17th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S.Rosevear) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr.FRANCIS:Over a . period of years; by speeches and questions without notice in this House, and by corresponddence with Ministers,I have endeavoured to persuade the Government to take a practical interest in the prevention of the spread of the buffalo fly down the southern coast of Queensland. Honorable gentlemen opposite maylaugh,but this is pot a matter for hilarity. It is causing the graziers of southern Queensland and northern New. SouthWales a great deal of concern.I now ask the Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Researchwhether he will take steps to ensure that adequate supplies of DDT shall he, made available to producers through a government department or otherwise, and alsowhether, through the council, he will ensure provision of. a. suitable dip to deal simultaneously with the buffalo fly and cattle tick. Will he also take steps to provide that the whole or a part of the coat of the DDTwill be borne by the Government; in view of the fact that the fly entered Queensland from the Northern Territory ?
Mr.,DEDMAN.It is true that this subject has been raised from time to time by the honorable member. I believe that on one occasion ho moved the adjournment of, the House in order to discuss it. Thebuffalofly has been in Australia for a very long time. During the period that Governments supported by the honorable gentleman were in office, no steps were taken to deal with it. The Queensland Government, on which responsibility rests inthis matter, is doing everything it can do to retard the spread of the fly. The responsibility of the Council for Scientific and IndustrialResearch is to undertake: research into the problem) and this has been done onan extensive scale. The council has elaborated a method to deal with the buffalo fly on dairy farms and that method is now being extended to cattle stations: I hare visited the affected areas in Queensland on two occasions, and have made inspections of the station being conducted by the Councilfor Scientific and IndustrialResearch. I found that all the farmers were loud in their praises of the efforts of the council to deal with the pest. The honorable gentleman seems to consider that the council is a trading organization which should acquire supplies of DDT and make them available to farmers. That is not one of its functions. In fact, the Commonwealth Government has no power to produce or acquire DDT for sale to farmers. The honorable member may rest assured that this Government is taking all the necessary steps to make good the deficiencies of previous governments in the matter.
Absence without Leave.
– I ask the Acting Minister for Defence whether it is a fact that thousands’ of members of the forces were absent without leave at the termination of the war, and that following his announcement that no further’ attempt would be made to apprehend them, although . many of them did not see active service, they have been -discharged in absentia? Does not the Minister consider that those who saw active service overseas and are still serving sentences in detention camps for a similar offence should he immediately discharged, or accorded similar treatment?
– The decision to discharge those men who were absent without leave before the 31st December, 1945, was made some time ago by the AdjutantGeneral. As the result of that policy, about 8,000 men were discharged in absentia and their discharge certificates, if themen apply for them, will be so endorsed. A decision was also made that all. those who were undergoing detention, should be discharged after they had served one-third of the period of their sentence. As a result, the number in detention camps - I am not able to give the exact figure offhand - and the personnel required to guard them have been considerably “reduced. I assure the honorable gentleman that the Government has carefully considered this leniency, having due regard to the fact that the war has ended and the necessity for maintaining discipline among those still serving in the forces in Australia and the islands.
Mr. McDONALD.A correspondent has written to me that his son enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force at the age of 20 years and 6 months, but was not called up until he was 21 years and 1 month. His application for reconstruction training in carpentry has been rejected. He was five years in the Air Force, and served overseas. I ask the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction whether provision could be made for men in that position to’ be given training in a trade ?
– The conditions of eligibility for reconstruction training are laid down in order to limit the trainees to the numbers that can he handled with the available facilities in Australia. I have dealt with this matter on previous occasions. Honorable members will realize that as nearly 1,000,000 persons served in our fighting forces, it would be impossible to provide reconstructiontraining for all of them.
– All of them do not require training.
– That is true; but because of the necessity to restrict the number in accordance with the facilities available, certain conditions of eligibility have been prescribed, relating to the age of individuals and the capacity of various industries to absorb them. If an individual has sustained any injury during the war, and as a result of the disability is unable to follow his pre-war occupation,if any, he is entitled to reconstruction training, regardless of his age. If the honorable member will supply complete details of the case, I shall have it investigated.
Serial “ The Lawsons
– Has the Prime Minister ever listenedto the serial “ The Lawsons”, which is broadcast over station 2BL? It purports to be an Australian play depicting the Australian way of life, and the performance is acombination of the worst features of Oxford and adenoids.’ Did the right honorable gentleman hear the broadcast over station 2BL at supper time last night. recounting the attempt of the Lawson family to huy a business from a man named Sorenson, who gave as his reason for selling, high taxation and industrial unrest? Is this the political news which the Liberals complain is broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Commission ? Will the right honorable gentleman ascertain, if possible, how much is paid to “stooges” to’ write such attacks on the Government into the scripts of the Australian Broadcasting Commission’?
– I assure the honorable member that I did not hear the broadcast at supper time last night. Nor have I heard the serial at any time since it has been on the air. I do not acknowledge, that it is appropriate that radio scripts should be used as a propaganda medium over 2BL, or national stations, generally.
– Propaganda is broadcast from this House.
– One does not expect any better from this House. But one does expect that the national broadcasting stations will refrain from making comments which might be regarded as providing fuel for attacks on the Government by the Opposition, no matter what government is in power. Perhaps all this is a part of the political game. I shall have, inquiries made, and request national broadcasting stations to refrain from doing things of this character, or being a party to their being done.
– Last week attacks were made under privilege in this House upon individuals employed by the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The news .editor of the commission was the subject of one such attack. Early this morning an attack was made on the writer of a serial “ The Lawsons which, as the Prime Minister is probably aware, has been on the air for more than two years.
– I heard of it only this morning.
– If the Prime Minister resided in the country and not in Canberra, he would be aware that “ The Lawsons “ is one of the most popular broadcasting ‘ items of the day in country districts. The serial is the work of a charming lady, Miss Gwen Meredith. I ask the Prime Minister whether he condones such attacks on employees of a government instrumentality who have no opportunity to protect their reputations. Does the right honorable gentleman approve of employees of the Australian Broadcasting Commission being described as “ stooges “ if they comment in a way not favorable to the propaganda of the Australian Labour party?
– I heard the debate this morning on the Australian Broadcasting Bill. I did not notice any particularly hurtful criticism. People who broadcast matter on subjects of public controversy must . expect to be criticized. I am assuming that what the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) said this morning in regard to “ The Lawsons “ was true. If that be so, it did not seem to me to be appropriate matter for broadcasting over the national stations. The issues raised are the subject of constant controversy in this House.. I can. understand that if a person is slandered in any way he would feel aggrieved. I would not stand for that kind of thing for a moment. As to other criticism, it seems to me that we are becoming far too sensitive.
– Last April, there were extensive floods on the lower north-coast of New South Wales, and the fencing of many farmers was washed away. I understand that supplies of wire and wire netting, were made available from Army stocks to the -flood- relief committees set up by the Government of New South Wales, and were distributed among the farmers. I have been informed, however, that the Army has repossessed a considerable quantity of the wire and wire netting that was released recently from its stocks, and has diverted it to the use of the occupation force in Japan. If that has been done, will the Minister for the Army ensure that further supplies will be provided as soon as possible - to those farmers who. for more than four months, have suffered damage because of” floods, and have not been able to obtain their requirements ?
– The honorable member’s statements will be fully and sympathetically considered, with a view to his wishes being met, if possible.
– I address a question to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, relating to the payment of subsidy on sweet cream. I appreciatethe information which the honorable gentleman has already supplied to me, governingthe position in the butter-producing districts. This question concerns the position in the districts which supply whole milk to the metropolitan area. By way of explanation, I point out that when the original arrangement was made for the payment of a subsidy to the suppliers of whole milk, nothing was done in regard to sweet cream. Evidently, because of the prohibitionof the use of cream, so little was being used that it was not thought to . be worth troubling about. Since then, however, the use of cream has increased as people have, and quite rightly, become aware of the conditions under which cream can be obtained by medical prescription. Thus, an item which was previously unimportant, has now assumed importance for those who supply whole milk. Can the Minister say why a subsidy should not be paid on sweet cream, seeing that it costs as much to produce the milk from which it comes as to produce milk sold in the form of whole milk, and seeing that the farmer does not know from week to week how much of his milk he will have to separate ? Finally, seeing that sweet cream is used for the benefit of those requiring medical treatment, is there any reason why farmers should be penalized in respect to that part of their product which is used to help the sick?. Should not the burden be borne fairly by the whole of the community through the payment of a subsidy?
– I regret that the answer supplied to the honorable member did not cover the point now raised by him. The milk stabilization scheme is operated by the Prices Commissioner, and I shall take the matter up with him I realize the justice of the honorable member’s claim, and appreciate that, at’ all times, he is anxious to protect the interests of the primary producers in his electorate-.
– I desire to ask a ques tion of the Minister for the Army, in hie capacity as’ Acting Minister for Defence, because it concerns members of the. Air Force as well as soldiers. I previously asked two questions on this subject, and the reply of the Minister was that the questions would receive prompt consideration and replies to them would be made before the rising of Parliament. This final session will end within a few hours. The questions which I asked were -
Will the Minister for the Army reply at an early date to two requests that I have made to him from time to time,by letter and in questions in this House, namely, first, that allotments paid between the dates on which a prisoner pf war was posted as missing and when he was presumed to be dead, be no longer deducted from the estates of the deceased men ; and secondly, when will the subject of pay in lieu of furlough be adjusted, so that the dependants of those who died before the date in 1945 fixed by War Cabinet will no longer be deprived of this pay?
I know of many cases in which extreme hardship has been inflicted upon the dependants of such prisoners of war..
– Although only a few hours remain before the Parliament adjourns, I assure the honorable member that I shall take steps to obtain the necessary information so that the promise made to him may be honoured.
– by leave- Earlier in the week the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Sheehan) asked a question relating to the issue of Commonwealth electoral rolls. Under the standing ministerial’ authority a member of the House of Representatives is authorized to receive without charge fifteen copies of each new print of the electoral roll for his division, while a senator is authorized to receive fifteen copies for each division of his State. Under the same authority a non-member candidate contesting an election for the. House of Representatives is authorized’ to receive six copies of the roll for the division concerned, and a nonsenator candidate contesting a Senate election six copies of the roll for each division of the State. In the case of senators and candidates at a Senate election the existing issue appears to be adequate, but in the case of members of the House of Representatives and nonmember candidates at House of Representatives elections, an increase of the number of rolls supplied is, I believe, warranted. I have accordingly approved of increases of from fifteen to 21 copies in the case of a member of the House of Representatives, and from six to nine copies in the case of a non-member candidate at a House of Representative’s election. Arrangements will be made by the Chief Electoral Officer for the distribution of the additional copies upon request.
Allocation of Accommodation
– Do you, Mr. Speaker, propose to make any arrangements to increase the size of the Government party room in the House ? At present the room is occupied by . 25 members and is greatly overcrowded. In view of the fact that the number of Labour party members will be increased greatly at the elections, will you take steps to provide additional space for their accommodation?
– I think the honorable member should give notice of that question.
Period of Eligibility for Benefits.
– In the absence of the Minister for Labour and National Service I address a question to the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction. The absence of the former Minister makes it necessary for me to make a short explanation of the question. ft is, however, one in which the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, as the Minister responsible for the rehabilitation of ex-servicemen, is vitally interested. During the debate on the Tradesmen’s Rights Regulation Bill, I moved an amendment which, if carried, would have had the effect of extending the period during which amember of the forces who desired to receive training as a probationary tradesman or a trainee tradesman could make application forsuch training from six months after the 22nd March, 1946, or six months after his discharge, to the 30th June, 1947, or twelve months after discharge, whichever was the later. I then stated that I believed it to he a fact that the period of eligibility under the reconstruction training scheme had been similarly extended. The Minister for Labour andNational Service stated that the Government would examine the proposal fully with a view to the introduction of a suitable amendment when the bill was before the Senate. Was such an amendment made when the bill was before the Senate? If not, did the Minister examine the proposal fully, as he undertook to do? Is it not a fact that the period of eligibility of applicants for benefits under the , reconstruction training scheme has been extended to cover the dates I have mentioned, and will the same principle be applied under the Tradesmen’s Rights Regulation Bill?
– It is true that the date of eligibility for Commonwealth reconstruction training has been extended by my department. I sympathize with the honorable member’s proposal, but I am not aware whether it was examined before the bill went to the Senate or whether an amendment that would give effect to it was made in thatchamber. I shall discuss the matter with the Minister for Labour and National Service, and if it is possible to meet his request it shall be met.
– Will the Minister tell me the result?
– I have received from the Secretary of the New South Wales Railways a letter replying to questions about railway transport from the central west, in which he told me that he was having great difficulty in supplying immediate demands. A statement appeared on his behalf in the press that the New South Wales railways would have great difficulty in lifting wheat from the Australian Wheat Board and the difficulty would be aggravated by the need to supply transport for starving stock. In view of that position, will the Prime Minister consider the purchase from the Australian “Wheat Board by the Government of that wheat in order that it might be retained in the district for use as stock feed? The railways may not beable to lift the wheat until half way through next year, by which time the rice crop will be coming forward in Eastern countries, whose present demand for wheat will accordingly diminish. As it is impossible otherwise to feed the stock the possibility exists of stock losses equal to those incurred during the drought two years ago when 10,000,000 sheep were lost. The value of the wool lost then was equal to £10,000,000.
– What is the question?
– Will the right honorable gentleman consider allocating sufficient money from the Consolidated Revenue or some other source to purchase the wheat for use as stock feed rather than risk losing the sheep, and the wool representing £10,000,000 worth of foreign exchange?
– I shall discuss the suggestion with the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture and arrange for its careful consideration.
FORMS for HOME-BUILDING.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that although machinery for the use of the war gratuity for homebuilding came into force on the 1st August, ex-servicemen in Tasmania are deprived of benefit because the application forms have not arrived? Can the right honorable gentleman say whether, in view of the heading of an article in the Hobart Mercury, “There Will Always be a Form “, the Government will set up a department of form procurement?
– Some time ago the procedure to be followed by applicants for war gratuity for use in financing the building of homes was announced. I have not heard of any complaints that the machinery is not working smoothly. Arrangements were made to send the application forms to the principal post offices. Applicants must apply through approved bodies, the list of which was’ published, in order that they may have their applications approved expeditiously. I shall have an examination made of the whole position and if delay are occurring they will be rectified.
– I am informed that, because of transport restrictions, about 1,000 tons of galvanized iron which has accumulated at Lysaghts works in Newcastle cannot be transported to place? in New South Wales or in other States where it is needed. I ask the Minister for Works and Housing whether, as galvanized iron is urgently needed for housing projects at Newcastle, some of the accumulated stocks at Lysaghts may be made available for housing projects there, as transport for this purpose can be provided?
– I am aware that there has been an accumulation of stock? at Newcastle. I shall advise the honorable gentleman whether allocations can be made as he has suggested. There is a shortage of galvanized iron all over Australia, and we are endeavouring to arrange transport of supplies to places where the iron is most needed.
Tools of Trade
– If has been brought to my notice that although provision has been made for a grant, and also for loans to discharged servicemen for the purchase of tools of trade to rehabilitate themselves, the men cannot obtain the tools they need and consequently, are not able satisfactorily to rehabilitate themselves. I am also aware that many toolsnecessary for use on farms cannot be purchased. Will the Minister for Repatriation state whether greater supplies of tools can be made available, and will he say generally what is. being done in regard to this matter?
– Ex-servicemen receive a free gift of £10 for the purchase of tools, and may apply for an advance of up to £40, free of interest, for the same purpose. The Government has purchased large stocks of tools that have become available. Some of these would have been used in the armed forces had the war continued.The tools have been distributed to the best advantage. Certain tools, however, are extremely difficult to obtain. The Government is endeavouring to secure supplies from other parts of the world. In fact, more tools are being made available to ex-servicemen than to the general public. I assure ‘the honorable member that every endeavour is being made to meet all requirements.
Debate resumed from the 6th August (vide page 3729), on motion by Mr. Chifley -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The purpose of this measure is to grant supply for another two months, which will cover the election period and the time necessary to enable the new Government to take over the affairs of the country. It is. usual, on the occasion of the introduction of a Supply Bill for honorable members to criticize Government administration and various departmental actions. I do not propose to follow that course to-day, for it is recognized that supply must be granted to cover the election period;’ but there is ample justification for criticism of the extravagance and unsound financial practices of the Government, and other honorable members may wish to speak on those subjects.
I desire to refer to a matter arising from the tabling of the Conde report on the Salvage Commission for which I asked earlier this week. . From what I can learn from my examination of the document, the terms of reference were given to Mr. Conde last February. The inquiry was ordered following charges which the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) and I had made regarding the operations of the Salvage Commission and with’ regard to the disposal of refrigerators, motor cycles, motor vehicles, army foodstuffs, tools and equipment. The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) considered that the charges were sufficiently serious to warrant an investigation. The terms of reference, as I read them, gave to Mr.
Conde the opportunity to make the most exhaustive inquiry into the charges, but I am amazed to discover that he did not so regard them. He treated this inquiry in a most cavalier fashion. He evidently placed on the terms of reference an interpretation that all he had to do was to whitewash the Government and obliterate with a liberal coating of whitewash the charges which we had made. Strange as it may seem, Mr. Conde did not interview the members of the Advisory Board on the Salvage Commission, who had specifically asked for an opportunity to give evidence on oath. My statements in the House, and the correspondence which I read in relation to this matter, he brushed lightly aside. The Minister stated that he would give to the members of the Advisory board an opportunity to state before the investigator the complaints that they had made in writing to me, but Mr. Conde ignored the undertaking. He did not even attempt to ascertain from me what information I had to support my charges. At no time during the inquiry did he establish contact with me and I do not believe that he interviewed the Leader of the Australian Country party.
– He did not.
– Therefore, Mr. Conde could not have been aware of what evidence the Leader of the Australian Country party and I had to support our charges, and what evidence could be obtained from members of the Advisory Board. Yet he reported to the Government that, after having examined the files of the department, he could not see any reason why he should proceed with the inquiry. I propose further to support my chargesand place before the House documents which I have in my possession, including statutory declarations, letters from responsible firms in Sydney, and charges made by officers of the commission itself. This is evidence which Mr. Conde should have obtained from me. All the papers were available to him, but he was not desirous of having an inquiry into the matter. His aim was to confirm what he believed was the direction of the Government in this regard, and he effectively carried out the duty that he assigned te himself. On page 2 of the report, he states -
Departmental records and documentary evidence tendered enabled me to examine closely the allegations which are the subject of the foregoing terms of reference. On the other hand, however, the statements made by the right honorable A. W. Fadden, M.P., and the honorable E. J. Harrison, M.P., were not specific in detail, and because of their generalization the task of verification or otherwise is ex-‘ tremely difficult, ifr. Conde was appointed to inquire into charges which were made in general terms in this House. Obviously, when honorable members make certain allegations here, they do not desire to reveal the source of their information. However, we were prepared to give the necessary evidence on oath before Mr. Conde, so that the persons whom we held responsible should have an opportunity also to testify on oath in an attempt to refute those charges. Mr. Conde complained that we did not give specific details, and that because of our generalizations, the task of verification was extremely difficult. He could have verified every one of the charges which we had made in the Houseif he had complied with his terms of reference and taken evidence on oath from the Leader of the Australian Country’ party and myself. As a matter of fact, Mr. Conde did not call any witnesses. It is. true that he visited certain firms which I had mentioned, and I had to give instructions to. the employers to insist that, if Mr. Conde decided to ask questions of them they should claim the right to be sworn.
– How could the honorable member “ instruct “ the members of firms?
– Perhaps I should have said that I advised the employers that , in my opinion, they should not answer any questions by Mr. Conde unless he was prepared to take evidence from them on oath. Surely a witness has the right to be sworn, and to insist that other witnesses shall also be sworn. Mr. Conde had authority to verify every statement which we made in this House, but he failed miserably to exercise his powers under the terms of reference. He reported - (a.) Hot water system. - I can find no con clusive evidence that an offer of£1 50was made for the hot water system, notwithstand ing that the person who alleges he made the verbal offer has since confirmed in writing that he did make such an offer. The Ministry of Munitions has no record of the offer, and, in a written statement, the particular officer concerned states that he cannot recall any such offer being made to him.
I have the names of the persons concerned. I have mentioned some of the names in this House. Mr. Conde could have called before him responsible officers of the department and other persons, and taken evidence from them on oath. He would then have been able to determine whether or not the statements were accurate. But he was too eager to side-step a legitimate inquiry, and to give the Government what it wanted. He succeeded in closing the inquiry as quickly as possible. That is what he has said in his report -
This resolves itself into a matter of one man’s word against another. Whilst there is a possibility that an offer of £150 could have been made, the question as to whether it was, or was not made, is not in my opinion a matter of importance.
Surely he was in duty bound to satisfy himself as to which man’s word was correct !
– Did he hear both men?
– He did not call any witnesses. He merely moved round, had a look at the various files, and satisfied himself that they were correct. He made no attempt to learn, whether the Leader of the Australian Country party and I could place before him sufficient evidence to warrant his full attention. He did not approach either the Leader of the Australian Country party or myself at any stage of his inquiry. On the subject of work benches, he has reported -
A representative of the Consolidated Metals’ Company, Auburn, claims that he wrote out an offer at the Ministry of Munitions Office, Sydney, which it is alleged the Chief Disposals Officer rejected on the grounds that the company was not engaged on defence work. Notwithstanding an exhaustive search, no trace or record of the original written offer can be found.
I have before me certain information which it may be well that I should read to the House; it relates to the letters referred to by Mr. Conde in his report. The first letter refers to the sum of £150; which., it will be remembered, was mentioned in connexion with a hot water system. It was sent to me by Mr. Kerry, who was the disposals officer in the Department of Munitions, in a letter dated the 28th September, 1945, in these terms -
With reference to your charges in connexion with the Disposals Commission, reported in Daily Telegraph of 20th September, 1945.
I wish to advise thatI was the disposals officer concerned, and I did receive an offer of £150 for the hot water heater and £10 each for the work benches.
The same day as your charges were reported in the press, a departmental inquiry was commenced to ascertain if they were true.
I was “ put on the mat “, practically accused of being the “ traitor in the camp “ who had informed you.
This I denied, as I have never met you and. had disclosed no information to anyone outside the department, though at the time it was common talk in our section.
Although Mr. Conde has reported, “ This resolves itself into a matter of one man’s word against another “, and the officer concerned said that he did not make an offer, this letter from Mr. Kerry states that he received an offer of £150. That he did so is proved by this letter, signed by Mr. J. Treacy-
With reference to various articles inspected by me on the 15th March last at Villawood, amongst which was a 900-gallon copper hot water system, together with stand, hot and cold water taps. I wish to confirm the fact that I made an offer of £150 for the heater to Mr. Kerry, who introduced me to Mr. Cohen at the time of the offer.
Mr. Kerry mentioned the fact that he would have to tell Mr. Cohen, and as Mr. Cohen was there he introduced me and submitted the offer.
Mr. Cohen inferred that the price was too low, as they could get more at an auction sale, thereby rejecting the offer. In view of the offer being turned down verbally I did not proceed further to confirm the matter in writing.
That places beyond all reasonable doubt, first, that Mr. Treacy made the offer ; and secondly, that Mr. Kerry received it. Yet Mr. Conde has said in his report -
I can find no conclusive evidence that an offer of £150 was made for the hot-water system, notwithstanding that the person who alleges he made the verbal offer has since confirmed in writing that he did make such an offer. The Ministry of Munitions has no record of the offer, and, in a written statement, the particular officer concerned states that he cannot recall any such offer being made to him.
The offer was made verbally. Even the disposals officer was not called before Mr. Conde to give evidence, although in a letter to me he has said that he was the responsible officer who received the offer.
A similar position exists in connexion with work benches. It is made perfectly clear, in a letter from Consolidated Metals Proprietary Limited, that it made an offer. The letter reads -
With reference to my offer of 11th April last concerning six work benches at £5. each located at No. 2 Store, Villawood, and which, offer was rejected as being too low.
I wish to confirm that approximately one week laterI submitted in writing to Mr. Kerry a fresh offer of ten pounds (£10) each.
Subsequently, I was informed two days later by phone by Mr. Kerry that this offer was rejected by Mr. Cohen, on the grounds that we were not engaged on defence work and that the benches were to be sold at auction at Villawood.
Thereupon I dropped the matter, asI could not afford the time to compete against dealers.
Yet Mr., Conde has reported that, notwithstanding an exhaustive search, no. trace of the original written offer could be found. Of course, no trace could be found, becausethe offer was made verbally. But it was subsequently, confirmed by letter. Mr. Conde could have satisfied himself as to whether this firm or Mr. Kerry was telling the truth, by the simple expedient of calling them before him and taking evidence from them on oath. He did neither.
Another matter is referred to in No. 5 of the terms of reference. In regard to the alleged victimization of Mr. Geoffrey Eudra Marni Kerry, Mr. Conde said -
After a very careful perusal of the files, which includes a signed statement, made by Geoffrey Eudra Marni Kerry, I am of the definite opinion that there is no foundation whatsoever in the allegation that there was improper dismissal or victimization of Mr. Kerry.
I have here a copy of a statutory declaration made by Mr. Kerry, and I understand that certain penalties are incurred by any one who makes a false declaration of that kind. I ask leave to have the declaration incorporated in Hansard.
– The declaration is as follows: -
I, Marine Kerry, of North Sydney, salesman, do solemnly and sincerely declare:
On the 20th September, 1945, areport of Mr. Harrison’s speech in Parliament dealing with munitions disposals was drawn to my notice and I noticed that several of the articles mentioned were ones I had handled, particularly work benches and hot water heater.
Later that morning, a Mr. 8. 6. Cohen, Chief Disposals Officer, called me into his office and showed me the cutting. He then referred to the disclosure of information from within the department and drew my attention to the penalties, producing at the same time a copy of the National Security Regulations.
He then said, “ Did you disclose this information to Mr. Harrison 1 “ I replied, “ I most certainly did not,” He then said, “ Its very queer that Mr. Harrison has all the figures correct and he could only have obtained them from someone very closely associated with the deal”. I again replied, “I did not inform Mr. Harrison. “.
Later that morning, the Liquidation Officer, a Mr. Hannelly, called me to his office. Present were Mr. Cohen, Mr. Curran (in charge of Auction Sales), and myself. Mr. Hannelly cross-examined me about the report and finally asked me if I had been to Mr. Harrison. Again I replied, “Emphatically No’.” I then drew Mr. Hannelly’s attention to the fact that I had brought the Sydney Morning Herald advertisement offering the heater at £250 to him, purely on academic interest. Mr. Hannelly said, “ That was so”. Mr. Hannelly then requested me to make a report on the heater and benches and submit it to him, which I did on the 21 st September last.
Mr. Cohen, did’ say to certain people at the top of his voice, “ I have- a traitor in my section and I know who he is, “-. As a result, X was given the cold shoulder in certain quarters.
On Tuesday night the 25th September, on Or about 5 p.m., the administrative officer informed me that Mr. Sharpe, the Staff Inspector, wished to see me at once. Mr. Sharpe then informed me that my services would be terminated from 12th October, 1945. I then asked him whether this action was because T was accused of being an informer and traitor and he replied, “No”, but that as private treaty has now been completed, a tut m lief of others would be getting their dismiss!) 1 notices. fi. On ‘ Friday, the 28th September, I was instructed to report to Mr. Hannelly’s office at about 10.45 a.m., and Mr. Hannelly handed me my .dismissal notice expiring on the 12th October. While T was discussing it Mr. Byrne came into the office and I got up and left.
About fifteen minutes later. I was again instructed to go to Mr. Hannelly’s office and Mr. Byrne was still present. Mr. Byrne asked me to” sit down and then said Mr. Hannelly -had been telling him of the trouble and asked me to tell the whole story. I detailed the facts leading up to. the offers and the rejections by Mr. Cohen. I then informed Mr. Byrne that a communication had been sent to Mr. Harrison askins for a letter clearing my name. Mr. Byrne replied. “ I wish von had not done that as the department .may become involved.” I replied that such action had been forced on me bv the high-handed action of his senior officers and I felt I was- being” made a political scape- )at. I then told him I had intended to resign in any case during October and I objected to leaving the department under a cloud. Mr Byrne then said, “ I am going to ask you a question which I want you to reply to on your word of honour. Did you inform Mr. Harrison of the matter referred to in the press ? “ 1 replied, ‘ I did not and have never met the man, either directly or indirectly in my life.”
Mr. Byrne then said, “ Have you got your- termination notice, with you? I believe you. Please let me have it.” I handed it to him, h* read it through and then said, “ I would be glad if you would disregard this notice and 1 promise you 1 will look into the whole matter very thoroughly. Now you have told mc, you had intended to resign, in any case, can you give me any idea when you are likely to be leaving us.” 1 replied, “ the 19th October “. and he said, “ Will you please let me have « memorandum to that effect.”
No other officer received a similar notice or has been queried or suspected to my knowledge of giving the information to Mr. Harrison, and it was only because of my knowledge as to making of the offers that I was suspected. I know nothing of the grinding machine and only what I heard lately about the bogie wheels.
Mr. Kerryhad been , given notice, but the notice was torn up when he told Mr. Byrne that he had never seen me before. However, he was so severely victimized subsequently that he had to leave the section.
In connexion with reference No, 2, Mr. Conde says -
During the course of my investigations I have examined the Auditor-General’s special report, dated 3rd December, 1045, addressed to the Minister of Home Security and Works, the Honorable H. P. Lazzarini, on the accounts and transactions of the Commonwealth Salvage Commission. In view of the Auditor-General’s comments in this special report, I feel that, the terms of reference do not call forany further comment on my part.
Now let me read the report of the AuditorGeneral for the year 1944-45 in which he bitterly criticized the administration of the Salvage Commission. Here are his words -
Contract with Firm of Salvage Distributors. - “ There are other features in this contract which, in normal circumstances, would be considered far from satisfactory: -
No tenders were apparently ‘called.
Dealing was made with a Melbourne syndicate, not yet registered as a firm, in respect of materials lying in Sydney and Brisbane.
The syndicate apparently had no stores under its own control in Brisbane or Sydney. This had caused a number of difficulties with deliveries to apparently “ agent “ firms.
Terms which appeared unusually easy were made as regards use of commission’s stores and delivery of materials at the commission’s expense.
The mixing of “ clothing “ with “ rag “ in bulk sale.
Mr. Conde, when looking up the report of the committee appointed by the Minister, did not take into account the report of the Auditor-General, who so scathingly criticized the administration of the department. I propose to read extracts of letters sent to me by the Minister’s own advisory committee. . I think that this is justified, in view of the fact that these men, who. had indicated their willingness to give evidence on oath, were not called. ‘ The first letter, from Mr. E. J. Millar, states -
In reference to the inquiry being held into the activities of the Commonwealth Salvage Commission, it is respectfully requested that the writer be given the opportunity of giving evidence.
When I read that letter to the Minister he said that Mr. Millar would be afforded an opportunity to give evidence, but he. was not called, and Mr. Conde does not know of the charges likely to be made by this man. The letter goes on -
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 shownthe material referred to. According to the conversation between these people, it became obvious that Walker was negotiating a sale. 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. The following day, Mr. Farthing, who was then Assistant State Controller of Salvage, rang and informed me thatWalker had sold the material to the refugees. At a later date, it was discovered that, despite the fact that my firm offered £112 per ton for certain of this material, Walker sold to the people referred to at £20 per ton.
That is a grave charge which should have called for an immediate inquiry.When the Governmentordered an inquiry this person should have immediately been called to give evidence. However, neither this man nor any other member of the advisory committee was called. Another letter, dated the 17th of April, is as follows: -
A few months ago I interviewed Mr. Walker, secretary of the Commonwealth Salvage Commission in Melbourne, and complained about the unfairness of the commission in selling huge quantities of material to refugees, withoutgiving the legitimate traders an opportunity of quoting for the said materials. Mr. Walker replied, “I called in Baron in an advisory capacity to the commission, with a request that he proceed to Sydney and Brisbane and in-: spect all materials available”.
I then asked Walker why this man was called in and pointed out that Mr. K. McLeod Bol ton, of Sydney, had been gazetted honorary adviser to the commission, and also that an advisory panel, of which I, myself, was a member, was in existence. Walker refrained from answering this question, but did admit that, after Baron had inspected the material, he, Baron, submitted the following proposition: - Baron to form a company to be known as Associated Salvage Distributors and that this company purchase all Army textile salvage materials available throughout the Commonwealth.
Walker further stated that the commission accepted this proposition and signed a contract accordingly.
That contract was criticized by the Auditor-General because it was made with a firm that had not then been registered -
Upon my return to Sydney a few days later, I immediately arranged for a meeting of the local waste traders and explained the position to themembers present. It was decided that three members of the, trade interview Mr. Lazzarini in reference to these transactions and, despite the fact that Mr.Lazzarini agreed, to meet these gentlemen, they were informed, upon arrival at his rooms, that he would only interview one member. Mr. Bolton was the gentleman who saw Mr. Lazzarini. and, as a reward for hisefforts in attempting to straighten out matters, was called a liar.
– Did he say that I called Mr. Bolton a liar.?
– He said-
Mr. Bulton was the gentleman who saw Mr. Lazzarini and, as a reward for his efforts in attempting to straighten out matters, was called a liar.
– That is a damned lie!
– Order !
Mr.HARRISON.- The word seems to be such a favorite with the Minister that he does not recollect when he uses it. Mr. Bolton also told me a very interesting story about the language used by the Minister when he was with Mr. Fitzpatrick and Bolton charged Fitzpatrick with using the Minister’s telephone in Brisbane.
– That is another lie !
-Let us get on with the facts. The letter continues -
The writer is a partner in a Melbourne firm registered under the name of Preston Waste Proprietary Limited. This firm, owing to the control by the Commonwealth Salvage Commission, was compelled to close down during the period of control, due only to the fact that it was unable to obtain supplies.
Despite repeated requests by a directorof the firm to the Commonwealth Salvage Commission, no supplies were made available, yet Walker had the audacity to admit having signed a contract with afirm which was not even registered.
In my letter to you dated 28th March,I omitted to state that the material referred to had been sorted by Millar Ezzy & Company and the commission had paid us £10 per ton to do the sorting. This, of course, makes the sale refered to in that letter more ridiculous than ever.
In conclusion may Isuggest that, when the inquiry is held, evidence be taken on oath.
I turn now to a letter dated the 29th April, 1946, from Mr. Evans, managing director of Sydney Waste Industries Limited, who was alsoa member of the Minister’s advisory panel. The letter reads -
My company, as one of the largest textile waste merchants in Australia, had a considerable amount of dealings -with the- commission and I consider that the treatmentdoled out to this company and other waste firms by the commission was most unreasonable.
My reason for making this statement is that in July, 1945, my company purchased from the commission a quantity of old hosiery at £102 13s.. 4d. per ton and again in September, 1945, purchased a quantity of wiper material at £102 13s. 4d. per ton. At about this period the commission sold by contract at least 1,500 tons of rags to the Melbourne Syndicate at a flat rate of £17 per ton. It is not possible to reconcile the action of the officers of the commission in these sales.
Whilst I was in Brisbane in October last ] found that the syndicates were using the commission’s store, Army personnel and vehicles to handle the waste. To communicate with the Syndicate (now known as Associated Salvage Distributors) it was first necessary to telephone the State Controller of Salvage, Brisbane, whose office would then connect you.
That is a clear indication as to how far this firm had progressed in its relations with a government instrumentality. If, the Minister was not satisfied witha statement of that kind- he should have advised the commissioner to call evidence on oath. He was empowered to do so and Mr. Evans was desired to give sworn evidence. It seems, however, that the commissioner was not intent on unravelling the facts; he feared what might be brought to the surface. That is the reason why no evidence was called, why the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) and myself were not approached to disclose what evidence we could offer, and why this man went snooping round the firms concerned in an endeavour to get information without calling for evidence on oath. The letter from Mr. Evans continues -
We are led to believe that when the contract, was made the Syndicate was neither registered as a company nor were they licenced as distributors by the Salvage Commission.. It. would also be interesting to know if it is true that the principal of the syndicate has’ left this country- and is now in Palestine.
Honorable members will recall that. I asked in .this House, whether this gentleman- had been given a visa to go overseas and that I was informed that he was then on his way back to Australia. To say the least it seems strange that the principal figure in the case should be allowed to leave the Commonwealth at a time when the inquiry was proceeding; The terms of reference were quite clear. I do not know whether Mr. Baron was called ; I venture to say he was not. If he was. called, was his evidence taken on oath? Again, I venture to say it was not. A commissioner was appointed by the Government to investigate serious charges made by responsible members of this Parliament who are associated with the leadership of the two parties in opposition. Is it likely that we would have made loose charges or idle statements? .By the. documentary evidence I have produced this morning I have already proved that the charges were based on facts supplied to me by members of the Minister’s own advisory panel. I could do no other than bring those- facts before the House and the country; I could do no other than bring before the House the evidence given by Mr. Kerry, disposals officer of the commission. If the Government thought those charges of sufficient importance - and it did, po, because it appointed Mr. Conde to investigate the matter- it had a responsibility to call all evidence that that would establish- the truth or otherwise of the allegations. After sifting the evidence Mr. Conde should have made recommendations upon which the Government could have acted. But Mr. Conde did not do that ; he interpreted his terms of reference as giving him authority to whitewash the charges and he immediately proceeded to do so.
I turn briefly to another matter. I again direct attention to the serious position in which country people are placed as the result of the imposition of sales tax on freight charged on goods transported from the. metropolitan area to country centres. This practice imposes an unfair, burden on country people and on wholesale firms which have branches in country centres. In order to illustrate my argument I propose to give one or two examples of how this surcharge places country consumers at a disadvantage by comparison with city dwellers. As honorable members are aware, under the sales tax procedure,, goods purchased by merchants in a country town from the’ branch of a wholesale, warehouse attract sales tax not only on the goods’ themselves, but also on the freight, whereas, if they are bought direct from the main warehouse in the city, sales tax is paid only on the cost of the goods, and not on the freight. The situation is well illustrated by the following examples : The freight on a ton of good? carried by rail at the second-class rate of freight to a point 300 miles distant from Sydney is £8 16s. Sales tax on the freight on those good’s is £2 4s., if they are taxable at 25 per cent, or £1 2s., if taxable at 12£ per cent. The tax on the freight on 1 ton- of fine salt sold at. Inverell, the wholesale price of which is £6 14s. 6d. a ton, on rails, Sydney, is 8s. lid. In this case the salt is taxable at. 12$ per cent., and the freight on it to Inverell is £3 Ils. 3d. per ton. Here are two other examples. The first, is iri respect of a ton of fine salt purchased direct from a city wholesaler and shipped to Glen Innes. The initial cost of the salt is £6 14s. 6d., the freight costs £3 8s.. 6d., and sales tax at T2i per cent, on £6 14s. fid’., adds 1Rs. 10d., making the total £10 I As-. I0d. Wow consider the same ton of salt, purchased from the country wholesaler, who is forced to pay tax on the cost, plus freight, by rulings of. the Taxation Commissioner. The cost, as before, is £6 14s’. 6d., the freight £3 Ss. 6d., and the sales tax, on cost plus the freight, at 12^ per cent., £1 5s. 5d., making the total, £11 8s. 5d. This represents “ an increase on the first example of 8s. 7d. a ton, or 6.4 per cent., directly attributable to what must be conceded to be an unjust impost. I ask the Minister for Works and Housing, in his capacity as deputy to the Treasurer, whether consideration will be given to the correction of the anomaly, which bears unduly on the country trader. It debars him from purchasing from the branch warehouse in his own town because the sales tax on the freight from the city as well as on the actual cost of the goods makes the cost so much higher.
[11.54J. - The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison), has provided another example of his irresponsibility in the tirade of abuse- that he has hurled at the -Salvage Commission. I do not intend to take up much time replying to the honorable member, because every allegation made to-day by him has been made and refuted on four or five occasions. It is amazing to hear the honorable member one day asking questions about reflections made by Ministerial supporters on people outside who cannot defend themselves, when he makes more use of this chamber than any other honorable member as a coward’s castle from which to attack people who cannot reply. The irony of it is that Opposition members, tongue in cheek, endeavour to make it appear to the people that we on this side of the House take advantage of the broadcasting of the proceedings of the Parliament to attack people, whereas the truth is that this offence is committed mainly by honorable gentle:men opposite. Both the honorable member for Wentworth, and the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden), have made the most irresponsible accusations against the. Commonwealth instrumentalities - the honoraWe member for Wentworth against the Salvage Commission and the Leader of the Australian Country party against the
Commonwealth Disposals Commission. The -accusations against the Salvage Commission have already been effectively answered by me. The full story appears in Hansard, and the newspapers have published a condensation; and, through both, members of the public have been able to ascertain the facts. The honorable member for Wentworth “was able” to substantiate only one detail of his otherwise wild and mischievous accusations and the practice that he complained of was stopped ‘ immediately it came to my notice. He knows that as well as I do, but that does not stop him from coming here and uttering more baseless slander? of people who are powerless to defend themselves in this chamber. With reference to the allegation of the Leader of the Australian Country party in regard to the sale by the Commonwealth Disposals Commission of household refrigerators, Mr. H. G-. Conde. who conducted an inquiry into that and other matters, furnished a report, which was tabled yesterday by the PrimeMinister (Mr. Chifley). ‘ It contained the following paragraph : -
In my opinion, the transaction referred to relates to refrigerator cabinets and not to refrigerators. In August, 1945, there were a number of refrigerator cabinets disposed of which were condemned as irreparable and were non-accountable. These were sold at’ prices ranging from £2 10s. to £20.
That disposes of the alleged refrigerators. They were refrigerator cabinets.
The truth about the sale of the material referred to by the honorable member for Wentworth is that Millar Ezzy and Company and one or two other unsuccessfully tried to compete with the purchasers, who are successfully tendering for nearly all the lines the-, commission sells. Ezzy and Bolton had submitted tenders. I have them before me to prove that. Because they were beaten in a business deal they scuttled off to the honorable member for Wentworth to get him to make charges in this House. My private secretary, a public servant of many years standing and with a very high reputation, is sitting in the gallery behind me. He was present when Bolton came to see me and remained the whole time that Bolton was there. If Bolton says - and I do not believe that he does, for the honorable member only read a letter that was not signed by Bolton, I understand - that there was any acrimony in my talk with him, he is not telling the truth.
– I assure the Minister that he has said so.
– Then he is telling an untruth. I had a witness present; there was no acrimony. In fact, Bolton shook hands with me after the interview and said he hoped that as a result of our conversation things would be straightened out. He made no charges. He admitted that he had been an adviser of the Salvage Commission, and that his main complaint was that, although he had worked in an honorary capacity, his advice had not been sought on one occasion when he thought it should have been. Neither Bolton nor I had notes taken. What I have said is the plain truth.. I will match my reputation against his at any time. My standing in the communityis at least as high as his. Moreover, I have the benefit of a witness, who is known in his private and official life as an honorable man. I do not want an argument with Bolton. All I can say is that he is using his position as president of the New South Wales branch of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers, and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia to play at politics. I believe that he is tobe a candidate at the forthcoming general elections. I warn him that, if high officers of the league use their official positions for political purposes, the league will be smashed, because the rank and file will not stand for it. That is all I have to say. I categorically deny the honorable gentleman’s statements. Mr. Bolton met me in my office and told me that he was in trouble mainly because, as honorary adviser of the Salvage Commission, he’ claimed that his advice was not sought on some occasions when it should have been sought. I told him that I would take the matter up with the Salvage Commission to see whether the matter of which he complained could be rectified. At the end of the interview he shook hands with me as he left my office.
The Auditor-General is correct when he says that the contract was signed with an unregistered company. I was one day out in my dates. The contract was signed by Mr. Brilliant, a prominent business man of Melbourne, on behalf of Associated Salvage Distributors Limited, on the Tuesday. The company was registered on the Wednesday. I admit that the Auditor-General was correct when he said that the company was not registered at the time Mr. Brilliant signed the contract. Mr. Brilliant signed on behalf of the company, not for the company. The Auditor-General came into my office and asked me about that.I intended to make a statement in the House on the matter on the motion for adjournment or at some other time. The point is that the Auditor-General did not find that there was anything wrong. He said that there was never anything ethically wrong. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), knows something about company law, and I am sure that he would agree that there was nothing wrong in what was done.
The honorable member for Wentworth has referred constantly to refugees, and, in my opinion, hasattempted to distort the’ meaning of the word. He desires to leave the impression that these people came to this country very shortly before these transactions occurred, and that there was something unsavoury about them.
– The term was used in the letter.
– Yes, but the honorable gentleman has repeatedly used it in the House. The fact is that Mr. Brilliant is a naturalized British subject who took out his naturalization papers in 1920, when a government of the political complexion favoured by the honorable member for Wentworth was in office. The honorable gentleman also said that Baron was given a passport and went away to Jerusalem. The fact is that he went away on only a short visit. He took out his naturalization papers in the 1930’s, also when an anti-Labour government was inoffice. The citizenship of these men is recognized in this country, but the honorable member for Wentworth is using this House, as a coward’s castle and is continually suggesting that there is something wrong with what these naturalized citizens have done in certain business transactions with which they have been connected. In one breath honorable gentlemen opposite say that we should be doing everything possible to bring immigrants to Australia and thereby increase our population, and in the next breath, for the purpose of trying to gain a paltry political advantage, they charge person’s who become naturalized citizens with improper practice. I have dealt with this subject on three- or four -occasions, as may be ascertained from reference to. Hansard and the evidence in regard to it has been, published in1 our -official records..
The honorable gentleman said that an effort was being, made to make available to these interests all the salvage in Australia. Tha-t is another half-truth. A contract- was signed for 1,000 tons of salvage, and the quantity was afterwards increased to 1,500 tons.’ An attempt has been- made also to lead people to believe that certain materials were improperly included, as rag. I ordered: an inquiry to be made into this’ matter as soon as the allegations came to my notice, and it was -also subsequently investigated by the Auditor-General.
– What was the price of the salvage?
– From £20 to £25 a ton.
– Was it not £14?
– That is not true. The evidence obtained by the AuditorGeneral proves that it was not true.
– What about Miller’s letter?
– There is no evidence- that Miller ever made an offer to anybody. These allegations can be put in the same class as. those made by the honorable gentleman in regard to a hotwater system. Mr. Conde- has reported that no evidence was to be found as the result of his exhaustive search that any contract was made. What has happened is that th© honorable gentleman’s “stooges” come to- him and tell him that they have made verbal offers for goods. I could say that I had made a verbal offer of £10,000 in certain circumstances, and later write a letter to- the honorable gentleman on the subject, well knowing tha.t he would use’ it in the House. The honorable gentleman- is making use of political “stooges”,, who write’ halftruths rr untruths to birm knowing that he wil1 probably use the matter to “ cook up “ charges of connivance-
– I rise to order. I ask that the Minister be called upon to withdraw the allegation that I would “cook up ;” certain evidence, particularly as Mr.
Conde had power to call me to. give evidence on oath, and did not do it.
– As the honorable member for Wentworth regards the term “ cook up “ as offensive, I ask the Minister to withdraw it.
– I withdraw it willingly. I used the word “ probably “. but I withdraw the term “ cook up “ as the honorable gentleman considers that it is offensive. He has indulged in many suggestions’, and innuendos regarding these matters and has quoted, from a’ letter which implied that something dishonest and dishonorable has been done, when, in fact, there is no evidence of anything of the kind. The Auditor-General made exhaustive inquiries, extending over ‘three or four months in three States, into activities of the Salvage Commission, and in spite of all’ the harping of the honorable member for Wentworth on this subject, all that the Auditor-General could find was that a contract was entered into with a firm that was not registered until the day after the contract was signed.
The Auditor-General frequently criticizes the accountancy, and bookkeeping’ methods of departments. AuditorGenerals of both the Commonwealth and the States are in the habit of criticizing the accountancy methods of government departments. The Salvage Commission was one of the last bodies of the kind to be established and it had to “ pick up “- its officers from wherever it could get them, because all the most capable accountants had already been engaged. I have never tried’ to deny that the Aud’itor-General has been critical, hut he has also stated in plain terms that there was no evidence, to justify the allegations made in this Parliament by the honorable member- for Wentworth. This relates particularly to the statement, that a certain amount of material that was included! in a contract as- rag was .not rag. Because of that allegation I requested that an immediate investigation be made. Subsequently the Auditor-General, in company- with an officer of the Treasury, also made an investigation. I do not think it; will be suggested’ that the Auditor-General would’ so out of h-is way to whitewash me or anybody else:
– But tenders were not called in this case.
– That was admitted long ago ; but since then tenders have been called in every instance. There has been no attempt to deny that tenders were not called in this particular transaction. The Auditor-General has reported that there is not the slightest evidence of any dishonesty in. this matter, though he also said that he considered that the chairman of the Salvage Commission had participated in what had been disclosed as a bad business deal. I cannot remember his exact words at the moment. I have.. the report before me, but I do not intend to “weary honorable members by reading long extracts from it. When the Auditor-General and the officer from the Treasury went to Queensland to examine and sort the goods that had been sold, they had to wear gas masks at the work because the- smell was so bad. That fact indicates the quality of the goods. Since this particular transaction occurred, all sales by the Salvage Commission have been conducted by public tender. Advertisements have been inserted in the newspapers in various capital cities when salvage has. been available for sale: As the honorable member for Wentworth obtained permission to incorporate matter in Hansard, I also intend to ask for permission to incorporate certain tables relating to tenders received by the Salvage Commission for certain goods that were offered for sale. In one of these tables reference is made to a tender of £135 by Associated Salvage Distributors. That was the highest tender; the next highest one was £134. In respect of one parcel of goods, McLeod, Bolton and Miller, Ezzy, and Sydney Waste Industries Limited, submitted exactly the same tender, £28, for certain goods. These were the only tenders received. These documents reveal that Associated Salvage Distributors Limited sometimes, offered prices 60 per cent, higher than other tenders. It is clear evidence that the three firms to which the- honorable member for Wentworth referred are deeply concerned because Associated Salvage Distributors Limited outbids them. They may desire to con- . tinue to do what, no doubt, they did in the past. Apparently they “ put their heads together “ and decided that they, would not bid beyond certain prices. In that way, they could get materials at prices below their real value. With the consent of honorable members I shall incorporate in Hansard details of tenders submitted by Associated Salvage Distributors Limited and other firms -
The honorable member for Wentworth has endeavoured to besmirch my administration of the Salvage Commission, and implied that dishonesty had entered -into, its transactions. I doubt whether .the honorable gentleman has the courage to make those charges against my administration outside this ‘ coward’s castle, and not to use the coward’s weapon of innuendo.
– I made these statements in the Minister’s own electorate a few nights ago.
– If the honorable member will repeat his charges outside this coward’s castle, I shall take appropriate action.
– I rise to order. Is the Minister in order in referring to the House of Representatives as a “ coward’s castle “ ?
– That is not a point of order.
– I support and confirm the views expressed by the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) regarding this alleged inquiry by Mr. Cond6 into our statements about the maladministration of the Salvage Commission. When I raised this matter, I referred particularly to the sale of refrigerators, and emphasized that the inquiry should be conducted by a judge of the Supreme Court who would be able adequately to sift and assess the evidence. The report submitted by Mr. Conde reflects the greatest attempt to white-wash a government department that I have ever known. The Government appointed Mr. Conde to inquire into the statements which I made. I use specifically the word “ statements “ because I do not desire any honorable member opposite to accuse me of having used’ the word “ allegations “. I made no allegations. I stated that I could not verify the statements and . claims which had been made to me, and I considered that I executed my trust as a representative of the people when I raised the matter in this House and pressed for a most searching inquiry. What has been the result ? Mr. Conde never interviewed me. or asked me whether I had any evidence to support by statements, who my informants were, or whether I could produce any material which might assist a proper investigation. I have in my possession the duplicates of receipts and warrants issued by the Salvage Commission regarding refrigerators. The Department of Supply and Shipping supplied to me the ledger-sheet as well as copies of warrants or receipts which were certified. What do they reveal? Mr. Conde could have got this information. What the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Senator Ashley), stated to me in reply to a question which I asked in the House was an untruth. He said, when I raised the matter, that ten refrigerators only were sold to Fostars Foundry at £10 ,each. Receipt No.- 62324 states that “the price includes” two cases of parts. The Minister did not mention this fact. There is a big difference between selling a refrigerator at £10, and selling a refrigerator with two cases of parts at the same price. The stock ledger lists one refrigerator sold by auction at £4 as being a “ six hole display type “. It is fairly good buying at £4 ! But evidently Mr. Conde was satisfied without making any inquiry or investigation. Certain receipts are endorsed by the purchaser, “for my own personal use and not for re-sale “. If those were junk items selling at £9 10s. each, why is the admission made that they could be used and were. consequently serviceable, and why was the restriction placed on their re-sale? A. Simmick is described in pencil on the stock’ ledger as a carrier, and consequently, the real name of the purchaser does not appear. The prices of these items to Simmick are £9 10s., £7, £7, £2, £7, £7, £7, and £7, respectively. Nine refrigerators were sold to Army officers, and one was sold to a woman in Adelaide for £7; Surely she . would not have paid the cost of transport from Brisbane to Adelaide if the refrigerator was- junk. Mr. Conde .used the white-wash brush ‘too thickly and too crudely. He could have been even a little subtle in his investigations, called for the evidence and arrived at something approaching a reasonable decision based upon a proper investigation by a man of Mr. Conde’s reputation. It is a scandalous state of affairs when the white-wash is used in an attempt to discredit the honorable member for Wentworth and myself. We are not irresponsible. We have a duty to perform, and when people make complaints to us about wilful waste and extravagant maladministration, we must raise the matters in this House. We did so in this instance. We asked for a searching inquiry, and the result is this nebulous white-washing document which purports to be findings based on searching investigation to elicit the truth. This Parliament and. the country should not tolerate that.
This bill provides for the granting of supply until the 30th November next. The amount which the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley), seeks is £45,030,000. That amount approximates the estimates that, the right honorable gentleman gave in his Financial Statement on the 12th July last. I direct particular attention to the method pf finance which the Government proposes to adopt during the next twelve months. The Treasurer stated that the provision of £30,000,000 for war services represents the amount which, it is estimated, will be available from revenue receipts for the period of .three months, after allowance is made for other obligations. Therefore, of the total amount of £302,000,000 which will be required for war services this financial year, the Government plans to’ expend £120,000,000- from .revenue, and the balance of £180,000,000’ will be. raised by loan. . I direct particular attention to that fact.
The Government’s plans for this financial year contemplate the borrowing of at least £180,000,000. Let use examine some of the items for which we are asked to make provision. It ‘ is interesting to note the trend’ of the Government’s financial policy. The amount which the Parliament is asked to provide includes the sum of £3,500,000 for air- craft equipment and stores. The inference to be drawn is that in this financial year, the Government will expend about £14,000,000 in that direction. An amount equal to £1,800,000 a year is provided for standard ship construction. I shall connect that matter with some remarks which I propose .to make on the AuditorGeneral’s report on that particular venture. My point is that provision is made in the Government’s financial proposals £or giving effect to its socialization ideals. I also direct’ attention to an amount of £8,7 60 provided for the next three months for the . Investigation Branch of the Attorney-General’s Department. That is equivalent to an expenditure of £34,000 a year on that activity. “We must consider the . Government’s financial requirements in the light of the Auditor-General’s report. What has the Auditor-General said of the public accounts since this Government took office.? His report was laid on the table of this House last March, but copies were not. available for some time. The report is a scathing .document containing on almost every page examples of Government squandering, maladministration of every kind, bungling and inepitude. The comments regarding government departments call for a most searching examination, and, in many cases, stringent action, against those responsible for the inefficiency and wasteful expenditure disclosed in the report. I emphasize that these criticisms are not made by the Opposition. They are not the observations of a political party on the eve of the elections. They are made by a public official who is appointed to safeguard the interests of taxpayers. The Audit Bill was one’ of the first measures ‘passed by the Parliament of the Commonwealth when it was constituted 45 years ago.The importance of his office is beyond question. He can be described a.« “ the watchdog of the public purse “. When a Minister i» :worn in a3 the head of a
Commonwealth department, he is required to assume complete responsibility for its administration. His duty is toensure that full value shall be received, for the money which the department expends. Yet, within the last four years,. with the Labour party in office, one report after another by the Auditor-General has criticized the administration in the most scathing terms. This officer, has reported that his strictures have been ignored, and that there has been little or no improvement of the position to which he has directed attention. In fact, repeatedly he has had to revert to criticism in his previous .reports. When other Opposition members and I have sought an explanation of the waste, extravagance and maladministration disclosed by the Auditor-General, the invariable’ practice of the Minister concerned has been to present a report prepared by a public servant ; in other words, a “ whitewashing “ report. In the main, such reports are prepared by an officer of the department, the administration of which has been criticized by the Auditor-General. When the report has been given to the House, the whole matter has been shelved, and frequently the Auditor-General has found himself obliged to reiterate his criticism in his next report. His report’ for 1943-44 was tabled on the 13th June, 1945. Even the Prime Minister and Treasurer (Mr. Chifley), had to admit that he had not had an opportunity to peruse it. Subsequently, I suggested that immediate action should be taken to investigate the highly unsatisfactory state of affairs that had been revealed by the report. The Auditor-General had strongly criticized inefficiency in accounting and stock-taking methods, as well as wasteful expenditure, particularly in the Departments of Munitions, the Army, and Aircraft Production. I suggested the appointment of an independent com- ‘mittee of practising accountants, to investigate and report upon methods for improving the position, especially as some qf the transactions at which criticism had been directed had extended over three or four years. The Prime Minister replied that the matters relating to costing which had been brought under notice in the report would be considered. He said -
I know from my own experience that it is hard to obtain the services of extra men, but
II assure the honorable member that the Government will do whatever is possible to have -an examination made.
I was impelled to suggest an investigation because the Auditor-General’s statements in that report were similar to those that he had made in his report for the year -ended the 30th June, 1943. Notwithstanding the serious nature of these repeated criticisms, the Minister for Munitions (Mr. Makin), dealing with -similar comments in the 1943 report, said -
The comment of the Auditor-General can .be described as exaggerated and giving a distorted picture of the situation. Most of it appears to be directed at the Victorian section.
The Auditor-General referred to these observations in his subsequent report, and added -
The inference is quite correct; the paragraph in question was headed “ Munitions Stores and Transport Branch, Victoria “.
I have been greatly concerned at the Minister’s statement, as it is my invariable practice where comment or criticism is considered necessary, to state the position as moderately as possible and to avoid overstatement in any respect
As regards the branch in question, my officers had been endeavouring for a considerable period to secure improvement in its accounting and control:. The Treasury had -also taken action.
In the circumstances, it is most regrettable that the Minister for Munitions, referring to the 1944 report,. should have seen fit to observe that the AuditorGeneral was not a production man and had only a rather theoretical knowledge, for which reasons he, the Minister, would prefer to he guided by production men. That a Minister should regard so lightly such an. important document as the report of the Auditor-General, is a serious matter.
I have abstracted from the latest report of the Auditor-General a few classic examples of the squandering of public money which should be devoted to other purposes in a much higher priority group; for example, the re-establishment and rehabilitation: of ex-servicemen. Unfortunately, the report is twelve months old, because it refers to the year ended the 30th June, 1945. The extravagance to which. it refers has doubtless been aggravated in the year that has recently closed. Here are examples of disastrous maladministration -
Munitions Department. - Discrepancies between accounts were considerably increased during the year, and a complete reconciliation was impossible. Audit representations regarding unsatisfactory accounting features are still unsatisfied. Authentic departmental records of assets purchased from Commonwealth Fund!1 cannot be established.
The Auditor-General reported in similar terms in 1943, and again .in 1944; yet the maladministration was considerably accentuated. I have drawn attention in this House to the estimates of private individuals in connexion with the construction of wooden vessels by the Shipbuilding Board, the amounts being £700,000 for a period of three months and £1,800,000 for a period of twelve months. One would have thought that some regard would ,be paid to the criticism that had been offered, when plans were being made for the future and an expenditure of nearly £2,000.000 was involved. This is what the Auditor-General has said in regard to that venture -
Standard wooden vessels completed cost £71 per deadweight ton - many, times the overseas cost of comparable vessels. Two hundred ton wooden vessels cost up to £7(1,000 a piece, caused in part “by heavy expenditure on overtime”. Recently an endeavour was. made to dispose of some of these vessels,- with little success. The eventual loss will’ be of staggering proportions.
Yet no attempt was- made to exercise more stringent control over expenditure. The Auditor-General said in regard to locomotive construction -
A substantial loss will result from this project.
These are his remarks in connexion with the cost-plus system -
Despite a recommendation regarding the fixed-price contract, the department still continued to let some cost-plus and maximum price contracts.
His recommendation in that regard was completely ignored, and the position was aggravated,, with the result that greater calls had to be made on the public purse. Tn regard to the Aircraft Production. Department, he said -
Control records, are incomplete, stocktaking has nut been reconciled with them. The government-owned material issued direct to contractors has. not been- brought completely under departmental control.. With regard to one contractor alone, the amount involved is £1,790,000 while in another case evidence has not been forthcoming to indicate whether £5,890,000 worth of materials supplied to one major contractor by the .department was properly controlled as to receipt, usage or return.
Numerous sub-contracts were placed on a basis which did not provide for the right to investigate costs. ‘ Four million pounds was paid to sub-contractors, and of those , which could he investigated, substantial refunds resulted.
Other extracts from the report are -
Stores and Equipment: - Stores records continue to be unreliable. Stock-taking immediately revealed numerous discrepancies - in many cases without seeking competent authority and without submitting details to the Audit Office.
Allied Works Council: - Plant and stores records could not be reconciled with control accounts. Purchases could not be traced, and numerous adjustments were made to stock ledgers without authority. Unsuccessful attempts have been made to correct the records.
Canteen Accounts : - During the year, deficiencies and irregularities were disclosed, stated to be largely due to pillage and loss in transit.
Stores and Plant Records: - Certain phases of accounting were seriously in arrear and audit examination disclosed numerous inaccuracies. Stores were over purchased and became unserviceable.
Salvage Commission: - Items not properly accounted for reduced the accumulated profit claimed, by £20,700. The accounts were so unreliable that the Chief Auditor, New South Wales, reported that “ the position regarding stock records, stocktaking and related discrepancies is quite unacceptable to audit “. Another auditor had strong _ suspicions that some treaters were in a position to transfer better, class fabrics to their own stocks, and replace them- with lower class materials !
Food Control : - Losses amounting to £105,000 arising from the processing and sale of vegetables resulted during the year. £101,000. was expended on a project in northern Queensland which produced £15,800 worth of vegetables during the year, before it was closed down. The same department spent £42,820 of public moneys on a publicity campaign for increased food production.
Prime Minister’s Department: - Stocktaking of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is seriously in arrears with regard to both stores and equipment. -
Department of the Interior: - As in previous years, working expenses of the Grafton-South Brisbane railway were incorrectly charged with £53,000 of capital expenditure.
Prices Commission: - Salaries in this branch jumped from £285,000 to £420,000 in the twelve months. This is an extraordinary increase and calls for some explanation. The cost of administration alone of the two commissions - prices and rationing, cost over £1,000,000 for the year.
Department of the Army: - Discrepancies; arrears,” withholding of audit approval, failure to check deliveries, of Army goods such as tyres, and other unsound features mark the administration of this department.
Minerals Production : - Expenditure on. various projects to 30th June, 1945, was £2,584,000, and receipts totalled only £344,000.
One could give many more examples of. the appalling state of affairs which, according to the report, exists in Commonwealth departments. The most unsatisfactory feature is the complete apathy of the Government, and its total disregard of responsibility.
I wish to record my appreciation of the work of the retiring Auditor-General, Mr. R. Abercrombie: who has given outstanding service during the- eight years of his occupancy of that office. He has not had that departmental or ministerial co-operation which he should have had during the last three or four years. He has performed his duties fearlessly and most efficiently. I hope that’ his successor will be guided by the example he has set, and will discharge his responsibilitieswith the same zeal, straightforwardness and courage.
Sitting suspended from 12.^5 to 2 p.m.
– I now draw attention to an item of £8,756 to cover expenditure by the Commonwealth Investigation Branch for a period of three months; proportionately the expenditure for the full year would be about £34,000. It is opportune to call attention to the fact that, during the war, the Commonwealth Security .Service was set up to carry out important functions associated with the security of Australia. When the war ended, the Government appointed a committee, which included the then Director General of Security, now Mr. Justice Simpson, to make recommendations concerning the future of the department. I understand that that committee recommended to the Government - that the security service should he terminated. When-the matter was raised in Parliament earlier this year, the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) gave an assurance that it was not intended to have a permanent security service, such as was necessary in war-time. Nevertheless, he added, there would have to be in the Investigation Branch of ‘the
Attorney-General’s Department some officers whose duty would be to watch security matters in Australia’s interest.
It appears, however, that there is in Australia to-day, - at a time when we are not at war - an organization which is described as “ Evatt’s gestapo “. , This organization is under the control of a Colonel Jackson, who, I understand, was formerly Deputy Director of Security Service in Sydney. Two well-known. and experienced New South “Wales detectives, Detectives Wilks and McDermott, who were seconded to the Commonwealth for security work during the war, are, I understand, to-day associated with this gestapo. Side by side with this organization, we have the Commonwealth Investigation Branch, which cost £33,182 in 1943-44, and £35,804 in 1944-45, and provision was made for an expenditure of £38,800 in the financial year 1945-46. The security service cost £121,579 in 1943-44 and £134,184 in 1944-45, but the provision was cut down to £40,000 for 1945-46. I am unable to say what the security service actually cost in the last financial year, but I do say that Parliament and the people are entitled to know how an estimated expenditure of £40,000 was justified on a security service, while the Commonwealth Investigation Branch was functioning. ,
Furthermore, I understand that the permanent’ head of the Commonwealth Investigation Branch is Colonel Longfield Lloyd, who is at present in Japan, and Major Rowland Brown is the temporary head of the department. What I want to know is, under whose control are Colonel Jackson and the officers of his department? Are they under the control of Colonel Longfield Lloyd, or under the direct control of the Attorney-General? Further, I want to know what is the nature of the work of this new organization - which is functioning in peace-time - that requires the services of detectives trained in police work?
In connexion with this subject, I have recently received details of the moneys expended out of two secret funds by the Labour Government during the past few years. The first secret fund, known as the Security Service Special Fund, was operated upon by the Government for nearly three years until it was closed in December, 1945. The sum ‘ of £8,662 lis. 4d. was spent but of this fund on security matters, including subversive activities. It is. the successor, except in name, to the fund known as the Australian Democratic Front Fund, established for similar purposes under the control of Sir George Knowles, the Solicitor-General at the time. Besides this’ fund, there is another government secret fund known as the Investigation Branch Special Fund, from which the Government has spent £9,185 during it? term of office. A portion of these money* ‘ was used in investigating subversive activities in all States. It took a good deal of questioning on my part to obtain information about expenditure from these funds. I persisted in my endeavour to get the Government to admit that it had a secret fund similar to the one which uninformed members opposite have called a “slush” fund. I asked on the 19th July a series of questions, No. 4 of which was as follows : -
Have moneys from any of the above mentioned accounts and/or funds been used either directly or through any Commonwealth instrumentality or otherwise to control, police and/or investigate communism or communistic activities, and/or any persons, matter* or things associated in any way whatsoever with the Communist party of Australia.
Strangely enough, I received replies to all the questions I asked except No. 4, and that one was evaded. It would appear that honorable members opposite were ignorant that the present Government had carried on the same practice as the previous government by operating on secret funds. The only difference is t;hat thi? Government of which the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) is a member, has spent more on secret fund.’ than did the previous one. The reply which I received to my question was a> follows : -
This Government takes no responsibility for the manner in which the moneys made available through the Australian Democratic Front Fund were expended, but the disbursements from the Security Service Special Fund were, and the disbursements from the Investigation Branch Special Fund are, at all times subject to audit by the Chief Audit Inspectors.
As Prime Minister, I instituted an inquiry into certain disbursements from special funds, and the Minister for
Transport, at regular intervals, lias quoted in this House .carefully selected extracts from this report designed to “show that the practice of operating upon a secret fund is highly irregular. The shock of realizing that his own ministerial colleagues had been following the practice - which he so roundly condemns - to the amount of £17,847 all told, might well prove too much for him. Hisblood pressure has risen to danger-point often enough over a mere £300 expended from a similar fund,’ by a government of which I was a member.
That particular fund was closed by the” present Government and I was informed that it took no responsibility for the disbursements therefrom. To put the record straight. I shall quote what the royal commission found with respect to every item paid out from this fund. Mr. Justice Halse Rogers said -
At the inquiry files were produced containing supporting documents in the shape of vouchers, invoices and receipts for every item. On 19th September, 1941, the Commonwealth Audit Office investigated all these payments and there is no evidence that any question ‘wa.s raised as to the correctness of any account appearing in the cash book or the authenticity of any reecipt or any supporting documents.
With regard to £300, the judge found, as a fact, first, that Mr. Nelson received, the £300 from the fund, which was paid by the Deputy Crown Solicitor1 in Sydney in the first instance to a Mr. “Winkler. Secondly, he said -
I do not find anything in the evidence at all which could he regarded. as a ground for rejecting the evidence of Mr. Hughes and Mr. Fadden as to their reasons for making the money available.
Hie further said -
If Mr. Nelson did suggest such a campaign to Mr. Hughes - and that is what I have found - I oan see nothing ridiculous, and certainly nothing sinister, in the acceptance of the suggestion by Mr. Hughes and the subsequent adoption of it by Mr. Fadden. Consequently I can see no ground for rejecting their evidence as to their motive and certainly no ground for finding or even a suggestion that they entered into a conspiracy with Mr. Nelson to do something with him for some purpose unspecified.
And finally; Mr. Justice Halse Rogers stated -
For the reasons given, I am driven to the conclusion that I should find that the moneys in question were paid out of the account established in the name of the Australian
Democratic Front by . Mr. Watson under theinstructions of the Attorney-General, Mr. Hughes, with the approbation of the ActingPrime Minister, Mr. Fadden; that the moneys were paid out through Mr. Winkler to Mr. Nelson in accordance with the instructions of the Acting Prime Minister; that the pui posefor which the moneys were paid was that indicated in the receipts and in the letter from Mr. Watson to Sir George Knowles already referred to, that is to say that it had relation to the promise of the executive officers in the,coal industry that there would be free-loin from further strikes in the coal industry during the war and that it was meant for a campaign in support of the declaration of Mr. Nelson and Mr. Kellock.
That declaration enunciated the policy of” continuity of production of coal duringthe war, and it was published in the press of Australia on the 28th February, 1941,. just a fortnight after I, with the concurrence of the Advisory “War Council, had issued a warning of the grave menaceof Japan, and the possibility that it might declare war against Australia. Secret funds have been in existence in. this country for over 30 years, and it will no doubt be found necessary to employ them again, whatever party may be in power.
In conclusion, I wish to emphasize tothe Minister for Transport, to the member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard), and to a few other - honorable members of the Government, that when they .criticize my expenditure of hundreds from secret funds, I can with equal facility point to the spending of thousands from the same public source, and on precisely the same objects by the Government of which they arc supporters. At least it can never be said of <me that I ran away from a royal commission, or that I took cowardly shelter behind parliamentary privilege. The payment of the £300 which has caused me so much humiliation was paid in the honest -belief that it would help to check the subversive activities of Communists at a- time when Australia was menaced by a Japanese invasion. It was a mere drop in the ocean by comparison with the vast sums the Communists were spending in pernicious propaganda. Has this Government expended .any money to combat their activities? If so, was the amount in excess of £300? If it was not, what excuse has the Government to >offer for its failure to protect our democratic institutions against the subversive doctrines -of those’ who would destroy them?
– The right honorable member’s time has expired.
.- This is the last opportunity I shall have to speak in. this chamber. After eighteen years’ service as the representative, of the people in the electorate of Herbert, I retire with a record, of which I am not ashamed. When I was first elected to theNational Parliament, in February, 1928, I made a promise at the declaration of the poll that I would do my very best to represent the interests of. the electors of Herbert fairly and fearlessly as long as T continued to hold their confidence. I believe I still hold their confidence, but’ certain things have happened, over which I have no control, as the result’ of which another Labour candidate will contest the Herbert seat at the forthcoming -elections. I have no doubt that the Labour Government will be returned to office because of its splendid record in one of the most difficult and trying periods in the history of this nation.
On more than one occasion I have been called’ a unificationist. I believe in the National Parliament being clothed’ with full powers. I do not desire that the State parliaments should be .abolished, however, until either cantons or local governing provinces with clearly defined powers are created to take their place. This Parliament should be clothed with supreme authority, the cantons or local governing provinces being- vested, with delegated powers to give effect to decisions on matters of. national policy made by this Parliament. A written constitution is- not sufficiently flexible to meet the changing conditions of our times. Our Constitution was based on the American model, and ‘ the greatest difficulty has been experienced in altering it to meet changing circumstances, because the people have been swayed too much by opposing factions in the National and State parliaments. Irrespective of what government has been in office, I have supported every referendum of the people which has had for its object the clothing of this Parliament with additional powers. In ‘ every State the capital city is the centre on which every thing converges. It is true that some attempt has been made in Queensland to decentralize- governmental activities, but not much has yet been . achieved in that direction. With the exception of a- break of three years, Labour governments have been in office in that State since 1915. For economic and other- reasons’ the- State governments will not easily yield to the Commonwealth the powers they now possess. I regret that, because I believe the time has arrived when there should be- a complete redesigning of our legislative machinery. As long as the State Parliaments retain their legislative powers Labour will continue to govern in Queensland because of the hopeless muddle which surrounds the- parties now in opposition.in that State. That is also true of New South Wales and will continue to be so long as Mr. “Ernie” White- “ Winalot “ .White - remains associated with the Liberal party in that State.
Some time ago, an Australian traveller mentioned, on his return from a visit overseas, the excellence of the amenities provided for members of the legislature1 of the countries which he had visited, and the comparatively generous allowances paid to members. Few people realize the enormous expense which members of Parliament incur in looking after the needs of their constituents.. Some people believe, that members are served with meals at the refreshment rooms free of charge, and that the parliamentary allowance of £1,000 a year represents the net return to the member. Nothing could be further from the truth. After eighteen years membership of the national Parliament, I leave, it no better off than when I- joined it.. I know men who have been members of Parliament for a much longer period, who during the period of their service have held Ministerial office, and who have retired from active politics, absolutely penniless. The common belief that this Parliament is a sort of rich man’s club is very wide of the- truth. The amenities provided in this building are a disgrace to- the nation . There is npt one room set aside in thi? building where members can conduct private interviews with’ their constituents or friends. They have to conduct their private business in the King’s- Hall or the lobbies, or perhaps obtain the use of a room from- one pf the more fortunate senators. . I trust that when the new Parliament assembles improved amenities will be provided in. this building and that consideration will he given to an increase of the parliamentary allowance. Consideration might also be given to the granting of special zone allowances to those members who represent large constituencies in which they have to travel many thousands of miles to contact but a. small proportion of their electors. I understand that members of the United States Congress ‘ are paid an allowance equivalent to £2,000 per annum, and th at a move -is now being made to increase the allowance to the equivalent of £3,150 per annum. I do not suggest what would be an appropriate allowance to pay to members of the national Parliament of this country, but I do urge that, whatever rate may be fixed, an additional allowance should be paid to members who represent the larger electorates. The electorates of the honorable members for Kennedy (Mr! Riordan) and Maranoa (Mr.. Adermann) cover 300,000 and 200,000 square miles respectively. The greater part of those electorates is not served by rail and their representatives are compelled , to travel many thousands of miles by motor car, yet they receive no allowance to compensate them for the running and upkeep of their motor vehicles.
I am glad of this opportunity to say a word or two to the people of Herbert. Fortunately the proceedings in this House are being broadcast to-day and thus my words will be heard by many more people than they could otherwise reach. To those who elected me to this Parliament in 1928, I give’ my sincere thanks. I was returned in that year with a majority of 154. At the following election in October, 1929, my majority had grown to over 3,000. Since the preferential system of voting was adopted, I have been returned with majorities ranging from 14,000 to 19,000. The major portion of the work of a member of Parliament is done outside this building - interviewing electors, dealing with complaints, answering .correspondence, endeavouring to have anomalies -adjusted, and undertaking all the work associated with the conduct of election campaigns and the like. A parliamentary career is a .fulltime job, and after twenty years as a member of the Parliament, I must confess that I am a little glad to be on the eve of retiring. From the bottom of my heart I thank the people of Herbert for the trust and confidence they have reposed in me and for having given to me the opportunity and privilege to represent them in this Parliament for such a long period.
I propose now to say a few words about the parliamentary staffs. In the Hansard staff we have a body of men whose worth we all recognize; they write very good speeches for us, and invariably express our thoughts in polished language. Every new member coming into this House has received the greatest assistance from the Hansard staff, from the Principal Parliamentary Reporter down to the newest recruit. Their courtesy and- the excellence of their work are helpful to all of us. We are fortunate to .have a highly skilled library staff which never fails to supply the information that we seek. The officers of the House of Representatives have invariably been most helpful to honorable members. In my dealings with’ departmental heads in the Public Service - often referred to as bureaucrats by honorable members opposite - I have always received the utmost courtesy and consideration. To you, Mr. Speaker, I pay tribute for the assistance that you have always rendered to me and the courtesy that you have shown to me. I also thank honorable members generally for their kindly co-operation throughout my association with them. I have found that my opponents hit hard but always, or nearly always, above the belt. In turn they have been hit hard, but have borne no rancour. It is a glorious recollection that I have clashed with opponents many times but have found them big enough to accept my hand of personal friendship after the heat pf the political battle has waned. I shall leave parliamentary life with no feelings of regret at my stage in life, knowing that 1 have been given a “fair go” by practically everybody in the Parliament. I leave it at that, saying a political goodbye to all.
– I take this opportunity lo refer to the impending” departure from our ranks of at least two honorable members - the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Martens), a stalwart of the Labour’ movement industrially and politically since, I think, 1893, and the honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Frederick Stewart), a staunch adherent of Labour’s political opponents. Neither honorable gentleman will be a candidate at the forthcoming general elections. The honorable member for Herbert, in his unswerving championship of the cherished ideals and policy of the Labour movement in both the political and industrial spheres, has formed a great many lasting friendships. His popularity is not confined to members of his political and industrial fraternities. Indeed, his high principles and loyalties have won him the esteem and friendship of people in all walks of life. With his retirement he will end 18 years of continuous membership of this House, during which he has given splendid service not only to those with whom he has been directly associated in his constituency and in the other fields of his activities outside this Parliament^ but also to the Parliament itself and the country at large. In expressing to him . our goodwill and best wishes for a long, healthy and happy retirement, I speak not merely as the Leader of the Australian Parliamentary Labour party but also as the Prime Minister voicing the sentiments of all shades’ of political opinion here represented.
– Hear, hear!
– The honorable member for Parramatta has served this Parliament since 1931. He has had a distinguished career not only as a member of the Parliament but also outside this House. He has served the community well. He brought with him into the House, particularly in regard to matters concerning social services and public health a broad vision and a desire to benefit his fellow men. If his parliamentary career ends without his having achieved all that it was his ambition to achieve on their behalf, that is not in any way due to lack of vigour or enthusiasm on his part. Like the honor able member for Herbert, the honorable member for Parramatta goes into retirement from active politics with his record of public serivce recognized by political friend and foe alike. He too by the breadth ‘of his vision and his kindly spirit, as well as his enjoyment of a political battle, has won a host of lifelong friends. We wish him the best of everything in his retirement.
.- The debate on. Supply has a .historic significance for the parliamentary institution because it provides private members with the opportunity to voice grievances before voting money out of the Consolidated Revenue for the service of the Crown. It also enables the Parliament to protect the rights of individuals which, after all, is the supreme function of the parliamentary institution. It is customary on the last day of a sessional period - to-day is more than that, for it is the last day of meeting of the Seventeenth Parliament before the prorogation, after which honorable members must submit themselves , to the judgment of the electorate - to say nice things about each other and the parliamentary associations- that have been formed. . It is. with regret that 1 am impelled by my sense of responsibility to the Parliament to make some comments about the Seventeenth Parliament, because I am not .prepared to see it dissolved without issuing a final challenge to some of the developments we have witnessed in the three years of its life. I have always felt as a member of the Commonwealth Parliament that the .first responsibility of a member is to the Parliament, and through it to the people - not to the political party to which he belongs, or to the Government that he has. helped to maintain in office. He has ‘ a primary responsibility to the Parliament as an institution, because it is1 the instrument of the democracy that elects him. He should adhere ‘ firmly to the principle that the Parliament should at all times control the Executive, which derives its authority from the Parliament. It is my sad belief that the Seventeenth Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia will be written down in history as having failed in its duty to democracy by having weakened’ the authority of the Parliament, and thereby weakened the protection of the rights of the subject that the people of the British Empire have fought for through the centuries, first to achieve, and then to hold.
– The honorable member does not believe that?
– I do-; and before I finish, my loud-mouthed friend, the honorable . member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) will. have been discomfited, by my recital of the reasons why the Seventeenth Parliament has so dismally failed democracy: The Labour Government was returned from the polls with an overwhelming majority in the House of Representatives and the Senate. One would have expected members of a party enjoying such a huge majority to regard as their responsibility to democracy to be critical of measures brought before them from time to time - not critical so as to embarrass the Government or. endanger its life, but critical in the sense of letting the people realize the- imperfections of bills. But though they saw the imperfections of many a measure they kept undemocratically silent about them. The unprecedented docility of government supporters has led them so far in the reverse direction that, far “from daring to show the slightest semblance of rebellion against legislative proposals that they deep down knew were not- just defective but an offence to their inherent democratic instincts they joined together at the -crack of the whip to present a - solid phalanx against most’ reasonable and constructive amendments proposed by honorable members .on this side. Not all the wisdom of the Parliament reposes in the mind’s of Ministers and their too faithful adherents. And the Government of’ to-day might easily be the’ Opposition of to-morrow. No political party in the history of the British Empire has monopolized the allegiance of the people. So the Government of the “last three years owed it to itself as well as to the electorate to hear and heed constructive criticism and advice offered’ in the interests of the- Commonwealth by the Opposition. Instead, however, we found ourselves- swimming against the tide: The party behind the Government was regimented. What caucus decided behind closed doors was .what the Parliament willynilly approved, despite our. most earnest entreaties to honorable members opposite not to- be so caucus- ridden- as to brush aside with ill-bred scorn everything we suggested. When the party in power- regards the Parliament so contemptuously as to make it merely a rubber stamp to endorse everything put before- it, it must bring the Parliament into contempt in the judgment of the people-. A weakened parliament breeds a weakened democracy and undermines the principle that the rights of ‘the people must be protected at all costs. Recklessly and carelessly honorable gentleman opposite have allowed’ the traditional control by the Parliament of the Executive to pass into a regrettable decline: Worse even than that though is the fact that the Government has been so disloyal to British parliamentary practice as to allow the powers, and authority that it should fearlessly exercise in the interests of all the people pass into the hand’s of a political pressure group; outside the Parliament - a group which is not answerable to any one as the Parliament is answerable to- the electors, but dictates and enforces matters of policy in the interests of a select but powerful minority.
– The honorable member seems to believe what he is saying.
– If the honorable, member had been alive instead of dead to his responsibilities to the democracy of which this Parliament was the instrument before the accession to power of his spineless party, I should not have been . impelled to make an otherwise ill-timed speech on this my last’ opportunity to couch a lance- in the’ Seventeenth Parliament in defence of the precious rights of the subject. How those1 rights Have been attacked ! A supreme, example of the onslaught on- them occurred late last night and’ early this morning when bill after- bill affecting major aspects1 of the life of the people was passed after desultory debate. One of the largest and most expensive public works ever contemplated in Australia is provided for in the Railway Standardization Agreement Bill which was. passed1 after the briefest consideration, all our protest’s being testily swept aside by the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward),’ because he was assured of the blind support . of the majority the Government commands.
What a law-abider .the Government is when an individual commits a breach! lie is prosecuted, persecuted to the full extent of the law.; why the Government has even stooped to using agents - ro provoke into unlawful acts people who otherwise might have preserved their integrity! But lawlessness such as we are victims of to-day and have been for years, with’ repercussions, national .and international, of the utmost gravity is worse than condoned; action against the guilty is shirked by a Ministry too timid to enforce the law against industrial desperadoes.- Without inspired leadership we cannot have competent government, and without that we cannot have a fixed course for the Australian nation to follow to prosperity. So, because the majority that the Labour party commands in the Commonwealth Parliament has failed- to meet its obligations to the people, the Seventeenth Parliament has let Australia down. The opportunity arises ‘for .the people to say what they think of a Government that has allowed them to be placed in the plight they are in to-day through industrial lawlessness. Last year, not this year, though unless desirable changes occur we shall have as had .or worse, 3,000,000 working days were lost, despite the Labour rule in the Commonwealth, and in five of the six States, through 945 industrial disputes-an all-time record, and an inglorious one, in the history of Australia.
A question that must occupy the attention of every ‘one whose thoughts dwell on the ills that’ beset Australian economy under current conditions is whether Australia is over-regulated or under-governed. That it is over- regulated is obvious from the mass of laws and regulations that have spawned like,mushrooms since the war began and has been little lessened since it ended. That it is under-governed -is equally -obvious. .The Commonwealth Government has failed to lead the people as a true government would lead them from war into peace. Lt has failed to enforce its own laws designed to ensure continuity of produc tion, with the result that Australia isfaced with -‘economic /disaster unless abetter spirit prevails, especially on thecoalfields. To .what degree .the difficulties that confront :us are due to pur being: the highest taxed people in the world, per capita, requires .little thought. I assurehonorable members that what I have saidis not said by me merely as a partypolitician. I have spoken as an Aus-tralian citizen .disquieted by the courseevents are taking. Unless the calibre of my fellow Australians is smaller than .1 believe it to be, on the 28th September they will register their disapproval of the Labour party’s . maladministration and take the opportunity to return to power the .party that will :truly -govern the country. I am not .so ‘much concerned, about .whether . the government comes from the ranks -of .the Labour party, .the Australian ‘Country .party, or the Liberal party. I am concerned that a government .shall be returned to power which f will respect .and enforce the law, support the democratic institutions which have ,Deen .established in this country, respect the rights of individuals, regard the responsibility of government seriously, and guarantee freedom to the people in place of .regimentation by bureaucrats. I desire a government to be returned which will give ;yo.ung Australians the chance they should have in this great country for which they have fought so well. This is a young and . growing nation, and: it should not- be harrassed by quotas here and licences there, barriers in front and impediments- on .every hand. This is a pioneering country. The election .slogan- of the Labour party is “.Chifley for security”, but this is a country of enterprise .and adventure. We .should’1 be more concerned about .developing a spirit of freedom and adventure than in seeking security. I hope that the people will return to power a government which will have a true regard for the real needs of “the people, and a parliament which will serve the country well, and not let it down as the Seventeenth Parliament has done.
.- I had no intention to participate in this debate ; “but I have been prompted to do ,so(by .the unusually vigorous speech of .the> honorable member -for Fawkner t(.Mr.
Holt) who, in the closing hours of this Seventeenth Parliament, has seen fit to strike a note of discord and indulge in totally unwarranted criticism, of the Government. The honorable gentleman is not accustomed to display so much vigour; he is usually temperate in what he says. ‘ The charges that he has levelled against the Government to-day are without any basis in fact, and lack both truth and justice. He said that the Government would come to an inglorious end because of its policy of regimentation. There has certainly been no regimentatation among honorable gentlemen opposite, for they lack even the slightest sign of unanimity. The law of the jungle operates among them, and their parties are in a chaotic condition. They are without a. common thought or a common interest. Honorable gentlemen opposite are incapable of a united effort on any subject, and I am sure that on the 28th September the electors will indicate’ what they think of them in no uncertain way. How could honorable gentlemen who are so disunited in their own ranks form a government which could assist in the development of this country? This lack of unity has been- manifest for a considerable time. -Some years ago two independents who were- elected to this Parliament were responsible for forcing the anti-Labour parties, out of office, and by so doing they saved this country from invasion- by the enemy. There can’ be little doubt that but foi- the regimentation effected by this Government, our people would’ have been regimented by a foreign aggressor, In the early days of the war, when the Japanese struck against this country, this Government took prompt steps to marshal all the resources of ‘the nation for resistence. At least’ it can be said that the Government can make up its mind, and prepare and operate a plan.
We cannot close our’ eyes to the fact r.hat through the centuries it has been proved, in the Mother of Parliaments, that the party system, with all its imperfections, is the best system of government, for it gives effect to the principle of the greatest good for ‘ the greatest number. The Labour party hammers out its internal problems, and decides questions of policy in a clear-cut fashion. It then implements that policy by democratic and parliamentary means. This party is prepared to stand or fall by the policy it will present to the electors in the next, few weeks.
So far from the Government having an inglorious record, it must be said that never before in our history has a single Parliament put so much legislation of a beneficial character on the statute-book. The Seventeenth Parliament has been one of achievement. All classes of “the people have benefited by its enactments. Honorable gentlemen opposite may make a clatter with’ their interjections, but the truth of my statement cannot be denied. Nor can it be denied that Australia has never known greater prosperity than’ it if at present enjoying. We have no unemployed people. It is true that some restrictions are still being enforced, but that is not because the people lack the money to buy goods. Indeed it is because there is a surplus of money and a shortage of goods. That is one of the major reasons why some controls still remain in operation. In reply to the remarks of the honorable member for Fawkner regarding the alleged shortcomings of this Government, I direct attention to the tribute paid to it in the press a few days ago by a disinterested observer, who explained how much better conditions were in Australia, where controls have been preserved to the degree to which they were necessary to meet the circumstances of the country, than are conditions in some other countries where no effective action has been taken to counteract the perils of inflation. The statement to which I refer was made by Mr. A. G. Cameron, the managing director of the Dunlop Perdriau Company, who has no axe to grind and is under no obligation to pay this tribute to the Government. He did so because he believes that the affairs of Australia have been administered better than those of any other country. Such results do not occur b4y accident. They are due to careful thought, careful planning, and the careful execution of plans. Honorable gentlemen opposite have not been able to make any plans, and I doubt whether they would be able to execute plans if they could make them, because between the Opposition parties there is a line of demarcation as clear as is the aisle down the centre of this chamber. . They have uo tiling in common in regard to industrial matters. When questions affecting country interests arise Australian Country party members deal with them, and Liberal party members disappear. There has never been either unanimity or cohesion in the parties opposite. I do not believe, therefore, that the people of Australia will be so unwise as to return a sufficient number of them to enable them to form a government.
Complaints. have been made about the industrial unrest in Australia. It is true that we have had to face industrial troubles, but there is industrial trouble in every country in the world. The fact remains that we have been able to expand mi- production in a remarkable way, hough we have not been able to meet all the demands for food made upon us by other countries.
– That is an indictment of the Government.
– It is nothing of the kind; it is the. effect of six years of war. The Government has had to carry tremendous responsibilities during the war years. . Restrictive regulations of one kind and another have been necessary. It is not to be expected that all controls can be released within a few months of the end of the greatest war the world has ever known. To expect all controls tff be removed even twelve months after the cessation of hostilities is to expect the impossible. When production is possible in sufficient volume to meet all demands, controls can be removed. The people will then have both the spending power and the supply of goods to provide for all necessaries of life and some of the luxuries to which they are justly entitled. Human nature being what it is, unrest is inevitable. The Government, in spite of all that has been said by the honorable member for Fawkner, has a great record of achievement, and it has done a great deal to bridge the gap between the people who have and those who have not. A few years ago, an anti-Labour government declared that it had not sufficient money to provide work for the unemployed. The shops were full of goods, but people were hungry because they did not have any money with which to purchase them. This Government has wisely taken -action to prevent a repetition of that state of affairs by introducing unemployment, sickness and hospital benefits, increasing pensions and rehabilitating ex-servicemen. No one suggests that there have not been some weaknesses and imperfections in the work that has been clone. Last Monday, I had the pleasure of attending the annual conference of a certain organization in the city of Launceston. This was a non-political body, but J. believe that the members of it are not supporters of the Labour party. When moving the toast of “Parliament”, one of the members said that he had met the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) only once, but that he was greatly impressed with him. He said, “ Mr. Chifley is a man who. keeps his word “. What greater tribute could be paid to the Prime Minister than that? Some people are wearing in their lapels to-day a small badge bearing the slogan “ Chifley spells security “.
– Why is not the honorable member wearing one of those badges ?
– I have personal reasons. I do not wear badges of any description. I believe that Chifley stands for security. I base that’ statement on our experience since he has been the Treasurer and on his record as Prime Minister. At the forthcoming elections, the people will . decide in favour of Chifley, the Labour party and the Labour Government. They will endorse the remarks of the speaker at the Launceston conference that Chifley is a man who can be trusted and who keeps his word. Quite contrary to the statement of the honorable member for Fawkner, I believe that the Seventeenth Parliament of the Commonwealth will go down in the annals of Australia as one which displayed great legislative activity, foresight and anility, and which conferred great benefit upon the .. people.
– I rise, first, to add a few words to some remarks of a personal character by the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), and, secondly, to say one or two things about matters of administration during the last few weeta. On the personal side, I had the opportunity last night, in the course of debate to refer briefly to the retirement from politics of the honorable member for Parra-matta .(Sir Frederick Stewart), and I do not desire to repeat what T then said.
He has undoubtedly been a good workman in this House during the last fifteen years, and lias served the people of Australia faithfully and well. I should also like to inform my friend, the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Martens) that every member of this House, whatever party he belongs to, regrets his departure from this Parliament. I’ should like him to know that, while leaving the Parliament is a break, ii and will involve inevitably regrets on his part, he may have the satisfaction of knowing that he leaves here with the warm personal goodwill of all the members, whatever their political views may be. :
I have learned from the press quite recently that the appointment is either being made, or has actually been made, of the right honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) as High Commissioner in London. 1 do not desire to be thought to canvass the qualifications of the right honorable member to be High Commissioner. There can be. very little doubt in our minds that both he and the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Makin), who has just left us, have been valiant champions of Labour, and are admirably qualified to speak the views of this Government in any part of the world. Therefore, I have no personal comment to make about that matter. But I do desire once more- to emphasize my objection to the notion that appointments of great importance should be made in the last few hours of a parliament. After all, whatever the views of individuals may be, and there will be a great deal of prophecy in the next. six or eight weeks-
– I should not be surprised.
– I daresay that_ the least prophetic will be the Prime Minister and myself, because we know that these are matters about which we cannot prophesy very successfully. But whatever the prophecy may be, it is quite possible for this Government not to be the government after the elections. This ii the end of a parliament. It is the end of a government unless the people return it for another term of office. In those circumstances, it i3 a breach of a very sound rule of public administration to make appointments of a major kind just us the Parliament is concluding. On the 21st December, 1945, I made a public statement on this matter when the right honorable member for West Sydney was about to be sent to London as Resident Minister. In the course of that statement, I said -
The public will perhaps feel that the appointing of Cabinet Ministers to high national posts on the eve of a general election at which the Government may be defeated would be grossly improper, lt seems to me that it would be nonetheless improper because it would be preceded by ambiguous appointments as High Commissioner or Minister abroad.
Although that comment is now more than six months old, it is full of point. The position is that in the normal course, a high commissioner is appointed for a certain term of years. By the device which has been used in this case, an appointment for the normal term is only about to begin, although the occupant has, in fact, been exercising the functions of the office for the greater part of a year. I do not need to underline that. This is not the time for a lot of underlining. This is the time for a simple and dispassionate statement on these matters. I have been very exercised in the last few days to read in the cables what I can only hope are most ill-founded speculations about the appointment of si Governor-General.
– The Leader - of the Opposition may take it from me that the subject has never been discussed by Cabinet.
– I . accept that assurance very willingly, because I am bound to say tia. t when I ‘read those observations in the cables, I could nol associate such a rumour with what I would have expected in the circumstances.
I turn from that to say a few words about a matter which I raised a week or so ago in relation to the peace conference which is now taking place in Paris. We read a great deal in the press abou it, and we have been told from day to day that the great thing to be fought for in the peace conference is a democratic settlement of the issues between nations. I am at a loss to understand bow we can have a democratic settlement between nations if one of the nation* participating in the conference - I refer to Australia - has not had an opportunity in discuss or’ think about the matters which will bo determined by the conference. I have read in the press, as other honorable members have, that a fight has been waged on behalf of a simple majority in the decision of questions which arise. Here is a major procedural problem. Shall all nations at the peace conference have the same voting strength, or shall there be a two-thirds majority so as to impose, some restriction upon ordinary democratic decision?
– What does the right honorable gentleman think about it?
– I want to know something about it. My mind is inquiring. I am old-fashioned enough to consider that the members of the Australian Parliament should be told something about this matter, instead of having to pick up the news through the press, and that those honorable members, to whatever political party they belong, might be able to contribute something to the subject. I have before me a list of the nations. which are represented at the conference. It may very well be - I say nothing about it- that Ethiopia is i - fi t i ti eel to as large a voice in the peace settlement as. the United- States of America. The reasons are not very obvious to mc; but, no doubt, they are good ones because they are being expressed on behalf of Australia. I would have been assisted if the Acting Minister for External Affairs - if there be one - could have explained to us why Ethiopia should have as much power at a peace conference as the United States of America has, or why Brazil should be able to speak at the peace conference with as powerful a voice i.= the United Kingdom has.
– What attitude did the former Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), adopt at the peace: conference after World War I.?
– The honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard) need not Hart talking to me about other people other events. The great event to which T direct my mind now is. the -peace conference in Paris - the conference at which, presumably, peace treaties arc to he settled, between Australia and Finland. Italy, Yugoslavia, and others. I am not. going to say dogmatically that the views which are being expressed are wrong. That would be very foolish. All I say is that I have an inquiring condition of mind. 1 should like to understand, and so. would other honorable members and thoughtful people throughout Australia, why those views are the correct views, and why Brazil and Ethiopia should stand on equal terms with Great Britain, the Soviet Union and the United States of America. On the face of it, I had thought that those great powers and communities made an infinitely greater contribution to the deliverance of man than was made by those small countries. However, we have been told nothing about it. So far, I have spoken only about matters of procedure. Those are merely the preliminary skirmishes. After all, the value of the peace treaty will largely turn upon its terms - the essential justice of its terms - and once again we are confronted with this point, that the peace conference is apparently meeting in an atmosphere of great publicity but the only thing that wo in this Parliament know about the subject being discussed is what we read after the event in the cables from Paris. That is an intolerable position for a national parliament’ to be in. In the circumstances, whoever undertakes to -peak for Australia at a foreign conference can speak the mind of Australia only by accident, because no steps have been taken to determine what that mind is, or to ascertain the joint view of this Parliament. All that we know “is that some one is abroad. He has been in Australia, it, is bound to be admitted, so little that he is completely out of touch with whatever the currents of opinion here may bc. Being abroad, he says, “ This is what (Australia wants”. He may be right; he may be wrong; but there is only one way in which can bc determined what Australia wants on political problems, and that is by finding out from this Parliament what its view is.
I said that I would be brief, so I shall not continue longer. My sole purpose is to direct public attention once more to these rather extraordinary things. The early termination of the session, of course, makes it impassible that they shall be adequately debated; but I venture to say that the people will believe that they should have been adequately debated long ago.
– I li “d desired to address myself at considerable length to the important matter of drought relief for the dairying industry and other primary industries in Queensland, but owing to the condition of affairs in the House to-day .1 shall content myself by reading an urgent telegram that I. have received from the Council of Agriculture in Queensland. Tt reads -
Queensland Council Agriculture representative organized farmers in conference to-day request you make effort prior return Queeusland secure definite announcement Federal Government’s intentions regarding special drought assistance Queensland dairying industry in view extension drought conditions all dairying areas. Such announcement urgently needed enable dairy-farmers maintain their struggle prevent disaster to industry.
In view of the seriousness of the drought in Queensland, and the importance’ of the ‘ dairying industry, I ask the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) to assure me that lie will’ have a. special inquiry made at once, that he will provide special assistance for the dairying industry, and that he will do all in his power to relieve the very trying circumstances in which the dairy-farmers i’1 Queensland find themselves to-day: I appreciate that, at the moment, his attention is occupied by many important matters. Nevertheless. I ask. him particularly not to close this House or to leave Canberra until he and the Ministers associated with the administration of the agricultural industries have .made adequate provision for this relief, because of the serious results of drought.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill’ read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without -i.rncndm.ent or debate.
Messages from the Governor-General reported transmitting Supplementary Estimates of Expenditure and Supplementary Estimates of Expenditure for Additions, New Works, Buildings, &c, for the year ended the 30th June, 1945, and recommending appropriations accordingly.
Ordered to be printed and referred to Committee of Supply forthwith. to
Motions (by Mr. Lazzarini) agreed
Supplementary Estimates, 1944-45.
That the following further sums be granted to His Majesty to defray the charges for tin year 1944-4.5, for the several services hereunder specified, viz.: -
supplementary estimates for additions.
New Works,buildings, etc., 1944-45.
That there be granted to His Majesty to the service of the year 1944-45 for the purposes of Additions, New Works, Buildings, &c..a further sum not exceeding £476,117.
Standing Orders suspended; resolutions adopted.
Resolutions of Ways and Means, founded on resolutions of Supply, reported and adopted.
That Mr. Lazzarini and Mr.Chifley do prepare and bring in bills to carry out the foregoing resolutions.
Bill presented by Mr. Lazzarini, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
These Supplementary Estimates of Expenditure, which relate to the financial year 1944-45, total £1,517,987. That sum was expended out of a general appropriation from revenue of £6,000,000 made available to the Treasurer to meet expenditure which could not be foreseen when the Estimates were prepared. It is now necessary to obtain specific parliamentary a ppropriation to cover the several items of excess expenditure. Full details of the expenditure now submitted for approval were included in the Estimates and Budget Papers for 1945-46. These publications show the amount voted for 1945-46, to gether with the actual expenditure for the previous year, which is included for informative purposes. Details are also included in theTreasurer’s Financial Statement for 1944-45, which has been tabled for the information of honorable members.
The Supplementary Estimates detail the items under which the additional amount for which approval is now sought was expended by the various departments. The chief items, in round figures, are -
Any further details of the various items of expenditure will be available at a later stage.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Bill presented by Mr. Lazzarini, and read a. first time.
.-] move -
That the bill be now read a second time. .
The total appropriation passed by the Parliament for works and services under this heading amounted to £6,277,000. The actual expenditure was £5,705,000 i.e., £572,000 less than the appropriation. Due, however, to requirements which could not be foreseen when the Estimates were prepared, certain items show an increase over the individual amounts appropriated, and it is now necessary to obtain parliamentary approval of these increases. The excess expenditure on the items concerned totals £476,117, and is spread over the various works items of the departments. Any details that may be required will be furnished at a later stage.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Mill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
– I take this opportunity on the last day of the sitting of the House to express my appreciation of the help of all those who are associated with the working of the Parliament. ‘ There are, first, yourself, Mr. Speaker, then the Chairman of Committees and the Temporary Chairmen of Committees, v the Clerks of the House, the members of the Hansard staff, the Library Staff, the staff of the Refreshment Rooms, and the Parliamentary Draftsman. Most of all, our thanks are due to the members of the Hansard staff. As I hare said before, 1 feci sure that- our speeches are much better after passing through their hands than they were when delivered. At least that is my experience, and I think that it applies to some other members -of the House, also. Our gratitude is due to all those whose courteous co-operation has been extended to honorable members during the sittings of the Seventeenth Parliament.
I have already referred to the retirement from politics of the honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Frederick Stewart) and the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Martens). However, no previous reference has been made to the right” honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) who will not be in the next Parliament, and I take this opportunity to wish him. well in his new post.
I cannot go so far as to wish good fortune to all honorable members who will stand for re-election at the forthcoining general elections. I can wish Them good health, but, I cannot go much further than that, except in the case of honorable members on my own side of the House. My personal thanks are due to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) and the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) for their courtesy and help in the working of the House. Of course, we have had our differences from time to time, but thu two right honorable gentlemen mentioned have always treated me very generously.
– Do not praise them too much; there’ is an election coming on.
– I am referring to their personal, riot their political, qualities. I know that I have sometimes been a little impatient in trying to push along the business of Parliament, and I may have been too prone to expect them to curb the enthusiasm of their followers. For that matter, the enthusiasm of my own followers has sometimes been more than was needed. Again, I thank you, Mr. Speaker, and the Chairman of Committees and his deputies, who have been very tolerant in the exercise of their authority, and I extend my thanks to the Clerk of the House and his assistants.
– I concur in the remarks of the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley). I am sorry that it did not occur to me that the close of this Parliament meant the departure from the parliamentary scene of the right honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley). As one who has for years been opposed to him’ politically, I can say that I regard him as a. parliamentarian of very remarkable ability. Nobody who has debated public questions against him in this Parliament could fail to appreciate the extraordinary skill of his mind, or .the zeal with which he upholds his views. Like the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Martens), he carries our good wishes with him into his retirement from Parliament.
It is unnecessary for me to say thai my personal association with the Primp Minister has been a source of great satisfaction to me. Whatever cut or thrusthere may be in the forthcoming political fight - and there will be cut and thrust aplenty during the next eight weeks - ii has been a great personal pleasure foi me to do business with the Prime Minister. He is a good man to be sitting across the table from - if I may use the wrong ending to a sentence. I have no doubt that in the next Parliament wc will be still sitting at opposite sides of the table.
In the past it has been the practice to pay a special tribute to the Hansard staff, but it has occurred to me, as I look into the dimly lighted recess at the end of the chamber, that in future we shall have to pay our tribute to those who put us on the air, as well as to those who put us in print. It is true that the work of Hansard exhibits an extraordinary genius for understanding, and a complete mastery of syntax. The broadcasting people cannot alter the composition of our speeches, but they do extraordinary things with them, nevertheless. If we are too feeble they build us up until our voices’ resound magnificently; if we are too robust, they tone down our speech so that it goes cooingly over the air to the listeners. These are remarkable scientific achievements, and we must remember those responsible, if not in our prayers, at any rate in our thanks.
One of the great things about political warfare in Parliament- and I speak with a large experience - is that it can, and does, produce sincere and warm friendships, even amongst the most violent opponents, and this does rauch to soften the asperity of political life. We would do well to remember this in the immediate future. If we do, it will make for a better political campaign.
– I associate myself and the members of my party with the sentiments expressed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies). I desire also to express appreciation of the work of yourself, Mi’. Speaker, and your officers who have been associated with the work of Parliament in the last three years , in particular. Everybody will agree that those three years have been very strenuous indeed. So strenuous have they been, that I hope to be able to convince the electors that the members of the’ Government, and the Prime Minister in particular, should have a well-earned rest.
I am pleased to take this opportunity lo pay a tribute to the honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Frederick Stewart) and the honorable member for Herbert (“Mr. Martens) for the service they have rendered to the nation. A lump earnt into my throat when I was listening to the honorable member for Herbert making his final speech in this Parliament which he has served for eighteen years. I think I can claim to have known him longer than anyone else in this House has known him. I first knew him when I was a small boy, and a great friendship continued between him and my father. In character as in stature he was always straight. He held deep convictions, and very few persons in the Labour movement have done more pioneering work for the cause of trade unionism than he did. I express appreciation of the work of the honorable member for Parramatta, who is also a man of strong character and deep convictions. Parliament and the nation have been well served by him.
The Prime Minister apologized for being sometimes impatient of delays in the work of Parliament, but no one could be more patient than he. Indeed, hi< patience and tolerance, are great obstacleto any one who sets out to fight him. He has -always been decent, and has kep; other men’ decent. In the forthcoming campaign we will fight him as strenuously as we can, but we will _do so in a straightforward manner, and on policy only. There will be no personalities, and may the best man win. ‘ My thanks also go ou! to the officers of Parliament and all those . who have assisted us in pur work, lt . can be said tha t there has existed in this Parliament a strong sense of comradeship. We have differed politically, but I have always tried to keep such differences out of our private relation*:
– by leave- As T indicated earlier, the Government has been in communication with th.United Kingdom Government with a view to ascertaining whether the dollar position and the petrol supply position warranted the abolition of’ rationing in Australia. We explained that to enable rationing to be abolished Australia would need an assured supply of 100,000 tons monthly to meet consumption and maintain, an adequate stock cover. The United Kingdom Government has now advised that it is still necessary for the sterling area as a whole to obtain a large portion of its supplies from dollar sources, and that it is on account of the need to limit dollar expenditure for petrol and oil that rationing is being continued in the United King-, dom. I would also explain that significant dollar expenditures are incurred even in respect of sterling area petrol, in that it is still necessary for sterling area countries to employ foreign tankers for the transport of some part of sterling. production. The passing by Congress of the loan to the United Kingdom Government has, of- course, eased the dollar position, but it is still necessary to conserve the sterling area’s dollar funds. If the loan had not been made available to the United Kingdom it would have been necessary to make drastic new’ cuts in dollar expenditure. In order to economize in the use of shipping and in the expenditure of dollar freights, each sterling area country in the main draws its . supplies from those sources which involve the shortest possible hauls. Australia therefore derives the major part of its supplies from the Persian Gulf, a sterling source. But this means that the United Kingdom supplies are obtained largely from dollar sources. As a participant in the. sterling area dollar pool Australia must take account of the overall position. In addition, the United Kingdom Government has advised that there has been a strike at Abadan, one of our major sources of supplies, and that the labour position there and in Iraq is still uncertain. No assurance could therefore be given that additional supplies could be made available from these sources in the immediate future. This also effects the overall dollar position in relation to petrol. On the grounds of foreign exchange policy and of the possibility of interruption of shipments, and consequent running down of stocks, in the event of further troubles in Australia’s particular sources of supply, the United Kingdom advises that it would be prudent to limit any increase in consumption to a minimum. The United Kingdom has undertaken to keep us informed of any changes in the general position and will give early advice as soon as events so shape themselves as to make possible a change in rationing policy. In the meantime the United Kingdom Government hopes that we will agree to maintain rationing. In the circumstances, the Government regrets that it is unable to abolish, rationing for the present. The existing ration to private users of 240 miles a. month will be continued, and the Government will keep in close touch with the position overseas so that rationing may be abolished as early as possible. I may add that the needs of all essential users are being fully met.
– by leave - Since my statement to this House on the 5th April, 1946, when I presented details of agreements between the Australian and Unite’d Kingdom Governments providing for free and assisted passages for British subjects desiring to migrate to Australia, a good deal of organization has been carried on, both in Great Britain and Australia, in preparation for the commencement of the.se schemes. For the information of honorable members, I am now able to furnish some further details of the Government’s immigration arrangements at this more advanced, stage.
A survey that was recently completed at -Australia House, London, showed that at the 15th June, 1946, applicants for passages to Australia totalled 33,184 British residents of the United Kingdom - representing a- total of approximately 90,000 persons, including wives, families and their dependants - and 5,212 aliens, mostly resident in Europe and representing approximately 14,000 people. These totals are small in proportion to .the number of applications likely to be received when the date oi’ the opening of the free and assisted passages schemes is announced by the two Governments.
In the British list 95 different avocations were shown, ranging from doctor; of medicine to unskilled labourers, with an overwhelming majority of applicant? in skilled trades and professional occupations. Only 1,500 are described as unskilled labourers and 810 have no stated occupation. The aliens, of course, are outside the scope of the British free and assisted passages agreements, but most will be admitted readily, after establishing that they are desirable immigrants, when they are able to’ get a passage to Australia.
While the Government is negotiating for the means to transport new citizens to Australia on a large scale, steps are being taken to maintain the interest of these people in Australia, by providing them with information about this country and advice covering some of their individual problems.
One of the means used is the publication in London of a monthly news-sheet, edited by the Australian News and Information Bureau and distributed free by a mailing list compiled, on an occupational basis, from potential migrants registered at Australia House. ‘The publication, which contains up-to-date material written in- Canberra, is called Australia and the Migrant. . To cope with the implementation of the full scale plans, the Immigration branch at Australia House has recently been reorganized and augmented by the appointment of expert officers sent from Australia. Included among the additional officers is an industrial ‘expert to advise potential migrants on industrial conditions and employment prospects in Australia. The Australian authorities dealing with immigration in London are working in close co-operation with the British Ministry of Labour and National Service, which has offices throughout the United Kingdom The State AgentsGeneral in London are also associated with, immigration, in a co-operative and consultative capacity, as members of an Immigration Advisory Committee, under the chairmanship of the Australian Resident Minister.
Negotiations are proceeding with the United Kingdom Government and shipowners in England, on the subject of the basic fares to be paid to the shipping companies for each migrant coming to Australia under the official schemes, and on the provision of shipping accommodation for them. When these negotiations are sufficiently advanced, the Government will be able to announce the date upon which the British migration agreements will come into . force. The Prime
Minister announced on his return from the United Kingdom that it was expected that passages for 35,000 immigrants would be available in 1947. I am hoping that agreement on- all shipping questions at an early date will enable me to announce that the scheme will begin on the 1st January, 1947. . In any case, it is certain that 1947 will see the beginning of the flow of immigrants to . Australia.
The first of the newcomers will be selected on a priority basis, mainly founded on the prospects in each case of the immigrant securing remunerative employment and obtaining living accommodation without adding to Australia’s housing problems. A tentative schedule of priorities has been drawn up and will be discussed in Canberra on the 19th August with the State Ministers dealing with immigration. The schedule provides the following categories of priority for the allocation of .migrants’ passages over which the Commonwealth Government has direct influence: -
Nominated migrants, married and with or without children, who cannot be accommodated by their nominators, but who are classed’ as essential workers for Australian industry.
The Government’s immigration programme has been endorsed in Australia by practically all responsible sections of the community. There are a few, of course, who call for unlimited immigration immediately or for “ a million migrants a year “, regardless of the welfare of the immigrants themselves, the Australian community, the’ housing and shipping problems, and Australia’s general economic stability.’
The Government has made its plans on the basis of our carefully measured capacity to absorb new citizens with all the advantages of the standards of living at present prevailing, which the Australian Government is pledged to maintain and improve.
Discussions have taken place between representatives of the Department of Immigration and the- Commonwealth Employment Service of the Department of Labour and National Service, in regard to surveys which are to be made by that service to establish the trades and industries in which openings exist for the absorption of migrants. Preliminary estimates in respect of certain trades are expected to be available at an early date. Arrangements are- being made for intending migrants to furnish full particulars of their skill, training and industrial background on a special form, which will be completed by the migrant and sent to the Commonwealth Employment Service in Australia prior to departure. This advance information will facilitate the placing of migrants in suitable employment immediately on arrival in this country.
Honorable members will be interested in some of the recent statements on immigration that have been made by spokes^ men of widely representative industrial and commercial bodies. The general secretary of the Australasian’ Council of Trade Unions, Mr. Albert E. Monk, issued the following statement on the 5th June,” 1946:-
Not only do I welcome the recent statement of the Prime Minister that 35,000 migrants will probably arrive from Britain next year, but I go further and express the hope that ultimately’ our full target of 70,000 migrants a year will be reached. Through ite own organization and various publicity channels, the trade union movement of Australia plans to enlist the aid of every Australian worker in welcoming accepted migrants as co-workers and fellow citizens, assisting to build up the Australian democratic institution. They will realize that Australia’s immigration programme is not a haphazard venture, and that those who come here are to be absorbed on a sound vocational and economic basis.
There must 110t be any repetition of the misunderstandings of earlier immigration, when too many of those who came to Australia found themselves square pegs in round holes.
As a member of the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Committee which visited Great Britain and European countries, I was pleased to see the number of British workers, and their families, who were eager to come here, and I was particularly impressed by the Swiss, Dutch, Norwegians and Swedes, as types who would make good citizens. These included highly-skilled workers as well as accomplished professional men.
In particular, this applied to the Swiss, who have a very high standard, of education. In their own country there are not positions carrying salaries commensurate with their qualifications, and such people would bc an asset to this country, in addition to the British migrant, who will always find a warm welcome amongst us.
Mr. O. D. A. Oberg, president of the council of. the Australian Employers Federation, issued the following statement a few days later :-
Australian employers will welcome immigrants with the qualifications already stated by the Minister for Immigration. For the benefit of industry and commerce these should include, not only highly trained artisans arid technicians, but, wherever possible, family units of such migrants. The Immigration Advisory Committee found unparalleled interest in Australian possibilities, arising from which there are vast opportunities, not only for migrants in the’ categories mentioned, but -also for the establishment of new industries in Australia.
Employing interests throughout Australia will co-operate to the full, not . only with the Government, but also with all sections of the community in facilitating the early satisfactory absorption in Australia of all immigrants. It must be apparent to everybody that Australia must have substantially increased population. Recent investigations disclosed that migrants of the highest character : and calibre were available. To lose the present opportunity ‘ would be most unfortunate for Australia.
Commenting on the Prime Minisster’s statement, the president of the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia, Mr. John Adamson, said that manufacturers had the fullest confidence in the capacity of Australia to absorb all new arrivals, and added that the Chambers of Manufactures had at all times supported a vigorous policy directed to increasing Australia’s population, particularly with British citizens. He said that a big proportion, both men and women, “must find their opportunity in manufacturing industry, and the manufacturers’ ability to maintain continuous employment, with larger staffs, must depend upon a positive policy of longterm industrial expansion.
The 1946 conference of the Associated Chambers of Commerce of Australia held in Brisbane adopted the following resolution:-
That this conference commends the Commonwealth Government upon its proposed immigration scheme and urges .that immigration from the United Kingdom bc inaugurated immediately, even though only on a nucleus basis in view of the existing shipping, housing and commodity shortages.
The Australasian Council of Trades Unions, in giving practical expression to its views on immigration, has through its general secretary, Mr. Monk, offered to establish liaison machinery in ‘ an advisory or consultative capacity to facilitate the transfer to Australian industry of workers from other lands. Mr. Monk has discussed liaison machinery of this sort on several occasions with representatives of the British trade unions movement, and has secured the full support of British unionists, to set up a liaison arrangement to work with Australian unions and the Australian Government on immigration. Mr. Monk has also offered to act as liaison between Australian unions concerned and myself as Minister for Immigration, covering the arrangements foi- 1,000 building tradesmen to be brought to Australia immediately. These men will be readily absorbed into industry and while presenting no major accommodation problem themselves because of the work upon which they will be engaged, will contribute materially to the solution of our housing problem.
I mentioned on the 5th April that all State governments were represented at a conference of departmental officers thai had just been held in Canberra, at which many aspects of -immigration were discussed. These officers have since reported to their Ministers, who have now. accepted’ invitations to meet Commonwealth Ministers at a conference on immigration in Canberra on the 19th August, the day preceding the opening of the Premiers Conference. This conference will deal with the report on the matters arising from the Ministers’ con:ference. Reception, accommodation and “after-care” of migrants brought to Australia under the programme of encouraged migration will be among the many important matters to be resolved at these meetings. Already a good deal of progress has been reported but there are several aspects yet to be dealt with. Other important matters awaiting the attention of State Ministers in Canberra on the 19th August relate to youth and child immigration schemes, “ nomination “ and selection of migrants, priority categories for early passages to Australia, financial arrangements, and the industrial needs and absorptive capacity of the States in relation to distribution- between the States of immigrants brought to Australia under official schemes.
To carry out the. Commonwealth’s immigration functions in the States, and to maintain liaison with State government immigration, authorities, the Commonwealth Department of Immigration has been expanded by the establishment of State branches in every State capital.
I have appointed a committee to prepare literature to assist alien immigrants to become assimilated into our way of life, with a full appreciation of the significance ‘of naturalization and of Australia’s national background. Those appointed to the committee are the honorable member for Parkes, Mr. Haylen, who last year visited Great Britain and Europe as chairman of the Commonwealth Immigration. Advisory Committee, Professor R. C. Mills, Director of the Commonwealth Office of Education; and representatives of the Departments of Immigration and Information.
As honorable members are aware, a valuable report has been submitted to the
Parliament during the present sitting by the committee I appointed to consider the legal and practical difficulties involved in the possession of different nationalities by husband and wife.Senator Tangney was chairman of the committee and other members were the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons), and representatives of the Australian National Council of Women, the Country Women’s Association, the Australian Labour party and departmental officers. An important item of legislation submitted to the Commonweatlh Parliament during the present session dealt with the legal guardianship of all children brought to Australia under the auspices of any governmental or non-governmental migration organization. The legislation does not apply to immigrant children who came to Australia with, or to live in the care of, their parents or relatives.
The number of British ex-servicemen and women who, while based on Australia, the Middle East, India and SouthEast Asia have applied for their discharge in Australia and whose applications were approved by the Australian Department of Immigration to the 30th June, 1946 exceeds 4,000. Of these, 3,545 are from the Royal Navy, 258 from the Royal Air Force, and 156 from the British Army.
The Government has, during the life of this Parliament, laid the foundation of a long term immigration plan calculated to build Australia in a comparatively short time to a powerful nation - one capable of standing on its own feet against any eventuality that might arise - a land inhabited by a happy and independent people with an assured future. The population problem in Australia is one above the interests of any section of the community, and it is from this point of view that the present Government has approached the subject.
We need a much bigger population if we are to hold this land for ourselves and our children, and we can get it by a greatly increasd birth rate and a greatly increased flow of immigrants. This is a land inhabited by a free, proud and democratic people.
The following bills were returned from the Senate: -
Without amendment -
Commonwealth Electoral Bill 1946.
Bankruptcy Bill 1946.
Tuberculosis Bill 1946.
Immigration (Guardianship of Children) Bill 1946.
Forestry and Timber Bureau Bill 1946.
Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Bill 1946.
Railway Standardization Agreement Bill 1946.
Supplementary Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill 1944-45.
Raw Cotton Bounty Bill 1946.
Wool Industry Fund Bill 1946.
Without requests -
Customs Tariff Validation Bill 1946.
Excise Tariff Validation Bill 1946.
Supply Bill (No. 2) 1946-47.
Supplementary Appropriation Bill 1944-45. .
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn to
Wednesday, the 21st August next, at 3 p.m.
The following papers were presented : - .
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determination by the Arbitrator, &c.- 1946 - No. 23 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia.
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointment - Department of External Affairs - T. G. Giasheen.
Customs Act - Regulations - StatutoryRules 1946, No. 126.
Dried Fruits Export Control Act - Twentysecond Annual Report of the Dried Fruits Control Board for year 1945-46, together with Statement by Minister regarding the operation of the Act.
House adjourned at 4.21 p.m.
The followinganswers to questions were circulated : -
r asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s asked the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
At the time of discharge 3,581 males and 17,494 females said they were not then prepared to put their names down for employment. It is certain that at least a very large proportion of the 3,581 males, unwilling to accept work immediately after discharge, have since taken up employment.
n asked the Minister for Air, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Been Gun Carrier Parts.
n. - Recently, the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. McDonald) asked a question concerning the disposal of spare parts for Bren gun carriers.
The Minister for Supply and Shipping has now furnished the following reply: -
Any purchaser of Bren gun carriers not in a position to obtain spare parts should contact the regional manager of the Commonwealth Disposals Commission in the Statein which, he is located. The Commonwealth Disposals Commission does not sell retail, but is in a position to advise inquirers of any firm which carries stocks, or when the next auction sale of Bren gun carrier spare parts will take place. Stocks of Bren gun carrier parts, mainly surpluses from uncompleted contracts, arc vastly in excess of any needs by purchasers of Bren gun carriers, and the commission’s normal method is to quit such stocks by public auction. If the honorable member for Corangamite will advise me of the name of the primary producer concerned.I will arrange for the Commonwealth Disposals Commission to fully inform him of sources of supply for such parts ashe might require in the future.
Petroleum Products: Motor Cylinder Oil.
e. - On the 26th July, the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Smith) asked whether I was aware that the price of motor cylinder oil had increased 50 per cent, above pre-war levels, and whether I would cause investigations to be made to ascertain why motor cylinder oil had not been reduced in price correspondingly with other petroleum products.
I have now been informed by the Minister for Trade and Customs that it is a fact that the prices of motor cylinder oils rose approximately 50 per cent, above pre-war levels, but no increase has taken place since the 12th April, 1943, and since that date a price reduction has been made. Further, additional price reductions will be made as soon as reductions of the cost of motor cylinder oil indicate that such are justified, as has already been done with other petroleum products.
y. - On the 5th July, the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) asked the following questions, upon notice: -
A reply was furnished to the right honorable gentleman on- the 10fh July advising that the information was being obtained and would be furnished as early as practicable. The information requested is as follows: -
Annexes in city and country - Built and being built, 77. Munitions factories and establishments - built, 14; being built, 14.
Australian Prisoners of War : Dependants’ Allotments ; Subsistence ALLOWANCES
– On the -31st July, the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) asked the following question: -
Will the Minister for the Army reply at an early date to two requests that I have made to him from time to. time, by letter and in questions in’ this House, namely, first, that allotments paid between the date on which a prisoner of war was posted as missing and the date when he was presumed to be dead, be no longer deducted from the estates of the deceased men; and secondly, when will the’ subject of pay in lieu of furlough be adjusted, so that the dependants of those who died before the date in 1945 fixed by War Cabinet will no longer be deprived of this pay?
I informed him at the time that both of these questions would receive consideration and replies would be given to him before the House rose. The replies to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
The question of the deduction of overpaid allotments from the estates of deceased mcn has been under consideration from time to time, and on 10th April last I furnished a detailed reply in the House .to questions raised by the honorable member for Lang and the honorable member for Balaclava. It was then stated that no recoveries were effected in any instances from dependants, or from allottees who, though shown by the soldier concerned at the time of making the allotment to be non-dependent, were able to produce proof that they were in fact dependent or partly dependent on the soldier. I have given further careful consideration to the position of other nondependants, but regret that I cannot see my way to depart from the decision already given.
On the subject of pay in lieu of recreation leave due at the time of the death of a member of the forces, this question is atpresent under consideration,but due to the fact that records of recreation leave of members of the forces which were maintained in the earlier years of the war are not in a satisfactory state, it would be difficult to determine the amount of pay in lieu of such leave that would be due to the estates of such members, if approval were, given to making this decision retrospective. The honorable member will be informed immediately a decision is given.
Mr.Forde. - On the 26th July, the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull) referred to questions which had been asked by him on several occasions as to the need for payment of subsistence allowance of 3s. a day to men who were captured by the Japanese and held as prisoners of wor for three and a half years. I advised the honorable member that I would further investigate this matter, and now desire to state that, as a result of the further investigations that have been made, it is not proposed to authorize the payment as suggested by him of a subsistence allowance to prisoners of war while in enemy hands.
The representations that were made by the honorable member in the House of Representatives on the 12th July, 1946, and the further representationsmade by him on the 26th July, 1946, were specially considered before arriving at this decision.
Thehonorable member in his representations on this subject has referred to the payment of field allowance to officers, and has suggested that, because of such payment, a subsistence allowance of 3s. a day is justified for other ranks. There are a number of factors which must be taken into consideration in dealing with this case, but the most important one is the necessity for ensuring that no special privileges are extended to one section of the forces that would create an injustice or inequality of treatment. When the position of members of the Australian fighting forces held in cap- . tivity by. the Japanese was considered by the Government, it was decided that the pay and allowances of these members should be continued at the daily rate applicable to their rank, and that no debits should be raised against their pay during the period of their captivity. Under this decision, as field allowance was an allowance in the nature of pay which was credited to an officer’s pay account throughout the whole of his service, it was automatically continued during the period of the officer’s captivity, in the same way as it was continued to officers while taking part in active service operations against the enemy.
The honorable member has suggested that, because of the payment of field allowance, other ranks should receive a subsistence allowance of an equivalentamount. Careful consideration has been given to his representations, but such an allowance cannot be approved, because it would automatically involve’ the payment of subsistence allowance to all members of the forces, whether in captivity or otherwise, who because of military operations, or for any other service reason, could not be provided with meals and rations under conditions which were normally applicable when those forces were at rest in base areas or at their nome stations.
Honorable mem’bers will be aware that, under active service conditions, it was not always possible to provide the troops with service rations, and that this situation existed throughout the whole of the period of the war in North Africa. Greece, Crete, Syria and in the South - West Pacific area, and I quote from a communique received while the fighting was in progress in the Owen Stanleys in the early stages of the New Guinea campaign:-
During this campaignin the Owen Stanleys our troops were supplied by aircraft by free dropping. Their supplies were calculated at 5 lb. per man per day - 2% lb. of ammunition and21/2 lb. of dry rations - and they had to live and fight upon it. They had to climb over precipitous mountains; mostly ankle deep or knee deep in mud. It rained continuously and they were seldom dry. At times they were 7,000 feet up in the mountains where the nights were bitterly cold, with half ablanket to protect them. They carried weights up to 00 lb. on their backs, but they never grumbled. On the contrary, they carried on with that spirit of self-sacrifice which has always dis tinguished our Australian soldier.
It would be illogical and unjust to pay a subsistence allowance to prisoners of war and not pay a similar allowance to. members who fought under conditions such as these. As already indicated,it is the view of the Government that the treatment that has been accorded to prisoners of war in relation to their pay accounts is not illiberal, and it is not proposed to depart from the payments now authorized under the Regulations and existing conditions.
e asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In what department are the following persons employed; when were they ‘appointed; what are their duties; and what (a) salaries and (6) allowances have been paid to them since their appointment - Mr. F. Riley, secretary of the Manufacturing Grocers Employees Union; Mr. N. Roberts, secretary of the Australian Engineering Union; Mr. D. Lovegrove, ex-president of Melbourne Trades Hall Council; Mr. D. Ryan, of Geelong Trades Hall Council; and Mr. V. Devlin, of the Central Executive of the, Victorian Labour party?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
Mr. F. Riley is employed in the Prices Branch as consumers’ representative on the Victorian State Advisory Committee, salary £500 per annum from date of appointment, 22nd July, 1942. Mr. N. Roberts is employed under agreement at £1,000 per annum originally as a member of the Aircraft Advisory Committee, Department of Aircraft Production since the 9th January, 1942. At present he is employed as Industrial Relations Officer with the Division of Aircraft Production and jointly with the Department of Munitions as “Factory Commercial Representative at the Ordnance. Factory, Maribyrnong. The agreement covering Mr. Roberts’s employment expires in September, 1946. Mr. D. Ryan has been employed since the 1st April, 1946, as Investigation Officer, Prices Branch, Victoria, at £370 per’ annum. Mr. Ryan is a returned soldier of the first world war. Neither Mr. Lovegrove nor Mr. Devlin is employed in the Commonwealth Public Service.. Messrs. Riley, Roberts and Ryan are not eligible to receive any additional remuneration other than would normally bo paid to Commonwealth officers in connexion with their duties, e.g.. travelling allowance.
n. - On the 6th August, the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) asked a question concerning the distribution of gum boots in Tasmania.
The Minister for Supply and Shipping has now supplied the following answer : -
All restrictions upon the manufacture and sale of types of rubber boots were removed some months back and it is now solely a matter of production. ‘ Manufacturers are arranging distribution to the States in accordance with supplies made during a base period. Returns furnished by’ the manufacturers, whilst indicating that gum boots are in short supply, disclose .that Tasmania is receiving an equitable share of available supplies.
SS. “Murada” and “Macedon”.
– On the 6th August, the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Conelan) asked a question’ concerning, payment of the wharf labourers who voluntarily unloaded . perishable . cargo during the double-dump dispute. The Minister for Supply and Shipping has now supplied the following answer: -
During the dispute over the question of double dumping of wool, members of the Brisbane branch of the Waterside Workers Federation decided they would discharge the perishable cargo ex Murada and Macedon. ‘ The labour was not allocated by the Stevedoring Industry Commission, but the men proceeded to the ships of their free will and commenced work under supervision of union officials. The agents for the ships contend that, as .they did not engage the men and do not know what numbers were employed, they cannot pay them. Claims for the wages involved have been submitted by the union and these are at present being examined and consideration is being given the question of payment for the- wort which was done, which resulted in the prevention of deterioration in the perishable cargo which was on these vessels.
National FILM Board.
n asked the Minister for Information, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - ‘
n asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answers : - 1 and 2. The number of applications made for licences for commercial broadcasting stations in each State during the past four years was -
3 and 4. Duringthe period indicated, licences were granted to: (a) Nicholson’s Limited, Perth, on 22nd December, 1944, for a. station in Collie, Western Australia; (6) The Secretary and Trustees, Queensland Branch, Australian Labour party, on 1st September, 1945, for a station in Brisbane, Queensland. Licences, which had been either revoked or surrendered, were restored to the undermentioned companies :(a) Port Augusta Broadcasting Company Limited, Port Augusta, on 25th June, 1943; (b) 5KA Broadcasting Company Limited, Adelaide, on 25th June, 1943; (c) Mudgee Broadcasting Company Proprietary Limited, Mudgee, on 28th September, 1944; (d) Airsales Broadcasting Company Proprietary Limited, Newcastle, on 7th November, 1944. . .
All these licences were for mediumwave stations. Until the recent report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee concerning the possibility of incorporating frequency modulation stations in the Australian broadcasting system has been examined and the policy in this regard determined, no licences will be granted for such stations.
General Elections: Petrol and Tyres for Candidates.
y.- On the 6th August the honorable member for Flinders(Mr. Ryan) asked me whether it is intended to make special concessions to candidates in. the forthcoming elections in respect of petrol and tyres.
In reply, I inform the honorable member that it has been approved that any necessary tyres and tubes should be made available for fitment to a motor vehicle owned and operated by any candidate for the federal elections or a member of a State legislature, as well as for fitment to a motor vehicle on loan or on hire to such a member or candidate for use in connexion with the election and referendum campaigns. Individual applications for such tyres and tubes should be made through the local transport advisory committees to the tyre distribution branch ineach capital city.
In regard to petrol, special rations will be provided for each candidate for the House of Representatives and the Senate. The rations issued will, of course, be greater for candidates for the Senate and country constituencies, in view of their greater travel obligations. Those special rations will be made avail- able on the submission of applications by present members, or in the case of candi- dates who are not sitting members, upon their receiving the nomination or endorsement of a recognized party. An indepen dent candidate will receive the ration as soon as definite proof of his candidature, i.e., a lodging of a nomination, is received. These special rations are being granted for joint election and referendum campaign purposes and, as in the case of the 1944 referendum, certain rations will also be issued to members of State parliaments. The Minister for Supply and Shipping is arranging for full details of these arrangements to be conveyed to all members of State and Federal legislatures, and to prospective candidates as quickly as possible so that use can be made of the special rations at the earliest opportunity.
n asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– Sufficient information is not immediately available to supply a detailed answer to the honorable member’s question. Japanese bombs and ammunition ‘ located in this area must of necessity be disposed of, and Australian Army personnel will be employed on these duties. The number of Japanese prisoners of war in this locality has been reduced considerably, but those remaining are. required to perform labouring duties and also work of the above nature.
Real Estates Transaction : Acquisition at Regent’s Park.
n. - Recently the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan) asked a question concerning land at Regent’.1 Park which has been acquired by the Commonwealth. I am now in a position to furnish the following information to the honorable member : -
On the 6th June, 1946, an area of about 117 acres of land atRegents Park was acquired by the Commonwealth for defence purposes.
The acquired area, which has been held under National Security (General) Regulations since 1941, is used as a storage depot by the Army and Royal Australian Air Force. As large Commonwealth expenditure has been incurred, and the depot is required for defence purposes indefinitely, the acquisition was necessary in the Commonwealth’s interest. Part of the land was formerly owned by Hume Steel Limited, and Babcock and Wilcox, two large industrial concerns. Although the acquired portions of their properties were vacant scrubcovered land before being occupied by the Commonwealth, representations, have been made to the effect that each company wishes to embark on an expansion of its works on to the land acquired by the Commonwealth. There have been several preliminary conferences between some of the owners affected and departmental officers who were examining the owners’ representations with a view to reaching some suitable compromise, which, while meeting Commonwealth requirements, would cause a. minimum of disturbance to the development of the companies concerned. Although no finality was reached before the acquisition was effected, it did not appearpossible that certain parts of the land taken by the Commonwealth but not actually occupied by Commonwealth buildings of importance could, perhaps, be released. I recently took this up with the Minister for the Army, to ascertain whether in fact and without detriment to Commonwealth requirements, any of the acquired land could be released. A decision on this aspect of the matter has not yet been reached, and it must be appreciated that a fairly exhaustive examination of post-war defence requirements, particularly in respect of storage accommodation, will be required before such a decision is given. I have, however, assured each of the companies mentioned above that, as soon as finality is reached on the question of whether or not any of the acquired land can be released, I will arrange for a senior officer of the department to confer with them to examine the’ proposals they have submitted, with a view to arriving at a satisfactory arrangement. In view of the Government’s policy of assisting industrial development it may be assumed that the department will give most careful consideration to the companies’ proposals and endeavourto cause as little disturbance as possible to the plans for the expansionof their factories. The honorable member forReid is assured therefore, that his consistent representation’s will receive careful and sympathetic consideration.
ArmedForces: Medical Officers; Members in Detention Camps; Rabaul Garrison.
asked the Acting Minister for Defence, upon notice -
e. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows:- 1 and 2. No questionnaire as mentioned has been issued by the Government. It has been ascertained from the service departments that a questionnaire was originated and circulated by the Services Medical Directorates to all full-time serving medical officers of the Navy-, Army and Air’ Force for the purpose of obtaining information which would assist in the rehabilitation of medical officers. A copy of the questionnaire is as follows: -
REHABILITATION OF MEDICAL OFFICERS.
In what medical work engaged, prior to entering the services.
If so, state your desire in order of preference -
Indicate preference by using numbers opposite items above.
New South Wales.
Would you desire to undergo additional training -
Do you desire to study for -
After the war, do you wish to return to -
If Yes- fa) General.
State where - (a.) A Metropolis.
e. - This morning the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) asked me what action was proposed in regard to the release from detention of men who saw active service overseas, and are still serving sentences in detention camps.
In reply, I gave certain information to him, and the following further particulars are now furnished : -
Personnel who were sentenced by courtmartial prior to the 31st December, 1945, for illegal absence will have their cases reviewed forthwith, and the balance of sentence will be remitted in each case, provided conduct while in detention has been good. The cases of those who were sentenced after 31st December, 1945, who have served three months or more of their sentences will be similarly reviewed with a view to the remission of the balance of the sentences. The sentences of those who are at present undergoing detention, but who have not yet served three months of such sentences, will be reviewed on a similar basis on completion of a period of three months in detention: The policy to be followed in future in regard to the remission or otherwise of sentences of members undergoing detention or imprisonment for military offences other than illegal absence, is at present under review, and a, public announcement will be made as soon as a decision is arrived at.
asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
e. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
y asked the Acting Minister for Munitions, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Royal Australian Navy : Employees at Garden Island.
n asked the Acting Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
Mi”. Drakeford. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 9 August 1946, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1946/19460809_reps_17_188/>.