27 April 1938

15th Parliament · 1st Session

The Senate, on the 9th December, 1937, adjourned till a day and hour to be fixed and to be notified by the President to each honorable senator.

The Senate met at 3 p.m., pursuant to the notification of the President.

The President (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch) took the chair, and read prayers.

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– I desire to inform the Senate that, during the adjournment, I heard with great regret of the death of the Honorable John Barnes, who for many years represented the State of Victoria in the Senate, and was for some years Leader of the Government in this chamber. On my own behalf, and of honorable senators generally, I conveyed to Mrs. Barnes an expression of sincere sympathy in her bereavement.

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– I have received the following message from His Excellency the Governor-General : -

Mr. President,

I desire to acquaint you that the AddressinReply at the opening of the Fifteenth Parliament, was duly laid before His Majesty the King, and I am commanded to convey to you and to honorable senators His Majesty’s sincere appreciation of the loyal assurances to which your Address gives expression. ( Signed ) Gowrie,

Governor-General. 7th February, 1938

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Assent to the following bills reported : -

Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Bill (No. 3) 1937.

Transport Workers Bill 1937.

Maternity Allowance Bill 1937.

Loan Bill 1937.

Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill 1937.

Appropriation Bill 1937-38.

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Appointment ofadministrator.

Senator A J McLACHLAN:

by leave - I desire to announce to the Senate that consequent upon the departure of His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, Lord Gowrie, to England on leave, His Excellency Lord Huntingfield was, on the 29th March,1938, sworn in as the Administrator of the Government of the Commonwealth.

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Allotment op Duties.

Senator A J McLACHLAN:

-by leave - I have to inform the Senate that during the absence of certain Ministers overseas the following Ministers will act for them: -

Senator A. J. McLachlan, PostmasterGeneral, to be Acting AttorneyGeneral and Acting Minister for Industry, vice the Right Honorable R. G. Menzies.

The Honorable J. A. Perkins, Minister without Portfolio, to he Acting Minister for Trade and Customs, vice the Honorable T. W. White.

The Honorable A. G. Cameron, Minister without Portfolio, to be Acting Minister for Commerce and Acting Minister for Health, vice the Right Honorable Sir Earle Page.

The Honorable V. C. Thompson, Minister without Portfolio, in addition to assisting the Treasurer and representing the Minister for Repatriation in the House of Representatives; is assisting the Minister for the Interior.

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The following papers were presented : -

Audit Act - Finance - Treasurer’s Statement of Receipts and Expenditure for the year ended 30th June, 1937, accompanied by the Report of the Auditor-General.

Nauru - Ordinances of 1937 -

No. 10- Oaths.

No. 11- Motor Traffic.

No. 12 - Shipping Fees.

No. 13 - Importation of Dogs.

No. 14 - Wild Birds Preservation.

No. 15 - Importation of Dogs Regulations Proclamation Repeal.

Norfolk Island - Annual Report for year ended 30th June, 1937.

Papua - Annual Report for year 1936-37.

Small Loans - Report of Committee, dated 15th February, 1938.

Air Force Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules1938, No. 12- No. 13- No. 22.

Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. -

No. 23 of 1937 - Line Inspectors’ Association, Commonwealth of Australia; Commonwealth Medical Officers’ Association; and Commonwealth Temporary Clerks’ Association.

No. 1 of 1938 - Commonwealth Public Service Artisans’ Association.

No. 2 of 1938 - Amalgamated Engineering Union.

No. 3 of 1938 - Fourth Division Officers’ Associationof the Trade and Customs Department of Australia.

Audit Act - Transfers of amounts approved by the Governor-General in Council - Financial year 1936-37.

Bankruptcy Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1937, No. 111.

Census and Statistics Act -Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1937, No. 114.

Commonwealth Bank Act - Treasurer’s Statement of the Combined Accounts of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Commonwealth Savings Bank at 31st December, 1937, certified to by the AuditorGeneral.

Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointments - Department of - Attorney-General - P. C. Purcell. Commerce - F. H. Colbey, J. K. Crone, C. B. Smith, and E. F. B. Wood.

Interior - A. R. Campbell.

Treasury - J. B. Brigden.

List of Permanent Officers of the Common wealth Service on 30th June, 1937.

Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1937, No. 113; 1938, No. 8- No. 11- No. 15.

Judiciary Act - Rule of Court - Statutory Rules “1937, No. 120.

Naval Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1938. No. 16- No. 17- No. 20- No. 21.

New Guinea Act -

Ordinance No. 33 of 1937 - Roman Catholic (Mission of the Divine Word) Property. Ordinances of 1938 -

No. 1 - Appropriation (No. 2) 1937- 1938.

No. 2 - Judiciary.

No. 3 - Service and Execution ofProcess Ordinance Repeal.

No. 4 - Criminal Code Amendment.

No. 5- Public Service.

No.6 - Superannuation.

No. 7- Supply1938-1939.

Norfolk Island Act -

Ordinances of 1938 -

No. 1 - Fencing.

No. 2 - Mortgagors’ Relief.

Marriage Ordinance - Regulations.

Papua Act - Ordinances of 1937 -

No. 14 - Navigation.

No. 15 - Petroleum (Mining) .

Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1938, No. 2- No. 4.

Science and Industry Research Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1938, No. 14.

Trade Marks Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1938, No. 33.

Treaty of Peace (Germany) Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1937, No. 109.

Wireless Telegraphy Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1937, No. 112: 1938, No. 24.

Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1938, No. 10.

Customs Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1938, No. 7.

Papua and New Guinea Bounties Act - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1938, No. 5- No.6.

Elections and Referendums - Statistical Returns in relation to the Senate Elections, 1937; the General Elections for the House of Representatives, 1937; together with Summaries of Elections and Referendums. 1903-1937.

States Grants (Fertilizer) Act - Regulations -Statutory Rules1938,No. 30.

Trade Commissioners Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1938, No. 28.

Wine Grapes Charges Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1938, No. 26.

Wine Overseas Marketing Act - Regulations amended - StatutoryRules 1938, No. 27.

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– Can the Leader of the Senate say what is delaying the distribution of the new virus for the destruction of rabbits? Will the Minister make a statement with regard to the Government’s intentions in the matter, and indicate when the new virus will be available to farmers and graziers ?

Senator A J McLACHLAN:

– The honorable senator having previously approached the officers concerned in this matter, I have been furnished with the following reply by the Treasurer, who now controls the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.

  1. Experiments in connexion with the rabbit virus, myxomatosis, have not yet been completed. Before a virus of this kind is released it must first be determined that it is entirely specific to rabbits and is not harmful to human beings, domestic animals, or to our own native animals. Having carried these tests to a successful conclusion the next step is to ascertain whether the virus is really effective when applied to rabbits. The first part of the work has been completed. Human beings and animals, other than rabbits, even including the hare, which is so closely related to the rabbit, are quits immune from the effects of the virus. Experiments are now being conducted on Wardang Island, Yorke Peninsula, South Australia, to determine the efficacy of the virus. In the tests carried out not a single case of recovery from the disease has been observed in infected rabbits, but difficulty has been experienced in spreading the disease from one rabbit -colony to others, the result being that the disease has now disappeared from the rabbits in the enclosure. Further field trials will, however, shortly be undertaken with a view to studying other methods of introducing thevirus.
  2. When the investigation is sufficiently advanced the present intention is to place the results before the Australian Agricultural Council, upon which all the States are represented, and this body will be asked tomake a recommendation concerning the release of the virus. State authorities are responsible for the control of the rabbit pest within their territories. Although the work carried out to date shows some promise, there is at present no indication that the virus would prove successful in the field.

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Senator DEIN:

– In view of the large increase of revenue from wireless licences, and the enormous and ever increasing expenditure of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, will the PostmasterGeneral give consideration, at the earliest opportunity, to the matter of making a drastic reduction of the licence-fee now charged to owners of wireless receiving sets ?

Senator A J McLACHLAN:

– I am constantly giving consideration to that matter, and I shall do so again in the light of the honorable senator’s question.

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Senator COLLETT:

– Will the Leader of the Government lay upon the table of the Senate a copy of the report recently made by Dr. Woolnough upon the iron ore resources of Australia?

Senator A J McLACHLAN:

– That matter is now engaging the very close attention of the Government, and at a later date I shall intimate to the Senate what steps the Government proposes to take.

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Senator LECKIE:

– I ask the Leader of the Senate what steps, if any, are being taken by the Government to ensure the loading of certain classes of merchandise which are now being refused?

Senator A J McLACHLAN:

– Since the Attorney-General left for abroad this matter has come under my control, and I ask the honorable senator not to press for a statement in respect of it at the moment. It is causing some anxiety, because whilst those responsible for the hold-up are, no doubt, actuated by a desire to preserve the peace of the world their attitude does not contribute to that end. I believe that ultimately wiser counsels will prevail, and because I do not desire to do anything provocative, I shall not say more at this stage.

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Senator BRAND:

– I ask the Minister for Repatriation whether there is any truth in the extracts from the AuditorGeneral’s annual report, published in the newspapers, criticizing the liberality of war pension payments? Incidently, I point out that honorable senators have not yet received a copy of the AuditorGeneral’s report.

Senator FOLL:
Minister for Repatriation · QUEENSLAND · UAP

– I have read the comments referred to and have asked the chairman of the Repatriation Commission and the chairman of the various tribunals associated with the commission to supply me with detailed reports on t he Auditor-General’s criticisms.

Senator Gibson:

– How did the press get the report before honorable senators?

Senator FOLL:

– The Auditor-General’s report was released in the usual way.

Senator Gibson:

– It has not yet been laid before Parliament.

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Senator DUNCAN:

-HUGHE S. - I ask the Leader of the Senate whether he will explain why the meeting of Parliament, which we were repeatedly informed last session, would take place during February, has been delayed until the end of April in spite of happenings of the greatest importance overseas?

Senator A J McLACHLAN:

– I suggest to the honorable senator that an explanation of that character can best be made on an adjournment motion or on some other appropriate occasion. An interrogation of this kind, involving as it does an explanation of many factors, cannotbe effectively dealtwith by a mere answer to a question. If the matter is raised on a more appropriate occasion, I shall be only too pleased to explain to honorable senators the various incidents that have arisen to prevent Parliament from meeting at an earlier date.

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

by leave - I move -

That the Seriate expresses its deep regret at the death of Senator-elect the Honorable John Barnes, a former member of the Senate and Common wealth Minister, places on record its appreciation of his meritorious public service, and tenders its profound sympathy to his widow and family in their bereavement.

You, Mr. President, have already announced to the Senate the death of the

Honorable John Barnes at East Melbourne, on the 31st January last. The late gentleman had a very long period of service as a senator, having entered the Senate in 1913 as a. representative of the State of Victoria. He continued, with an intermission of three years, to represent that State until 1935. At the last general elections he was re-elected to the Senate, and in the normal course would have taken his place in this chamber on the 1st July next.

In 1916-17, he was a member of the Commonwealth Prices Regulation Board, and from 1923 to 1929 he served on the Joint Standing Committee on Public Works. In October, 1929, he became Assistant Minister for Works and Railways, holding that office until his appointment as Vice-President of the Executive Council in March, 1931. During his occupancy of the latter office, which lasted until January, 1932, he was Leader of the Government in this chamber.

The passing of John Barnes leaves a void in the hearts of all of us who were so fortunate as to be associated with him in the work of this Senate. He was the soul of honour; his word was his bond. Although a forceful speaker and an ardent champion of the cause he espoused, his speeches breathed the spirit of sweet reasonableness that was so characteristic of him. His kindliness and consideration will long be remembered. He will be missed, too, in the councils of that great industrial organization, the Australian Workers Union, over which he presided for so many years.

What I have already said represents, more or less, official recognition of the work performed by our former associate, but I feel that on this occasion one should express the concern which one feels at the frequent passing of colleagues from this chamber and from other spheres of public activity. John Barnes was of the rugged type, but nevertheless was reliable in his every relation with his fellows. As a Minister, notwithstanding his forcefulness and his desire to ensure the despatch of business as expeditiously as possible, he always acted with a sense of fair play and temperateness which commended his character to all. The rugged types of

Australians, of whom he was one, are passing all too frequently from our midst. [Withal, he was a man of sentiment. I understand that he, and two other gentlemen who with him were regarded, as one might say, as “ the three musketeers “ of a certain wing of tie Labour movement, agreed among themselves that the only monument to , their memory should be the Australian wattle, and as I stood beside tile grave of John Barnes I could not but feel that his chosen monument would be a fitting one, for he was a true son of Australia.

Whilst mourning the death of the late senator-elect, we must not be unmindful of his widow and family. To them, on behalf of honorable senators, I express our very deep sympathy in the great loss they have sustained.

Senator COLLINGS (Queensland).I wholeheartedly second the motion moved by the Leader of the Senate (Senator A. J. McLachlan) and subscribe to those kind things which he said about the late Honorable JohnBarnes. One of the sad experiences of members of this Parliament is that, whenever we reassemble after an adjournment of the length of that which we have just experienced, we have to consider a motion relating to the passing of one or more of our number. Having known the late John Barnes before he entered Parliament - that, of course, means that I knew him long before I myself entered Parliament - I know that all the things that have been said regarding him this afternoon are true. That side to his character to which the Leader of the Senate referred was particularly manifest in his work in connexion with the great Labour movement. Probably no man in the public life of this country has had quite the same political record as that of John Barnes; certainly no other person has had such a unique record in the industrial life of this nation.* I refer particularly to his association with that great industrial organization known as the Australian Workers Union, of which for many years the deceased gentleman was general president. In that office he wielded a far greater influence on the workers of this nation than he did in any position to which he ever attained in the Parliament of the country. He never abused that power; on the contrary he discharged his responsibilities faithfully. He always took an intelligent view of things, and was careful to avoid actions which might ultimately have reacted to the discredit of those whom he represented. His advice on matters of great industrial . concern was always wor,th taking. At times when the peace and good order of this nation depended on the word of John Barnes, that word was always forthcoming from him; invariably he spoke in the interests of peace, order and good government. Those of us who were closely .associated with him, particularly the members of the Opposition, have every reason to mourn his passing, not only because of the sense of personal loss which his death brings to us, but also because his demise leaves a gap in the industrial and political movement which it will be exceedingly difficult to fill. It will be filled, of course, as these gaps always are. Because we on this side hold these views regarding our late comrade, I desire to associate the Opposition very closely with the motion.

Western Australia

– Because, for many years, the late Honorable John Barnes and I occupied opposite positions of leadership in this chamber, I desire to say a few words in testimony of my personal appreciation of him. He was, as the speakers who have preceded me have said, a genial soul, but underneath that geniality there was both shrewdness and ability, as well as great strength of character. The tribute that I want .to pay to the memory of John Barnes to-day is that he was one of those who, very many years ago, stood for the ideal of the introduction of law and order into indus- . trial affairs. In his early .days he advocated, and, indeed, fought for, the principle of industrial arbitration. Inlater life, as a politician, he took part in the shaping of measures which were placed upon the statute-book providing for conciliation and arbitration in industrial matters. The great union which he helped to create, and of which for many years he was president, had in its ranks men who, whilst they appreciated the benefits which arbitration . had conferred upon them and their fellowworkers, were sometimes persuaded to act against the principles of arbitration, and to resort to direct action. It was no easy thing for John Barnes, because of his association willi the labour organizations, to stand up and tell those men that they were wrong; yet he had the moral courage to do so. His influence in the Australian Workers Union, as many in this country can testify, was always in the direction of having industrial disputes settled by the court which had been created by the legislation which the industrial unions of this country helped to place on the statute-book. It says a great deal for the moral character of the man whose memory we honour to-day that he took that stand regardless of whether it was popular or unpopular. Those of us who were associated with him here learned to appreciate his strength of character, as well as that brightness and geniality which endeared him to us all.

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. P. J. lynch). - -I wish to add a few words to what has been said about our former fellow legislator, the late Honorable John Barnes. It seems but yesterday that he was with us alive and well, full of health and vigour - a force to be reckoned with in the spheres in which he moved. To-day he lies cold and lifeless, of no account in the affairs of this country. His passing reminds us in a very striking way of the oft-quoted words of Edmund Burke - “ What shadows we are, and what shadows we pursue.” John Barnes has gone from among us, but he has left behind him a worth-while memory. Those of us who arc old enough to recall his early association with public affairs know that he started life with none of those things which ordinarily are accounted as making for success. John Barnes was born an heir to poverty, but by virtue of those rare qualities which he possessed, he compelled his fellow citizens to advance him step by step, until, when they elected him to represent them in the legislature of this country, he reached the highest pinnacle of popular favour to which they could elevate him. No greater compliment could be paid to any Australian. The lesson tq be extracted from this is that we live in a wonderful country - a fact which I hope will be more appreciated as time goes on. When we realize that a fellow citizen, without any influence whatsoever, has been raised from the humblest station in life to one of the highest positions in the land, we must admit that Australia is a land of golden opportunity with which few, if any, other countries can compare. He has left us and now no doubt knows the secret of the hereafter. Honorable senators who have already spoken have pointed out that in his dealings with his fellow mcn he always extended to them, the utmost toleration and good will, and the hope and prayer of the deceased gentleman’s wide circle of friends, both inside and outside this House, is that the Most High who directs our destinies will remember the kindnessof J ohn Barnes to his fellow men - and, on that account, he merciful to him.

Motion resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their places.

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Senator A. J. MCLACHLAN (South

Australia - Postmaster-General). - by leave - It is my duty also to inform honorable senators of the death of Mr. Charles Montague Graham, at Clifton Hill, Victoria, on the 27th March last. Mr.. Graham was formerly a member of the Senate for a period of six years, having been elected as a senator for Western Australia at the general election in 1922. During his period of service he was a member of several select committees, including the Joint Select Committee on Commonwealth Electoral Law and Procedure of 1926-27. The late gentleman was held in high esteem by his colleagues in this chamber and we who knew him deeply regret his passing. On behalf of honorable senators I convey to his widow and daughter our sincere sympathy in their bereavement. I move -

That the Senate expresses its deep regret at the death of former Senator Charles Montague Graham and tenders its sincere sympathy to his widow arid family in their sad bereavement.


– In seconding the motion, I desire, on behalf of the Opposition, to express approval of the remarks made by the Leader of the Government. I had not the privilege of acquaintance with the late exSenator Graham, but I recognize that as members of this Parliament we have a duty to place on record our appreciation of the public services rendered by former members who have passed away. It is also particularly fitting that we should carry ti resolution of sympathy with the bereaved members of the late Mr. Graham’s family.

Motion resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their places.

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Motion (by Senator A. J. MCLACHLAN agreed to -

That as a mark of respect to the memory of th« Jute Honorable John Baines, the Senate do now adjourn.

Senate adjourned at 3.40 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 27 April 1938, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.