House of Representatives
18 June 1946

17th Parliament · 3rd Session

Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. J.. S. Rosevear) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.

page 1498


Prime Minister and Treasurer · Macquarie · ALP

– It is my sad duty to record that Senator the Honorable Richard Valentine Keane died in Washington on the 26th April; 1946. During the last few years Senator Keane in the arduous and exacting post of Minister for Trade and Customs and as Minister in charge of lend-lease threw all his energy and ability into the service of Australia. He gave untiringly and unstintingly of the shrewdness of mind and soundness of judgment of which he was so abundantly possessed. As honorable, members know, at the time of his death he was engaged in delicate and exacting negotiations associated with the winding up of lend-lease arrangements - negotiations which contributed largely to complete agreement being reached with the United States of America. There is little doubt that the strain under which he was then working and to which he had been subjected for so long, contributed in no small measure to the heart attack which resulted in his sudden death.

The late senator was elected as the representative for the Division of Bendigo in the House of Representatives in 1929. He was Temporary Chairman of Committees from July, 1930, to November, 1931, but was defeated at the general elections in that year. In 1937 he was elected to the Senate for Victoria, and remained a senator until the time of his death. He was Temporary Chairman of Committees from 1938 to 1940, and Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate in 1938 and in 1941; VicePresident of the Executive Council from 1941 to 1943; Minister for Trade and Customs from the 7th October, 19’4l; Acting Minister for Health and Social Services in 1945; Leader of the Government in the Senate from September, 1943 ; a member of the Joint Committee on Social Security in 1941; a member of the Production Executive of . Cabinet from September, 1943 ; and a member of the Joint Committee on Income Tax on Current Income, in 1944. He visited the United States of America and Canada in 1944 on a mission for the Commonwealth Government.

Senator Keane was a grand party man, and an indefatigable worker for union principles. Prior to entering Parliament he was general secretary of the Australian Rail ways Union, and he had previously held all leading executive positions in that organization. He was also vice-president of the Coin mc-n weal th Council of Federated Unions until that body was absorbed by the Australasian Council of Trade Unions. The that were pu iti to Senator Keane at the time of his death were indicative of the esteem in which he was held by all sections of the’ community. He was a great Australian, and his death is a very real loss to the people of this country.

Dick Keane, like his former leader, John Curtin, died “ on the job “. I recall his words in the Senate on the occasion of the death of the late Prime Minister -

John Curtin is as one to-day with those ti.uli tiing men of our niue who lui ve given their lives that we might live. We in this Parliament here and in another place have los.t a colleague: we have lost too u guide and a friend.

The sentiments that he then expressed apply with equal force to himself. I personally mourn the lose of a sincere friend and a much valued colleague.’ It is now my sad duty to move-

That this House expresses its deep regret at the death of the Honorable Richard Valentine Keane, member of the House of Representatives for .the’ Division of Bendigo from 1929 to 11)31, senator for Victoria from 1937 -ito 194(i, Vice-President of the Executive Council from 1941 to 1943, Minister for Trade and Customs from 1943 to .1.940, and Leader of the Government in the Senate from 1943 to 1.040 ; places on record its appreciation of his distinguished public service, and tenders to bis widow, his children, and all relatives its profound sympathy in ‘their- bereavement.

Leader of the Opposition · Kooyong

– I associate the Opposition with the motion, and with the words that have fallen from the Hps of tj!1 the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley). Senator Keane, when I first had the pleasure of knowing him, was, as we have been reminded, a prominent official of the Australian Railways Union. At that time, I saw a good deal of his work on behalf of his members in and about the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. In my experience of him, he was always a. shrewd and a wise man. He earned a very well deserved reputation as a champion of unremitting but constitutional action on behalf of all those who depended upon his services. When he entered Parliament he revealed uncommon parliamentary gifts. These, I believe, were particularly disclosed during the time of his ministerial office. He was an uncommonly good parliamentarian, not only because he knew the business of Parliament ‘thoroughly, but also because, whilst being a constant fighter for what he believed in, he was always fair and, indeed, generous to his opponents. As a Minister, of course, he sustained what, perhaps, is not as yet very widely recognised - the extraordinary burden which office has imposed upon its holders during the last few years. I can speak of that with some little knowledge, gained from my own experience in the first two years of the war, as well as some knowledge of what my colleagues also sustained during that time. Within the la3t few years that burden has certainly not been lighter. A very great burden fell upon the late honorable gentleman, and I believe that the sustaining of it .undoubtedly shortened his life. Personally, as we are all prompt to recognize, he was a. most companionable man, who succeeded in maintaining great personal friendships while at ‘the same time maintaining active political opposition. He was, indeed, the most admirable of opponents in the political field, and a good friend. We shall all miss him.

Darling DownsLeader of the Australian Country party

-On behalf of the Australian Country party, I associate myself very sincerely with the motion expressing regret at the death of Senator Keane. To know Senator Keane was to like him. He was a hig Australian who possessed ,the breadth of vision and tolerance which are characteristic of those who are familiar with the wide open spaces of Australia. He was n lovable character, humorous to the last degree yet conscientious in the performance of any task that he undertook. His conscientiousness was one of the factors that contributed to his death. He was another of the great Australians who have sacrificed themselves in the service of Australia. The Australian County party joins with all others who mourn his loss. They have the consolation of knowing that he advanced the interests of Australia and performed his duties with the utmost credit to himself and those associated with him, as well- as with complete satisfaction to those who were politically opposed to him.

Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.

page 1500


Prime Minister and Treasurer · Macquarie · ALP

.- As a mark of respect to the memory of the deceased senator, I move -

That thu House do now adjourn.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at 3.10 >.m.

page 1500


The following answers to questions were circulated: -

Co’.\i:.m on wealth Loans-

Mr Fadden:

n asked the Treasurer, upon notice-

  1. What were the amounts subscribed in cash by individuals (exclusive of banks, companies. &c. ) to each of the following loans: - Second Victory, Third Victory, Fourth Victory, Security?
  2. How many of such subscribers were there in each loan?

– - As no record is kept of applications by persons as distinct from companies, firms, &c, it is regretted that the information asked for cannot be supplied.

STo.kth.khn Territory: Labour Conditions.

Mr Fadden:

en asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -

  1. Has his attention boon drawn to statements by the former Administrator of the Northern Territory, Mr. Abbott, that wharf labourers in the Northern Territory were constantly on strike, that the few ships which did come in were held up, and that he doubted very much whether men employed by the Government did more than three hours work a duy?
  2. If so, will the Minister state (a) how many such strikes have occurred in each year from 1!)42 to 1945 (inclusive), what was the duration of each, [b) what shipping hold-ups occurred in those years, and (c) what comment has he to offer on Mr. Abbott’s third observation?
  3. J.s it a fact, as stated by Mr. Abbott, that the charge for meals in camps is so low that there is a loss of at least 30s. a week which, with about 1,000 employees of the Department of Works and Housing on the Darwin pay-roll, means a charge to the taxpayer of £80,000 a year?
  4. If so, does the Government intend to take any action to remedy that position?
Mr Johnson:
Minister Assisting the Minister for Works and Housing · KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · ALP

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

  1. Yes. 2. (a) and (6) I have no knowledge of any strikes having occurred during the period 1942 to ISMS. Darwin was under military control (luring those years, (c) 1 have no comment to make on Mi. Abbott’s third observation.. 3 and 4. These are matters for consideration by the Minister for Works and Housing.’


Mr Archie Cameron:
Postmaster-General · BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP

n asked the Minister for ‘Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice - ,

  1. How many bushels of oats have been purchased by the Commonwealth in each State and Territory from the 1945-40 oat crop? 2’. At what prices were purchases made?
  2. At what prices are sale’s being made?
  3. How many bushels are now held, and where are they held ?
Mr Scully:
Minister for Commerce and Agriculture · GWYDIR, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1 and 4.-

  1. Feed oats have been purchased at 3s. a bushel, growers’ siding.
  2. Sales are made at 3s. 3d. a bushel, buyers siding, within a 4d. freight zone from terminal ports. Additional freight is met by the buyer.

Papua and New Guinea: administr a tion .

M.i’. Abbott asked the Minister for External Territories, upon notice.

  1. What plan has the Government for development of the Territories and what part will ex-residents play?
  2. Will the Government hold an inquiry to 11 ml out the reason for discontent in the Provisional Government Public Service ot Papua and New Guinea ?
  3. When does the Government intend to end the present system of administration in Port Moresby and re-establish government by legislative council?
  4. Will the Government hold ali inquiry and a.scer tain why 300 whites were not evacuated from Rabaul but were left to perish when the Japanese arrived?
Mr Ward:
Minister for External Territories · EAST SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

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

  1. The general policy of the Government in relation to the Territories of Papua and New Guinea was announced when the Papua-New Guinea Provisional Administration Act 1940 was introduced into this House in July, 1945. Since then decisions taken on various subjects have been announced and other announcements will be made from time to time as decisions are taken
  2. There have been a few isolated complaints which have been promptly investigated, but there is no justification for any claim that general discontent exists. A number of matters brought to notice by the Public Service Association arc at present being considered.
  3. A legislative Council has not been established for the Territory of Papua-New Guinea owing to the temporary nature of the. Provisional Administration for the Territory and absence of normal conditions and a settled population. As soon as it is practicable to do so legislative powers will bc restored to the Territories.
  4. The whole of the facts associated with the occupation of the Rabaul area arc known to the Government which considers that a further inquiry is therefore unnecessary.


Mr Archie Cameron:

n asked the Ministor for Commerce and Agriculture, upon mil ice -

  1. Does the Government propose to control acreages of potatoes for the season 1 940-47 ?
  2. If not, does the Government propose to exercise any form of control of the potato industry or to grant any subsidy to growers?
Mr Scully:

– The existing method of contracts with potato-growers will apply ro next season’s crop.

Allied Works Council: Administration ; Operations

Mr Francis:

s asked the Minister for Works and Housing, upon notice -

  1. Will he inform the House why there wereallowed to develop deficiencies, inaccuraciesand inefficiency in relation to the workshops and canteen accounts of the Allied Works Council and the Civil Constructional Corps in Queensland, inaccuracies and arrears in stores and plant records, over-purchases of stores and the unauthorized use of motor transport in the Northern Territory!
  2. What explanation can be given to the House for this state of affairs as disclosed in the Auditor-General’s report?
Mr Lazzarini:
Minister for Works and Housing · WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

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

  1. The workshops were established for the purpose of maintaining and servicing plant throughout the wide area of Queensland during abnormal and emergent conditions.- It is mentioned that the discrepancies disclosed in the workshop records showed that surpluses were revealed at the latest stocktaking, not deficiencies. Duc to the engagement of many thousands of workmen for urgent war work, it was necessary to establish the workshops quickly, and many difficulties, due to shipping and man-power conditions, were met. Owing to the conditions obtaining at the time, it was necessary to call on untrained staff to undertake workshop duties. As the threat of .invasion became ever more serious, so the needs of the workshops rapidly extended, and continual shortages occurred in all types of materials, whilst frequent miscarriages of- consignments occurred. In addition, materials ordered for specific works were frequently used for other approved projects of high priority, without proper record as affecting the stores accounts. Action was taken to correct the position, the stores have been overhauled, including their layout and general facilities, and such additional routine installed to correct the position.

Canteens in Queensland. - The particular canteens referred to in the Auditor-General’s report relate, it is thought, to the operationin the Terres Strait area, and on the eastwest road (Tennant Creek-Cloncurry ) . In the Torres Strait area it was necessary to send bulk supplies to Thursday Island, as the central distributing point to that area. The transport and wharves were under Army control, and consignments were not covered by ordinary shipping documents, such as a bill of lading. Confusion naturally’ resulted in allocating the correct portions of consignments to the several canteens, and owing, to the isolated situation of the, canteens there were certain delays in reporting shortages on receipt with the result that it was not possible to make immediate investigation. When canteen officers’ reports were received, inquiries both by departmental officers and the police proved negative. Onthe east-west road it was necessary to serve numerous camps spread over a distance of 400 miles, and this was carried out by a mobile unit, working from a central store. Difficulties arose as the result of the organization, and it was impossible to definitely establish responsibility. It is mentioned that, in respect of trading operations of canteens in Queensland, involving over £500,000, the losses from fires, pillaging and other causes amounted to less than 1 per cent.

Northern Territory. - Inaccuracies and arrears in stores and plant records, overpurchases of stores and the unauthorized use of motor transport in the Northern Territory. In the Northern Territory many difficulties were met, due to the threatened invasions and dislocation caused by bombing. The organization had to develop quickly to meet urgent war-time demands and due to shortage of suitable clerical staff and the transport difficulties over many hundreds of miles, certain inaccuracies in issue and receipt of stores and plant records occurred. Shipping and transport difficulties also caused much duplication in delivery of certain stores, which had to be obtained to carry out works of an urgent operational nature for all services.

In regard to the motor transport control, the very nature of the country over which works were carried out raised many difficulties in control of motor transport, and every effort has been made to establish departmental control with the staff available: Due to the fact thatHead-quartcrs of the Northern Territory Branch of the Department of Works and Housing has returned to Darwin from Alice Springs, much more rigid control of transport is being effected.

  1. See reply to question No. 1.
Mr Fadden:

n asked the Minister for Works and Housing, upon notice -

  1. Has the Allied Works Council ceased to function ?
  2. If so, (a) when did it cease to function and (b)what happened to the administrative staff?
  3. If not, is there at present in Queensland and in the Northern Territory a staff of Allied Works Council officials?
  4. What is the total strength of the staff in each place, and what is the nature of the work upon which they are employed ?
  5. Ifsuch a staff is still in existence, what is the justification for it?
Mr Lazzarini:

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

  1. The Allied Works Council is no longer functioning as a council but certain matters relating to the finalization of the Civil Construction Corps, such as compensation matters, arc still being finalized. 2. (a) See reply to question No. 1. The last meeting of the Allied Works Council was held on the 17th December,1945. (b) The Allied Works Council is an integral part of the

Department of Works and Housing. The strength of the administrative staff employed by the Allied Works Council has been greatly reduced, and the remaining personnel are engaged on works activities associated with the Department of Works and Housing.

  1. Yes.
  2. The Allied Works Council officers in Queenslandand the Northern Territory are carrying out duties mainly in relation to the disposal of stores, plant and equipment, &c. It is not possible to segregate the activities of the staffs engaged solely on Allied Works Council matters in these centres as, the Allied Works Council being an integral part of the Department of Works and Housing, these officers carry out activities in connexion with the department as a whole.
  3. See reply to question No. 4.

Ice Cream.


n. - On the 21st March, 1946, the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) referred to the price of ice cream and reviewed the balance-sheets of Peters American Delicacy Company Limited. This matter has been, brought to the notice of the Prices Branch on many occasions by the honorable member and he was informed of the position. An increase of profits was shown in 1943 and . 1944 as a. result of increased turnover occasioned by the presence of Allied servicemen. Later there was some restriction of the production of ice cream because of the shortage of materials. There has been only one increase of the price of ice cream during the war years and that was an amount of½d. on packeted lines only, granted solely because of an increase of sales tax. The greater quantity of ice cream is consumed in cones’ and the price of this has not been increased. In addition substantial reductions have been made in the price of ice cream sold under contract to the services. A recent review of the increased sales tax showed that it would be impossible for this to be absorbed by ice cream manufacturers, and because of the money unit it would not be possible to reduce the permitted increase of½d. The war-time company tax has been a heavy impost on companies making large profits, and the benefit obtained by the Government through the incidence of war-time taxation and a reduction of the prices of ice cream supplied to the services cannot be overlooked.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 18 June 1946, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.