14th Parliament · 2nd Session
The Deputy President (Senator Sampson) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Postmaster-General - (1) Who arranges the rate of the salaries paid to officials in allowance post offices; (2) what is the basis on which such salaries are calculated; (3) are all salaries in allowance post offices throughout the Commonwealth arranged on the same basis; (4) in view of the increased cost of living and the consequent recent addition to the basic wage, will the PostmasterGeneral give favorable consideration to the giving of similar increases to these officials?
– The remuneration of officials in allowance post offices is fixed by a committee of officers in the central administration of the Postmaster-General’s Department. A figure higher than the basic wage, whatever it may be, asfixed by the court, is takenas the datum line, and the officers assess the time that is required for each item of work that has to he done by allowance officers. Departmental records in connexion with this matter, extending over a period of years, are taken as a guide. Salaries of allowance post officers are arranged on the same basis throughout the Commonwealth.I shall have an inquiry made as to the effect on allowance post officers, of the recent addition to the basic wage, and advise the honorable senator whether any alterations are necessary.
– Due to rough weather encountered by the steamship Wollongbar, the Tasmanian mail service to the mainland has been temporarily dislocated. On behalf of Senator Sampson I ask the PostmasterGeneral what steps are being taken to forward mails which were left behind in Tasmania?
– I am advised that, owing to inclement weather, the Wollongbar was unable to make contact with Burnie on its last voyage. The mails, which should have been carried by the vessel, are being despatched to Launceston and will be brought by air to Melbourne. If there are any mails for overseas destinations they will be despatched by air to Fremantle.
Post Offices at Inglewood and South Perth.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
In the Estimates of Expenditure on Public Works for the year 1937-38, has provision been made for a commencement of the construction of new post offices urgently required at Inglewood and South Perth, important and rapidly growing suburbs of Perth?
– Provision has been included for building purposes at South Perth, but not for Inglewood, as it is considered that the circumstances do not yet justify the erection of a new building in that locality.
Eligibility of Voters
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following answer : -
The information is being obtained and will be furnished to the honorable senator later.
Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Will he inform the Senate of the state of the negotiations between the Federal. Government and the Hobart City Council in regard to the removal of the Sandy Bay Rifle Range in Hobart to a more suitable position?
– The Minister for Defence has supplied the following answer: -
Some five years ago, in deference to the wishes of the Hobart City Council and other interested parties, the Defence Department agreed to transfer the small arms range from Sandy Bay to Glenorchy. The terms and conditions of transfer, concerning which the honorable senator was advised some time ago, were accepted by the council during 1935. These were reduced to a formal deed of agreement between the two parties, the draft of which, with minor exceptions, the council recently accepted. These minor aspects of the agreement are now being discussed and the deed should be completed by the parties at an early date.
asked the Post master-General,upon notice -
– The honorable senator will be furnished with a reply to his inquiries as early as possible.
Bill read a third time.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 27th August (vide page 258) on motion by Senator Sir George Pearce -
That the. paper be printed.
– It was with some hope that I listened to the opening words of the Leader of the the Opposition (Senator Collings) in his speech on this important subject.
– The Minister was optimistic.
– Evidently I was. The honorable gentleman pleaded for calmness in debate, and stated that the subject was of such importance that it should be discussed in a nonparty spirit, but he failed to touch the vital underlying principle that emerges from a consideration of the deliberations of the conference.
– Is the underlying principle the expenditure of £11,000,000 on defence?
– Although the Imperial Conference was the most momentous effort that has been made in the interests of world peace since the Covenant of the League of Nations was signed, the Leader of the Opposition looks through party spectacles at the report of its proceedings. The underlying principle which emerges from the conference is that there should be cooperation between the Mother Country and the various dominions in an effort to secure the peace of the world - a peace which, I venture to say, would not have been disturbed so often had not the Motherland been insufficiently armed.
– Australia does not co-operate badly, as a rule.
– I listened attentively to the whole of the honorable gentleman’s speech, but not one sentence in it envisaged co-operation by this or any other dominion with the Mother Country.From beginning to end, he merely enunciated a policy which spells isolation rather than co-operation.
– Nonsense !
– I ask honorable senators who desire to take a wider view ofthis subject to bear with me while I examine in a detailed fashion what has been done.We are accused of doing something for ourselves, but, far from acting selfishly, we are acting in the interests of the whole of civilization. If anything untoward should happen to what we know as theBritish Commonwealth of Nations, God help the world. Mankind has endeavoured to secure the peace of the world in a variety of ways through the instrumentality of the League of Nations - an instrumentality that has not had from the Opposition that support which it, deserves, notwithstanding that the Opposition professes to believe in the principles upon which the League was founded. The League, however, has not been able to secure the peace at which it has aimed.
– When sanctions against oil were proposed, the Government threw in the towel.
– I regard the action now being taken as of pre-eminent importance to not only the British Commonwealth of Nations, but also civilization itself. What more momentous obligations could this commonwealth of nations have taken upon itself than to arm in the interests of peace? The dominant note in the policy of the British Commonwealth of Nations is that there shall be peace instead of that savagery which for some time has ravished Europe and is now to be seen in a country not far from our northern shores. What is the spectacle confronting humanity to-day? We in Australia view these things from a distance; but I emphasize that that very isolation which in the past has been our security is to-day our danger. We have only to think of what would happen if New Zealand, with its 1,250,000 inhabitants and its tremendous coastline, were conquered by a foreign power, and there appeared almost at our door a foreign power, probably hostile to us.
– The Minister is not honest enough to name the foreign power he has in mind.
– In view of the state of the world to-day, there is no necessity to name any power. The only hope that we have lies in a strong British Commonwealth of Nations working together for the good of humanity as in the past. There is no greater civilizing force in the world to-day, and no greater influence for peace, than the British Empire. The Imperial Conference endeavoured to secure co-operation between the component parts of the Empire in the interests of world peace. As I have said, no more momentous event has occurred since the Covenant of the League of Nations was signed. The Imperial Conference of 1937 will go down through history as an important world happening; yet it is being discussed in some quarters in a partisan spirit. Does it not appear that those who do so are overlooking the responsibility that they owe to civilization as well as to the people of this country? Are we so recreant to the trust reposed in every true citizen of the world that we pass by lightly a responsibility that we should accept in the interests of world peace? Either the Leader of the Opposition fails torealize what the resolutions of the conference meant or he is deliberately ignoring their implications. There are two reasons for the present disturbed state of the world. We see one nation endeavouring to impose its will as to economic conditions on another, and we see others striving for territorial expansion. It may be that, in some instances, expansion is necessary ; but, if we are to live up to the ideals of civilized people, such expansion cannot any longer be won at the point of the sword. . In various countries there is contention among the people themselves in regard to certain ideologies. We see contending factions striving for supremacy at the point of the sword. We who believe in democracy, with its spirit of freedom and fair play, tell the world that we intend to defend those things which we hold dear, and will do our utmost to establish a reign of peace throughout the world.
– The grey-headed ones among us will not do much; the Postmaster-General (Senator A. J. McLachlan) and I will not be active participators in the next war.
– Whether grey-headed or black-headed, we owe a duty to mankind. We are passing units who hold the peace of the world in trust for posterity. Surely it is our duty to leave the world better than we found it - with a spirit of peace prevailing among its peoples, even if it has to be maintained by force.
Having endeavoured to. impress upon the not very susceptible mind of the Leader of the Opposition the importance of the attitude which the Government has adopted in this matter, I come now to an examination of the defence policy of the Labour party as expounded by the honorable senator.
– The Minister for Defence in the House of Representatives said that it was identical with the policy of the Government.
– There is nothing to identify it with the policy of the Government. It is the most anaemic, pointless, and vague declaration I have ever heard, and I believe that the Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues, in their innermost hearts, sympathize with the policy of the Mother Country; but that they are afraid to declare their allegiance to what they know to be right. The Leader of the Opposition gave us, in abstract terms, some idea of the policy for which his party stands.
– I read the defence policy of the Labour party.
– I shall read it again in order that we may under- stand its vagueness, and see the sinister things behind it, because I venture to say it is not the policy of the true Britisher or the true Australian, but the policy of a non-co-operator. The salient points of the Labour party’s defence policy are -
Adequate home defence; amendment of Defence Act; constructive declaration of where we stand-
– Is the honorable senator quoting from the Blue Book?
– No, I am quoting from what the Leader of the Opposition said.
Aerial defence; air ports; fuel; oil research ; and erection of bomb-proof shelters.
The only constructive contribution in the policy for which the Labour party stands is the provision of bomb-proof shelters; otherwise there is nothing real, nothing substantive, in it; it is purely a political policy formulated to keep tied to their apron strings what honorable senators opposite are now pleased to call the left wing of their party. It has been couched in those terms, not because of a realization of their duty to the country, but on the ground of political expediency alone. The Leader of the Opposition will see that h is party is already suspect by the people of Australia, and will remain suspect until the Labour party has seen fit to readjust its policy. The defence of Australia should not be regarded as a party matter. I have declared myself in and out of season as an adherent of peace, but when I see the craven attitude that has been adopted by the Labour party in relation to this important subject, I can only come to the, conclusion that the real reason for the announcement of this anaemic policy is a fear of offending those who are the real enemies of the Empire and of peace. The Leader of the Opposition has contented himself with mouthing sentences to tickle the ears of the groundlings, but with regard to the wider and deeper considerations which at a time like this should animate the action of every public man, he said nothing. While honorable senators opposite know the dangers of the situation in the world to-day, and what is happening at Shanghai, they are content to say that they will do all that is necessary for the “ adequate” defence of Australia. What is there practical or sound in that? What is adequate defence? Only a navy that is worth while, and can defend both our coastline and our trade routes, can provide adequate defence. If our trade routes are not protected we shall be speedily brought to our knees. The isolation of this country was at one time its shield and buckler; to-day its isolation from the friendly countries of the world, which would help us, has become a terrible menace. What does the Leader of the Opposition suggest with regard to the defence of the trade routes of this country ? What would be said of us if we deserted our sister dominion across the Tasman Sea in times of need? I challenge the Leader of the Opposition to state the attitude of his party in regard to assisting New Zealand if that dominion were attacked.
– We shall tell the honorable senator that after the election.
– Apparently the Labour party would send a flight of aeroplanes across the Tasman Sea. Would the provision of bomb-proof shelters in Australia be of any advantage in the defence of the coastline of New Zealand?
– Would not there still be an Australian navy if Labour were in power?
– The navy is the one arm of defence upon which this country and New Zealand can rely - not a detached navy, but one working in co-operation with the powerful navies of Great Britain and the sister dominions in the interests of peace and our own national safety. If Auckland and Wellington were bombed, would the honorable senator send the Australian navy across the Tasman Sea? I see in the defence policy of the Labour party nothing that would help the sister dominion. Honorable senators opposite have framed their defence policy in a spirit of isolation. If such a policy were accepted, Australia would stand by and see its trade routes severed, its oil supplies cut off, and necessaries from overseas unable to reach its ports, and it would not strike a single blow until the enemy was within its gates. Then with the country under invasion Labour would attempt to defend it, but not by cooperation with the Mother Country and the other dominions; it proposes that 7,000,000 people, including less than 2,000,000 fighting men, should alone defend this vast continent against an invasion, which may be made by one nation, or perhaps two, acting in combination. The futility and danger of this policy should appeal to the. Leader of the Opposition, because it is against Empire co-operation. It is a policy of isolation, to placate a certain section of the followers of the Opposition. It is not a policy that will be accepted by the people as contributing to the national safety. There is no escape from the fact that alone we perish. We have seen the slogan on Labour banners, “United we stand, divided we fall,” but the Opposition will be repudiating that creed if it does not stand for the unity of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
– Trailing our coats all over the earth!
– If certain forces in the world to-day obtained power, they would make us trail our coats in front of them. There would then be an end to this easy life which we lead in this free country. We should have to buckle to and do their bidding.
The Leader of the Opposition would suggest that the Government, by its defence policy, is adopting a provocative attitude. It is doing nothing of the kind. That our policy is based on the principle of endeavouring to obtain world peace was shown throughout the speech delivered by the Prime Minister and read to us by the Leader of the Senate (Sir George Pearce). The second phase of our defence policy is that, in the event of attack, we should co-operate -with the Mother Country and the other dominions as a unit of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and not as if we were a detached unit. The policy of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) is futile, and would not be accepted by the people. It is dictated by motives of political expediency and there is nothing helpful or protective in it.
– Then why all these tears?
Senator A. J. McLACHLAN.Because I would desire that a man of the attainments of the Leader of the Opposition, and with a voice so ringing and convincing at times, should proceed along right lines in the interests of Australia, and of peace and civilization. We must arm or go under to certain forces which are at work in the world to-day. World peace cannot be maintained in any other way than by the effective arming of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
The whole policy enunciated by the Leader of the Opposition is nebulous. “ The adequate defence of Australia ! “ A child in the street could say that. But there is something practical, constructive, and real, and something that goes to the hearts of the people, in co-operating with our kith and kin across the seas. There is something in that which makes us feel that living is worth while. It would be better for some of the unfortunate wretches in Europe and in Shanghai to-day were they beachcombers on one of the islands of the Pacific, for there they would at least have peace. In Australia we boast of our civilization. It would be an excellent thing if one could obtain the true opinion of Labour rather than this placard which is being put out, not because it expresses the real sentiment of true Labour men, but because their political leaders desire to win the votes of the left wing - the Communists who are their allies.
– I thought that the honorable gentleman intended to eschew party politics in this discussion.
– I had intended to do that until I was goaded into making my last remarks. I appeal to the better nature of my friends opposite. The momentous subject of defence should be discussed on the highest possible plane. It should not be a political plaything, as the Leader of the Opposition has used it. Our very existence as a race may depend on the efficacy of the plan evolved in London. The old Mother Country has subscribed with blood and treasure to the principle of world peace, and it is to maintain that principle that it desires its dominions to participate in the Empire scheme of defence. That is the only con- clusion one can draw from the statement read by the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce).
Debate (on motion by Senator Allan MacDonald) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till Tuesday next at 3 p.m.
Radio Valves - Locomotives for EastWest Railway - North-West Bay, Hobart - Sandy Bay Rifle Range.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn -
– Lastweek I asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs the following question -
Has the Government received any guarantee from Amalgamated Wireless Limited and Philips Lamps Limited of Australia that they will supply radio valves to independent radio manufacturers at a price no higher than they could land equivalent types of imported valves into their stores duty paid, and also if the above two firms have guaranteed to have available a continuous and adequate supply of all necessary valves to fill independent radio manufacturers’ requirements?
To that question I received this reply:- .
Wireless valves of Australian manufacture are distributed to radio receiving set manufacturers at a lower price than similar types of overseas manufacture. The increased production brought about in Australia by the partial prohibition of imported valves has made it possible for prices of Australian-made valves to be reduced. Inconnexion with supplies of wireless valves, the Government is in close touch with local manufacturing developments.
The Government is aware that the Australian wireless valve manufacturers are making valves available to users and purchasers in accordance with usual trade practice. There is no foundation for the belief that these manufacturers contemplate any departure from these trade practices. There has been no difficulty in the past in obtaining supplies of the types of wireless valves which are manufactured in Australia.
Since asking that question I have received letters from two radio manufacturers in Melbourne which do not sub stantiate the particulars contained in the reply furnished to me. One of the letters states -
The facts are that we are forced to pay 22½ per cent. more for local valves of obsolete types than we would have to pay for them if we landed them from America, even after paying exchange, duty, primage, &c.
I have received another letter to the effect that the information given is inaccurate, and that unnecessarily high prices are being charged. If we are to give Australian manufacturers the sole right to make and distribute radio valves, we should have some guarantee that they will not exploit the manufacturers of wireless sets and the public because the price of valves has an important bearing on the cost of a complete wireless set. I understand that these firms have been in constant communication with the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White). I do not know whether that department is understaffed, but although one firm wrote on the 12th July, giving certain particulars required by the Customs Department, no reply has yet been received. Further communications were sent on the 11th and the 25th August, to which no reply has yet been received. Meanwhile, permission has not been granted to obtain valves of other types. Having had considerable experience of radio work, I have a good deal of sympathy with manufacturers, because I have been held up for weeks owing to my inability to obtain valves I required. There is a good deal of truth in the manufacturers’ complaints, and I shall hand the correspondence to the Minister in the hope that I shall receive a satisfactory reply. The Minister for Trade and Customs and his officers, are exercising far too much power. I trust that the matter will be given immediate attention, and that I shall be furnished with a reply at an early date.
– I direct the attention of the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) to the delay which has occurred in delivering the eight new powerful locomotives for use on the transcontinental railway. At the opening of the extension of the standardgauge from Port Augusta to Port Pirie, which, was attended by the Leader of the Senate, the Postmaster-General (Senator A. J. McLachlan), and the Assistant Minister (Senator Brennan), we were promised that these engines, the delivery of which was delayed owing to the shortage of steel, would be placed in commission as soon as possible. I trust that the right honorable gentleman will inquire whether there is any possibility of the construction of these, engines being expedited. Until they are in use, those using the line, particularly the people of Western Australia who do business by rail with the eastern States, cannot derive any advantage from the new section as the time taken on the journey from Perth to Adelaide cannot be reduced by 24 hours as was promised.
– Senator Marwick suggested that there is a complete prohibition against the importation of radio valves into Australia. There .is a partial prohibition against the importation of American valves, but British and Dutch valves can be imported without any restriction. In these circumstances, the local market is not protected by a complete prohibition, which would allow Australian companies to charge whatever prices they chose to fix.
.- I have received a letter from a progress association in southern Tasmania, directing attention to the wonderful advantage the Commonwealth would derive if North-West Bay, south of Hobart, were developed as a naval base. I understand that this bay, which is used by vessels of the Australian fleet when engaged in gun practice, has advantages rarely to be found on any part of the Australian coastline. I shall hand the correspondence to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, and I trust that, during the debate on the Estimates and budget-papers next week, he will make a statement on the subject.
.- In answer to a question to-day, concerning the Sandy Bay rifle range, the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) said -
The terms and conditions of transfer concerning which the honorable senator was advised some time ago wert accepted hy the council during 1935.
This is September, 1937, and I have been receiving similar replies regarding “terms and conditions” for the last two years. Surely it is possible for the Defence Department to come to a definite arrangement with the Hobart City Council, particularly as negotiations have been proceeding for fourteen years!
– Is not the Hobart City Council to blame?
– Possibly it may be. I am not placing the whole responsibility on the Defence Department; but surely the two parties could come to some understanding in the matter ! I understand that the present range does not comply with the requirements of the Defence Department; certainly if the change could be made it would be a great benefit to the people of Hobart.
[3.49]. - I agree with Senator Grant that the negotiations in regard to the .Sandy Bay Rifle Range have dragged on unduly. When I was Minister for Defence the Defence Department submitted certain terms and conditions to the Hobart City Council, which was to provide a certain amount of money to cover the cost of the transfer. Land for a new range had been acquired at Glenorchy; but I believe that the council has had difficulty in financing its share of the work incidental to the proposed transfer. I shall, however, bring the remarks of the honorable senator under the notice of the Minister for Defence.
I shall also bring before the Minister for Defence the request made by Senator Payne that the suitability of the North-West Bay for the purposes of a naval base be considered. Perhaps, in connexion with this matter, I may be permitted to relate a little story. Honorable senators will remember that a distinguished Admiral visited Australia very many years ago to report on Commonwealth naval defences, one phase of which was the establishment of naval bases. As might have been expected, many letters were sent to the department from all parts of Australia, urging the claims of various ports and harbours for conversion into naval bases, and the old Admiral, who was something of a humourist, said to me,”I knew that Australia was a vastcountry with great potentialities; but I venture to say that it has more potential naval bases than any other country.” It is, of course, true that we have a considerable number of potential naval bases.
– But only one naval base, unfortunately.
Senator Six GEORGE PEARCE.Yes, so fat we have only one naval base. It is possible that North-West Bay has something to recommend it, and I shall see that Senator Payne’s remarks are brought to the notice of the Minister for Defence.
My colleague, the Postmaster-General, who represents in the Senate the Minister for Trade and Customs, has authorized me to reply to Senator Marwick’s remarks about wireless valves, because I have some knowledge of the subject. The firms referred to wrote to me and I have to admit that they appeared to make out a pretty strong case. I sent the correspondence to the Minister for Trade and Customs and in due time I received from him what seemed to me to be a very convincing reply.
– Does not the right honorable gentleman think that the firms also were entitled to a reply?
– I am coming to that point. The Minister’s reply was sent to the firms in question and later I received another communication so lengthy that I think the firms must employ a large staff of typists. Idiscovered that their second letter was largely a repetition of the first and contained the complaint that the Minister for Trade and Customs had not replied to their communication. When I spoke to the Minister about this matter he said he had forwarded a reply, but the firms continued the correspondence in which they repeated the statements and charges ; he did not see why he should continue sending them the same reply, because he had nothing to add to what he had already said. That, no doubt, explains why later letters from the firms did not elicit a reply from my colleague. There may be something fresh in the representations made by Senator Marwick but I can assure him that there is no monopoly in respect of wireless valves. Senator Millen has answered that charge.
However, the representations of Senator Marwick will be conveyed to the appropriate quarter.
With regard to the representations made by Senator Allan MacDonald concerning locomotives for the transAustralian railway, it is a fact, as honorable senators are probably aware, that owing to the re-armament programme in Great Britain, the demand for steel is so great that it is difficult to secure the fulfilment of orders. However, I shall ascertain from the Minister for the Interior if anything can be done to expedite the completion of the order for locomotives, because I realize that existing arrangements interfere with the comfort of travellers on the trans- Australian railway.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 3.55 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 2 September 1937, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1937/19370902_senate_14_154/>.