14th Parliament · 2nd Session
The Deputy President (Senator Sampson) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
The following paperswere pre sented : -
Use of Broadcasting in the Cause of Peaces - International Convention signed at Geneva, 23rd September, 1936.
Legal Proceedings in Civil and Commercial Matters -
Convention between the United Kingdom and Hungary, signed at Budapest. 25th September, 1935.
Convention between the United Kingdom and Lithuania, signed at Kovno, 24th April, 1934.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determination by the Arbitrator, &c. - No. 15 of 1937 - Commonwealth Foremen’s Association.
Lands Acquisition Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1937, No. 20.
Norfolk Island Act -
Ordinances of 1937 -
No.5- Child Welfare.
No.6 - Conveyancing.
No. 7 - Crown Lands.
No. 8 - Church of England Land.
Bean Seed Export Control Ordinance -
Exportation of Fruit Ordinance - Regulations amended.
Plant and Fruit Diseases Ordinance - Regulations.
Papua Act -Ordinance No. 3 of 1937 - Supply 1937-1938.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration.) Act - Ordinances of 1937 -
No. 9 - Unlawful Assemblies.
No. 10 - Trespass on Commonwealth Lands.
No. 11 - Bank Holidays.
No. 12 - Industrial Board.
No.13 - Administration and Pro- hate (No. 2)
No.14 - Unlawful Assemblies (No. 2).
Public Health Ordinance - Regulations amended.
Federal Election Policy
– I ask the Minister representing the Attorney-General if his attention hasbeen directed to the following statement which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald of to-day : -
A meeting held last night at the Bondi School of Arts, under the auspices of the Waverley branch of the Communist party, passed a resolution pledging itself to work to defeat the Lyons Government at the federal elections and return a Labour government.
The Mayor of Waverley (Alderman Fieldhouse) presided.
Mr.R. McWilliams said that the Communist party did not desire to have candidates because they believed there would be a swing towards labour, and when the Labour partywas elected the communists would want it to function in the interests of the Communist party.
Also, is the Minister aware that communist literature isbeing transmitted through the post office to a much greater extent than everbeforein the history of the Commonwealth, and will some action be taken to check it?
– My attention had not previously been directed to the newspaper statement which the honorable senator has read. As to the later part of his question, I understand that my colleague, the Postmaster-General, has not surrendered his right to deal with the transmission, through the post office, of subversive literature.
– Having regard to the Government’s recent withdrawal of prosecutions launchedagainst the Communist party, is not this alleged sudden outburst of communist friendliness towards the Labour party merely a quid pro quo?
– I have no answer to give to the Leader of the Opposition. He has made a statement, not asked a question.
– I ask the Leader of the Senate whether it is a fact that the Government has decided to prohibit the export of iron ore to Japan from Koolan Island, Yampi Sound?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.No.
– Can the Minister in Charge of Development inform me whether Sir David Rivett, when inquiring in Great Britain and Europe a few months ago into the project for the extraction of oil from coal, obtained any information- relative to the production of fuel oil from vegetable matter? If so, will it be made available to the Senate?
– I shall make inquiries, and furnish the information to the honorable senator.
– I ask the Minister in Charge of Development whether the Government has received from the President of the Senate (Senator Lynch), who unfortunately is temporarily in hospital in Perth, a lengthy and interesting communication containing a proposal for the assistance of gold prospecting in Western Australia by the creation of a fund to be established by the Commonwealth and State governments and mining companies, from which advances can be made for prospecting purposes, such advances to be repaid from the resultant gold recoveries?. If so, will he urge the Government to give it early and favorable consideration, as it would lead to the profitable employment of many experienced miners who at present, for health reasons, are excluded from deep mining in Kalgoorlie, and would incidentally be of great profit to the State and the Commonwealth?
– I have not seen the letter to which the honorable senator refers. Many interesting communications have been received from the President with regard to assistance for the gold-mining industry. Any such proposal would have to be on an Australiawide basis. It may be possible to do something on the lines suggested in connexion with proposals for the assistance of metalliferous mining, which will later be submitted to Cabinet.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.On the 25th August, Senator Allan MacDonald asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, the following questions, upon notice: -
What is the completed mileage of the standard gauge Commonwealth Railway extension from Port Augusta to Port Pirie, South Australia?
What was the contract price for the completion of this extension?
What was the completed mileage and contract price of the South Australian Railway extension from Red Hill to Port Pirie?
The Minister for the Interior has furnished the following information: -
Fifty-six and a quarter miles.
The contract price was £160,504 9s. 6d., the department supplying sleepers, rails and fastenings. In addition, there were also several contracts let for tanks, station buildings, car barn, workshops, cattle wagons, houses for staff and signalling. Some of the works at Port Pirie, such as station buildings, loco shed, filling, turntable and signalling, were built by the South Australian Railways at joint cost. Ballasting and other incidental work has still to be completed, and complete cost is not yet available. It is anticipated that the full cost, including sleepers and other material supplied, departmentally, rollingstock, &c, will be within the sum of £625,000 fixed by Parliament in the Port Augusta to Port Pirie Railway Act 1935.
Twenty-seven and three-quarter miles. Amount of contract price is not available, but the expenditure provided in the State Red Hill to Port Pirie Railway Agreement Act 1935, is £324,000.
– I ask the MinisterinCharge of Development whether it is a fact that the Government of Tasmania refused to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research permission to use Clarke Island to experiment with a method for the destruction of rabbits by a virus, which it intends to introduce into Australia? If so, has the department negotiated with the Government of South Australia for the use of Wardang Island?
– The Government of Tasmania did refuse the use of the island for that purpose.
– Why ?
– Offhand I am unable to give the specific reason; but I understand that, although the virus had been thoroughly tested, the Government of Tasmania was afraid that the experiments with it would endanger certain other animal life on the island. Offers of the use of islands for these experimental purposes have been made by various persons in South Australia, and these are being considered by officers of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT presented Report of the Standing Orders Committee.
Ordered to be printed.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior whether the Government will take steps to prevent an influx of Southern Europeans into Australia and do everything possible to maintain the present percentage of 98 per cent, of pure British stock in the Commonwealth, in order to maintain the high standard of living which Australians enjoy in comparison with other countries?
– by leave - Before setting out in broad general terms the attitude of the Government on alien white migration, it is necessary, in view of misleading statements recently made and also of the misunderstanding in the minds ofthe publicon the question, to make the position clear. A few figures will help to this end. For the four calendar years 1925 to 1928 inclusivei the net gain to this country by white alien migrants - that is to say, the excess of arrivals over departures - was more than 35,000. The annual average net gain was nearly 9,000.
For the last two financial years, 1935-36 and 1936-37, the net influx of white aliens has been 2,599 and 3,234 respectively, or about one-third of the pre-depression numbers. These figures show quite clearly that what has been described as a “ heavy influx “ of foreigners is nothing of the kind. What happened was that British migration not only ceased, ‘but that the tide turned the other way. More British people left Australia than came into it. For the seven years 1930 to 1936 inclusive, we lost nearly 30,000 people of British stock, due to the excess of departures over arrivals. In the financial year just closed, the net loss was 1,248, Of these about two-thirds left in 1930 and 1931. Taken in conjunction with the heavy fall in the birthrate and the disturbed state of the world, this discloses a position which must give every Australian food for very serious thought.
Turning now to a review of white alien immigration, the first point that needs special emphasis is that every alien immigrant must pay his own passage. No assistance of any kind is given by either Commonwealth or State governments to such immigrants. Further, every white alien not guaranteed employment is required to have £200 capital. Those who have such a guarantee must, have £50 capital. The only alien migrants admitted without capital are the wife and children of the migrant or of a person already in Australia, provided that their future maintenance is assured.
Before issuing a permit - without which no alien can land - the Minister must be satisfied in every case that the newcomers would engage in trades and occupations in which there is opportunity for their absorption without detriment to Australian workers. In this connexion reports are obtained from the policein the various States on each individual case, and when a report is adverse a permit is refused.
An analysis of the figures shows that of the 227aliens on the Otranto, about whom disparaging comments have been made, 107 were women and children coming out to join their breadwinners, who hitherto had been obliged to remit a large part of their earnings to maintain them. Such family reunions are surely desirable from the humanitarian as well as the economic aspect. A further 32 were former residents of Australia returning from a holiday abroad. Fifteen were en route to New Zealand or elsewhere, leaving only 73 new non-dependants - less than one-third of the total allien migrants on the vessel.
Before a white alien can obtain a permit to come to Australia he must have a medical certificate, showing him to be in sound health. The doctor on board ship must immediately report any cases of sickness or physical defects generally which come under his notice during the voyage. Finally, the new arrivals must pass our boarding medical officers before leaving the ship.
I repeat that the number of white aliens arriving here is only about onethird of the pre-depression figures. It is said that an unduly large proportion of Italians are among the new arrivals, but the actual figures show that while in 1935-36 the net migration of Italians was 1,447, in 1936-37 it was only 730, or about one-half of the previous year’s figures.
The policy of the Commonwealth Government, briefly stated, has been and is -
In the five-year period 1925 to 1929, the net gain to the population through British migration was over 132,000, an average addition of more than 26,000 a year. In the next seven years, 1930 to 1936 inclusive, the net los3 of persons of British stock was nearly 30,000. This loss of British migrants from Australia still continues, despite the provision of assisted passages from the British Isles. In the financial year just closed the net loss was 1,248. In the face of these figures, the fall in the birthrate and the present international situation, we can hardly slam the door on the rest of the world. “We can, and do, ensure that the influx of white aliens shall not prejudice us nationally or lower our standards of living.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The information isbeing obtained, and a reply will be furnished as soon as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice - 1.Who is responsible for the engagement. of the staff of Australia House, London?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers: -
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a bill for an act to amend section four of the Dairy Produce Export Control Act . 1924-36.
Bill brought up, and read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) agreed to -
That leave he given to introduce a bill for an act to amend section four of the Dried Fruits Export Control Act 1924-35.
Bill brought up, and read a first time.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 24th August (vide page 7), on motion by Senator »Sir George Pearc*! -
That the paper he printed.
– Whatever views honorable senators may hold on the important subjects which this motion covers, I trust that the debate will proceed calmly, although I do not Suggest that party politics should be eliminated. Having been a member of a political party for very many years, I believe that every subject we have to consider in this chamber should be studied seriously from the viewpoint of the party to which we belong. Party bitterness, however, should he eliminated in debating Australia’s defence policy, which is one of the most important subjects dealt with in the statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), which was read in this chamber two days ago by the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce).
In my speech, on the Address-an-Reply, I had the temerity to assume, temporarily, the role of a prophet, and to suggest that such information as we were allowed to receive in Australia through the public press in relation to the Imperial Conference, indicated that the Conference had not been a success. At the time, I was taken seriously to task by the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce), who stated -
The honorable senator was among those who tried to create the impression that real danger lurks in the mission undertaken by the Australian Ministers now visiting London.
Until I heard the report which the right honorable gentleman read a* few days ago, I did not think that I had stated the position so accurately. On the occasion referred to he went on to say -
To-day, when the imperialistic tricks that Labour critics predicted have not taken place, and schemes to drag Australia at the tail of the United Kingdom have not eventuated, the honorable senator and his colleagues say that the Imperial Conference has proved a dud. Considered as a point for the coming election the conference certainly has provided a “ dud “ for Senator Collings and his party.
The Leader of the Senate, as well as the Prime Minister, have taken full political advantage of everything that occurred at the Imperial Conference. Honorable senators will remember also that the
Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral in this chamber (Senator Brennan) also had something to say about me at that time. He said that when I prepared my speeches, I always carefully concealed my real feelings, but that when I spoke impromptu, the truth came out, and there was always a declaration of disloyalty. I do not repeat those charges because I feel at all aggrieved; on the contrary, when leaders of the United Australia party and of the Country party say unpleasant things about me, I am convinced that I am fulfilling my mission as Leader of the Opposition in expounding in ‘this chamber the policy of the party to which I belong. What is Labour’s defence policy?
– That is what we all want to know.
– The Leader of the Country party (Senator Hardy) and others who interjected with him, did not say anything which they believed to have any foundation; in fact, Senator Hardy has in his possession the printed declaration setting out Labour’s defence policy. He knows what that policy is, although during the recent byelection in Gwydir, he stated from many platforms that Labour had no defence policy. He knew when he made it that that statement was untrue, and he knows that his interjection this afternoon also implies an untruth.
– It is the biggest crossword puzzle I have ever seen.
– It cannot be more mystifying than most of the speeches delivered by the Leader of the Country party.
– The Labour party has six different policies.
– The composite party to which the honorable senator belongs changes its policy almost week by week. One week it favours protection, and the following week it advocates free-trade. Moreover, at nearly every election it changes its name and affiliations. The Labour party has a definite defence policy to which every member who enters this Parliament must subscribe. When he does so, it is assumed that, as an honest citizen; he intends to abide by it and support it. Labour has such an efficient organization that if any member of the party, in any Australian parliament, breaks away from its policy, the endorsement of the party is immediately withdrawn from him and he cannot, again stand for election in its name.
– That is the only thing in which the Labour party is proficient.
– I have been a keen student of the party to which the honorable senator belongs, and I have not yet seen anything approaching such. proficiency. The defence policy of the Australian Labour party provides for -
Adequate home defence against possible foreign aggression-
That plank of Labour’s policy gives the lie direct to the statement made in the House of Representatives that the Labour party has no defence policy and is disloyal to the Empire.
– Does the honorable senator refer to the policy of the industrial section or of the political section of the party?
– I am quoting from the defence policy of the Australian Labour party. It continues -
Amendment of Defence Act to secure -
The parties now in occupation of the treasury bench have never given such a straight-out declaration of their policy. The Labour party aims at amending the Defence Act to secure also -
– Would the Labour party go to the help of New Zealand if that dominion were attacked?
– I shall deal with the honorable senator’s interjection before I finish my speech. The policy from which I have quoted continues -
The following is adopted as a declaration of policy and in amplification thereof -
That preparation, to counter any possible foreign aggression, be made by the establishment of a defence scheme commensurate with Australia’s ability to maintain it and adequate for our needs, and that this be done by concentration on the following essentials: -
That policy offers a complete answer to leather-lunged honorable senators who continually roar that the Labour party has no defence policy. The Prime Minister knows perfectly well what Labour’s defence policy . is, because, with the exception of the last five or six years, he assented to it throughout his political life, and, in essentials, that policy has never been altered. Fundamentally, it has never differed from the policy which I have just read’.
– I dissent from that statement.
– I am well aware of that fact. The right honorable gentlemanknows perfectly well, however, that it was the Australian Labour party which gave to Australia its navy.
– As a Minister of a Labour government in 1911 I signed an agreement with the British Government to allow our fleet to co-oper ate with the British fleet.
– That is all right; have I said anything to the contrary?
– The policy of the Labour party on that point has now been altered.
– No. In making that statement the right honorable gentleman gives another illustration of his remarkable ability to use language to conceal his thoughts. ‘ No Australian government, and no government of any other country, would dare to say that it would not defend its own territory. “What nonsense is it, therefore, to say that a LabourGovernment in Australia, of all governments throughout the world, would be the only one which would not possess a defence policy. Surely, however, we are entitled to say what, in our opinion, is the best method of internal defence, and to assert that, obviously, that must constitute Australia’s best contribution to Empire defence. There can be nothing wrong with that attitude.
Let us see what that policy which I have just read really represents. Unequivocably we declare that we are prepared - and this obligationis incumbent upon every member of our party, because of the pledge which he has signed - to put into operation that plank of our policy which demands the adequate defence of Australia. What does that mean?It means that we are contributing towards the protection from aggression of 7,000,000 British subjects. That is not a small contribution. It means, further, that we are doing out best to protect adequately 3,000,000 square miles of British territory, and, if we carry out that policy, we shall be protecting £1,000,000,000 of British capital invested in this country. Probably half of this amount is invested in Australian Government securities and half of it in industry. Already, therefore, Australia is not doing badly so far as Empire defence is concerned. If honorable senators will study the latest statistics available on the subject they will find that the expenditure per capita on. defence of the dominions is as follows: - New Zealand, 12s. 7d. ; Canada, 5s. 7d.; South Africa, 3s. 5d. ; and Australia, 2ls.10d.
– What is Great Britain’s expenditure per capita on defence ?
– I am surprised that, in his innocence, Senator Guthrie is not already aware of the fact that when the Government of the United Kingdom proposed to levy a special tax to provide for its immense rearmament programme the well-to-do people of Great Britain rebelled against the proposal, with the result that in a few days it was withdrawn and the burden involved was transferred to other shoulders. As proof that Australia is doing its job generously in respect of defence, I point out that during the last financial year our expenditure on repatriation, interest on our war debt, and preparatory defensive measures amounted to £25,000,000. . Speaking on behalf of the Labour party as the Opposition in this Parliament, I submit that we surely have a right to say that at some stage we must reach the saturation point in respect of our expenditure on defence, either in man-power or in cash. If any honorable senator declares that we cannot possibly reach such a saturation point, that Australia, a small community, can go on indefinitely spending money on defence and be ready, at all times, to defend itself adequately against the most powerful possible aggressor, he is not entitled to a place in a deliberative assembly but should be an inmate of a mental institution. I may be allowed to repeat, that statement. Surely we of the Opposition have the right to assert that somewhere is saturation point, beyond which Australia cannot proceed in this matter of defence, either in manpower or cash. Surely we have the right to assert that under existing conditions in Australia every penny spent upon defence schemes must be taken from somebody in this community, and I am fully justified in asking how we can expect to get it by the methods favoured by the Government and its supporters. Under their proposals the money must either be squeezed from, social services - I say this deliberately and with a full sense of responsibility for my words - or it must be obtained by increased taxes on the higher incomes.
I well understand the attitude of the Leader of the Country party (Senator Hardy). He will, I expect, declare that the money for defence will not be squeezed from social services with the approval of his party. But other Government members represent another party to this political marriage of convenience, and we well know that their supporters are continually squealing, not only in this Parliament but also through their -press organs and on public platforms, that taxation has reached its limit and must be reduced. As a matter of fact this Government has during the last few years relieved the wealthy people of Australia from immense taxation burdens. It has repealed a portion of the land tax, super taxes of all kinds, and has, in various ways, shifted the tax burden from the well-to-do to the shoulders of those who are least able to bear it. Honorable senators supporting the Government cannot have it both ways. I repeat that the money for this defence programme must either be squeezed from social services or extracted from taxpayers enjoying the higher incomes. I am satisfied that the first-named method will be favoured, because the Government parties dare not touch the wealthy section of the community which supplies them with .their election funds. I warn them, however, that if the Labour party be returned to power at the forthcoming elections, and I confidently believe it will be, it will re- impose those taxes that were remitted on the higher incomes and thus make the wealthy people of this country pay for its defence.
– And the Australian navy will be sold to Japan for scrap iron !
– The honorable gentleman and his friends have always approved of the sale of scrap iron to Japan in the full knowledge that it would be used for the manufacture of munitions.
I remind the Senate that we have in. Australia a population pf only 6,500,000.
– And do not forget it.
– Of that number tens of thousands’ of people are out of employment.
– That is the old cry I
– If Senator Badman can successfully challenge my statement he will have an opportunity to do so when I resume my seat. I shall welcome any refutation that he may make. It is my intention to broadcast this propaganda through my own State during the coming election campaign, but I promise that if Senator Badman can prove that any statement which I am now making is untrue I shall not repeat it.
I know that I have said this before, but it is worth repeating. The census taken in 1933 disclosed that nearly 2,750,000 breadwinners in Australia were in receipt’ of less than £259 a year. I admit that the position has improved somewhat since that year, but I remind the Senate that it is to the breadwinners that we must look for the defence of this country in an emergency, and it is to them that the employers must look for the labour power to keep the wheels of industry turning and producing profits. I have said that this Government will not attempt to finance its defence schemes by taxing the well-to-do section of the community, and I emphasize that the only alternative is to squeeze the money out of social services.
– Does the honorable senator think that the defence expenditure should be reduced?
– I shall not leave the honorable senator in any doubt about my views on that subject before I resume my seat.
Every honorable senator will, I think, admit the desirableness of liberalizing the provisions with regard to invalid pensions, particularly those relating to persons claiming to be totally and permanently incapacitated. There are some of us who believe, also, that the old-age pension should be increased and the age limit lowered. Others, again, believe that the amount of allowable income should be higher.
– Is the honorable senator making a budget speech ?
– I have as much right to make an electioneering speech on this motion as the Prime Minister had when presenting what he said was a report of the proceedings of the Imperial Conference, and I intend to take advantage of my privilege. Most honorable senators, I hope, believe in a liberalization of the provisions relating to the family income in connexion with the payment of maternity allowance, and I am sure that many senators are, like myself, beseiged by returned soldiers in distress because the entitlement tribunals have refused to recognize their claims for assistance, on the ground that their disabilities were not due to war service. Then we have the spectacle also of State governments making frequent demands on the Commonwealth to shoulder a portion of the expenditure on education, and to accept a larger share of the responsibility for the maintenance of health services and housing problems.
The other day I read the following statement by Mr. E. J.Williams, a. member of the House of Commons, in an address to the Bank Officers Guild in London: -
In the year 1925 the output per person employed in the mining industry in Great Britain was16 cwt. a day. The output per person employed last year was nearly 23 cwt. The total output in 1924 was 223,000.000 tons with 960,000 persons employed. The output last year was 224,000,000 tons, with 743,000 persons employed. The introduction of coal-cutting machinery, conveyors, and all forms of new technique, is revolutionising industry. . . There are no new markets to conquer, so we are beginning to contract, and in that contraction you have economic friction, out of which dictatorships are produced. There are only two outlets, either militarism or social services.
It is an old trick, when internal troubles are causing unrest, when social services are restricted and when unemployment is rife, for those responsible for the government to distract attention by raising external difficulties, which may lead to war. In his review of the Imperial Conference proceedings, the Prime Minister said -
At the first plenary session of the conference I asked for a clear statement of the principles for which the British Empire Stood and I said “All democratic peoples and all who desire the maintenance of international law and order are hoping for positive results from this conference. They ask for a clear lead along the path of enduring peace.”
Yet, because I, this afternoon, declared that I and my party wanted “ a clear lead along the path of enduring peace “, I was assailed by ribald interjections and ironic laughter, and was told, in effect, that Labour has no policy which would bring about such a desirable condition of affairs.
– We suspect that the honorable senator’s party has a policy, but we cannot find it.
– In the House of Representatives, the Minister for Defence (Sir Archdale Parkhill) said - “ The Prime Minister, with meticulous accuracy, detailed everything which took place at the Imperial Conference with regard to defence.”
When listening to the debate in the House of Representatives yesterday afternoon, I heard the Minister make that statement. When he said those words he knew, just as every honorable senator knows, that the Prime Minister did nothing of the kind.
SenatorPayne. - I rise to order. Is the honorable senator in order in referring to a debate which took place in the House of Representatives during this session ?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Sampson). - The Leader of the Opposition is out of order.
– I do not know what I am to. do about it. I cannot withdraw the statement ; but I shall not offend again.
All of us are well aware that we are never allowed to get at the truth of what is happening at the Imperial Conference in regard to international relationships. Does any honorable senator mean to tell me that at the last Imperial Conference all the diplomatic subjects raised between the participating countries were laid bare on the table and that the Prime Minister has returned to explain them fully to the Australian people?
– I have no doubt that those facts were laid bare at the conference; but I do not believe that the Prime Minister is likely, or that he would be allowed, to disclose them without reservation.
– What about the time when a former Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) attended an Imperial Conference?
– I am quite certain that the circumstances then were similar to those at the last conference. Mr. Scullin was not permitted to return to Australia and give to the public a full and frank explanation of the problems discussed at the conference. If those “ inside “ discussions were intended later to be disclosed to the public, they would be of no value. In his report the Prime Minister has not given us a statement of the proceedings of the Imperial Conference. It is an election propaganda declaration. It is a compilation of pious platitudes, and will be recognized as such by every citizen who is not entirely bereft of sanity. But as a practical contribution to the peace and security of Australia, which it is possible for us to make on our own behalf, it is mostly valueless. I summarize that precious document as follows : - “ I have been to the Imperial Conference on behalf of Australia, without any instructions from the Parliament or from the people. I have pledged Australia to an expenditure during the next three years of £30,000,000 for defence. I have agreed as to the manner in which the money shall be expended upon the various arms of defence, and if you, who constitute Bus Majesty’s Opposition in this Parliament, dare to criticize what I have done, you are disloyalists.” I invite honorable senators to read that report; they will find that my deductions may fairly be drawn from it.
– The honorable senator has never been too “ hot “ on the Empire.
– Is it seriously contended that we must willy-nilly take our place in the mad armaments race, in which the world is now involved, without first making any inquiry as to what might be the most effective form of armaments for the defence of this country, or being given an opportunity to offer honest criticism of the suggestions of our political opponents as to the best manner in which this enormous sum of money shall be spent? In their heart of hearts honorable senators think nothing of the kind. I consider that, but for political expediency, they would all believe that the Opposition has a right to say, “Yes, we shall co-operate with you in this matter of defence “.
– The Opposition was invited so to co-operate.
– Listening to the debate in the House of Representatives yesterday, I heard from the supporters of the Government a storm of unfair interjections against Opposition speakers, which would prevent anybody from getting within a mile of. cooperation with any of them..
– The offer of cooperation was extended to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr.Curtin).
– Are we never to attempt to strike a different note? May we never be privileged to suggest policies of conciliation and nonprovocation in relation to our neighbours, and other rational policies designed to save civilization itself, without being subjected to the insulting and untruthful charges of disloyalty, a desire to “ cut the painter “, unwillingness to co-operate, and a disposition to dismember the Empire? As an individual Australian, and as Leader of the Opposition in this chamber, I am proud of our parliamentary institutions. I never lose an opportunity to point out to the people whom I have the privilege of. meeting on the platform and elsewhere, that if we are hot careful to preserve our democratic institutions, our British form of government, and -our limited monarchy, and defend them against ail comers, we shall be faced with but one alternative, viz., the establishment of dictatorships. In a world of tumbling dynasties I am proud of our parliamentary institutions ‘ and our methods of conducting our affairs within the British Commonwealth of Nations; but surely we are not expected to accept willy-nilly every defence measure that the Government brings before us! If we venture to criticize any. such proposals, we are called disloyalists who are anxious to “ cut the painter “, to dismember the Empire, and to doall the other horrible things which are the creatures of Senator Hardy’s fertile imagination.
In this document the Prime Minister referred to a pacific pact. He said: -
As a consequence, the Australian Government felt the time opportune and desirable to make some advance towards securing an understanding which would not only lead to the continued maintenance of friendly relations in the Pacific region, but materially contribute to the general peace of the world.
The proposal, made as it necessarily has been in very general terms, was received with much sympathetic attention and interest, and, as you will note from the declaration on foreign affairs, was generally approved by the Conference as a desirable objective.
The report of the Conference refers to the proposal in the following terms: - “ They noted with interest the statement made on behalf of the Australian delegation at the opening plenary meeting that Australia would greatly welcome a regional understanding and pact of non-aggression by the countries of the Pacific, and would be prepared to collaborate to that end with all the peoples of the Pacific region in a spirit of understanding and sympathy. They agreed that if such an arrangement could be made it would be a desirable contribution to the cause of peace and to the continued maintenance of friendly relations in the Pacific, and that it should be the subject of further consultation between governments “.
I ask honorable senators to consider the policy of the Government in maintaining friendly relations with people of the Pacific. What did the Government do to the good customer nation of Japan by its discriminatory tariff? And what did it do to the other customer nation, the United States of America? If there be one nation of the world with which we should be on friendly terms-
– The tariff did hot discriminate against Japan.
– The Government by its discriminatory policy against Japan took millions of pounds out of the pockets of the wool-growers.
– The wool-growers are not complaining.
– The honorable senator should hear the comments of the wool-growers of Queensland; they will voce for the Labour party at the next elections because of the Commonwealth Government’s trade diversion policy. Not satisfied with dealing a blow at Japan, the Government then “had a go” at another great nation with whom it was vitally necessary that we should maintain friendly relations in the Pacific. What was the Prime Minister told about the nature of our relations with the United States of America? The right honorable gentleman proposed to return from the Imperial Conference via Washington; but did he do so? He altered his plans because it was definitely intimated to him from Washington that, as the result of the Government’s trade diversion policy, the Government of the United States of America did not desire to hold consultation with him.
– That is not so.
– But the Prime Minister altered his plans. He intended to return to Australia, via Washington, but he did not do so.
– Why does the Leader of’ the Opposition make untrue statements?
– My statements are true; I am able to confirm them.
– No such intimation from the Government of the United States of America was conveyed to the Prime Minister.
– I repeat my statement. If the facts are not as I have stated, we look to the Prime Minister to deny them. His proposal for a Pacific pact, following the failure of many of the existing international pacts, is so much “ piffle “. Obviously the policy to which this Parliament isasked to agree is that we should subordinate our paramount duty to provide for the adequate defence of Australia internally, and the equally great and important duty of enlarging the value and extending the scope of our social services, to the demonstrably impossible task of becoming the policeman of Europe, and a salvage corps in the service of warring nations abroad. It is equally obvious that the present Government intends, if and when Great Britain is again embroiled in war, that the manhood of Australia shall be conscripted for service abroad, and that, as a preliminary thereto, universal training shall again be imposed on every young Australian. But when somewhat timorously the Labour party declares that it does not believe that the proposed expenditure on defence is justified in the directions in which it is to be made, and when it contends that the principal means of defending Australia, which is so far removed from the scene of warlike operations, is not by the establishment of huge armies, but by the creation of an adequate air force, it is subjected to violent criticism.
– It is like the Labour party’s policy in that respect ; it is “ in the air “.
– I am gratified that at last the kindly PostmasterGeneral has been flogged into making an interjection. It was not a wise interjection, because it was so obvious. The defence policy of the Labour party is in the air, and the Postmaster-General merely stressed what I have declared. The Opposition honestly believes that Australia can be better protected, and tha Empire can be more effectively assisted by making our first arm of defence the air force.
– The Trade Union Congress does not agree with the honorable senator.
– I am more in touch with the Trade Union Congress than is Senator Hardy; he has to get his information from spies and eavesdroppers. I emphasize that compulsory military training will again be imposed on our young Australians.
– The same old bogy!
– No ; it is the logical inference from the statements which have been made in the Senate thisafternoon; they leave me no conclusion other than that universal training will be introduced.
– If the Government does not intend to carry out the. policy that it has enunciated, why does it submit it?
It is proposed to trail our coat, to warn the enemy of our strength, and to say,. “ You had better not come over here, because we are ready for you”. That attitude recalls the lines from which the term “ jingoist “ originated -
We don’t want to fight, but by jingo if we do
We’ve got the guns, we’ve got the men,
We’ve got the money too.
This is not a new trick ; it is the old ruse to trap people into paying taxes in. order to carry on war.
– The policy of the Labour party is, “Do not come until we have a referendum ; we are not ready for you “.
– I am glad the honorable senator made that remark. I stated earlier in my speech that the Australian Labour party declares in clear and definite terms in its policy that it does not believe in sending the manhood of Australia overseas, unless the people of Australia instruct that that course be followed. By interjection, Senator Guthrie suggests that it would be impracticable to take a referendum when the Empire is imperilled. I know that during the forthcoming election campaign the people will be told that when the Empire was in danger a Labour government would he messing around with a referendum.
– Will the Leader of the Opposition state whether a Labour government would allow the bombers he has mentioned to operate beyond the 3-mile limit before taking a referendum ?
– The Leader of the Senate knows that my time is limited, and that up to the present I have not said anything which he could use during the elections to the detriment of the Australian Labour party, but under cover of a smile he is endeavouring to conceal the disappointment that he is enduring in that connexion. Senator Guthrie suggests that it would he impossible to take a referendum, because the procedure is somewhat long and cumbersome, but that is ridiculous and untrue. Wars do not commence in a week, a month, or six weeks, and they do not end so rapidly as we desire. No one can say when the conflicts at present being waged will terminate. If the Australian people wish to engage in a war beyond their own shores, the right course for any government to pursue is to give the people the right to express their views.
– The honorable senator has not yet answered a simple question submitted to him. What will be the position if New Zealand is threatened by a naval force? Is the Australian navy to assist ?
- Senator Abbott, who recently made a commendable effort to assist in bringing about a better understanding between the nations, and to lead them along the right path, should know the answer.
– The honorable senator has not yet answered it.
– The honorable senator should preserve a measure of sanity, and refrain from making interjections, which are not warranted. Under the heading of “ Foreign Affairs “ in the statement which we are now debating, the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) said -
The present international situation is such that all representatives realized that on them devolved the responsibility, not only of making a definite contribution to . general world appeasement, but also clearly indicating those fundamental principles for which the Empire Stood.
We all agree with that. I protest strongly against the fact which obtrudes itself so obviously in the Prime Minister’s statement that it is intended to allow private enterprise to make enormous profits in the event of national emergency. Everything clone in connexion with the manufacturing of arms and munitions to protect this nation should be undertaken by the Goaternment of the country, and not one penny of profit from that source should be allowed to fall into the pockets of private . firms or individuals. The production of arms and munitions, ships, aeroplanes, and fuel oil should be undertaken by the Government, instead of allowing private individuals to exploit the people. It is said that steps will be taken to mobilize industry, and to enable established concerns to be capable of meeting the demands of the nations in time of war. If the Government is sincere it should take stock of the position now, and ascertain the possibility of production in this country. The time to do so is now, and not when difficulty arises. What are we doing? One has only to read the agreement which has been adopted in connexion with the production of shale oil to realize the way in which this Government proposes to assist private enterprise at the expense of the nation. In delivering his policy speech in 1934, the Prime Minister said, “Above everything ‘else attention will be given to the question of unemployment ‘”. In order to indicate his sincerity, he said in effect that if his Government were returned it would proceed immediately with the standardization of the railway gauges of Australia, because that would be a means of providing employment for thousands of men for a term of years. He further stated that it would be a valuable policy, because in times of national emergency we would be able to transport rapidly troops and munitions across the continent. Has anything been done?
– The standard gauge has been increased by only 56 miles since that statement was made, and no constructive attempt whatever has been made to deal with’ the unemployment of youths.
– Two breaks of gauge have been eliminated and a detour of 200-miles avoided.
– Of the gigantic job outlined by the Prime Minister in 1934, only 56 miles of the work has been completed. In the Age newspaper of the 24th August this year the following leading article appeared: -
According to the view-point, the current Federal Parliament is differently assessed. Oi_ one point there can be no dispute. No preceding Parliament lias varied long recesses with such brief anil infrequent periods of work. In the present year - a year of special strain and anxiety, during which statesmen the world over have been wrestling with the great international, economic and social problems of the period - the National Parliament of Australia has been in session for exactly tendays! During that short interruption of what has become almost a permanent political holiday, no legislation of any consequence was dealt with. For its record, therefore, the Government must rely either on performances pre-dating this, as yet, completely barren year or on the programme to be dealt with in the sittings which will be resumed at Canberra to-day. [ Extension of time granted.]
The report continued -
This will be the final and, in the nature of things political, the electioneering session. The Government’s choice lies between a session of brisk activity and genuine achievement and a period devoted to preliminary bouts of the impending party tournament. It has been suggested that, as the elections may be held in October, the Government will “ save up “ any arresting or attractive proposals it may have conceived, on the ground that they should be more valuable as promises than as performances. There are two considerations opposing that strategy. One is that it has been recklessly overworked in previous campaigns; the other that it is the Government’s plain duty,’ while it has the power, and the time and the responsibility, to deal constructively with those questions that arc before the country. Many electors will be suspicious of promises as substitute for performance when they recall that the feature of the Government’s last pre-election policy which was elaborated from every platform, was a vast scheme of re-employment, with particular reference to the needs of youth, which would “ take precedence over other Commonwealth activities”. This great scheme included a scries of national projects, first among which was to be the unification of therailway gauges. Three years later the “youth employment problem “ is still a subject for debating societies, and the breaks of gauge remain.
The members of the Opposition give place to no one in this chamber or elsewhere in their honest attempt to provide, to the extent of the nation’s capacity, for the adequate defence of Australia against possible foreign aggression. It is not ray duty, as some honorable senators opposite imagine, to say what a Labour Government would do.
– I have stated definitely that our policy provides for the adequate defence of Australia. After the next general election there may or may not be a Labour Government in this country, but I assure honorable senators that if there is, it will not be lacking capacity or courage, and that it will do it’s job as this Government believes it is doing its job. As I stated at the outset of my remarks, this subject should be considered calmly in the light of facts, and not in the light of surmise, insinuations and innuendoes. We shouldgive one another credit for sincerity on this important subject. I trust that I shall not be accused of disloyalty when I say that the moneywhich the Government proposes to expend on the defence of Australia would give better service and render a greater measure of protection to Australia, and to the sister dominions, if it were expended as the Labour party proposes rather than in the manner outlined in the statement of the Prime Minister which is now before the Senate.
– I looked forward with considerable interest to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (SenatorCollings) on the subjects discussed at the recent Imperial Conference, and particularly that of defence, because I thought that by following his remarks closely, and keeping my mind reasonably clear, I might hear him clear up the mystery surrounding the defence policy of the Australian Labour party. After hearing him speak for over an hour I must confess that I am still as much in the dark as ever. In these circumstances I do not regret the statement I made during the Gwydir byelection campaign, when in reply to questions as to the defence policy of the Labour party, I Had to say that it had no defence policy. Although the Leader of the Opposition has said that the policy of the Labour party provides for the adequate defence of Australia, I am still convinced thatit is a policy which could not ensure national security. I desired to hear from the honorable gentleman replies to a number of interjections, particularly those which asked what the Opposition would do with the Defence vote if, per chance, it were successful at the forthcoming election. Honorable senators still do not, know what the Labour party would do with that vote if returned to power. When the budget is submitted to us in a few clays’ time, the Leader of the Opposition will have an opportunity to say whether or not the Defence vote is regarded by the Labour party as satisfactory. I confess also that I am still ignorant of the means by which the Labour party would limit the activities of aerial bombers to the territorial boundary of Australia.
– No one suggested anything so silly.
– The defence policy of the Labour party provides that no man shall be called upon to serve outside the territorial limits of Australia. It may be that, under a Labour government, a piece of elastic would be attached to the end of each bomber to ensure that it did not. go beyond the three-mile limit. This and other questions the Leader of the Opposition did not answer.
– A warship can throw shells a distance of eighteen miles..
– The Leader of the Opposition talked of many things - of the unification of the railway gauges, of unemployment, of vocational training of youths - but in regard to the main subject covered by the report, he spoke only in general terms. I say emphatically that the report of the Imperial Conference is one of the most significant documents that has ever been tabled in the Senate. Although it is of such importance as to demand the ‘most, earnest consideration of every honorable senator, its chief points - those which relate to major matters such as the peace of the world - were avoidedby the Leader of the Opposition this afternon. The report, at least, points to the path which Australia should tread in its pursuit of a sound policy of national defence. I believe that when the people have studied it, they will see that the proposals of the Government go a long way towards removing that sense of insecurity which now exists.
The report also answered effectively the criticism which has been levelled against overseas visits by Ministers. I was interested to observe that this subject was not mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition to-day. Obviously, he acted under instructions from the caucus. In effect, members of the Labour party have been told : “ This report is dangerous ; be careful how you handle it, for it may be used against the Labour party. Talk broadly, and do not provide any political munitions to be used against you.”
– As a member of the caucus, I can say that that statement is untrue.
– On other occasions the Leader ofthe Opposition has condemned the Government for sending Ministers overseas, but no mention of that subject was made to-day. The caucus has directed that such subjects shall be retained for mention on the hustings. .
Another hardy annual was absent from the speech of the Leader of the Opposition to-day, for he made no reference to the domination of Downing-street. Acting under instructions from the caucus, the honorable gentleman has remained silent on this and a number of other subjects.
– The honorable senator’s statement is untrue.
– I have here a booklet which may be of great interest to honorable senators generally. Its blue cover is probably well known to the Leader of the Opposition and the members of his party. It is called Labour’s Challenge ; why Australia should vote out the Lyons Government. The booklet is issued “ on behalf of the Labour party, by John Curtin, Parliament House, Canberra, 20th. July, 1937.”
– It contains a few mistakes.
– After the booklet had been issued, a few mistakes were found in it, and desperate efforts were made to recall the copies distributed. The booklet is now almost as scarce as diamonds. If the Leader of the Opposition believes that it contains good propaganda on behalf of his party, I ask him to supply acopy of it to each honorable senator. I am afraid, however, that, again obeyingthe caucus, the honorable gentleman will pounce upon any copy that he may find lying about, and immediately place it in the strong-rooms of the party at the Trades Hall.
– I accept the suggestion of Senator Hardy, and will see that every honorable senator is supplied with a copy of the booklet. It has not yet been issued, and I do not know how Senator Hardy obtained a copy of it.
– The Leader of the Opposition has not said when he will give delivery of the booklet.
– The honorable senator has a bad mind.
– I trust that there will be no delay in making copies of the booklet available to honorable senators; there are plenty of copies here in Canberra.
– I suggest that unexpurgated copies be supplied.
– Unexpurgated copies will be supplied to honorable senators.
– On page 103 of the booklet there is a cheap sneer at ministerial globe-trotting. I had hoped that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) would deal with that subject in his speech, but, obviously, he decided to act with considerable restraint for ho did not mention it. On this subject the booklet states -
In fa-ct the most worn plank of the Lyons Government’s platform is the gangway of an overseas steamer.
The .booklet sets out to try to convince the electors that the Lyons Government has been extravagant in regard to ministerial trips overseas which have had practically no results.
On the subject of the Imperial Conference, the Leader of the Opposition, in his speech on the Address-in-Reply, said -
The Prime Minister and two other Ministers have been participating in the important deliberations of the Imperial Conference.
I ask honorable senators to note the word u important “. Notwithstanding his use of that word, the honorable gentleman did not discuss the principles underlying world peace contained in the report.
– I quoted them almost by the yard.
– The honorable senator went on to say -
I understand from intimations given to honorable senators yesterday that the results of those deliberations will be placed before us later. In passing, I shall only say that everybody in this country, with a mentality developed beyond the infantile stage, knows perfectly well that the Imperial Conference has been a “dud”.
– I stand by every word of that.
– To-day the- honorable senator said that it was worse than a “ dud “.
– Yes; it is dangerous.
– I ask honorable senators to take note of that interjection. The honorable gentleman went on to say -
The time occupied in its deliberations has been totally valueless to Australia. That is the only conclusion we can draw, if the information that has percolated to Australia through the syndicated press - in which, by the way. I have very little confidence - and the syndicated wireless, which is controlled by the syndicated press, can be taken as reliable. This information shows that the conference has been a complete and tragic dud.
– Did not the conference achieve anything of importance?
– Yes, but those things could have been achieved without this conference.
In one breath the Leader of the Opposition says that the conference achieved nothing of importance, but almost in his next breath, in answer to an interjection by Senator Dein, he said that the conference did deal with something of importance. That the Leader of the Opposition in this chamber holds views on the subject of overseas trips vastly different from those of the Leader of the Australian Labour party will be made clear by an extract from a speech delivered by the latter in the HoUSe of Representatives, as reported in Hansard, of the 6th December, 1929. Dealing broadly with the international associations of Australia and ministerial visits abroad, the speech of Mr. Curtin showed clearly that that honorable gentleman approved of representatives of Australia visiting other countries and attending conferences. His views are set out in the following report of his speech : -
There is related to the problem of defence, the great problem of international association. In 1924 I went, as a representative of this country, to one of the conventions of the League of Nations, and I concluded that the representation of Australia internationally is about the only contribution that we can effectively make towards a cementing of the antagonisms of the old world. AVe must participate in this movement because it is part of the process of civilization. We should not remain outside it.
Statements such as that do not deter the Leader of the Opposition in this chamber from trying to induce the electors to believe that Ministers have no right to4 take part in international gatherings abroad.
– I did not say anything of the kind.
– The speech of Mr. Curtin continued -
A knowledge of international difficulties and of what is being proposed internationally to deal with them is essential to the people of Australia and more essential to those who have a definite responsibility imposed upon them. Whether it be the League of Nations’, the Disarmament Conference, the Imperial Conference, or any other conference, I feel that we should have associated with our delegation three or four representative men in the sole capacity of research workers, whose duty on their return to Australia would be to engage in effective educational work in accordance with what has been done at the conference. It may be said that that would add to the coat of government:
Sir Archdale Parkhill Is it worth while?
Mr. CURTIN. Yes.
Yet in this booklet which has been issued under his name, Mr. Curtin, as Leader of the Australian Labour party, has a cheap sneer at the Government representatives who went abroad to attend the Imperial Conference. This is evidence, I submit, of a capacity on the part of the Labour party to prostitute a sincere conviction to political expediency, and I suggest that such an attitude will tell against it when it asks for the confidence of the Australian people at the next election.
I propose now to deal with the important matter of our relations with Downing Street. During the Gwydir byelection campaign the Leader of the Opposition frequently said - and I have no reason to believe that his attitude in the future will differ very greatly from that taken up by him in the past - that this Government is the robot and pawn of Downing Street.
– Have I ever said that?
– Not in those exact words, but statements to that effect have repeatedly been said by members of the Opposition in this chamber. They have contended that this Government does exactly what Downing Street requests. I shall offer a definite rebuttal of that allegation. Touching on the activities of alleged sinister imperialists Mr. Beasley said on the 1st November, 1935, Hansard, Vol. 147, page 1269 -
On the 11th September, speaking before the League of Nations, the British Foreign
Secretary, Sir Samuel Hoare, said that Britain stood for the maintenance of the Covenant in its entirety. I stress the word “ entirety “ to show again that economic sanctions must be followed by military sanctions, with war as the inevitable result.
I do not dispute that statement, but Mr. Beasley added - lt appears to me that this Government is simply an instrument in the hands of Mr. Anthony Eden and Sir Samuel Hoare and is willing to accept unreservedly what the British Foreign Office decided. .
That statement has been supported on the hustings by the Leader of the Opposition. I point out that Mr. Beasley has played a prominent part on behalf of the Labour party in electioneering campaigns throughout the Commonwealth. Up till recently he was the leader of the Lang group in the House of Representatives and, therefore, we must give some weight to his words. His statement that this Government is a pawn and robot, obeying the dictates of Downing Street, has been, supported time and time again by members of the Labour party. That being so, I should like the Leader of the Opposition to consider what exactly was the status of Australia at the Imperial Conference, because if it was represented at that gathering as an autonomous community then there must be something seriously wrong in Mr. Beasley’s statement. I refer the Leader of the Opposition to the resolution passed at the Imperial Conference of 1926 which clearly defined beyond all doubt the status of the dominions, and I point out that in the meantime there has been no change of that status. The resolution read -
They are autonomous communities within the British Empire, equal in status, in no -way subordinate one to another in any respect of their domestic or external affairs, though united by a common allegiance to the Crown, and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
Will the Leader of the Opposition agree that that is so?’
– What is wrong with it ?
– In 1931 Mr. Scullin, as the then Prime Minister of Australia, attended an Imperial Conference, and in 1936 the representatives of this Government attended another meeting of the Imperial ‘Conference, but. on the latter occasion the Labour party did not hesitate to try to make political capital out of this Government’s representation by saying that the status of Australia at the Imperial Conference had been changed.
– I did not say that.
– The honorable senator himself may not ‘have said that, but statements have repeatedly been made by members of the Labour party that this Government is under the control and domination of Downing Street. Consequently, it is only fitting in a debate of this nature to examine the history of the Imperial Conference in order that honorable senators may realize the real status of the dominions within the Empire. In that w.ay it will be shown that the dominions arc not under what the Leader of the Opposition would call Imperial domination, and, further, it will be realized that the conclusions arrived at by the conference have been simply the conclusions of a collective body representing autonomous communities within the Empire. I seriously doubt the attitude of the Labour party towards the British Empire and, in the past, I have not hesitated to say so. I shall offer substantiation for that charge by referring to statements contained in Mr. Curtin’s booklet, and also to statements made by members of the Opposition in the Senate. Itis particularly interesting to note that when Mr. Scullin returned from the Imperial Conference in 1931, he said that he was more convinced than ever of the importance of being represented at such gatherings and thus having opportunities of discussing economic conditions with the heads of other governments in the British Commonwealth. He also stated that experience had- shown that while the work of an Imperial Conference could, not be judged solely on the basis of the tangible results at the time, each Conference gave an added impetus to forces which had been set in motion perhaps many years previously and, in this way, definite and far-reaching changes in the political and economic organization of the British people were brought about.
The accuracy of that statement is not doubted, hut I venture to say that at the next election the Labour party will chal lenge the right of this Government to send representatives to the Imperial Conference. During the Gwydir by-election campaign I listened to the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate painting verbal pictures of this Government’s representatives going up the gangway, followed by their entourage, and spending abroad the money of the Austraiian taxpayers. In that way he endeavoured to win votes.
– ‘And we got them.
– The honorable senator should be ashamed to admit that he got votes on such a cry. The last Imperial Conference was the first at which this Government was represented since the autonomy of the various dominions has been recognized by statute. I have dealt at length with Australia’s position at the Imperial Conference in order to remove any possible doubt in respect of that matter, and in order to forestall any attack by the Labour party in that respect. Furthermore, it is my desire that the purport of this report be fully realized. While we hear the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate expressing agreement with the status of the dominions at the Imperial Conference what do we find in the booklet issued under the authority of Mr. Curtin as Leader of the Australian Labour party? That party characterizes the actions of this Government in its relationship and commitments to Britain and the other dominions as “ furtive, secret and sinister “. I ask the Leader of the Opposition whether he thinks that this Government has- been furtive and secret in its imperial associations.
– Does the honorable senator himself think so?
– No. I should like a direct reply from the Leader of the Opposition on that point because whilst he agrees with the principles which I have mentioned, this booklet, which has been issued under the authority of the party, characterizes this Government’s imperial relationships as “ furtive, secret and sinister “. That being so the time is ripe for us to examine the attitude of the Labour party to the Imperial connexion in order to find out whether it is furtive, or secret, and whether that party possesses that loyalty toward the Empire ‘which, so recently, it seems to have discovered. I say unhesitatingly that the attitude of the Labour party towards the Empire is selffish, self-centred and vacillating, and reeks of a spirit foreign to that which actuates the British Commonwealth of Nations. I shall voice that charge from every platform from which I speak. My contention is supported not only by the statements of Senator Collings, but also by- those of many members of his party in the House of Representatives. Speaking on this matter in the other chamber on the 24th June, 1937, Hansard, page 413 - and this statement is particularly interesting in view of Senator Collings’ expressions of loyalty and his show of righteous indignation when that loyalty was impugned - Mr. Ward said - lt cannot be denied by any observant student that foreign imperialistic powers - and among the number I include Great Britain - are preparing for war.
What did the Labour party do about that statement Did it reprimand Mri Ward, or investigate his statement in any way? Did it issue any statement repudiating the classification of Great Britain as a foreign imperialistic power? No; the Labour party simply accepted it. I submit that statement as evidence of its attitude to-day towards our imperial relationship, Mr. Ward continued-
The honorable member for Henty asked what the Labour party had to say about Empire. He_e is what I, as a Labour man, have to say about it: The British imperialists who have invested their money in different parts of the’ world have done so, not to benefit the native races, but to exploit them. If the British imperialists wish to protect their interests, they can do.it themselves.
That is the statement of an accredited member of the Labour party; Again, we find Mr. Curtin, in the booklet to which I have referred, referring to defence as follows : -
This does not mean in any way that the Labour party disregards its obligations as a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
If the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate agrees with that statement, I still want to know why he tolerates- Mr. Ward as a member of the Labour party.
– Do not put the onus on me.
– Speaking on the 8th November, 1935, as reported in
Hansard, Volume 148, page 1434, the honorable senator himself said -
The Labour party says definitely and unequivocally that when the mad dogs of Europe are barking “Empire” there is no occasion for Australia to enter the kennel.
Does that mean that the honorable senator, in no circumstances, would permit an Australian soldier to leave our shores, not even for the purpose of going to the succor of some other community cif the British Commonwealth of Nations? In order that there may be no doubt about where the Labour party stands on defence, I invite attention to a statement made by Mr. Beasley, the Leader of the New South Wales Labour group in this Parliament. He declared that Labour’s defence policy was complete isolation. How is it possible to reconcile Mr. Beasley’s statement with the view expressed yesterday in the House of Representatives by Mr. Curtin,, the Leader of the Labour party, that Labour was prepared to stand up to its ‘obligations as a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations?
– Does not the honorable senator think it is about time he made some reference to Mr. Lang?
– That may come, if the occasion warrants it. It is apparent from recent statements by Labour leaders on defence, that a good deal of confusion exists in the party, and it is refreshing to find much more definite pronouncements by Labour leaders in other portions of the British Commonwealth of Nations. One I have in mind is a statement made recently by Mr. Savage, the Leader of .the Labour Government in New Zealand. He declared in no uncertain /manner that -
If the British Commonwealth of Nations were to live they must work together, and New Zealand could not separate from the Commonwealth any more than the Commonwealth could separate from the rest of the world.
Does the Leader of the Opposition in this chamber challenge the implications conrained in that statement? Yet leaders of the Australian Labour party, speaking with their tongues in their cheeks, continue to make varying pronouncements on defence, and completely disregarding their obligations to the British Commonwealth of Nations by, in at least one instance, as I have shown, advocating a policy of isolation.
– The honorable senator knows that such a statement is wrong.
– Our policy is to spend money on defence in the best possible way.
– The Leader of the Opposition has not yet answered the query which I put to him during his speech earlier this afternoon, namely, whether it is the intention of the Labour party, if successful at the polls - a most unlikely event, I suggest - to reduce defence expenditure?
There has been some talk about the relative value of the three defence arms - the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force - and we are not quite sure whether or not the Labour party, if returned to power, would be willing to sell the Navy to Japan for scrap iron. I put to the Leader of the Opposition a definite question - Is the Labour party prepared to spend on defence an amount equal to that proposed by this Government? I have no doubt that the answer, if it were forthcoming, would be in the negative.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that Labour’s policy would be to sell the Navy to Japan?
– From all that I have heard it would be perilously near to that.
– That is absolute “ rot “. The honorable senator is spreading lies about Labour’s defence policy.
– The Leader of the Opposition this afternoon omitted to say anything about the eight-point declaration of the Imperial Conference, defining international relationships. To me it is extraordinary that the honorable senator, who has always advocated world peace, should have overlooked the importance of those point3, because the Imperial Conference emphasized their value in contributing to peace among the nations.
The Government has reached the conclusion that the first line of security against invasion is an efficient” naval force with an adequate air force supplementing and co-operating. If an enemy attempts aggression, and must be resisted, says the report, it is far preferable to fight him away from our shores, than when he is peeking to land on our coasts or has actually established himself on our territory. Has the Leader of the Opposition any objection to that statement of defence policy? Does he think it preferable to fight an enemy within the three-mile limit or when he is attempting to land on our shores, instead of resisting him away from our shores? Naval strength as the first line of security is one of the principles that emanated from the Imperial Conference. Apparently this sound fundamental principle is not approved by the Labour party. I say deliberately that the inescapable conclusion from a careful perusal of statements made by its leaders is that, if the Labour party had its way with regard to defence, the Navy would be doomed.
– Not at all. That is merely a bogy in the honorable senator’s mind.
– I find endorsement for it in the repeated statements By Mr. Curtin, the Leader of the Labour party in the House of Representatives. The honorable gentleman recently wrote a number of articles on defence for the Melbourne Herald, so there can be no doubt as to where he stands. On the 29th July he stated in one article -
No political party can justify inordinate naval expenditure to the detriment of other means of defence.
-What is wrong with that? It expresses his opinion.
– There may be nothing wrong with that part of the statement, but there is certainly something wrong with this -
The present naval expenditure should be reviewed to see what can be diverted to complementary methods of defence.
– Nor is there anything wrong with that. It seems to me to be a statesmanlike utterance.
– Mr. Curtin could have declared that the Labour party would spend as much on the Navy as the Government proposes to spend, but evidently that was a declaration which he wished to avoid making. He went on to sta te - lt is foolish to say that Australia can sustain a sea-going navy adequate to her needs. Even if Australia could do so, she has not the power to retain it when Britain needs it.
If the Leader of the Opposition can prove to me that the Australian Navy is under the definite control of Great Britain, when Australia needs it, I will concede that there is something to be said for his view, but I know he cannot do that. Mr. Curtin stated further -
Therefore Australia’s expenditure on defences which are within her ability to sustain should be on those forms over which she can exercise full control - defences which it can bc reasonably assumed will be in Australia when Australia needs them.
– Where does the honorable senator think that the Australian Navy should be when it is needed ? A thousand miles away?
– It should be where it was in 1914-1918 - where it was most needed. That was not in Australia.
– The Australian Navy, in time of war, should be where it can render the most effective service to the nation.
– In a speech in the House of Representatives on the 5th November, 1936, Mr. Curtin made this interesting statement -
An Australian navy would, by itself, be an absolutely futile force in Australian waters, because it would obviously be the inferior naval force if an attack were made upon us.
– So it would be, by itself.
– Has the Leader of the Opposition forgotten the exploits of the German raiders Emden and Wolfe during the war years ? And does he agree with Mr. Curtin that the Australian Navy would be an “ absolutely futile force ?”
– Without support and in the face of a superior naval force, yes.
– The honorable senator knows very well that when »he made that statement, Mr. Curtin had in mind a major naval war in the Pacific.
– Mr. Curtin in his newspaper article stated further -
The question of Austraiian defence boils down to how many aerial fighters, bombers and carriers are adequate for Australia’s needs and within her means to sustain. Until that is decided Australia has no effective preparedness.
If that were a really true statement of Australia’s defence problem, there might be no further need to debate the issue.
But it is not the last word. An illuminating editorial in the Sydney Morning Herald, of the18th August, puts a number of important questions to the Australian Labour party. I quote the following extracts: -
Where does labour stand ? Less than a year ago its leader declared for local defence, supplementing “ a really effective system of Imperial defence,” with the Australian Navy playing a useful part. Now Mr. Curtin is sceptical to the point of scornfulnees about the value of the Navy;he is all for a big air force.
As for co-operation, “the Labour party’s policy is against participation in foreign wars, and for the reservation of all Australia’s strength for the defence of the land in which we live.” This is a frank disavowal of the belief, generally accepted in Australia, that the British Navy, with the Royal Australian Navy as an auxiliary, is thesheet anchor of our safety. In time of war we are to shut ourselves up or beshut up, within our borders, and prepare to resist invaders, inviting them in fact, in the absence of a navy, to approach our very shores.
Mr. Curtin would have difficulty in finding professional support for his argument that we can get defence on the cheap by virtually scrapping the Navy in favour of “ a five-fold aerial fleet “. Mr. Curtin is not a military technician. While giving him full credit for sincerity of purpose, we are obliged to seek reasons for his excessive devotion to the air ann. Has the fact that the Navy could be used outside Australian waters, whereas the air Bquadrons would, of their own nature, be confined to internal defence, anything to do with it? Mr. Curtin’s own explanation of his policy suggests this inquiry.
Mr. Curtin has completely somersaulted in respect of aerial defence. As recently as November, 1936, he said -
In any case, any attempt to defend this country by aircraft alone would possibly necessitate, as I have said, the creation of an air force of such a size as to be beyond the capacity of this country to maintain.
It is therefore only reasonable to assume that Mr. Curtin was quite satisfied at that time that it was not within the bounds of our financial capacity to maintain this aerial force which he contemplated. Writing in the Melbourne Herald six months later, Mr. Curtin said -
The strength of Australian defence must lie in aviation. . . . The Labour party stands for a five-fold aerial fleet with refueling and repair aerodromes in all parts of Australia.It stands for an aerial fleet that can go across the continent and render public service in peace as well as in war.
In that statement no mention of the financial capacity of Australia to maintain such an air force is made.
– What is meant by a five-fold aerial fleet?
– I have not been able to discover that.
– One for each State.
– Yes, with Queensland left out. While the political wing of the Australian Labour party advocates one defence policy, the industrial wing of that organization has drawn up an entirely different plan. In the Melbourne Herald of the 23rd July, the following report appeared -
After a stormy debate, the All Australia Trade Union Congress to-day formulated the following principles to give effect to its policy against war: -
1 ) Organize the masses against war ;
Oppose the rearmament policies of British and the Lyons Government;
Support a policy of collective security through the League of Nations as may be necessary in the interests of peace; and
Secure democratic control of the army inside Australia. Included in this principle is Labor’s opposition to conscription and Labor camps. This reverses the policy formulated in 1913.
Thus the trade union movement advocated a policy which was a direct negation of that propounded by the political wing of the party. Is it any wonder that we repeatedly ask for a declaration of the precise attitude of the Labour party to defence? Nobody seems to know what it is. Members of the party themselves are unable to give us a definite connected statement.
– Mr. Ward knows.
– Yes; but Mr. Ward is not prepared, in any circumstances, to reveal his policy lestit might assist an imperialistic power.
The report of the Imperial Conference is a definite and constructive contribution towards world peace. The eight points contained therein are outstanding and if they are adhered to will govern the history of the world for many years. I believe that the principles of defence laid down by the Commonwealth Government are in the best interests of Australia, but if we were so foolish as to adopt the proposals of the Labour party, colourless as they are, nothing but disaster could overtake us.
– I happened to be in Europe when the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) and his fellow delegates were attending the Imperial Conference, and from all sections of the British community I heard most favorable comments upon the efforts of those gentlemen on behalf of the Empire in general and Australia in particular. The fact was widely realized that, at. that conference, Australia was splendidly represented, just as all of us know how fortunate we are to have in the heart of the Empire so capable a High Commissioner as Mr. S. M. Bruce. Both Mr. and Mrs. Lyons are very highly respected in Great Britain; at all functions their presence was eagerly sought, and, together with the Minister for Defence (Sir Archdale Parkhill) and the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) they were regarded as being excellent speakers and worthyrepresentatives of this great Commonwealth.
– Mr. Curtin would have been a very worthy representative of Australia.
– I am not denying that; but some honorable members of the Labour party who went abroad in Australia’s name in the past were not worthy representatives of this country.
– I could name some tories who were in the same category.
– Cheap criticism has been levelled at this Government in respect of the amount of money spent on the delegation. So far as I have been able to ascertain, this delegation was one of the most economical that ever left Australia to attend an Imperial Conference. The money was well spent. After the experience of seeing how matters are conducted abroad, my colleagues and I came to the conclusion that it was almost necessary to send batches of honorable senators and others abroad to be educated as to how things should be correctly done. When mixing abroad with the prominent men from all parts of the Empire, one must learn much of value to a public man who is trying to represent this great Commonwealth in the National Parliament.
At the Imperial Conference defence was the principal subject of discussion. War was not contemplated; deliberations related to the measures necessary for the prevention of war. The concensus of opinion amongst all thinking people in Europe was that a strong, united, and prepared British Empire was the only possible security for world peace and progress.
– The Labour party believes in first preparing in Australia.
– The Labour party’s defence policy as enunciated by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) this afternoon is most parochial ; it does not allow of any coordination of co-operation with any other member of the Empire for mutual defence. It even precludes the despatch of the Australian navy or air force to assist our sister dominion of New Zealand, a few hundred miles away, should it be attacked.
– That is not so.
– The Leader of the Opposition made that statement. The policy of’ the Labour party is to send nobody beyond the confines of Australia to protect any part of the Empire.
– The honorable senator has misunderstood our policy.
– The Labour party stands for complete isolation.
SenatorGUTHRIE.- That is so.
– The words “ complete isolation” were never used by the Leader of the Opposition.
– The policy of the Labour party is to provide for defence within the Commonwealth; it objects to the sending of arms or men from these shores. Surely such a policy is one of complete isolation. If the sister dominion of New Zealand is attacked the policy of the Labour party is to send neither ship nor aeroplane to its assistance. Although New Zealand may be threatened, we must, not raise a finger to aid them.
– The honorable senator is being childish.
-Senator Brown seems to be at variance with both his leader and the Australian Labour party.
-Senator Brown may be the next leader of the Labour party in the Senate. Mr. Beasley, who is the Leader of the New South Wales section of the Labour party, has openly stated that the policy of the party is one of complete isolation. Before engaging in hostilities overseas, the Labour party would first take steps to obtain the opinion of the Australian public on the matter by referendum. Presumably if New Zealand were being attacked we should send somebody in a rowing boat to say to the aggressor: “Please do not attack us, we are not ready. We must hold a referendum before we can help New Zealand. That referendum will take only a few weeks; so please, Mr. Enemy, do not fire a shot until we determine whether or not we shall defend Australia or New Zealand “. Senator Collings insinuated that Australia was overtaxed for defence purposes in proportion to other members of the British Commonwealth of Nations. The honorable gentleman showed quite correctly that we spend more per capita on defence than does Canada. But, Canada is not nearly so vulnerable to attack as is Australia ; it is protected by the Monroe doctrine and in the United States of America has an enormously powerful and friendly neighbour. On the other hand, Australia is a huge, empty, rich island continent with a coastline of 12,000 miles and a population numbering less than 7,000,000 persons. It is one of the prizes of the world. Senator Collings also showed that for defence purposes, Australia paid more per capita than the Union of South Africa. That is so; but two rights do not make a wrong. In my opinion, South Africa should make a much larger contribution towards the defence of its own shores than it is doing. However, it has strengthened the naval base at Simonstown, and is developing a powerful air force. What the Leader of the Opposition failed to compare was the contribution per capita for defence purposes of the little British Isles - the heart of the Empire - with our own payments. Probably Australians have more reason to defend their shores than have the people of any other part of the Empire. In proportion to their area, the British Isles have an enormous population, and it would be impossible for an invader to capture or occupy them for any length of time. Even if by a tragedy Great Britain temporarily lost control of the sea or air, no foreign nation could occupy it permanently. But the position of the Commonwealth is vastly different. First, it has a coastline of 12,000 miles; secondly, it has a dangerously sparse population; and thirdly, it is potentially very rich in productivity. For these reasons Australia must have adequate home defences, because it is worth defending. The little British Isles are spending on defence about ten times per capita as much as Australia is expending. “What is more, they are spending more money on the defence of Australia itself than we are spending. Great Britain would not need such an enormous navy but for the fact that it has to assist in the defence of the various parts of the Empire. The Leader of the Opposition should havestated the taxation per cap. for defence of Great Britain.
– The honorable senator’s figures in that respect are inaccurate.
– They are not. The Leader of the Opposition also said that when the Chancellor of the Exchequer in Great Britain introduced a bill providing for the imposition of an additional £25,000,000 for defence purposes, there was such a storm of objection that the measure was withdrawn. I happened to be in the House of Commons when the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is now Prime Minister withdrew the bill, and ho was applauded for being big enough to admit that a mistake had been made. Later, he introduced another measure, increasing the additional taxation to be imposed from £25,000,000 to £34,000,000, or £9,000,000 more than the original bill provided, and that was accepted by the House.
The Leader of the Opposition also referred to the necessity to increase employment in Australia, and with his contention in that respect, I entirely agree. It is the responsibility of any public man interested in his country to endeavour to ensure that the people are provided with adequate food, clothing, and shelter. Whenthis Government, which was attacked by the Leader of the Opposition, came into office, over 30 per cent. of the registered trade unionists in Australia were out of employment and poverty was rampant. What is the position to-day? In March, 1937, according to the latest figures supplied by the Commonwealth Statistician, only 9.9 per cent. of the registered trade unionists were unemployed, but I believe that more recent figures show that unemployment in Australia is actually below normal. When the Scullin Government was in office the situation was calamitous. The head office of the Savings Bank in New South Wales was compelled to close its doors owing to the rush of depositors wishing to withdraw their money. Money could only be borrowed at exorbitant rates of interest. If a government is to succeed in administering the affairs of the nation, it must first secure the confidence of the people. What is the position in connexion with our secondary industries? 1 am a primary producer, to a greater extent than I am a manufacturer, but I always advocate the active development of our secondary industries, because by encouraging all branches of secondary production, we can provide profitable employment for the people and an improved market for primary produce. In the financial year, 1931-32, the last year of the Scullin Government’s regime, the number of factories operating in Australia was 21,627, and the number of factory employees was 336,658. In 1935- 36, the number of factories had increased to 24,895, and the number of factory employees to 492,771. The increase of wages amounted to £27,000,000 per annum and the vailue of production by £52,000,000 per annum. During its last year in office the Scullin Government had a deficit of approximately £11,000,000, whilst the aggregate of Commonwealth and State deficits was £36,000,000. Owing to careful administration the Commonwealth budget has been balanced ever since the Lyons Government hasbeen in power, and during the last financial year some of the State governments also balanced their budgets. During my recent visit to Great Britain, I attended many luncheons and banquets where I met persons in all walks of life; some of them were socialists. Usually the first question put to me concerned the season and production in Australia; but before long I was asked if there was any chance of Lang coming back into power. I could only say that that did not appear likely. I was told by all inquirers that if Lang came back to power British capitalists would not invest any money in Australia. A young country such as Australia must borrow at a reasonable rate of interest in order to develop its resources. Since this Government has been in power £40,000,000 of fresh private capital has been invested in industry in Australia. We have also raised internal loans amounting to £98,000,000 at an interest rate of 4 pelcent, or under, but when Lang and his colleagues were wrecking this country, the Scullin Government could not borrow money even if it was prepared to pay 10 per cent. In addition to avoiding deficits the Lyons Government has increased social services and reduced the national debt by £8,600,000. The courtesy extended to me as a member of the Empire parliamentary delegation is typical of that shown to all Australians. It was particularly noticeable at every function which I attended that the British people have a very high regard for the Australians, largely because we are regarded as honest people who pay our debts. This Government, with the assistance of Mr. S. M. Bruce, has been able to convert £200,000,000 of overseas loans at a lower rate of interest and by that means Australia is saving £4,000,000 per annum in respect of interest. Moreover, £14,000,000 has been made available to the States for road construction and maintenance.
The Leader of the Opposition said that our trade dispute with Japan had been detrimental to the interests of the woolgrowers. I do not think it was.
– It was.
– I have been closely associated with the wool industry for many years and I cannot agree with the honorable senator. The price was good during the first half of last season’s sales, but Japan came on to the market when the market was likely to drop, and purchased 400,000 to 500,000- bales; in consequence prices increased by 10 to 15 per cent. The Leader of the Opposition, who said that we had antagonized the United States of America, a friendly nation, by imposing unnecessarily high duties on American exports, should realize that that country imposes a duty of equal to 16d. per lb. on Australian wool, which is equal to the average price obtained for the last clip. The Government’s trade diversion policy was adopted to encourage the expansion of Australian motor building and other industries, and also to give some preference to the Mother country which extends such enormous preferences to Australia. The duties we impose on the produce of the United States of America are infinitesimal when compared with the duties that country imposes on our exports to the United States of America. During my recent visit to Great Britain I was proud that I was an Australian citizen. Honorable senators should realize, that Great Britain is doing more for the peace, progress and prosperity of the world than any other nation has ever done. It is expending from £200,000,000 to £300,000,000 per annum to build up its defence forces to ensure peace. The fact that for fifteen years Great Britain disarmed to such an extent that its very weakness brought it to the verge of war is proof of the extent to which it is prepared to go in the interests of peace. But disarmament became a grave danger to peace. Although I conversed with guests at Buckingham Palace and with the inmates of Salvation Army homes in Whitechapel, I never heard complaints concerning the taxes imposed for defence purposes.
– Partly because they realize the risk of unpreparedness.
– Exactly. Expenditure on defence is the only means by which they can be assured of peace. The Labour party in Australia has never had a defence policy.
– It had a policy when it was a real Labour party.
– The Scullin Government scrapped the Naval College at
Jervis Bay, and the Royal Military College at Duntroon; in fact, it scrapped practically the whole navy and army, and left us with nothing. It adopted a coward’s policy - for only a coward would make no effort to defend himself - and did nothing to assist the Mother Country, which is carrying a heavy burden, not so much to defend its own islands, which cannot be occupied, as to protect the children of the Empire who are scattered throughout the world. I came back with an admiration for British statesmen, and thankful that I, as an Australian, was also a citizen of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
.- I did not intend to take part in the debate at this stage, but I now feel impelled to do so, in the hope that what I say may be of benefit to not only honorable senators, but also the people of the Commonwealth.
– The honorable senator is optimistic.
– I am sufficiently optimistic to believe that the ravings which we have heard to-day will not influence the people of this country. I listened attentively to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) - a speech which he regarded as being calm and dispassionate. I admired his calmness; indeed, I was amazed at his lack of enthusiasm! I regret, however, that much of what he said was inaudible to me because of his thumping of the table. Unfortunately, he did not even keep time with his thumpings, which drowned some of the passages that might have interested me. The honorable senator should join the Salvation Army and learn to beat the drum. Statements such as were made by the honorable senator who holds so important a position as the leader of a political party in this country are to he deprecated. The condition of world affairs to-day makes it imperative that public men should give a lead to the people of Australia by refraining from utterances of a provocative nature. They should use their influence to promote harmony, not dissension, among the Australian people, and also among the peoples of other countries. Only by having a united people in the Commonwealth can we hope to make our proper contribution to the well-being of the world. We have only to read of happenings in other countries to realize how essential it is that we should engage in vigorous propaganda with a view to creating among our people an atmosphere of friendliness to the peoples of other nations. Public men particularly should refrain from making provocative utterances.
– Hear, hear!
– I am glad to have the honorable senator’s endorsement of my remarks, for, on many occasions, he has made most provocative statements in this chamber. At times he appears to overlook the fact that we, in Australia, are few, that the territory which we control, and must defend, is large, and that should we, by any word or action, provoke other nations, we shall bring trouble, not only upon ourselves, but also upon the Mother Country, which, for a long time, has been engaged in earnest attempts to promote peace throughout the world.
– The Old Country has never complained about Australia’s conduct.
– No, because its people have been forbearing. Even provocative statements in relation to the Old Country itself have been overlooked. In this connexion, the Leader of the Opposition himself is not guiltless, for, on many occasions, in this chamber, he has said that we should. put Australia first and let Great Britain look after itself.
– No ; I have advocated “ Australia first ; Great Britain next.”
– If the honorable senator will look through some of his former speeches, as reported in Hansard, he will, I feel sure, find cause for regret.
– The honorable senator should pass on that hint to Senator Hardy.
– From what I have read of the proceedings of the Imperial Conference, I have formed the opinion that, far from being a dud it has been most helpful to every part of the Empire. The Conference gave to the representatives of Australia an opportunity to meet men occupying leading positions in the British Empire who are qualified to speak on subjects which are of primary importance to the world. Contact with such nien is stimulating and helpful. I am confident that the experience gained by the Prime Minister and other Australian Ministers who attended the Conference will be of great value to Australia and will contribute to the solidarity of the Empire. It is unfortunate that attempts should be made to detract from the value of such visits and conferences. I have heard members of other parliaments attempt to deprecate the work of the Imperial Conference, but when we reflect on the magnificent gesture of disarmament made by Britain in the interests of world peace - a mistaken gesture it proved to be - we cannot but be proud that our race has been led by such men. The name of Stanley Baldwin, a former Prime Minister of Great Britain, will be revered for . all time because . of what he did in the interests of peace. Fortunately, his successor, Mr. Neville Chamberlain, is a man to whom, also, we may confidently look’ for great achievements. It has been my privilege to meet both men, and I must admit that, after meeting them, I was content to wear a hat two sizes smaller than formerly. That is the experience of all Australians who go abroad with an open mind. Before leaving Australia, we may be inclined to think that Australians have little or nothing to learn, but when we rub shoulders and exchange views with such men, we are forced to admit that our contribution to Empire and world betterment is small indeed.
– Must we come back to Australia with an inferiority complex ?
– No; a man who, after leaving Great Britain, visits other European countries and gets in touch with their representatives, perhaps by attending conferences, at which 30 ot 40 nations, each with its own problems, are represented, comes away with a broader outlook, and a greater appreciation of the views of other peoples. Thus he refrains from acrimonious and provocative statements, such as those which refer to the people of other races as being inferior. I am a firm believer in conferences between nations as a means of developing international goodwill. If we act not too hastily, but gradually, so that- the results will be permanent, our children and our children’s children, if not we ourselves, may look forward to the future with increased hope.
The Leader of the Opposition was particularly adventurous to-day when he attempted to make political capital out of the. report of the proceedings of the Imperial Conference. He introduced into his speech many subjects not dealt with in the report of the conference, and made a number of statements which can be explained only by the fact that in October or November jousting will commence in .the electoral lists. In the course of his remarks the Leader of the Opposition . charged the Government with the sin of having transferred the burden of taxation from the wealthy to the poorer sections of the community. The honorable gentleman knows that that charge is without foundation; but he has made it so often that he could not refrain from repeating it when discussing the report of the Imperial Conference. If he will search the legislation placed upon the statute-book during the last five or six years, he will be able to read for himself what has been done by this Government to give relief to the poorer sections of the community. He will also find that this Government has consistently introduced customs schedules considerably reducing the ad valorem rates on those commodities which are consumed mainly by the masses of the people. Every working man and working woman in Australia benefited by those reductions. Furthermore, the honorable senator will find that this Government has, at every opportunity, reduced the sales tax on all those things which the average working man consumes or wears. Does he contend that these reductions benefited only the wealthy sections of the community? His statement can be construed as having that meaning. He certainly said that taxes which the poorer sections of the community were not called upon to pay had been reduced or removed altogether. I do net deny that; indeed, such action is to the credit of the Government which had the courage to take it. Why did this Government do that? It was in order to encourage the development of industry by releasing capital, which previously flowed into the Treasury in the form of taxes, for investment in industry, thereby providing increased employment. No man occupying so responsible a position as that held by the Leader of the Opposition should lose sight of these facts. Our people are educated to a sufficiently high standard to realize that statements of the nature made by the Leader of the Opposition, when analysed and investigated, are not true.
The honorable senator also alleged that this Government had not taken any interest in the problem of providing employment for our youth. This is one of the greatest problems confronting Australia to-day. The honorable senator, however, was not justified in making his statement when he knows that a sum of money is to be provided by the Commonwealth to supplement any allocations that might be made by the States with a view to formulating schemes by which this problem could be dealt with. He said that this Government had entirely ignored this problem. I have heard the honorable senator make certain statements in this chamber which would justify my suggesting that he is one of those who, as public men, have said things calculated to aggravate rather than ameliorate this problem. I recall that a few years ago, when I spoke on this subject, I expressed the view that this problem was the most serious confronting Australia, because the future of this country depended, not upon its older people, but upon its youth, and I pointed out the absolute futility and, indeed, the injustice, of the laws of the various States, which debar a large number of our youths, when they left school, from following any occupation which would enable them to become useful citizens. When I made that statement, the honorable senator asked me what I meant, and I replied that I was referring to the laws which restricted the employment of our youth. He then said in effect, “ Oh ! You then advocate that the boys should be allowed to scab on their fathers?” I remember that incident so clearly that I do not need to have recourse to the
Hansard report of it. Those laws, I still contend, brought a boat the lamentable fact that we have in Australia to-day thousands of bright, intelligent lads who, a few years ago, were anxious to do all they could to become useful citizens, but were prevented by those laws from doing so. They were prevented from accepting, as adults, the responsibility of manhood, and of making’ their contributions as citizens towards the welfare and upkeep of the Commonwealth. They were expected to become useful citizens, although the laws to which I have referred virtually prevented them, in the years subsequent to their leaving school, from following any useful occupation. Honorable senators, I feel sure, will admit that that is the case; it is no use talking platitudes. Senator Collings definitely said that the Government is doing nothing to-day to ameliorate the condition of these lads.
Silting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– This problem has to be dealt with, no matter what it may cost Australia. The damage that has been done already to Australian young manhood is incalculable, and the enormous burden which it has imposed upon the rest of the community is extremely difficult to estimate. This is the more regrettable because it could have been obviated if in recent years State parliaments and industrial leaders had not adopted a very foolish policy. Every one knows that in the natural course of events Australia, being a young country, would have made very rapid progress, and there should have been no difficulty in absorbing the rising generation in useful forms of employment. “Even if the country had not been destined to develop rapidly, ample employment would have been found for the requisite number of skilled workmen to carry on the various industries that have been established. But in a country where the opportunities for development were almost without limit, a country too, that * has made astonishingly rapid progress during the last 20 years, the restrictions imposed on the training of youths in the various industries, has had disastrous consequences. The scarcity of skilled workmen, which has been so acute in recent years, has been responsible for an undue increase of costs of buildings and other commodities, with the result that the cost of living is at least 25 per cent. higher than it would have been if this unfortunate policy of the exclusion of youths from many industries had not been adopted. From time to time we hear of the necessity for going abroad to secure skilled workmen for certain classes of work, whereas if we had been wise we would have had available an adequate uumber of Australians fully trained for all the industries that might have need of them. It is lamentable that, as a result of this foolish policy, we have allowed to grow up in Australia a number of young men for whom apparently there is no prospect of advancement in life.
SenatorMarwick. - They are Australia’s “lost legion.”
– That is true. It is safe to say that 98 per cent. of the young men who at the present time are untrained and without work were, in their earlier years, keen to follow an occupation for which their tuition in technical classes had shown their suitability but because of this policy of exclusion they have been shut out, and now are without work or prospects of work. I am not prepared, at the moment, to formulate a plan to remedy this state of affairs, but I feel confident that if the Federal and State Governments approach the problem in a business-likemanner it will be possible to evolve schemes to repair some of the damage that has been done and prevent future mistakes of this nature. It is a subject that might very well occupy the attention of Commonwealth and State legislatures. It is not one purely for the States, because the problem is national in character and its solution lies along the lines of co-operation between the central and State governments. I hope that the Commonwealth Government will take whatever steps may be necessary to ensure the success of schemes for the absorption of our unemployed youths in Australian industries.
One of Australia’s outstanding needs is more population. This subject was discussed at some length by the Imperial Conference, and action along the lines indicated would be of direct benefit to the Empire and the world generally. The sparseness ofAustralia’s population is the subject of frequent comment in countries overseas. The most important of our industries are those associated with the land, and they depend upon an adequate supply of suitable labour. In my own state there has been a considerable amount of closer settlement with the result that certain areas which, in other circumstances, would have been absolutely worthless, are thickly populated and producing a great amount of wealth. Unfortunately, for reasons which I shall not now discuss, the people engaged in those industries are trembling on the verge of disaster. They are in urgent need of assistance, financial and otherwise, to enable them to sell their surplus products in the world’s markets in competition with similar industries of other countries. If we can devise satisfactory means to keep these industries going, we shall do something to retain our present population and, indeed, to increase it.
Any honorable senator who cares to peruse the official statistics relating to the increase of population in Australia must wonder how long we can refrain from considering the serious decline of the birth-rate in Australia. Official figures show that ten or twelve years ago, when our population was 1.000,000 less than it is to-day, the natural increase was about 84,000 annually. To-day, with a population larger by 1,000,000 people, the natural increase is only 51,000. This matter has been the subject of discussions at health and other conferences from time to time. I have given careful study to all that has been said, and I have been surprised at the reluctance on the part of those taking part in such conferences to speak plainly about the most important factor responsible for the decline of the natural increase of population. Is it their intention not to tell the people of Australia the truth about this matter? If it is not, why do they hide the truth and thus lose the opportunity to create public opinion, which alone, I am afraid, will bring about a cessation of a practice that is a menace to Australia, in that it is directly responsible for a decline of the birth-rate, and also, to some extent, encourages the growth of worthless adults. When I get evidence from medical men of the appalling condition of our young womanhood in some parts of the Commonwealth I, as a public man, feel that at all costs we should endeavour to create a public opinion that will bring about an abolition of a practice that has produced such a calamitous state of affairs.
We have heard a good deal in this debate aboutthe defence of Australia. A few days ago the Leader of the Senate presented to this chamber a review of the proceedings of the Imperial Conference - which was attended by the Right Honorable the Prime Minister and other Commonwealth Ministers. In the course of that review Senator Pearce outlined the conclusions of the conference on the subject of Imperial defence. We also had a statement to-day from the Leader of the Opposition, setting forth in detail, up to a certain point, the defence policy of the Australian Labour party. I do not want to fall foul of our Labour friends intheir endeavours, if they are honest, to see that Australia is adequately defended ; but when I read in their socalled defence policy that in no circumstances must Australia attempt to defend the Empire of which we form a part, I am impelled to cross swords with them.
– That is not the defence policy of the Labour party.
– I heard the honorable gentleman say definitely that the Labour party did not favour sending any troops abroad.
– Without the consent of the Australian people.
– After a referendum. That would give an enemy time to land troops here.
– Exactly. From my knowledge of history, I stress that we should always be prepared to take action without delay if danger should threaten us. I cannot imagine any important country being served honestly and faithfully by a policy which would require protective measures to be delayed until all the procedureof a referendum on the question of whether or not the war should be fought had been completed. For that reason, the efforts which the Commonwealth Government is now making to ensure that our defence policy will be practically effective, even though it be expensive, are worthy of approbation and support.
– I do not believe that Australia ever sent men overseas against their will.
– No; every one of them went of his own free will; each man volunteered for service abroad. All power to them! The Australian troops put Australia on the map and through their magnificent heroism and sacrifice, we attained the status of a nation. Such a status carries with it many privileges; but it also entails heavy responsibilities which we cannot afford to ignore. That is my impression of Australia, a nation.
I desire now to refer briefly to the enemy within our gates. It is high time that speakers informed the public of the growth of communism in our midst. Our Commonwealth is more richly endowed by providence than any other country; we enjoy more blessings to the square foot than any other country possesses to the square yard. Unfortunately, our society is being honeycombed by Communist organizations whose object is to bring about the downfall of all that we hold dear. The Labour party is fully aware of the fact that if it is to win an election in Australia, it must have the Communist vote. Without such support it cannot gain the treasury bench, although, I believe that it will not succeed at the next federal elections, even with the aid of the Communists.
– I am sure of it.
– When in Brisbane recently, I attended a public meeting in the great City Hall for the purpose of listening to an address by Mr. Curtin. I noticed that at the entrance, the public was offered - andpractically every person accepted - a leaflet by men employed by the Communist organization. Those pamphlets urged people to vote for the Labour party - and to make Mr. Curtin the next Prime Minister. Why? The Communists hope that, by force of numbers, they will be able to bring pressure to bear on a Labour Government in order to effect an alteration of our present social order by the substitution of a communistic state.
– The Lyons’ Governmentwithdrew the prosecutions against the Communists.
– With that action of the Lyons’ Government, I am not dealing. I am fully alive to the lengths to which that organization is prepared to go in order to gain its objective in Australia. I have read extensively the Communist propaganda which is circulating in Melbourne.
– Surely the honorable senator does not blame the Labour party for that?
– No; but I blame the Labour party for accepting the help of the Communists.
– That is a deliberate lie. The Labour party has never accepted the help of the Communists.
– I shall substitute the words “ apparently accepting the help of the Communist organization by allowing the distribution of communistic literature at a public meeting addressed by Mr. Curtin.” If that is not an acceptance of help, I do not know what would be. In my possession, I have sufficient material to enable me to talk on communism for an hour. I know the dangers of this organization, and that it is on the alert. It has been raised to such a point of perfection now, that in every city and in every town where manufacturing is being carried on, communistic agents are actively engaged in endeavours to capture the imagination of a certain type of educated young women. The object is to encourage the women to enter factories to form communistic cells among the workers.
– And in the Sunday schools, too !
– Yes. I know of a young woman, who was formerly employed in the Education Department of a certain State, and whose imagination was captured by Australian Communists. Resigning her position in the department, she became a factory hand, with the avowed object of creating a Communist cell in that industry. Labour senators have read this literature, and are well aware of the instructions contained therein. They know that, if ever that organization gets its way, immense internal difficulties in industry, such as other unfortunate countries are now experiencing, will follow. The Government must, by all means in its power, endeavour to prevent this organization from carrying on its nefarious practices in this fair land which we hold so dear. We claim it to be the home of free men and women, and we desire, above all things, that it shall be retained as such.
In conclusion, I congratulate the Commonwealth delegation- which so ably represented us in the onerous duty of debating important international subjects at the Imperial Conference.
– I shall endeavour, to the utmost of my power, to deal calmly and logically with the number of subjects brought under our notice by the propaganda speech of Mr. Joseph Aloysius Lyons which was read to honorable senators by the Minister for External Affairs (Senator Pearce). The Imperial Conference of 1933 resolved-
It is the prime responsibility of each part of the Empire to provide for its own local defence.
Since then, that resolution has been reaffirmed. So far as my experience of the Labour movement enables me to speak, we are still in hearty agreement with that principle. This debate is not a matter of defence versus no defence, as some of ouropponents would like to make out. They have been very crude in their accusations against the Labour movement; but every thinking man and woman who reads Mr. Curtin’s speech onthe defence policy of the Labour party will readily perceive that the Labour movement and the Government are equally desirous of ensuring that Australia shall be thoroughly and efficiently defended. I do not understand the mentality of honorable senators who, after contending that we should lift the matter of defence beyond the level of ordinary political argument, deliberately lie in regard to the policy of the Opposition. It is plain that the real difference between the Labour party and the Government lies in the fact that we pin our faith to an extension of the air arm. On the other hand, the Government proposes to build two more cruisers; possibly they are essential, for our navy, although larger than the fleets of South Africa, Canada and New Zealand, is small. Yet Australia actually spends more money on its navy than the combined appropriations ofthe other dominions. The Government adopts the attitude that we must concentrate more on the development of the navy than on the extension of the air arm. For certain reasons outlined by Mr. Curtin, the Labour party has expressed its faith in the development of the air force. In my opinion, there is no reason why the Government supporters should raise such a hullabaloo because the Labour party has pinned its faith to that policy. The only reason that I can discover for the heated speeches made in this chamber, and in the House of Representatives, on Labour’s defence policy is that the Government and its supporters are anxious to make political capital out of this matter. I do not for one moment assert that they are “ rabble-rousers “ - that would be an insult to Australian democracy - but, at the same time, even in a democracy people can be bluffed at election time into accepting something which is not right; and evidently the Government, fully understanding this human weakness in our modern democracy, proposes to use this means to further its ambition to be returned to the treasury -bench. If Government supporters were fair, they would not descend to the silly deba ting-school tactics of Senator Hardy, Senator Pearce, and various interjectors.
– The honorable senator would prefer us to remain quiet?
– No ; but I desire honorable senators to exercise their Godgiven brains in an intelligent manner. I deplore the many foolish interjections that have been made, largely, Mr. Deputy President, because of your extreme leniency. I propose now to read clause e, paragraph 23, of the platform and objective of the Labour party.
– Can I have a copy?
– Yes; I should be pleased if honorable senators, instead of talking so stupidly as they have done to-day about Labour’s aims, would analyse and digest the contents of this booklet. I fail to understand why such intense heat should be generatedin this debate, unless it be due to that dynamic force, the desire of honorable senators to win political preferment. We should proceed with the discussion of the defence of Australia like good Australians, anxious only for the welfare of this country. A plank of the Labour party’s platform reads -
No raising of forces for service outside the Commonwealth or for participation infuture overseas wars except by the decision of the people.
That is of the essence of modern democracy. We. give to the people the right to say whether they shall or shall not take part in any overseas conflict. According to the speeches delivered by some honorable senators opposite and interjections made when the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) was so ably expounding the defence policy of the Labour party, it is the intention of the Government to disregard the will of the people and to send forces overseas under any circumstance. But the Labour party believes that the people who pay the taxes by which the administration of the country is financed should say whether they will or will not participate in an embroglio in Europe or elsewhere. The Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce), who is an ex-Minister for Defence, foolishly asked if, during an attack upon Australia, a Labour government would allow bombers to operate beyond the three mile limit. I am surprised that this socalled statesman should ask such a stupid question.
– But what is the answer?
– I shall give the answer. Senator Hardy, the Leader of the Country party in this chamber, for whom I have a great deal of respect, also asked whether the bombers would be equipped with elastic to prevent them, when chasing an invading plane, from going beyond the three-mile limit. It is difficult to understand why a responsible representative of the Australian people should ask such a stupid question.
– Will the honorable senator tell us now whether the bombers would be allowed to operate beyond the three-mile limit?
– If bombers -were engaged with, invaders they would probably have to go beyond that limit. The Australian people know that the Labour party is anxious to organize the defence forces in order to defend Australia, which is a country worth defending.
The capable Leader of the Labour party in the House of Representatives (Mr. Curtin), in explaining the defence policy of the party, said, “ I do not urge that we should scrap our navy or that we should not maintain it at its present strength.” Notwithstanding that definite statement Senator Hardy said that a Labour government would sell the vessels of the Australian Navy to Japan as scrap iron. The Labour party, which was responsible for the establishment of the Australian navy, would not think of doing anything so foolish.
– But the party has changed since then.
– The objectives of the Labour party have not changed since from what they were when its supporters in this chamber included Senator Pearce, Senator Plain and Senator Lynch. Although the Government speaks so freely of the necessity to defend Australia, what has it done to ensure its protection? During the six years it has been in power provision should have been made for the manufacture of all the arms and munitions Australia is likely to require, instead of purchasing, as it has been doing, hundreds of thousands of pounds worth from other countries. Although we have been told that the air force is an auxiliary of the navy, the Sydney Bulletin has said, and leading authorities contend, that many of the planes now used by the Defence Department were obsolete before they were purchased from private companies. A Sydney manufacturer stated recently that suitable gauges so essential in the manufacture of munitions and other war material are not available. If existing factories are to be used for the production of war material the Government should have standard gauges so that parts made in Brisbane will be interchangeable with parts made in Melbourne. Senator Brand as an experienced campaigner knows that in war one of the main essentials is a trans port system by which troops may be moved , rapidly from one part of the country to “another. The policy speech delivered by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) six years ago, and also that presented three years later, promised that the railway gauges would be standardized. ‘
It is true that about 56 miles of new railway of standard gauge has been constructed. What has been done here, however, compares very unfavorably with the achievements of European countries which are controlled by dictators. It is no wonder that democracy is becoming a laughing stock. I suppose that the Government means well ; but if it had been in earnest it would have ensured the construction of more than 56 miles of railway of standard gauge in six years. By parity of reasoning, how long will it take the Government to build a fleet capable of defending Australia ?
The Government accuses the ‘ Labour party of having no defence policy, but what has it done to ensure supplies of oil fuel which is so essential to the defence of Australia? How much oil is in storage in Australia ; how many plants have been erected to extract oil from shale, or coal, or vegetable matter? It is true that the Government proposes to devote a considerable sum to assist a private company to extract oil from shale, but many difficulties will have to be overcome before oil is produced at Newnes in any considerable quantity. Were the Government really in earnest in regard to the defence of Australia, it would years ago have established plants which by this time would have been producing large quantities of oil. At a Nazi conference recently, Herr Hitler stated that within three years Germany would be independent of oil from outside sources. Germany realizes the need for providing its own supplies of oil fuel, and has taken action to ensure that they will be available. That has been done under a dictatorship; but in Australia, the Lyons Government has not, done more than make promise after promise. Now, in order to divert attention from its inactivity in this direction, the Government is endeavouring to turn the people against the Labour party. It is the old old story of the man who has failed, abusing the other fellow.
– What has the Labour party done towards the standardization of railway gauges?
– I am dealing, not with the Labour party, but with the failure of the present Government to take steps which are essential to the defence of Australia.
– The Kyogle to Brisbane railway was constructed by a Nationalist government.
– That does not excuse the failure of the Government to develop transport to meet the requirements of an emergency.
– Senator Brand said last year that, there was no military objection to the present breaks of gauge.
– His view was that the troops could rest while the transfer of equipment took place. The logical deduction from that argument is that the more breaks of gauge we have the better will our railway transport system be because the troops will have more opportunities to rest.
– Senator Brand is a practical soldier.
– That is so. I admire him greatly ; but even a practical soldier may make mistakes, as was, unfortunately, proved on numerous occasions during the Great War.
In the opinion of the Labour party, armaments and munitions should he made by the nation, so that no incentive shall be given to private manufacturers to make profits. I know that in many countries the making of armaments has been left to the racketeers of death. Reports by various committees which have investigated this matter show that the great armament firms of the world are closely interlocked. Mr. Pethick Lawrence, M.P., of England, has shown that since Britain embarked on a policy of rearmament, there has been a rapid rise in the value of shares in armament companies. According to him -
John Brown’s 6s. ordinary shares stood at 19s. 3d. in November, 1935, and now stand at 40s., an increase of no less than 108 per cent. Cammell Laird’s 5s. ordinary shares stood at 7s. 6d. in November, 1935, and to-day stand at 16s., an increase of 113 per cent. Hadfleld’s 10s. ordinary shares stood at 18s. fid. in November, 1935, and to-day stand at 40s. 6d., an increaseof 119 per cent. Vickers’ 6s. 8d. ordinary shares, which stood at 19s. 9d. in November, 1935, stand at 37s. to-day, an increase of 87 per cent.
Labour believes that the manufacture of the munitions necessary for the safeguarding of the nation should not be entrusted to profit-making private enterprise. The Canberra Times of to-day contains the following paragraph: -
It is probable that efforts will be made to secure the investment of British capital in Australia for the manufacture of armaments.
Apart from the development of existing munitions factories at Lithgow and Maribyrnong, arrangements have been made for the rapid conversion of existing industrial concerns into factories for the manufacture of arms and munitions in all capital cities and main industrial centres of the Commonwealth.
As the defence plans progress, it is probable that either distributing centres or actual manufacturing concerns will be established at Brisbane and other capital cities.
I admit that a government is not always able to avoid using private . capital, and therefore I shall not criticize the Lyons Government in this connexion, beyond saying that it prefers private enterprise to national undertakings. That may be because some of its members are interested in groups which have capital to invest in various forms of business enterprise. I have here a newspaper cutting which reads -
During the British inquiry … it has been shown that Vickers not only control Armstrong-Whitworth Securities, William Beardsmore, and John Brown Limited, and have large holdings in a Japanese affiliate, two Spanish firms, and a Roumanian establishment, but that, through the Anglo-International Bank and the Ottoman Bank, are closely linked with the Schneider-Creusot and the French armaments group.
Labour is interested to know whether the private capital which will be invested in Australian munition factories will be linked with these firms. It considers that the Government would be acting wrongly if it encouraged this trust, or collection of armament makers, to establish munition factories in Australia.
There are other matters in the propaganda speech of the Prime Minister such as the nationality of married women, treaty procedure, and Empire trade. I am interested in Empire trade, and on several occasions I have spoken on economic nationalism or national selfsufficiency.
In regard to the Anglo-American treaty, which is now heing negotiated, the Prime Minister stated -
Discussions in regard to the agreement had. up to the date of his statement, been informal and exploratory only, hut a difficulty had already appeared in that the Government of the United States of America required from Great Britain concessions on a range of agricultural products, most of which were the subject cf commitments under the Ottawa agreements. The American proposals, therefore, naturally affected the different parts of the British Commonwealth.
The Australian delegation informed the United Kingdom Government that the Commonwealth Government viewed with great concern the fact that the Government of the United States of America was seeking concessions on goods in respect of which Australian producers received protection under the Ottawa agreement . . .
I shall deal with that statement, because it shows that in our efforts to bring Australia into closer association with the other nations we must take cognizance of certain disintegrating forces. In this chamber I have repeatedly drawn attention to the existence of those forces within the Empire itself, and I have stated that as the result of their influence we shall be confronted with serious trouble in the near future. It is wrong for public men to attempt to bulldose the people into thinking that simply because this Government has been in office for six years it has solved all our difficulties and problems. When the Ottawa agreement was drawn up it was stated that it was going to give an impetus to world trade, and that, through its agency, the countries within the Empire were going to set a glorious example to the rest of the world of the virtues of collaboration in bringing about freer trade. I am not surprised, therefore, that the Prime Minister should mention that the projected Anglo-American agreement would naturally affect certain agreements between Australia and Great Britain. That is inevitable, and it is one of the causes of dissension between nations, as it will become one of the causes of dissension between parts of the Empire, unless we take cognizance of the danger, and take steps to obviate it. This Government, however, has taken no steps in that direction. Of course, it speaks boldly before the public in an endeavour to persuade the people that it has done enough. I reiterate that the Labour party, just as it believes in putting our own house in order, in respect of defence, also believes in attending to this matter from an economic point of view, in order to avoid that dissension which will arise as the result of economic antagonism. Already we find the genesis of such antagonism between Australia and New Zealand. To-day a Labour government is in office in the sister dominion and, if a Labour government is returned to power in Australia, it will closely co-operate with the Government of New Zealand. I point out that the agreement between the United States of America and Great Britain, if carried into effect, will possibly be inimical to the interests of this country, and I go further and say that, as the result of the growth of selfsufficiency and economic nationalism, that is proceeding apace in this country, antagonism will aris’e between Australia and its sister dominions. In this connexion, I invite the attention of honorable senators to the following cable message which was published in a newspaper of recent date : -
Wellington, August 19
New Zealand manufacturers of woollen good/) are being menaced by Australian importations, stated Mr. W. Barber, chairman, at the annual meeting of the Wellington Woollen Manufacturing Company. Australia had an excess production, for which New Zealand was the only market. Since 1935 imports of Australian woollen goods had gathered strength, hosiery imports had increased 450 per cent., and woollen piece goods 1,000 per cent. The manufacturers had appealed to the Government for protection in the matter, which was expected to receive early attention.
Reverting to Mr. Lyons’ remarks, I accuse the Government of failure to deal effectively with our problem of defence, and I repeat that it has not taken one step during the six years that it has been in office to overcome the disabilities that are arising as the result of economic antagonism’s and the contradictions that are inherent in the modern capitalist system.
In conclusion, I emphasize that the Labour party knows the path that it is treading; it knows its objective, and it is organized to-day as it was never organized before. It can demonstrate to the people that, if returned to power, it has the ability, by using the democratic machinery of this country, to organize not only militarily, but also industrially, to the end that we shall obtain the best results for the people by the co-ordination of all the forces at our disposal.
– I add my congratulations to the Government, and express my admiration for the very interesting report which the Prime Minister has submitted concerning his mission overseas. I ask for leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I take this opportunity to make a few remarks regarding the matter of migration, in view of the statements made in this chamber earlier to-day, and in the press earlier in the week, which, in the opinion of myself and my informants, are not in accordance with facts. Any statement to the effect that migrants are being brought to Australia, to be sent to Queensland with the consent of the Queensland Government, is not true. Such a statement has been made in this chamber, with the result that it is generally understood throughout Australia that the alien migrants who are proceeding to the sugar-fields are going there at the request of the Queensland Government.
– To what statement is the honorable senator referring? I made a statement on alien migration to-da.y, but I used no words to that effect.
– I am referring to statements which have appeared in the press during the last few weeks. The Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) wrote to the Premier of Queensland on the 16th September, 1936, following the informal discussion at the Premiers Conference at Adelaide, putting forward the following proposals : -
The following suggestions appear to my Government as being worthy of consideration. In submitting these, the Commonwealth desires to emphasize that all applications for assisted passages would, of course, first be submitted by the individuals or organizations concerned to the States for approval: -
the grant of assisted passages might now be extended to relatives of persons already resident in Australia;
if it be the desire of any State that female household workers and/or youths for farm work be introduced, the Commonwealth will arrange for their introduction, upon receipt nf requisitions ;
persons of British stock resident in the United Kingdom who would be in possession of -
in the case of a married man, not less than £300 capital on arrival in Australia, or, alternatively, a pension or other income of not less than £100 per annum; and
ii ) in the case of a single man, not less than £50 capital on arrival ; might be given the same benefits in respect of assisted passages as are contemplated in regard to nominated migrants.
In January, 1937, the Prime Minister advised that his Government was prepared to set the scheme in motion to the extent desired by Queensland. He was advised that, so soon as the Queensland Government was in a position to receive, as migrants, relatives nominated by persons already resident in Australia, and youths for farm work, advice would be sent.
– All of those proposals were in respect of British migrants; they had nothing to do with aliens.
– I am not referring only to the statement made by the Leader of the Senate to-day.
– The letter which thehonorable senator has just read related entirely to British migrants.
– Following complaints from the Queensland Police Department and from the Queensland Department of Labour and Industry that large numbers of aliens were becoming a burden upon the Queensland unemployment relief funds, the Minister for Labour and Industry in Queensland, the Honorable M. P. Hynes, M.L.A., criticized the action of the Commonwealth in allowing large numbers of alien migrants to enter Queensland and become a charge on the government. Surely, the Leader of the Government does not desire to impress me with the idea that he is unaware of statements made in the press during recent weeks regarding the arrival of aliens and, most recently, of the published criticism of passengers on the Otranto concerning the physique and mentality of alien migrants travelling on that vessel.
– I dealt with the latter matter in the ‘ statement which I made to-day.
– It was asserted that no alien migrants were admitted to Queensland without the approval of the Queensland Government. The Minister for Labour and Industry showed that such was not the case and that a letter written by the Prime Minister on the 24th November, 1936; stated in reply to representations from Queensland -
Every application is considered on its merits, having regard to the relationship of the nominee to the guarantor, the latter’s occupation and financial standing, the intended occupation of the nominee and whether his employment is likely to be detrimental to an Australian worker. Due consideration is given to reports of unemployment in any particular district, and, in this connexion, it may be mentioned that quite a number of applications have been refused where the nominees proposed to proceed to the canefields in North Queensland. . . .
It is not practicable for the Commonwealth authorities to exercise a check to ensure that the undertakings are honoured in all cases, but suitable action is taken in any cases which come under notice where the nominees have become a charge upon State funds.
Mr. Hynes went on to say that these extracts proved that the Commonwealth authorities make the decision, and that the State has no say in the matter, other than to provide through its police the means for the Commonwealth authorities to make inquiries. Mr. Hynes continued -
The true position is, as set out in a letter which I, as Acting Premier, forwarded to the Prime Minister on 4th November, 1930, that these applications are generally submitted to the Commonwealth investigating officer resident in each State, who transmits them to the local police, with a request for a police report on same.
It has been noticed in this State that, during the past twelve months, the number of these reports has been increasing, although it is not known what is the ultimate decision in the various applications.
Representations have been repeatedly made to the Commonwealth authorities in this regard, but without satisfactory results. It is, therefore, futile for the Minister for .the Interior to claim that the onus of deciding whether these people shall be admitted to Queensland is upon the Queensland authorities. The position is that Queensland has no say in the matter, but when these people become destitute they become a charge upon the State, and the Commonwealth authorities simply fold their arms and dd nothing.
On the 1st July, 1937, the Premier of Queensland (Mr. Forgan Smith) said -
I have not yet had an opportunity of investigating all the statements made recently by Mr. Paterson, the Federal Minister for the Interior, on migration to North Queensland, but one glaring misstatement of fact was that the Commonwealth never admitted an alien unless the Queensland police reported favorably.
I am officially informed of a case in which application was made in my own State for the admission of an alien woman. The Queensland police reported unfavorably regarding the application, yet the woman was permitted to land at Fremantle.
The Minister for the Interior had asserted that the Commonwealth made inquiries through the Queensland police as to the character and standing of nominators, but the difficulty in Queensland was that aliens admitted into other States on Commonwealth landing permits made their way into Queensland, and thu* entered the State without any inquiry by Queensland police. The addition to Queensland’s alien population in this way was considerable.
If the instance I have mentioned is any criterion of the others, then I can only say that Mr. Paterson is furnishing unreliable information on a subject of public importance.
The Premier of Queensland said, on the 16th July, 1937, that a general tightening-up of the immigration laws was urgently needed, and he was satisfied that the case which he would submit to the Federal Government would justify immediate action. He emphasized that alien migration could not be controlled by the States, which were not consulted by the Commonwealth Government in regard to the admission of aliens. The States, he added, were never informed of the terms of an application for an admission of any particular alien or of the names of his or her guarantors.
The Brisbane Telegraph of the 5th August, 1937, gave the following as the overseas migration figures for the six months ended June, 1937 : -
Overseas migration for the six months ended June, 1937, resulted in a loss of 358 in Queensland’s population, according to figures made available by the Commonwealth Statistician yesterday. The arrivals in the State totalled 2,157, while the departures numbered 2,515. The Commonwealth’s loss of population caused by overseas migration was 3,443; the arrivals numbering 33,913, and the departures 37,356.
Arrivals of Southern Europeans were 1,246 greater than the departures, but this was more than offset by a substantial excess of departures over arrivals of people of British nationality and other Europeans.
What a nice state of affairs!
In the corresponding six months of last year, the excess of arrivals of Southern Europeans over departures totalled 905. The Statistician’s report has revealed that 926 Italians arrived in the first six months of 1937, and that 518 Italians formerly resident in Australia departed during the same period. There was therefore an excess of Italian arrivals over departures of 408.
The Courier-Mail, of the 19th July, 1937, stated in a leading article -
The Premier has raised this question with the Commonwealth Government, and has probably been induced to do so because of Queensland’s particular attraction of Italian migrants, who constitute the largest element of its foreign population. The 1933 census revealed that Queensland had then more residents of foreign European birth than any other State. Figures compiled from the census returns are as follows: - Queensland, 20,416; New South Wales, 26,286; Victoria, 19,677; Western Australia, 12,641 ; South Australia, 6,829; Tasmania, 675. The figures for Queensland and New South Wales show only a small difference, but when they are related to the total populations of the two States they disclose that Europeans of foreign birth in Queensland in 1933 amounted to nearly 2.8 per cent. of the population, while in New South Wales they amounted to only a little more than 1 per cent. The 1933 census returns also showed that Queensland then had more residents of Italian birth than any other State, namely, 8,355, compared with6,319 in New South Wales, 5,860 in Victoria and 4,588 in Western Australia; and that this State also had more people unable to read and write English, but able to read and write a foreign language, than any other State. The number for Queensland was 8,856, nearly 2,000 more than in New South Wales, and it included 4,116 Italians.
Generally, the position is that aliens can land at any port in the Commonwealth, and, without any check on the part of any one, may move from State to State; thus the population of a State may he increased by many thousands of aliens without assent to their admission by the State or even the Commonwealth authorities. The Premier of Queensland said on the 7th July, 1937, that it was not right that the Commonwealth should have full control of the admission of migrants. He suspected that there was a “ ring “ to provide the necessary landing money for alien migrants.
I felt that I should not neglect this opportunity to submit this convincing evidence of what is happening in connexion with migration. The position that has arisen is detrimental to my State because of the impression that ha3 been created that the State Government has done nothing to prevent the influx of alien migrants. That is positively untrue and I resent it. I also wish to make it clear that if there is a change of government in the Commonwealth following the forthcoming appeal to the electors, we shall show the people what can be done with the migration problem. It is a part of our policy that not a single individual shall come to this country from overseas if he will need a job when he gets here, until every decent Australian able and willing to work has been found a job.
[9.24].- The Leader of the Opnosition (Senator Collings) at the outset of his remarks referred to a statement made in the Senate. That was the one made by me this morning in reply to a question by Senator Guthrie. I invite the honorable gentleman to examine it and tell the Senate if he can find any fault with it, or if it is in any particular inaccurate.
– I did not say that the Minister’s statement was inaccurate.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.Later the honorable senator said that he was referring to something that had been said somewhere outside this Parliament.
– I was referring to a statement made by the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson).
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE No Government is responsible for statements made by private individuals outside the Parliament. I am quite sure that the Minister for the Interior did not say that the Government of Queensland was responsible for the introduction of aliens into Australia. The honorable senator will not be able to find substantiation anywhere for that allegation. If any such statement was published it was cer- tainly not made by a member of the Government. -The Leader of the Opposition quoted from a speech made by Mr. Hynes, who was acting-Premier of Queensland during the absence of Mr. Forgan Smith, alleging that a large number of aliens which had been admitted by the Commonwealth Government into Queensland had become a charge on the public funds. That statement certainly attracted the attention of the Commonwealth Government, because prior to the issue of landing permits, it had taken the steps to satisfy itself that responsible people in Queensland would guarantee that any aliens admitted would not become a charge on the Government. Queensland Government officials had been asked in every instance to make inquiries in the different districts to ascertain whether the nominators would be able to honour their undertaking. The Queensland police, as has been admitted in the correspondence, made these inquiries. If they reported that the nominators of applicants for admission were not in a position to fulfil their guarantee, permission to enter the Commonwealth was- refused. The only exception was in respect of a man who applied for permission to bring into this country his wife and children. In that case, we caused inquiries to be made as to whether he was a reputable citizen ; if ho was the application would be granted. Following upon the stateMont recently that large numbers of foreign migrants were becoming a charge on the public funds in Queensland, the Minister for the Interior asked the Queensland Government to furnish the particulars of such cases. Five names were received and on inquiries being made it was found that all five men had been in Australia for more than five years, three being naturalized British subjects. It must be . remembered also, that we have been passing through a depression, and we may assume that naturalized’ and alien citizens suffered in common with the rest of the community. It is well known, that during the depression large numbers of very deserving people were reduced to poverty, but only five aliens have come on the Queensland Government funds. Apparently these five are “ the large numbers “ who, it has been said, have sought government assistance. If the Queensland Government had known of large numbers why did it not supply the names ?
– I cannot say, but 1 shall ascertain the facts.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The list is in the Department of the Interior. I invite the Leader of the Opposition to examine it. He will find that the Queensland Government was unable to furnish the facts upon which such a loose allegation was made about the “ large numbers “ of aliens who had become a charge on government funds. Therefore, there is nothing upon which he can base an attack on the Government with regard to alien migrants.
– Nevertheless it is a fact that large numbers of alien migrants are being allowed into Australia.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 9.29 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 26 August 1937, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1937/19370826_senate_14_154/>.