) dealt with drought relief payments and one thing that struck me particularly whilst he was speaking was that apparently no complaints had been made until just prior to the closing date for applications. As Treasurer, I took some interest in this matter originally. My recollection is that a joint State and Commonwealth committee was set up, and I was under the impression that that body had functioned fairly well. The complaint voiced by the honorable member for Indi is the first I had heard. It is now some time since the money was first made available. The most I can promise the honorable member is that I shall discuss the matter with officials of the department concerned, and perhaps the Victorian Government to see if there are any reasons why the two points mentioned by the honorable member should not be re-examined.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Dairy Produce Export Control Act - Twentieth Annual Report of the Australian Dairy Produce Board, for the year 1944-45, together with Statement by Minister regarding the operation of the Act.
National Security Act -
National Security (Prices) Regulations -
Orders - No. 2416-2457.
National Security (Supplementary) Regu lations - Order - Deferment of banking business.
House adjourned at 3.43 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated; -
l. - On the 13th March, the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) asked the following questions, upon notice -
The following information has been furnished by the commission in response to the honorable member’s questions : -
e asked the Minister for External Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Occupation Forces in Japan: Rates of Pay.
n asked the Acting Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Armed Forces: Personnel at Ambon, koepangandrabaul.
e. - On the 4th October, 1945, the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) asked the following questions, upon notice: -
At the time I advised the honorable member that I would have inquiries made and inform him by memorandum. I now confirm my letter to him of the 30th October, 1945, as follows : - 1. (a) 17th December, 1941; (b) 12th December, 1941; (c) March-April, 1941. 2. (a) Ambon. - Approximately 1,100 all ranks comprising the following units: -
H.Q. Gull Force. 2/21 Aust. Infantry Battalion. “ C” Troop 18 Aust. Tank A Battery.
One section 2/1 1 Aust. Field Company.
Detachment 23 Aust. Infantry Brigade, Signals Section.
A.A.S.C. Sec. Gull.
Detachment 2/12 Aust. Field Ambulance. 23 Aust. Dental Unit. 104 Aust. Light Aid Detachment.
Detachment Canteens Services.
Detachment Intelligence Corps. (&) Koepang. - Approximately 1,700 all ranks comprising the following units: -
H.Q. Sparrow Force. 2/40 Aust. Infantry Battalion. 2/2 Aust. Independent Company. 2/1 Aust. Heavy Battery. “ B “ Troop 18 Aust. Tank A Battery.
One section 2/1 1 Aust. Field Company. 2/1 Aust. Fortress Co. Royal Aust. Engineers.
Detachment 8 Aust. Division Signals. 2/1 Aust. Fortress Signals.
A.A.S.C. Sec. Sparrow. “B” Company 2/12 Aust. Field Ambulance. 22 Aust. Dental Unit. 75 Aust. Light Aid Detachment.
Detachment Canteens Services.
Detachment Aust. Army Pay Corps.
Detachment Intelligence Corps.
Aust. Army Chaplains Department.
H.Q. New Guinea Area.
Heavy Battery, Royal Aust. Artillery.
Section A. A. Battery. 17 Aust. Tank A. Battery, less one troop.
Rabaul Fortress Co., Royal Aust. Engineers.
One Fortress Signals Section.
Detachment 23 Aust. Infantry Brigade.
Signal Sec. 2/22 Aust. Infantry Battalion.
No. 1 Aust. Independent Company.
Detachment New Guinea Volunteer Rifles.
Detachment 8 Aust. Division Supply Column.
Detachment 2/10 Aust. Field Ambulance. 19 Aust. Dental Unit.
Detachment Aust. Army Ordnance Corps.
Detachment Canteens Services.
Detachment Aust. Army Pay Corps.
Public Service: Dismissal of Temporary Clerks.
y. - Yesterday the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) asked questions in the following terms : -
The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
t asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Applicants should possess high educational qualifications, administrative organizing ability above the average, and powers of leadership to a marked degree.
Experience in aeronautics and associated sciences, as applied to civil aviation, is desirable.
Applicants must be medically fit for flying duties and should have had wide experience asPilot-Captain of large modern niulti-engined aircraft.
Full information should be furnished of all flying experience, including -
night flying and instrument fly ing, in respect of both total hours flown and hours flown during the past twelve months.
make and subscribe an oath or affirmation in accordance with the prescribed form.
Food fob Britain : Parcels Post Rates.
y. - On the 13th March, the honorable, member for Balaclava (Mr. White) asked a question in the following terms : - .
The Postmaster-General stated yesterday that the postal revenue had increased from £17.000,000 in 1939. to £27,000,000 at the present time, and that the turnover had risen from £18.1,000,000 to £500,000,000. Will the Prime Minister in the light of these facts, consider whether parcels sent from Australia to the Ministry of Food iri Great Britain may be sent post-free and- parcels sent by individuals in Australia to other individuals in Great Britain may be sent at a reduced rate instead of the high rate that now operates?
I now furnish the honorable member with the following reply.’ -
J be existing postage rates in respect of food and other parcels forwarded to Great Britain have been determined in consultation with the United Kingdom authorities and are designed to cover in some measure the costs incurred in - (1) handling within the Commonwealth; (2) sea transportation; and (3) handling and delivery in the United Kingdom. The rates arc relatively low having regard to the costs involved and the portion of the charges retained by Australia is less than sufficient to meet the actual cost entailed. The matter of reducing the rates for gift parcels has been the subject of discussion with the United Kingdom which regretfully feels, however, after giving careful consideration to the many important aspects involved, that it would be inadvisable to extend a special concession in the case of parcels from Australia. There is an arrangement whereby the British Ministry >f Food pay freight on bulk consignments of food, but 1 do not feel that the Commonwealth should suggest to the British Government that it should adopt a similar procedure in regard to individual parcels. In. view of various considerations I regret that it would not bc practicable for the Commonwealth to assume responsibility far the payment of freight on individual parcels
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 15 March 1946, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1946/19460315_reps_17_186/>.