House of Representatives
29 March 1946

17th Parliament · 3rd Session

Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. J. S. Rosevear) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.

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Motion (by Mr. Chifley) agreed to - That the House, at its vising, adjourn to Wednesday next, at 3 p.m.

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Forces for London : Leader of Australian Contingent

Minister for the Army · Capricornia · ALP

by. leave. - As Acting Minister for Defence, I wish to announce that Major-General K. W. Eather, C.B.E., D.S.O., E.D., has been selected by the Government as leader of’ the Australian contingent to participate in the Victory Parade that is to take place in London on the 8th June, 1946.

Major-‘General ‘ Eather has had a distinguished military career, and is one of the most outstanding Citizen Military Force .commanders in this war. I am confident that his selection will be popularly received by all sections of the Australian fighting services. It is interesting to note that Major-General Eather is NX3. That means that he was the third man to enlist in New South Wales on the outbreak of the recent war. He was twice mentioned in despatches - once for service in the Middle East and once for service in New Guinea. He saw service in the campaigns of the Middle East with the 6th Division. He served during the Western Desert campaign in Libya and Cyrenaica, during’ which he was mentioned in despatches and was awarded the D.S.O. for conspicuous gallantry and leadership during the Bardia action. He temporarily commanded the 16th Infantry Brigade from the 18th June to the 13th August, 1941, and- was finally appointed commander of the 25th Infantry Brigade in the 7th Division. He was promoted to brigadier on the 27th January, 1941, and returned to Australia with his unit, disembarking in Adelaide on the 10th March, 1942. After being in Australia for a short period for re-organization, the 25th Brigade, of which he was the commander, embarked from Sydney on the 31st August, 1942, and participated under his command in the Owen Stanley Range campaign. In January, 1943, he was awarded the American Distinguished Service Cross for his outstanding services in the field, and received the C.B.E. for distinguished service .during the period up to December, 1944. For a time he was .attached to Head-quarters, 7th Australian Division. In June, 1945, his brigade was concentrated at Morotai, and took part in the landing at Balikpapan in Borneo. Oh the 26th July, 1945, he relinquished command of the 25th Infantry Brigade, and was appointed Commander of the 11th Australian Division, being promoted to the rank of major-general. Eoi- conspicuous service in the South-West Pacific area from April to September, 1945, he was again mentioned in despatches.

Major-General Eather is 45 years of age.

On the 4th March, 1946, Cabinet approved that a force of 250 should be sent from Australia to participate in the Victory Parade. It was decided that the force should be representative of the three services, including the nursing services and women’s services, and should be composed on a basis of representation proportional to the relative war strength of the three services, being selected as far as possible from personnel with distinguished service.

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Transport to Australia - Financial Assistance


– I ask the Minister for Repatriation whether financial assistance is now available to ex-servicemen whose wives are awaiting embarkation in England for transport to Australia, on account of the difficulty which these men experience in maintaining them during that period? If so, where may the,’ apply for it?

Minister for Repatriation · FRANKLIN, TASMANIA · ALP

– It is a fact that numerous wives of Australian ex-servicemen have been unable to- obtain passages to

Australia owing to the scarcity of shipping. When their husbands were discharged, their allowances naturally ceased, but arrangements havebeen made for the payments tobe continued until the wives are placed on board ship. This concession is subject to a means test. I discussed the matter with a number of ex-servicemen whose wives are in Great Britain, and they, assured me that the present arrangement was working satisfactorily.

Mr McEwen:

– Must the money advanced be repaid?


– Yes. It is onlya loan.

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– Can the Prime Minister give the House an assurance that the questions now on the noticepaper will be answered almost immediately? There are 41 in all, and only three of them appear to-day for the first time. Some of them have been on the notice-paper for weeks, and honorable members are desirous of securing the information sought before the House rises for the Easter recess. Will answers be furnished in sufficient time before the adjournment to allow members to criticize Government, administration in respect of matters with which the questions deal?

Mr.CHIFLEY. - I regret that some of the questions have been on the notice-paper for some time. I discussed the matter before entering the chamber this morning, and asked that steps be taken to expedite the replies to all of the questions. Of course, it is not easy at times to collate all of the information desired. It has to be obtained from different sources, and frequently the officers called upon to furnish it are particularly busy, but I have given instructions that every effort must be made to complete the answers as quickly as possible.

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Relief of Garrisontroops


– Can the Minister for the Army indicate when men serving with the armed forces in Pacific Islands who have been there for a considerable period without leave will be able to return to Australia on leave? Several complaints have reached me regarding the matter.


– I assure the honorable member that the Government andI fully appreciate the importance of granting leave as soon as possible to all of the men at present; doing garrison work in the islands. After my recent visit there, I issued instructions which are now being given effect. As the. honorable member has no doubt read in the newspapers, several vessels have left Australian ports recently loaded with Army personnel to take the place of those who have been serving in the islands for lengthy periods. About 2,000 men are to leave during the present month, and a substantia] number will go next month. I shall supply the figures in detail to the honorable member. Recruiting was resumed on the loth February for the purpose of training additional personnel. Oyer 5.000 men have enlisted and are now in’ course of training. These will be despatched to do necessary work in the islands and will be in readiness to provide relief for the forces now in Japan, after they have served there for twelve months. The representations of the honorable member will be kept in mind.


– Recently, I asked the Minister for the Army a question relating to the recruitment of volunteer forces to serve in the islands to the north of Australia, and the Minister replied on the 22nd March that it may be necessary to limit to 1,500 a month the intake of recruits without previous military experience owing to the rate at which men were coming forward. As little training is needed to guard unarmed Japanese and perform the routine duties of a garrison force, will the Minister, before taking action to limit the enlistment of recruits, give consideration to the wishes of men with three or four years’ service who are still serving abroad and wish to return to civil life?


– As large numbers of men now in the services are prepared to “soldier on”, it will not be necessary to accept 1,500 recruits a month indefinitely. I shall obtain the exact figures and supply them to thehonorable member, but I assure him that there will be no shortage of volunteers to perform the work necessary in the islands until they are cleared of Japanese.

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– In. view of the decision to make advance payments of gratuity money in order to permit the building of homes for soldiers in necessitous cases, will the Government consider making similar concessions to effect necessary repairs to existing homes, through the War Service Homes Commission, building societies, or other recognized authorities?


– I made a statement in this House recently regarding the utilization of war gratuities for home building. The honorable member for’ Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) has introduced another aspect which I do not think was given special consideration by the parliamentary committee which submitted recommendations to the Parliament regarding the use of gratuity money. Except for special reasons, I do not pro- pose to depart from the recommendations of that committee, which the Government adopted in toto, and certainly no variation will be made until after I have asked the committee to examine the matter again. The honorable member’s suggestion will be considered and, if thought necessary, it will be referred to r.he committee.

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– Can you, Mr. Speaker, say whether the air-conditioning of this chamber is overhauled periodically, and is it now working satisfactorily? -I notice that all the ink containers in the chamber have corroded and that the ink in them has dried up.


– Hot air!


– Another effect of the poor air-conditioning is that 30 per cent, of the members have developed colds.

Mr SPEAKER (Hon J S Rosevear:

– The air-conditioning of this building is not up to date, and the Joint House Department is considering the installation of a new plant. I understand thai. three estimates have been received, one for the air-conditioning of both chambers, (mother foi1 the chambers and the Library, and the third for the whole of the building. The matter is under consideration, but no decision has. yet been reached.

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– In view of the severe strictures contained in the Auditor-General’s report regarding the operations of the Salvage Commission will the Minister for Works and Housing state what action he personally took to remedy the highly unsatisfactory state of affairs disclosed by the Auditor-General? Further, in view of the fast that this report coders the period up to the 30th June last only, was any action taken by the Minister to prevent the continuance of improper practices revealed in the report during the nine months which have elapsed since the end of the financial year?

Minister for Works and Housing · WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– As I stated some weeks ago, before the attention of the House had been focussed on the subject, as the result of information conveyed to me by a member of the staff of my department in Sydney, I asked the Treasurer, to make available the services of a high Treasury official to carry out a survey cif the activities of the Salvage Commission. Subsequently, on the basis of the report of the Treasury officer, I requested the Auditor-General to investigate the Commission’s affairs. That that investigation was proceeding, some four or six weeks before the matter was raised in this House, is shown clearly in documents on the files of my department. Immediately the Auditor-General’s report was presented I completely re-organized the Salvage Commission and issued a ministerial direction that the procedure followed in the past in respect of certain transactions was to cease forthwith. Since then, steps have been taken to tighten up the accounting procedure in accordance with the Auditor-General’s advice. Sealed contracts are now opened in the fir.-t instance by an official of the Auditor-General’s Department, and the whole procedure from their receipt is now under the supervision, of officers of that department. The main objection raised by the Auditor-General in his rep:.:’t was that the commission’s accounts were kept loosely and that the accountancy procedure followed was not in accordance with the accepted practice. The Auditor-General dismissed the specific complaint made by the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) in a small paragraph in which he said in clear terms that there was not the slightest evidence that the chairman of the commission had been guilty of improper practices. The Auditor-General did, however, report that the affairs of the commission had not been carried out on the best business lines. The files of my department indicate clearly the accuracy of the matter contained in this reply.

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Organized Marketing - Producer Control - Dog Biscuits - Repayment of Debts


– In view of my statement in the House last night relative to the over-ruling of the Australian Wheat Board’s instructions by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture in ordering the release of 50,000 bushels of wheat for the manufacture of dog biscuits, will the Prime Minister explain what is meant by the term “ producer control “ of these commodity boards, a term frequently used by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture when indicating the policy of the Government in connexion with the marketing of primary products? Will the right honorable gentleman ascertain from his colleague whether it is the general practice of the latter to ignore boards established for the marketing of primary products, and to issue directions over their heads disposing of producers’ commodities at prices lower than can be obtained elsewhere, as was done with producers’ wheat valued at 10s. 4ld. a bushel for export which was made available to the manufacturers of dog biscuits at 4s. lid. a bushel? - Mr. CHIFLEY. - Last night I undertook to ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture to let me have a report in respect of charges made by the honorable member and the honorable member for Indi. That will be done ; but at present, the Minister is absent from Canberra attending a conference of primary producers. I take it that producer control is a general term meaning that commodity boards will be controlled by the producers themselves. I do not hesitate to join in a discussion with regard to the distribution of wheat and the quantities set aside for stock feed and export. Last year 70,000,000 bushels of wheat was allotted for stock feed, and in respect of the purchase price of that wheat the primary producer was subsidized. Apparently, the honorable member forgets that point.

Mr Abbott:

– I did not try to “ ringin “ the dogs.


– As the honorable member knows, - the provision of wheat “ for’ stock feed proved of great benefit to the primary producer. Having regard to the necessity to meet demands for human consumption in the event of another drought, it was my duty, in conjunction with the Minister, to ensure that a proper reserve was kept, and that an excessive quantity of wheat was not distributed as stock feed. I accept my share of .responsibility for the . arrangement made. As T pointed out last night I am not conversant with the distribution of wheat for the manufacture of dog biscuits. I * shall obtain the information sought by the honorable member and make it available to him as soon as possible.’

INDI, VICTORIA · CP; LCL from 1940; CP from 1943

– I. desire to ask of the Prime Minister a question founded upon the reported statement made at Parkes yesterday by the Attorney-General, when, in an address to wheat-growers, he said that, during the war, primary producers had been able to reduce their indebtedness by £60,000,000. Will the Prime Minister have a table prepared showing, as an offset to this, the amount by which the properties of primary producers have depreciated during the same period, because maintenance work could not be done? Will he indicate, the amount by which the properties have deteriorated, because of the. inability of owners to cope with’ noxious weeds, and animal pests ? Will he also indicate the amount by which primary producers would have been able to reduce their indebtedness - I refer particularly to wheat-growers - if the Wheat Board had been able to sell at world prices wheat surplus to Australia’s human requirements? Figures have been cited within the last two days by representatives of primary producers, showing that the present method of disposing of wheat from No. 7 pool alone -has cost the growers £10,000,000.


– If the honorable member will put tha question on the notice-paper, I shall endeavour to have the information obtained for him. The amount of £60,000,000 by which primary producers are said to have reduced their indebtedness is a rough approximation only, and refers to the. position as it existed nearly three years ago. The figure was arrived at by making an analysis of overdrafts, &c, but no attempt was made to obtain absolute accuracy. However, if the amount was roughly correct then, it is certain the figure would be considerably greater now. As for the deterioration of farming properties, honorable members will recall that legislation was passed some time ago making provision for depreciation of that kind, and for” deferred maintenance charges. This applied to primary producers and to manufacturers also. In time, the returns submitted to the Commissioner of Taxation under this heading ought to indicate the primary producers’ own ideas of the amount of deferred maintenance costs, but at this stage it might not be possible to arrive at even an estimate.

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Rayon - Locations in .New South Wales.


– Has the Prime Minister seen a report in the press that Samuel Courtauld and Company (Australia.) Proprietary Limited proposes to build a £5,000,000 rayon factory at Tomago on the Hunter River, and that the company is experiencing difficulty with regard to the provision of adequate water supplies at the proposed factory site? Tests by the local water and sewerage authority have shown that unlimited water supplies can be obtained from the Tomago sand beds. The company’s proposal also involves the construction of a railway bridge at Hexham to provide a. railway siding at the factory. Will the Prime Minister give consideration to . this proposal as a post-war project and assist the company and the Government of New South Wales to provide the facilities required by the company? Otherwise, this company, like the’ Nuffield organization, will probably establish its factory in South Australia instead of New South Wales.


– I am familiar with the details of the company’s proposal because it has been the subject of discussion between myself and the Treasurer of New South Wales. The company’s original plan was to engage in the production of certain raw materials for the manufacture of rayon and other synthetic fibres, and to establish a factory for this purpose at Tomago. I had a number of discussions with Mr. William’s and Mr. Hamilton Moore, who are respectively the British and Australian representatives of Courtauld and Company. The company asked for certain undertakings regarding the protection of their products in the event of its expending a large sum of money, said to be £5,000,000, in establishing the factory here.. I informed them that the matter of protection would have to be referred to the Tariff Board; the Government could not give an undertaking, as the board was the authority to deal with it. The representatives also made a request that a bridge which, I think, would carry a railway, should be built over the Hunter River. That project was fairly expensive, and as the work appeared to come within the ambit of the responsibility of the government of New South Wales, I personally discussed with the Premier, Mr. McKell, the company’s submission. The representatives also applied to the Treasury for approval to purchase a fairly extensive area at Tomago as the factory site, and the necessary arrangements were made through the Treasury for the transference of the property to Courtauld and Company. Another request was that certain air strips, which were under the supervision of the Department of Air or Department of Civil Aviation, should be abandoned, because the company proposed to erect very tall chimney stacks in the locality. I discussed that proposal with the Minister for Air, and he finally arranged either to abandon the strips or to relinquish occupancy of them. The next request related to the supply of water. I understand that the sands at Tomago provide a supplementary supply for the Hunter River Water Board.


– That supply is inexhaustible..


– On the technical side, I am not competent to speak. The Tomago sands provide a supplementary supply of water for a number of industries and domestic consumption. Water could be pumped from a large, part of the area which Courtauld and Company acquired with the consent of the Treasury. After the company had raised the matter of water supply, the Hunter River Water Board intimated that it’ desired to acquire certain of these areas ; it was anxious that pumping should not take place on a scale that might deplete the supply. I understand that the. whole supply could be depleted if excessive quantities of water were pumped from one particular portion of the area. The company claimed that it could pump the water at a cost of 2d. or 3d. a thousand gallons. I discussed with the Premier the Hunter River Water Board’s submission that it should hs permitted to resume those lands, because its proposal would have prevented Courtauld and Company from pumping water from that area. The Premier supported the Hunter River Water Board’s contention that these areas should not be allowed to pass from its control. The board offered to supply water to the company at 8d. a thousand gallons; and I understand that Courtauld and Company regarded the charge as excessive. Once more, I had a personal discussion” with the Premier, who informed me that Sd. a thousand gallons was the charge which was made for water supplied to consumers in that particular area, but he was prepared to take up the matter with the board again. He also informed me that the State was prepared to bear the expense of constructing a bridge over the river if the company decided to erect the factory. He added that if the Hunter River Water Board could not Supply water to Courtauld and Company at a cheaper rate, he would consider the payment of a subsidy. I understand that large quantities of water are required by this kind of industry. That was the stage reached in the negotiations recently, and whether any further conversations have since been held betwen the parties, I am not able to say.

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Russo-Persian Dispute.


– As the order of the day relating to the report of the Australian delegation to the United Nations Conference has been discharged from the notice-paper, will either the Prime Minister or the Minister for External Affairs, prior to leaving for overseas, make a full statement to Parliament, on the dispute between Russia and Persia, and Australia’s attitude thereto?

Attorney-General · BARTON, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– The view of the Government was stated in the course of the recent debate on international affairs in this chamber. Our view is that once a dispute such as this has been brought before the Security Council it cannot be removed from the jurisdiction of the Council merely because one party desires that it should be. As a judicial body, the Security Council has a duty to investigate the facts, and the Australian representative, Colonel Hodgson, has acted in accordance with that general principle. The great difficulty, of course, in to ascertain what are the facts. One day a. statement is made by the Persian representative that his government does not 1- Ish the matter to be brought before the Security Council as a settlement with Russia has been reached, and next day a contradictory statement is made. That only makes more important the necessity t,n discover the facts, and that is the course that Colonel Hodgson is now pursuing. It is a matter not of merely accepting statements made at the conference: table, but of ascertaining precisely what has occurred in Persia and what, agreement, if any, has been reached between Persia and Russia. It is difficult to know exactly what has happened. At a convenient time I shall adopt the right, honorable gentleman’s suggestion and give to the House the fullest possible information on this dispute, which in my opinion is a test case and will determine the power of the Council to mediate in such disputes.


– Can the Minister for External Affairs inform me whether, if one party to a dispute walks out of a meeting of the Security Council, the Council has any power to compel that party to come before it and give evidence as to its relation with another nation?


– The Council has no power to compel the representatives of any nation to appear before it, but that does not exhaust the Council’s prospects of finding out the facts of a dispute from whatever source can supply them.I believe that it is an essential task of the Council in the present dispute to ascertain the facts.

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– The Government of Tasmania has been engaged for a considerable time in a survey of the State in order to ascertain the extent of losses sustained by primary producers and others because of adverse weather conditions, with a view to applying to the Commonwealth Government for assistance on a £1 for £1 basis. Has the Prime Minister received any such application from the Government of Tasmania?


– An application was made on behalf of the dairying industry, particularly in southern Tasmania.

Mr Guy:

– That is not the application I have in mind.


– In that case, as the honorable member will know, a grant was made on a £1 for £1basis up to an amount of £10,000. The purpose was to assist the dairying industry, particularly in connexion with the production of whole milk, which had suffered from drought in southern Tasmania. I have no recollection at the moment of any general application having been made for drought relief, but I shall have inquiries made.

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Armyvehicles: Conditions of Sale to North ern Territory Residents.


– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping secure an explanation of the reason for charging residents of the Northern Territory £100 more for each motor vehicle sold to them by the Commonwealth Disposals Commission than is charged to residents of other parts of

Australia? In view of the absolute necessity for providing adequate and cheap motor transport facilities for people living in and attempting to develop the Northern Territory, will the Government review this policy, which, I understand, has been established by the Commonwealth Disposals Commission, with a view to placing Northern Territory residents on at least an equal footing with other people?

Minister for Post-war Reconstruction · CORIO, VICTORIA · ALP

– I shall have the matter brought to the attention of the Minister for Supply and Shipping and secure an answer.

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– In view of the fact that the Auditor-General has emphasized in his reports for some time past that Commonwealth interests are insufficiently protected in regard to losses of Army cash and stores from theft and other causes, will the Minister for the Army inform the House why remedial measures had not been taken at the date of preparation of the AuditorGeneral’s report which was tabled in this House this week? Will the Minister make a. full statement to the House of the extent of such losses during the war, the action taken against those responsible, and setting out the present position?


– I shall take steps to obtain the information sought by the honorable member. However, I point out that, in an organization so large as the army, in time of war it is inevitable that on occasions store accounting and supervision must take second place to active service operations. There are times when quick action must be taken in regard to the supply of stores and equipment. It is correctly stated by the Auditor-General that, for this reason, there have been deficiencies in store accounting. The subject has been thoroughly examined, and I have had advice on it from the Finance Advisory Board, which is an honorary panel of leading accountants presided over by the chairman of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, Mr. C. B. Harvey. The advice which I have received from the board is that the store accounting procedure of the Army is quite satisfactory, and that, having regard to all circumstances, the store accountingorganization within the Department of the Army is reasonably sound and effective. 1 assure the honorable member that all possible steps are taken to prevent any losses of equipment and material and to ensure that their disposal is properlyaccounted “for.

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Industrial Development - WATER Resources.


– Will the Prime Minister take up with the Premier of New South Wales the matter of investigating the future industrial development of the Lower Hunter and Newcastle districts? The best sites in that area cannot now be utilized because of the’ enormous stretch of country that is now’ held by the1 Hunter River District Water Supply Board in the sand bed areas of Tomago, which lie between Tomago, Williamtown and! Bob’s Farm, and are adjacent to Port Stephens. Industrial development must proceed in that direction. Will the right honorable gentleman ask Mr. McKell to investigate the possibility of raising the Chichester dam, so that the impounded waters may be increased? Will he also ask Mr. McKell to investigate the possibility of damning the Karuah, Williams, and Patterson rivers, so as to supplement the water supply of Newcastle, with the idea df abandoning the Tomago sand-beds, as these would not be needed if those dams were built?


– The most that I can promise is to arrange to have the honorable gentleman’s representations brought to the notice of Mr. McKell.

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Formal Motion for Adjournment

Mr SPEAKER (Hon J S Rosevear:

– I have received from the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the House for the pur pose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely -

The releasing of aliens of enemy origin in order to take up courses in Australian Uni.versities under conditions more favorable than those accorded to ninny Australian servicemen, contrary to the spirit and intention of the Parliament under section 4 of the Reestablishment and Employment Act.


.- 1 move -

That the House do now adjourn.


– Is the motion supported?

Five honorable members having risen in support of the motion,


– As I intend to refer frequently to the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman), I regret that he is .not in the chamber. The motion has a dual purpose : first, . to challenge the preferential treatment that is being accorded to nationals of former enemy countries,- and, secondly, to question the interpretation of the act which gives validity to that treatment. Honorable members will well remember that the act was amended for the specific purpose of preventing such action from being taken. The matter has been the subject of much correspondence between Ministers and certain groups of people whose business it is to police the administration of various acts in order to protect the interests of ex-servicemen and their dependants. Therefore, it cannot be claimed that this motion has been sprung upon the Government for party political purposes, before it has had an opportunity to investigate the complaint. My action to-day arises out of the fact that a satisfactory result has not been achieved by means .of. correspondence, and is taken in the hope that the debate may lead to positive action to remedy a state of affairs which I regard as an affront to Australian fighting men and a complete ignoring by the Government of the expressed will of this Parliament.

Broadly, the charge relates to- the treatment of twenty aliens, nationals of former enemy countries - German or Austro-German - who, for the purpose of convenience, are referred to as “stateless “. The probability is .that they are regarded as belonging to a race of people who suffered much persecution during the war. I shall refer to that later, because I believe that the Government will, to use a court expression, “ rest its case “ on the presumed validity of that definition. These men were interned in England for eighteen months. They were then sent ot Australia, where they were interned for a further six months, at the expiration of which period they were, given the opportunity to join an Australian employment company, which they readily took. They are now being given, or ha ve already been given, an accelerated release, in order that they may take up courses in Australian universities, under conditions which, I claim, are more favorable than those accorded to many of our own exservicemen. T have a list containing nineteen names of persons, described as aliens, to whom accelerated releases have been granted, and the courses that they intend to take up in Australian universities. That, however, is too general, and I want to be very definite. In order to cite a specific case, I shall take one name, from the list of nineteen. Tt is that of Y377946 LanceCorpora 1 W. Wuerzburger, aged 31, of German nationality, with a points accumulation of only 106, who was granted a release in order to take a full course in the Melbourne Conservatorium for one year under the free Post-war Reconstruction Scheme. I may mention that most of the:-c men are under 26 years of age. Medically, they are classed Al. None has a points accumulation exceeding 124, and some of th-em have points as low as 104.

A charge that is not denied is that, in a month which ended on the 6th February last, of four persons who were granted accelerated releases to take up a course of study so as to qualify as school teachers, at least two and probably three were aliens of the type to’ which I have referred. Australians are recognized as a tolerant people. They certainly are a reasonable people. In circumstances of this kind, they are a generous people. I claim that generosity should not be carried to the- extreme degree of requiring the Australian taxpayer to defray the cost of educating nationals of former enemy countries, and according to them benefits under the. Re-establishment and Enjoyment Act, until the last demand of every Australian has been met. The courses which these men are taking cover probably the whole of the university curriculum. They, are to enjoy in Australian universities the privilege of taking courses in science, music, arts, commerce, engineering, architecture, metallurgy, &c. In every instance, they are designated second year or third year students. I know that the Minister will make capital out of that point. The second phase of the matter is its relation to the Re-establishment and Employment, Act. Under section 4 of the measure, as it was originally debated, it was possible for enemy aliens to enjoy all of its privileges on -a basis of equality with Australian servicemen. This right was vigorously contested by members of the Opposition, and was supported by many honorable’ members on the Government side, but an amendment submitted by the Leader of the Australian Country , party (Mr. Fadden), with the object of distinguishing between aliens of enemy countries and Australian servicemen, was defeated in the committee on party lines. However, the position was so untenable that the Minister himself submitted a similar amendment, which was supported by all parlies. That indicated that the amendment tabled by the Opposition had borne ‘fruit, and the Minister found it essential to have his own amendment embodied in the bill. So it may be said that in two parts, one-half one day and one-half on another day, we achieved unanimity on the proposal that the bill should be amended to exclude aliens, whether in the Allied Works Council, the Civil Constructional Corps, the labour battalions or the employment companies. The definition of “ member of ;he forces “ now includes the following words : - but does not include- tiny enemy alien who served during the war as a member of the Australian Army Labour Corps but not otherwise.

I emphasize the words “ any enemy alien “. The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, in a letter which he wrote to the Dads Association, stated -

The Re-establishment and Employment Act is applicable to all members of the Australian . forces except enemy aliens serving in labour units.

The only unit known in Australia as a labour corps, battalion, or company, is made up of what is known as “ friendly aliens “. The Australian. Army equivalents are known as employment companies. That is a distinction without a difference, except that one name is a little more euphemistic than the other. It appears that the Minister, in desperation, used that simple distinction in terms for what’ I believe is a violation of the spirit and intention of the amendment to which I have referred. Yet, extraordinarily enough, in a. letter which he sent to the federal executive of the returned soldiers organization, he admits that these persons are not eligible. The relevant paragraph in his letter reads as follows : -

The position is that certain aliens who may have been born in countries with which we were at war, but who have been classified as “Stateless” by Commonwealth authorities, are eligible to apply for benefits under the Reestablishment and Employment Act provided they hare had the requisite service and thereby qualify as members of the forces as defined in the act. The act does, however, exclude enemy aliens who served during the war as members of employment companies but not otherwise.

There we have an admission that the distinction between a labour company and fin employment company -is one of verbiage and not fact. I have a further let tei* written to the Dads Association by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction. It is a pathetic document, in the sense that it seeks to justify that which the Minister in his own heart knows to he wrong. He begins - lt is absolutely untrue-

I have pointed out that it .is an established fact - that any of these men have been granted accelerated release to take places in. universities that should be reserved for Australians, as all are continuing courses commenced before the war.

That refers to second and third year courses. When ‘ I first read that, it deceived me, .as it must have deceived many thousands of Australians. I took it to mean that these men had begun in Australian universities courses which were interrupted by the war, and were now being given facilities to complete them, but that is far from the truth. The Minister continues -

Every man in the Australian forces who is eligible to enter the second year university clashes was given the right to apply for accelerated release and the stateless aliens mentioned were all eligible. To date, 837 members of the forces, including 21 stateless aliens, have been released for second or subsequent years’ study at Australian universities and not one man, Australian or stateless, has been given an accelerated discharge to enter first year studies.

I deny that any one of the stateless aliens was eligible. That is confirmed by a., statement in the letter .written by the Minister to the federal executive of the returned soldiers organization, in. which he says that enemy aliens in employment companies are not included. The Minister further remarked -

It is quite wrong to say that any of these men has taken a place that should have been given to an Australian, as no applicant who was considered eligible by any university has been refused his discharge.- It is not intended that tiny accelerated releases for original entries to universities’ should be granted-

This is a gem - and von need have no fear that special favour will be given to any one group to the disadvantage of other servicemen.

If I understand English, that simply means, that we need have no fear that special favour will be granted to any group of aliens, and, conversely, it implies that no special favour will be granted to any ex-servicemen over any group of aliens. [Extension of time granted.”]

The Minister is making a feature of the fact that these enemy aliens are undergoing second and third year courses of study. It must be acknowledged by every fair-minded person that, as they were interned in England for eighteen months, the first year’s study must have taken place in their own country, Germany, or Austria. I do not think it will he contended that any reciprocal arrangement between universities applies to these cases. I say that these men have been deliberately given preference in release over many Australians who have not quite completed their first year’s course and may be regarded as border-line cases. As a matter of fact, some of them, although they did not complete their first year in point of time, did actually complete the subjects allotted for the first year, but they have been denied release so that they might begin their second year studies.


– That is not a fact.


– I have here particulars of a specific case which has occurred. The. man was serving in the Navy.

Mr Dedman:

– The Navy may have claimed that he was a key man, and could not be released. That is a different matter, but if he was eligible to start his second year at the. university he would, in the ordinary course of events, have been released.


– .He was probably not eligible in point of time, because, he had not actually completed the year, but L say that he had completed the course for the first year. Therefore, his next course would be the course for the second year. In order to ‘prove that such action, which I regard as an evasion of the. intention and spirit of the act, is more by design than by accident, I quote a further extract from this letter signed by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, and .this quotation neither gains nor loses by being divorced from its context. It is -

Cabinet decided tha.t these stateless aliens, provided they applied for naturalization, shall bo eligible for reconstruction ‘ benefits on the same basis as other servicemen.

The term “stateless’” is used again, but I believe that there is no legal backing for the use of such a word. If the men are stateless, they are so only by reason of an Australian proclamation, and the term is not recognized by our own immigration authorities. If it is here applied to the members of the Jewish race who left their own country, either voluntarily or compulsorily, in order to escape persecution, it can have no force to-day, because the tyranny which drove then? out no longer exists.

The second criticism which I have to offer relates to the phrase “ provided they apply for naturalization”. I understand that the law in this regard provides that an alien must reside in this country from three to six years before becoming eligible for naturalization, and I cannot imagine that the period during which the men concerned ‘were compulsorily detained in this country would count as a part of the qualifying period. Therefore, this provision about applying for naturalization, which cannot be granted until some years hence, is not acceptable. It would appear that the act is being interpreted by Cabinet decision in its original form, and the intention of the amendment unanimously carried by this Parliament is ignored. The matter calls for elucidation by two Ministers - first, the Minister for the Army, without whose concurrence the releases could not take place; and, secondly, by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, without whose approval the men could not enter a university. The act provides quite clearly that no alien shall be eligible under its provisions, and I maintain that no alien should be allowed to take up a course in a university until the requirements of the last Australian soldier have been met. If the Minister is able to give an explanation to satisfy me and the public I shall be pleased.

Minister for Post-war Reconstruction and Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research · Corio · ALP

.- The motion before the House raises four issues : First, that aliens of enemy origin have been released to take up courses at the universities; secondly, that the conditions of their release have been -made more favorable than those which apply to Australian servicemen; thirdly, that this is contrary to the spirit and intention of section 4 of the Re-establishment and Employment Act; and fourthly, that this is a matter of grave national importance.

In order to understand this matter, it is necessary to explain what is the policy of the Government regarding the release of servicemen for university studies, and to explain why certain procedures were adopted. The Government presented to Parliament a White Paper on the sub ject of demobilization, the paper being accepted by Parliament, and by members of the forces, with very little criticism. In the plan for demobilization set out in that document, provision was made for a certain number of occupational releases, and release for study at a university was treated as a particular form of occupational release. The Government had consulted with the university authorities, and it, was’ learned, that the number of persons attending this year for second and subsequent year courses wa.s comparatively small. That, of course, was the result of what had been done during the Avar to ensure that young men would be available for military service, or for work in munitions factories. In this regard, exceptions were made in respect of certain classified faculties. The result is, that in the second and subsequent year courses there is this year room for an increased number of students. Therefore, the Government decided, as a matter of policy, that all servicemen who had successfully completed one year at a university, and were therefore eligible to begin a second-year course, would become eligible for accelerated release. One strong reason for this was that if the servicemen were not released this year so that they could immediately take up courses at a university, the large number of men and women now in their first year would go forward into the second-year courses, and there would not be room for servicemen. That policy has been applied to all men in the services who pre eligible under the Re-establishment and Employment Act. I shall deal with that aspect later. At the moment I am dealing with the fourth point raised by the honorable member for Gippsland, namely, that this is a matter of grave national importance. Under the decision to which I have referred, 911 men have been given accelerated releases from the services. All who applied for accelerated releases have been released. Of the 913, rn lv 21 are what the honorable member (tills stateless aliens. I emphasize that not one Australian serviceman or servicewomen, or civilian, has been denied the opportunity to attend a university because of those 21 releases. That being so. the claim that this is a. matter of grave national importance’ cannot be sustained.

I deprecate the view that, a person, who, after coming to Australia, accepts all the responsibilities of citizenship, including that of volunteering to servo in whatever capacity he is allowed to serve, should be denied opportunities to make himself a better citizen of this country and so rentier batter (service to it, merely because he is not n British subject.

Mr Bowden:

– So do I; but that has nothing to do with these cases.


– Every man in the Australian forces who was eligible to enter a second, or subsequent, year’s course at a university was given the right to apply for an accelerated release; and every one of those who applied for it was released, except a few individuals who were in key positions in the Navy, the Army, or the Air Force. The decision in their cases rested with my colleagues, and honorable members will agree that certain individuals could not have been released. Their numbers, however, would be small. These 21 stateless aliens applied for their discharges in the ordinary way, and were included in the total of 911 who were given accelerated discharges, and were subsequently released. Since these men were granted an asylum in Australia before the war, and all of them served this country in whatever capacity they were allowed to serve, they were fully entitled to the same opportunities for discharge, and reestablishment as other members of the forces. .

Mr ARCHif: Cameron:

– Notwithstanding what the. law says?

M-r. DEDMAN. - I shall come to that point presently. The claim made by the honorable member for Gippsland that these men were interned in Great Britain is, in respect of many of them, unfounded. His speech gave the impression that, all of them were interned in Great Britain and sent to Australia, and that they joined the forces subsequently. T know where the honorable member obtained his information concerning these men. Some people are capable of using in all sorts of ways information obtained in an official capacity; I do not refer to departmental officers. The impression conveyed by the honorable member’s speech was that these m-en were interned in 1940, when great numbers of people in Great Britain were taken into custody. At that time the British Government could not take any risks with aliens, and many persons were interned without: adequate reason. That applied particularly to aliens who had been sent to the Isle of Man- and to the northern parts of the British Isles. Later, their cases were inquired into, by an officer sent to Australia by the British Government for the purpose, and many of them were released because there was no case against them, indeed, in many instances, there was no justification for their internment, other than the fact that the British Government could not afford to take even the slightest risk. A good many of these people came to Australia long before the war began.


– I .omitted to mention that one of them was a naturalized British subject.


– I have here a list showing the date of departure of .these men from their own country. Some of them left as far back as 1933, and others left in 1935, 193S and 1939. Obviously, none of those men could have been interned anywhere before they came here, unless they had been interned by Fascist or Nazi forces in either Italy or Germany.

Mr Hughes:

– Where did they come from ?


– They came from the continent of Europe. Previously, most, nf them were residents of either Germany or Austria. They left those countries when Hitler came into power because they did not like the type of government that was being set up.

Mr Bowden:

– They left a long time after Hitler came into power.


– That could not be true of those who left in 1933. Part V. of the lie-establishment and Employment Act, which deals in a general way with demobilization does not preclude stateless or refugee aliens from being released from the forces on equal terms with other members of the forces. That is specifi- ally provided for in section fi3 (2) which road.? -

The scheme sha.ll be prepared so as to apply. so far a.s is practicable, uniformly to members nf the Military Forces, the Naval Forces and (lie Air Force.

Mr Mcewen:

– Will the Minister state the total number of applications for release for the second-year course?


– The total number must have ‘been 911, because every application submitted was granted.

INDI, VICTORIA · CP; LCL from 1940; CP from 1943

– The applications of key men were not granted.


– My information is that all who asked for accelerated release to resume courses at. universities were freed. If the honorable gentleman can cite one example to prove the inaccuracy of my statement - and I frankly admit that I may be wrong to that limited extent - then the. number anight be one less than I have stated. Let me revert now to section 4 of the act which deals with . definitions. The mover of the motion referred to the definition of the term “member of the forces “. Section 4 lays down that the term “member of the forces “ does not include any enemy alien who served during the war as a member ‘ of the Army Labour Corps, hut not otherwise. The honorable member has explained how this amendment came to be included in the act. If my memory serves me right, the wording of that amendment was suggested to me by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies). One of the points made by the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) is that in some letter which the honorable gentleman is able to quote I used the terms “ employment companies “ in the same connotation as the term “Army Labour Corps “ is used in the act, and that I now draw a distinction between them. I point out however, that before these men were ever in employment companies they were in other units of the services. They had volunteered for active service but the army authorities, probably thinking that, because of their origin the position of these men in the fighting forces might be difficult, decided to draft them into employment companies. They had a period of service before they joined the employment companies, and because of that they are technically entitled to release ou the same conditions as are other members of the forces. The most important point, however, and one which 1 think clinches my argument, is that the . 21 persons we have been discussing to-day are refugee or stateless aliens and noi enemy aliens. We find definitions of these twins in regulations issued by the Government. Under the National Security (Aliens Control) Regulations mid also the National Security (Aliens Service) Regulations, the Commonwealth Government has carefully distinguishedbetween refugee and enemy aliens. In regulation 3 of ihe National Security (Aliens Control) Regulations enemy aliens are defined as people who possess the nationality of a State at war with His Majesty, or being stateless, at any time possessed the nationality of a state which is at wai- with His Majesty, but does not. include a refugee alien. Every one of these 21 individuals whose case has been brought forward is a refugee alien who left his own -country because he did noi; like the kind of government in vogue there.

Mr McEwen:

– Not necessarily.


– He offered his services to fight for this country. He was enlisted and subsequently drafted into an employment company. [Extension of time granted]. Applying the test of the definition of enemy aliens , contained in the National Security Regulations, these 21 individuals whose case has been brought forward by the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) are not in fact enemy aliens and therefore they cannot be excluded from the benefits of the Re-establishment and Employment Act. The Deputy Leader of the Australian Country party and other honorable members opposite were oozing the milk of human kindness a few days ago over the unfortunate plight ‘of those associated with the Yoizuki incident; they apply high humanitarian principles when these suit their, political purposes, but when it comes to the practical application of the spirit of universal brotherhood they take an entirely different attitude. I submit that the motion does not raise, a matter of grave national importance. ] have proved conclusively to the House that these 21 individuals, who have been granted their release on the same terms as other Australians, were not aliens of enemy origin under the definition laid down by the Government in the National Security Regulations, and that they have not been given opportunities which were denied to Australians. They have not, because of their release, been accepted by the universities in such a way as to exclude other Australians, and- the action taken in connexion with their release has not been contrary to either ;he spirit or the clearly expressed intention of the Re-establishment and Employment Act.

Postmaster-General · Barker · ALP

– I should admire in some ways the defence of the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) if he had said specifically, “ I don’t Care a hang what the law gays, or what it means in the opinion of the Opposition; we have done this “ ; and offered no apology. But his exhibition of casuistry would in certain quarters, I think, be dubbed jesuitical. His attempt to substitute regulations for statute law was one of the weakest I have ever heard in this place. The Minister knows perfectly well that he is the intellectual father of the soldiers’ rehabilitation legislation; and that is an off-spring of which he need not be the least bit proud. He was forced to amend that legislation. By his attitude in this debate he has shown that the amendment was most distasteful to him. Having been forced to accept that amendment as the result of pressure, not only from honorable members on this side, but also from honorable’ members opposite, he- is now determined, regardless of what the law, or Parliament, says, to carry out his own will. It would be hard to recall in the history of this Parliament a greater exhibition of the spirit of dictatorship.

The case put up by the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) is unanswerable, and the Minister has. not attempted to answer it. He said that 911 releases had been made; and he also made the statement, which I think is incorrect that every applicant for accelerated release who had had a year’s training at a university before entering the armed forces was, in fact, released. I believe that that statement is not correct. There have been eases of such men being told that their services were indispensable to the forces, that they were key men. I mentioned the other day the case of a lad from Adelaide who is in the navy. Within 24 hours after making representations on that lad’s behalf, I received a letter from the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Makin) informing me that he would not be released, although he has had over three years’ service, and has many more points than the men referred to by the honorable member for Gippsland. I know of another young man, the son of a doctor, who is being retained in the Army. Many other young fellows are still being retained in the forces, although they endeavoured to obtain release in order to commence university training. Some of them did not wait to be called up, but enlisted at eighteen years of age and have seen years of service ; .but these men are told to remain in the forces for at least another year, whilst certain enemy aliens are released in order to complete university courses which they had not started in the Commonwealth. Some of the universities in the countries concerned ure long-established and well-known institutions. J. raise no argument about that; but the Minister tried to get away with talk about these men being stateless. I have not been able to figure out what a stateless man is. There were any number of enemy aliens in this country before the war. They were interned. Incidentally, the fact that, some nien had rendered distinguished war service to this country did not prevent the Government from interning them. However, that is another matter. Some alien refugees approached me in Sydney with a proposition to form an Australian foreign legion. I would not touch their ‘proposal with a forty-foot pole. 1 have never believed in the French Foreign Legion, although it has been one of France’s greatest weapons in its political and economic policy. As 1 have pointed out, on previous occasions, the Government at any early stage of the war decided that no persons could enlist, in any of the forces unless they were natural-born or naturalized British subjects. That was not the case in the First World War. because in that conflict 1 served in the ranks with many nien who were foreigners. The men we are now discussing were called up for service; and the Minister tried to split,, not. hairs, but the tiniest silken thread in an attempt to differentiate between in employment units and service in labour con.panies. For all practical purposes, there is no difference, because both do the same kind of work. But the Minister has tried to show that these men must have been taken into the Army. His exhibition is in that respect unworthy of a Minister. He is endeavouring to cover up an unsavory piece of administration in deliberate. defiance of Parliament for which he cannot find justification in logic or common sense. The case put forward by the honorable member for Gippsland is absolutely unanswerable.


– Certainly, it is unanswered.


– The Minister did not attempt to answer it. I say that until every man born in the Commonwealth who is serving in the Australian forces has been given the right ‘to complete, or commence, a university course, the Minister has no right to resort to the stratagem to which he has resorted in this instance. Taking these people at their best, as enemy aliens, stateless or whatever they may be, they did not come to Australia for Australia’s good or because they had any particular love for Australia. They came here because circumstances in their homeland made it uncomfortable for them to remain there. And, with the recent turn of events in Europe and the reconstitution of certain European governments, I have a strong suspicion that most of these people would go back to the countries from which they came. They did not come here ‘as ordinary immigrants, or to settle here, but simply to accept the asylum which was offered to them by the Government of Australia. Consequently, they have quite a lot to thank this country for.

Mr Beazley:

– And a great many countries have a lot to thank people for who went to them for asylum to escape persecution in their own countries.


– I do not deny that. 1 am as well aware as the honorable member for Fremantle that over the centuries many people Wen to England from the Continent for that reason. But there is also the kind of person who leaves his country for his country’s good. Sometimes he turns out to be a good man in some other country under different conditions, and sometimes he does not: whilst in other cases he goes to that other country for his own good, and having’ done well there, is quite happy to go back to the country from which he originally came and disown the country which was willing to receive him in his day of trouble. I have heard of case after case of young men, aged nineteen and twenty years and still in the forces, who have been denied the right to start a university career in Australia. As for the Minister’s preference in this instance to person* of alien birth, I say that whatever service they may have rendered to Australia they would have been forced to render that service in practically any .country in which they might have been found during the war. So, we owe them nothing on that account. The position is intolerable, and the Government would do well to alter it.


.- As the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) stated1, the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) left unanswered the case submitted by the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden). I do not propose to discuss, in detail the position of these stateless persons, but I shall direct attention, to the Government’s lack of policy in relation to the release of servicemen in order that they may undergo university training. In my view, and in the view of a great many honorable members opposite,, if the press has correctly reported their statements, the Government has fumbled this aspect of its rehabilitation policy, just as it has fumbled so many other aspects of it, and quite clearly, there has been a strong difference of opinion within the Government itself. Towards the end of last year, when this matter of releasing the largest- possible number of service personnel to undertake university courses was raised, the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction gave to the House a definite assurance. He said that the matter was receiving careful consideration, and that everything possible would be done to arrange for the early release of service personnel desirous of taking university courses. This assurance applied not only to first and second-year students but also to those who desired to attend a university and had not yet started a course. He estimated that about 10,000 men in the -Services would ask for professional training at the universities, and he stated that, it would be physically impossible to provide accommodation and teachers for all of them at once. For that reason, he said, a scheme of priority was being considered, and 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. Quite clearly, his statement envisaged that a considerable proportion of the 10,000 servicemen would be released, as exceptions to the points system. But to-day, in an attempt to justify the particular aspect of policy to which the honorable member for Gippsland referred, the Minister said that the points system must be adhered to, except in respect of second-year students. That assertion distinctly conflicts with the statement that he made towards the end of last year.

If we required any further evidence to condemn tie policy which the Government has pursued, the Minister provided it when he admitted that ‘fewer than 1,000 servicemen had been released to enter the universities. Out of the whole of the armed forces of the Commonwealth, exceeding 500,000 persons, fewer than 1,000 have been released to undergo training in university courses ! What is the logic behind the policy which the Government has adopted? Mr. Dedman. - The honorable member is making a mistake. The 1,000 persons who have been released, are students taking second-year courses and courses in subsequent years. A very large number of men have been released under the points system, and they are beginning their courses at the universities this year.


– Has the Minister an estimate of the total number of persons who have been released from the services in order that they may enter a university?

Mr Dedman:

– I shall obtain the information for the honorable member.


– Will the Minister admit that the universities,, on the statement of Professor Mills, who is the chairman of the Universities Commission, would be able to cope with a much larger number of service personnel if they were released than the number who are already undergoing courses of training? I believe that the Minister will admit that. The statement which he made towards the end of last year clearly showed that he envisaged the release of a much larger number of servicemen. Probably because of a conflict of view between the Army authorities and the Department of Postwar Reconstruction, this later decision has been reached.

That brings me back to the original weakness of the rehabilitation set-up which we criticized when the Reestablishment and Employment .Bill was before the House. We pointed out then that in order to deal with this problem effectively, the Prime Minister (Mr; Chifley) should appoint a Minister for Rehabilitation, who could carry through fo their conclusion the policies formulated for the release of personnel. To-day we have in the Services thousands of young men of promise whose course of training up to the time of their enlistment was directed to their undertaking subsequently a university course. Why does ‘the Government draw the line at. those who have already completed the first year of their university course? Some young men who were included in quotas to enter “ protected “ university courses, such as science and medicine, considered that they had an overriding responsibility and duty to give military service at that time. If they had entered a university to study science or medicine they would not have been subject to call-up for the Army.

Mr Dedman:

– That is not an issue in this debate.


– The Minister dealt extensively with the general policy of the Government on this subject. As for this matter not being relevant to the issue before the House, surely there is relevancy in debating the rival claims of those who could have gone to the university when they left school but chose to enter the services, and those who gave service, however useful, in employment companies! I do not desire to raise racial or national issues, but if we are to contrast the conflicting claims of these two classes, I unhesitatingly place our own young men before the stateless aliens. The young Australians who entered the Army instead of going to universities, gave more valuable service .and have a much stronger claim upon this Parliament than have aliens who served in employment companies. But now, their position is prejudiced-, and t,1]e Government deserves criticism for it. However, the larger issue should forgotten. By its short-sighted policy in this matter, the Government is denying, probably for the whole of this academic year, opportunities, which are available in the universities, to people who are worthy of training and whose- services have entitled them to it. Unless the Govern ment is able to give a much better statement of policy than that which the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction enunciated, this House, if it has any sense of responsibility, must carry the motion.

Minister for the Army · Capricornia · ALP

-My colleague the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) has dealt very effectively with the motion submitted by the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden). He clearly demonstrated that the persons who were allowed the benefits of university training were not enemy aliens, but refugee or stateless aliens. Enemy aliens are defined as -

People who possess- the nationality of a state at war with His Majesty, or, being stateless, at any time possessed the nationality of a state at war with His Majesty, but not including refugee aliens.

The Minister completely refuted the allegation that preferential treatment was given to 21 aliens. He showed that they were not released in such a way as to prevent Australians from undertaking universities- courses. They numbered 21 out of a total of 911 successful applicants for accelerated release.


– It does not apply only to universities.


– It applies only to universities as the Minister for PostwarReconstruction has said. The Minister quoted section 63 (2) of the act which provided that the demobilization scheme should be prepared in a manner to apply, so far as practicable, equally to all members of the services. I think it is necessary that I should endeavour briefly to clarify the position in so far as it concerns the Department of the Army and the military authorities engaged on duties related to the discharge of personnel from the Army, whether in the ordinary process of demobilization or otherwise. In the general programme of demobilization, the Army authorities perform their duties in consultation and co-operation with the civil demobilization authority which functions under the administration of the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction. In fact, the two organizations work together to implement the Government’s policy decisions. From time to time the Army discharge authorities are approached by civil authorities such as Man Power, or the Department of Postwar Reconstruction, to arrange the release of personnel in special occupational or other categories, whose discharge, even although sometimes in advance of normal points priority, i9 in accordance with approved policy. The release of personnel to resume university training from and including second years courses is a case in point. Applications for such courses from serving members of the military forces were submitted to the civil training authorities, and after an examination of individual records, all those eligible were recommended for discharge by the Co-ordinator of Demobilization and Dispersal. From then on, the Army was concerned only with the processes of discharge and the completion of the details of the military service of the nominated personnel. The position of refugee aliens who were enlisted members of employment companies of the Australian Military Forces was this: These men were in no different category, in so far as the Army discharge authorities were concerned, from any other serving military personnel whose release was sought to enable them to take university courses at the second year or subsequent stages, under the provisions of the Reestablishment and Employment Act.

Sp much for the Army’s part in this matter. I turn now to the history of the alien personnel of the 8th Employment Company. As the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction pointed out, some of the aliens had come to Australia so far back as 1933. Others had been mustered overnight in the United Kingdom after the collapse of France, and had been sent to this country where they were cared for by th-E Australian Army authorities on behalf of the British Government. Subsequently, the British Government, realizing that there was no evidence against many of them, but only certain grounds for suspicion, sent a trusted British Army officer to Australia. That officer spent more than two years investigating the records of the aliens, and checking up as far- as possible their innocence or otherwise. As the result of those investigations,, the

British Government released from internment refugee aliens who had satisfied the authorities that they had been forced to emigrate from enemy territory because of religious, racial or political persecution, and who were opposed to the regime that had forced them to emigrate. Others were discharged in this country to take up various occupations. Some had carried out courses of study while interned and had passed matriculation examinations,, and applied themselves to university subjects. It was not possible, owing to transport difficulties, to return all the refugee personnel to Great Britain and many of them had to be held in Australia. A number of them demonstrated their anti-Nazi sentiments by agreeing to play an active part in direct support of the allied cause in Australia. They could have continued a’ life of relative comfort and full security in internment camps, at the expense of Australian taxpayers; instead, they volunteered for service in the Australian Military Forces. Some of them said that they were prepared to join fighting units if permitted. However, those who were medically fit for service were enlisted and posted to the Sth Employment Company for service in Australia. Thus, these men fulfilled their promise to assist Australia’s war effort and the Army and the country had the benefit of their services in a variety of ways. An exhaustive investigation was made before they were attested as members of the Australian Military Forces. Enemy aliens who could not be classed as refugees were not permitted to .enlist in the Sth Employment Company. I would mention here that -at the same time, the provisions of the National Security (Aliens’ Service) Regulations were enforced, and aliens resident in Australia who were classified as “ refugee “ under the terms of those regulations, were also permitted to volunteer. No “enemy alien “ as defined by those regulations, /as enlisted in the Australian Military Forces. These stateless aliens - members of employment companies in the Australian Military Forces - have received no preferential treatment over that accorded to Australian or British-born members of our forces. Their release was for second year university courses, and was in conformity with the policy which, as has been explained by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, precluded any accelerated discharges for enrolment this year in first year courses. Furthermore, the release of this relatively small number of alien personnel - less than 2-J per cent, of the total releases for university courses - involved > no displacement or supersession of Australian servicemen who had been approved for resumption of university training at the second year stage. No Australian servicemen who was eligible was refused his discharge to commence his second year study at an Australian university, and many thousands of the 300,000 members of the lighting forces who have been demobilized, have since taken up first year courses at universities. The 21 individuals referred to, have been approved only for second year courses, and in comparison with the total figures for the Commonwealth their number is negligible. Certainly the circumstances do not warrant the protests that have been made bv honorable members opposite.


.- The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) has brought forward a very clear-cut and simple, though important, case. He expounded it in lucid terms, substantiated it with facts, and even offered to produce the names of the enemy aliens to whom be referred. It. is a simple charge, and the Government claims that, its action can be successfully defended. Therefore, I cannot understand why the two Ministers who have spoken have made no attempt to answer the charge. Each one has practised the oldest of political tricks, that of dealing, not with the case that was raised, but with some other case. The honorable member foi’ Gippsland said that certain people of enemy origin had been released for admission to Australian universities in preference to Australians who wished to be admitted. The Government’s contention, so far as we have been able to untangle it from the complicated web of words woven by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) and the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde), is that the 21 persons involved are worthy aliens about whose admission to universities nobody should bicker. I wish to make it quite clear that it is not the wish of members of the Country party that these people, who were granted asylum in Australia, should never be permitted to attend universities. The honorable member for Gippsland did not urge that at all. He said that preferential treatment should not be given to these people. The whole of the resources of our university educational system, subsidized heavily by governments, should not be made available to these, people until the very legitimate and understandable aspirations of men who have served in the Australian armed forces are satisfied. Every Australian who has served in the war, and having had his career interrupted by military service, now wishes to take up the threads of civil life again, should be given the first opportunity to avail himself of the opportunities afforded by the universities. These other people can stand farther down the queue. That is our contention, and the Government has made no reply to it although there have been attempts to confuse the issue. The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction even’ went so far as to imply that the honorable member for Gippsland had secured information in some surreptitious manner. He suggested that the information had been obtained through some officials - not government officials, and therefore presumably university officials - who were willing to wound the Government by supplying the facts. The honorable member for Gippsland has authorized meto say that his information was obtained from communications addressed to the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia. That the Government should allege that it is improper for the league to be in possession of the names and categories of persons of alien birth who have been admitted to Australian universities in preference to Australian servicemen, is almost incredible. The Government’s position is entirely indefensible. It ill becomes the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction to decry individuals who have supplied -uch information to the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia.

Instead of defending the Government’s - policy, the Ministers gave a glowing account of the magnificent service to Australia given by the aliens in question. Even the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) chipped in to say, in effect, “ Why,- in addition to the services they have given, Heaven only knows what magnificent service they may give in the future, because in some foreign land in some long-past century there were instances of persons of alien birth becoming worthy and valuable citizens of the country to which they emigrated “. Such extreme and consistent confusion of the issue can scarcely be credited. Both Ministers said that some of these aliens served in the Sth Employment Company of the Australian Military Forces, and worked hard and loyally. What else could one expect? Australians were conscripted to fight or to work. Are we to regard it as an act of generosity on the part of aliens who came to this country for asylum that they should be willing to work? Most of us have seen aliens unloading baggage from the Spirit of Progress at- Albury Railway Station and transferring it to the Sydney train. Those rneb were well fed and well clothed, and they work for reasonable hours. The fact that they gave such service is cited by the Ministers as justification for selecting some of them for entry to universities in preference to Australian servicemen. The Ministers attempted a further silly defence of the Government’s position by claiming that these people are not of alien birth but are “ stateless persons “. I can only describe that, argument as being too silly for words. They are not “ stateless “ ‘of their own choice; that is a mere accident. A man who came to Australia from Bavaria is a German. If he came from Sudetenland prior to the occupation of that area by the Germans after Munich, he is neither a Czech nor a German, and therefore he is “ stateless “. He might have been a fanatically pro-Nazi Sudeten German, for all we know, but because he is “ stateless “, Ministers say, “ Why, this worthy -man to whom you would deny university education is riot a German; he is stateless “. They argue, by a weird mental process, that such aliens have achieved some right to admission to universities before Australians who served their country, and. in some instances, actually shed blood for it. I repeat that we do not claim that these aliens should never be given the opportunity to attend Australian universities. We say. that they should stand in order of priority after Australian citizens who fought for their country. I hope that, before this debate ends, some attempt will be made on behalf of the Government to reply to the charges’ made by the honorable member for Gippsland. The Ministerfor Post-war Reconstruction said that every serviceman who applied to be released, and who was eligible to be released, for university training had been discharged. The fact is that eligibility for release is subject to the whim of somebody in the ‘ services who decideswhether the man concerned is a “ key man “ or not. I know of a man acting; as batman to an officer, who sought; release in order to return to an essential’ civil occupation, but obstacles .were placed in his way because he was described asa “ key man in the Army “. Every member of this house must be aware of similar ridiculous cases. There must be? hundreds of them.


– The honorable member’s time has expired.

Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.


.- It is a pity that the Opposition has introduced? racial considerations in a debate on the discharge of men from the services to> take up university courses or to resume those that were interrupted by their enlistment. That is irrelevant, and a sidetracking of the m’ain point at issue. It is a narrow view to take. Unless weadopt a broader outlook in regard topeople who come here from overseas, weshall never make the progress that wedesire or develop our country as it should be developed. Our ancestors came fromother, countries. After all, the peoplewhose case is now being considered were persecuted by the Nazi forces. I believe it was the Deputy Leader of the Country party (Mr. McEwen) who was in chargeof the department concerned when, under the very humane policy of the government of the day, those who had been persecuted were invited to come to .Australia! and were given asylum when they accepted the. invitation. It would be the essence of hypocrisy to say now to them, “ You are not entitled to the ordinary rights and privileges of citizens of this country.” The Minister for Postwar Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) has effectively answered the case that has been presented in regard to persons of alien origin who were released from service in order , to resume their studies at a university. He has clearly shown that there has not been any discrimination, and that the releases were in conformity with the policy of the Government in connexion with demobilization. Tha real issue is, whether we have fully discharged bur duty to those young men whose careers have been retarded by long years of service, and whose health has been undermined by the ravages of war. It is incumbent upon not only Ministers and their advisers but also every member of this House to discharge that obligation. I have had cases brought to my notice which I have taken up with the authorities. One case is that of the son of a well-known doctor in my electorate who is now about 70 years of age. He had intended to retire some time ago, but in fairness to his patients, and desiring to do his part during the war in a pa triotic spirit, he has continued to practise, although he is in ‘a low state of health. His son is well over the age of maturity, because he has been in one of the services for five or six years. Prior to enlistment, he had matriculated but had not commenced his course at the Sydney University. Because he is a single man, he has not the requisite number of points for discharge, despite his long service. The course in medicine at the university is long and arduous, and he will probably be at least 30 years pf. age before he qualifies to practise. Before that time, the health of his father may have become so impaired as to preclude him from continuing his practice - he assures me that that is the position - and when . the lad ultimately qualifies as a medical practitioner the practice which his father has built up over, many years- may be nonexistent. Somebody else may have “ squatted “ .in the district, or one of these alien refugees may have qualified earlier than the son and established himself there. That is not a fair proposition. There is a case for reconsideration of Government policy in regard to the demobilization of those who wish to undertake university studies, as well as apprentices whose careers were interrupted by their war service. The policy of the Government is clearly set out in a letter that I received from the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, dated the 19th February, 1946. In it, he said-

I refer again to the telegram addressed to inn on the 8th February, relative to the release of servicemen to begin first year university studies.

You will remember that the Government adopted a points system as the basis for demobilization as it was firmly convinced that such .1 priority system was the fairest ils between man and man. Accelerated releases were to be granted for reasons that would benefit servicemen us a body, and not for those designed to benefit individuals or sections.

Whatever may be said in regard to the points system, originally it was intended to be merely a. system of priority for the demobilization of the forces. I am satisfied, from knowledge that I have, that it is being abused by certain “brasshats “. Instead of being used as a basis for the demobilization of men in order of priority, it is having the effect of keeping men in the services for a longer period than is justifiable. It is remark-‘ able that Opposition members should raise these matters, because the situation about which they complain is caused by gentlemen who favour their political philosophy, and when discharged join up with the Liberal party, even offering themselves as candidates for election. In a war, if you are not winning battles you change your Generals. The Government should change some of its advisers, who to my mind are deliberately puttingit “on the wrong foot”. The Minister went on to say -

As it affects universities, this policy was implemented by granting accelerated releases to those servicemen who were eligible to enter second-year studies in. 1040, in order to relieve the otherwise inevitable over-crowding of thos,classes in the following year.’

Why should those young men who have not started the first year at a university be penalized compared with others who are fortunate enough to have commenced their second year. Some degree of preference should be given to those who have not had the opportunity to start the first year, because the others are a year ahead of them. The letter continued -

This action was taken on the advice of the Training Authorities as concern was felt that the large number of first-year students released on normal priority points, and beginning in 194(5, would bc over-crowded in second -.year classes in 1047, when all those younger servicemen who have completed one year of study prior to enlistment would also be demobilized and desire to resume their courses.

That is not in conformity with the facts, and certainly not with the view of those who are vitally concerned. Whoever the training authorities are who have advised the Government, they do not appear to represent the university authorities or the men who are vitally interested in the matter. Members of the forces who want to begin studies at a university, or to resume interrupted courses, recognizing the situation, are prepared to put up with some little inconvenience for the time being. One would expect that many army huts and other buildings could he erected as a temporary measure. It is remarkable how quickly they can be provided to house men upon their enlistment, and how quickly ships can be found to send them away to fight. All the reasons in the world are advanced as to why the men cannot be demobilized. They are told that, ships cannot be provided to transport them from island garrisons back to Australia. It is astonishing how quickly shipping became available when an agitation for more speedy demobilization was- started, with the result that discharges were doubled - an achievement which experts claimed was not possible. Prom inquiries I have made, I am assured that the university authorities, particularly iri Sydney, are most sympathetic to members of the fighting services, and are quite ‘ prepared 10 accept them, provided the defence authorities will discharge them.

Mr SPEAKER (Hon J S Rosevear:

– The honorable member’s time has expired.


– I congratulate the honorable member for Gippsland (M!r. Bowden) upon the moderate and temperate way in which he placed this matter before the House. His speech was so temperate that it. deserved a much better answer than either of the Ministers who replied to it. was able to furnish. . I thought that the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan) intended- to make the replies which the Ministers failed to give, but he was more critical of the action of the Government than those on the Opposition side who instigated the debate. The Minister for the Army’ (Mr. Forde) sa’id that the Minister for Postwar Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) had dealt effectively with the charges made by the honorable member for Gippsland. I envy the Minister the very vivid imagination which allowed him to believe such a thing. As a matter of fact, the charges ware practically ignored by both Ministers, who assumed a defensive role from the outset. People who receive sanctuary in Australia should not be penalized, but neither should they get a better deal than Australian-born people who have given war service to their country. They should not be placed in a more favorable position than those who have proved their citizenship and risked life and limb in the interests of the nation.

The reference by the Minister for Postwar Reconstruction to the Japanese, destroyer, Yoizuki, was most unfortunate. The Government had nothing to be proud of with regard to that incident, and it has less to be proud of in connexion with the matter to which the honorable member for Gippsland has drawn attention. Whilst the Minister’s heart bleeds for humanity, and he preaches the brotherhood of man, he was not actuated by such a purpose when a “ digger “ of World War I., who was interned on the ground of association with the Australia First Movement, and was afterwards proved to be innocent of ‘ any charge levelled against him, was allowed to languish in an internment camp for years, although he ‘had a war decoration. He actually died during his internment. The Minister cannot escape responsibility for the position now under discussion. The Government, by its action, has allowed a decision of this Parliament to be overruled. When the Reestablishment and Employment Bill was before the House, the rights of enemy aliens excited much debate. An amendment of the definition of a “ member of the forces ‘”’ was submitted by the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr.

Fadden) and was defeated, but at a later stage an almost similar amendment from the Government side was carried, because the majority of honorable members opposite recognized the fairness of the amended proposal. In the matter now under consideration the Government acted in accordance with the original definition from which it was compelled to retreat as a result of the force of opinion in this chamber among, not only members of the Opposition, but also its own supporters.

It is disturbing to find that men who served in the forces because they had no opportunity to do otherwise are released with 109 points, whereas servicemen with many more points to their credit are not allowed to be released. The Minister said that releases were made impartially, but afterwards he admitted that, if the services of certain men were required because they occupied key positions, they could be retained. In those circumstances, it would be possible for any serviceman to be refused discharge. I have noticed striking instances of men being classed a.s key men, although in some instances they were engaged on only menial jobs. Because they were doing that work well, and their commanding officers did not wish to lose their services, they were said to be key men, and for that reason they were not discharged. They were denied an opportunity of rehabilitation in civil life, whilst at the same time men described by the Minister as “ stateless “ were allowed to undergo courses of education at the expense of the Australian taxpayers. I have, no objection to that, provided there is no undue discrimination, but anybody who heard the casepresented by the honorable member for Gippsland would -have to admit that unfair discrimination has been shown.

The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction seemed peeved because the honorable member for Gippsland was able to get certain information. I take it that the information was not of a. secret character. It was not obtained by him surreptitiously. It was secured by means of correspondence made available to him by the returned soldiers organization, of which he had been a member since the first world war. I know of no man in this House- more entitled to use the information than he, and I do not know anybody who could have used it mow effectively than he did to-day. His effectiveness was proved by the tortuous way in which both Ministers attempted to avoid the real crux of the matter. They tried to induce the House to believe that these internees received no more than that to which they were entitled. But whoever is responsible for the action taken has seized an opportunity to do something of which the House has expressed its disapproval, and for which the people of Australia will not stand for a moment. Again, I congratulate the honorable member for having brought to light a matter of which the Government should be heartily ashamed.


.- This matter should be removed from the emotional atmosphere in which it has been considered. There, are twenty aliens scattered among the six Australian universities. One thousand three hundred and fifty Australian troops who were students in . the same year have been released, of whom 911 are in universities and the rest in training colleges. To-day, the time of the House has been, wasted by the suggestion that, because twenty aliens and 1,350 Australians in their second year have been released, the Government has shown a pro-foreign and an- anti-“ digger “ bias. The honorable member for Corangamite(Mr. McDonald) told us that military officers frequently refrain from discharging those who have done well in the forces on the ground that they are key men. This problem will always arise in dealing with a large impersonal organization. There are 350,000 persons still in the forces, and they are scattered all over the Commonwealth. Does the honorable member suggest that when an inquiry is made concerning the release of a man, and his commanding officer sends back a statement from the other side of the continent saying that he is a key man, the Minister can immediately authorize the man’s release? I recognize that ministerial responsibility is a first principle of government, but we must view these matters with common sense, and in practice the Minister must listen to the commanding officer concerned. Coming back to the facts, which honorable members opposite have studiously ignored in their usual attempt to ride on the soldier’s hack, we see the matter in its true light, and realize that there are four points to be considered : First, the total number of aliens released from employment companies for the purpose of taking up second-year courses at a university is twenty. Secondly, of these one’ was already a naturalized British subject, which left nineteen who were still refugee aliens. Thirdly, the present priority points for release are 130. Fourthly, of the twenty aliens released, four already had qualified under the points system, the number of their points being i66, 140, 138, and 134 respectively. Thus, only sixteen have been released before their proper time.

Mr Bernard Corser:

– Where did the honorable member get those figures?


– From the Department of the Army. Of the others, eleven were within eight points for the required number, and they would have been, released by now in any case. Therefore, this storm in a tea cup concerns five persons who had the following number of points- 102, 106, 10S, 108, 1.1.6. The action of the authorities in this matter has been condemned by members of the Opposition as indicating a bias against the “diggers” in favour of aliens. Let me here refer to the technique of debate as practised by members of the Opposition. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) said that there were -00,000 persons in the forces, and the Government was giving university training to only 911. ‘Consider what a vicious statement that is. The figure 911 refers only to men released for a second-year course at a university. It does not include those released under the points system to begin a university course with government assistance. It does not include either first-year or third-year indents. The statement of the honorable member suggests that all of the 500,000 persons he mentioned as being in the forces are matriculated students ready to begin a university course. When the honorable member for Fawkner was a Minister, he had on his staff a Professor Mauldon, who wrote a book called the Use and Abuse of Statistics. It appears to me that the honorable member studied that section dealing with the abuse of statistics, rather than the one dealing with their proper use. He also ignored the matter of key men in the force?. The Government has ordered the release of men qualified to begin a second-year course at a university, unless there is good reason for retaining them, and I have already pointed out how difficult it is for a Minister in Canberra to reach a decision on that point contrary to the recommendation of the man’s commanding officer. Moreover, the honorable member said that, according to Professor Mills, there is still plenty of room in the universities for discharged servicemen. If that is so, then, ipso facto, the presence of a few aliens in the universities is not keeping out men from the forces.

The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) spoke of the undesirable character of many aliens. I do not know whether by that sneer he was trying to make ‘an appeal to racial prejudice, and to suggest that there was something undesirable about the twenty aliens under discussion. I do not know the men per- _sonally, but, apparently, the honorable member for Barker shares with the Deity a complete knowledge of them and their affairs.. I believe that his statement represented an attempt to whip up among members of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia a belief that the Government was favouring aliens at the expense of returned men, and the honorable member makes this attempt in spite of the fact that there is now a record number of exservicemen studying at universities under the best scheme of assistance to returned soldiers that this country has ever seen. Honorable members are suggesting that, because five persons lacking the requisite number of points have been admitted to the universities, of which there are six in Australia, a grave injustice is being’ done to ex-servicemen. I never heard a more absurd statement in my life. Ever since the end of questions to-day the time of the House -has been wasted by honorable members opposite in an attempt to stir up racial prejudice, and to make a base appeal to what they imagine to be the opinion of returned soldiers. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) ought to be ashamed for having raised this matter. In the demobilization of 350,000 persons absolute justice cannot always be done. If any injustice has occurred it could have been rectified by correspondence with the Minister.


.- It is true that the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) stated his case with perfect clarity, but what he failed to do was to cite one specific case of a person possessing the necessary qualifications who had been denied the right to take up a second year course at any university. Neither did the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. McDonald) get down to bedrock. He contented himself with making a series of general statements, such as - “ The Minister has a vivid imagination - The charges have been ignored - He has nothing to be proud of - He cannot get out of facing these charges - Some one has been overruled - These charges demand a full investigation - There has been undue discrimination “. He did not cite any specific cases, either. At no time did he give the regimental number, the name or the unit, of a man who had been refused release, unless he was a key man. It is evident that the Opposition must be in desperate straits. They know that in six months time a general election will take place, and for the last month everything they have said and done have been directed towards making the public believe that they are the lily-whites - they are the only people interested in returned servicemen. In 1939, the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) issued a statement setting forth the terms and conditions of enlistment of men to be sent abroad.

Motion (by Mr. Adermann) put -

That the question be now put.

The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. j. S.Rosevear.)

AYES: 15

NOES: 30

Majority . . . . 15



Question so resolved in the negative.

Debate interrupted under Standing Order 257b.

page 805


Second Reading

Attorney-General and ‘Minister for External Affairs · Barton · ALP

.- I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

This bill is to make provision for the performance by the next senior judge of the duties of the Chief Judge of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration in the event of his absence from office, or his inability to perform the duties of his office. In most statutes dealing with courts, including the High Court, under theJudiciary Act, and,I think, under all the statutes of the States, itis provided that, in the absence of the Chief Judge, or presiding officer of the court, his powers and duties may be exercised by the next senior judge. For some reason that provision was omitted from the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. In some cases, where the Chief Judge of the court is unable to sit, the work of the court can go on without any hindrance; but in connexion with the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration there is a special provision that where the matter before the court relates to the determination of the standard hours of work in an industry, or the basic wage of an industry, or the principles upon which the basic wage is computed, the case must be heard before the Chief Judge. Hither to the necessity to meet sucha situation has not. arisen. During last week, however, the Chief Judge of the court, His Honour Chief Judge Piper, communicated with the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) and myself, and I regret to say that he showed to us the substance of medical reports which had been furnished to him which make it impossible for His Honour to perform the duties of Chief Judge, at any rate for some considerable time. His Honour was at. first quite willing to relinquish his office altogether because of his fear that he would not be able to carry out the duties with the ability which had always marked His Honour’s work, but, after discussion with us, we thought it better, and Cabinet, agreed, that His Honour should be entitled to take leave of absence because of the state of his health, in the hope that he will be restored to health, and be able again to perform the duties of his office. For that reason, it is intended, if this bill be passed, that he shall take leave, in which event it is essential that some other judge shall carry out his duties. The purpose of the bill, therefore, is to provide that the next senior judge on the list of the court shall perform the duties of Chief Judge during his absence from office or inability to perform the duties of his office. The matter is of course important, and of some urgency because the court is about to undertake the investigation of standard hours in the printing case. That will be a very heavy case, and, having regard to the medical advice received by the Chief Judge, it will be quite impossible for. him to take charge of it. Accordingly, it is proposed that the next senior judge should hear the case.

Mr McEwen:

– Is seniority deterinined on years of service?


– There is no provision in the act for such a determination, but clause 3 proposes to insert a provision therein to the effect that judges should have seniority according to the dates of their commissions.

Mr Holt:

– There have been suggestions that the Government proposes substantial alterations of the act.


– It is not intended in this bill to deal with more than the immediate problem caused by the illness of the Chief Judge and with One other matter. There is an apparent contradiction between two provisions of the principal act, one of which provides that the court, in hearing standard hours matters, should be constituted of the Chief Judge and not fewer than two other judges ; the second provision, which I shall ask the House to amend later, prescribes that in a hearing of the same matter, where the Attorney-General has intervened on behalf of the Commonwealth, the court consist of the Chief Judge and two other judges. This bill is urgent as the stage is almost set for the determination of the most important matter of standard hours, and the Chief Judge has drawn the attention of the Government to the fact that he will not be well enough to withstand the strain such an important .case might impose on him.

There is one further matter not covered by the bill. As the absence of the Chief Judge would mean that only four judges could be sitting, the total number at present being only five, the Chief Judge and four others - it is. the intention of the Government to appoint an additional judge to the court. The Government believes that it would not be right for a court hearing such an important matter as standard hours to consist of an even number of judges. It also has in mind the recommendation made in the Stevedoring Industry Commission’s report which was received yesterday.

Mr Holt:

– “Will the right honorable gentleman give us an assurance that the standard hours case will have no bearing on the selection of a new judge?


– The appointee will bean outstanding member of the bar. The appointment will have nothing to do with that case as distinguished from all other cases with which the Arbitration Court will have to deal. Members will agree that it would be most desirable to have a case of the dimensions of the standardhours case heard by a court constituted, not of four, .but of five judges, which was the intention of the Chief Judge. The Stevedoring Industry Commission’s report recommended that a judge of the court should act as chairman of the new Stevedoring Commission to be established. Although that recommendation has not yet been finally dealt with, it is one of the factors which the Government has taken into account in arriving at its decision to appoint an additional judge to the court.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Harrison) adjourned.

page 807


Second Reading

Attorney-General and Minister for External Affairs · Barton · ALP

– I move -

That the bill- be now read a second time.

The object of this hill is to increase thenumber of justices of the High Court, from six to seven. The number of seven vu.= fixed .prior to the act passed by the Parliament in 1933. Originally the court consisted of three justices; that number was subsequently increased to five, and in 1912, there was a further increase to seven. The number remained at seven during 21 years, from 1912 to 1933, when, in the depth of the depression, it, was reduced to six.

There are two matters with which I propose to deal briefly at this stage. First of all there has been a substantial increase of the volume of the work of the court from 1933 to the present day, both in duties which may be performed by justices sitting alone, and by justices sitting together as a full bench. The restoration of the number from six to seven is justified by the volume of business placed before the court which suggests that its work will again be comparable with what it was during the period when seven justices were sitting. There is a further matter which, although not of such importance, does, I believe, merit the special consideration of the House. When the Judiciary Bill of 1933 was introduced by the then Attorney-General, Mr. Latham, now Chief Justice of the High Court, Sir Littleton Groom, who had been Attorney-General, pointed out that the reduction of the number of judges from seven to six might create occasions when there would be an even division of opinion on the bench. Sir Littleton Groom quoted a remark of Chief Justice Griffith in the. famous case of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited, where the court had been equally divided, to the effect that a judgment of a court which is equally divided in opinion is not generally considered as of great validity. The curious position about that is that if a constitutional question is involved and there is an equal division of opinion, the matter is determined according to the view of the Chief Justice or the Senior Justice. If, however, the matter is an appeal from the Supreme Court of a State or from a justice of the High Court to the Full High Court, then an equal division simply results” in the judgment of the lower court being affirmed. That has been the law for many years, and it is not without significance. There have been quite a number of important instances of equality of opinion in the court. As the debate on the bill will probably proceed only after honorable members have had adequate opportunity study its effect I should like, with the consent of the House, to embody in Hansard a statement relative to equality of opinion in the High Court, which will give to honorable members information relative to the type of situation which can and has occurred because of an equal division. The following appears in the Australian Law Journal, volume 13, pages 214-215: - :

On Monday the 21st August the High Court delivered reserved judgments in Shire of Burrun ». Richardson and Gehrman and Hannan’s Rill Amalgamated b. Barbican Corpn. LUI. In each case the court was equally divided.

Although the number of cases decided by tin; High Court in which an equal division has occurred, are not by any menus a considerable proportion of the cases coming before the court, nevertheless the number where there has been equal division is disturbingly large. .Recent examples are : Clements v. Ellis (1034) (51 C.L.R. 217) ; Sodeman v. The King (1930) (55 C.L.R. 192); Moir v. So/under (1936) (50 C.L.R. 310); Pitman v. Commissioner for Railways (A7.S.T7.) (1930) (50 C.L.R. 144); Davis v. Bunn (1936) (50 C.L.R. 240 ) ; Doyle v. Sydney Steel Co. Ltd., (l’.)30) (50 C.L.R. 545): Union Steamship Co. of fS.’A. Ltd. v. Burnett (1937) (50 C.L.R. 450) : Palmer v. Dunlop Perdrian Rubber Co. Ltd. (1937) (59 C.L.R. 30) ; Piggott v. Piggott (1938) (59 C.L.R. 378); Carrier Australasia. Ltd. v. Hunt (1939) (13 A.L.J. 60): and Corben v. Commissioner for Railways (N.S.W.) (1939) (13 A.L..T. 69).

Consideration of these cases makes one think that not only does the fable of the lawyer and the oyster contain some truth, but that a supplementary fable if it does not already exist, should be invented. In the sequel the lawyer might be depicted as delaying his decision until after he had consumed the oyster, which was the subject in dispute between the two parties. He would then invite the parties to assist him in arriving at a really satisfying decision by regaling him with marine diet of a more ample nature. Having feasted, shall we say, on lobster and other delights washed down by draughts of stout, the lawyer would announce with some claim to sympathy that, as a result of acting in defiance of his doctor’s orders he was now paying the supreme penalty, fu the circumstances the parties could hardly expect from him any decision at all.

Even if the interests of the immediate parties concerned are left out of consideration, the only conclusion possible in this matter is that equal division is an evil. The majority of cases quoted as examples above are eases of considerable public importance: thus it is probable, to take one of them only, that the principle involved in Clements v. Ellis is applicable to a number of transactions throughout the various States of the Commonwealth every working day of the year. The confusion is considerable. Not only the lawyer but through him the lawyer-seeking public are placed upon, the horns of a dilemma, a position of no little irritation and discomfort.

A decision of the High Court where there is an equal division is not a precedent binding upon the Court in a subsequent case.

In Tasmania, v. Victoria (1035) (52 C.L.E. 157) (the Potato case) a point arose in relation to s. 02 of the Commonwealth Constitution similar to that which was considered by the court in esc parte Nelson (No. 1) (1928) (42 C.L.K. 209) (the Tick case). In the Tick case the High Court had been equally divided. In the Potato case the court had to consider the effect of the Tick case. Rich and Dixon JJ., each stated expressly that it waa not an authority binding on the court (at pp. 173 and 183-185). Dixon J., at p. 183 referred to the different expedients adopted by different courts for disposing of the case where an equal division occurred- in the common law courts of Westminster the junior judge withdrew his judgment, but when the division occurred on the return of a rule nisi, more often the rule was allowed to lapse; in the Divisional Court upon an equal division in a court of two judges an appeal would fail; in the Court of Appeal the rule was the same; while in our own High Court the expedient was that prescribed by s. 23 of the Judiciary Act 1903. Section 23 provides that where the decision of a High Court judge or of a Supreme Court of a State or a judge thereof is in question it must be affirmed, while in any other case the opinion of the Chief Justice or if he is absent; the opinion of the Senior Puisne present must prevail.

Whatever the expedient adopted by any particular court the decision is not a precedent binding in future cases. The House of Lords is an exception to this rule. As pointed out by Dixon J:, at p. 185, the House will follow its own previous decision notwithstanding there was equal division owing to the special view which it takes of the conclusiveness and finality of its rulings.

The reason for the rule that a decision .where the court was equally divided is not a binding precedent is given by Brett M.R., in his judgment in the Vera Cruz (No. 2) (1884) 9 P.D. 96, at p. 98, quoted by Dixon «/., at p. 184 Brett M.R., said-“ . . . there is no statute or common law rule by which one court is bound to abide by the decision of another of equal rank, it does so simply from what may be called the comity among judges. In the .same way there is no common law or statutory rule to oblige a court to bow to its own decisions, it does so again on the grounds of judicial comity. But when a court is equally divided this comity does not exist, for there is no authority of the court as such and those who follow must choose one of the two adverse opinions “.

The public and professional detriment resulting from equal division seems to us to be no light matter. Can an equal division be avoided? Only if at all times there is an odd number of justices sitting upon the Bench. Leave, illness and abstention from sitting on the part of one or more judges have been reasons why in the past an even number of judges has sat in particular cases.

With all seriousness and respect, we do suggest even where so few as four judges are available, it would appear that this is a case where three heads are better than four. It is permissible under the Judiciary Act .1903- 1938 for three judges only to constitute a Full Bench, with this qualification, that where a question affecting the constitutional powers of the Commonwealth is involved a Full Court consisting of less than all . the judges cannot give a decision unless at least three judges concur (s. 23). In fact the Full High Court has frequently been constituted by three judges only.

I refer honorable members to the famous case of the New South Wales legislation which prohibited cattle suspected of having Texas or tick fever from crossing the border from Queensland into New South Wales. That law of New South Wales was upheld by an evenly divided court - three to three - and in a subsequent case where the Victorian law sought - to prohibit the introduction into Victoria from Tasmania of . potatoes which were supposed to be infected with some obscure disease, the court pointed to the difficulties caused by the equal division of the court ‘in the first case. Those difficulties are referred to in the comment which I have just supplied. I do not want honorable members to think that in every case seven justices would be sitting. That will be the position in important constitutional cases. But it is also desirable that appeals from three State justices should be heard by five justices of the High Court. Under the Judiciary Act the court is required to sit in all parts of the Commonwealth. It should be our objective that the High Court should sit at the Seat of Government. In the United States of America the court heard matters in various parts of the United States of America, . but, finally, its seat was fixed at Washington; and that arrangement is now regarded as an integral part of the system of government. However, the law at present is that the High. Court shall sit in the capitals of all the States. That arrangement also has advantages. Particularly, that was so in the early days of federation. Without going into details with respect to sittings in the distant States, questions and references in this House suggest that the’ addition of one more justice to the court as it is at present comprised will probably facilitate the sittings of the- court in distant States. The court now consists of six justices, one of the learned justices being 82 years old and another 75 years- old. Of course, no retiring age is fixed for justices. Curiously enough the attendance in the distant States of the learned justice who is 82 years of age has been most, regular. . However, this work, which is of tremendous importance and imposes a great strain upon all the justices is of such a character that, for this reason also, it is necessary- to restore the number of justices to seven as was the case in 1933. The number was reduced during the most acute period of the depression. Since that time the business of the court has increased substantially; and it is desirable that there should be an odd, rather than an even, number of justices. - I believe that the proposed appointment of an additional justice will facilitate the conduct of the business of the court particularly in respect of sittings in the States as is now required by the law.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Harbison) adjourned.

page 809


Salvage Commission: Saxe or Clothing - Victory Parade - Security Loan: Bowral Concert - Northern Territory : War Damage Insurance - Canberra-Tumut Road - Public Service : Female Employees - Re- AFFORES t aATIOn .

Motion (by Mr. Forde) proposed -

That the House do now adjourn.


– I wish to comment upon certain matters which have already occupied the attention of the House. This morning the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) directed a question to the Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Lazzarini), who controls the Salvage Commission. The Minister answered that question in a grossly improper manner; and yI do not hesitate to charge him with gross impropriety in that he sought to influence the decision of the committee of inquiry which is now investigating the matter mentioned by the honorable member for Wide Bay by saying that the AuditorGeneral had dismissed my allegations in just a few words. A statement of that kind when a committee of inquiry is investigating this matter can only be designed to influence the decision of the committee. The fact is that the AuditorGeneral has no authority to inquire into the allegations of malpractices which I made. His inquiries are concerned with matters of a financial nature, and in that respect he has bitterly criticized the Minister’s department. He has refused to give a certificate in respect of the commission’s accounts, and has been critical to a degree seldom indulged in by an Auditor-General. Yet the Minister says that the Auditor-General merely criticized the accounting methods of the department. I suggest that when the full facts are made available to the people they will see that there is great relevancy between the Auditor-General’s criticism concerning the accounts of the department and my allegations with respect to the disposal of goods; because it is quite possible the malpractices I allege have occurred because of the looseness of the accounting methods of this department. In order to make the matter perfectly clear I propose to read a letter which I received to-day from the firm of Millar, Ezzy and Company, of Beaconsfield-street, Alexandria, Sydney. I had no intention of reading this letter until I heard the Minister’s reply to the question asked by the honorable member for “Wide Bay. The statement made by the Minister leaves me no alternative but to draw attention once again to the charges of malpractices levelled against the department. Mr. Millar writes -

In reference to the inquiry being held into the activities of the Commonwealth Salvage Commission, it is respectfully requested that the writerbe given the opportunity of giving evidence.

I ask the Minister to note that request. Mr. Millar is the representative of a reputable company; and he states the reasons for his request -

Briefly, sir, the facts are as follows: We, the abovementioned firm, agreed to sort a large quantity of material on behalf of the Commonwealth Salvage Commission and, when this work was completed, the goods were stored in our depot for some considerable time.

Thisfirm has first-hand information with regard to this matter. It was deputed by the Salvage Commission to sort and store certain goods. Thus, it knows how the sorting was carried out, and the nature of the goods-

Some time in 1945, Mr. Walker, then secretary of the Commonwealth Salvage Commission, entered our store, accompanied by two refugees, and made a request that they be shown the material referred to. According to the conversation between these people, it became obvious that Walker was negotiating a sale.

I wonder if those two refugeeswere the representatives of the same refugee firm which has figured throughout the unsavoury allegations levelled against the commission -

Immediately Walker and his companions left our store, I rang the Sydney office of the Commonwealth Salvage Commission and offered £112 per ton for a quantity of the material.

I ask honorable members to note that offer - £112 a ton. On a previous occasion, I informed the Minister that his files contain correspondence from Sydney firms offering 6s. 8d. and8s. 5d. each for garments, which had been sold for £20 a ton, or about 2d. each. That fact appears to bear out the allegations contained in this letter. It proceeds -

The following day, Mr. Farthing, who was then Assistant State Controller of Salvage, rang and informed me that Walker had sold the material to the refugees. At a later date, it was discovered that, despite the fact that myfirm offered £112 per ton for certain of this material, Walker sold to the people referred to at £20 per ton. This transaction, and others, to my way of thinking stinks.

I received that letter after other allegations which I had made about the Salvage Commission and which the Minister passed over so lightly by stating that the Auditor-General has disposed of my charges in a few words. These allegations are so deep-founded that nothing short of a royal commission, not a committee of inquiry by a gentleman who has no judicial standing, will suffice. Millar, Ezzy and Company were engaged by the Salvage Commission to do certain work on. its behalf. It did so, and, knowing the quality of the materials, offered £112 a ton for them. That price may or may not have been fair value - I do not know - but there is a marked difference between £112 a ton and £20 a ton. If that is an example of the business methods of the Salvage Commission, no wonder the Auditor-General bitterly criticized its accounting methods. He is not concerned with malpractice, but I have no doubt that if these charges can be substantiated, the allegations’ which I made will fit in very neatly with the Auditor-General’s criticism of the commission’s finances. I ask the Minister and the Government to ensure that a member of this firm shall be called to give evidence before the committee of inquiry. Obviously, Millar, Ezzy and Company would not make such charges and ask to be called to give evidence unless it was certain of its facts.

Minister for Works and Housing · Werriwa · ALP

.- If the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) will give me a copy of the letter which he read, I shall hand it to the gentleman who is making the inquiry. In addition, I shall specially request him-

Mr Abbott:

– Will the gentleman who is conducting the inquiry have authority to compel witnesses to give evidence?

Mi-. LAZZARINI.- The honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) will have an opportunity , to speak later. When the inquiry is made, the statements of the honorable member for Wentworth, may possibly prove to be as wild as were his statements on a previous occasion about the Commonwealth Salvage Commission.

Mr Harrison:

– I did not make this statement. Is the Minister accusing the firm which wrote the letter?


– No.

Mr Harrison:

– Well, be honest about it.


– The honorable member referred to an answer which I gave to-day in reply to a question -asked by the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mi-. Corser). I remind the House thu the honorable member for Wentworth first, made allegations against the Salvage Commission, nearly six weeks after an inquiry, which I had ordered, had commenced.

Mr Harrison:

– That was a different inquiry


– That is true. On that occasion, the honorable gentleman referred to a specific case, and mentioned prices which he was given, I think, by a certain person from the Salvage Commission in New South Wales. He quoted the prices paid in a deal when some clothing was sold as. “ rag “. I ordered an inquiry. My letter to the Auditor-General will show that that was the first intimation which I had received that these things were happening. The Salvage Commission was granted wide powers under the National Security Act, as the result, of a decision by War Cabinet. Reference to Hansard will show that the main allegation, which the honorable member for Wentworth made on the previous occasion, was based on the sale of clothing as rag. He stated that he had been informed that; the material could be worn by people, and should not have been sold as rag. The chairman of the Salvage Commission did not deny that sale had taken place - I am not justifying it - and I stopped the sales immediately I had knowledge of them. I issued a ministerial direction that such sales should cease, and they did cease. The members of the Salvage Commission are highly placed public servants from various Commonwealth departments, and they carried resolutions endorsing the action of the chairman. Stores, particularly in Queensland, were cluttered up with some bad material, and the commission instructed him to make the best bargain he could as early as possible. As soon as I received the information and saw a list of the goods, I approached the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) and expressed the opinion that a quick investigation could be best conducted by a treasury official. Mr. Dunk was assigned to the job. His report is confidential, but the honorable member for Wentworth may peruse it. After having made a rapid examination, Mr. Dunk reported that a further inquiry was necessary. I emphasize that that occurred six weeks before the matter was raised in this House. I then requested the Auditor-General to appoint an officer to conduct the inquiry. The honorable member for Wentwortb declared that the Auditor-General inquires only into financial transactions and balance-sheets. Mr. Harrison. - Within a department.


– On this occasion, the Auditor-General went farther than that. His report is a critical statement, and I shall read it to the House. It is as follows : -

So far as the commission’s records are concerned the quantity of clothing transferred to “ rag “ was not appreciably large, but as stated previously the records are not reliable.

Mr Harrison:

– That is the very point.


– The honorable member should not anticipate what I am about, to’ read. I remind him of the proverb “ fools rush in where angels fear to tread “. The report proceeds -

In any circumstances it would not be possible for auditors to chock the genuineness of any such transfers nor are they able to ascertain from the inquiries made whether any large quantity of clothing was unjustifiably classified and sold as rag. The chairman has stated that a quantity of clothing was included as “rag”-

The chairman made that statement to the Auditor-General, the Commonwealth Salvage Commission and myself, and the commission endorsed his action - in a particular case and has reported fully to his department his reasons for so doing, l.t is not possible for me to express an opinion whether such transfers wei;e justified by the state of the market for Worn and obsolete clothing at the date in question but I have no reason to doubt that the Chairman of the Commission acted in good faith in the matter.

That is the statement of the man that the honorable member for- Wentworth has brought to witness’ in regard to the Salvage Commis-sion. I am not endeavouring to coyer up anything. If a public servant or anybody else working under my administration does something that is- wrong, he will pay the penalty. Honorable members opposite may have all the inquiries they like. I ask the honorable member for Wentworth for a copy of the letter to which he referred. I shall send it to Mr. Conde and- ask him to examine this specific transaction. I can assure honorable members opposite that a searching inquiry will be made. So far as I am concerned as a Minister, I have nothing to hide. I shall place on record the history of this matter. On the 30th July, 1945, I asked the Treasurer to allow an official of his department to carry OUt an investigation. This request was made because of information supplied to me by an official of the Salvage Commission in Sydney. On the 2nd August, a treasury official, Mr. Dunk submitted his report, and in a covering note stated -

In my view Coleman has not exercised good judgment,, but I think there is nothing sinister in it. This, you will appreciate, is a purely personal .impression - I was not able to carry out any investigation, which would cither prove or disprove it. 1 received that’ report on the 4th August and on the 6th I made a personal request to the Auditor-General, confirming it later by letter, to have this matter thoroughly investigated. I told him to make the most searching inquiries and I assume that he did because his report was not completed until the 3rd December. On the 6th August, I gave definite instructions to the Salvage Commission that no serviceable articles were to be converted to or sold, as, rag. On the 6th September, the honorable member for Wentworth raised the matter in this chamber, and on the 5th December; the Auditor-General’s report dated the 3rd December, was received. I point out that the Salvage Commission is responsible for the disposal of rag and unservice- able- clothing, but not for the disposal of blankets. The blankets which were sold as rag were placed in the Salvage Commission’s stores as rag, by the Army. Blankets that are. serviceable as such are disposed of by the commission. The honorable member for Wide Bay can take as much umbrage as he likes about the way I answered his question to-day, but if he or any other honorable member asks me a question couched in such terms, I shall have no hesitation in replying to it, as I did this morning. I shall not be told by the honorable member for Wentworth or any other member of the Opposition how 1 should answer questions. That is a matter for you Mr. Speaker.


,- I ‘ desire to bring to the notice of the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) a telegram that I have received within the last few minutes from Mr. A. V. Servin, Queensland president of the Demobilized Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Association. It states -

Seek your support connexion with following telegram: - Sent Prime Minister reference exclusion land army girls victory contingent for London. General feeling appears to be support for land army girls inclusion and that girls receive far greater recognition by Government than at present. We plead even this late hour reconsideration by Government and immediate action to have representative land: army girls each state attend London Victory Parade.

During the wai’ we had an army in the field, an army in the munitions factories, and an army producing food. The Australian Women’s Land Army performed a vital task. In the South-West Pacific Area there were more than 1,000,000 troops at the height of the campaign in that theatre, and the work of members of the Land Army girls was an important factor in the provision of food for these men, as well as for the people of Great Britain and our own forces both here and overseas. Throughout the war members of the Women’s Land Army did not receive ‘ any special recognition of their services. Members of the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force, the Australian Women’s Army Service, and Women’s Royal Australian Navy Service, enjoyed all sorts of concessions, including reduced tram fares, special postal and telegraphic rates, holidays, Asc., and quite rightly so; but’ the members of the Women’s Land Army who worked solidly at an unfamiliar and arduous job, and performed a great national service, enjoyed no such privileges. I ask the Prime Minister to give . consideration to the request that representatives of the Women’s Land Army be included in the Australian contingent to go overseas for the peace celebrations, and thus remedy an injustice suffered by these women during the period of their sei- vice. I have seen the Women’s Land Army at work in many centres, and its achievements have been outstanding. The women worked with enthusiasm prompted by patriotic fervour.

Monaro · Eden · ALP

– I ask the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) to give sympathetic re-consideration to a request that has been made by the representatives of Protestant churches at Bowral, and others, that a concert which has been arranged in aid of the Security Loan, in which a large number of children will take part, be held on a day other than next Sunday afternoon, as at present planned. This matter has come to my attention as the result of a public meeting held at Bowral a few days .ago at which representatives of the various churches were present. A long telegram was sent to me conveying this protest. Since then, a conference has taken place at Bowral between the protestors, the local municipal council iri its capacity as the Security Loan committee for the district, and the district loan organizer. Major Beveridge. I understand that the outcome of the conference was unsatisfactory to those who made the protest and they are persisting with it. The question of the merits or demerits of Sunday observance does not appear to me to enter into the matter. The point at issue, in my opinion, is the desirability of paying respect to the opinion of a considerable section of the community, if that can be done without doing harm to the Security Loan campaign. The whole object of the campaign is to obtain the united support of all sections of the community for the raising of money which is urgently needed by the Government. Since a considerable section of the community considers that an action taken to promote- the campaign offends principles for which it has fought over a long period and which it holds very dear, I ask that, even at this late hour, action ‘be taken, if possible, to enable the concert to be held on another day.

Prime Minister and Treasurer · Macquarie · ALP

– The request made by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) for the inclusion of representatives of the Australian Women’s Land Army in the Victory Contingent to .be sent to London was also made by a Government supporter earlier this week. I said then that the request would be considered. The original decision regarding the composition of the Victory Contingent was made by Cabinet. Since it has been announced, various requests have been made for the inclusion of representatives of the Australian Women’s Land Army and a number of other organizations which gave valuable service during the war. For instance, one request was on behalf of the merchant navy. As the honora’ble member will appreciate, it is very difficult to decide this question, because many organizations which gave magnificent war service have claims to representation. .Somebody has suggested that members of the Allied Works Council, who were conscripted towork under very arduous and inconvenient conditions in the Northern Territory, ought, to be represented. There is an almost endless array of people with claims to be considered. I do not detract in any way from the splendid work that was done by the members of the Australian Women’s Land Army, -but, personally, I am not hopeful of the contingent being increased in any way. The original intention was that the contingent should include only enlisted personnel, and- 1 believe that a majority of members of the Ministry still adhere to that view. However, I have promised that consideration will be given to requests that have been made and that will be done. ‘

The matter raised by the honorable member for,- Eden-Monaro (Mr. Fraser) relates to a rather unfortunate incident in p. country town. The position is that the Security Loan organizer at Bowral, working in conjunction with the local municipal council, which is the loan committee in that .area, arranged a Sunday afternoon concert for children. It also arranged for the concert to be broadcast from station 2KA. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro sent me a telegram regarding the protest, and later spoke to me personally. It was hoped that harmony could be secured by means of a conference of the church representatives who protested and the municipal council, but I understand that the conference failed in this respect. Usually, such small differences are settled locally, but I was called on to make a judgment, as on a number of other occasions, notably in the case of loan broadcasts on Anzac Day, against which there were many protests. I could not foresee any great harm to the morals of the community arising from holding a concert on a Sunday, provided that the entertainment was not held during church hours and the script of the programme was revised to see that it contained nothing irreverent or in any way likely to desecrate the Sabbath. After the conference, the matter was further considered by the municipal council. I look upon “ civic fathers “ as being the quintessence of respectability in the community, having had long association with them, and theref ore having first-hand knowledge of their outlook on social -and moral questions. I have to depend upon the council, as the local loan organizing committee, for active assistance in that district, and therefore I concurred in its decision. Furthermore, I realize that the concert can be held only if the parents of the children concerned approve of it. I believe that the parents will have due regard for any moral questions involved. Balancing one side against the other, I decided that no harm would arise from holding the concert on Sunday, whereas much good would be done. I realize that the protest was made by people who are very sincere and strong in their convictions about the observance of the Sabbath, and I have great respect for their opinions. Nevertheless, I consider that the concert ought to be held, and I have given instructions to that effect.


– I draw attention to the treatment meted out to former residents of Darwin in connexion with compensation for property losses sustained during the war. In February, 1942, the civilian residents of Darwin were evacuated at very short notice. They were given only a few hours to pack such things as they could carry and were sent out of the territory. They were unable to make arrangements for the disposal of furniture or the care of their houses. Their belongings were left supposedly under the care of army authorities. Hardly had they left when looting broke out on a large scale and continued for a number of days. The contents of bouses were removed, property was des_troyed, and a great many houses were burned. I do not need to give details of disgraceful events, for they .are well known, to honorable gentlemen as well as to the authorities and the troops that were there. The losses were covered by war damage insurance, but no claims were met until twelve months ago. Compensation paid so far is inadequate and many are still awaiting payment. The compensation, which is fixed by the assessors of the Commonwealth War Damage Commission, makes it impossible for many former residents to re-establish themselves, as they desire, at Darwin. I could cite many cases but I content myself by citing one that is typical. The six-roomed house of one family that was evacuated was burnt down by looters. The house was insured with a commercial establishment for £500, and the contents for £400, and with the Commonwealth War Damage Commission for similar amounts. The occupant was offered £750 for the house in 1941. The amount of compensation awarded by the government assessors was £310. That was based on the purchase price of £325 plus £75 worth of improvements, . less £90 depreciation. One could not even build a shack for £310. Yet this man is asked to accept £310 with which to re-establish himself in a home at Darwin. The War Service Homes Bill, which was debated yesterday, discloses the Government’s acceptance of the fact that .the cost of a war service home has risen by £300. In the southern States to-day, even the smallest house would cost £1,000, but in the Northern Territory costs are much higher than in other parts of Australia,. The only true basis of compensation, is the cost of replacement. The furniture was bought in Melbourne ten or fifteen years ago. Similar furniture is unprocurable to-day, but, if it were, the cost would be from 200 per cent, to 300 per cent, greater than it was then. Yet, the compensation has been assessed at the cost of the furniture when it was bought in Melbourne, not Darwin, less 10 per cent, depreciation.

Dame Enid Lyons:

– The Commonwealth War Damage Commission has had few claims upon it.


– Yes, 1 was coming to that point. Only a few days ago, the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) disclosed that the funds in the hands of the commission amounted to about £14,000,000. Yet, it is niggardly. Compensation should bo based on the cost of replacement and made without delay, because otherwise it will be impossible for people who want to go back to Darwin to re-establish themselves.

I should like to know the basis of the valuation of privately owned land that the Government has acquired at Darwin under the Darwin Lands Acquisition Act. fs it to be the rateable value or some value that the Government may put upon the land ? Land values at Darwin have appreciated as they have everywhere else. One block sold in 1940 for £380 could- “have been bought ten years ago for £5. The value to be placed on the blocks must be stated now so that the owners shall know how they stand financially. The whole situation at Darwin needs to be cleared up immediately, first, by ensuring that people entitled to war damage insurance shall be paid the full cost of replacement, and, secondly, that people whose land has been acquired shall be treated justly. Fortunately Australia escaped lightly in the recent conflict and claims for damage are small compared with the premiums paid. So there is no excuse for niggardliness. T think the House demands that immediate justice be dore to the people concerned.


.- I desire to bring to the notice of the House the construction of the Tumut-Canberra road. This matter has been under consideration by the Commonwealth Government, in collaboration and conjunction with the State authorities, for the last twenty years. The construction of this road is universally regarded as of paramount importance, not only to Tumut but also to every town and district right to the Victorian border and far beyond it. It would be a worthy entrance to Australia’s capital from Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth, and would also serve to bring within easy reach of Canberra residents one of the most fertile and romantically beautiful districts in the Commonwealth. The road would serve to open up a large area of tableland country that is suitable for intense cultivation and the production of English crops, fruit and vegetables, a tableland rich in untapped timber resources of the highest order sufficient to meet the needs of Canberra for many years to come. It is conservatively estimated that from 50,000,000 to 60,000,000 superficial feet of ash, gum and peppermint timbers are available within a distance of 5 miles on both sides of the proposed road. This timber is confined to leasehold and State forestry lands, and does not include any portion of the Kosciusko State Park, which in places is as close as 1 mile to the present road. This estimate is insignificant compared with the quantity of timber which could be expected from the park. Extensive virgin mountain ash forests occur in the Kosciusko State Park, and in the Bramino-Dubbo Creek and Prince’s Flat section. The greater portion of these oak forests would become accessible if the proposed road was constructed, and would provide a valuable source of timber supplies for Canberra home-building and other essential construction requirements, if releases of matured timber in the stands were approved by the Kosciusko State Park Trust in .accordance with sound management practice. Large stands of virgin peppermint are available for the distillation of eucalyptus oil. Many of those stands have not been tested for eucalyptus oil content and grade. Even if only the lowest grade of oil was produced, their exploitation and utilization in conjunction with the establishment of the area for settlement purposes, would contribute greatly to the reduction of the original establishment costs. The Tumut-Batlow district is capable of producing practically everything that Sydney at present supplies to

Canberra in the way of primary products. The time will come when a local producing area will have to be developed for the sustenance of the National Capital. The distance from Sydney to Canberra is 190 miles. Therefore, the present paradox cannot be allowed to continue indefinitely. The great food-producing district to the south-west of Canberra is entitled to direct access to the Capital City in order that it may exploit this new market. It matters not whether the suggested road be classified as a national or a developmental road. Having been. built, because of its advantages and economy it would become the main route of traffic converging at Tumut, and would afford considerable relief to the congested traffic on the main southern railway and road. Canberra, with its ever-increasing population, must be supplied with agricultural, dairying, and pastoral products from adjacent districts. Those districts which already are accessible are unable to provide the capital’s present requirements in this regard. Tumut and the near districts to the south, as well as the country intervening between it and the Australian Capital Territory, can supply all these in abundance. The lack of a market hitherto has greatly restricted the Tumut district’s production of many lines that are more remunerative to the men on the land than are the pursuits which, perforce, they have to follow. Once a road had been constructed to serve this market, production would be sure to expand with wonderful speed. We have the soil, climate, and rainfall. The men’ on the land await the facilities for marketing their beef, fat-lambs, vegetables, fruit, maize, millet, and many other lines of produce. If these facilities were provided, an impetus would be given to rural industry. The construction of a dam on the Tumut River - an approved post-war project - will relieve the producers along the river flats of the present uncertainty in regard to the possibility of droughts or floods. No matter what type of season was experienced, supplies of foodstuffs would always be available for the Canberra market. The proposed road would serve as a specially desirable highway to the recently dedicated Kosciusko State Park, from the MicalongBrindabella side. It would serve the in- terests of tourists, trout fishermen, hikers, skiers, &c, and, in addition, would act as a protection .against fire to the park. It would also be of great value to stockowners who graze their stock, on the snow-lease summer-relief country, and would materially assist in the administration of this great park, which eventually will become Australia’s playground. Some of the finest mountain and plateau scenery in Australia would become accessible. After leaving the Australian Capital Territory at the top of Mount Brindabella, a road cut solely for tourists winds down to Brindabella at the present time. The country in that locality is inspiring. It is heavily timbered with mountain ash, gums, messmate, peppermint, and stringy bark. Mount Brindabella is 4,300 feet above sea-level, and the climb over it has been compared with the journey to the Cann River from Canberra along the King’s Highway. Prom Tumut, the journey could be continued to Yarrangobilly Caves or Mount Kosciusko, thus providing a round trip of undoubted scenic beauty. Factors influencing the case for the construction of the proposed road may be summed up thus : Closer settlement ; timber and forest products; fruit production; dairying; beef, mutton and fatlambs; vegetables; pig-meats; millet industry; tourists’ facilities; and more direct access to Canberra from the States. This work is most desirable in the in- terests of national development and protection. In 1927, Mr. S. H. Jansen, a Main Roads Board surveyor, carried out a survey of the proposed route, and he gave the distance as 78 miles. The survey revealed that there were no great engineering difficulties to be overcome. The gradients over Tiger Mountain, the greatest obstacle, were found to be from 1 in 1S.6 to 1 in 30. Through the Bondo Gap to Micalong Swamp and the plateau on the Tumut side, the steepest grade would be 1 in 22. The Main Roads Board estimated that the new construction necessary would cost £324,000. In January, 1928, the New South Wales Minister for Works, Colonel Bruxner, received a deputation consisting of representatives of all the shires between Canberra and Albury, which pressed for the construction of the road in co-operation with the

Commonwealth Government. Later the Government offered to provide £200,000 if New South Wales contributed £124,000. The Main Roads Board finally agreed, but another obstacle presented itself. It was found that 23£ miles of the. proposed road was in the Yarralumla Shire, and the Local Government Act provides that, the shire through whose territory a proposed road would pass must lodge a request with the Minister, before he can instruct departmental officers to act. The board intimated that it would be a rigid and irrevocable decision to declare the Jansen survey route a developmental road, and, in granting the money for its construction, the councils through whose territory it passed would have to enter into an agreement with the board for repayment of their share of the cost intwenty years. The Yarralumla Shire Council did not feel justified in incurring liability for its proportion of the expenditure in interest and sinking fund payments in the construction of a road which would involve it in a disbursement of about £S00 annually for twenty years. But the obstacle can be overcome, as the Tumut Shire Council, of which I am a member, is prepared to take over the whole of the 23-j- miles.. of road construction in the Yarralumla Shire. The claim for the construction of a road from Tumut to Canberra is so strong that the Government will be forced to have it built. I have a map before me which shows that in travelling from Canberra to Tumut one has to cover .about .1.23 miles by a circuitous route, whereas the proposed direct road would enable the journey to be accomplished in only 76 miles. A further proposal is to continue the new road to the Hume Highway in the neighbourhood of Little Billabong, and that would cut another 22 miles off the distance now travelled between Canberra and Albury. This is a national matter which should receive the Government’s earnest and favorable consideration.


– On the 14th March, I asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) the following questions : -

  1. In the process of reinstating; exservicemen in the Public Service, what is the basis of priority on which dismissal of temporary clerks is carried out?
  2. Is it a fact, as has been represented to me, that women clerks are dismissed first, solely on the ground of sex?
  3. If so, in view of the fact that many of these women, including widows, have dedependants, will the Prime Minister give an assurance that in future those circumstances will he taken into consideration?

To those inquiries the Prime Minister replied as follows: -

  1. . The order of discharge for those employed after 3rd September, 1939, is (i) women or single men; (ii) married men without family; (iii) married men, including men, who, having been married, are supporting children under the age of fourteen years; (iv) members of the forces who have served overseas in a combat area in Australia, or for not less than six. months in Australia, and persons judged to bc entitled to preference in accordance with the length, locality and nature of their service.
  2. See answer to No. 1.
  3. See answer to No. 1.

T draw the attention of the House to the fact that married men, including men who, having been married, are supporting children under the age of fourteen years, are third in the order of discharge, whilst, women, whether single or widows supporting children, are first on the list for dismissal. I do not propose to discuss the equality of the sexes in employment in the Public Service, but the Government should give consideration to the claims of women who are bread-winners as well as men who support families. I have particulars before me of the case of a woman who is a widow and supports four children. She states–

I cannot see why any government should pretend to think that all bread-winners are men. Why should those children whose fathers are dead be further penalized? They have as much right to be adequately maintained as if their father had not died: Why does our Government object to a mother’s claims for an adequate wage?

Not only are women first on the list for dismissal, but in order to facilitate the return to the Public Service of the men who have been abroad they are to be demoted. During the war they have been given positions as temporary clerks on a wage equal to that of a permanent male officer, but, now they are to be demoted to a fern-ale category. My correspondent further states -

All women “ clerks “ are being demoted to a “ female “ classification, as the first step in the retrenchment programme. Single men, not necessarily returned soldiers,’ either remain “ clerks “ on the full male pay, whilst widows with dependent children revert to the classification of typist, assistant clerk, machine operator, or some purely “ female “ occupation, on a wage calculated to keep only one . . . lt has been arranged that, as from the end of March, I am to be transferred to a female rate of pay, and shall have to keep five people on a wage designed to keep one. Some Government regulation precludes women from classifying as clerks except as a war-time emergency. During the war. temporary female clerks received the permanent mule rate.

I know that the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Johnson), who now sits at the table, has a kind heart and a sense of justice. 1 trust that the claims of women who are supporting dependants will receive bis sympathetic consideration, particularly at this time when there are many more widows in Australia than there would be in normal times. The matter needs more thought now than at any other period.

Minister for the Interior · Kalgoorlie · ALP

– The honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) has made a sweeping statement about the settlement of compensation claims at Darwin. He destroyed bis argument to some degree by his suggestion in connexion with the value in 1932 of a house which had been occupied for a period of fen years. He made reference to the cost of ‘ replacing that house to-day, meaning that if it was valued at £400 in 1932, the Government should give compensation one and a. half times as great as the 1932 value, because of the increased cost of labour and building materials. That applies also to furniture. I ask’ the honorable member if there is any insurance company which would do business on those lines. Like the honorable member, I am very anxious to bring about the resettlement of Darwin, and the Government is most sympathetic and wants the people- to be treated justly. However, the claims of those whose property was destroyed in Darwin, and of those who were compulsorily evacuated, affect more th-an one department. The Commonwealth War Damage Commission’ has made an extensive survey of the position.. I have had many discussions with the chairman, and it is news to me- to hear that the people are very disappointed with the compensation awarded. Normally, the matter of compensation. ‘ is the liability of the

Commonwealth War Damage Commission, but in order to minimize the difficulties the Department of the Interior has decided to accept, claims irrespective of the department originally involved. It has been arranged that each person entitled to compensation shall be written to placing him in possession of -all the information available to us, and stating that the Department of the Interior will undertake to negotiate his claim for him.

Mr Ryan:

– Does that mean that increased compensation will be paid?


– Compensation will be based upon the value of property on the 18th January, 1942, and in respect of delayed claims the Government will pay 3 per cent, interest, which is -J per cent, more than the statutory rate. In those cases where claimants are not prepared to accept a comprehensive settlement, they may pursue their separate remedies, and, where necessary, the Department of the Interior will supply information- regarding the responsibility of the various government departments. In those cases where the claimant does not submit a comprehensive claim, and, even where he does submit one, but does not accept the offer of the Minister, the amount made available by the Commonwealth War Damage Commission and the Department, of the Army will be paid immediately.

Mr Hutchinson:

– Will it mean going to law?


– The honorable member knows that under the Land Settlement Act, if a settlement is not reached by the parties, provision is made for a conference between their respective valuators, and it is seldom that such a conference does not reach agreement. I agree that, in the case of- Darwin, it will be difficult to reach settlements, because many of the people have not returned since 1942.

Mr Archie Cameron:

– They were not allowed to return.


– That is true, but we were at war. Some people think that the return of Darwin residents was unduly delayed, but that v a matter of opinion. In matters of that kind the Government must be guided by the advice of the service chiefs, and it would be a bad thing for Australia if it were otherwise-

I was in. Darwin late last year, and I know what would have happened had the Army and Navy got out of Darwin as quickly as some people thought they ought to. For over four years they had provided all the services, including food and transport. They had. set up an organization which could not be replaced over night.

When land for the rebuilding scheme is acquired, arrangements will be made for temporary occupation. The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) said that the present town planning scheme was fantastic. The honorable member has lived in the back country for many years, andI cannot understand his opposition to the proposal to give to the people of Darwin the same amenities as are available to the residents of other cities. People who are prepared to establish homes in that territory are as much entitled to comfort as are people who reside in our capital cities. Until a higher standard for outback areas is accepted generally by Australians, we shall not find people enthusiastic about settling in such places.

The planning of Darwin was entrusted to Mr. McInnes, the well-known townplanner of Brisbane. It has been said that his plan has been altered, but only minor alterations considered necessary for the future defence of the town have been made. Most of the criticism regarding Darwin is not justified. The ordinances relating to Darwin havebeen in existence for a number of years and many anomalies exist. It would have been better if those anomalies had been rectified earlier, but at this stage we should not go back over that ground. The future of Darwin should not be brought into the arena of party politics. The Northern Territory is a. national responsibility, and its development rerequires the full co-operation of all parties.

Mr McEwen:

– I am sure that cooperation will be forthcoming.


– I hope so.

The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Fuller) referred to a proposed road from Canberra to Tumut. I have never been over the route of the proposed road, but I know the district almost as well as does the honorable member, be cause week after week he has discussed the proposal with me in an endeavour to secure a definite statement as to the Government’s intentions. I have undertaken to visit Tumut on the8th April, together with the Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Lazzarini), and to meet the local council. Any decision that I may make will be left until after that conference takes place.

The matter to which the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) referred will be brought before the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley).

Barker · ALP

.- The speech of the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Johnson), in reply to the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ry an) cannot be allowed to pass without comment. If some arrangement has been made, under which a settlement of claims made by residents of Darwin and the Northern Territory generally can be arrived at, that would be a step forward. Many of the claims have been outstanding for a long time. We must remember that many of the people who left Darwin did not leave of their own free will. On the contrary, they were given a few hours to get out of the place, and were told to take with them only what luggage they could carry. Women and children were hurriedly placed on board ships and taken away. Those who left could neither take their furniture with them nor make satisfactory arrangements for its care. In some instances, men stayed behind. One well-known man who stayed behind protected his home and its contents from looting only by threatening troops with a shot gun. That man is well known to many honorable members, and I do not think that his word would be questioned. The first grievance of the people of Darwin is that, having been turned out of the Territory, the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) has stated repeatedly that, regardless of their financial circumstances, those who return to Darwin must pay their own fares. When in Adelaide last week I saw a woman whose husband had returned to Darwin-

Mr Johnson:

– The Government will pay the fares of those who return.


– The Minister’s interjection is a complete reversal of the policy which has been stated- frequently in this chamber. I have spoken on a number of occasions of the’ injustice of forcing people to pay their fares back to Darwin in view of the circumstances in which they left.

The Minister should appreciate that there are two points associated with the payment of compensation. First, there is the matter which arises out of the evacuation of Darwin in 1942. The Government did not acquire the property of the people who left Darwin ; it did not acquire land, buildings, furniture, fittings, and so on. It just turned those people out. The “damage that has resulted has been due partly to enemy action and partly to the action of Australian and Allied troops. The damage by the enemy was something -which Australian forces could not prevent, hut as to the damage caused by our own find Allied troops, the Minister may know that some fairly highly placed officers were sentenced to hard labour for looting. Notwithstanding what occurred, n man who was forced out. of Darwin must accept in cash whatever the Government considers his home and its contents, his live-stock and other assets, were worth in 1942. That is not just, and it is something to which this Parliament ought not to agree. I do not care whether a man’s home was built in 1932 or 1942; it was his home. We have heard that “ an Englishman’s home is his castle “, and T, suggest that we act as if it were. Landholders throughout the Commonwealth had to pay certain insurance premiums to the Commonwealth Treasury for a period of several years to build up a fund out of which to compensate those who suffered loss of property as the result of enemy action in Australia. There must be in that fund ten or twelve times as much money as can legitimately be expended for the purposes for which it was raised. The honest thing for the Government to do is to say that if a man vacated a house of certain dimensions and of such and such construction, it will replace that house. That is the least that the Government should do.

The next point that arises has its basis in the Government’s action last year in. acquiring land in Darwin. On a number of occasions I have protested vigorously against that action. To-day, the Minister

Mr. .-Ire/we Cameron 1’cr the Interior spoke of people living in outback areas having the right to the same standards of comfort as are enjoyed by city dwellers, but the Government has denied those rights to the people on whose behalf I now speak. It has said that no nian shall hold one square inch of freehold property in Darwin, notwithstanding that he might have owned property there for many years. Representations on that subject were made to the Minister when he visited Darwin last year. The Government’s action has not been received kindly by the people.

Mr Johnson:

– That is only natural. I favour a leasehold tenure in Darwin, as in Canberra.


– The Government is attempting to put its policy in operation by brute force. The matter of compensation that arises out of the acquisition of freehold properties in Darwin is an entirely different matter from that which arises out of the damage to property caused by enemy action or by our allied troops. In the former case the resident is deprived of his rights; he is entirely- at the mercy of the Commonwealth Government which alone determines what it- regards to be the fair thing to do. In the second case, the aggrieved person has a right to go to law on the question of compensation. He should not be forced to go to law. He has the right to go to some tribunal, such as the Commonwealth War Damage Commission. I can tell honorable members from personal contacts with some of these men how they are treated when they appeal to bodies such as the Commonwealth War Damage Commission. I have a file on my table about 2 inches thick covering one case alone and containing a detailed statement compiled in accordance with the requirements of the Commonwealth War Damage Commission running into ten .pages of foolscap. This man did not get one penny from the Commonwealth to enable him to go to Adelaide, or to some other capital city, where he could present his case in person and endeavour to obtain an equitable settlement of his claim. The representative of the Commonwealth War Damage Commission interviewed me in regard to this case and alleged that the ‘ applicant. had. not answered certain important questions. The applicant had spent all his life in the outback and did not appreciate some of the fine points raised by people in government offices in framing questions for unfortunate people to answer. All that mattered to him was that he was a native-born Australian who had been operating a. gold-mine in the Northern Territory which he was forced to leave and which was subsequently stripped of everything. After having listed in great detail all of the tools, machinery, plant, equipment, &c, that had been on his property, he finally got a letter from the commission saying, in effect, “ Too bad, old fellow ; but the man who pinched your stuff had no right to do so. We have your stuff, in a. damaged condition and we shall give it back to you “. The man rightly refused to take it back. Later, in a long-winded document, he was asked to state where he was born, whether he was a natural-born or naturalized British subject and how old he was, and a host of other questions. I. would not care to quote his comments on those questions. This kind of treatment has caused a great deal of trouble in the Northern Territory. Only by enabling aggrieved claimants to go to Adelaide, or some other capital city, where they can handle their cases personally, or by sending somebody to the Northern Territory with power to make settlements on the spot, can these grievances be equitably adjusted. 1 have advised these people not to put a price on the properties they possessed on the 19th February, 1942, the date upon which they were forced off their holdings, but simply to say that at that time they were not sellers and that the Government, was not a buyer, .that the Government had forced them to leave their houses and that they wanted, in return, a home as good as the one they bad left.

Mr Johnson:

– A lot of them left their properties before they were forced off. They knew that they were left without defence protection a2id they did not oppose the order compelling them to leave. In any event, the responsibility rests, not on the present Government, but on the previous Government, of which the honorable gentleman was a member, or which was supported- by him.


– I did not hold ministerial office at that time; neither was the party to which I belonged in office. Compulsory evacuation began in . December. 1941. I have seen too many of these people and have discussed their problems with them’ too often to be led astray on the facts. Many of them were given three or four hours to board a ship. On going aboard they were asked where they would like to be taken. I saw one woman in Adelaide last Monday who told me when she was asked that question she said that she wanted to go to Yorkshire! She informed me that before the ship sailed the purser went around among the passengers trying to collect their fares.

One grain of satisfaction has come to me as the result of this debate; the Government has at last seen the injustice of forcing people to- pay their fares back to the Northern Territory, and has now decided to accept liability for their transport. I trust, that the problems confronting these people will be settled quickly by the Minister, thus clearing up one of the running sores which has brought government administration in the Northern Territory into such odium.

Minister for Post-war Reconstruction and Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research · Corio · ALP

– I enter the debate on the subject raised by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) only to make it clear that the Government’s decision to pay the fares to Darwin is limited to those in n necessitons circumstances.

I rise principally to give certain information which the honorable member asked me to provide during the adjournment debate last night. The honorable member referred to a rumour which had been circulating in Mount Gambier that there was a shortage, of petrol in the Mount Gambier district. I have made inquiries and I am informed by officers of the Department of Supply and Shipping that, owing’ to Victorian floods, difficulty has been experienced over’ the past week or so in getting supplies of motor spirit to the Mount Gambier area in quantities to meet ration demands, and representations were made to the Minister for Supply and Shipping. It has been agreed that re-sellers in the Mount Gambier district who normally receive their supplies from the pool depot at that place may accept February-March ration tickets up to the 31st March only, and, if unable to supply petrol in full exchange for the tickets, may issue a credit note to cover the value of coupons and may provide petrol against that credit as supplies become available, but not later than the 15th April. The special measures I have outlined have been introduced because of the emergency conditions existing and are designed to enable consumers in that district to obtain full supplies eventually in respect of the ration tickets held by them. There is no shortage of petro! and kerosene in South Australia.


– I compliment the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Johnson) on his published statement that he had agreed to the entry into the Australian Forestry School at Canberra this year of sixteen scholarship students from throughout Australia, lii 1944 I asked in the House how many students had been nominated throughout Australia for attendance at the school. I found that over the period from 1927 to March, 1944, 100 students had passed through the school and had gone back in the main to forestry work in their own States. I find that to-day there are only fourteen lads at the school, and that it is estimated that by 1948 the number will be increased . to 60. Thus, the ‘lee-way is being made up by increasing the numbers of entrants to the school. In that way, capable officers can be made available for the encouragement of re-afforestation throughout Australia. However, I question whether the- Commonwealth exercises sufficient active oversight of our forests, and whether it offers sufficient inducement to officers to accept appointment in the Commonwealth Service. Mr. Lane-Poole, the former Commonwealth Inspector-General of Forests, did magnificent wor!: when he was in charge of the Commonwealth Bureau of Forestry for many years. Under his guidance and influence forestry assumed greater importance in this country. However we have made bad mistakes. The old timers evolved the typical Australian way of destroying a forest - ring-barking. That method produced quick and cheap results for grasshungry settlers. At that time governments paid little attention to the preservation of forests. They freely allowed settlers to -select forest land, and, all too frequently, the settler immediately ringbarked the trees thus destroying valuable forests. After ring-barking, scrubbing and clearing the settler finally set fire to the felled timber, and very often thus caused serious outbreaks of fire. After struggling for a number of- years he very often found that he could not maintain himself and his family on the area he had cleared, and abandoned the area which was then allowed to return to its native state. In this process the loss of valuable timber was very great. The Government should give greater attention to this problem. The Commonwealth has taken sufficient interest to establish the Australian Forestry School to which it has appointed officers to co-operate “ with the States in the preservation, and development of forests. Having engendered a .measure of forest consciousness in the States, the Commonwealth should now exercise a greater degree of oversight of forests from a Commonwealth point of view. With that end in mind, it should obtain the services of the best experts available, and in association with the Australian Forestry School arrange for such officers Jo act in an advisory capacity to the States. That is not being done now, because we are not offering sufficient inducement to attract the best brains that can be obtained. I have taken a close interest in re-afforestation in Tasmania. It is generally admitted that Tasmania, for its’ population, has the greatest timber resources of any State. It is in Tasmania that the chief progress has been made in the development of wood-pulp for newsprint and for stationery. Two aspects of the problem must, always be borne in mind. First, a well-managed forest area will provide steady production, and at the end of fifty years of logging and timber-cutting can still yield the same output of timber per acre. Continuity of production is desirable, particularly because of the capital cost of such necessary amenities as bouses, schools, roads, &c, which have to be provided by the community. All classes of Australian timber are not suitable for those purposes, but stringy bark, which is known in Tasmania as Tasmanian hardwood, is ideal in that respect. Furthermore, forestry can play a great part in the development of Australia. In the past many people have done pretty well out of slaughtering the trees which benevolent, but not the far-seeing, governments bequeathed to them. But, now, the capital required in an area for continuous production adequate for a living is beyond any but the wealthiest. In fact, the largest forestry schemes in the world, and all those of any size in which the aim is sustained yield rather than rapid exploitation, are controlled by State interests. It is in public ownership and development that the future of forestry lie-.. I am pleased to note the awakening interest of the States in respect of forestrycontrol.’ That has been mast marked in” Tasmania-, where reserves, including some under the control of private interests, are supervised by State officers. This policy awakens community interest in forests. Re-afforestation is also of great value as a means of providing employment. In assessing bow many jobs forestry can provide, the following figures are a guide. It is estimated that regular profitable employment in direct forestry work can be found for 70 men for every 1.000 ai-res of pine plantation being established, fifteen men for every 1,000 acres of pine plantation already established, three men for every 1,000 “acres of pure hardwood forests, such as, blackbutt or alpine ash, under intensive management, and one man for every 1,000 acres of mixed hardwood forests under intensive management. Thus, by developing reafforestation from a national point of view we shall bequeath a valuable heritage to posterity. The forests of the world have suffered very severely during the last six years not only by destruction in theatres of war, but also in countries ‘which had to supply timber for war purposes. Now, we require enormous quantities of timber in order to repair homes and factories that were ravaged by war, and that, will place a tremendous strain on our timber resources. We cannot hope to conserve forests and use the timber to the best advantage unless we give proper attention to them and -develop a greater forest consciousness among the people as a whole. This matter should be of greater interest to the Commonwealth Government than it is, and, therefore, we should do more than we are to attract into the Commonwealth service the best forestry brains.


– Order ! The honorable member has exhausted his time. .

Question resolved in the affirmative.

page 823


The following papers were presented : -

Distillation Act - Regulation* - Statutory 19411. No. 34. “

Lands Acquisition Act - Land - acquired for Common weal th purposes - Archerfield, Queensland. Cairns, Queensland.

House adjourned at 4.55 p.m.

page 823


The following answers to questions were circulated : -

Ahmed Forces : Taxation of Occupation Forces in Japan; Rejection of Invention

Mr Francis:

s asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

Why are members of the Australian Occupation Force in Japan who enlisted after the 13th February, 194.(1. being asked to pay tax on pay and allowances?

Mr Chifley:

– The exemption that is being withdrawn in the case of members of the Occupation Force who enlist in that force after the 13th February, 1946. is the retrospective exemption in respect of the pay and allowances earned in Australia prior to embarkation for service out of Australia, and the prospective exemption of the pay and allowances earned in Australia during the three months following return to duty in Australia. These members, while they are in receipt of pay and allowances at special war-time rates, will continue to enjoy, until the 30th June, 1947. the exemption in respect of the pay and allowances which they earn outside Australia. The 13th February 1946. is the date when the Government publicly announced its intention to modify the existing taxation concessions. The original purpose of the taxation concession to members of the Defence Force was to grant exemption to those members of the fighting units who went outside Australia on active service. The exemption was in part some recognition of the dangers which those members were prepared to face in the service of their country. With the cessation of hostilities these dangers have passed, and the Government takes the view that the continuance of the total’ taxation exemptions previously granted in the war years is not justified under peace-time conditions. It is to be remembered, however, that in consequence of the exemption of dependants’ allowances and deferred pay and the allowance of the special diminishing deduction of £250, all Army personnel of the rank of sergeant and under, whether serving in or out of Australia, will still be exempt from income tax until the 30th June, 1947.

Mr Francis:

s asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -

  1. Is ita fact that an Australian invention, which high-ranking officers said would have saved two-fifths of the Australian casualties in New Guinea, was rejected by the Army in February,1945? “
  2. If so, why was it rejected?
  3. Were thorough tests carried out?
Mr Forde:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -

  1. An invention of a tube attachment for a.303 rifle was, after full consideration, rejected by responsible Army authorities. The: report of one high-ranking officer was favor- able,but does not include the exact claim made in this question. In any case, this device could not possibly have saved anything like two-fifths ofthe casualties in New Guinea.
  2. After possibilities associated with the device were investigated, together with some interesting features,and advantages relative to then existing equipment, it was rejected in favour of amore lethal device, which was finally adopted as standard equipment for American, British and Australian armies in the Pacific theatre of war - a proof of its effectiveness.
  3. Yes.

LiquorTrade : Bottled Beer; Effect of Brewery Strike on Excise revenue.

Mr Dedman:

n.- On the 15th March, on the motion for the adjournment of the House, the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Bryson) quoted a newspaper report concerning stocks of bottled beer stored on the premises of the Sydney Morning, Herald. The honorable member asked me to investigate the matter to see whether anything improper was occurring.

I have had inquiries made and now inform him that the beer is the property of the Staff Dining Room Committee, which controls the dining-room established by the management in August last year for the convenience of the staff of the newspaper. The management has no interest in the beer, which was obtained through legitimate trade channels at the fixed retail price and paid for out of the Dining Room Committee’s funds. No breach of the Control of Liquor Order was involved. The stock has accumulated because, after arranging for regular monthly supplies, the committee discovered that it would be a breach of State law to supply beer with meals, as the premises are not licensed. So far as the Commonwealth is concerned, the control exercised over the production and distribution of beer under the Control of Liquor Order was terminated on the 25th March, and the obtaining of supplies by individuals or groups of individuals is now a matter solely for the parties concerned.

Mr Dedman:

– On the 21st March, the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) asked a question concerning the estimated loss of excise revenue resulting from the brewery strike in New South Wales. In reply, I now provide the following figures which disclose the position in relation to beer excise revenue : -

It would appear, therefore, that the loss of revenue clue to the strike over the three weeks from the 1st March to the 21st. March was approximately £380,000. The strike is still continuing.

Commonwealth Disposals Commission.: Price of Goods.

Mr Dedman:

n. - On the 20th March the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) asked the Minister for the Army (Mr.. Forde) the following question

Will the Minister for the Army see that the prices at which goods are sold at’ auction by the Commonwealth Disposals Commission are not in excess of thefixed prices for such goods? It has been reported to me that goods have been sold at more than the fixed prices, so that logically the Government should institute a prosecution against itself.

This is a matter for the Minister for. Supply and Shipping (Senator Ashley), who has supplied the following answer : -

The practice of the Commonwealth Disposals Commission is to refer marked catalogues of all auction sales to the representatives of the Prices Commissioner for approval of the ceiling prices proposed. This practice is in accordance with the settled policy of the commission of working in close consultation with the Prices Commissioner on all matters relating to the prices at which surplus goods are released to the public.

Tasmanian Shipping Services.

Mr Dedman:

n. - On the 21st March, the honorable member for Denison (Dr. Gaha) asked a question concerning the Hobart to Sydney shipping service. The Minister for Supply and Shipping has now supplied the following answer: -

TheHobart to Sydney passenger and cargo service was carried out pre-war by the Zealandia. This vessel was lost by enemy action. Most of the vessels of the coastal passenger fleet are still being used for service requirements and it is not possible to indicate at this stage when a suitable vessel to replace the Zealandia in the Sydney -Hobart trade is likely to be available.

Children’sClothing .

Mr Dedman:

– On the 21st March, the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) asked the following question:-

I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping whether it is a fact, as reported, that there is likely to be a serious shortage of children’s clothing in the stores during the coining winter? If so, what action is being taken to promote the production of children’s clothing?

The Minister for Supply and Shipping has now supplied the following answer: -

Although, owing to difficulties in securing adequate labour supplies, there may be decreases in production in this and other industries, sufficient stocks of children’s clothing should be available to meet the needs of the community. On the question of the action being taken by the Government to promote production of children’s clothing, all possible steps are being taken, but it is emphasized that with the removal of war-time controls the matter is largely one for private enterprise.

Telephone Services.

Mr Calwell:
Minister for Immigration · MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP

l. - On the 15th March, the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Chambers) asked whether investigations would be undertaken into the possibility of an Australian firm manufacturing telephone equipment. The PostmasterGeneral has now supplied the following information : -

The difficulties experienced by the public in securing new telephone services are fully appreciated by the Postal Department which is taking all possible steps to meet the position. Due entirely to war conditions, it was necessary to impose restrictions on the provision of new services, excepting those required for essential purposes. In consequence heavy arrears of applications have accumulated and some time must necessarily elapse before the department can overtake the outstanding orders for telephone facilities.

Since the cessation of hostilities, the average number of new telephone services connected in each month has been 1,700 and the rate will be steadily improved. The average prewar rate of increase was 2,000 lines per month.

The difficulties due to equipment are being overcome, substantial quantities having arrived already, and large stocks which have been on order for a long period -are gradually being delivered. The chief difficulty is to secure new buildings to accommodate the additional equipment, and the problem is also affected by shortage of skilled man-power which will take some time to solve.

With the exception of automatic switching equipment, most of the material required for the installation of telephone services is already manufactured in Australia. A certain amount of automatic switching apparatus is also being made in the Commonwealth and the Postal Department is anxious that the whole of this equipment should be manufactured locally. Whilst the Department is prepared to encourage local manufacture . to the utmost extent possible, it sees no justification in existing circumstances for subsidizing the industry.

Mr Spender:

asked the Minister for Immigration, uponnotice -

  1. Will he state to the House the general principles of national policy applied by him and/or his department inthe issue of passports to people desirous of proceeding overseas ?
  2. Under what legislative authority doeshe act in determining whether a passport should or should not be issued ?
  3. Who gives the final approval for issue of all passports?
  4. Will he furnish to the House, with respect to Mrs. Sunderland [nee Patricia King), of Darlinghurst, replies to the following: - (</.) is it a fact that she was granted a passport; if so, when, and for what countries: (6) who approved of ite issue; (c) what business, if any, did she follow; (d) what was the purpose of her visit overseas for which a passport was granted; (e) did any member of this or any State parliament support her application for a passport - if so, who; (/) did she travel by air or by sea - if so, when and under what circumstances; [g) in view of the number of passports refused by the Minister and the acknowledged shortage both of air and sea transport, what urgent reason existed for the grant of her passport and the refusal, for example, of a case in which the honorable member for Warringah sought to obtain a passport for an ex-Royal Australian Air Force man of long service to this country who desired to take up an appointment as a pilot between Australia and Java for the Dutch Air Transport Command ?-
Mr Calwell:

l. - A statement will be made to the House at an early date on the matters raised by the honorable member for Warringah in questions 1 to 3, and in regard to question 4, a reply will be furnished in due course in accordance with the usual practice governing replies to questions upon notice.

WATERFRONT Employment.


asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping, upon notice -

  1. What was the tonnage of cargo per hour loaded and discharged by civilian waterside workers in the ports of the six Australian capitals in the years- 1038. 1930. 1940. 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944 and 1945?
  2. What were the average net earnings (rr) hourly, (&) weekly, (c) yearly (after allowing for taxation deductions) of an individual civilian wharf labourer in each of the ports mentioned for those years?
  3. How many man-hours were lost as a result of disputes in each of the ports mentioned in those years?
Mr Dedman:

n. - The Minister for Supply and Shipping has supplied the following answer : -

The honorable member has asked for information regarding rates of binding and discharging cargoes and the average earnings of waterside labour, and also for advice regarding time lost in disputes, during the years 1938 to 1945 respectively.

Departmental officers have been active in endeavouring to compile, from various sources, details regarding these matters. The full information ‘requested is not available, however, and I doubt whether authoritative figures can be obtained. Furthermore, figures in regard to loading and unloading would be subject to many qualifications and of uncertain value. The honorable member asks for hourly rates of loading and discharge, of cargo, but there are many types of cargo ranging from bulk cargo,, timber, aeroplanes, and steel rails, to general cargo. Some cargo is computed on n deadweight and some on a measurement basis. During the war years men have worked long hours, ai:cl in those circumstances it is reasonable to expect a falling off of average rates. Many of the younger men have been at the war, and the average age of watersiders during the war years, and particularly the later war years, is higher than in 1938-39 and the proportion nf disabled men who can dr> only certain classes of work is greater than in normal times. Much work during the war has been night work which is generally at a lesser rate than day work:

During the war, much con sta! traffic has been with ships not suited for coastal work, but chartered from overseas to fill the gaps caused by ships normally used here being diverted from the coast or from their normal employments from causes arising out of the war. Unsuitable gear and hatches undoubtedly affected loading and unloading rates. Such figures as have been assembled are supplied to the Stevedoring Industry Commission by Stevedoring Companies in a form designed by the Commission but difficulty has been met in having the details furnished by all employers on a uniform basis.

Lt will be clear that comparisons between ports would be of little use where, as in the c-‘.se of Australian ports, there are differing degrees of mechanization, varying wharf conditions, and cargoes may substantially differ, “he fact i* that the compilation nf a satisfactory statistical record for measuring output in this industry is a complicated and difficult matter and the difficulties may not yet have been completely solved. It is certain that reliable figures for the full period asked for by the honorable member are not available. 1. regret my inability to answer the question as framed. The Government is interested in having these statistics compiled, and particular attention has been paid, and is still being given, to the problem by the Stevedoring Industry Commission.

In respect of wages, some information has been assembled, the figures having been ob,tained from employers’ records, as the Stevedoring Industry Commission does not itself pay watersiders. The honorable member asks foi average net earning (after allowing for taxation deductions) («.) hourly (6) weekly (c) yearly. It is possible to divide the weekly wages, less taxation deductions, by the number of men paid during a week, but the result would be inconclusive as a reply to the honorable member’s question, because men may be employed one week but, for various reasons including fluctuations in shipping, may no* be employed the next week. Again, it should be possible to ascertain the annual amount of wages paid to all waterside workers in a port and divide such totalby the number of waterside workers in that port. This method, however,suffers from the defect that there is a turnover in the industry and the number of men who appear on the wages sheets over the year would be greater than the average number employed.It would be practicable to furnish an annual averageearning for the number which constitutes the port quota, but this would be a figure of doubtful valueas not recognizing theexistence of disabled men in the industry. Also, as will be seen from the foregoing, naming hourly and weekly rates is not feasible.

The honorable member willrealize, therefore, my reluctance to quote to him figures not based on records for which the Government can accept responsibility as to correctness and figures which are subject to so many provisos.

The amount of time lostduring disputes can probably be obtained. I am endeavouring tohavethis information assembled and will give it to the honorable member when it is available. re-establishment: Land Settlement.

Mr McEwen:

asked the Minister for

Post-war Reconstruction, upon notice -

Hasfinal approval been given by the Common wealth to the proposal of the Victorian Government to utilize anarea of some60,000 acres in the Cobram irrigation district of Victoria for soldier settlement?

Mr Dedman:

n.- The Victorian Secre taryfor Lands was informed on the 21st November, 1945, that the Commonwealth had agreed that the area was suitable for settlement and approved of negotiations being undertaken for its acquisition.

Knitting Yarns.

Mr Dedman:

n. - On the 21st March the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Sheehy) drew attention to the shortage of yarn in a knitting mill in South Australia and requested my colleague, the Minister for Supply and Shipping, to look into the matter with a view to seeing whether the company’s requirements of yarn could be met.

The Minister for Supply and Shipping has now supplied the following information : -

It is assumed that the honorable member is referring to the Penney Mills, South Australia. This firm was unable to obtain yarn from its previous suppliers, whose production has fallen off on account of shortage of Labour. The Penney Mills contacted the Department of Supply and Shipping, which furnished it with the names of spinning mills which might be able to assist. Iam glad to state that Penney Mills has now been successful in obtaining a large proportion of its requirements from other spinners. Inquiry for the balance is now being followed up with other Victorian manufacturers by the manager of Penney Mills.

Armed Forces: Awards and Medals; Wearingby Ex-Service Personnel

Mr Harrison:

n asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -

  1. Has his attention been drawn to a statement attributed to him in the Sydney press of the 15th March, that ex-servicemen will not be allowed to wear war medals with their uniforms on Anzac Day?
  2. Is it a fact that the statement as reported has caused resentment amongex-servicemen?
  3. Is it a fact that the customary wearing of war medals in peace years on the national day of remembrance has beena tribute, in part, to the memory of fallen comrades?
  4. If he has been correctly reported, will he inform the House of the reason for the decision?
Mr Forde:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -

  1. A statement was authorized to the effect that, on Anzac Day, ex-servicemen taking part ill processions throughout Australia would be permitted to wear approved Australian Military Forces pattern uniforms and dress in their possession and campaign ribbons issued to them, but that medals and webbing equipment must not be worn with the uniform. It is presumed that this is the statement referred to. 2.Not to my knowledge. 3.Yes.
  2. As in the United Kingdom, it is contrary to the custom of the Australian services to permit decorationsand medals to be worn on uniform during war-time. Following a similar order issued by the War Office, an Australian order was issued shortly after the commencement of hostilities stating that the wearing of decorations andmedals wouldcease for the duration of the war, but that medal ribbons may he worn. Although active operations have ceased, the order mentioned is still in force, and will probably remain so until the cessation of time of war has been declared. In this connexion, it is pointed out that the campaign stars or medals themselves are not yet available in respect of the recent war, but the ribbons have been issued. Consequently, many ex-servicemen who received medals in respect of service during the 1914-15 war and earned additionalawards during the recent war, as well as men who served in the recent war only, have so far received ribbons only denoting such service. It is considered in the best interests of the services that, when uniform is worn, there should he uniformity in the wearing of decorations and campaignmedals and that the best way to achieve this and to comply with existing war-time orders is to authorize ribbons only tobe worn and not the actual stars and medals. If ex-servicemen wear uniform, thesame rules should apply to them asto serving members. It is customary, however, on Anzac Day, for former servicemen to wear medals while wearing civilian clothes.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 29 March 1946, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.