14th Parliament · 2nd Session
The Deputy President (Senator Sampson) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) - by leave - agreed to -
That Standing Order No. 68 - half-past Ten p.m. rule - be suspended for the remainder of the current session.
The following papers were presented : -
Commonwealth Bank Act - Balance-sheets of Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Commonwealth Savings Bank at 30th June, 1937, and Statements of the Liabilities and Assets of the Note Issue Department at 30th June, 1937; together with Auditor-General’s Reports thereon.
High Commissioner for Australia in London -Report for1936.
Nauru - Ordinances of 1937 -
No. 4- Customs Tariff (No. 2).
No.6 - Appropriation1937.
No. 7 - Nauruan Royalty Trust Fund Appropriation 1937.
No.8 - Appropriation (Supplemental) 1936.
No.9 - Nauruan Royalty Trust Fund Appropriation (Supplemental) 1936.
Census and Statistics Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1937, No. 95.
Commonwealth Public Service Act- Appointment - Attorney-General’s Department - F. H. Boileau.
National Debt Sinking Fund Act - National Debt Commission - Fourteenth Annual Report for the year ended 30th June, 1937.
Northern Territory Representation Act and Commonwealth Electoral Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules . 1937, No. 94.
Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Statement of Receipts and Expenditure of the Federal Capital Territory for the year ended 30th June, 1937.
Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations amendedStatutory Rules 1937, No. 80.
War Service Homes Act - Report of the War Service Homes Commission, together with Statements and Balance-sheet, for the year ended 30th June, 1937.
. Is it a fact that an air mail and passenger service between America and New Zealand, supplied by an American fleet of aircraft, is proposing to commence operations in December of this year?
Is it a fact that the Australian portion of this air mail will have to be carried from New Zealand to Australia by steamship service?
If so, will the Minister consider expediting the trans-Tasman air mail service to commence at the same time as the America-New Zealand service?
The Minister for Defence has now supplied the following reply: -
Pan-American Airways, under agreement with the New Zealand Government, have been granted facilities for running an air service between the Pacific coast of America and NewZealand. The company undertook to commence the service by December, 1936, and, if unforeseen circumstances occurred, not later than December, 1937. No official advice of the date of commencement has been received, but the New Zealand representative of the company, Mr. Harold Gatty, is reported to have recently stated that, from the end of December, 1937, Pan-American Airways would commence a fortnightly trans-Pacific air service between San Francisco and Auckland, carrying freight, mails and a limited number of passengers. 2 and 3. An agreement has been reached between the Governments of the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand to establish a trans-Tasman air service under the joint control of the three governments. Under this agreement, the New Zealand Government is to take the initiative in the matter, and, following discussions between representatives of the three governments in London, definite progress has been made on the subject, but many matters still require further consideration, and certain aspects are now receiving the attention of the Government. Until the trans-Tasman air service is commenced, Australian mails will need to be conveyed to and from New Zealand by the existing steamship service. It might be added that air mail from America to Australia is at present conveyed by Pan-American Airways across the Northern Pacific to Hong Kong, by Imperial Airways from Hong Kong to Singapore, and from there by Qantas Empire Airways to Brisbane. The proposed service across the Southern Pacific can, therefore, as far as Australian mails are concerned, be regarded as an alternative air connexion with America. It is not possible at this stage to say whether the trans-Tasmanair service will be in operation by December. The value of an air link between Australia and New Zealand is appreciated and every endeavour is being made to expedite its inauguration.
Federal and New South Wales Labour Parties
– Having in mind the spread of dictatorships in the world in the form of Nazi-ism, Fascism, or Communism, I ask the Leader of the Senate whether the attention of the Government has been directed to the following statement, which appears in the forefront of the blue book issued on behalf of the Australian Labour party by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) in the House of Representatives -
No State Control ob Interference.
That no State executive may direct members of the Federal Parliamentary Labour party in regard to matters affecting the federal platform and/or proposed legislation which the Federal Parliamentary Labour party has to deal with in the Legislature.
If so, I ask-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Sampson). - The honorable senator may proceed with his. question.
– In view of the statement which I have rea.d from Labour’s blue book, will the Government consult with the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives to see what safeguards can be devised in the event of the Labour party reaching the treasury bench, to preserve the democracy of this nation against the possibility of the executive of the New South Wales Lang Labour party establishing a dictatorship through the New South Wales parliamentary group, without whose consent the Federal Labour party will be unable to govern in the Commonwealth ?
– I should say that the contingency is very remote. I feel sure that the electors will prevent anything of the kind suggested from happening.
Report No. 2 presented by Senator Badman and - by leave - adopted.
– I ask the Leader of the Senate whether Mr. Lyons was appointed Leader of the United Australia party by the voluntary vote of the United Australia party caucus, or was he elected by an outside oligarchy? I. ask the question because it was one addressed to me at a meeting which I attended recently, and I was unable to answer it.
– I have a personal knowledge of the facts. Mr. Lyons was elected by the free vote of the members of the then Opposition.
– I ask the Leader of the Senate whether the Government has received a letter from the Premier of Western Australia intimating that the State government views very unfavorably, and is opposed to, the bill for the adoption by the Commonwealth
Parliament of the Statute of Westminster? If so, will he give full consideration to the representations contained in the letter before proceeding further with the measure?
– The Government has received the letter referred to by the honorable senator, and, of course, will give full consideration to the representations contained in it.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral whether his attention has been directed to the following statement which appeared in the Perth Sunday Times on the 22nd August : - clearlyrebukeslyons.
Mr. Cleary is chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. This unusual gentleman won notice by successfully managing a brewery. He had a brief and unbrilliant spell as Commissioner of Railways in New South Wales, and has now taken it on himself to putthe Prime Minister in his place. The daily press calls it “ Mr. Cleary’s Curt Reply “. This indicates in tone and purpose that he talks to the Prime Minister in that same corrective way in which he might have addressed a truck driver when he was a brewery manager. Of course, in the latter capacity, Mr. Cleary had the authority, for the truck driver was his employee. Is the Prime Minister, the head of Australia, on behalf of whose people he employs Mr. Cleary, going to permit this reversal of relationship? Mr. Cleary holding the same relative position to the Prime Minister that the truck driver held to himself tells his employer justwhat he will allow him to do.
The man equivalent to the truck driver tells the boss where he gets off - a shocking example of job control. Mr. Cleary isa most important man. He is also very amiable. He is versatile. He can even correct foreign impressarios on the accents of their own languages. He modestly admits all these things himself. It is questionable, however, if the dignity of the Government is enhanced by permitting itself to be bossed by an employee, despite his extraordinary range of gifts. If Mr. Cleary’s curt reply standsunrebuked by the Prime Minister, then we witness a spectacle resembling that of a ship being directed, not by the commander on the bridge, but by one of the men in the galley. In what other country would such an attitude be tolerated?
– I am not in the habit of making a collection of extracts from press reports. I have not seen the report referred to, but I have now heard from the honorable senator the statement which he says is contained in the newspaper mentioned. It is entirely contrary to fact. The Prime Minister was assured by Mr. Cleary that the statements attributed to him were not correctly reported, and the Prime Minister-
– Accepted his apology.
– There was no apology, because there was no need for one. There was, however, need for an explanation, and the Prime Minister, big man that he is, accepted that offered by Mr. Cleary.
– When an application for naturalization has been refused on numerous occasions, notwithstanding that the applicant’s friends know nothing against him, does the Leader of the Senate think that a member of this Parliament, who has interested himself in the case, should be refused the reasons? Is it possible for an honorable senator to obtain from the Minister for the Interior the reasons for such refusals in the case of particular persons on whose behalf he may make inquiry, or is it a general rule to refuse to give the reasons ?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE. The Minister for the Interior deals with all naturalization matters, and I suggest that if the honorable senator is interested in a particular case, he should call on the Minister in regard to it. I do not see how the Minister could very well reply to a hypothetical question, but if the honorable senator were to accept my suggestion I am sure that the Minister would explain why the reasons were not made known.
– I referred not to a hypothetical case, but to an actual one. I saw the Minister for the Interior about it, and he practically refused to give the reasons why the application for naturalization was refused. Have not I, as a member of this Parliament, the right to know the reasons?
– I ask the honorable senator to give notice of his question.
– I give notice of question for to-morrow.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The honorable the Minister for Commerce has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Leader of the Senate, upon notice -
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: -
asked the Minister in charge of Scientific and Industrial Research, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The Minister for Defence has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, *upon notice - **
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The Minister for Defence has supplied the following answer: - 1 and 2. The extract from the Hobart Mercury of Saturday last, has been noted. Although the matter of the location of the Sandy
Bay Rae Range by the Commonwealth was, at one stage, held up owing to the difficulty of the Hobart City Council in financing the project, this is not now the position. The only major difficulty now existing is with regard to the indemnification of the Commonwealth in respect to any possible claims in the event of accident on the Glenorchy water reserve area. The position is that, in addition to the range proper, the Commonwealth requires firing rights over portion of the water reserve area and, as the Commonwealth has no real control over that area, the indemnification clause was included in the draft agreement now being discussed between the Department of Defence and the Hobart City Council. This clause was considered necessary as the Defence Department would not be in a position to protect or control any trespassers on the water reserve area, nor could it control the use to which the land might be put at some later date. It was not considered reasonable, therefore, that the Common-wealth should accept responsibility for possible claims due to any accident which may be sustained on that area. The matter is being explored, however, with a view to ascertaining if the Commonwealth can obtain more definite rights over the water reserve area so- that consideration may be given to the elimination of the indemnification clause in the agreement.
Debate resumed from the 7th. September (vide page 529), on motion by Senator Sir George Pearce -
That the paper be printed.
– When this debate was adjourned last week, I was dealing” with the subject of defence. In my opening remarks, I said that I proposed to deal with the subject in general terms, because the proceedings of the Imperial Conference were themselves recorded in general terms. The precise point that I was discussing when the debate was adjourned was a matter, mentioned by Senator Collings, relating to the contributions of the different parts of the Empire. I emphasize that that is not a very material question. In the nature of things, one part of the Empire may find that it is essential that it should pay much .more for its defence than another part, which is in a more favorable position, feels called upon to pay. I took the statistics which the Leader of the Opposition gave in this chamber on the 26th August and assumed that they were correct. I have no reason to think that they_ are not. The latest statistics on Empire defence show the per capita expenditure as follows: New Zealand, 12s. 7d. ; Canada, 5s. 7d.r South Africa, 3s. 5d. ; and Australia, £1 ls. lOd. It will be seen that, on that basis, Australia’s contribution is the largest ; it is nearly twice that of New Zealand, four times that of Canada, and six times that of South Africa. I went on to say that the per capita contribution in Great Britain is very much greater than any of the others - in fact, it is greater than all of them together. It is difficult to get reliable figures because the expenditure this year lias gone up so tremendously, but I quoted figures to show that the cost per head of the population of Great Britain was probably between £5 10s. and £6. Since I spoke on this subject, I have made further inquiries, and I understand that Great Britain’s contribution is now nearly £7 a head. That is an enormous contribution for the centre part of the Empire to make. The Government of Great Britain may consider that it is acting in the interests of the safety of not only the Mother Country but also the Empire as a whole; but I point out that if danger to . Great Britain exists in European waters, we in Australia are a long way from the rest of the Empire in the event of an attack being made on our shores. We ought to face the position, with a view to finding out what contribution is necessary for our own safety, rather than that we should say that we are contributing more than any other dominion is doing. The amount has really very little to do with the subject, except that, it shows that there has been a general contribution. It may be urged that Canada’s contribution is only 5s. 7d. a head, but, as Senator Guthrie pointed out a few days ago, the position of Canada is entirely different from that of Australia. Canada has the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other. To the south, it joins the United States of America. It is useless to make comparisons in this matter. Taking a narrow view we might say that Canada appears to be just about as safe as is any other country in the world. It is impossible for honorable senators to keep pace with all the literature that comes to them, but I suggest that those who are interested in the subject of Empire defence should read two short articles in the June number of Bound Table - one from Canada on Canadian defence, and the other from South Africa on South African defence. In about 20 pages, that magazine gives the kernel of the defence problem as it affects those two dominions. Under the heading “ Imperial Conference “ the article states -
It is perfectly clear that the conference recognizes that it is the sole responsibility of the several parliaments of the British Commonwealth to decide the nature and scope of their own defence policy.
That fact makes it the more incumbent upon us- to go ahead with our own defence programme and to see that our defence expenditure is as great and as well placed as it ought to be. We would be wise to be more realistic in these matters, and not to be so governed by vague hopes and desires in which the whole world shares. In other words we should try to think clearly. Dr. Johnson has an admirable remark, which - I speak from memory - runs something like this : “ Clear your mind of cant; you may talk foolishly - it is a custom of society - but do not think foolishly.” It is essential that people should think clearly about this question and give up their idealistic eulogy of the League of Nations, they should abandon the complacent attitude which, may be expressed - “ Leave it to the League of Nations and all will be well.” This is the time when we must look towards the safeguarding of our own country; we should not leave it to the League of Nations. I found that on the other side of the world the League of Nations is scarcely mentioned except in parliament and on the public platform. It may not be a palatable thing to say, but I agree largely with Mr. Curtin who said that the chances of making anything like a Pacific pact would be much greater if we did not adopt trade diversion policies which operate chiefly against the United States of America, the Dominion of Canada, and Japan, three of our greatest neighbours in the Pacific.
– Did not the League of Nations take a remarkable plebiscite not long ago? When the League called for volunteers to take the plebiscite, within forty eight hours several thousand people offered their services.
– Perhaps the honorable senator would give us some details of that .later on. I repeat that it was my experience that the League of Nations is not much discussed abroad except in public. People in England, through centuries of experience are realists; they recognize that they may have to defend themselves with their own arms and they have good cause to know that. One of the reasons why I have great admiration for the new Prime Minister of Great Britain is that, although an idealist, he is essentially a realist in his attitude to facts ; that is the attitude which I am urging that we should take. When a proposal such as the Newnes proposal is placed before us - this I am afraid will not appeal to Senator Arkins - I greatly wonder whether the money which we can afford to spend will be spent in the best possible way. The decision to assist in the development of Newnes shale is ostensibly for the purpose of defence, but I understand that no production can commence for eighteen months or two years, and that even then the amount of oil that will be produced will be totally inadequate to meet our requirements in time of war. Furthermore, the expenditure on this project will be very great. These three factors shake my confidence, not to put it more strongly, that the money we can afford to spend is being spent in the best possible way.
Supporting what Senator Brand said - be speaks with more authority than I can with regard to the important subject of defence - I, personally, ‘ wish that we relied more on the views of our very distinguished Australian generals. Senator Brand mentioned Sir Harry Chauvel and Sir Brudenell White, who are members of the Defence Council, but, so far as I know, that body very seldom meets. We have other great generals in Australia, and if the defence of this country is to be left entirely to us, it is desirable that we should have all of the chief experts on defence in this country to guide us. I am not criticizing the permanent heads of the department when I say that the responsibility for the national defence is too big a load to be carried by any three men. We should be only too glad to have the advice of those great soldiers of this country who proved their ability during the last Great War. In tddition to the generals mentioned by Senator Brand, I would suggest that we have, at least, three other famous Australian generals - Sir Thomas Blarney, Sir John Gellibrand, and Sir William Glasgow. No one would suggest that they are not experienced in the tactics and strategy of modern warfare. Are their services being utilized in any way? If not, it is desirable that they should be.
What impressed me as the most definite of the moves of the Imperial Conference - we cannot gauge some of its other moves - was the final paragraph on trade. The summary of proceedings recited how Sir Walter Runciman opened the discussion with a comprehensive statement on trade questions, and outlined the steps which had been taken by the Government of the United Kingdom since 1932 in the pursuit of its policy to take whatever action was open to it to assist in the removal of the barriers to international trade. I do not wish to labour the subject, and I shall content myself with reading the following conclusions of the conference : -
Hie outstanding feature of the discussion was the emphatic desire expressed by the representatives of every part of the British Commonwealth represented at the conference that all practicable steps should be taken to secure the stimulation of international trade. It was recognized that in the last resort the prosperity of the countries of the Commonwealth depends on that of the world as a whole, and that a healthy growth of international trade, accompanied by an improvement in the general standard of living, is an essential step to political appeasement.
That is the final and emphatic conclusion of all the governments represented at the conference, and it is for us to see that this, conclusion is put into effect here just as much as in any part of the British Empire.
– We have attempted to do something.
– There 33 still ample room for much more to be done in that respect.
– It is unfortunate that the honorable senator is not prepared to make some practical suggestions. We hear these expressions of opinion almost every day, and we constantly read them in the press, but no country seems prepared to take the initiative.
– I do not think that that is so. The British Government has been prepared for years to keep down trade barriers. Indeed, it only put up trade barriers in self protection. I am speaking only in general terms ; this is not the occasion for a tariff debate. In any case, I have discussed the tariff here so often that the honorable senator knows as. well as I do exactly where I stand on this matter, and to accept his invitation would be to open up a debate in detail, which I have no desire to do to-day.
I mentioned that I am surprised to see that no mention has been made in the Imperial Conference report of the important subject of migration. That subject has to be faced and ought to be faced frankly. It is not one in which there is any necessity for secrecy, as there is in connexion with the important subjects of foreign affairs and defence. Migration can be, and should be, freely discussed, and the sooner an influx of migrants into this country starts the better. I suggest that we should endeavour to attract British people first. In this connexion, I say now that I adhere to the view which I put forward years ago in the House of Representatives, that we should take what people we can get from the western side of Europe - using the term as a convenient one - as people of the type most similar to ourselves. This enormous country is populated by far too few people. We are always being told that we need more people to consume both our primary and secondary products; indeed most of our secondary goods can never be sold to anybody but our own people, so an increase of population would benefit those industries. And, of course, the more people we have the better will be the defence of this country. I regret that no mention has been made of migration in the Imperial Conference report. There has, however, been a good deal of reference to nationality, a matter which is of importance, but rather technical a.nd minor in comparison with the bigger issues I have mentioned.
Two impressions perhaps remain predominant in my mind after an experience of more than six months on the other side of the world. The first is the great contrast between the situation that exists in the Homeland, and that in most of the countries on the Continent. To travel from Europe to Great Britain is almost to go into a totally different zone. We are fortunate, I suggest, to belong to an empire which, at the moment, at any rate, is in such a relatively happy position and we should be wise in our own interests, if for no more exalted reason, to adhere to it and do our best to make it strong. I emphasize again the great desirability of contact between the different parts of the Empire, such as occurred in London this year, probably more thoroughly than ever before. Not only were all the parts of the Empire coming to the same meeting place and discussing their problems, whether openly or not, and discussing them, I suggest, in the best of temper, with tolerance and friendliness, but many foreigners also came there in a friendly way, and had a similar reception. They, I think, went away with a better opinion of the Imperial connexion of the British Empire than they had ever had before. I was a schoolboy on the other side of the world at the time of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, and that was the only other experience I had had of anything in the nature of a Coronation. I remember the scene vividly, although it is a good many years ago. It seems to me in retrospect that at that time there was perhaps, a certain spirit, not of aggressiveness, but of what some people might call jingoism, in the air, which was very different from the attitude that one felt on every side on this occasion. This Coronation was a. time at which the whole Empire rejoiced, but rejoiced quietly, without antagonism to others, and, it seemed to me, in a spirit of real humility.
– I had intended last night to say a few words with particular reference to some questions which the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) had addressed to me, but I am glad now that I did not, because we, and the members of the Opposition, were given the opportunity to hear what the Leader of the Senate (Senator
Pearce) had to say on the subject of defence. There were, however, some remarks which the Leader of the Opposition made in his speech on this motion to which I should like to reply. It i» somewhat significant that only yesterday the honorable senator thought it necessary when he had the opportunity of speaking, to plunge at once into the defence policy of his party. I say that that is significant, because he has had so many opportunities to speak upon it that evidently he has realized that the more he explains it, the more it needs explaining, and will possibly need amendment before it goes much further. The honorable senator almost opened his speech with what I suppose was a rhetorical question : What is Labour’s defence policy? To that Senator Hardy interjected that that was what we should all like to know. My first reaction to it was to ask that notice be given of the question, because I thought that, if we went through the utterances of the Leader of the Opposition in this chamber, we might find out exactly what was Labour’s defence policy as he understood it. He has made several attempts to explain what it is. For instance, in September, 1935, a statementwas made in this chamber by the Leader of the Senate on the Italo-Abyssinian situation. On that occasion, speaking to the formal motion that the paper be printed, the Leader of the Opposition gave his views and the views of his party. He opened by saying -
I shall give to the Senate an outline of the attitude of the Federal Parliamentary Labour party as agreed to by unanimous resolution at a meeting of the party this morning. It represents, so far as we are able to judge, the opinion of Labour organizations throughout Australia.
One would have thought that that was n definite pronouncement on the Labour party’s defence policy.
– Was that on defence ?
– Yes, most certainly it was. The honorable senator said that he would give to the Senate an outline of the policy on that particular subject, which was the attitude of Australia to the international situation. He closed his remarks by saying -
Many of the economic burdens that arn weighing down the world to-day are the direct outcome of the last war, which left a trail of misery unparalleled in history. Although we were told it was a war to end war, the world to-day is on the edge of another cataclysm. The attitude of the Australian Labour party is dear and unequivocal. It wants no war on foreign fields for economic treasure.
I wonder who does?
– The honorable senator knows that that was a statement on sanctions, and had nothing to do with the defence policy of the Australian Labour party. Why not get down to a semblance of honesty and manliness about the matter? Why continuously misrepesent us?
– I know what the honorable senator was talking about. He said that the attitude of the Australian Labour party was clear and unequivocal, and that it wanted no war on foreign fields for economic treasure. He went on -
It wants Australia to be kept free of the entanglements leading to a repetition of the horrors of 1914-18. Therefore the Australian Labour party, for which I speak to-day, says: “ Non-participation “.
– Non-participation in sanctions.
– As the honorable senator put it, non-participation in any foreign entanglements. The next opportunity to set out Labour’s policy on world affairs came when, in November of the same year, two months later, the bill imposing sanctions was brought before this chamber.
– Still nothing to do with defence.
– We shall see whether it had or not. The honorable senator then at great length, and reading from the platform of the party, set out its defence policy. He said -
The defence policy of the Australian Labour party is definitely set out in its printed platform.
Has that anything to do with defence?
– Yes, and the honorable senator knows what it was about.
– The honorable senator continued -
There is nothing mysterious about it. It is printed and circulated all over Australia in season and out of season, and is available at any time to anybody who desires to obtain a copy.
I direct the attention of my Leader to that circular; he may be able to get a. copy of it. The honorable senator continued -
Labour’s defence policy may be summarized as: -
Adequate home defence against possible foreign aggression.
No raising of forces for service outside of the Commonwealth or participation or promise of participation in any future overseas war except by decision of the people.
There is nothing mysterious about that policy and the Opposition abides by it.
– Hear, hear! We stand by that.
– The statement which the honorable senator then made was notable for the extraordinary vagueness of what he had to say upon the subject. “ Adequate home defence “, “ adequate for our needs “, “ to be financed by the operations of Labour’s financial policy “ - whether by a fiduciary issue or Douglas Credit, the honorable senator did not at that time tell us.
– The same fiduciary notes as the Government circulates now. They are all we have, and the honorable senator’s Government brought them in.
– One would have thought as the honorable senator read that statement that it was something from which the Labour party’s defence policy could be at once deduced, that there was nothing further to be said, and that the last word had been uttered on the subject, with no room for misunderstanding or misrepresentation.
– Apparently the honorable senator could not grasp it, but I was not thinking of intellects like his.
– One would have thought that it was there so plain that he who ran might read, according to the honorable senator, but if one took what was contained in his speeches, 1 venture to suggest that there would have been more running than reading. I thought we had heard the end of it then, but only yesterday or the day before, the honorable senator made a most impassioned statement as to what the policy is and how it has been misrepresented by those who sit in this chamber.
The honorable senator, speaking here on the Address-in-Reply, expressed the fear that the Imperial Conference had been a “ dud “, and that nothing had come out of it. He referred to that much later, and commented on the fact that he had then been a prophet as to what would come from the Conference. One thing that I should have thought would please the honorable senator about the Imperial Conference was its attitude towards peace and war. If he had read it, or had read the statement made by the Prime Minister in the House of Representatives, he would have seen that the intention to preserve peace if possible - peace with honour, I suppose - was the predominant note of the Conference. The Prime Minister said of it -
The Conference which I recently attended will have far-reaching effects, and I am confident that the demonstration of solidarity of all those countries forming the British Commonwealth of Nations will have a very beneficial result, particularly in the cause of peace.
If Senator Collings had listened to Senator Duncan-Hughes, the earlier portion of whose speech he eulogized yesterday, he would have learnt something about the position of the other parts of the Empire with regard to defence, and the futility of merely comparing what they say with the Australian attitude, having regard to their totally different circumstances. The Prime Minister also said -
The conference made it clear, without doubt, that the predominant ideal and purpose of the British Commonwealth was peace, and that all efforts would continue to be directed to the end of securing world appeasement and peace.
Paragraph 3 of a report which summarized many of the conclusions, read -
Basing their policies upon the aims and ideals of the League of Nations, they declare thattheir respective armaments will never be used for the purposes of aggression or for any purpose inconsistent with the Covenant of the League of Nations or the Pact of Paris.
The rumour was freely circulated that the Prime Minister was visiting Great Britain with the intention of binding this country to a policy of conscription; but, as a matter of fact, as Senator Duncan-Hughes has already told us to-day in connexion with co-operation in Empire defence, the conference emphasized the resolutions of 1923, which lay down that it is the sole responsibility of the parliaments of the Empire to decide the natureand sphere of their own defence policies. Does that satisfy the Leader of the Opposition that autonomy in the matter of defence is retained by Australia? On many occasions the Leader of the Opposition has attempted to explain the defence policy of the Labour party. After hearing the speech of the Leader of the Senate yesterday, the conclusion we must reach in respect of that policy is that we are no wiser than we were at the end of 1935, when the Leader of the Opposition said that he had explained what the defence policy of the party actually means.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from the 27th August (vide page 251), on motion by Senator Sir George Pearce-
That the papers be printed.
– After careful consideration and consultation with British Ministers and dominion representatives, the Government has found it necessary to expend this year an unusually large sum on defence. We regret that such heavy expenditure should be necessary; but, in view of the present condition of world affairs, we must, in co-operation with Great Britain and the other dominions, organize our man power and provide essential equipment. I was surprised to find that such a large number of young men who offered themselves for voluntary military training were found to be physically unfit to undertake the duties expected of them. The general opinion of competent authorities is that many persons are below the average physical standard owing to unsuitable diet when children, or to malnutrition. It is interesting to note that all fourteen international nutrition experts attached to the League of Nations have recommended that all young people should consume a reasonable quantity of fresh milk daily. The Labour Government of New Zealand is to be commended for having introduced in that dominion a system under which every state-school child is to be provided, free of cost, with half a pint of fresh milk daily, and doctors in New Zealand have told me that since this system has been in force there has been a remarkable improvement of the health of the children. As the subject of nutrition is of national importance, I trust that before long the Commonwealth Government, in conjunction with the State governments, will introduce a scheme under which at least half a pint of fresh milk will be supplied daily to every child attending primary and state schools in Australia. Based on what is being done in New Zealand, the cost would be approximately £1,000,000 per annum, but it would be money well spent. The Commonwealth Government makes tremendous grants to the States from time to time, and it should be able to provide . £500.000 per annum - the balance to be made up by the States - to carry out a scheme such as I have suggested. Mornover, it would be a great benefit to the dairying industry, as an additional market would he provided for surplus milk, a large quantity of which now goes to waste. If I am returned to the Senate after the next general election, I intend, with the assistance of other members of this Parliament who have promised support, to urge the Government to introduce this highly-important scheme.
During the debate on the Imperial Conference reference has been made to the necessity to protect some of our important industrial undertakings, such as the great steel works controlled by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited on the eastern coast of Australia.
In matters of defence, it is the policy of this Government to work in close cooperation with other portions of the Empire, and not to confine its activities within the three-mile limit as the Labour party proposes. Adequate protection should be afforded not only to the large capital cities of Sydney, ‘Melbourne and others, but also to such centres as Newcastle where the iron and steel and other important key industries are established.
The production of fuel oil in Australia is also of great importance. If the vessels of the Royal Navy or the Royal Australian Navy were unable, even for a short period, to protect our great trade routes, our supply of fuel oil would soon be exhausted. If Australia were invaded., troops would have to be transported by motor vehicles, or even by aeroplane, from one point to another, and in the absence of an adequate supply of petrol, that would be impossible. There should also be an ample supply of the higher grade spirit used by bombers in order to protect vulnerable points and damage transports conveying foreign troops designed to attack Australia.
Although it is claimed that battleships cannot be sunk by aircraft, transports carrying large numbers of soldiers could be successfully attacked by bombers. I am glad that the Commonwealth Government in conjunction with the Government of New South Wales has made arrangements for the development of the Newnes shale deposits with the object of producing fuel oil in Australia. Present stocks would not last a month in times of national emergency.
– Based on the present consumption.
– The consumption would be greater if we were threatened. Private motor cars would not be used for pleasure, but many of them would be commandeered to carry troops to points where they were required, and, therefore, the quantity of petrol used would be much greater than it is to-day. Moreover, petrol should not be stored as it is at present in conspicuous places on the sea-board. Flying into Melbourne from almost any direction one oan see from a distance of 50 miles the huge white petrol storage tanks in the vicinity of that city; they provide an excellent target. Would it not be better to arrange for the storage of this essential commodity at inland centres where, perhaps, the tanks could not be seen so readily ?
– Could not those tanks be camouflaged within a few hours ?
– I do not think so. There are also huge storage tanks alongside the aerodrome at Laverton, and if they should be destroyed, tremendous (lain age would bc done to aircraft in the vicinity. 1 now propose to. deal briefly with the so-called defence policy of the Australian Labour Party. The blue book of that party, which contains its policy for the forthcoming general election, reads -
No raising of forces for service outside the
Commonwealth, participation or promise of participation in overseas wars, except by the decision of the people.
It is clear from that definite statement, that in the event of the sister dominion, New Zealand, being attacked, a Labour government in Australia would not assist or in any way co-operate with the defence of that dominion. When the Leader of the Opposition was speaking yesterday, he referred in scathing terms ro the fact that the iron ore deposits at Yampi Sound in Western Australia had been leased to Japan. There may be a good deal of truth in what the honorable senator said, because, if we take a long ange view of the subject, it may be wise to retain complete control of all the raw materials at our disposal. But surely the Leader of the Opposition is aware that permission to export iron ore from Yampi Sound was granted by a. Labour government in Western Australia, Every one must be gratified at the extraordinary improvement that has taken place in the economic position of Australia since the Lyons Government came into power. There is no better indication of a country’s prosperity than its employment figures. In 1931, when the Lyons Government came into office, 30 per cent, of trade unionists were out of employment; to-day only 9 per cent, are without work. In 1931-32, the expenditure on building construction amounted to £8,000,000; in 1936-37 it had reached £40,000,000. When the Government reduced the duties on a number of tariff items there was much opposition from certain quarters on the ground that lower duties would interfere with the development of new, or expansion of existing, secondary industries! The truth is that under the regime of the Lyons Government these industries have made amazing growth. For example, in 1931 the number of factories in Australia was 21,627. and the number of persons employed was 336,658. To-day the factories number more than 25,000, and the number of employees is over 500,000, an increase of more than 100,000. The increase of wages paid is £2-7,000,000 yearly. As an instance of the confidence of manufacturers in the Lyons Government and its fiscal policy, I may mention that in the Geelong district the Ford Motor Company intends to spend £150,000 on additions to its factory and the International Harvester Company has arranged to erect a factory at a cost of £250,000. Many other industries are expanding and giving additional employment to Australian workmen.
Reference has been made in this debate to the Government’s proposal to provide vocational training for the large number of Australian youths who missed their opportunity to secure employment during the depression years. One of the most disturbing factors in our economic life, is the stupid policy of overrestricting apprenticeship in the skilled trades. In Australia it has been attended by disastrous results to our young men. The percentage of apprentices allowed to the number of journeymen employed in Victoria - I assume that much the same conditions obtain in other States - is ridiculously small. Consequently many sons of mechanics are denied the opportunity to follow their father’s avocation, and there now is a great shortage of plumbers, mechanics, carpenters, and other artisans so essential to the expansion of the trades. It is almost impossible to obtain a sufficient number of skilled workmen in many districts. I am glad to know that this Government is doing something to rectify the position. It has set aside £200,000 to be distributed amongst the States for vocational training of youths.
The higher basic wage is further evidence of increased prosperity since the Lyons Government came into power. -In 1931 the basic wage was £3 7s. 6d. a week; to-day it is £3 15s. It would be possible to compile from statistical records an extremely interesting booklet showing the benefits that have accrued to the people of this country since the Lyons Government ‘came into office, as indicated by the growth of our secondary industries, the increased volume of employment, the improved conditions of the workers, and the increased deposits in our Savings Banks.
Now that we are on the eve of a general election, Labour leaders have become especially interested in invalid and old-age pensioners. Pensions have always been the favorite catch cry of Labour candidates during Commonwealth election campaigns. The truth is that the oldage pensions law was placed on the statute-book, not at the instance of the Labour party, but by the Deakin Government in 1908, and the payment of invalid pensions was authorized in 1910. In September, 1916, the maximum pension of 10s. a week was increased by the Hughes Labour Government to 12s. 6d., and the limit of income including pension was increased from £1 to 22s. 6d. a week. That was the only occasion in the 27 years since the pensions law was passed, when a Labour government increased the payment. In October, 1919, the maximum rate of pension was increased by a Nationalist government from 12s. 6d. to 15s. a week, and the limit of income, including pensions, from 22s. 6d. to 25s. a week. In December, 1920, the same Nationalist government raised the limit of income, including pensions for blind pensioners, to £4 5s. a week. In September, 1923, the maximum rate of pension was increased by the Bruce-Page Government from- 15s. to 17s. 6d. a week. The limit of property was also increased from £310 to £400.
– This is merely tedious repetition and a waste of time.
– The Leader of the Opposition does not like to hear this recital of the history of pensions increases, because it shows how much our pensioners have benefited from nonLabour governments and how little from Labour governments. In September, 1925, the Bruce-Page Government again increased the pensions from 17s. 6d. to 20s. a week. In July, 1931, the Scullin Labour Government reduced the pensions to 17s. 6d. a week, and the limit of income, including pension, to 303. a week. No one attaches blame to the Scullin Government for that reduction, because Australia was then in a position of grave financial emergency and all sections of the community were expected to make sacrifices.
– That is the first honest statement we have heard about the
Scullin Government in connexion with pensions.
– In October. 1932, the Lyons Government, also under economic pressure, reduced the pension in certain cases to 15s. a week. The maximum rate of 17s. 6d. a week was, however, retained, and, actually, 63 per cent, of the pensioners received the maximum rate. In October, 1933, the maximum rate of pension was restored by the Lyons Government to 17s. 6d. a week, and was made subject to a yearly adjustment in accordance with variations of the cost of living figures. Under this provision the maximum rate was increased to 1Ss a week as from the 4th July, 1935, and the limit of income, including pension, was automatically increased from 30s. to !>0s. 6d. a week, and in the case of blind pensioners, from £4 5s. to £4 5s. 6d. ii week. In September, 1936, as the result of financial relief legislation passed by the Lyons Government, the maximum rate of pension was increased from 18s. to 19s. a week, and the limit of income, including pension, was raised from 30s. 6d. to 31s. 6d. a week. For this financial year the budget makes provision for an increase of pensions from 19s. to 20s. a week, commencing with the first pension pay day in this month.
The famous blue book issued by the Labour party for election purposes advocates an increase of pensions to 20s. a week, and, as the increase has already been made by this Government, Labour candidates will not- now be able to go on election platforms and tell the people that the Lyons Government is paying 20s. a week, but if Labour be placed in power the pensioners will get more a week; the election platform of the Opposition, is outlined in the blue book, and, as I have explained, it advocates a pension of 20s. a week, which is being paid already by the Lyons Government. The new rate is the highest ever paid since the pensions system was inaugurated, because the purchasing power of 20s. to-day is equivalent to 23s. lOd. in 1925, in which year the Bruce-Page Government raised the pension from 17s. 6d. to 20s. a week.
One of the most important subjects discussed by the Imperial Conference was Empire defence, which, in the case” of
Australia, means the strengthening of the navy and the expansion of the army and air forces in order that they may be used to the best advantage in co-operation with the forces of the Empire, including the sister dominion of New Zealand. Contrast this defence with the policy of isolation favoured by the Labour party. Isolation would leave Australia at the mercy of any powerful aggressor nation that cared to attack us. But one of the greatest dangers exists within our own gates. I refer to the alarming increase of communism in recent years.
– There is no reference to the communist menace in Labour’s blue book.
– No ; but in other publications there is information about the growth of communism. As is well known, the objective of the Communist party in Australia is the overthrow of constitutional government, and I am sorry to know that Communists have gamed control of many Australian trade unions.
– What unions are under the control of Communists?
– I shall be glad to give the honorable senator the fullest details of the spread of communism in Australia and its influence on trade unions. I have in my hand a valuable booklet entitled Red Menace in Australia. lt is published by the Australian Catholic Truth Society, and I recommend honorable senators to read it. It exposes the futility and cruelty of communism in Russia.
– Communism is not the Labour party’s policy.
– All I can say is that members of the Labour party and Communists are political bed-fellows. I shall quote from page 19 of Red Menace in Australia, issued by the Australian Catholic Truth Society, to show the nature of the propaganda indulged in by Communists.
– Will the honorable senator distribute copies of the booklet?
– Yes ; every honorable senator should read what this unbiased and enlightened publication says. Among other statements it quotes from the writings of Andrew Smith, who was one of the leading Communists in the United States of America; he sold all that he had and gave the proceeds to the Communist party, and worked in a Soviet factory for three years. He has published one of the most enlightening books ever written. As I have said, the Communist party is dominating some of the “trade unions in Australia. It also controls a number of newspapers, among them being the Workers’ Weekly, Sydney ; the Workers’ Voice, Melbourne ; and the North Queensland Guardian.
– The owner of the North Queensland Guardian, Mr. Paterson, is standing as a candidate against Labour. The honorable senator should not attempt to load communism on to the Labour party.
– The honorable senator knows that Mr. Paterson will give his second preference votes to Labour.
– At the last election the Communists gave their preferences to the anti-Labour forces.
– That is not so, and the Labour party cannot escape working hand in hand with the Communists. Other publications issued on behalf of the Communists include Woman To-day; World Peace, formerly War, What For?; the Trade Union Leader; the Railroad - the organ of the Australian Railway Union, the United Bush Worker; the Building Worker; Engineering Worker; the Call - the organ of the tramways union; and the Magnet. I have here a copy of the Workers’ Voice of the 21st August, 1937, from which I quote the following extracts : -
To-day the situation in the Labour movement is rapidly changing. There is in this change an assurance that a Labour government elected this year will carry out a programme of benefit to the masses. .First among the changes that are taking place is the growing strength and influence of the Communist party. The party has the leadership of several important unions, and considerable influence in others. More than ever it is the driving force of the Labour movement.
As a result of these changes, and especially of. the persevering work of the Communist party, the support for the united front is extending. The working class and their political parties are being drawn together into a common front against their enemies. Local united front actions in one form or another are becoming more frequent throughout Australia.
The lessons of world events have not been lost on the working class. United front successes in France, Spain, and the recent formation at the instigation of the Communist party of a united Chinese government are convincing the Australian people that unity is the only guarantee of the defeat of fascism in Australia as in other countries, and the preservation of peace.
There is nothing there against communism. The article continues -
These far-reaching changes in the Labour movement, which have had their influence on the complexion of the Labour candidates for Parliament, provide an assurance that a Labour government will now benefit the masses, and make it possible for the Communist party to take the responsibility of calling for the election of such a government.
The same issue of the Workers’ Voice contains the following advertisement : -
Executive Member of the Communist International
On Wednesday, Aug. 25, 8 p.m.
He will tell -
From end to end of the newspaper there are articles condemning the Lyons Government, advising the electors to link up with Labour, claiming to have control of a number of trade unions, and boasting of Russia and communism, while ridiculing Australia. In another portion of the newspaper the following appears : -
The lesson of greatest significance in this situation is that where strike action has been taken, there has been outstanding success.
This task goes hand in hand with the organization of the movement for the defeat of the reactionary governments in the forthcoming Federal and State elections, and the election of Labour governments which will be of assistance to the workers in their fight for decent economic conditions.
The Communists must have a lot of money - a feature which is most disturbing.
– The Communist party has circulated a yellow leaflet headed : “ Down with the Lyons Government;Communitsts must work with
Labour “. On another leaflet dealing with the federal election of 1937, the Communist party of Australia says -
The Lyons Government must be removed, and a Labour government, pledged to repeal the anti-democratic suctions of the Crimes Act, repeal the Transport Workers Act, and extend democratic liberty, be elected in its place.
Out with Lyons who menaces democracy! Elect a Labour government! Preserve democracy! Bar the path to fascism!
Read the Workers’ Voice . . .
Published by J. Simpson, 193 Hay-street, Sydney.
Another leaflet with the arresting title, “Do you want a Happy Australia?”, proceeds - “Of course! We all do … “
That is why the Communist party is striving for a powerful united Labour movement -
By seeking affiliation to the Labour party.
By building the trade unions and other working class organizations.
A Labour movement which can elect and direct fighting Labour governments, pledged to a people’s programme.
Read our paper, the Workers’ Voice.
Still another leaflet is headed, “ Why can’t you make both ends meet ?” It tells the electors -
Remove the governments of the rich ; elect Labour governments and secure -
Peace, democracy, a better life for the people.
Authorized by L. Donald, 3 Hosier-lane, Melbourne.
One of the most disturbing features associated with communism is that prominent members of the Australian Labour party are connected with it. The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) in the House of Representatives has often spoken at Communist meetings in Melbourne, and on occasions has occupied the Chair. He and other prominent members of the party will, no doubt, speak at next week’s demonstration in the Exhibition Building, Melbourne, which is being cunningly prepared by the Communist party. The Communist reptiles practically compel the pensioners to contribute to propaganda on behalf of the Labour party. To those who contribute, they issue stickers, like a stamp tax sticker, containing the words, “I have donated1d. to the Communist party for the defeat of the Lyons Government “.
Many members of the Labour party, including some honorable senators, have extolled Russia and the conditions in that country. Much of t heir propaganda is based on the claim that Russia is the new workers’ paradise, and leads the world in social advancement. I shall show to what extent Russia does lead the world in enlightenment. A newspaper entitled Nice Place, Russia, states -
This year’s news from Russia, began, some thought, rather ominously. Two Soviet scientists - one a professor, the other a “ famous chemist “ - on leave of absence to pursue research work abroad, flatly refused togo back. This, in Russia, was considered unpatriotic. It may havebeen good judgment. At any rate, it was the January 1 cabled news concerning the “ workers’ paradise,” and, viewing from abroad the Russian scene since then, the two scientists, among: others, must have indulged in some deep thinking. In monthly concentrated doses: -
One thousand six hundred delegates, repre senting 46 States, appointed to the God-less Congress, the agenda including motions “for the formation of a central office to fight the Christian religion and for the establishment of a Godless International.” Stalin ordered a dinner-suit, by way of indicating the prosperity of the “ workers’ paradise.” The editor of “ Isvestia “ was dismissed on suspicion of plotting against Stalin. Radek, Sokolnikoff, Piatakoff and 14 others, rounded up in the Soviet purge,” were charged with “ organising wrecking groups and plotting to kill Soviet leaders.”
Radek had been “ Isvestia’s “ chief leaderwriter, and “Isvestia” now described him (before the trial) as “this wriggling, hypocritical, lecherous reptile.” He and two others got off with 10 years each, another with eight years; the rest were shot in the back of the head.
Beloborodoff, the veteran Bolshevik who ordered the execution of the Tsar, was arrested for “ plotting, terrorism, etc.” Navachin, “ the brilliant Russian economist,” was murdered as anaftermath of the trial of Radek and Co. Trotsky’s son was arrested on a charge of “ attempting to murder his fellowworkmen in a machine factory by neglecting to provide an outlet for fumes.” Two electricians were “ detected attempting to set a time-bomb in a room adjoining Stalin’s.” The month ended with executions of . leading Sovietiers, totalling 163 in three months.
As a carry-over from the previous month, 100 more Soviet leaders were held to be guilty of “ plotting, terrorism, etc.” A “ new purge “ began in Tbilissy. Piatakoff was shot as “ a spy, a traitor and a would-be murderer.” He bad been Commissarfor Heavy Industry. His widow was “among those secretly executed.” A quiet month.
Judge Demidov was sentenced to death for “murder, arson, perversion of justice and accepting bribes.” Stalin declared that capitalist countries were waiting the chance to attack and conquer the Soviet Union. It was found that, by giving sheep a drug, their wool could be taken off without the trouble of shearing. Tactics to be employed by the Red Army in its next war were adopted, including the” mass dropping of soldiers in parachutes behind the enemy lines.” A railway smash occurred; the assistant stationmaster was executed and otherofficials were gaoled.
– It has a lot to do with a party whose spokesmen claim that the conditions in Russia are ideal and that the country is a workers’ paradise. The article continues -
In April, Yagoda, formerly chief of the O.G.P.U. was arrested for “ plotting, terrorism, &c.”. A bomb having been found ready to be exploded at will under the box frequently used by Stalin in the Little Theatre, the manager was arrested … In May, 44 Russians charged with being terrorists, spies and wreckers, one ofthem a woman, were executed in Siberia … In June, eight generals pleading guilty of treason and espionage were shot. These generals all had great power, wealth, magnificent palaces, summer resorts, splendid cars and thoroughbred horses, acquired for services to the revolution. They held nearly all the key commands in European Russia. The Soviet press now describes these ex-darlings of the army us poisonous pigmies … In August, “ Great purge “ continued, but with “ unprecedented secrecy “. Victims believed to include Moskvin, a “prominent member of the Third International; Chernoff, Commissioner for Agriculture (‘after the harvest’); Nathalia Satz, manageress of ‘ the famous Moscow Children’s Theatre’; Arosieff, head of the Department for Foreign Cultural Relations; Fechner, head of the Department for Poland and the Baltic; arid many officials of the Communist party in Moscow, the Ukraine and elsewhere “. . . .
The pathetic truth is that Russia is still one of the most backward and barbarous countries in the world, lagging not less than a century and a half behind civilization as this is known here and elsewhere.
Yet this is the country which is referred to by honorable senators opposite as a country of freedom and enlightenment, a workers’ paradise! This Australian publication shows that many prominent men and their wives were shot in the back of the head this year. Anybody who goes to that country sees that the heavy work of making roads and carrying bricks, and all dirty jobs are done by women, and that there is part starvation and poverty to a greater extent to-day than at any other period in its history. I ask honorable senators to read the stories of men who have visited Russia recently and who write with first-hand knowledge of the deplorable state of affairs that exists there. Yet the Communists are most active in Australia to-day; they are organizing in shops, factories, labour gangs, labour unions and labour parties. The effects of their insidious propaganda is felt even in the universities and schools. Communism is eating into the unions and undermining this country to a greater extent than has been achieved by any enemies from outside. I warn the Government of the growing activities of the Communist party which to-day is boasting of having secured control of many of the trade unions in Australia, and is seeking by fair means or foul to overthrow the Lyons Government. The position is extraordinarily serious. I am sorry that the Labour party is allying itself with the Communists and allowing its followers to speak on Communist platforms. Almost every week in Melbourne prominent members of the official Labour party are to be seen and heard in public with Communist agitators. The Communists claim a united front with the Labour party and boast that they will be successful in the overthrow of the Lyons Government. That seems to be the common aim of the Communist party and the Labour party in Australia.
– If there is one honorable senator in this chamber who has every reason to regret that the work in the House of Representatives is not being more rapidly expedited he is myself.
– Hear, hear !
– I was optimistic enough to believe that we should he able to finish our work by to-morrow evening and that we could then get away to our respective States and enter upon our election campaign; but as our friends in the other chamber are putting through business slowly, the time of waiting in this chamber has to be filled in. So much had I been lulled into a false sense of security by what I believed to be the position, that I was taken quite by surprise when Senator Guthrie rose to discuss the budget. I had forgotten there was such a thing as the motion on the business-paper “ that the budget papers be printed “ and in any case I had decided that in my speech yesterday I had said all that it was necessary for me to say on the budget or on Supply.
It is a shame to do anything to disturb the serenity of such a kindly and genial senator as Senator Guthrie. I should like, however, to make some brief references to some of the remarks which he has just made. I have been astounded at the varied colours of the literature which has been used in this chamber during the last day or two, because of my somewhat restricted generosity in distributing copies of Labour’s blue book to certain favoured senators. Those honorable senators have been most adroit in the use which they have made of my gift. During the last couple of days I. have noticed at least one honorable senator waving about some yellow literature; Senator Guthrie displayed this afternoon a red book, and I think I saw Senator Marwick waving a green leaflet.
– What about the blue book?
– I am perfectly happy about the blue book ; it is a beauty. As a matter of fact that feeling is endorsed by honorable senators opposite, because although they only got nine copies of it they have done nothing but talk about it for two days. I give Senator Guthrie credit for being able to tell a story well. As a matter of fact, he put so much horror and pathos and blue funk into his voice that had the lights gone out I feel sure we would have been gibbering inanities through fear. The honorable senator said that some scientists in Russia declared that a patent process had been discovered whereby they could get the wool off the sheep’s backs by administering a drug. Senator Guthrie has not got too much wool to lose, but I have a fair quantity, and I can assure himthat no drug administered to me would get my wool off so effectively as did his speech. In the course of his remarks, lie made some rather noteworthy statements; for example, he applauded the export of iron ore to Japan.
– I did nothing of the kind.
– I am totally opposed” to the export of iron ore and to the export of Corriedale stud rams to any foreign country to improve its herds and raise the quality of its wool clip so that it may compete more effectively with the product of Australia. We should place an embargo on the export of scrap iron and iron ore from Australia. Honorable senators belonging to the party supported by Senator Guthrie, say we have a potential enemy in the Pacific, yet they proceed to sell to that enemy all our surplus scrap iron and iron ore. Just as firmly as I object to the export of iron ore, I object to the fact that in this country at the moment, there are emissaries of that country to which Senator Guthrie and others have referred who have secured the right to survey the iron ore deposits of Australia. Honorable senators opposite paint a picture of horror as to what we may anticipate some time in the future. There is nothing but insincerity and hypocrisy in the whole business. When the deputation from Lancashire was in Australia giving to the Government orders in regard to imports of certain textiles, I asked Sir Ernest Thompson in Brisbane if it were not true that Lancashire interests had equipped Japan with the most modern machinery to enable that country to compete with Lancashire in the textile trade, with the result that Lancashire lost a good deal of trade because, while the Lancashire millers were using obsolete machinery, the Japanese were using the most up-to-date plant.
Senator Guthrie displayed this afternoon a remarkable acquaintance with the activities of the Communist party, and that confirmed my suspicion, which I openly stated in this chamber last week, that the United Australia party and the United Country party are prompting these activities on the part of the Communists in order that the Labour party may get the discredit, which every honorable senator opposite has endeavoured- to fasten on it, by quoting from leaflets and pamphlets with which they are significantly familiar. I have a copy of the book from which Senator Guthrie quoted, but I have not yet opened it. The honorable gentleman was not fair enough to say that in this book there is not one word of affiliation with the Labour party, not one word of sympathy with the aims and objects of that party. When talking about Russia, Senator Guthrie said that in February, which was a quiet month, ten or twelve people had been shot. As he proceeded his tale of horror grew, and I understand that the honorable senator claimed that over a thousand people in Russia were shot during a period of seven months. Apparently, the honorable senator has an intimate knowledge of what is going on in Russia to-day. There was a time during the great war, however, when Russia was an ally of Great Britain and her allies. Nothing was said against Russia then. We were all comrades in arms. One could not stand up at a public assembly anywhere in Australia during those hectic years and say a word against Russia or the Rus-. sian people. It was not until, having had more than enough of war, having had their manhood decimated by that awful holocaust which commenced in 1914, the Russian people turned from external conditions and fastened their attention definitely for the first time in history upon the internal affairs of the nation; it was not until they began to consider clothing and feeding themselves, and to do the work which it is essential for every country having claims to civilization, decency and Christianity, to do, that they became anathema to gentlemen like Senator Guthrie, and those who sit complacently endorsing his remarks. I am not suggesting that Senator Guthrie’s speech was made of his own volition. He is too genial, too honest, too “fair, too much of a sportsman to be capable of it, unless commissioned by his party to get up and release, against the leaders of this party, the poison gas which his colleagues are afraid to discharge themselves.
The honorable senator also spoke of pensions, but why he troubled to do so I do not know, because all the information he gave, I gave yesterday in detail. I told the Senate exactly what the pensions were, when the Lyons Government had raised them, and why. I told the Senate also, which Senator Guthrie omitted, of the indecent and cruel property provisions, which raised such a storm of distrust and protest throughout Australia, that even the Lyons Government repealed most of them. I also said yesterday that there were still some disgraceful property provisions in the act. I showed that, if a man insured his life, although he could not possibly collect the money himself, the surrender value of his policy was taken into consideration by the Pensions Department, under instructions from this Government, which Senator Guthrie supports. I said that if the surrender value, added to what he had in the bank, came to more than £50, the department reduced his pension by so much for every £1 over that amount. Senator Guthrie told only half the story; in fact, he merely repeated a part of the story I told, but left out the unsavoury details.
– I gave the facts.
– The honorable senator is so devoid of accurate knowledge of the history of pensions, that he said a Nationalist government was the first government to introduce them in Australia. That statement is entirely incorrect. Nobody ever called the late Alfred Deakin a Nationalist. He was the finest example of a good Australian Liberal that ever this country saw, and he introduced the pensions as part of the price that he had to pay for Labour’s support during his administration.
Senator Guthrie also said something about the wonderful prosperity of which I have heard so much during the last week. I admit that there is a measure of comparative prosperity in Australia at the moment. Something was said by Senator Guthrie about savings banks, and much has been said ad nauseam about prosperity. I shall deal with the savings banks first. Senator Guthrie said: “You have only to read the savings bank returns, and there you find the wonderful story of the restoration of prosperity”. There is another phase of that story that is worth emphasizing. The other day, the financial journals and the published returns of the Commonwealth Bank showed that the note issue is up at the moment by £500,000, which economists and the bank journals say is most unusual at this time of the year. There are times, they admit, such as Christmas and New Year, when the note issue is considerably inflated on account of seasonal conditions. The anti-Labour people, the supporters of Senator Guthrie and his party, admit that the only explanation is that, because increased employment is operating in the ranks of the working classes, they are increasing their consumption, and increasing the expenditure of their earnings. These are causes which, they say, have brought, about an unusual and undisputed rise in the amount of the note issue. In that one simple statement is contained the whole of the Australian Labour party’s outlook on this matter of savings banks, financial policy, and everything co-related to them. We say that, if you will make this prosperity real, if you will distribute it evenly over the whole community, if you will give more of the workers a full breakfast table, if you will give them more security, more relief from the everpresent fear of approaching unemployment and want, then your savings bank returns will go up, and your general prosperity will increase. That is the one lesson that the people who constitute the present Government will not learn.
– But all that is what is happening.
– I am astounded that Senator Brennan, with his years of experience, his wonderful intellect and great legal knowledge, can lull himself into such a sense of false security as to sit back and believe that this prosperity is a universal and permanent institution. He knows better; he knows that at least nine-tenths of the reason for the increased prices of our exportable products, and for the increased prosperity in the different countries of the world at the moment, is the huge expenditure now being made by every country upon armaments. Even Mr. A. C. Davidson, a thick and thin supporter of the United Australia party and the Australian Country party, a gentleman who has no sympathy with the Australian Labour party, in a circular recently issued by the Bank of New
South. Wales, of which he is the general manager, warns the governments and people of Australia against a sense of false security, such as Senator Brennan is obviously in. Mr. Davidson points out that the building of armaments must come to a finish, that they are destructive and not constructive, that they create not wealth, but the very opposite Let me read what the Prime Minister of the sister dominion of New Zealand had to say regarding prosperity. Mr. Savage, at a civic reception tendered to him on his return from the Old Country, said - -
Some people seem to have been worrying while I was away. For instance, a gentleman speaking at Palmerston North said, “There are no other people in the world enjoying such a high standard of living as are the people of New Zealand, and it is well worth retaining”. You could not guess who said that. It was the Leader of the Opposition. Our government, a Labour government, was elected to get rid of the low standard of living fixed by the previous government, and we have got well on the way. Some people may say that New Zealand’s prosperity is due to wool. No doubt it is in part, but our business is to distribute that prosperity. We have not half done the job, but we are well on the way, and we arc going the whole distance.
Later in his speech, recalling that Mr. Mitchell had quoted the proverb that it was better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all, Mr. Savage said that that was his own philosophy. He continued -
On the voyage to England, some one accused me of being a dreamer and a philosopher. I said .1 would rather go down to the grave branded as a dreamer who would work day and night to make his dreams come true, than as a great statesman who had spent his life waiting for something to turn up.
If there is one thing that describes the present Government of the Commonwealth more aptly than another, it is that concluding sentence. The Australian Labour movement would rather work night and day to make our dreams of a better world, a better Australia, greater happiness, increased health, more dignity, culture, and decency for the common people, which means eventually for all the people, come true, and then fail, than be members of a party and a government that has no capacity beyond waiting, like Micawber, for something to turn up.
The Assistant Minister (Senator Brennan) , when speaking on the Imperial
Conference this afternoon, referred to the defence policy of the Australian Labour party, and quoted from a speech I delivered in November, 1935, .in which ho definitely stated that I outlined the defence policy of my party. There is such a thing as fair play. The Assistant Minister took a portion of my speech from its context in an endeavour to give to it a different meaning. I introduced the subject, as he stated, and went on to say -
Labour’s defence policy may be summarized as adequate home defence against possible foreign aggression. No raising of forces for service outside the Commonwealth or participation or promise of participation in any future overseas war except by decision of the people.
There is not a word in the speech itself about the defence policy of the Australian Labour party. I was merely quoting from the platform of the party.
– It is summarized in those words.
– I had by interjections to force the Assistant Minister to say that that speech was delivered on the Sanctions Bill. He knew that that portion of our defence policy is merely introductory to something else, and that the party has never altered that portion of its defence policy. What was the object of that debate? The Senate was asked to declare its attitude in regard to sanctions. A sanctions bill was before the chamber, and it was opposed by the members of the Labour party in a most determined way, because we said that, if there was any business in sanctions, their imposition must inevitably lead to war. I also said that, in bringing down the bill, the Government knew perfectly well that sanctions would not be imposed on all commodities, for example, fuel oil, the one commodity which would have held up Italy and saved the rape of the Abyssinian people.
– Would the Leader of the Opposition have supported sanctions had fuel oil been included ?
– My prophecy came true. The Leader of the Senate said -
These are the items upon which sanctions have already been imposed, and for which we ask your approval, but I can assure the
Senate that before long there will bo added to the list of those items for which sanctions are desired oil and its derivatives.
I was right, and the Minister was wrong. The extension of the sanctions to oil was the only thing that would have stopped Italy’s march upon the helpless Abyssinians. I went on to say -
On the question of sanctions the attitude of the Australian Labour party is clear and unequivocal. It wants no war on foreign Melds for economic treasure.
– The imposition of sanctions was not then before the House. The Senate was then discussing a motion that a paper be printed.
– The word “ sanctions “ appears at the top of the page in Hansard from which I am quoting.
– The speech from which the honorable senator is quoting was not on the imposition of sanctions.
– I do not mind being accused by my opponents in this chamber of being untruthful, but 1 object to being accused of being incapable of reading the English language. I went on to say -
It wants Australia to be kept free from entanglements leading to a repetition of the horrors of 1914-18. Therefore, the Australian Labour party, for which I speak to-day, says non-participation.
Will the Leader of the Senate say that t he rape of Abyssinia was anything but a war for economic treasure? It was waged for that purpose. The members of the Labour party state most definitely and unequivocally - honorable senators opposite can use my remarks at the forthcoming election as much as they like - that if the Labour party is in control in the Federal sphere next year, the lives of Australian men will not be sacrificed on foreign fields for economic treasure if it can prevent it.
– Hear, hear !
– We are withthehonorable senator there.
– I am glad to have that admission from at least two Ministers. It appears that by continuing to explain the policy of the Labour party I am able to assist them to emerge from the stygian darkness, and to see the light.
– From what page of Hansard is the honorable senator quoting?
– The 8th November, 1935, page 1434. The report of my speech on that page reads -
I desire to quote an extract from the Courier-Mail, a very respectable journal published in Brisbane. It is neither Communistic nor pro-Labour in its sympathies, but is the principal organ in Queensland supporting the present Commonwealth Government. In regard to sanctions it says -
The Federal Government has notified the High Commissioner that Australia is wholeheartedly behind Britain in her efforts to maintain peace between Italy and Abyssinia.
Well, that is all right. We are wholeheartedly in favour of peace. But we hope that when Mr. Bruce goes to Geneva next week he will listen hard and speak very softly indeed. Or, preferably, not speak at all.
This war that is looming in Africa is no business of ours. We may have our opinions about it, but it will be well to keep them to ourselves. We have just about as much as we can do to hold on to this unpopulated country in a landhungry world. We cannot afford the luxury of making enemies anywhere.
– Is that quotation from an editorial?
– It is the expressed opinion of the Courier-Mail.
I suggest to the Assistant Minister that there is nothing wrong with that. In our blue book we say that defence will be financed in accordance with our policy of banking and monetary reform.
– The honorable senator said that finance would be provided by additional taxes.
– I stated most definitely that if men were” conscripted without a referendum and without the conscription of wealth, the wealth of those for whom in war the workers die would be so increased that they would have to pay their proper share of the inevitable cost which under existing conditions they escape. Elections cannot be won on spurious charges levelled at the Labour party. We of the Opposition are here to represent, not the wealthy section of the community, but the masses outside, the people who have never seen the inside of a University and who have to toil hard from day to day, and even then do not get sufficient to maintain themselves in reasonable comfort.
I wish now to deal for a few moments with the much vaunted prosperity. We are delighted to -find that there has been some comparative improvement, but I ask honorable senators if they really believe that the prosperity is as general as they suggest. It is all right for us, who are sure of three meals a day and who know that we shall not be conscripted for war service. We find a full breakfast table each morning, and generally speaking, live under favorable conditions. I am not denying that prosperity is here, but the conditions under which we, in this Parliament, live are not identical with those under which many are compelled to live. ‘ The workers in Queensland are better off than in any other part of Australia. The people in that State have the highest basic wage in Australia, their money has a greater purchasing power, their working week is shorter.
– Taxes are higher.
– I shall deal with taxation shortly. Queensland is the only country in the world in which there is a statutory working week of 44 hours. The industrial conditions are better, the percentage of home owners and of people purchasing their own homes is greater, and the standard of living is higher than in any other country. Notwithstanding all these facts, which are supported by the Statistician’s figures, the Brisbane 1’ele- graph, which does not support the Labour party, has throughout the winter been appealing to the citizens of Brisbane for left-off clothing and blankets for distribution amongst the poor. Is that where prosperity lies? I defy any one to persuade these destitute people that there is prosperity in this country.
The Commonwealth has’ its nutrition and other experts, who are busy collecting statistics about dietetics and malnutrition. Already these inquiries have disclosed conditions that are a disgrace to every one concerned with the government of this country. It is sad to think that in this wonderful land of sunshine, because of malnutrition due to unemployment and other preventable economic causes, we are building a class “ C “ nation. Every time we seek recruits for our police force or voluntary defence organization, large numbers of applicants are rejected because, being the children of mothers who suffered from malnutrition, they are underfed and undernourished.
– That is the cry - defame your own country!
– If that interjection refers to my honest attempt to tell the truth about social and economic conditions in Australia, I would rather accept the charge than remain silent. The charge of the Assistant Minister, that in offering these comments, I am defaming my own State, does not worry me in the least. In my lifetime people of the class to whom the Minister belongs have not shown much regard for my feelings. Because I have always advocated the interests of the working classes., and fought their battles, I have been called a home-wrecker, a breaker of the marriage tie, a wife-beater, a socialist, a Labour agitator, a red ragger, and many other unpleasant names. But these things do not disturb me. What I am saying is true. I dare Senator Arkins to come with me to some of the homes in certain parts of Sydney, and tell the inmates that he is an emissary of the Government which claims that it has -brought prosperity to all Australia. If the honorable gentleman accepted my invitation, he would see in some of those homes conditions so distressful that he would not be able to speak for emotion. Callous and politically hard-hearted as he is, he would quail before the spectacle of half-starved children, with hardly a rag to cover their emaciated bodies.
– Why did not the honorable senator cite some of these cases two or three months ago, when he was invited to do so?
– Because then I was talking about unemployed youths. Now I am speaking about slums in our capital cities and elsewhere throughout the Commonwealth.
On other occasions I have complained of unsatisfactory answers which, for some unexplained reason, are so often given to me by Ministers. I am prompted to say this, because this afternoon the Leader of the .Senate (Senator Pearce) read copious answers in reply to questions asked by other honorable senators.
– Surely the honorable gentleman does not suggest that he is receiving unfair treatment in that matter ?
– I do not consider that I had fair treatment in connexion with my questions about the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The same may be said of the following questions which I addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health on the 18th June last: -
Senator Brennan informed me that the Minister for Health had supplied the following answers: -
That was not the answer to which I was entitled, but I gave up in despair and sent my questions, with the official answer, to the Queensland branch of the British Medical Association. This is the reply which I received from that body -
In reply to your letter of the 23rd June, 1937, with reference to your questions in the Senate on the 18th June and the answers thereto, I am directed to advise as follows: -
Our comments upon Answer (1) -
The Institute of Tropical Medicine, formerly at Townsville and devoted wholly to problems of tropical Australia, is now at Sydney, and appears to devote its attention to questions of public health in general.
I may point out here that I did not ask any question about public health in general, but I was particularly anxious to know what was being done with regard to the work previously carried out at Townsville by the Division of Tropical Hygiene. The letter continued -
There is a laboratory at Townsville with a staff consisting of one medical officer, one technical assistant and one boy. It appears to be doing almost wholly pathological work for the medical men practising in the town, and is practically an adjunct to the Townsville Hospital, but has done some work on the causative organism of Weil’s disease.
The following visits for the purpose of research in tropical disease, to our knowledge, have been made to Queensland from the School of Tropical Medicine in Sydney: - 1934. Drs. Sawers and Cotter to investigate the outbreak of Weil’s disease. 1936. Dr. Murray on soil analysis in connexion with Weil’s disease. 1937. Dr. Clements - Nutrition in Western Queensland.
Since the Institute of Tropical Medicine at Townsville was closed in 1930, the following problems have continued to obtrude themselves in tropical Australia : -
Malaria - 1933. Outbreak of malaria in Torres Straits - 900 cases. 1936. Outbreak of malaria in northwest.
Short period fevers - Including at least five varieties of leptospirosis.
Abattoir fever - Has been found to exist.
Typhus fever - Rural and urban.
Leprosy - Steadily increasing and becoming endemic amongst white children.
Weil’s disease - Outbreak in 1934 (recognized and diagnosed by private practitioners ) . Part taken by Queensland Department of Health and Home Affairs-
Dr. E. A. Derrick was appointed in 1934, and has done good work in the investigation of Weil’s disease, seven-day fever, leptospirosis, abattoir fever, and an outbreak of disease amongst shearers.
A sum of £500 has been allotted to the State by the Commonwealth for the investigation of leprosy.
In 1936, a mobile unit was formed consisting of one medical officer, one technical assistant and one laboratory boy, and has visited every part where an epidemic was threatened.
Eight health inspectors, under direction, control all cane country and have reduced Weil’s disease to a trivial frequency over 1,000 square miles.
Hookworm unit is being continued by the State.
I remind the Senate that this is work which is being done, not by the Commonwealth, but by the Queensland Government. When I made an appeal for increased interest by the Commonwealth Health Department in tropical hygiene in the north, which surely is one of the most important subjects that could engage the attention of this Government, that meagre answer given to me on the 18th June showed the measure of its concern in the matter.
– Who signed that letter?
– Dr. L. W. N. Gibson, the honorary secretary of the Queensland Branch of the British Medical Association.
This afternoon, my colleague, Senator Brown, interjected while another honorable senator was speaking and invited him to tell the Senate something about the promises made by Mr. Lyons during the last election campaign. That interjection was linked with the question which I asked just now: “Where is this prosperity?” I propose to tell the Senate some of the promises made by Mr. Lyons on the occasion referred to. The Prime Minister’s pledges read very well. No one can deny that they had a wonderful appeal. The people, believing that the Prime Minister would honour his promises, returned his Government to power. They now know how cruelly they have been deceived. One of the promises made by the Prime Minister was that, if returned, his Government would concentrate on the solution of the problem of unemployment, and to that end he declared very definitely that his Government would lose no time in standardizing the railway gauges. To show how it has fallen down on its job in. connexion with that matter, I need only say that, at the present rate of progress, it will take seventeen years to standardize the railway gauges in the Commonwealth. The Prime Minister also said that his Government would carry out a large number of sewerage schemes for large country towns, and provide more employment. Not one sewerage scheme has been put in hand by this Government.
– Yes. The Commonwealth Government, through the State governments, is paying the interest on capital expenditure for several large sewerage schemes in country towns.
– The Leader of the Senate now tells us that his Government has found the interest on the expenditure necessary for such works ! There was not one word in the Prime Minister’s policy speech about finding the interest. He declared that the work would be done.
– That is the way in which it has been done.
– There is a great difference between carrying out a work and finding, the interest on the capital expenditure incurred. It is the duty of the Federal Government to provide work for the unemployed, especially in the Federal Capital Territory. But all that this Government can think of is to pass an ordinance to prevent the unemployed from assembling near the steps of Parliament House lest Ministers and their supporters, in their smug complacency, should see that so many of these unfortunate men have not even a coat to protect them from the winter cold. On one occasion, in winter, I went outside to add ress about 80 men who had assembled in front of this building. I had for protection a. scarf, woollen underwear, sweater and an overcoat; but, not more than one-third of the assembled men possessed a coat. The overcoats that some of them wore were either old military coats that they had when they were demobilized, or used clothing distributed by the Defence Department. The Minister for the Interior, who was not sufficiently courageous to go out to meet them, issued an edict. We hear a lot about dictatorships, but there could not be a worse dictatorship than that contained in an ordinance which the Government promulgated recently. In effect, the workless of Canberra were told, “Don’t get near Parliament House; don’t annoy us; we want to enjoy our good dinners. You are an encumbrance on the earth. If we find more than twenty of you- “. Perhaps it would be better if I were to give the exact wording of the ordinance -
For the purposes of the last preceding subsection, persons shall be deemed to have met, or to be assembled, for an unlawful purpose, if they, or any of them, while assembled, do anything unlawful, or make known their grievances, or discuss public affairs or matters of public interest, or consider, prepare or present any petition, memorial, complaint, remonstrance, declaration or other address to His Majesty, or to the Governor-General, or to both Houses or either House of the Parliament, or to any Minister or officer of the Commonwealth, for the repeal or enactment of any law, or for the alteration of matters of State.
The son of the right honorable William Morris Hughes, the Minister for Health andRepatriation, led the deputation. I do not know the son, but, after the deputation, some member of Parliament spoke to his father in somewhat the following terms : “ My word, Billy, that son of yours can make a pretty good speech to which the right honorable gentleman replied, “Ha, ha! A chip off the old block; he is my ‘ roads ‘ scholar “. That conversation is significant, for it shows how little regard the Government has for the unemployed. In Canberra last Friday 120 men were sacked.
– After they had finished twelve months’ constant work.
– In reply to some questions which I asked on this matter, the Leader of the Senate recently gave to me answers which I did not ask for. He did not give direct answers to direct questions. Now he says that these men were dismissed only after they had finished twelve months’ constant work.
– They had finished the job on which they were employed.
– The right honorable gentleman, who occupies the high position of Leader of the Senate, sits in his place happy, contented and satisfied because these men have had twelve months’ constant work! Apparently, he is not concerned that they and their wives and dependent children live in hovels a t Molonglo and Causeway, where the winter winds blow through the sashes and the rain leaks through the roofs. I think that I have satisfactorily answered my own question, “Where is this prosperity “ ?
– Are the unemployed of Brisbane allowed to congregate on the steps of the State Parliament House?
– There is not one word in this ordinance about men congregating on the steps of Parliament House. It speaks of “ the vicinity “.
-Are the unemployed of Brisbane allowed to congregate in the vicinity of the Brisbane Parliament House ?
– Of course they are. I have seen deputation after depu tation of men within the precincts of Parliament House, Brisbane; and in the days that have passed I was at times one of their number. [Extension of time granted.] There is a big difference between the unemployed of Queensland and the unemployed of Canberra; the former have votes, whilst the latter have not. The80 men whom I saw shivering outside Parliament House a few weeks ago, and the 120 men who were sacked last Friday, have no votes.
Senator Guthrie has waved a red book, on page 21 of which I find the following:
Factors Favouring Adance of Communist Party in Australia.
The failure of present governments to remove the abuses of the present industrial ‘ system, their reluctance to control in the public interest existing private monopolies, to establish family endowment, to restore property to the masses, and to guarantee to citizens that sufficiency and security essential to a full human life.
I shall now speak of some of the things mentioned in the Treasurer’s budget. On page 3 we are told that -
Since the Lyons Government assumed office in December, 1031, the public debt of the Commonwealth (as distinct from that of the States) has been reduced by £11,019,000.
Particulars of the debt are as follow: -
There is another side to that story. It is true that the Commonwealth public debt has been reduced by £11,019,000, but during the term of office of the present Government, the invalid and old-age pensioners have received about £10,000,000 less than they should have received. In otherwords, the decrease of the public debt of the Commonwealth is due to the fact that the Government has not played the game with the pensioners, as it promised to do.
– Nonsense !
– The Government promised that, immediately the finances of the country permitted, it would repeal the emergency legislation.
Let us now consider the aggregate public debt of Australia. The total of the Commonwealth and State debts at the 31st December, 1931, was approximately £1,182,566,000; at the 30th June, 1937, the total amounted to approximately £.1,262,872,000. That is to say, the total public debt of Australia, both Commonwealth and State, has increased in that period by about £SO,000,000. Yet, in spite of that increase, the reduction of the Commonwealth debt is thrown at us as evidence of wonderful statesmanship and capacity. On page 6 of the budget, the Treasurer informed us that the total revenue for the year 1936-37 was £52,807,977, compared with an estimate of £81,263,000. The actual surplus for the year was £1,276,588. The estimated surplus was only £45,000. Of the excess of receipts over expenditure, £1,000,000 has been allocated to public works under the control of the Postmaster-General’s Department. With that I heartily agree, and I express the hope that it will enable a commencement to be made with a new General Post Office at Brisbane. The balance of £27.6,558 will be used to reduce accumulated deficits.
On .a previous occasion I referred to the vocational employment of youth, and on the 22nd June last I asked the following questions: -
I received the following replies:-
The deputation did not ask for anything of the sort; it asked for a contribution from the Commonwealth Government towards the increasing cost of education.
On the 30th June, I asked the following further question ; -
Whether consideration has been given to the decisions of the conference of the Australian Teachers’ federation held recently in Melbourne to the effect (I) that education should bc consummated on a national basis; (2) that a grant of loan money to bc used in the direction of relief of unemployment, while most welcome, is not all that is essential; (3) that education shall be a charge upon the Commonwealth as well as State budgets, and that the Commonwealth subsidize education?
The Leader of the Senate gave the following reply: -
The Acting ‘Prime Minister has supplied the following answer : -
Representations were recently made by the Australian Teachers’ Federation urging that the matter of financial assistance for education bc accepted as a Commonwealth as well as a State responsibility. The Federation was informed that the Commonwealth Government could not see its way to assume financial responsibility for grants for the purpose of education.
It is quite obvious that it is useless to make any of these appeals to the present Government. Members of this Parliament, State Ministers and deputations may make these requests, but the Government goes placidly on its way prating of prosperity, happy in the knowledge that its share of it is ample, totally indifferent to the sufferings of tens of thousands of people to whom prosperity has not arrived.
– I rise to a personal explanation. The Leader of the Opposition, in referring to a disputation he had with Senator Brennan as to what happened when we were debating the bill for the imposition of sanctions in the Senate, said that he had asked me why oil was not included in the list of commodities on which sanctions were to be imposed, and that 1 had replied that oil would be placed next on the list. The honorable senator said that that had never been done. I have turned up the speeches made by the Leader of the Opposition, my colleague Senator Brennan and myself on the Sanctions Bill, which are reported in Hansard oi the 8th November, 1935. The honorable senator suggested that I replied by way of interjection. I find, however, that in none of those speeches does such an interjection by either myself or Senator Brennan appear.
– It was not said by way of interjection; it was a definite statement in reply. I made the challenge that oil would not be included.
– No such statement appears in Hansard. The reason why I make this correction is that when to-day’s proceedings are reported in Hansard, it is possible that they may be quoted as evidence that I, or my colleague, had made the statement tb which Senator. Collings referred, when, as a matter of fact, no such statement was made.
.- I had left the chamber on business, but hearing that Senator Collings was on his feet, I putaside what I had to do, in order that J might not deprive myself of the pleasure of hearing him. I came into the chamber when the honorable senator was making a dissertation on the necessity for the imposition of an embargo on the export of Corriedale sheep. The first thing that struck me in connexion with his observations on Corriedale sheep, iron ore and the deputation from Lancashire, was that in my researches to find out exactly what the defence policy of his party is, I came across on more than one occasion - and I had heard it also from his own lips on other occasions - the statement that one of the main means by which the Labour party hopes to secure peace is by cultivating friendly relations with other powers. How would the senator cultivate friendly relations with other powers? Some friendly power suggests that we can export some Corriedale stud sheep, in the breeding of which Senator Guthrie has been so successful. Senator Collings would: say “No, we don’t want them for ourselves, but we shall not deal with you “. Reversing; the words of Shylock he would say “I shall not buy with you, nor sell with you”. There are iron deposits at Yampi Sound which, have been known to capitalists and miners for many years and have never been developed. Proposals are made now that, instead of allowing them to lie in the ground, extensive plans should be made for their development. “ No “, says Senator Collings “ we shall not deal with you ; we shall not let you in ; we shall not trade with you, nor shall we let you trade with us; let the iron ore waste in the ground rather than that we should allow you to mine it “.
– The honorable senator has forgotten that we are short of steel.
– We are not short of iron ore and we took the greatest precautions in whatever we did about Yampi Sound. We communicated with the British Government which expressed a perfect willingness that we should go on with any action for the export- of iron ore. Furthermore, Western Australia has control of these deposits, and it was the Labour Government of that State which entered into the leases with the companies concerned, and the only voice the Australian Government could have in the matter would be to prohibit the export of iron ore. As, however, there have been no exports of iron ore to date, the Commonwealth Government could have taken no part in the controversy about Yampi Sound. The honorable senator also said that when the Lancashire delegation came to Australia, it gave to this Government orders as to what it should do in regard to certain textile imports. That is the sort of thing that the honorable senator thinks he is entitled to say; he knows there is not a word of truth in it. Senator Collings. - I do not think it if quite fair to say that I know there -is not a word of truth in a statement which I made.
– The honorable senator has said that sort of thing a dozen times in the last few weeks.
– I take exception to the Minister’s statement.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- I ask that it be withdrawn.
– In deference to your ruling, Mr. Deputy President, I withdraw it, and shall now proceed to deal with the subject in another way. ‘.£ hope that I shall be able to teach the Leader of the Opposition how to be severe without being unparliamentary. When the honorable senator said that the delegation from Lancashire came out to give this Government its orders, did he want this Senate to believe that he believed that to be true?
– I did, and if necessary, I shall produce the evidence.
– What is his authority for saying that? It appears to me that there is as much turpitude in saying things which you do not know to be true as in. saying things which you know to be false. Obeying the ruling of the Deputy President, I accuse the honorable senator of having in this senior branch of the legislature given publicity to a statement which he has no grounds whatever for believing to be true, and which, in fact, is not true. In a moment of courage, the honorable senator approached a member of the Lancashire delegation. The same policy was revealed in what the honorable senator is supposed to have said to Sir Ernest Thompson when he asked him if it were not true that British manufacturers were equipping Japan with the latest weaving machinery, and so better fitting that country to compete with Great Britain. Does the honorable senator think that it is the duty of English manufacturers to inquire exactly what is to be done with the things they are selling? These are the methods which the honorable senator would employ in order to cultivate friendly relations with the rest of the world, and so secure peace for Australia.
– Machineryis not manufactured in Lancashire.
– Great Britain is a manufacturing country, and it sells the peaceful products of its manufacturers to any country.
In regard to the difference of opinion concerning the sanctions question, I repeat that the right honorable senator said that he wants no wars on foreign fields for economic treasure. The honorable senator said that that statement was made when the Sanctions Bill was before this chamber. I said that that was not so, but that it was said when there was a discussion on a motion by the Leader of the Senate concerning a paper setting out the position of the Italo-Abyssinian dispute. The honorable senator accused me of being inaccurate.
– Look upHansard.
– I have done so. and I suggest that the honorable senator should do likewise at his leisure. Later, the Sanctions Bill came before the Senate, and the honorable senator made another statement as to the policy of the Labour party in the matter of defence, setting out, among other things, the egregious clause that no troops should be sent outside Australia except by the consent of the Australian people.
We have had again, for the second time during the last few days, references to the , Unlawful Assemblies Ordinance which was promulgated to prevent congregations of people outside this House.
– Was that the honorable senator’s work?
– I never even saw it until it was actually printed ; but I have read it carefully, and I see how easy it is to misread it and to give a totally wrong impression as to its contents and purpose. In the first place, the principle that Parliament shall be kept quite free from outside terrorism, or undue or improper influence, is in accordance with the very oldest traditions of the British Parliament.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– May’s Parliamentary Practice, Thirteenth Edition, says at page 180, on the question of protecting members of parliament from pressure or interruption in the course of their duties -
To facilitate the attendance of members without interruption, both houses, at the commencement of each session, by order, give directions that the commissioner of thepolice of the metropolis shall keep, during the session of parliament, the streets leading to the houses of parliament free and open,and that no obstruction shall be permitted to hinder the passage thereto of the lords or members.
When tumultuous assemblages of people have obstructed the thoroughfares, lobbyor passages, orders have been given to the local authorities to disperse them.
With the same object, it is enacted that not more than ten persons shall repair together to the houses of parliament forthe purpose of the presentation of a petition : and that not more than fifty personsshall meet together within the distance of one mile from the gate of Westminster Hall, save and except such parts of the parish of St. Paul’s, Coven t Garden, as are within the said distance, to consider or prepare a petition or other address to both houses, or either house of parliament, on any day on which those houses shall meet and sit.
Ialways understood that Great Britain had a reputation not for tyranny but for liberty and its preservation. Indeed the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) told us that not even Parliament was allowed - of course that is by constitutional custom only - to infringe the liberties of the people. Many States in Australia have legislation similar to the Unlawful Assemblies Ordinance of the Federal Capital Territory. I do not know whether the honorable senator ever heard of the Riot Acts, which are still in force.
– Mr. Blackburn says that no other State but Victoria has a similar law.
– It has been in operation in Victoria for many years. It is not correct to say that it was passed only in times of trouble arising out of the war. My impression, although I have not checked it, is that many of the other States have similar legislation, but whether or not there is any such power on their statute-books, it none the less is true that it is a common law right of parliament to protect itself from interrupt ion.
– Are the people of any of those other places without a vote?
– I was just about to refer to the ridiculous observation which the honorable senator made before dinner, namely that the difference between the people of Canberra and the people of the other places was that the residents of the Federal Capital had no vote, and therefore were apparently free from the ordinary restraints on disorder.
– No, I did not say that; I say that they are without the ordinary facilities for voicing their grievances.
– They have ample facilities for voicing their grievances, and they had them both before and after the original ordinance was passed.
– In New South Wales they put up barricades and used the police, and the Dooley Government even used batonson the unemployed.
– The Leader of the Opposition can bear that in mind.
I will have some further illustrations to give him in a moment. I want him to see what it is that this ordinance, apart from the repetitions which occur in all acts of parliament, does really say. What is aimed at is not what the honorable senator has said. It is not to prevent people from discussing public affairs or matters of public interest, or considering or preparing or presenting a petition, memorial, or complaint. The vital part of the regulation is that assemblages of more than twenty persons in or about the precincts of Parliament, to hold public meetings or to ventilate their grievances, are prohibited. The whole of Canberra otherwise is open to them, subject to the rights of private property. There are any number of open spaces, and all that the ordinance says is that these public meetings shall not be held within a very limited distance of Parliament House.
– What about the original ordinance, which public indignation made the Government withdraw?
– The original ordinance made the area unnecessarily large. Having regard to the plan, which is a schedule to the ordinance, it does not seem to me that there was anything extraordinarily tyrannical even about the limitations that were contained in the first ordinance before it was amended.
– Was there not power under it for the AttorneyGeneral to proclaim the whole of the Federal Territory by regulation?
– It could be done, if the Government chose to be tyrannical, and if it disregarded the fact that there was a Parliament sitting here as a check on acts of tyranny. I am sure that Senator DuncanHughes does not think the wisest way to test the justice of an act of Parliament is to consider what could be done under it if it was not honestly interpreted. We, for instance, live in a country in which the Parliament can any day pass a law enacting that all bald-headed men or white-headed men should be executed forthwith, but we do not live in any terror lest Parliament should dothis, because we realize that we are a free people.
– The Minister knows that Parliament never had an opportunity of saying whether it approved of this or not. The Government has done this job by ordinance; there is a difference between parliamentary power and executive power.
– There may be, but the parliamentary power stands at the back of the executive power.
– All those countries the Minister has quoted did it by act of parliament; this Government did it behind the back of parliament.
– Then this Parliament can rescind it at any time it likes. The honorable senator made great capital out of a recital of the wording of the ordinance relating to complaints, remonstrances, declarations or other redress, all of which meant the same thing with slight variations, and all of which are merely included in order that a specious-tongued defendant shall not escape on technicalities. If the Leader of the Opposition were interfered with by the police, and told that he was holding a meeting, he would possibly say that he was merely preparing a remonstrance, and if they said that he was getting a petition ready, he would say, “ Oh no, I am just discussing a public grievance.”
– If I had the Minister’s legal training those are just the tricks I should get up to.
– I am confident that they are the sort of tricks the honorable senator would resort to in any case. All that is intended by the ordinance is the prohibition of public meetings within a certain distance of Parliament House. Then honorable senators opposite got hold of another point. They said: “Penalty £100 or six months’ imprisonment,” and the Leader of the Opposition advised that any one arrested should go to gaol and do his six months. Again he and his colleagues have failed to realize what that provision means. By the Acts Interpretation Act it is decreed that the penalty mentioned after any offence shall be the highest penalty, so that under this ordinance a man might be fined half a crown, but he could not be fined more than £100. I said that, even if it were not true that acts of parliament were on the statute-books of the different States, there was a common law power to keep Parliament free from interruption. In order to illustrate that, let me show that Parliament does sometimes exercise its common law power. In the Age of the 7th August, 1937, under the heading of “Relief Workers’” “Demonstration in Brisbane “ the following telegram appeared: -
Brisbane, Friday. - When 600 relief workers assembled outside Parliament House gates today to demand aninterview with the Premier-
They never ask or solicit or sue or go in the guise of suppliants - and present a claim for improved conditions, an ugly scene was averted only by the tactfulness of the police-
Those are the men who are going to do all the mischief on the steps of Parliament House at Canberra, according to the honorable senator-
Though 60 police wore present, the demonstration more than once threatened to get out of hand. Blows were exchanged in several minor scrimmages, but nothing serious occurred. The police later shepherded the crowd to the Domain, where it was decided that the Unemployed and Relief Workers State Council should organize a State-wide conference for the 5th and6th November-
One of those days is Guy Fawkes day.
– The council mentioned by the Minister is a Communist organization.
– I am only reading what the Age says, that they were to organize a conference for the 5th or 6th November, and I reminded the honorable senator that the 5th was Guy Fawkes day. The Age report continued - and should take strike action on all relief jobs. It was agreed that trade union support should be sought. After the meeting, the men returned and again demanded -
They did not solicit, or remonstrate, or beg, or ask - that the Premier should receive a deputation.
– Who is the Premier?
- Mr. Forgan Smith, the Labour Premier of Queensland -
Thiswas refused, and they then tried to hold a procession down Queen-street, but the police kept them to the footpaths.
Matters did not end there, because one week later, the following appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald, of the 14th August, 1937, under the headings of “ Clashes with Police, “ “ Brisbane ReliefWorkers.”
Brisbane, Friday. - Relief workers engaged in several sharp clashes with the police today, when, failing again in efforts to interview the Premier (Mr. Forgan Smith) at ParliamentHouse, they tried to hold a procession down Queen-street. There were a dozen or more ‘incidents, which in ordinary circumstances, would have merited arrest, but the police contented themselves with scattering the demonstrators. One man, of Russian nationality, was arrested, following a scuffle in which Detective Purcell was struck a heavy blow on the ear. A squad of 100 police was on duty outside Parliament House to cope with the crowd of 500 unemployed. Traffic in Queen-street was disorganizedfor twenty minutes.
This seems to be an extraordinary condition of affairs to prevail in the workers’ paradise of which we hear so much from the honorable senator opposite, but there it is. This Labour Premier seems to be inexorable. They come at him time after time, and still he will not interview them. Instead of bringing 500 police up here on the steps of Parliament House, we simply pass an ordinance and have a policeman there, whereupon the orderly residents of Canberra will go elsewhere and hold their demonstration. I have wasted time, I think, in showing the necessity for the ordinance, because it seems to me that no matter how strongly the Leader of the Opposition has spoken against it, he sits there as the best possible illustration of the necessity for it. I shall tell the Senate why. Supposing that some unemployed person in Canberra with a voice similar to that of the Leader of the Opposition stood on a box immediately outside the doors of Parliament House and delivered an oration, with his cusomary tom-tom accompaniment, what possible chance would Parliament have to conduct its deliberations? It is the duty of Parliament and of the Government to exercise foresight, and, having done so in this instance, this ordinance has been framed. Of course, if honorable senators opposite find little reason tocriticize the Government, they must fall back upon trifles. If they have only trifles such as this to deal with during the forthcoming election campaign, it will be obvious that they have no real criticisms to offer.
Debate (on motion by Senator Dein) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Sir George Pearce) read a first time.
[8.18].- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of the bill is to appropriate £3,721,000 for new works to be undertaken during the current financial year. In the budget speech, the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) indicated that the proposed expenditure from the Consolidated Revenue Fund for public works this year would be £7,721,500. Of this amount an appropriation of £3,721,000 only is now required since the following special appropriations have already been granted by Parliament: -
Details of £3,721,000 will be found on pages 276 and 278 of the Estimates, and also in the schedule to this bill. The distribution of this amount and the corresponding actual expenditure for last financial year are as follow : -
The decrease of £1,111,048 in departments and services, other than business undertakings and territories, is entirely due to the fact that provision for defence works from revenue is limited to £8,000, as compared with an expenditure of £1,132,036 in 1936-37. A comparison of the means of financing new defence works this year and last year shows : -
To cover the proposed expenditure of £2,500,000 from loan, a further bill will be submitted at a later date.
The expenditure on postal, telegraph and telephone works last financial year was £2,419,079. The provision in this bill is £2,250,000. In addition £1,000,000. of last year’s excess receipts will be devoted to this purpose, and it is proposed to submit a special bill to appropriate that sum. The total provision of £3,250,000 is necessary to meet the everincreasing demands for these works, particularly telephone services. As honorable senators are aware, this class of expenditure is of a distinctly reproductive character. An additional £154,271 is provided to continue the developmental policy in the territories.
I do. not propose to go into detail in regard to these Estimates, as full information concerning specific works to bc undertaken during this year will, if desired, be given in committee. It lias been the practice for many years to ask Parliament to consider the new works proposals of the Government as soon as possible after the budget speech has been delivered. This is desirable so that new projects may proceed early in the financial year, and dislocation of employment be avoided.
Although I have just stated that it is not my intention to deal with the items in detail, the defence expenditure for this financial year is of such importance that it is necessary and desirable to give to the Senate some of its main features.
Senator Sir* George Pearce.
The new naval expenditure provided for this year is £1,244,000. The navy programme aims at raising thu present squadron to the highest degree of effectiveness, and providing for the local seaward defences of our ports a.gainst attacks by submarines and minelayers. Following are the important projects to be undertaken: -
The Admiralty is increasing the armour protection of the 8-inch gun cruisers in the Royal Navy, and the H.M.A.S. Australia and Canberra will be similarly armoured. H.M.A.S. Australia will be commenced this financial year. The armour plate is on order, and the work will be undertaken at Cockatoo Dock. The large refit for which this ship is shortly due will also be carried out. The crew of the Australia will be used to commission the seaplane carrier Albatross and the destroyer Voyager. H.M.A.S. Australia and Canberra are to be equipped with modern and additional anti-aircraft guns and control arrangements for anti-aircraft defence. H.M.A.S. Adelaide, which still has many years of effective life, is to be converted to an oil-burning ship at. Cockatoo Dock. The local seaward defences of the ports will involve the provision of special equipment, buildings at the various ports for its storage, an anti-submarine school, and a certain number of specialist personnel for the technical equipment. In connexion with the booms and other devices to be provided for harbour entrances, three local seaward defence vessels will be constructed at Cockatoo Dock. Strategical naval wireless stations are to be erected at Darwin and Canberra. These stations are considered of vital importance in the scheme of Australian defence in connexion with the operations of our warships, determining the routes of merchant shipping, and intelligence reports relating to the movements of enemy ships in the waters adjacent to Australia.
The new army expenditure provided for this year is £1,277,000. The bulk of the increased provision under the army vote is being devoted to (a) Continuing the strengthening of the fixed coast defences of the main ports; (fe) A further instalment of the anti-aircraft defences of the main ports.
Following are the main steps being taken at the various ports: -
Sydney. - The 9.2-inch and 6-inch armament has been installed and various small items of equipment and works remain to be completed. Anti-aircraft guns and searchlights also are to be provided.
Newcastle. - In view of the vital importance of this industrial centre to Australia, a commencement will be made this year with the installation of the modern armament shortly to be delivered. Antiaircraft guns and searchlights also are to be provided.
Fremantle. - The installation of the 9.2-inch and 6-inch armament will be completed this year. Anti-aircraft guns and searchlights alsoare to be provided.
Melbourne (Port Phillip defences). - The Port Phillip defences are to be modernized by reconditioning the fire command, communication and defence electric light systems. Anti-aircraft guns and searchlights also are to be provided.
Hobart. - The existing armament and equipment at Fort Nelson are to bo transferred to a new site in order to render more effective the defence of Hobart.
General observation. - Provision has now been made for the fixed coast and anti-aircraft defences of Sydney and Fremantle, up to the point contemplated in the first stage of the general scheme of defence against raids. All anti-aircraft guns to be provided will be manufactured at Maribyrnong.
Increased provision has been made for the maintenance of the army on a more efficient basis. The Permanent Forces will be increased by148 during 1937-38 to provide additional instructional staff, personnel for coast defence, and technical staff for the more complicated modern equipment. An increase of the staff corps is to be provided, by maintaining the present entry of 22 cadets to the Royal Military College. The strength of the Militia Forces has been increased from 26,295 to 35,000, as the result of the action taken by the Government for the improvement of the voluntary training system. These improved conditions will be maintained.
Provision has been made for additional storehouse and other staff, and for sup plies for the reconditioning and more effective maintenance of stocks of war material.
An extensive programme of army works and buildings is in hand to provide for new drill halls and additions and alterations, in order to furnish improved conditions under the voluntary system of training.
The free grant of Mark VII. 303-in. ammunition, half of which was restored last year, is now to be restored in full to rifle clubs.
The new air force expenditure provided for this year is £1,430,000.
During the progress of the three years’ programme, the development of aircraft for military purposes proceeded at an extraordinarily rapid rate, and types with considerably higher performances than those contemplated when the programme was prepared became available. By comparison with the types originally set down for purchase, the later types of aircraft are 100 miles an hour faster, carry double the bomb load, and have a greatly increased range. These higher performances arc obtainable, however, only at greater cost, and additional funds have therefore been provided for the increased cost of aircraft purchased under the three years’ programme. The increase of 353 in permanent personnel, making a total strength of 2,472, is due to the introduction of the higher performance aircraft, which require more extensive maintenance and larger operating crews. Owing to a substantial rise of the price of building materials and building costs generally, a large additional amount is provided this year for the completion of works and building projects estimated at a much lower figure in the original air force programme.
Provision is made towards the equipment, aerodrome, emergency services and buildings required for the formation of a general purpose squadron, to be located eventually at a new Air Force station at Darwin. This squadron will be equipped with reconnaissance and fighter bomber aircraft. The first line strength of the Air Force will be 108 aircraft, as against 114 contemplated in the original Salmond scheme, and 198 proposed in the revised scheme approved by the Council of Defence.
An additional 137 officers and airmen of the Citizen Air Force will he required during the year to complete the establishment of the Citizen Air Force squadron at Pearce, “Western Australia.
Certain essential war reserves, including bombs and ammunition and aviation spirit, are to be provided. The new munitions supply expenditure provided for this year is £611,000.
At the Imperial Conference, the principles of Empire defence, as laid down in 1923 and 1926, were extended to provide for the decentralization of the production of munitions, .so as to diminish., as far as practicable, the dependence of dominions on the United Kingdom, and to provide for the extension of overseas resources in time of emergency. The munitions supply development programme may be divided into three broad divisions -
In order that the plans for industrial mobilization may be accelerated, the permanent staff on this work is being more than doubled, and additional technical investigators are now in course of training. Liaison officers of the chambers of manufactures have been appointed in each State, whilst direct approach is also being made to other trade organizations and individual companies.
Provision is made for the commencement of the Empire air mail scheme with flying boats early in 1938. The Sydney and Rabaul service will also be inaugurated next year. In view of the vital importance of radio and meteorological aids to air navigation, arrangements are well advanced for the establishment of these facilities at capital city aerodromes and at essential intermediate places along the inter-capital routes. In keeping with the increase of regular services and the necessity for facilities for night flying, an active policy of improvement and development of aerodromes throughout the Commonwealth is being continued. This provides for the enlargement of landing areas, the construction of hard-surfaced runways for wet weather operations, the installation of lighting equipment at aerodromes and airway beacons along the air routes.
The position in regard to the local shipbuilding industry is that orders are in view for the immediate future for a total amount of £500,000 for cruiser reconstruction and the local seaward defence vessels. The bulk of this expenditure will be on wages. There is also the probability that, when the consultations with the United Kingdom Government are completed regarding facilities at flying boat bases, several launches will be required. In addition, consideration is being given to the question of local construction of two target-towing launches for the army.-
The educational orders to industry will in the first place be for such items as steel shell bodies for the navy and army, steel and iron bomb bodies for the air force, and brass primers for army shell. These orders will contribute to employment and ultimately should lead to local industry participating in the building up of the necessary reserves of munitions.
The equipment of the naval wireless stations will be produced in Australia. Orders are in hand for the supply of medium and ultra short wave radio navigational aids and beacons, the major portion of which will be of local manufac- ture. In addition, arrangements have been made for the manufacture of rotating beacons previously obtained from overseas. These items, which will prove of great value to both military and civil aviation, represent important new spheres of manufacture in Australia.
The works expansion programmes of the Government factories and the navy, army, air force, and civil aviation branch, will be beneficial to employment. In addition to the normal annual requirements for the maintenance of the forces in the forms of food, clothing and other supplies, substantial purchases have been made of practice shot, bomb castings and certain machine tools not previously produced by civil industry, while contracts have been arranged for large supplies of cotton piece goods of a quality previously unobtainable in the Commonwealth. Considerable contracts were also arranged for foodstuffs and wheat for shipment to Empire defence establishments in the East and elsewhere.
The new government factories, upon completion, will create a demand for labour and materials. The expenditure in the last financial year on wages at the factories was approximately £540,000, and the number of employees at the 30th June was two and a half times greater than during the depression. Similarly, the value of orders during the past year was over five times larger. The increased local production of munitions formerly imported, and the growing sales to other governments, will add to these advantages.
The preparatory organization and erection of buildings and the provision of plant for the local manufacture of airframes and engines is well advanced. The establishment of this industry, which ultimately will give employment to some 700 Australians, is a further example of the Government’s policy of sound development of local manufacture, and represents a notable advance towards the goal of self-containment. As already announced, the Government has intimated its preparedness to place an order for 40 aircraft complete with engines, and also ten spare engines, subject to agreement as to price -and other main heads of the proposed contract.
An important feature of the defence expenditure is the large amount that is being spent locally. Of the total provision of £11,500,000 for the current financial year, it is anticipated that £9,500,000 will be expended in Australia and £2,000,000 overseas, mainly on items of modern equipment of a technical nature and advanced types of aircraft which it is not possible to produce locally. The manner of development of the Commonwealth defences is such that the financial capacity of. the country to provide for its security is being increased by the stimulation that is being given to local production and employment.
Within the last few days there have been references to other matters connected with the Government’s defence proposals, and it is fitting that I should, at this stage, state what has been done. On the 3rd September, Senator Payne referred to the claims of North- West Bay, south of Hobart, as a site for a’ naval base. As promised, I conveyed his remarks to the Minister for Defence, who now informs me that Snug Beach Tourist and Progress Association urged the claims of North- West Bay as a site for the establishment of a sea and airplane base and munitions centre. I am advised that the Australian naval squadron, during its visits to Tasmanian waters, uses this bay in common with other anchorages in the Hobart area from time to time. Owing to the distances of this area from the main base of supply, it is not possible to use the Hobart area as the main exercise area of the squadron. It will, however, continue to be used as an alternative exercise ground. The Naval Board states that from the strategical point of view there is no justification for incurring expenditure in the establishment of a naval base near Hobart under existing conditions.
The flying training school for the Royal Australian Air Force, which amply meets present requirements, is located at Point Cook, Victoria, and no necessity arises for the extension of this activity to Tasmania. A company recently formed for the manufacture of aircraft in Australia selected a site at Fishermen’s Bend, Melbourne, as the most suitable location for its factory.
In regard to the manufacture of munitions, the Government does not, at present, envisage the establishment of factories in new localities. As the honorable senator is, no doubt, aware, certain extensions in respect of munitions manufacture are contemplated, but these will consist of additions to the existing Government munitions factories which are located at Lithgow in New South Wales, and Maribyrnong andFootscray, in Victoria.
– I understood the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) 10 say that approximately £100,000 will be allocated among manufacturers in the different States.
– I said that £100,000 would be used for orders of an educational character among manufacturers, but I did not say where the money would be spent.
– It has been represented to me that it should be distributed in all the States. I am not suggesting the allocation of any particular amount to South Australia, but I think the defence authorities should confer with military officers in the various States with a view to getting the best value for the expenditure to be incurred.
– I shall bring the suggestion of the honorable senator under the notice of the Minister.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
Prime Minister’s Department.
Proposed vote, £40,100.
– Is the vessel for the development of the fisheries industry, for which £16,230 is set down, the one we have heard about for approximately two years?
– It is the same vessel. It was thought that it would be possible to launch the vessel this month, but probably another month or six weeks will elapse before the launching can take place. Unfortunately, delays have occurred in the construction of the vessel.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote - Department of External Affairs, £350 - agreed to.
Department of the Treasury.
Proposed vote, £6,010.
– The sum of £3,170 is set down for buildings, works, sites, fittings and furniture. I should like to see some of this money used to erect suitable cottages, more worthy of the Government and of Canberra, to replace the atrocious slums at Molonglo.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposedvote - Attorney-General’s Department, £1,630 - agreed to.
Department of the Interior.
Proposed vote, £303,740.
.- The sum of £90,000 is set down for “ expenditure under River Murray Waters Act 1915-1934 “. Can the Minister say whether this is a continuing amount from year to year, or is it the final payment in connexion with the Hume Weir?
– It is the usual instalment, which will continue for another three or four years.
.- For the erection of a building at the Forestry School, Canberra, the sum of £1,000 is provided. A footnote indicates that the estimated further liability is £2,200. The Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) told us yesterday that there were only five students at the school, although it was hoped that the number would be increased next year. Is there any guarantee that that will be so? On a previous occasion, I drew attention to the lack of harmony that existed between the principal of this school and the forestry officers in at least two of the States, resulting in students not coming forward as was hoped. The existing building is capable of accommodating more students than there are at present. Is there any guarantee that the Forestry School, which has been somewhat of a white elephant in the past, will be better, patronized by the States in the future?
[8.52]. - The total estimated cost of £3,200 refers to” an additional building which it is proposed to erect at the rear of the Australian Forestry School building at Canberra, in order to provide accommodation for a museum, a carpenter’s shop, seed store and a place for the storage of publications. A photographic dark-room is also included in the plan. The development of investigational work necessitates the storage of a large quantity of material and of provision for photography, which will form an important part of the research activities. This work has been deferred for several years for financial reasons, and it is now desired to make a commencement with it. I point out that there are two activities - forestry work proper, and the forestry school. The building will be used in connexion with both activities. Although there are at present only five students completing the course, the Minister assures me that there Ls indication of a greater number in the immediate future. The school is capable of doing most valuable work in the interest of forestry throughout Australia, and of saving the States which co-operate with the Commonwealth a large expenditure on similar institutions in their own territories.
– Can the Minister say what the total cost of the Australian War Memorial in Canberra will be? I should also like to know whether any portion of the memorial is yet open to the public, and, if not, when is it expected that that stage will be reached? If there is to be a long delay in opening the whole of the memorial, will the Government contemplate opening a portion of it to the public?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia- Minister for External Affairs) [8.54].- The sum of £50,000 set down for the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, is required to supplement the balance of £33,217 standing to the credit of the War Memorial Canberra trust account at the 30th June, 1937, in order to meet expenditure in connexion with the completion of the initial section of the building, and to enable a commencement to be made with the final section of the work. The position of the trust account is as follows: -
The initial section of the work has been practically completed, although services in the nature of floor coverings, provision of show oases, and the installation of central heating, have had to be deferred, for various reasons. In July, 1936, Cabinet gave consideration to the proposals submitted for the completion of the building, and subsequently approved of tenders being called at a maximum cost of £160,000. A sum of £14,000- part of a total of £30,000 - was provided in the Estimates for 1936-37, and paid to the trust account,. but no expenditure was incurred in that direction during the year. It is now anticipated that a tender will be let at an early date, and accordingly a further sum of £50,000 has been included in these Estimates. It will be paid to the credit of the trust account. The total amount which will be available for expenditure during 1937-3S on the supply of floor coverings, provision of show cases, the installation of central heating, and the erection of final sections, will be £83,217. and it is estimated that that amount will he fully expended. It will be necessary to provide a further sum of £96,000 in 3938 to complete the work.
– Can the Minister say whether the sum of £23,000 set down for the erection of, and additions and alterations to, meteorological buildings, refers to buildings at Darwin, or to buildings scattered throughout the Commonwealth ?
I should also like to know where the fittings and furniture, for which £4,300 is to be provided, will be installed.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [8.58]. - The amount is required for the following services: -
Revotes in respect of uncompleted works at the 30th June, 1937 -
The sum of £4,300 set down for fittings and furniture is a new item which has been created to provide for the supply of fittings and furniture required by the following branches of the Department of the Interior : Administrative, Works and Services, Civic, Property and Survey, Meteorological, Electoral, Solar Observatory, Forestry, and War Memorial, and also for the Federal Members Booms. In past years, provision was made for these servicesin the ordinary services section of the Estimates, but as such expenditure is regarded as being of a capital nature, an appropriate vote has been made under the section dealing with additions, new works, &c.
– When did the Commonwealth assume the responsibility for the repair of meteorological buildings in the various States. I understood that the buildings were to remain the property of the States. If that be so, I should imagine that the Commonwealth is not responsible for rebuilding them.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The honorable senator is under a misapprehension in regard to those buildings; they were taken over from the States many years ago.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote, £8,000.
– Will the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) explain the meaning of the item “ educational orders and associated services “ ?
[9.2] . - I fully explained that in my second-reading speech on this bill. A total of £100,000 has been set aside for the placing of educational orders with manufacturers for certain defence material in order that they may be able to acquire a knowledge of their manufacture; thus, in the event of emergency, we would be able to utilize our private factories for the manufacture of munitions of war in addition to those produced by the government factories.
– Will the Leader of the Senate explain what buildings, works, sites, fittings and furniture are provided for under division 23?
– That provision will be spread over buildings, works, sites, &c., scattered throughout the Commonwealth.
– The provision of various sums for educational orders and associated services for the three arms of the defence forces is a very wise one, and is, as far as I am aware, an innovation in this country. I suggest, however, that the total provision is insufficient.
– It is a very good start.
– I agree, but it must be remembered that the whole of the material produced as a result of the expenditure of this money will be used for defence purposes.
Senatorfoll. - If manufacturers had wanted more than £100,000, they would have asked for it.
– This is only the commencement.
– I notice that only £15,000 is provided for educational orders for the navy. That is a very small amount, which obviously will not go very far, and seems paltry when compared with the total amount to be expended on defence this year. I regard these educational orders as essential to the future defence of Australia. I have no doubt that the expenditure of this money will demonstrate the ability of Australian factories to produce our munitions requirements in time of national emergency. I believe at the present time that Australian manufacturers are not given the opportunities they deserve in this respect, as much of our defence material which could be manufactured in Australia is imported. For quite a long time a body of highly skilled engineers in “Sydney has been asking that provision similar to this should be made and they have expressed their willingness to co-operate.
– The honorable senator should be glad that at last the Government has seen the necessity for providing for the defence of this country.
– I stressed the necessity for provision of this kind eighteen months ago, and I have spoken about it many times since, and for years before the general public I have stressed its importance, but on every occasion I have done so in this chamber at least one honorable senator, who is supposed to be an authority in these matters, has said that I waa talking “bunkum.” Although it has been said in the past that experimental orders have been placed with Australian manufacturers and a set plan fixed, I have repeatedly been informed by outside but interested persons that no such action had been taken. I was informed recently by a member of the House of Representatives that for a considerable time highly skilled engineers have been clamouring for the provision of funds for the defence vote for this purpose. Those highly skilled engineers are willing to give their services on a council of investigation in a purely honorary capacity.
– Is the honorable senator opposing the vote?
– No; but I should be pleased to see it increased. I pay tribute to this Government for its vigorous defence policy, but at the same time 1 say that at no other period in Australia’s history has the necessity for a comprehensive defence programme been so urgent. With the experience gained from experimental orders, Australian manufac turers will be able quickly to -turn out our requirements of war materials in the event of emergency.
.- I am quite in accord with the provision of funds for educational orders, but at the same time I do not want the position of manufacturers to be misunderstood. As long as the expenditure of money is confined to orders of an educational nature it will be all right. Australian manufacturers have no desire to enter into the commercial manufacture of munitions for profit, but they want to be placed in a position to be able to turn out war materials when they are wanted. I do not want it to be thought that our manufacturers are trying to make money out of the manufacture of munitions in Australia. The Government is doing the right thing in making this money available, so that some factories will be ready to turn out munitions in time of emergency.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed Votes - Department of Trade and Customs, £40,000; Department of Health, £40,250; Department of Repatriation, £99,730; Department of Commerce £27,190 - agreed, to.
Proposed vote, £269,000.
– Provision of £142,000 is made under item 1, division 31, for expenditure on the TransAustralian railway. If to reply to my questions does not involve too much detail, I should be glad to know from the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) if provision is included in this amount for the extension of the air-conditioning of the East-West express train, the completion of the ballasting, and if it is proposed to utilize some of this money for the purchase of larger type engines? Provision of £110,000 is made under item 5 for the Port Augusta to Port Pirie railway. I should be glad to know if this amount represents the final payment of the Commonwealth’s share of the expenditure incurred in connexion with the extension of the 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge line to Port Pirie.
[9.14]. - The services which it is proposed to meet fromthe total vote of £269,000 are, Trans-Australian railway, purchase of locomotives, part only, £47,940 ; purchase of locomotives charged against the Port Pirie to Port Augusta line, £35,000; ballast on trans- Australian Railway, £63,500; air conditioning of carriages, £18,900; and improvements to permanent way, £7,000. This is all for Ihe trans-continental line. Then there are these general items : improvements to rolling stock, £12,500; miscellaneous minor works, £9,160, and the Port Augusta-Port Pirie construction, £75,000. That is not the total of the last-named item. The total amount was given some time ago, and the £75,000 is not the final payment.
-Will the Minister also give some particulars of Item No. 3 “ Central Australia Railway, £16,100?”
– I understand that the item of £16,100 represents quite a number of small items of capital expenditure, with no particular outstanding amount.
– Is the fifth item “ Port AugustaPortPirie Railway, £110,000 “ a further instalment of the standardization of railway gauges?
– I explained just now that £75,000 of it is payment on account of construction, while £35,000 is the share of the cost of the locomotives.
– I am pleased to have that information. Am I to understand that that is the full application of the money for the standard gauge in that instance ?
– No, some was paid last year, and this is not the final payment.
– I take it that it is the intention of the Government still to press on. with the standardization of gauges through Australia in sections?
– In God’s good time.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) shouts to the skies that the Government is doing nothing, whereasthe fact is that the Government has done a great deal and intends to do a’ great deal more.
– Now the honorable senator wants it to do the lot.
– No, I simply want to assure myself, the Senate, and the public interested that the Government is still pressing on with the very important national work of standardizing the railway gauges on the main trunk systems running from State to State throughout Australia.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote, £2,250,000.
– I draw attention to the first item “ Telephone Exchange Services, £1,031,000.” I congratulate the Minister on the excellent work done by his department in regard to the extension of telephone services throughout Australia, although I admit that there are still quite a number of pressing requests that I, with other Western Australian members, have lately put before him, for which we still await approval. There is, however, certainly no direction in which the Government is doing better work than in the extension of telephone services. But I ask the PostmasterGeneral why are not more automatic telephone exchanges established in the country districts? “ We have quite a large number of them throughout Australia. As an experimental measure we have put a number of them in isolated country districts, and they have been very successful there, but the amount of money that brings one suburb under the automatic system would probably install it in several hundreds of the small exchanges that, have only 5 to 20 subscribers. It is in these outback places that automatic exchanges should first be put, because we cannot afford to have a well-paidofficer looking after an exchange for many hours, with perhaps only half a dozen or a dozen or a couple of dozen subscribers. By means of the automatic system we could, at comparatively small expense, give these isolated centres a continuous service.
– A mechanic is required to look after every one of them.
– A mechanic could travel about and look after quite a number. The system is being worked in many parts of Australia already, without a mechanic permanently located at each, and is successful. I commend the general administration of the department and the extension of telephone services, but I urge this further improvement upon him. Many country exchanges that are open for only a few hours of the day, some perhaps only for the morning, could be given the advantage of a long and continuous service if the Government installed the automatic system. These small exchanges are established in districts where there are not very many local amenities, where one has to send a good distance for machinery parts, or even for the more important medical requirements. In many of them, even if one is prepared to pay the opening fee, he cannot get attention after hours because there is no one living on the actual premises after a certain hour. I commend this aspect of the matter to the consideration of the Postmaster-General.
– The general policy of the department is to convert all manually operated exchanges to automatic working, but workable plant cannot be scrapped. That is to say, we cannot be uneconomic in making the conversions. Quite a number of places have been brought under my notice where the officers have reported that the plant is capable of giving good service for a few more years, and we have had for the present to withhold conversion in those instances. We have, however, already thirty-three or thirty-four rural automatic exchanges, and fifty more are in’ contemplation for establishment. Four of these are in the State from which the honorable senator comes. Honorable senators may rest assured that while I remain in the department a steady attempt will be made to convert the whole system to automatic working, for the simple reason that I do not regard a service that stops at 6 p.m. as a real service to the country people. Tt. must go on later and be there for them to operate at all times.
– I wish to compliment the PostmasterGeneral on the service that he is giving to the country, and, as I said yesterday, on the generally satisfactory manner in which, the service is worked. I only wish that I could say the same about other items, particularly one in which he has delegated too much power to a commission. I should like to know whether the item of £500,000 for “buildings, works, sites, fittings and furniture “, includes the necessary .amount for the new post office at Brisbane, which has been promised to us for a very long while. We hope to see a start made’ on that work very shortly. My colleague, Senator Brown, reminds me also that a very unsatisfactory state of affairs exists in the post office situated in Stanley-street.
Has the Postmaster-General considered the advisability and possibility of reducing the wireless listeners’ fee to 10s. 6d.?
– The Brisbane post office has been the subject of very lengthy investigation already, foi- the purpose of giving effect to the decision that was arrived at while we were in that city. It has been most difficult to work out these plans, and considerable differences of opinion arose between the Postmaster-General’s Department and the Department for the Interior, which is entrusted with the architectural work. A conference took place there on the 23rd August and a nominal amount is provided on the Estimates for this year, because I do not anticipate that we shall do any actual work on the post office during it. The work has all to be mapped out carefully so that wo may carry on that vast service in Brisbane at the same time as we are carrying out the reconstruction, but I can assure the honorable senator that the matter is well in hand and that probably on the next Estimates a large provision will bc made for it. ‘
A few moments ago a question was put to me by Senator Cooper by interjection, about the provision of broadcasting stations in the north-west of Queensland. I have told the Senate on many occasions that this broadcasting business is being carried out according to a predetermined plan. We can go only so far as our money will let us, and so far as our scientific knowledge allows us, from time to time. It is intended to cover this very difficult region, of which the honorable senator has complained, and of which one of my colleagues in Cabinet has been constantly reminding us. Steps have been taken to improve the short wave service, which is already in operation at Lyndhurst, and I think that will relieve’ the difficulty that I admit exists with regard to reception in north-west Queensland.
.- I appreciate to the full the fact that the Postmaster-General’s Department is greatly improving the telephonic service throughout the Commonwealth and giving more and more facilities to people who use the telephone. At the same time, the president of a Tasmanian producers’ association has brought under my notice the fact that, in the opinion of his association, the country subscribers are handicapped to a great extent and penalized through no fault of their own by being a certain distance from the exchange. A little while ago I brought under the notice of the PostmasterGeneral representations made by this association, which he investigated and courteously replied to. To-day I received a reply to the communication I sent to that body, enclosing the PostmasterGeneral’s reply to my representations. The letter is as follows -
When dealing with your letter, and that of the Postmaster-General at our executive meeting last night, we noticed in the latter that the wording relating to country subscribers was very ambiguous. It stated that 90 per cent, of country subscribers “were connected” with exchanges that had a basic rental of £3 5s. That does not mean that 90 per cent, of country subscribers pay £3 5s.; we know that nothing like that number pay so little and, further, it must be remembered that business people on country exchanges make up a good percentage of those who are on the basis rental. Far too many farmer subscribers are paying more than the basis rental and we would suggest to you that you and your colleagues might put it strongly to the PostmasterGeneral that the basic rental should apply to subscribers up to the three-mile radial distance
This would be some concession, would recognize the principle we hold, and give some relief to genuine farmer subscribers.
I trust that the Postmaster-General will consider the request of the president of this important Tasmanian association, so that people living in country districts will be in closer touch with those in the larger centres of population. The concession asked for is small, the cost would not be great, and if the request were complied with the number of subscribers would increase.
The Leader of the Opposition asked if it were, possible to expect a reduction of the listeners’ licencefee. At- the opening of a new station at Orange I said that there is still a good deal to be done in completing our broadcasting system, and that several A class stations are still to be established. For that reason wave lengths have to be reserved for national stations yet to be erected; that is a reason why the number of wave lengths available is limited.
– The department never seems to know where it is in the matter of wave lengths.
– The difficulty in that respect may be overcome by our experts. Although the department is at present showing a small profit on licence-fees, during the next financial year the expenditure will about, equal the revenue. Considerable cost is involved in supervising, preventing interference, and in radio research, and by next year practically the whole of the revenue will be absorbed.
– Will the technical staff be able to provide a wave length for an additional broadcasting station in Brisbane?
– Brisbane will be considered with other centres should a suitable wave length be available.
– Can the Minister give the number and location of the automatic telephone exchanges to be installed in Tasmania this year?
Senator A. J. McLACHLAN.Four automatic telephone exchanges will be installed in Tasmania.
– Can the Minister say where they will be located ?
– It is not always wise to give such information, because things do not always work out as they are expected to do. I do not, therefore, wish to commit the department, but the four places it has in mind are: Glen Huon, Ridley, Tatana, and Winnaleah.
– The proposed vote for the Postmaster-General’s department is the largest in the schedule, and roughly one-third of the total amount to be appropriated. The proposed expenditure in other departments is either fairly close to the estimate or even below it. but this vote is a striking instance to the contrary. It seems unusual that the vote of £850,000 for 1936-37 should have been exceeded by nearly £500,000 in respect of telephone exchange services. The total proposed vote for the Postal Department for the year has been exceeded by £366,000. Why should there be such a discrepancy between the estimated and actual expenditure? The difference in connexion with the transcontinental railway is £20,000, which is negligible when compared with this vote, particularly when we remember that as the Postal Department does not embark upon new works with undue haste, it should be able to estimate its expenditure more accurately. There must be some reason why there is such a difference in the figure which incidentally has increased this year, and also has a further liability attached to it.
– It was anticipated that funds would be obtained from loan moneys last year, but as no loan moneys were available, the expenditure is to be financed from revenue. Instead of receiving £600,000 of loan money, we obtained only £300,000. I realized last year that the vote for the department had been pruned too closely, but cabinet agreed with me that an increase should be made to provide for the extension of some important services. We have expended more money than we anticipated, because we had to work in accordance with the vote provided in the first instance.
.- Some time ago, I complained because the Melbourne telephone exchange has not been converted to the automatic system, but I was assured that that would be done next year.
– It will, if the department can obtain the necessary plant.
– I compliment the Postmaster-General upon the manner in which the work of his department is conducted. It is a business undertaking receiving considerable revenue from its customers, many of whom would not mind paying a little more for more efficient service. The time is rapidly approaching when the revenue of the department will have to be curtailed. It must be pleasing to the Postmaster-General to walk into the cabinet room with a smile on his face and say to his colleagues “ Here is another £3,000,000 for you.” In some business houses the employees are told to remember that the customer is always right, and I trust that that will be the slogan of this department. Two or three weeks ago, I complained concerning the service I was receiving, and an official of the department came to test my office telephone. He rang about ten different subscribers, and the rapidity with which he was answered was extraordinary. I have never received such prompt service and I was amused at the smug satisfaction he displayed with the results achieved. Recently my home in Melbourne was unoccupied for a week or so, and on my return from Canberra, I was notified by the department that numerous unsuccessful attempts had been made by the central exchange to raise my number. That, I think, is an instance of the businesslike way in which the department is conducted.
– Some time ago there was cause for complaint concerning the manner in which the telephone services in New South Wales were conducted, but it is now exceptionally good. Only this evening, the Treasurer informed me that, in speaking, to Melbourne to-day the clarity of reception was remarkable. We may very properly pay a high compliment to the officials .of this branch of the department for the excellent services now being rendered. I now direct the attention of the committee to the proposed vote for national broadcasting services. Last evening, the Postmaster-General, when replying to some criticism concerning the Australian Broadcasting Commission, said that excellent results had been obtained from short wave transmission. If my memory serves me aright, and I think it does, about two years ago the Director of Posts and Telegraphs declared that short wave wireless transmissions would be of no use in Australia. Now, as the results of experiments in all countries, the greater part of long distance reception is on the short wave, and very good. I consider also that the time has arrived when Australia should have high-powered stations. Che Postmaster-General said last night that this matter was receiving attention. E hope that a more definite announcement will be made in the near future of the Government’s intention to erect at least one high-powered station in the Commonwealth. In this matter Australia is the most backward country in the world. Czechoslovakia, with a population of about 10,000,000, has a 200 kilowatt station with an aerial 900 feet high, and for many years in the United States of America, 500 kilowatt stations have been in operation. In New Zealand, the main broadcasting station is, as far as my memory serves, about four times larger, than any Australia station, and the whole of the equipment was manufactured by Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited. If we had a high-powered station, we could expect perfect transmission in every part of Australia. In war time high-powered stations are essential, in order to prevent enemy countries from jamming messages and thus interfering with the conduct of military operations and for many other purposes. I hope that the Minister is alive to the importance of this development. Large sums are spent annually in importing foreign artists at high salaries to entertain the listening public in Australia. In my opinion, it would be better to spend at least some portion of that money in establishing efficient high-powered stations.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that with a high-powered station we would be able to inform an enemy of the result of the referendum?
– No. I am not quite so ridiculous as the honorable senator’s interjection suggests the hair -brained proposal of a referendum is, or would be, under those conditions. In war time, as we all should know, messages are sent in code, which is altered from day to day and, on occasions, hourly. I hope also, that before long there will be a prospect of television broadcasts in Australia.
– It may interest Senator Arkins to knowthat some years ago when the. relative merits of medium and short wave transmissions were investigated by a committee of radio experts, there was a division of opinion. The final view was that for transmission in Australia, the medium wave-length would give the best results. I, in common with the honorable senator, considered myself something of a radio expert, and when I became ministerial head of the department, I was convinced that the experts were wrong; but I have had an opportunity since then to examine the position, and I am satisfied that the Government was well-advised to adopt the medium length wave for Australian broadcasting. I feel confident also that when the plans now in hand are completed, Senator Arkins will agree that the medium-wave transmission is giving efficient service to the people of Australia.
– While Senator Arkins was speaking a colleague sitting close to me suggested that in view of the Labour party’s policy of defence not permitting any of our forces to be sent beyond the three-mile limit, the proposed high-power stations might be established, and Senator Collings persuaded to go to the microphone and talk the enemy to death before he came within the three-mile limit.
After listening to the compliments that have been paid to the Postmaster-General and officers of his department, I almost feel that I should apologize for breaking the continuity. But I wish to bring under the notice of the Postmaster-General the urgent need for an improvement of the trunk line service to Mount Isa in Western Queensland. It is practically impossible to get trunk line messages through the steel telephone line between Cloncurry and Mount Isa. I have complained about this matter on several occasions. It is high time that a copper wire was substituted for the existing steel line. I have been informed that the volume of traffic does not warrant a new line. That answer is not satisfactory. The department could not expect an increase of traffic with the existing line, because it is impossible to get messages through satisfactorily. I have personal knowledge of the difficulties that are encountered, at Mount Isa, because I have tried on a number of occasions to speak from both ends of the line, and have found that it was utterly impossible to carry on a conversation. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) paid a visit to Mount Isa recently, and I understand that he had brought to his notice the inadequate living accommodation for the postmaster. As there is a permanent population of between 4,000 and 5,000 at Mount Isa, vvhere private enterprise has invested about £5,000,000 in developing the mining industry, it is surely not too much to expect the Postal Department to spare some portion of its huge surplus to provide decent accommodation. The local Progress Association, the Chamber of Manufactures, and the local branch of the Australian Workers Union, as well as the secretary of the Australian Labour party, have made representations to me on this subject. I hope that, in view .of the importance of the town, and the strong probability of developing a large volume, of trunk line traffic, steps will be taken immediately to replace the existing steel telephone wire with a copper line.
– Senator Poll will be glad to know that there is an amount on the Estimates this year to provide for a post office and staff quarters at Mount Isa, and also that a contract has been let for the supply of a certain number of telephone poles, the intention being to erect a copper wire between Cloncurry and Mount Isa to carry the trunk line traffic.
– ‘Can the PostmasterGeneral (Senator A. J. McLachlan) say where the permanent studios and offices of the Australian Broadcasting Commission in Perth are to be located? Pour or five years ago the commission bought two fine adjoining blocks in a central position in Perth, and prepared plans for the erection of buildings. The people of Western Australia were informed that up-to-date studios would be provided there, but the plans ultimately drawn were, for a building of only one storey. The Perth City Council and other interested parties objected to such a building in the heart of ‘ the city, and suggested that a two-storey structure should be erected. The commission then transferred its offices to an old wood and plaster building known as the Stirling Institute, and has since spent a good deal of money in renovating it. I cannot imagine that this building is to be the commission’s permanent home. Can the Minister say how long the lease of these premises has to run, and when more modern studios and offices are likely to be erected?
I should also like to know when the second national broadcasting station approved for Perth will be erected and placed in service? Western Australia has been badly treated in respect of broadcasting facilities as far as the national stations are concerned.
– Tenders have been called for the second transmitter for Perth. The Department was fortunate enough to obtain its requirements for ‘Adelaide in connexion with a contract for the supply of certain material required at Brisbane, but separate tenders will have to be called for the Perth station. The work will be expedited as much as possible.
The Australian Broadcasting Commission informs me that it has arranged for the provision of permanent studios to replace the present temporary premises it occupies. Sites have been acquired at Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Hobart. An officer of the commission and the chief architect of the Department of the Interior, who recently went abroad to investigate modern studios and studio designs, have now returned and are preparing plans for up-to-date studios. I am not sure of the location of the new studio at Perth, because difficulty has arisen about the title to certain land. Personally I thought the site chosen was excellent, but in view of the legal difficulties mentioned, it is probable that another site will have to be obtained.
– Another f reehold site in Mill-street has been purchased.
.- Can the Postmaster-General (Senator A. J. McLachlan) give the Senate any information as to when the trunk telephone line between The Dee and Queenstown along the main arterial road between Hobart and the West Coast will be taken in hand?
– Many representations have been made from time to time for this work to be done, but it cannot be justified in view of more urgent requirements in. other parts of Australia.
– Is provision being made for better broadcasting services in northern Queensland, chiefly in the Cairns district?
– Replying to the query by Senator Cooper, it is proposed to erect a regional broadcasting station at Cairns, but the work will not be undertaken during the present year, because money and materials are not available. The work is set down for 1939-40.
– For a number of years senators from Western Australia have tried to get a trunk line telephone from Northampton to Carnarvon and other places. I understand that tests with telegraph wires are being conducted, but in view of the disappointing results experienced at Mr Isa, Queensland, where iron wire was used, I am afraid that the prospect is not hopeful.
– I understand that a different type of wire is used.
Senator ALLAN MacDONALD.Everything possible should be done to lessen the isolation of the people in this important locality. They should at least have satisfactory telephonic communication with Geraldton, and with Perth also.
– I believe that some investigation is being made in connexion with the Carnarvon line. I shall communicate the result to those senators from Western Australia who have made representations in this connexion.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote - Northern Territory, £120,000- agreed to.
Federal Capital Territory.
Proposed vote, £515,000.
– Under division 34 the sum of £189,610 is set down for architectural services, fittings and furniture, and £306,460 for engineering services. Only £10,460 is provided for “Sundry works and services “. Evidently, the architectural and engineering services contemplated are most comprehensive, for they total nearly half a million pounds. I should like some information regarding them.
[10.11]. - These items cover a lot of detailed services. The whole of the amount of £189,610 set down for architectural services, fittings and furniture, will not be available for expenditure during the current year, as this item will require to contribute towards the general saving of £30,000 to be effected under all the items of division 34. Re-votes in respect of uncompleted works in hand at the 30th June last will absorb £83,010, whilst £75,000 will be required for the erection of cottages, the demand for which is steadily increasing. Approximately 300 applications are in hand from persons desiring cottage accommodation. The amount provided will meet only a limited portion of the existing requirements. Among the works for which provision is being made are the following: -
For engineering services £306,460 is being provided. That sum includes revotes totalling £200,000 in respect of works uncompleted at the 30th June last.
Chief among the engineering services are -
– If there is one vote we should not cavil at in these Estimates, it is that for the further development of the Federal Capital Territory. I suppose no other city in the world is showing the return on the capital invested in its development that Canberra shows. That is a very wholesome state of affairs. I urge the Leader of the Senate to bring under the notice of the Minister for the Interior the necessity for pushing on with the construction of cottages, not only because of the present demand for them, but also because under existing conditions a good deal of the money spent in wages in the Federal Capital Territory is finding its way into Queanbeyan, nine miles away. Nothing is occurring in that town which would* account for the prosperity evidenced by the number of new buildings and shops being erected there, and for the improvement of its hotels. We can only assume that this measure of prosperity is entirely due to the fact that as Canberra does not provide the accommodation required by artisans employed in the Federal Capital Territory on developmental works, many of them are forced to reside in Queanbeyan. Where they reside, they spend their wages. I seriously urge the Leader of the Senate to suggest to his colleagues in the Cabinet the desirability of providing suitable cottage accommodation for artisans employed in the Federal Capital Territory.
– I disagree entirely with the views expressed by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings). I tlo not think that the Australian taxpayer should be asked to provide the money to build dozens of houses in Canberra.
– They are all revenue-producing.
– It appears to me from the list read out by the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) that the provision for the Federal Capital Territory is to be spent largely on- works and services that in other parts of Australia arc undertaken by local governing bodies, and by bodies such as workers’ homes boards or other properly constituted housing authorities. Instead of money beng spent in Canberra on houses owned and built entirely by the Government, additional provision should be made for the granting of advances to those who wish to make their permanent homes in Canberra.
– A sum of £30,000 has been provided for that purpose in these Estimates, and the estimated further liability is £400,000.
– Only £30,000 is being made available for. advances for the purchase of homes. In the list read out by the Leader of the Senate, provision was made for the erection of homes to cost between £2,000 and £3,000 each.
– The cost varies from £800 to £2,000.
– Why should the Australian taxpayers be called upon to pay heavy taxes in order to build houses for the residents of Canberra costing £2,000 each.
– Those houses are let at a, weekly rental, which includes interest and depreciation.
– The provision of money for this purpose might be all very well from the point of view of the Leader” of the Opposition, whose party is’ in favour of government ownership of .everything. As a protest against the policy ( of taxing the Australian taxpayers to build in Canberra a large number of houses, costing £2,000 each, for people who contribute nothing toward their cost, I move -
That the vote, “ Federal Capital Territory, Architectural Services, fittings and furniture £180,010,” be reduced by £50,000.
If my amendment be accepted, I am quite prepared to agree that the £50,000 bc added to the £30,000 provided for advances for the purchase of homes for which the occupiers would have to provide part of the cost.
– I ask the Leader of the Government whether or not it is intended, seeing that such a large sum of money is -being set aside for the development of the Federal Capital Territory, to abandon the Molonglo settlement, and to build decent homes for those workers who arc at present residing there.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [30.24].- The answer to the honorable senator’s question is in these Estimates. As new cottages become available, the weatherboard buildings at Molonglo will be vacated and- pulled down.
– So that, in the course of time, the settlement at Molonglo will disappear?
– That is so.
Proposed, vote agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment: ; report adopted.
Bill read a. third time.
Bill received from the Bouse of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Sir Georgi: Pearce) read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator A. J. McLachlan) read a first, time.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (WesternAustraliaMinisterforExternal Affairs) [10.35].- I move-
Thatthe Senate do now adjourn. I promised Senator Abbott to try to obtain for him some information regarding the matter of nationality and naturalization that he raised when we were dealing with the Dairy Produce Export Control Bill. The Minister for the Interior has supplied to me the following particulars: -
It does not necessarily follow that, when an alien becomes naturalized and renounces his allegiance to the country of his origin, he loses his former nationality. In the majority of countries a person loses his original nationality upon naturalization abroad; in a few caseshe does not, and in somehehas to obtain authorization from the Government, even thoughhe has renounced his former nationality. The general principle accepted by the British and Commonwealth governments is that it is for each State to determine the rules for the acquisition and loss of its nationality. One State need not recognize legislation passed by another State which it considers prejudiced to its own rights. The principle consistently followed by the British Government is that, if a person enjoys the nationality of two States, each of those States is entitled to regard its own nationality as the dominant one -
in all questions which may arise be tween that State and theperson concerned.
For example, if a Jugoslav were naturalized here and also retained his Jugoslavian nationality incontemplation of Jugoslavian law, the Jugoslavian Governmentcould not claim to accord him protection whilst he was here. If he proceeded to Jugoslavia, and was called up for military service, we would not interfere. Section 24 of our Nationality Act has a bearing on the point. It states - “ Where any British subject ceases to be a British subject he shall not thereby be discharged from any obligation, duty or liability in respect of any act done before he ceased to he a British subject.”
Consideration was previously given to representations made by the Consul-General for Jugoslavia that Jugoslav nationals should be required to obtain a release from the Jugoslavian Government before being naturalized. It was decided not to do this. The. Government of the United Kingdom does so, but not the governments of the other dominions.
– I asked a question to-day in regard to the attendance in this chamber of Senator Massy-Greene. I have been a member of the Senatefor over five years, andI think other honorable senators will agree that I am not a muck-raker andnever have been. At the same time, the matter of Sir Walter Massy-Greene still being a member of the Senate and not attending the meetings of this chamber, calls for really serious investigation. The Senate is certainly entitled to an explanation. During the last few weeksI have beenasked about the honorable senator’s attendances ; I promised to make inquiries atthe first opportunity. I find to-day that out of 112 sittings Senator Massy-Greene has attended only fifteen. If he were sick we could understand his absence.
– He was ill for a part of the time.
– He may have been, but at the same time the figuresare really astounding. It is not fair to the Senate or the country. If this gentleman’s commercial interests prevent him from attending to his parliamentary duties, the fairest course for him to take is to resign from the Senate. He may be doing some work which we do not know about, but I think it is usual for an honorable senator to attend the majority of the sittings of the Senate. Honorable senators have visited various parts of the world with leave of absence and others, unfortunately, have been very ill, causing them to spend much of their time away from the Senate. As theSenate meets on only a few occasions during the year, and since October,1934, Senator Massy-Greene has been in attendance only fifteen times, it is evident that some explanation is due from him in fairness to the Senate and to the people of Australia.
– It is with a considerable amount of reluctance that I rise to endorsethe remarks of Senator Brown. 1 realize that the honorable senator to whom he has referred possesses outstanding ability. He was elected by hisState to give service to the people in this chamber and the people are entitled to the benefit of his ability and knowledge. I feel that the position of a senatoris a full-time job, and the least a man holding it can do is to attend the sittings of the Senate, unless prevented by ill-health or absence overseas. This honorable senator has been away 89 sitting days without leave and eight with leave out of a total of 112 ; that sort of thing tends largely to bring this chamber into disrepute. For that reason more than any other I take exception to his continued absence without leave. Possibly the Senate itself has erred in not granting leave to him. I notice that he was absent for only eight days with leave, and I do not understand how he could be absent for 89 more without leave without ceasing to be a senator.
– Senators should be fined for non-attendance of that kind.
-Some penalty should be imposedon a man who absents himself without leave. I hope in fairness to the taxpayers that the honorable senator concerned will either attend in future or tender his resignation.
– In this matter, on which I regret to speak, as much as the previous speaker does, one must keep clearly in his mind two considerations; the first is that there are a certain number of meetings of the Senate, and the second is the quality of the work that is done. Senator SirWalter Massy-Greene was elected, as I was, in 1931. I think that I am right in saying that he was not at that time in good health. Nevertheless, he became Assistant Treasurer of the Commonwealth, and held that position, one of extreme difficulty and great responsibility, at a most troublous time in Australia’s history. He did his work in a way for which we ought to be grateful. Many of us sit here year after year and never in the whole of our careers do anything like as good work as the honorable senator did in those three years, at a time when he was in ill-health. I do not desire to go into the other side of the question, nor should it be necessary to do so. Honorable senators, should, in all fairness, weigh the value of a man’s work against the number of his attendances ; that is what I do, and I say that, on a consideration of the last six years this country has good reason to be grateful for the fact that Senator Sir Walter Massy-Greene was a member of this Parliament.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.45 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 9 September 1937, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1937/19370909_senate_14_154/>.