9 December 1937

15th Parliament · 1st Session

The President (Senator the Hon. P. J. lynch) tonic the chairat . 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.

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– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Defence yet in a position to reply to a, question I. asked on the AppropriationBill concerning the distribution of gas masks? If not, willhe have the information forwarded to me as soonas it is available?

SenatorFOLL. - I have not yet received the information from the Minister for Defence but when it comes it will be forwarded to the honorable senator.

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Senator COLLETT:

– The answer I received yesterday to a question on notice concerning relief to primary producers is incomplete in that it is given in retrospect. What I sought was information as to whether any plan had been submitted by the States to the Commonwealth in regard to the future disabilities of primary producers; in other words, whether the subject has ever been approached with a view to having it settled in a statesmanlike manner.

Senator A J McLACHLAN:

– I regret if the department failed to comprehend the full purport of the question submitted by the honorable senator. I thought a complete answer had been given, but having regard to his explanation I shall ascertain whether any such proposal, apart from the relief afforded under the debt adjustment legislation, has been submitted to the Commonwealth Government.

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Senator A J McLACHLAN:

– Owing to the early hour- at which the Senate met to-day it has been impracticable to obtain answers to the questions upon notice. As soon as replies are available they will be forwarded to the honorable senators concerned.

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Bill received from the House of Representatives.

Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.

Bill (on motion by Senator A. J. McLachlan) read a first time.

Second Reading

Senator A J McLACHLAN:
Postmaster-General · SOUTH AUSTRALIA · NAT

– I move -

That the bill benow read a second time.

The amount of £100,000 proposed to be appropriated, is to be allotted to the States on the basis of population. In selecting a programme of works consideration will be given, as far as practicable, to those centres in the metropolitan areas and in the country districts where unemployment is most pronounced. The works to be undertaken will be of a character suitable for the unskilled worker. Conditions in the States are at present favorable to the tradesman, and, therefore, works requiring skilled labour and involving substantial expenditure on materials will not be selected. Men will be engaged from the ranks of those at present unemployed, the only exception being that foremen and gangers from the existing organization may be employed, if available. In engaging labour the State Labour Bureaux will be used. These authorities are more in touch with the unemployment situation and, therefore, in a better position to select the most urgent cases. The Department of the Interior at present operates under the contract system, and, us the engagement of labour is only intermittent, has not an organization in the States to deal with registration and the allocation of employment. Employment under this appropriation will be entirely on a day labour basis. In order to spread the benefit from this money over the greatest number, it is proposed to giro to each man three weeks’ work, which will enable 7,000 men to benefit. The works to be included in the programme will consist mainly of earthworks, such as clearing, grading, levelling, drainage, roads and other improvements at Commonwealth establishments; they will be useful works which will add to, or maintain, the value of such establishments, and, moreover, can be put in hand immediately. The proposed appropriation will enable the department to carry out works which have not been put forward previously owing to more urgent requirements having to be met.


– The members of the Opposition are, of course, favorable to the passage of this bill. If we have any regrets it is that the Government cannot, especially at this time of the year, increase the amount substantially. After all, this grant is a slight recognition of the fact that prosperity is still absent from the lives of many of our people. The amount to be distributed is a mere pittance, and will not go far to relievo the poverty which is prevalent as the result of unemployment. We approve the bill because it is an admission that something should” bc done to assist those in need.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read asecond time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.

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The following paper was presented : -

Customs Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1937, No. 108.

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Motion (by Senator A. J. McLachlan) agreed to -

That the Senate at its rising adjourn till a day andhour to be fixed by the President, which time of meeting shall be notified te each senator by telegram or letter.

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Motion (by Senator A. J.

McLachlan) - by leave - agreed to -

That leave of absence be granted to every member of the Senate from the determination nf the sitting this day to the day on which the Senate next meets.

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Senator A. J. MCLACHLAN (South

Australia - Postmaster-General) [10.41]. - I move -

That the Senate do now adjourn.

In submitting this motion I offer to you Mr. President, the Chairman of Committees, honorable senators generally, and the executive officers of this Chamber the felicitations customary at this season. I convey the thanks of the members of the Government to all concerned for facilitating the despatch of business in this Chamber, and express my appreciation of tha courtesy and consideration, which hare been shown at all times to the Government, not only by the executive officers but also by the parliamentarystaffs generally. We are particularly grateful to those gentlemen who have the heavy task imposed upon them of converting into good English those expositions to which we give voice. I trust that you, sir, honorable senators, and officials will enjoy a period of rest and peace during the vacation upon which we are now entering.


– I should like to add my small tribute of gratitude to those who have the responsibility of carrying out the official work of Parliament, and to express the thanks of the Opposition to all those officers, in whatever department they may be functioning, who do so much to make our work here pleasant and more easily accomplished. I believe that we should entertain kindly and appreciative feelings towards the staff, and even towards our political enemies, not only at this season, but on every day of the year. My Deputy Leader interjects that that is, perhaps, a little too much to ask; I do not think so. We can have our political differences - and I make no apology for having very firm convictions - but, at the same time we should remember that we arc all units of the one great human family, or, at least, the Australian section of it. I suggest, therefore, that these sentiments should not merely be expressed on one day out of the 365 in the year, but should constantly actuate our general conduct.

I am not quite sure that the Leader of the Senate was right when he said that members of the Hansard staff have a heavy task in translating into good English the oratorical efforts of honorable senators in this chamber. Such a task may fall upon them so far as some honorable senators opposite are concerned, but, I believe, that members of the Opposition are quite capable of rendering their speeches in good English, and that so far as we are concerned, the work of the Ilansard staff is comparatively easy.

Senator A J McLACHLAN:

– Sometimes it is a case of capturing the whirlwind.


– But even some “ whirlwinds “ can express themselves in food English. I suggest that the position ere in this respect is no different from that existing in the parliaments of other countries. As a matter of fact, I understand that recent Australian visitors to the Mother of Parliaments returned convinced that even that august assembly cannot teach us anything so far as decorum and debating capacity are concerned. In respect of decorum, I might say, in passing, that the Senate invariably sets a good example to honorable members of the House of Representatives. I was an auditor of the proceedings in that chamber last night for a brief time, and I was convinced that, if ever we should wish to stage a revolution in this country, we may there find a good school of instruction.

To yourself, Mr. President, and all honorable senators and members of thu various staffs, I, on behalf of the Opposition, extend Christmas greetings and express the hope that we shall all reassemble next year in good health and good form for- the work that lies ahead.

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch). - I should like to reciprocate the genial feelings expressed by the Leader of the Senate and the Leader of the Opposition. That pleasure is somewhat modified, however, by’ the reflection that such sentiments are all too shortlived. They should .actuate us all the time and not merely during the Christmas season. As honorable senators are aware, I am speaking for the last time on an occasion of this nature as President of the Senate. I have been President for over five years and a member of this chamber for over “30 years. Having spent such a great portion of my life as a member of the national Parliament I have naturally gathered many impressions by the wayside in regard to the trend of events. It has been one of tha most tantalizing experiences of my life to find, when reading the lives of men who have figured prominently in world events, that one is invariably left in doubt as to what they meant when expressing their views on important issues. I shall leave no one in doubt as to what I think about the trend of events in this country to-day, and I make no apology for stating frankly my views. When I compare the feeling existing between political parties in Australia some years Ego - and we must remember that all our parliamentarians are elected by the same people - with that feeling which is becoming apparent in the political sphere to-day, I must deplore the absence of that understanding and sweet reasonableness which characterized the relationships of parliamentary opponents in days gone by. Were I asked to do so I could cite many instances to substantiate this contention, but I propose, at the moment to take only one instance. I point out that not one member of this Parliament was invited to attend the opening of the Sydney Harbour bridge, an event which was of concern to all sections of our people, irrespective of politics. In marked contrast to that, every member of this Parliament was invited to attend the opening of the Goldfields water scheme in Western Australia about 25 years ago. Why this change of attitude has come about I do not know ; I deplore it very much. We must remember that there are as many notions as to how a country should be governed as there are brands of tobacco or whisky, and it is imperative that those who hold fast to a’ certain political view must concede to others the right to hold different views; otherwise their intolerance becomes tyranny.

This glorious country cannot afford to be without the blessing of friendship; amicable relations between all sections of a community are essential to its welfare, [t is quite true that a usurping tyrant may ignore this fact for a short time, while he waxes strong with the support of his followers, but the day will surely come when he must have friendship in order to sustain himself in power. The pioneer in the backblocks cannot live without cultivating friendship wilh his neighbours. He realizes that fact to the full when his homestead is threatened by fire, or when sickness enters his home. And the need of the individual is also the need of nations. Without the friendship of other . peoples Australia cannot endure, and we shall not have that friendship if we adopt the attitude that “ we are it “ and are entitled to dictate terms. We may refuse entry to other people and their goods, but the time will come when we shall have no alternative to fighting them, for they will not tolerate our arrogance for very long. As parliamentarians we are here to do our duty by our country, and to place its feet on the pa’th of peace, progress and prosperity. Above all, we must keep in mind the importance of maintaining friendship with other countries; otherwise we must be prepared to fight. I do not leave any one in doubt as to the opinions I hold in respect of these matters.

I reciprocate the goodwill just voiced by the Leader of the Senate and the Leader of the .Opposition, and I hope that that feeling will persist throughout the year. If that be the case the country will benefit from our efforts; if not, our people may suffer injury.

Question, resolved in the affirmative.

Senate adjourned at 10.55 a.m. till a day and hour to he fixed by the President.

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