15th Parliament · 1st Session
Thepresident (Senator the Hon.P. j. Lynch) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– During the previous sittings of the Senate I asked the Postmaster-General whether his Department would give favorable consideration to a request for an increase of salaries to allowance post office-keepers, equivalent to the recent increase of the basic wage. The honorable gentleman promised that inquiries would be made. Is he in a posi tion to inform me of the result of such inquiries ?
– An investigation was made by senior officers of the Department whose report has been sent to the Director-General of Posts and Telegraphs. Last Monday, I discussed the matter with him, and will bring it before Cabinet during the next week or two.
Facilities in North-Western Queensland.
– Can the Post- master-General inform the Senate whether it is the intention of the Government, to erect at an early date a regional broadcasting station for the benefit of holders of licences in remote areas of north-western Queensland?
– I am advised that people living in some parts of north-western Queensland cannot adequately be served by a regional broadcasting station. Arrangements are now being made forwireless programmes to be transmitted from the short-wave station at Lyndhurst, Victoria, where additional plant has been installed, for the benefit of holders of licences in distant parts of the Commonwealth.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior inform me whether arrangements have yet been made for honorable senators to visit the National War Memorial at Canberra?
Senator ALLAN MacDONALD.Following the request made by the honorable gentleman last week, I have arranged with the Minister for the Interior for a visit by honorable senators to the War Memorial to-morrow morning at eleven o’clock. If those honorable senators who wish to visit the Memorial will hand their names to the officers of the Senate, provision will be made for their transport, and I shall be pleased to accompany them.
– I ask the Post master-General whether it is true that the laying of the foundation stone of the Brisbane Post Office has been postponed till 1950, owing to the heavy expenditure contemplated on the Government’s defence programme ?
– I am not aware of any arrangements for the laying of a foundation stone for the Brisbane Post Office, but I can assure the honorable senator that there will be a new post office for that city. When the Estimates come before the Senate he will see what provision has been made.
The following papers were presented : -
Department of External Affairs - Annual Report for year 1937.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. -
No. 5 of 1938 - Federated Public Service Assistants’ Association of Australia.
No.6 of 1938 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia; Australian Postal Electricians’ Union; Australian Third Division Telegraphists andPostal Clerks’ Union; Commonwealth Postmasters’ Association ; Commonwealth Public Service Artisans’ Association; Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association; Federated Public Service Assistants’ Association of Australia; Fourth Division Officers’ Association of the Trade and Customs Department; Fourth Division Postmasters, Postal Clerks and Telegraphists’ Union; and Postal Electricians Supervisors and Foremen’s Association, PostmasterGeneral’s Department, Commonwealth of Australia.
No. 7 of 1938 - Line Inspectors’ Association, Commonwealth of Australia.
No. 8 of 1938 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia.
No. 10 of 1938 - Commonwealth Postmasters’ Association.
No. 11 of 1938 - Fourth Division Postmasters, Postal Clerks and Telegraphists’ Union.
No. 12 of 1938 - Federated Public Service Assistants’ Association of Australia.
No. 13 of 1938 - Commonwealth Telegraph Traffic and Supervisory Officers’ Association .
Australian Broadcasting Commission Act - Fifth Annual Report of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, year ended 30th June, 1937.
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1937, No. 118; 1938, No. 35 .
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired at Darwin, Northern Territory - For Administrative purposes.
Meat Export Control Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1938, No. 34 -No. 36.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determination by the Arbitrator &c. - No. 9 of 1938 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
Senator FOLL laid on the table reports and recommendations of the Tariff Board on the following subjects: -
Petits Pois and Mushrooms, preserved in liquid or partly preserved or pulped.
Reciprocating Steam Engines of the quick revolution, self-lubricating type.
Textile Articles of furnishing Drapery and Napery.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: -
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
With reference to Senator Collet’s question on the 27th April, whether the Minister would lay upon the Table of the Senate a copy of the report recently made by Dr. Woolnough, upon the iron ore resources of Australia, to which the Minister replied that the matter was engaging the attention of the Government, but that later he would intimate to the Senate what steps the Government proposes to take - before any such steps are taken, will the Senate be given an opportunity to discuss the matter?
– No undertaking can be given that an opportunity will be afforded the Senate to discuss the export of iron ore from Australia before a decision is reached in this regard, but, at the appropriate time, a copy of the report by Dr. W. G. Woolnough, the Commonwealth Geological Adviser, on the matter will be made available for the information of honorable senators.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answers: -
Tariff Board Inquiry
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Is the report of the Tariff Board inquiry into the cut glass section of the Crown Crystal Glass Proprietary Limited, of Sydney, completed: if so, will the Minister lay the report on the table; if it is not completed, when is it expected to be ready?
– The Tariff Board’s report on articles of glass has been received and isat present under consideration. I am unable to say when it will be laid upon the table.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
In view of strenuous efforts that are being made in Great Britain and Australia tocreate an adequate system of defence, will the Government inform the Senate what steps are being taken (if any) to assure that sufficient reserves of wool are held in both countries to meet any sudden demand in the event of hostilities?
– The Minister for Defence has furnished the following answer : -
At the Imperial Conference, in 1937, it was agreed that concerted arrangements should be made by the several parts of the Empire to ensure adequate supplies of raw materials in an emergency. Information in the possession of the Commonwealth Government indicates that the Imperial authorities appreciate the importance of adequate supplies of wool being available to meet the requirements of the United Kingdom in a national emergency, and have reached conclusions as to measures which are deemed to be necessary in order to achieve their objective. In regard to Australia, the Prime Minister’s statement indicated that consideration is being given to the nation-wide planning necessary for an emergency, and an examination will shortly be made of the plans necessary for the wool industry.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The Minister for Defence has supplied the following answers : - 1. (a) During the last six months, three fatal accidents occurred in the Royal Australian Air Force in the following circumstances: - 7th December, 1937.- Pilot Officer J. F. Fallon.. - The report of the special committee which investigated this accident has already been published. Physical incapacity of the pilot was assessed as the cause of the fatal crash. 22nd April, 1938.- Pilot Officer L. R. Sutherland. - Killed whilst practising aerobatics. 25th April, 1938.- Flying Officer A. F. Chalman. - Aircraft crashed when attempting forced landing in extremely adverse weather conditions.
The last two accidents are now being investigated, and the reports of the Air AccidentsInvestigation Committee will be published when the inquiries are completed.
If the inquiries now in progress disclose that any remedial measures are practicable, the honorablesenator can be assured that they will be adopted.
. -I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
As a somewhat similar measure received the endorsement of this chamber so recently as June last, it seems unnecessary for me to go into any great detail in submitting this bill for the consideration of honorable senators. I propose, however, to make such observations as will enable them to refresh their memories as to the reasons for the introduction of the measure, and also as to the object of some of its principal provisions.
The appointment of an Inter-State Commission is contemplated by the Constitution. A similar body had been functioning in the United States of America for several years prior to the federation of Australia, and it was to be expected that the representatives of- the various Australian States who helped to frame the Constitution would be conversant with the work of that commission and would, accordingly, suggest the creation of such a body as part of the machinery of government in the federation then about to be established. Some independent body was considered to be necessary to adjust the varying interests of the different States, to preserve the balance between them, and to ensure that constitutional guarantees and requirements would be fulfilled. And so itcame about that section 101, which began - “ There shall be an Inter-State Commission “ was included in the Constitution. The creation of such a body is, therefore, in the words of the Royal Commission on the Finances of Western Australia, “ one of the terms of the federal partnership agreement. It is in the bond “.
Although the section creating the commission is mandatory, the powers to be conferred on it are in the discretion of the Parliament. Section 101 of the Constitution did, in fact, give some indication of the nature of these powers, but just what they will, in fact, be, this Parliamenthas to decide. The commission is to have “such powers of adjudication and administration as the Parliament deems necessary for the execution and maintenance, within the Commonwealth, of the provisions of this Constitution relating to trade and ‘Commerce, and. of laws made thereunder “.
Other provisions of the Constitution which relate to the commission are sections 73, 102, 103 and 104. Under section 73, appeals lie to the High Court from the commission, but as to questions of law only. . Section 103 deals with the appointment and tenure of members of the commission; whilst sections 102 and 104 are concerned with preferences on State railways. These provisions in the Constitution contemplate the existence of an interstate commission, and some go so far as to show that the commission is an essential instrument for the proper working of the Constitution.On the latter ground alone there is sufficient reason for making proper provision to enable the commission to function.
There is, as honorable senators are no doubt aware, already an act onthe statute-book dealing with the Inter-State Commission, and a commission did function for several years. Certain provisions of that act, the Inter-State Commission Act 1912, which purported to confer judicial powers on the commission, were declared by a majority decision of the High Court to be beyond the power of the
Commonwealth Parliament. As a consequence, the original commission was deprived of a considerable part of its power in relation to the control, regulation, execution or maintenance of the commerce provisions of the Constitution. The original commission went out of existence on the expiration of the term of appointment of the members, and no further appointments have since been made. The work that could have been entrusted to the commission has not, however, been allowed to remain undone. Several bodies such as royal commissions, the Tariff Board, and the Commonwealth Grants Commission, have been performing some of the functions that would have been assigned to an interstate commission had it been functioning. Without minimizing the good work already performed by the bodies mentioned, the Government believes that the time has arrived when it is desirable that some phases at least of the investigating work entrusted to special bodies should be assigned to a permanent body. By this means, investigations will be co-ordinated and, with the passage of the years, the members of the investigating body will acquire a valuable knowledge of the scope and purpose of the’ Constitution and, more especially, of those provisions relating to interstate trade and commerce.
The proposed interstate commission will have, among its functions, the important responsibility of investigating matters referred to it by the GovernorGeneral. The investigating functions of the commission will prove a valuable aid to this Parliament in coming to decisions on the momentous questions put before it from time to time. Is there any member of this chamber who thinks it possible for honorable senators to investigate the factual basis for the provisions of all measures put before them? The mass of detail is well-nigh overwhelming, and it is proper that Parliament should pass on to other bodies the function of gathering in, sifting, and weighing information which may be useful in dealing with measures submitted to Parliament. Parliament has the duty of directing policy, and of indicating, so far as legislative action is necessary, the path of social and economic development in the light of ascertained knowledge. I shall not en- large further on the importance of the proposed powers of investigation. The necessity for being well-informed on the material side in order to give effect to ideals has long been recognized. In commending the original measure in 1911, the late Sir Littleton Groom referred to the necessity for investigating bodies as adjuncts to legislative bodies. The highly complex state of modern civilization in which there is so much specialization of function necessitates the creation of one or more organs of government, as adjuncts to legislative bodies, capable of conducting the investigation work so necessary for the proper discharge of parliamentary duties. Members must have the guidance of experts and others who have made a special study of the matters on which they are called to deliberate.
For purposes of discussion, the bill may be regarded as dealing with four matters; first, the constitution of the commission ; secondly, investigations by the commission; thirdly, interstate traffic; and, fourthly, several machinery provisions which will facilitate the work of the commission. The commission will consist of five members instead of three as was proposed in the measure before the Senate in June.
– What is the reason for that change?
– I shall deal with that aspect on the proper occasion. These members will be appointed by the Governor-General. One of the members must have been a justice of the High Court, a State Supreme Court judge, or a practising barrister or solicitor of not less than five years standing. Such member will not necessarily be the chairman of the commission. The term of appointment of members, as required by section 103 of the Constitution, is to be seven years. The provisions as to removal from office also follow the terms of that section, which also requires the salaries of the commissioners to be fixed by Parliament, and the salaries so fixed are not to be diminished during their continuance in office. Accordingly, the bill provides for a salary of £2,000 per annum for the chairman, and £1,500 for each of the other commissioners. These amounts were £2,500 and £2,000, respectively, in the 1937 hill. The salaries of members are, of course, to be exclusive of travelling expenses incurred by them in the discharge of the duties of their office. It is proposed that such sums shall be paid for travelling expenses as the Governor- General may consider reasonable.
The commission will be authorized to hold sittings in any part of the Commonwealth. This authority will, however, be subjected to any regulations made by the Governor-General as to the sittings of the commission. Three commissioners are to form a quorum for the conduct of the business of the commis sion, and at least three commissioners must concur in every determination of the commission. It may happen that the commission is required to conduct an inquiry, or other business, which does not warrant the presence of all five commissioners at the one time. It is proposed, therefore, that the commission shall have the power to appoint a committee consisting of two or more of its members to conduct the inquiry or other business. The committee so appointed will furnish to the commission a report on the inquiry or other business conducted or performed. The commissioners are to devote the whole of their time to the performance of their duties, and they are expressly required not to exercise any power or function conferred on them under the act in any matter in which they are directly or indirectly interested.
Part II. of the bill deals with investigations by the commission. Clause 18, in particular, sets out the classes of investigations the commission may be called upon to undertake. Because of the importance of this clause, I think I should read its provisions in full. The first sub-clause of clause 18 provides -
– (1.) The Commission shall inquire into andreport to the Governor-General upon -
Seven classes of matters are set out in this sub-clause. The first two, namely, those set out in paragraphs a and b, directly relate to interstate trade and commerce. These paragraphs contemplate inquiries on a number of aspects of interstate commerce. Inquiries on these matters may be initiated either on reference by the Governor-General or on the complaint of any State. Paragraphs c, d and e are taken from the Commonwealth Grants Commission Act, and comprise the functions at present entrusted to the Grants Commission.
Reports of the Inter-State Commission on applications for financial assistance to the States may be laid before Parliament. Where it is proposed to introduce legislation relating to the subject of a report on any such application, it is essential that the report be laid before each House of Parliament before the proposed law is introduced.
The terms of paragraphf are probably sufficiently wide to cover the subjects referred to in paragraphs c, d and e. However, it goes further and enables the Governor-General to require the commission to report on any matter affecting the financial relations of the Commonwealth and any State, whether a question of financial assistance is or is not involved.
The final paragraph - paragraph g - is a residuary provision, which, in effect, will constitute the commission a standing Royal Commission. It authorizes inquiries on such other matters, whether related or not to any of the matters specified in clause 18, which the GovernorGeneral refers to the commission.
Part IV. of the bill is directly connected with sections 102 and 104 of the Constitution, which are designed to prevent undue preferences and discriminations on State railways with respect to interstate commerce. Shortly, the Constitution empowers Parliament to prohibit undue preferences or discriminations. It is a question of fact, however, whether a particular railway rate or difference of treatment is a preference or ‘ discrimination, and the Constitution has assigned to the commission the function of deciding such matters: In the event of the commission adjudging that thereis undue preference or discrimination, the Attorney-General may institute proceedings in the High Court for restraining any State from continuing such preference or discrimination. The commission may commence investigations as to alleged contraventions of the provisions of Part IV., either on its own motion or on the complaint of certain authorities specified in the bill. Included in these authorities are the Commonwealth, the States, local governing bodies and certain commercial, industrial and agricultural bodies. Any of these authorities may appear at an investigation if the commission believes that the authority is or may beaffected by the inquiry.
It is hardly necessary for me to elaborate at this stage on the machinery provisions of the measure. Among the more important are those relating to the annual report of the commission, the taking of evidence, and the tendering oftrade secrets in evidence. The commission will submit an annual report of its work to the Governor-General. Such report will be in addition to the reports of any special investigations it makes during any particular year. Ordinarily, evidence will be given in public, but in cases where the commission considers it desirable in the public interest that evidence be takenin private, the commission will be obliged to do so. Closely associated with the taking of evidence in private is the tendering of trade secrets or information concerning the profits or financial position of particular interests. Interested parties may object to evidence being given as to trade secrets or their profits or financial position.When this objection is made, evidence may not sub sequently be given on these matters except in pursuance of a direction from the commission. A similar provision already appears in the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
I have given a brief explanation of the principal provisions of the bill which should, I think, give a sufficiently comprehensive idea of its scope and purpose.
The re-constitution of the commission will complete the machinery contemplated by the Constitution to ensure its smooth working.It has been stated by that eminent constitutionalist, the late Sir John Quick, that “ One of the main arguments for Australian Federation was the desirability of establishing a system of free trade and commerce between the Australian communities.” It is obvious, therefore, that there should be some means of maintaining interstate free trade, and the proposed commission will perform a most useful function in keeping an oversight of such trade. With the re-constitution of the commission, all parts of the Constitution will be functioning, and there will be in existence a body which will be in a position to do much good in investigating State grievances, more especially in the matter of trade and commerce. The knowledge that there is such a body as the commission will probably be sufficient to deter any action likely to contravene the constitutional provisions in relation to trade and commerce. 1’ stress, too, the value of the commission as an adjunct to Parliament and the Executive.
The underlying principles of this measure have already been assented to by this chamber, and I feel confident that the same support will be afforded to this bill. As a representative in thischamber of one of the less populous States, which has always advocated an observance of the terms of the Constitution, it affords me great pleasure to submit his measure to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Col- lings) adjourned.
. I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Australia is <a party to an International Convention for the amelioration of the condition of the wounded and sick in armies -in the field, signed at Geneva on the 27th July, 1929. This convention, which is popularly referred to as the Geneva Convention, came into force, so far as Australia is concerned, on the 23rd December, 1931, or six months after the deposit of the instrument of ratification. The convention is concerned with the treatment of the wounded and sick of combatants in time of war. The protection, of medical staffs and buildings and equipment is also provided for. In order to assist in the protection of the medical services of armed forces, the convention makes provision for a distinctive emblem by which those engaged in such services In,i J’ be readily distinguished from combatants. The emblem of a red cross ou a white ground may, with the permission of the competent military authorities, figure on flags, armlets and material belonging to the medical services. Under article 24 of the convention, the emblem of the red cross on a white ground and the words “Red Cross” or “Geneva Cross” are not to be used, either in time of peace or in time of war, except to protect or to indicate the medical formations and establishments and the personnel and material protected by the convention. Certain voluntary aid societies may, in accordance with local law, use the red cross in connexion with their humanitarian activities in time of peace. With a view to protecting the red cross from being used in’ circumstances other than those permitted under the convention, article 2S requires the governments of the high contracting parties whose legislation is not at present adequate for the purpose, to take the necessary legislative measures to prohibit, in certain, circumstances, the use of the red cross and the Arms of the Swiss Confederation and imitations thereof. Clause 4 sets out the circumstances in which the Red Cross and those arms are not to be used. It provides that a person shall not, without Hie authority of the Minister, use for the purposes of his trade or business or for any other purpose whatsoever the Red Cross, the words “ Red Cross “ or “ Geneva Cross “ or the federal colours of Switzerland.
The convention referred to is not the first one dealing with the protection of the Red Cross and the words “ Red Cross “ or “ Geneva Cross.” A convention dated the 6th June, 1906, also dealt with this matter, and legislation to ensure this protection was enacted in the United Kingdom in 1911. The Geneva Convention Act of 19.11 applied throughout His Majesty’s dominions. That act and the convention of 1906 do not, however, cover the protection of the .arms of the Swiss Confederation nor imitations of the Red Cross, which matter is dealt with in Article 28 of the new convention. The Parliament of the United Kingdom recently passed an act to enable effect to be given to Article 2S. This act is limited in scope because of the existing legislation of 1911 which covers several of the matters dealt with in Article 28. It is not proposed that thi3 measure should be extended to the Commonwealth, and in order to make it quite clear that the Commonwealth has the necessary power to enact legislation to give effect to Article 28 a special provision - section 2 - was inserted in the British act. This section also enables the Commonwealth Parliament to enact that the act of 1911 shall cease to extend to the Commonwealth and its territories. Accordingly, the present bill deals with all the matters referred to in Article 28 of the Convention and provides for the termination of the extension of the 1911 act to the Commonwealth and the Territories of Papua and Norfolk Island. Such, briefly, is the purport of the measure and I confidently commend it to the favorable consideration of honorable senators.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill road a. second time. 7 » committee:
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 (Prohibition of use of certain designs a.nd words).
Sub-clause 3 of this clause provides -
Nothing in this suction slm.ll apply to a trade mark registered before the twenty-third duy of December, One thousand nine hundred and thirty -one.
Is the Minister aware whether any such trade marks are in use and, if so, will the passage of the bill tend to give the users of such designs a monopoly in that direction? It would appear to -me that the use as a trade mark of the Bed Cross should either be prohibited altogether or that a little more latitude should be extended*
Senator A. J. MCLACHLAN (South Australia - Postmaster-General) [3.45 J . - A similar provision was contained in the English act as a result of the reservation made when the Convention wassigned. For the benefit of honorable senators I shall read the reservation which the Swiss Government apparently agreed to and which was inserted in the Convention, I understand, because it was not desired to interfere with interests that were to some extent already vested. The reservation reads - “ I declare that my signature of this Convention in respect of the Commonwealth of Australia is subject to the understanding that the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia will interpret Article 28 of the Convention in the sense that the legislative measures contemplated by that Article may provide that private individuals, associations, firms or companies who have used the Arms of the Swiss Confederation or marks constituting an imitation thereof, for any lawful purpose before the coming into force of the present Convention shall not be prevented from continuing to use such Arms or marks for the same purpose.”
.- I am not quite sure that that is fair. I have of course frequently seen chemicals and drugs bearing the design of the Bed Cross. Certain firms have used that trade mark for some time and to compel them to cease using it would, appear to be rather unfair. At the same time the perpetuation of the use of the Red Cross as a trade mark by a particular firm would afford that undertaking an unfair advantage over its competitors.
– It would be very close to compounding a felony.
– Compounding with the consent of the people affected.
– I am doubtful whether this provision does not permit of unfair discrimination. If the users of the Red Cross as a trade mark were given, say, five years in which to adopt a new design it might be more equitable for all concerned.
Clause agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed .to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
On the 20th April, 1929, an International Convention for the Suppression of Counterfeiting Currency was signed at Geneva. The Convention was signed in respect of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and was subsequently ratified in respect of those parts of His Majesty’s dominions.
Provision is made in the Convention for other countries to accede, but before accession can be notified it is necessary that the legislative and administrative organization of the country proposing to accede shall be in conformity with the rules contained in the Convention.
Briefly, the object of the Convention is the establishment of effective means for ensuring the prevention and punishment of offences with respect to the counterfeiting of currency. In order to carry out this object, the contracting parties agree to punish certain offences. These offences . are set out in- Article 3 of the Convention and include the fraudulent making! or altering of currency, the fraudulent uttering of counterfeit currency, the introduction into a country of counterfeit currency, and the fraudulent making, receiving or obtaining of instruments for counterfeiting or altering currency. In the punishment of these offences, no distinction is to be made .between offences in relation to domestic currency and foreign currency. Consideration has been given to the terms of the Convention and the Government feels that it is most desirable that the Commonwealth should be a party to it. Legislative and administrative action is, however, necessary before accession can be notified in respect of the Commonwealth. The bill contains some of the provisions necessary to enable effect to be given to the Convention in the Commonwealth. Other amendments of the law will he necessary. These will be the subject of other measures, including an extradition bill which will come before the Senate later. The bill is limited to enacting that certain offences in relation to the forgery of foreign bank notes are to be indictable offences. Offences in relation to the metallic currency of foreign countries are already dealt with in the Crimes Act. The object of this measure is to extend the provisions of that act to deal with foreign bank notes, including currency notes. The making of instruments for forging such notes is also to be an indictable offence.
Debate (on motion by Senator Col- ‘ lings) adjourned.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This measure is complementary to the Crimes Bill which I have just explained to honorable senators. Under Article 10 of the Counterfeiting Currency Convention, offences relating to currency are to be deemed to be included as extradition crimes in any extradition treaty which has been or may subsequently be concluded, between any of the parties to the Convention. These offences include attempts to commit offences in connexion with counterfeit currency.
Australia is already a party to extradition treaties with several of the parties to the Convention and it is desirable that extradition legislation in force in the Commonwealth should include within its scope the offences mentioned in the Convention. Existing legislation covers all the offences contemplated in the Convention except attempts to commit offences.
Legislation with respect to extradition is partly imperial and partly Commonwealth. The imperial legislation has already been amended by the Counterfeit Currency (Convention) Act 1935, to bring within its scope attempts to forge bank notes and attempts to counterfeit money, and these amendments are to a certain extent already in force in the Commonwealth.
The machinery provisions of the Commonwealth act operate, however, in respect only of the offences specified in the imperial extradition acts referred to in the Commonwealth act. The acts prior to 1935 are referred to, and the purpose of the present bill is to extend the references to include the amendments made by the imperial act of 1935.
Debate (on motion by Senator Collings) adjourned.
Debate resumed from the 28th April (vide page 580), on motion by Senator Foll-
That the paper be printed.
– At the outset of my remarks I deprecate very strongly the practice which is becoming all too common in this chamber of introducing important debates by means of ministerial statements. The opinion of the Opposition is that any information which Ministers may wish to impart to honorable senators concerning the problems covered by such statements may more decorously be given on the motion for the second reading of the measures dealing with them, or while the bills are in committee. In recent years ministerial statements have been read to us, followed by motions for the printing of the papers. The subjectmatter of a statement may or may not be discussed further. It may appear on the Senate notice-paper but not be proceeded with - I am not suggesting that this will happen in this case - and it may be used as a stop-gap subject for debate if proceedings in another place are not sufficiently advanced to enable business to be sent to this chamber. I register the opinion of the Opposition that this is not the proper way to conduct Senate business.
The paper now under discussion deals with three items of business so closely inter-related that it is very difficult to model one’s speeches on any one of them without trespassing on the other; this leads to considerable overlapping of debate. For example, we have already had a ministerial statement on foreign policy, and a similar declaration on defence, and later we shall have before us a loan bill which we shall be expected to debate fully, and which we should debate fully, if we are to do our job in the way it should be done.
I was interested to learn, during the week-end adjournment of tlie Senate, that some authorities, apart from those who support Labour’s policy, approve of my declaration with regard to the way in which the business of this Parliament is being conducted. A prominent Melbourne newspaper, the Agc, which is in no way friendly to the Labour party-
– It is a Labour paper, if its leading articles are any criterion.
– The uproarious laughter from Government supporters suggests that I may be wrong, but I can certainly say that the Age is not supported financially by my party.
– The Age is a good Australian paper.
– It is acknowledged to he an important Australian paper. This is what it stated in a leading article, published on Monday last -
Now Parliament is assembled, and at its members is hurled in a mass lump the Government’s defence policy with its many farreaching implications and financial burdens.
The article goes on to say that we are expected to gallop through all the legislation without giving it proper consideration. It continued -
Parliament must be afforded ample opportunity and every facility for considering them intensively. Opportunity and facility are, however, being denied. Plans framed in the cabinet room may be disclosed in the party room, but in Parliament itself the policy of the Government is summarily submitted, not infrequently in a spirit of take it or leave it. There is little attempt to furnish Parliament with obviously necessary explanatory data.
Members of the Opposition would like to have some of that data. The nearest we can get to it is by searching the newspapers, which have no right to be furnished with the Government’s policy before it is submitted to Parliament.
– Newspaper statements may prove to be inaccurate.
– The article continued -
Last week the Leader of the Opposition, whose courteous treatment of the Minister errs, if at all, on the side of generosity to very wily opponents, sought more explicit details with respect to the defence works schedule. In accordance with the new technique of the “ gentlemanly “ parties, he was subjected to a remarkable campaign of interruption by Government sympathizers.
I draw attention to the fact that even the Government’s own journalistic supporters are ashamed of the conduct to which I have referred. Some very sinister statements have been appearing in the press. They are sinister not so much because of their nature, but because of the responsible position occupied by the gentleman who’ made them, beaTing in mind that they were made while Parliament was in recess. An Australian Associated Press cablegram received from London on Monday last states - “ The first step has been taken towards a healthier and saner state of things in Europe,” said the Prime Minister (Mr. Chamberlain) in moving in the House of Commons to-night approval of the Anglo-Italian Agreement.
The Leader of the Senate (Senator A. J. McLachlan) now tells us definitely that nothing of the sort has occurred. He says that the position in Europe has become definitely worse because of recent happenings, and that something exceptional in the way of defence expenditure must be submitted to this Parliament.
Addressing members of the Summer School of Political Science, in Canberra, on the 29th January the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) is reported to have said that it would be very difficult to expand the defence forces at any greater rate than was being done at present. Since that statement was made Mr. Chamberlain has declared that the position has become easier. Yet the Leader of the Senate now says that things have become worse. Mr. Casey went on to say that the Defence Department had been the only federal , department in recent years that had been able to write its own ticket, and he gave the assurance that this arrangement would continue. That is a shameful public statement by a responsible Minister.
– It would write its own ticket only if necessary
– There is no qualification whatever. No public department should he permitted to write its own ticket. If, in times of peace, the Defence Department is allowed to write its own ticket, what may be expected in the event of a national emergency?
– What is the honorable senator’s authority for the statement that he has read? Is it from Hansard?
– No. I Lave quoted from a newspaper report.
– Then how does the honorable senator know that it is correct*
-Unfortunately, members of the Opposition have no means of learning Cabinet secrets, and when it seeks information by means of questions it receives only evasive answers like those that were given to-day regarding the Brisbane post office and the Air Force.
– I rise to a point of order. I object to the use of such language concerning answers which 1 gave to questions to-day. Those answers were both logical and true; there was nothing evasive about them. I ask that the honorable senator be requested to moderate his language.
– If the statement is objectionable to the Leader of the Senate, I withdraw it willingly. I shall have something to say later about those answers. The ingenuity of the officers who supplied them must have been severely taxed during the week-end. If the Defence Department is still to be allowed to write its own ticket-
– It never has done so.
– I should not have to make these statements if honorable senators were more continuously informed of what is going on. We cannot be so informed when the Senate does not meet for long periods. We have just assembled after an adjournment extending from the 12th December, 1937, to the 27th April, 1938. If I am, as it were, casting into the darkness, I should be excused. Perhaps I may be permitted to ask whether everything in the nature of social services and developmental work is to be starved during the term covered by the Government’s defence programme, while at the same time the Defence Department continues to write its own ticket. If so, the Opposition, though small in numbers, will, to the full extent of its capacity, block every proposal as it comes along, and, later, when its numbers are augmented, the Government will experience the utmost difficulty in getting its proposals through this chamber. We are not willing to accept money from the taxpayers of this country unless we earn it; and we cannot do our duty to them if essential information is withheld from us.
– There is no such policy as that mentioned by the honorable senator.
– We shall be asked to provide £43,000,000 for defence within the next three years. That is a serious increase of the defence expenditure of the past. 1 ask whether, in order to provide that money, all social services and developmental works in the States will be hamstrung?
– The honorable senator knows, what happened at the recent meeting of the Loan Council. There was practically no reduction of the amounts asked for by the States.
– Australia cannot be defended without the expenditure of money.
– The Opposition realizes that that is so; but it is firmly of the opinion that no department, let alone the Defence Department, which is the most susceptible to temptation, should be allowed to write its own ticket, as the Treasurer said.
– His speech on that occasion was merely . an advocacy of » proper system of national defence.
– In dealing with the defence of this country, we should have sufficient intelligence to put first thing3 first. The statement which has been presented to us does not contain details of the expenditure outlined in it. Before we go a step further, we should take steps to ensure that the Australian nation gets the best possible value for every penny expended. Our most important duty is to undertake developmental v0rk3 within the Commonwealth which will be of value from a defence point of view. We do not know how much, if any, of this money is to be expended on the making of new military roads, the improvement of existing roads, the strengthening of existing bridges or the construction of new ones. We do not know whether the standardization of the railway gauges is to be proceeded with.
– I hope not.
– All that we can gather from the information vouchsafed to us is that these things are to stand iri abeyance whilst the behests of the “ brass hats “, whose one concern is military and naval caste, are acceded to. They will decide how the money shall be expended. , Small though it is, the Opposition is the real watchdog of Australia’s interests in this connexion.
– Australia would have no defence policy at all if it were left to the Opposition. When the Labour party was in office, it scrapped almost everything pertaining to the defence forces.
– If the Labour Government had been allowed to proceed, it would have strengthened . Australia’s first line of defence by promoting the health and happiness of its people. When I quoted just now from the Melbourne Age there was laughter from honorable members opposite. I shall now quote from the Sydney Morning Herald of the 28th April. Honorable senators should read for themselves what their own journal had to say on the subject of transport and defence -
The best possible use must be made of the main arterial roads radiating from Sydney, and additional facilities should be provided. More highways and links with secondary roads, in the opinion of military authorities, are urgent requirements.
There is no evidence that these statements have been noticed by the Government.
– -Does the honorable gentleman think that Australia should give to the world the details of its defence programme?
– No ; but I and other members of the Opposition are just as trustworthy as is the Minister who interjected. Every member of this chamber should be told the basic principle underlying the statement which has been submitted to the Senate. The press has been told those things which the Minister suggests should be kept secret. Its representatives at home and abroad know the number and the calibre of the guns which are to constitute our shore batteries. Does the Minister think that other nations do not know these things? They have their own secret services, as has the British Empire. The attitude of the Labour party is that it will not, without protest, allow Australia to be involved in complications resulting from secret agreements and diplomatic machinations of which the people are told nothing. Information which is given to the press is withheld from members of the Opposition, who nevertheless are expected to discuss intelligently the Government’s proposals.
I draw attention to one serious aspect of the statement submitted to us. The scheme outlined provides only for wasting assets. I particularly ask Senator Guthrie to think that over. The honorable senator accuses the Labour party of having no defence policy, but he knows that his charge is not in accordance with fact, because I have read in this chamber the Labour party’s defence policy in detail.
– The Labour partywould keep our forces within the threemile limit.
– It is deplorable that so much money should be provided for assets which, immediately they are acquired, begin to become obsolescent, and long before they are paid for will be entirely useless. That would be bacl enough of itself, but the position is much worse when we reflect that some of the money required to procure these things is to be borrowed abroad. I hope that honorable senators do not think that I am giving expression to these sentiments merely for the sake of criticizing the measure as Leader of the Opposition. I am voicing what I believe to be constructive Australian criticism against the proposals now before us. which are entirely anti-Australian from start to finish, and were never intended to be anything else.
– A- very wild statement !
– The honorable senator would say that because my statement does not agree with the conservative opinion of the Minister. The day will come when Australian sentiment will permeate this chamber, and when it does, we shall witness real defence of this country and Australia will then be a country truly worth defending.
– That is not revealed from the pa3t history of the honorable senator’s party.
– I am perfectly prepared that the honorable senator should delve into the past history of the Labour party, ‘but in no circumstances would I undertake the job of delving into die history of the party to which he belongs; I prefer to keep my hands at least comparatively clean.
The Government has offered no evidence whatever that it intends to spend any money on anything which does not come within the term, “ wasting assets.” Not one word has been said about new roads, or the strengthening of roads already in existence, or about the standardization of railway gauges. Only a few days ago a New South Wales railway system broke down because a few thousand people wanted to travel on it to see the Air Force pageant at Richmond. In another place, the Government has given the reply that the breaks of gauge are not really a bad thing because the transfer of troops at. such points would give them a chance to rest. What a futile and wonderful statement to come from a Government which, six years ago, declared that in the interests of defence and with the object of providing employment for thousands of Australians unable to secure work, it intended to go right ahead with the standardization of railway gauges. To-day, we find this national Parliament with a row on its hands with the Government of .”New South Wales, which is not a Labour government - if it were, the row would not have arisen - because some genius has devised a means of overcoming the’ break of gauge and the conservative Premier of that State says that the Commonwealth Government cannot have the device. This nationalminded . gentleman - and he is one of those who call themselves Nationalists and allege that the country,]s in danger of being confronted with a national emergency - will not yield up a device designed to facilitate the transfer of troops from one part of Australia to another. Such conditions make one feel that it is hopeless to say anything; rather is one inclined to let the Government go ahead and destroy itself.
If we cannot get a guarantee that social services and developmental works are not to be starved in order to make provision for this huge new expenditure, cannot honorable senators see what will happen?
We shall bring about in war time the very thing that honorable senators opposite say is so horrible in our midst in peace time. We shall increase unemployment, so far as developmental works are concerned, and thereafter the continuance of social services. No one can convince me that that is a sane defence policy. No one can convince me that, if that policy be persevered with, we shall be able to offer sufficient inducement to men to defend this country, or bc able to find men with the physical capacity for the- job. Surely the Opposition in this chamber has a right to draw attention to these things. The Melbourne Age stated -
It is obvious that a uniform trunk line gauge would be of incalculable value, in time of national emergency. It should be ranked as <mi absolute necessity.
Honorable senators opposite smile contemptuously when the Opposition makes such a suggestion, despite the fact that we are backed up by such a reputable newspaper. The same journal continues, and this is the point which I emphasize -
A uniform gauge is a sound, productive investment in peace, an imperative need to full efficiency in war.
– Is not the whole tendency to-day, in respect ‘ of transport, to abandon fixed lines in favour of motor transport?
– The honorable senator will not find in the Minister’s statement much departure from the old military tactics and proposals.
– I am looking at the matter from the point of view of the man in the street.
– In spite of Senator Duncan-Hughes’ disorderly interjections, I still prefer to deliver my speech in my own way.
As regards the raising of some of this money by loan - whether externally or internally does not concern me - I say that the proposal to raise any money by loan for expenditure on defence is absolutely immoral. If that policy be followed we shall within 20 years have paid in interest the total amount of the principal and shall not possess one pennyworth of assets for such expenditure.
– Except a few bobs’ worth of scrap.
– Which this Government will probably sell to Japan. Borrowing for defence expenditure will mean only ‘that we shall again establish another vicious circle, and that the very people in this country and elsewhere who are responsible for the war hysteria which developed the statement read by the Minister in this chamber a few days ago will be getting all the benefits. That will surely happen. The banks are going, to get a rake-off from every pound of loan money expended in that direction. Their total rake-oft will run into hundreds of thousands of pounds although there is no reason why anybody should get one penny of rake-off from such expenditure.
– Who are the banks - the people?
– I shall tell the honorable senator who are the banks and [ shall indict a couple of them. The Commonwealth Bank could finance these proposals, and every honorable senator knows that it could do so without any bank receiving a farthing of rake-off.
To the full extent of its capacity, thib Opposition will block any proposal which gives to any profiteering institution, financial or otherwise, an opportunity to secure a rake-off and thus make profit out of a state of national emergency. Senator Payne wants to know who are the hanks. I now propose to refer to two of them. The honorable senator is probably not aware that there are certain banks in Australia which can aptly be described as the steel banks. ‘
– Not the “steal” banks.
– No, “steel”, but it means the same thing so far as national defence expenditure is concerned.
– What is the honorable senator quoting from?
– Prom The Catholic Worker, of the 5th February, 1938, which is not an organ of the Labour party.
– I have never heard of it.
– That is because the honorable senator does not take an interest in national affairs. Honorable senators opposite are more interested in drawing their salaries than in paying attention to what is going on. Surely, however, they know that the steel banks are in link with the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. This paper says -
The Commercial Bank of Australia has iia its directors, J. L. Webb, E. C. Meares, A. V. Palfreyman, A. S. Baillieu and W. L. Swanton. The connection between this bank and Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited is secured through R. >C. Meares, who is also a director and large shareholder in the latter, and through the Baillieu clan, which has extensive interests as well as directorships iii both enterprises.
Under its defence proposals this Government intends to subsidize the banks in the making of profits through the outPUt of steel by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. The shareholders will “ get’ it both coming and going “ - on the swings and the merry-go-rounds. The steel and armament ring has brought on the war hysteria and if war should afflict Australia the capitalists concerned will have been responsible for such a development. Honorable senators opposite know that very well. The same journal also states -
The National Bank of Australasia has a paid-up capital of £5,000,000. One of its directors, H. G. Darling, secures the connection with Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. Another, D. Yorke Syme, is a member of the family running the Melbourne Agc. Twu others, Sir J. A. M. Elder and Sir R. G. Clark, are directors of Goldsbrough Mort and Company, which, with the Australian Agricultural Company, Dalgety^, .aird the Kidman interests - all different names for the same people - has the whole of Australia’s pastoral industry in its grip.
Such statements explain this war hysteria. Every member of this Government knows very well that Australia is not in any danger from a foreign aggressor; they know that our only danger is that if we talk along the lines of the statement made to this chamber by the Minister a few days ago we might talk ourselves into a war. That is the only chance we have of becoming involved in war. If wc decided that our best contribution to the defence of the Empire is by defending against foreign aggression Australia with its enormous coastline, its 7,000,000 people, and the millions of British capital invested here, we would be m Eking the greatest and most serviceable contribution to imperial defence ‘that could be made. An honorable senator opposite referred to Singapore, but one of the first things to do in the defence of Australia is to provide docks in which ships disabled in defending our coastline could be efficiently and rapidly repaired. Even to-day overseas vessels visiting Australian ports which become damaged below the waterline have to be taken thousands of miles before they reach a graving dock where they can be properly repaired. Some speak of defending Australia from Singapore. Apparently the Government is seeing things.
– Does the Leader of the Opposition believe in sending vessels of the Australian Navy to meet a potential enemy or in keeping them within the three-mile limit?
– The honorable senator should leave that bedtime story for some other occasion ; it has been worn threadbare and is quite childish. In the statement submitted to the Senate the Minister said -
As previously announced, it is the intention of the Government to provide for £24,800,000 additional of new expenditure in the next three years.
The allotment of this amount is as follows: -
I should like to know who is going to get that £1,000,000. We have no details whatever. If the press statement, which was doubtless inspired by the Government, is correct, obviously it is going to be expended for the benefit of private individuals who should not in any circumstances be allowed to make a fraction of a penny of profit out of our defence expenditure.
– Did not the Minister later on state that a part was to be expended in providing machinery that would be required in time of war?
– If he did the right honorable gentleman will have the opportunity of producing the evidence in rebuttal of my statement-. The Minister continued -
The amounts for the Government munitions factories and civil industry are mainly for army purposes. …..
In other words private enterprise is to be allowed - I know the denials that will be made but they do not carry much weight with the Opposition - to make profit out of the defence of Australia. All this balderdash about the expenditure of money in converting factories engaged on peace-time production to the production of materials of war does not deceive anyone. The vultures are already congregating for the feast that is to be spread before them. One most significant statement made by the Minister needs elucidation. He said -
Including an estimated expenditure of £18,200,000 for the maintenance of the existing defence services, the total defence expenditure during the next three years, apart from civil aviation requirements, will he £43,000,000.
Why “ apart from civil aviation requirements “? Do not honorable senators think that it is time the Government coordinated, its air force and civil aviation policies in such a way that private enterprise should not be allowed any control in the air in an emergency? Those associated with civil aviation should be informed that the game is up, and that in an emergency the Government will have complete control of the air.
– It would.
– There is no evidence of that in the statement, and especially in connexion with the loan proposals there is no evidence that the Government is prepared to conscript every penny of the privately owned wealth of the nation. The Government ought to be prepared to commandeer those great resources to which it has access should this country be attacked. The Government and those supporting it must now have a definite idea of the attitude of the Opposition in this chamber towards defence. We believe that this country should be adequately defended against foreign aggression, and that in no other circumstances whatever should it become involved in war. We believe that if we declared to the world a sane policy of friendly co-operation- with other nations our peace would not be threatened ; if we also set about developing our resources in the way we should, so giving employment to tens of thousands of men now. una bie to get it and enabling them to become physically and mentally fit, then, if, unfortunately war should come, they would be capable of defending Australia. We are averse from borrowing abroad or purchasing or constructing cruisers in any other country but Australia. If cruisers required for the defence of Australia were constructed in this country, we would have the vessels immediately they were completed and the wages paid to the men engaged in construction would be circulated in this country, thus adding to the stability of the nation. I am tired of hearing this Singapore rubbish that has been fired across the chamber.
– Does the honorable senator regard the Singapore base as so much rubbish?
– There is no country on God’s earth more capable of feeding itself than is the Australian Commonwealth. The British Prime Minister, Mr. Chamberlain, said that Britain would be unable to protect our trade, routes should war occur. If war does occur, directly affecting us, no country will suffer less than Australia, because we have sufficient to provide for our own needs. We can continue to live comfortably in this country and adequately protect it against foreign aggressors. We know that the war. mongers are thundering at our doors, but if we take adequate precautions of the nature suggested, by the Labour party, the whole outlook will be altered. At, any rate on occasions like this we have a glorious opportunity to declare that within the confines of Australia, there are hundreds of thousands of persons, represented in this chamber and in the House of Representatives by the Opposition, who are opposed to war, who definitely declare their faith in a policy of friendly co-operation with other nations, and who at the same time indicate quite definitely that they are prepared to defend this country if unfortunately it should be attacked.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia) [4.47]. - Just before resuming his seat the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) repeated a statement he made in debate several days ago, that the British Prime Minister, Mr. Chamberlain, had stated that in the event of war Britain would be unable to protect Australia. I have before me a report which appeared in the London Times of the Sth March this year of a speech by Mr. Chamberlain. The portion dealing with the point raised by the Loader of the Opposition reads -
The question arises now, what is the policy for which these programmes are designed? I will try to put that in the form of a general statement. The corner Stone of our defence policy must bc the security of the United Kingdom. Our main strength lies in the resources of man power, productive capacity, and endurance in this country, and unless these can be maintained not only in peace but in the early stages of war, when they will be the subject of continuous attack, our defeat would be certain whatever might be the fate of secondary spheres elsewhere. Therefore, our first main efforts must have two main objectives: we must protect this country and wc must preserve the trade routes upon which we depend for our food and raw materials.
I remind the honorable senator that the trade routes between Great Britain and Australia are very important because it is upon them that Great Britain depends to a large extent for its supplies of food and raw materials. The statement I have read indicates that Mr. Chamberlain regards the protection of these trade routes as one_o.f the two main objectives of Great Britain.
– Then Australia does not need to defend them. Why talk about Singapore so glibly?
– The honorable senator is shifting his ground. On two occasions he has stated that Mi1. Chamberlain said that Great Britain could make no provision for the defence of Australia, but when I quoted Mr. Chamberlain’s statement to show that the honorable senator is incorrect he shifts his ground.
– What did Mr. Lyons say?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The honorable senator is equally incorrect there. Mr. Lyons did not say that the position, is worse. He said that the position was easier now, but that there was still cause for anxiety.
– The honorable senator knows what the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) cabled to the British Prime Minister after the latter had made his statement.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.Mr. Chamberlain stated that the position is easier now,but added that Great Britain did not propose to slacken its policy of re-armament. Senator Collings commenced his speech this afternoon by complaining against the action of the Leader of the Government in making a further statement to the Senate instead of introducing the bill forecast by him last week. He apparently objected to the adoption of that course on the ground that it afforded the Government two opportunities of placing its policy before the country. The honorablesenator then proceeded to quote from the Age, a journal for which he has so much admiration. But the complaint of that newspaper is that the Government is denying to Parliament the opportunity to discuss these matters. The honorable senator cannot have ‘it both ways. On the one hand he complains against the Government giving to the Senate two opportunities for the discussion of this subject, while on the other hand he supports the complaint of the Age that such opportunities are denied to honorable senators.
The honorable senator made great play upon the Treasurer’s alleged statement at the Summer School of Political Science that the Government during recent years, had permitted the Defence Department to “ write its own ticket “. What Mr. Casey was endeavouring to explain on that occasion was that if there were any limitations upon defence proposals, such limitations were not imposed by the Treasurer, but by the capacity of the country to produce the necessary materials. In his statement to-day the Leader of the Government has clearly shown that a considerable proportion of the proposed expenditure is to be devoted, not so much to the purchase of arms, as to the provision of means of producing arms and munitions in this country.
Senator Collings also laid great stress upon the provision of roads, and appeared to think that we would be able to fight an enemy by such means. I would point out that the Commonwealth Government has already made available to the States millions of pounds for the construction of roads.
– Not military roads.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.All sorts of roads, including both developmental and military roads. During the current year the Commonwealth Government has increased the amount made available to the States for road construction.
– How many bridges will carry a tank?
– I am aware that a bridge has not yet been constructed across the Brisbane river, butI do not know whether that would come within the category of a developmental undertaking, even in the opinion of the honorable senator, who also criticized the proposed capital expenditure because it is to be used upon wasting assets. He has made to-day certain statements and allegations which cause me seriously to doubt whether the Labour party has a defence policy at all. It must be remembered that warships, aeroplanes and field guns are all wasting assets.
– That iswhat I said.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.If the policy of the Labour party is opposed to the expenditure of money upon wasting assets, it apparently would not be prepared to spend money to procure warships, aeroplanes or guns.
– The honorable senator knows better than that.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.Under the Labour party’s defence policy there would apparently be a navy without ships, an air force without aeroplanes’ and an army without guns, because all those things are wasting assets upon which the Labour party is opposed to any expenditure.
– I said that we should deal with first things first.
– In the case of an army I should think a gun would be the first thing.
– No; an army of well-fed and well-conditioned men so that they would be able to carry guns.
– I do not think we could achieve much success with a navy without a warship. We might perhaps present a resolution to the enemy. The honorable senator referred at length to developmental works. I favour works of that character wherever they are justified, but self-preservation is the first law of nature, not only for individuals, but also for nations, and it would he useless to undertake an extensive policy of developmental works unless we were able to defend this country. The fact that certain countries have developed at a very rapid rate in recent years has not protected them from war or invasion. The last ten years have, I suppose, seen greater development in China than occurred in any century during the last 1,000 years, but that has not saved that country from invasion. The Chinese people to-day, I venture to say, feel the need not only of t he development that should have been carried on continuously during the last 50 years, but also the lack of armaments. As the honorable senator has concluded his speech, one of his colleagues could, perhaps, inform the Senate of the Labour party’s idea of developmental works. I have had occasion to study the loan programmes submitted by various State governments, and to apply the term “developmental works “ to certain of the proposals, would require a great deal of imagination. The standarization of railway gauges is, I agree, very desirable, but not one penny has been provided under any State loan programme during the last ten years for that purpose.
– The national Parliament controls defence.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The railways are the property of the various States,and if any standardization of gauges is to be carried out, it can be done only with the consent of the States concerned, and so far no State has proposed to spend any money in that direction.
– What about the line between Sydney and South Brisbane?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The New South Wales Government does not propose to spend one penny upon the line from Sydney to Broken Hill. It is suggested that the Govern ment’s defence programme will rob the States of funds that could otherwise be used for carrying out developmental works, but it certainly will not deprive the States of any money they proposeto spend upon the standardization of railway gauges, because they have no intention of undertaking that work.
The honorable senator repeated to-day a statementwhich he made last week, and which I think was outrageous. He said that war hysteria was responsible for the statement made by the Leader of the Government in this chamber.
– Hear, hear ! When preparing that statement the Government was suffering from defence delirium tremens.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.At one moment members of the Labour party say that they recognize the necessity for adequate defence, while the next moment they allege that the proposed expenditure upon defence is based on war hysteria. I should like to know how members of the party reconcile those two statements. This again would appear to indicate uncertainty on the part of the party on the question of providing for the effective defence of this country. The honorable senator delivered a long harangue based upon an extraordinary statement in an extraordinary newspaper, which indicted certain companies, such as Dalgety & Co., Goldsbrough Mort & Co., and two of the leading Australian banks. To these companies the honorable senator apparently attributed the existence of the war hysteria to which he has referred.
– No; I said they were going to get the rake-off.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.What have any of these firms had to do with the invasion of China, Abyssinia, or Austria, or with the civil war in Spain? Is it suggested that Mr. Meares - I do not know the gentleman - was in any way responsible for instigating the attack upon China by Japan ?
– No; I said that he would share in the rake-off.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.Is Goldsbrough Mort & Co. in the confidence of Signor Mussolini, or did Dalgety & Co. suggest the invasion of Abyssinia? Did the Commercial Bank of
Australia, or the National Bank of Australasia have anything to do with the invasion of Austria? We should indeed be fools if we did not recognize the fact that throughout the world there is a dread of war. The fear of war in Australia is, I venture to say, not to be compared with that existing to-day in Czechoslovakia, Belgium, Holland, France, and Poland, or even Switzerland. With the exception of the men who participated in the last war, Australians do not know the meaning of war. But the countries to which I have referred are surrounded by millions of armed men and at any time the sky may be darkened by squadrons of death-dealing aeroplanes. The fear of the inhabitants of those countries is not hysteria; it is a real and well founded fear of war, and it is that fear that has caused Great Britain, which visualizes the possibility of London being laid in ruins, to make provision for theaerial defence of that great capital.
Senator Collings is rather fond of quoting from newspapers, and I shall therefore read an extract from the London Times, dated the 25th March, 1938, in which Major Attlee, leader of the Labour party in Great Britain, is reported as having said -
They could not get the security of this country in isolation. The Prime Minister did notsay that he stood for isolation butwhat he said came to isolation.
Those words, which are true of Great Britain, are equally true of Australia. We cannot ensure the security of this country by a policy of isolation. I commend that statement by the Leader of the Labour party in the British Parliament tothe honorable senator. The honorable senator criticized the Government’s proposal’ to set aside £1,000,000 for the equipment of industrial establishments for the production of war requirements. Does he suggest that it would be possible to maintain sufficient government factories to manufacture all the arms, ammunition, aeroplanes and warships required to carry on a war?
– Ministries of which the right honorable gentleman was a member were in uninterrupted occupation of the treasury bench for years, and did nothing.
– The cost of such a policy and the economic waste involved would be staggering, because the Government would have to provide millions of pounds’ worth of machinery that would be lying idle in peace time. During a war the demand for munitions and materials is enormous, and it would be quite beyond the financial rapacity of the Commonwealth Government to meet requirements. The policy of the honorable senator would land this country in national disaster. The Ministry is wisely making financial provision for war emergency. It has surveyed the industrial field and has said, in effect, to those who control the more important industrial establishments, “ With certain additions your factory will be suitable for the production of war materials. We do not expect you. to install the necessary machinery at your own cost. That is the Government’s job. What we ask you to do isto set aside sufficient space for the installation of government machinery, so that in time of need the plant may be utilized for war purposes “.
SenatorCourtice. - Why was not all this done five years ago when the right honorable gentleman was a Minister?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE. I agree that it might well have been done some years ago; but the Government is wise to do it now, and I direct the attention of the honorable senator to the attitude of his leader, who is objecting to this expenditure.
-The right honorable gentleman cannot blame us for the omission to do these things year ago.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.But the honorable gentleman is now objecting to it.
– He said that he would not spend one penny of government money onprivate enterprise.
– No; I said that I would not allow private enterprise to make one penny of profit out of production for war purposes.
– Private industrial establishments will not make profit out of the Government’s proposal. The special machinery to be installed in any factory will not be utilized unless war breaks out, or is threatened. All that the Government proposes to do is to equip certain industrial establishments in order that they may be of service to the nation in an emergency.
– Are the government factories at Lithgow and Maribyrnong working overtime?
– I do not know.
– Men have been dismissed from those factories during the last few weeks.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.As I am not now a Minister I cannot give the Leader of the Opposition any information on that point. I conclude by inviting the honorable gentleman to study the -speech delivered by Major _Attlee, the Leader of the Opposition in the British House of Commons on this subject. If Great Britain, notwithstanding the might of its Navy, Army and Air Force, cannot pursue a policy of isolation in the international arena, how much truer is that of Australia? Surely the Leader of the Opposition and his friends realize that a policy of isolation would be fraught with the gravest danger to this country.
– I resent the statement made by Senator Pearce that the defence policy of the Australian Labour party is isolationist in character. I do not remember reading or listening to any speech made by a responsible member of our party in favour of Australia isolating itself from the rest of the Empire in regard to defence. During the last election campaign I emphasized the salient points of Labour’s defence policy, and declared that any one who said that we desired to cut ourselves adrift from the rest of the Empire was ii liar. We have a defence policy, and I. think it is well known to honorable senators. We have in the past voted for the spending of many millions of pounds for the development of Australian defence. There is,- however, a difference between our policy and that put forward by the Government. We believe first in home defence. We realize the need for selfreliance because of the 12,000 miles which separates Australia from Great Britain, and we recognize that in time of great danger to the Mother Country the special needs of Australia might be overlooked by British naval and military authorities. For this reason we believe in the development, to the fullest extent, of proposals for home defence, and we attach much importance to the expansion of the air arm, the minimum air force, in our view, being 300 machines. We do not believe in relying solely on a navy which comprises vessels of varying degrees of obsolescence. It is gratifying to know that the Government has made some concessions to our view because considerable expenditure is now contemplated on the expansion of the Australian Air Force. It is essential that we should be equipped with the most modern machines. I say this, because some of the machines now being used are not up-to-date. Only a few months ago when a squadron of Air Force planes set out from Melbourne for New South Wales and Queensland, seven or eight, machines had to make forced landings and one young man lost his life. I am not -sure that the proposed expenditure on the cruisers Australia and Canberra will bring those vessels up to date and put them in a fit condition to meet any emergency of war. In this view I have the support of certain naval authorities, having regard also to the geographical position of the Commonwealth. It is stated that the function of these vessels, when they are refitted, will be to keep open our trade routes. I would remind the Senate, however, that if another war occurs our position will be entirely different from what it was in 1914. If, because of economic and national antagonisms, out enemy is a power in the Pacific, can we expect our cruiser strength to be able to defend our trade -routes? And can we pretend that the financial resources of Australia are sufficient to support a navy large enough to ensure the adequate defence of our commerce lanes, if a certain power, whose name has been mentioned, should be Oil T enemy ?
– It will not be sufficient under Labour’s isolation policy.
– I do not wish to offend the honorable senator, but I have already stated that any person who asserts that Labour’s defence policy is one of isolation is a liar. We do not believe in isolation. We do believe that bur first duty is to develop our home defences to the greatest extent possible. Even the Prime Minister of Great Britain (Mr. Chamberlain) . in a recent speech declared that Britain’s primary consideration in war must be naval strength in British waters for home defence, and added that afterwards it might be possible for Britain to recover losses sustained elsewhere. We contend that if the portents are read aright we should be misleading the people of this country if we gave them to understand that the expenditure outlined in the Government’s programme would safeguard Australia in the way that it should be protected. Our view is that the first duty of the Commonwealth Government is to make secure our home defences, without relying upon any other part of the Empire.
Great Britain is expending millions oi pounds in strengthening its naval forces lor the purpose of defending trade routes, upon which the Mother Country depends. The annual drain on the Australian national income, for the payment of interest on British investments, public and private, in this country amounts, to approximately £50,000,000. Therefore it is merely common sense on the part of Britain, which’ imports enormous quantities of foodstuffs and other primary products from Australia in return for capital invested in this country, to protect the trade routes.
– How could we live if we did not sell overseas our surplus goods?
– I have tried to point out that Great Britain is draining Australia all the time, if not of cash, then of actual goods - wool, wheat, meat, metals, eggs, butter, cheese, and so on. There is a continuous economic drain.
– It is fortunate for Australia that Great Britain is so good a customer.
– We hear a great deal about protecting trade routes, and the consequent need to expend money in that direction, but the country which gains is Great Britain, which, year in and year out, draws, huge quantities of goods to itself. That being so, the defence of trade routes is ‘that country’s responsibility.
– Great Britain is expending millions of pounds on defence as compared with the thousands expended by Australia.
– I anr aware of that. Indeed, I have here a statement setting out what most countries of the wor.d are expending on armaments. Australia’s expenditure represents-. £2 3s. 6d. a head of the population. That: is five time3 as much as in 1932-33. The per capita expenditure of New Zealand is 12s. 6d.; of the Irish Free State, 10s.; of Canada, 5s. 6d. ; and of. South Africa, 3s. 6d.
– What is Great Britain’s expenditure ?
– It is about £7 a head. But the difference is that that country gets the benefit of the economic drain. I do not wish to be misunderstood. 1 am noi advocating that Australia should cut the painter. I have no enmity against Great Britain, but I am simply pointing out the economic relations between that country and Australia, Year in and year out, the Mother Country is drawing large quantities of goods from the dominions. In fact, Great Britain is living, in part, on the dominions, and, therefore, it is only right that that country should defend the trade routes. Australia’s primary duty is to build up a defence machine that will defend Australia.
– We all agree with that.
– My Leader mentioned the profits made out of defence expenditure. It is amazing that nations should bc willing to tolerate a system whereby, millions of pounds are wrung from the community to pay interest on war loans which were issued for the prosecution of the last war. The people have become so used to the modern economic system of profit-making and interest-taking that they do not object to thousands laying down their lives and thousands more being injured and wrecked for the course of their lives, whilst the investments of capitalists remain sacrosanct. When future generations look back upon the present period of economic development, they will be staggered to realize that lives were offered willingly, but money only grudgingly.
The contemplated loan for defence purposes will be interest-bearing. The Labour party is of the opinion that the people of this generation should provide that money and not ask their descendants to pay interest on it for 10, 20, 50 or even 100 years. The position is accepted because the people have been , reared. in an atmosphere in which life and security are regarded as of less importance than interest and capitalistic system. We say definitely that if money is to be raised for the defence of Australia, it should be taken by taxation from those who have it, and not by loan on which interest will be payable year after year. Honorable senators opposite remain silent. They accept without question a system which enables intereston war loans to be paid in perpetuity. Senator Pearce spoke dramatically of the situation in Europe - of the fear in the hearts of the people, especially those on or near national borders. He spoke of the possibility of aeroplanes dropping bombs on them at any moment. Any one who has thought about the subject must be appalled by what takes place when nations are at war under modern conditions. If we in Australia could do something which would prevent war, there is scarcely a person’ in the country who would refuse to act. Honorable members opposite should not attempt to disparage those on this side of the chamber who have a hatred of war. In the party to which I owe allegiance there are men and women who, all their lives, have fought vigorously for world peace and yet some of them are being vilified because of their efforts in that direction.
– The honorable senator’s leader attempted to disparage government supporters.
– I am not attempting to disparage any one. Although the Labour party stands for peace, it is ready to take part in the protecting of this country so long as a proper system of defence is followed, and we are not committed willy-nilly because of happenings abroad.
– The honorable senator’s leader regards all government supporters as advocates of war.
– In every community there are some people who gloat inwardly over the misery of their fellows and take delight in the destruction of other people and their possessions. We saw the result of their activities during the struggle for control in Germanyand Italy. The sadist element was let loose in the community. In the streets of Rome and throughout Germany men and women were persecuted and tortured by their fellow men. The lowest dregs of humanity were at liberty to exercise their sadistic instincts, and they took full advantage of the opportunity. Although such persons are to be found in every community, fortunately they are in the minority. The great mass of the people are not of that nature; and in saying that I refer to the supporters of all political parties. On the other side of this chamber are men who are just as anxious for peace as are members of the Opposition. Nevertheless, one of the greatest factors in the community is the power of the capitalistic system, which, unhappily is often greater than the forces in favour of peace. Truly the greed for money is the root of all evil. Those who are obsessed by a desire to increase their bank balances do not see things in their true perspective. Some people are only too ready to forget the struggle for peace, so long as they receive interest on their investmentsregularly. and see their bank balances steadily grow larger. Those associated with the armaments ring are the racketeers of death. Even as I speak, giant bombers in China, Spain and elsewhere are destroying innocent men, women and children, because of the desire of some people to accumulate wealth. A committee of the League of Nations which was set up to investigate the ramifications of the armament firms of the world, found, among other things, that such firms had been active in fomenting war scares, persuading various countries to adopt war-like policies, and attempting to bribe government officials. The committee found, further, that that they had disseminated false reports concerning the programmes of other countries ; had sought to mould public opinion by obtain- ing control of newspapers in their own and foreign countries; had organized international armament rings; had organized trusts to increase the prices of armaments and had sought to increase their sales by playing off one country against another. 1 emphasize that these are the conclusions, not of Labour organizations, Communists or Quakers, but of a com,mittee of the League of Nations. I do not. know to what extent the financial institutions in this country arc connected with similar institutions overseas. But, we do know that within Australia, there is a link between the banks and the big industrial and mortgage companies; that directors of banks are directors of mortgage companies and other big firms. We know also that there is a link between many firms in Australia and armament firms and trusts in the Old Country. During the last two years, the prices of shares of armament companies have soared sky-high, and the dividends paid by them have increased enormously. That is why we on this side of the chamber are fearful that, as the result of the Government’s policy in respect of defence expenditure, what is happening in older countries may happen here.
– None of the factors operating overseas operate here.
– The honorable senator apparently suggests that we are isolated in this respect; that we are not contaminated by what occurs in older countries. If that were true, I would be very pleased, but any one who has studied’ the subject knows that the financial powers of the old world have their ramifications right throughout the world. Honorable senators opposite should know that. Although some honorable senators may think it amusing, we on this side believe that it is wrong for the Government to encourage the production of necessary equipment for defence, or for offence, in a way that allows private enterprise to profit. Every effort should be made to retain within the control and power of the Government, the production of munitions. That principle is sound. Honorable senators opposite say that we cannot follow. that policy; yet I am informed by the parliamentary representa tive of the district in which the Government munitions factories are established, that within the last few weeks 40 or 50 employees of these establishments have lost their jobs. Has this Government done everything within its power to develop governmental production of war equipment? It now proposes to encourage the participation of private enterprise in this business on lines similar to those adopted in the Old Country. Although the shadow factories in the United Kingdom have been in operation for two years, it was reported in the press only the other, day, that this scheme had not borne fruit, whilst Lord Nuffield, who said at the commencement of the scheme that it .would be a failure, stated publicly that not one engine had been assembled from parts manufactured in the shadow factories. In following its present policy this Government will- have to face not only the dangerous factors involved in the operations of private enterprise, and private profiteering, but also the failure, of a similar scheme in the Old Country,- where industry is much more highly developed. In those circumstances it is questionable whether its efforts will succeed. At any rate, we on this side oppose the Government’s proposals if only on the principle that there should be no profiteering in the production of armaments.
– Who said that there would be?
– The Government has said a dozen times that there will not be.
– The honorable senator is noi prepared to accept the statement of the Government.
– The Government makes certain statements. I am not going to deny that when any Minister makes a statement he believes it.
– Does not the honorable senator believe it?
– I believe that those who make the statements believe what they say, but I also know that they can make statements in the best of faith which, by the very force of circumstances will bo proved to have been untrue in the light of actual results. We know that the first consideration of private enterprise in every form is the making of profit; that is part of its being, and the leopard could as easily change its spots as could our industrial leaders change their first aim in life - increased interest and increased profit. We have seen evidence of that in other parts of the world, and we say that it will happen here. I rose simply to refute a statement made by an honorable senator opposite, and have tried logically and reasonably, I hope, to express the view of the Labour party.
.- 1. commend the Government for its bold defence policy, which involves the expenditure of an exceptionally large sum of money. No doubt the items of expenditure will be detailed later. One cannot conceive any national government adding to the already heavy burden of the Australian taxpayer, unless such additional expenditure is warranted. I have closely followed the speeches- and utterances of prominent members of the Opposition, inside and outside this Parliament. In their hearts they must know that the Government’s policy, considered on broad principles, is sound. Pacts must be faced. The British Government has intimated in no uncertain terms that Britain cannot do more for Australian protection than police our important trade routes. The Anglo- Japanese alliance, which was so valuable to Australia during the Great War, no longer exists. The world’s disinclination to follow the path of peace leaves us with no alternative but to take such measures as will make Australia self-contained in its home defence requirements. One, would expect the Opposition to support wholeheartedly this policy, because it will enable Australia to stand on its own feet, and in a sense, to become independent. In framing its defence plan extending over a period of years, the Government has had the expert advice of the service members of the Defence Council. If the Opposition were on the treasury benches, to whom would it look for advice? To the self -same members, I presume. These senior officers have no axe to grind. Each might lean towards the particular service of which lie has expert knowledge, but, collectively, they must agree eventually to a- wellbalanced scheme for the effective protection of the Commonwealth.
One political critic wants to know why the 9.2 inch fortress guns now mounted, or about to be mounted, should not be replaced by 15 inch guns. In the first place, the cost would be enormous; secondly, the 9.2 inch gun is the standard coast defence weapon throughout the British Empire ; thirdly, no hostile battleship would venture within the range of such guns. In keeping out of range no battleship would waste its valuable and limited supply of ammunition at extreme range in the doubtful prospect of destroying some military or key industry objective. Big guns wear out just as quickly as those of lesser calibre. Another critic pins his faith almost entirely to the air service. Nobody is stupid enough to under-estimate the value of aeroplanes in modern warfare. The a>r service has, to some extent, taken up the role hitherto carried out by the cavalry. But it has its limitations; the replacement of personnel and machines in the Great War taxed the resources of the Allies. Aeroplanes did not stop the landing of troops in Spain and China.
Many people are wondering why so much money is required for war equipment. The answer is simple - because we have practically no reserves. Australia supplied soldiers equal to the Empire’s best in the Great War, but little or no war equipment. Britain supplied us with weapons and material with which to fight. We are merely making good our lack of supplies which, for home defence, must be immediately available and capable of replenishment locally.
Anticipating that the Government munition establishment will not, in time of national emergency, be able to meet requirements, trial orders have been -placed with a number of private manufacturing firms to ascertain their capabilities. Known as shadow factories, these establishments may, when the necessity arises, receive extensive orders. Unless some action is taken beforehand these firms will make considerable profits. It is of no use leaving the matter to their integrity and patriotism; now is the time to legislate against the possibility of profit-making. The Government factories know to a penny the production costs of every item of defence equipment.
That should be the basis of outside production, and I, for one, would support a bill imposing the most searching audit supervision of the manufacture of munitions by private firms, no matter how small or extensive their orders might be.
Another matter te which. I wish to refer is the reported intention of the Government to appoint a British General as Inspector-General of the Australian Army. If such an officer were merely invited to look over our land services and make a report after three or four months’ observation for the Government’s own satisfaction, very few would challenge the suggestion, but an appointment for a term of two years, giving him full powers of executive command, would be an insult to the capable Australian generals still on the active list and the retired generals of the Australian Imperial Forces, although the latter may, perhaps, be temporarily out of touch with the more recent development in modern warfare. The mere suggestion that a British general should be given such an appointment has given the Australian public an idea that there is something wrong with our Army. Any observant general of the Australian Imperial Forces can tell the Government that the. main weakness of our land forces is the paucity and low physical standard of the .personnel. What facts would such an InspectorGeneral be in possession of or obtain that are not already available to army headquarters in Melbourne? Since the Great War the Defence Department has’ been in the closest touch with developments in military technique and training through highly qualified liaison staff corps officers sent to England for that purpose. An imported British general is hardly likely at the outset to assimilate Australian conditions and understand the psychology of young Australian soldiers. I trust that the Government will reconsider its decision. It might be an advantage to obtain the services of a selected general of the British Army to report on our young Army, but we should not belittle the present and past generals of the Australian Imperial Force by appointing for two years an overseas officer to such a high position as that of Inspector-General.
The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) referred to the position which civil aviation would occupy during war but I remind the honorable senator that civil aviation would be to the Royal Australian Air Force what the mercantile.marine is to the Navy. In an emergency it would immediately be brought under the control of the Air Board.
There has been some concern because a number of men engaged in rolling brass and copper plates at the munitions factory at Maribyrnong have been dismissed. These plates, which were being rolled for private firms were making canisters and containers, are now to be produced by private firms. Some of these men asked me what could be done, and I understand that as a result of representations to the authorities work was found for many in other branches of the munitions factory. In this connexion I trust that preference to returned soldiers will always be the policy followed.
, - I am glad to have this opportunity to comment on some of the points raised in the statement of the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Foll) outlining the defence policy of the Government, and also to deal with the defence policy of the Labour party. Judging by the interjections of some honorable senators opposite one wouk think that Australia’s defence was quite a new problem. They seem to have forgotten that it was the Australian Labour party which first provided Australia with a defence system.
– Not the present Labour party. The Labour party of to-day does not in any way resemble the Labour. party of that time.
– I thought that the right honorable gentleman was going to refer to the “ old Labour party “, and had he done so I would have said that the Labour party of to-day is purer than the old party. Early in the history of the Commonwealth the Australian Labour party provided this country with a defence force in accordance with the capacity of the taxpayers. Honorable senators opposite have asked what the Labour party means by an “ adequate “ defence policy. The party has made the pronouncement through its responsible representatives that if a Labour government were in power it would provide for the adequate defence of Australia in keeping with the capacity of the people. I do not think that the Australian taxpayers would refuse this or any other government the money required to provide an adequate defence system. As was stated by Senator Pearce, the British Prime Minister said “ We would protect our trade routes,” but he was referring to the trade routes ofBritain. Under the Statute of Westminster the British Government has already thrown upon the self-governing dominions the responsibility of protecting the territories under their control.
SenatorDuncan-Hughes. - The Statute of Westminster has not been ratified by this Parliament.
– It will be.
-i am not so sure of that.
– It willbe ratified at the request of the Imperial Government, which feels that the dominions should provide for their own defence. Great Britain realized that its responsibility in defending the Empire is too great, and that theself-governing dominions should provide their own defence system. It is our duty as a selfgoverning dominion to assist the Empire in this way, and to provide a defence system which will enable us to repel an aggressor. Senator Pearce also referred to our surplus of exportable products, and asked how we would fare if our trade routes were left unprotected. The British Prime Minister, in outlining the Britishdefence policy, had already made the pronouncement that that is Britain’s responsibility, because he realized that Australia would be unable to provide sufficient naval strength for the purpose. This is a matter that should be dealt with calmly and dispassionately. Let us face the facts. By realizing our responsibility as a nation we can best serve the interests of the Empire. The British Government realizes that it is unjust to he continually calling upon British taxpayers to provide the whole cost of Empire defence.
I regret that the Minister did not explain the Government’s defence proposals in detail, and thus enable honorable senators to be in a position to discuss them intelligently. When such statements are submitted to this chamber they should be accompanied by sufficient information to enable honorable senators to record an intelligent vote on the measures which follow. Thousands of men in various parts of the Commonwealth have not yet been provided with employment, but in the event of war will be expected to give military service. Unless men have profitable employment we cannot expect to breeda race of defenders. Numerous reports prepared by medical authorities in Australia within the last few years show that there are thousands in this country who are not receiving sufficient nutritive food to enable them to become healthy citizens. The Government has not made any provision for employing the workers of Australia so as to bring about a happy and contented community.
– Will not the expenditure of millions of pounds for defence purposes provide work?
– Not necessarily. At the last meeting of the Loan Council, the State representatives were informed that owing to the huge sum required for defence purposes, reduced amounts would be made available to the States for works. A reduction of the works programmes of the States will be detrimental to the employment of the workers. That is something for which the Commonwealth Government does not provide. Senator Pearce asked what the States had done towards the standardization of railway gauges. What reply would the States have received from the Loan Council during the last eight or ten years to a request for funds for work of that description? The States havebeen starved for money by the Loan Council and no one knows better than Senator Pearce that they would not have received the necessary accommodation to enable them to undertake such work. If the standardization of railway gauges is essential, why has the Commonwealth Government not taken the necessary action?
Senator Pearce also referred to the comments of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) with respect to road construction. In all countries except Australia, permanent road construction works are part and parcel of defence schemes and, as a very important factor in the defence of Australia, they must be given immediate consideration. “With the aid of the Commonwealth Government, there have been constructed in the various States in recent years roads that would not carry the lightest field gun. Much of the money spent in that direction has been wasted from a defence point of view. The construction of standardized roads is of great moment in connexion with the defence of Australia.
I wish now to refer to the enormous amount of interest payable annually by Australia to overseas investors. I sometimes think that this has a very important bearing upon the desire of the Government to indulge in borrowing outside Australia at the present time. Approximately £50,000,000 per annum is required to meet interest commitments on overseas loans; and we are required to provide that sum by the production and export of wheat, wool, meat and other products. British investors have, of course, a great deal of money invested in foreign countries, including Argentina, and honorable members are aware that, for the purpose of ensuring payment of interest on those investments, contracts for the supply of wheat and other products are entered into with such countries. Are we to believe that a reduction of the amount borrowed from Great Britain by Australia would mean a reduction ofthe quantity of produce purchased from Australia? Is the question of what would become of Australian primary products influencing the Government in connexion with the flotation of loans required to carry out its defence programme? I am afraid the Government has not been sufficiently frank. We should, I think, get along very much better if the Government took the representatives of the people in this chamber more into its confidence and disclosed to them the true position. Must we borrow more money on the London market for the purpose of finding a market for our surplus products? The
Leader of the Government has not madeavailable sufficient information to enable us to come to a sane and proper decision. He should be more frank and take us into his confidence. If that course were adopted, not only the members of this chamber but the people of Australia as a whole would have a greater appreciation of the work performedby the Government.
– I apologize to Senator Cunningham for interjecting during what, I understand, was his first speech in the chamber. I thought he had spoken on a previous occasion. At the same time, I do not feel that I embarrassed him, because he showed quite clearly that he was well able to look after himself.
Sitting suspended from 6.13 to 8 p.m.
– In congratulating Senator Cunningham upon the speech which he delivered before the dinner adjournment, I should like to say a few words of comment on some of his observations. He spoke, for instance, of the malnutrition of the people of Aus- tralia. I doubt if his conclusions are borne out by the facts. The Treasurer (Mr. Casey), in a recent speech, said this-
The expectation of life of the peopleof Australia is steadily increasing. Fifty years ago the death rate was about 15 per thousand of the population per year; now it is about9.
If Senator Cunningham will also examine the report prepared by Sir WalterKinnear, one of the British experts commissioned to examine and report onthe position in Australia with a view tothe inauguration of a scheme of national health insurance, he will discover that the expectation of life of those who come under our old-age pensions scheme has increased very appreciably of recent years.
– What did the Health Council say about Class C3 individuals?
– We have to survey the entire field, andI submit that the statistics relating to the subject do not bear outthe statement made by the honorable senator. Senator Cunningham also spoke about the position of Australia under the Statute of Westminster. That is a subject in whichI have taken considerable interest. My view is that up to the present time the Statute of Westminster has not in any way affected the position of Australia in the British Commonwealth of Nations, and I hope sincerely that it will not be adopted by the Commonwealth. This course has not been found necessary during the last seven years, and, so far as I can see, that section of the people which affirms the desirability of its adoption is in the section which is most in favour of isolation and separation from Great Britain.
– Which section is that?
– I do not suggest that the Leader of the Opposition is one of the number. I am speaking in general terms. I cannot see that any advantage would accrue to Australia from its adoption. Everyone knows, without elaborating the subject unduly, that it is not the written letter which makes the real bond ; it is the sentiment behind the written letter. “ It is the spirit, that saves, and the letter that kills.”
When the then Prime Minister of Australia (Mr. Bruce) returned from the 1926 Imperial Conference, he said, with regard to written constitutions, that he left Australia with the firm intention not to agree to anything in the nature of a written constitution, and added that the conclusions of the Inter-Imperial Relations Committee were not expressed in any form of definite constitution but were simply regarded as a bare statement of the position at the time as it appeared to the representatives. That view, I submit, was sound.
The Statute of Westminster was passed by the British Parliament at the request of the Governments of Eire, Canada and South Africa. Its passage was not requested by Australia or New Zealand, and it seems to me a complete fallacy to suggest that we shall achieve uniformity in the British Commonwealth of Nations by its adoption here and in New Zealand. I doubt very much whether in the end its adoption would do very great ‘harm. But the natural effect would be to give the impression here, and in Great Britain, that there was, in this country, a tendency towards secession.
When I entered the Senate, some years ago, the first speech I heard from Senator Brennan was on this subject, and I recall the honorable gentleman very strongly advocating that Australia should not, in any circumstances, adopt the Statute of Westminster. Section 10 of the statute provides -
The statute comes into effect, so far as we are concerned, if and when it is adopted by this Parliament. I could say much more on this subject, which is one of extraordinary complexity. Although I have given a good deal of time to its study, I do not pretend to understand it. I do not think anybody does. Two or three years ago, at Adelaide, there was a conference of the most eminent lawyers in Australia to discuss this troublesome statute, and it is significant that many divergent opinions were voiced. Some of the most experienced constitutional authorities were in doubt as to what would be the actual effect of the adoption of the statute. We do know, however, that in the case of the Irish Free State, it has had results that were not anticipated when it was passed.
– Did the Irish Free State adopt it?
– Yes, but it was found that it went much further than had been expected.
I do not propose to discuss in detail to-night the statement made by Senator Poll. Another opportunity will be afforded later. I do, however, stress the necessity for defence, and cannot imagine that any one has a doubt on this vital matter.
– We all recognize the need for defence.
– Yes, but something more than lip service is required. Active steps must be taken to give effect to our intention to defend ourselves. I do not doubt that the honorable senator would do that. But there are many people who think that when they have said that they are in favour of defence they have done all that could be expected of them; I fear that they do not really appreciate the critical condition of the world at the present time. Therefore it is the duty of those among us in Parliament who have an opportunity to know the trend of world events to give a lead in order that if war does come to this country our defence will be adequate.
I agree with Senator Brown that the next war, if unhappily there should be one, will be fought under conditions totally different from those obtaining in 1914. Then we had a large body of soldiers relatively well trained. The next war might quite conceivably be much nearer home and we should not only be prepared to act quickly, but, so far as possible, we should provide against the possibility of undue panic. Psychology plays an extraordinary part in times of national crisis. Men who are relatively well trained are not so easily perturbed as are men unacquainted with all aspects of war. The huge majority of the people of Australia have no personal knowledge of war.
With regard to the present world situation, the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) made two interesting speeches to. which I listened with interest. I thought he spoke with two voices. At one stage he said that the situation seemed to be much better than it had been; later he admitted that the outlook was not at all good. How any one can say that, at the present time, there is hysteria in this country or in many other countries is beyond my understanding. Let us consider the case of the United States of America, which is an enormous country, free from any possibility of effective attack, and with no enemy in the least likely to assail its shores. Is that country strengthening its forces in every direction merely because it is suffering from some form of hysteria? Of course it is not.
– It is all part of the plan of the armament manufacturers to make profits.
-HUGHES.- N ot at all. I do not doubt that in the past some people have made money out of the manufacture of armaments’. It is even conceivable, that similar profits may be made in the future, but to an everlessening degree. But it is incredible that any men would advocate the taking of a course that would lead to a war that might easily involve the universe and lead to the destruction of themselves and of our civilization. I refuseto believe that the majority of men, be they munition makers or armament manufacturers, have not some bowels of compassion. I do not believe, that they, having in mind the experience of twenty years ago, would deliberately approve a plan of war.
If war comes again it will be the outcome not of action by a relatively small section, but of a surging movement of great nations against one another. Already we have some evidence of this trend in foreign policies to-day, clue, in my opinion to an entirely false conception of the purpose of life. Why is Canada going ahead with the strengthening of its defences? That dominion has certainly not committed itself by stating against what nation its armaments might be used. No country could be in a. safer position than Canada, with the Pacific ocean on one side, the Atlantic on the other side, and thefriendly United States of America on its southern border. Is Canada imbued with hysteria? It docs not seem to me that that is probable. Last year, I travelled a good deal in Europe. I passed through a great many of the countries to which Senator Pearce referred this afternoon, in his admirable and salutary speech. I was in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Austria and Holland. What the right honorable gentleman said is perfectly true. Several of those countries were filled with the direst forebodings as to what might happen; and, indeed some of their fears have been realized since I was there. Their people know that they are small in number, that their equipment is inadequate, and that they exist alongside powerful countries which are armed to the teeth, and are relentless in pursuing their objective. There are two or three countries of that kind in Europe to-day. 1 hope that I have not been unreasonably long in making in first point, namely, that the necessity for defence, if it is possible of proof, has been abundantly proved, and that, even if wc have slept for years, we should now be alive to the fact that, whatever our hopes and ambitions may be - whether or not we think that the League of Nations is the hope of the world - we must he able to defend ourselves should the occasion arise.
As to Australia’s provision for defence during recent years, I must say that I cannot give high testimonials to the Labour party. For fifteen years, I have listened to speeches by Labour members, both in the Senate and in the House of Representatives, but I have not heard one speech which left me with the impression that the members of that par are prepared to defend the country as it should be defended. As I do not believe in speaking on these matters without chapter and verse, I have here a few quotations from speeches made by Senator Collings. I am sorry that the honorable senator is not here to hear them.
– The honorable senator should quote som’e of the thing: said in years past by Senator Pearce.
– That right honorable senator was once a member of the old L*abour party which gave to Australia a system of universal military training. For that he deserves the thanks of the country. On the 4th November, 1932, Senator Collings said -
When I waa a lad, my father, who was then, as I now .am, opposed to war of any kind, at any time, and under any circumstances, pointed out ….
Could there be more definite words than those from one who’ is now, although he was not then, the Leader of the Labour party in this chamber? That statement seems to be a fairly strong expression of the honorable senator’s view. A few days later, I said in this chamber, as reported in Hansard -
I was interested in remarks of the Minister (Senator Pearce) on the general question of defence. For the last Ave years the defence Estimates have been steadily decreasing.
– Hear, hear!
-hughes. - 1 do not applaud it. Senator Pearce rightly emphasized the point that defence, in the case of Australia, does not consist of offensive preparations.
I went on to point out that Australia’s expenditure on defence had declined from £8,000,000 in 1926-27, to nearly £7,400,000 in 1927-28, to £6,500,000 in 1928-29, to £4,800,000 in 1929-30, and to under £4,000,000 in 1930-31, with an estimate of under £3,000,000 for 1931-32. Senator Collings then interjected, “‘Has any enemy country taken advantage ‘ of that fact?” It is easy, in the light of what has happened since then, to prove that other countries have taken advantage of the fact that Great Britain and other parts of the British Empire were not adequately prepared. On that occasion I also emphasized, as I have done repeatedly in this chamber, the unwisdom of suspending universal military training, as was clone by the Scullin Government. Senator Collings then said that, instead of expressing regret that the defence vote had been reduced, we should show our appreciation of the fact that such wasteful expenditure was not, at least during that year, to be tolerated. The honorable senator went on to say -
I take this opportunity to register my protest against this proposed vote, and to express thu hope that during my time in this chamber, whether it be short or long, this will be the largest sum that will ever be appropriated for defence purposes. Instead of the amount increasing, I hope that it will progressively decrease.
How the honorable senator can suggest, as he has done on several occasions lately, that the Labour party has always stood for the defence of Australia, whereas the present Government has not taken adequate steps to that end, passes my comprehension. Perhaps the honorable senator will have something .to say on that subject later.
– If I get the opportunity, I shall certainly do so.
– It has always seemed strange to me that the Labour party should adopt this attitude towards defence, because the supporters of that party are those who stand to suffer most from the lack of adequate provision for defence.
– Does the honorable senator fear that they might lose the basic wage?
– It is generally agreed that an attack on Australia might, in the first instance, appear to be successful, but that, if the Australian people were at all adequately prepared to continue the contest, the result eventually would be satisfactory to them. On that point I do not wish to be either unduly optimistic or too pessimistic. The fact remains, however, that, in the event of an attack being made on Australia, those who would suffer most would be the people living in the great centres of population. It would be upon them that the bombs, to whichSenator Brown referred this afternoon, would drop. Moreover, women and children would be among the victims, as has happened in China during recent months. One would have thought that it would not be from those members who represent country constituencies, where the risk is relatively small, that the cry for defence would come. By all the laws of logic, the cry should come from those who know that, in the event of Australia being attacked, the people living in the closelypopulated areas would suffer most.
I pass now from the Labour party, and in doing so I express the hope that I have not done it any substantial injustice by what I have said. It has always seemed to me - and I said this many years ago in another branch of the legislature - that the Labour party advocates air defence largely because the manufacture and maintenance of aircraft would provide the maximum of work for artisans, but a minimum personnel on which discipline might be exercised. The same is true of submarines, although we do not hear so much about them as formerly. This is not a question of disagreement between various sections ofthe community. Should war come, it will, as it did 24 years ago, affect all sections of the community. The sooner we face that fact, and together prepare to do what we can to meet the emergency, the better.
– The first step is a change of government.
– I regret that I cannot say that the Govern ment has done what it might have done in this connexion. I have already shown how the defence vote gradually fell by about £1,000,000 per annum from £8,000,000 to £3,000,000. For 1932-1933, the defence votewas just over £3,000,000. It increased to over £4,000,000 in the following year, and to £5,500,000 in 1934-1935. In 1935-1936, it was £7,000,000, and in 1936-1937, £8,800,000. Those figures do not indicate that the Government has faced up to this problem as it ought to have done. I have said that frequently, and, therefore, I do not want to over-emphasize the point now. It does not appear to me that even now the Government realizes the true position. For instance, universal military training is provided for by an act of Parliament. For many years it gave to us men who were relatively well trained, at least to the extent that they hadsome idea of discipline. No one withany knowledge of the subject will deny that, both as to officers and other personnel, that system served us in good stead in the GreatWar. But in a day the Scullin Government, by a stroke of the pen, suspended the operation of that system. Universal training ceased, not because of ‘the passing of an act of Parliament or the issue of a proclamation, but merely by an executive act. The whole of the system of training which we owed to the old Labour party and to the support and influence of Mr. Deakin and his supporters was wiped out of existence in a moment. For that I cannot give a good mark to the Scullin Government. No sensible man could do so. I have never ceased to deplore that decision, for the system had completely justified itself. At least it can be said that it was in the fullest sense democratic. Surely the country which supplies its people with a multitude of good things - in a variety of degrees, I am prepared to admit - is, by every rule of life, entitled to call upon its people, one and all, to fight for it in a life emergency. To me, that is a basic principle of democracy; so that when the Scullin Government wiped out such a system, I regarded its action as undemocratic.
– Why did not the Lyons Government re-introduce it?
– I say emphatically that universal training should have been restored ; that the Lyons Governments, of varying personnel and hues, should have at once restored that system. Even though the Nationalist government did not take that action immediately, surely, as the years passed and the international situation became more and more acute, it was the natural and inevitable thing to do. We have had not one incident, but a series of incidents, spread over many years. I need not detail them, but we all recall the ItaloAbyssinian dispute, the Spanish conflict and the Sino-Japanese war, whilst, recently, we have had the confiscation of Austria by Germany. Some people get over the latter incident by saying “ Oh, well, Austria really is German “. Austria, of course, is a far older empire, if I may use the phrase, than Germany, But in any case, we had the spectacle of one country which had promised, only a year previously, that it would keep the constitution of Austria intact, walking straight into Austria with armed forces and seizing and imprisoning the head of the Austrian Government. There was no bloodshed, certainly, but the incident appears to me to be quite inconsistent with the claim that Germany respected the constitution of Austria.
– Did Schuschnigg, or his colleagues, have any respect for the constitution of Austria.?
-H UGHE S . - I do not think that he did anything unconstitutional, or that he acted outside his rights as the head of the government.
-He was a dictator.
– No, he was the head of a ministry. Furthermore, I think that he had the support of the bulk of the Austrian people.
– Nonsense !
Sena tor DUNCAN-HUGHES.- Certainly, that support was not shown in the Nazi plebiscite. Nevertheless. I have been twice in Austria within the last ten years and I believe that there was very much support for Dr. Schuschnigg. That incident exemplifies, as I said before, the trepidation felt by a small country with a population of less than 7,000,000, for a country with a population ten times greaterthen its own, and thoroughly efficient and fully armed. Dr. Schuschnigg gave the order that Austria was to offer no defence. We do not want to have any similar orders.
– All those European horrors were perpetrated by antiLabour governments - governments of the type represented byhonorable senators opposite. Why flog us with that?
– I do not know with whom the Leader of the Opposition does the honour of associating me - whether he regards me as analogous to Schuschnigg or to Herr Hitler. I. remember saying in this chamber during the depression that I thought it would be a very good thing if we borrowed some lessons from Herr Hitler and placed some of our people, unfortunately out of work, into camps, where they could be drilled and enjoy sport, food and clothing, and I suggested that such a move would be of benefit to the country and to the people affected. On the following day I found myself described in a newspaper as a Hitlerite.
– I think the honorable senator is a bit of a Fascist.
– The honorable senator does not listen very carefully to my speeches; I am certain that he does not road them, but should he do so he would be enlightened on that point. To-night I am speaking in generalities; we have not had previous opportunity to discuss these matters. I tried to learn from the Leader of the Senate why this Parliament was not called together for so long a period. I point out that while all these incidents were happening in the international sphere the House of Commons was constantly in session. Members of Parliament, whether in this or the other chamber, are elected as the representatives of the people. It is through them that a ministry comes into existence. It is by them that a ministry survives, and ministers, as such, have no greater authority from their constituents than have private members of Parliament.
SenatorCourtice. - If the honorable senator criticizes the Government like that it will be said that he does not believe in adequate defence.
– The Commonwealth Year-Book 1937, in its chapter on military defence, says -
The growth of. the Commonwealth Military Forces may be considered to have taken place in six phases.
Che fifth phase, the suspension of all compulsory obligations in time of peace (under PartXII of the Defence Act) and the reconstitution of the forces on a basis of voluntary enlistment, was brought intooperation as from 1st November,1929. The divisional organization was retained,but the peace nucleus was reduced from 48,000 Citizen Forces and 16,000 Senior Cadets to 35,000 Militia Forces and 7,000 Senior Cadets, by reductions in the training establishments of units and by ceasing to maintain certain light horse regiments and infantry battalions. The peace nucleus of the militia forces was further reduced to 30,000 in 1931.
Then one comes to the sixth phase -
The sixth phase was initiated by the Govern- ment in July, 1936, whereby authority was given to raise the training strength of the Militia to 35,000,maintaining the Senior Cadets at 7,000. This strength was attained by December, 1936. The divisional organization was retained.
There in a very brief compass it is made clear that the militia figure as it stands at present is identical with that which was brought into effect by the Scullin Government in 1929. Does that represent in any sense the change that should have taken place in the Government’s defence policy in the last six or seven years? I have no doubt that our present defence preparations are more adequate, and in every way better ordered than they were, but the strength of our military forces is the same as was laid -down in 1929. It represents one soldier to every 200 of the population. Can any one regard that as being an adequate defence force? However, some members in both Houses have not shirked their responsibility in this matter. Whatever might have been, and still remain, their hopes for ultimate peace, these men have said constantly that Australia is most likely to achieve security, first, by adhering to Great Britain, and, second, by seeing that our defence preparations in Australia are adequate. Several years ago Senator Sampson made a notable speech in this chamber on defence, whilst Senator Collett has spoken several times on this subject. In the House of Representatives also several members have not failed in their duty to the country in making it clear that we must be prepared to defend ourselves. Both in and out of Parliament we have had to address men who are thoroughly sick of war, urging the necessity for preparing our defences, and emphasizing that that is the fundamental condition under which we can exist, particularly in the present circumstances. To-day public opinion is rising; it is dissatisfied. One has felt it for months past; it is apparent in the newspapers, and in contact with the man inthe street. Various organizations are asking the Government why it is not getting ready to defend the country and why it has not done more. The answer is that up to the present the Government has not brought itself to the point of restoring universal training in Australia in spite of the fact that it is threatened by half the world. I cannot forgive that attitude; to me it seems inexcusable and indefensible in view of world conditions to-day. For instance, does any one imagine that our returned soldier organizations want Avar? They are practically the only people in Australia who realize what war is. Yet various branches of their organization have passed motion after motion urging the Government to reintroduce a system of universal training. The Government has not done so. Is it going to pin its faith any longer to the League of Nations? I notice that whenever some major international incident, or coup, occurs, a senior Minister comes forward and speaks of Australia’s allegiance to the League of Nations. What can the League of Nations do for us?
Senatorcollings. - Does the honorable senator want to destroy the last of our ideals?
– No ; throughout my parliamentary career I have refrained, so far as I possibly could, from criticism of the League of Nations, because I think the League is helpful, if only from an educational point of view. But for the purposes of defence, it is by now abundantly clear that it is of no more use to rely on the League of Nations in order to keep this country intact, or to save ourselves, than it is to speak of a Pacific regional pact immediately after adopting a trade diversion policy which hits chiefly the people of the Pacific.
We are all aware that the provision of war equipment and material affects the interests of a great many people; the manufacture’ of such material promotes employment. To my mind, we have done quite sufficient in that direction for the moment. Of course, I speak as a layman, and I may be wrong; there are people who hold a different view. But I know personally of people possessing a thousandfold my military knowledge who hold the opinion that we are deplorably lacking in man-power, and that it is of jio use having intricate machinery, such as anti-aircraft guns, and even machine guns, unless, we have sufficient personnel, and reserves of personnel, trained and able to use such weapons. A few days ago the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings), said “ the Labour party holds that every penny expended on defence should be expended in Australia.” Supposing that policy had been adopted and continued, how would we have obtained materials for aeroplanes, guns, anti-aircraft guns, machine guns, tanks, or any equipment which Ave had not in Australia or were not likely to have in the future? These things have not ‘been made locally, or at most , production is only in the initial stages. They have had to be imported. If, as the honorable senator said we should, we had expended all our money in Australia, the Government would have been expending money on equipment unsuitable for defence purposes, and would not have promoted our defence system at all. A man with a broomstick can do something, but he would not have much effect against foreign shells of big calibre. A man untrained and armed only with the weapons devised and manufactured in Australia, would have a very poor time indeed. ,
I now wish to mention an important factor, and one which we cannot avoid.), I refer to the relative amounts of money to be expended on the Navy, Army and Air Force. We must be guided by the opinions of experts, who know the best way to apportion the money available, our most essential requirements, and the order in which they are needed, Whilst the political power must synchronize these things I should not be satisfied if I felt that that power was over-riding military advice. 1 read in a South Australian newspaper the other day the following paragraph about . the appointment from overseas of an InspectorGeneral of our military forces -
It is believed that the appointment of an Inspector-General of the military forces has not been discussed by the Defence Council, and that the decision waa the outcome ot conversations between Federal Minister-. lt was stated also that the senior army officers were surprised when the announcement was made.
I do not raise that point for the purpose “of criticizing the appointment of this officer. Quite likely it would be a wise thing to do, in order to co-ordinate our defence systems, partly because the enormous additional work which has been thrust upon our defence officers during recent months makes it difficult for thu heads of the Defence Department, not only the military officers, but also the civilian officers, to keep pace with and do justice to their work. For years we have failed to enable them to get on with their work, and with increasing momentum. I do not say that this was due to the former Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) because I am certain that the country never had a Defence Minister more imbued with the necessity for the effective defence of this country than he was. It has been due to Cabinet decision. I do not criticize the appointment of an overseas officer, but if such an appointment is to be made, it is not being done in a reasonable way. I suppose that it is true, because I cannot imagine a newspaper publishing the statement unless it thought it was true. I cannot imagine the Cabinet considering such a sweeping step without referring Lt to the Defence Council, because the decision really means that our whole defence system is to be placed in the melting pot. It may mean that some necessary preparations and proposed alterations will be held up for some time. Surely if the Defence Council is an effective and useful body it deserves the courtesy of being asked for an expression of opinion on such an important subject or of being told of what had been decided.
– The honorable senator knows that provision is made in the Defence Act for such an appointment.
– I waa not aware of that. If so, why has it not been made before?
– It has. General Sir Harry Chauvel was the last to hold the position.
– If the Minister suggests that because there is power in the Defence Act, it is reasonable and proper to exercise it at this time to make a major appointment from overseas without even consulting or informing the Defence Council, I disagree with him. The Government’s action, in -this respect reminds me that the Duke of Cambridge, who was a cousin of Queen Victoria, first learned from a daily newspaper of his dismissal from the office of CommanderinChief. I think that a little more tact should be shown in dealing with our senior officers. Generally speaking, the whole of the officers of the Defence Department deserve our sympathy and support; during the depression their salaries were most severely cut and they have been kept back for years. Now they have this immense load thrust upon them. I express my sincere sympathy with them. The Government has a heavy responsibility in this matter. I do not .speak of .those members who have recently joined the Government because they have had little time to achieve very much. Nor do I speak of those who have come in half way, so to speak, through the course of the Lyons Government’s various changes; those I have in mind are Ministers who have sat on the treasury bench for several years. Although the Postmaster-General . (Senator A. J. McLachlan) smiles, I am not speaking particularly of him, but of such Ministers collectively. They carry a great responsibility. They have, it appears to me - I say it without personal animus - gambled with the safety of the country. If that gamble comes off they may be given some credit for having avoided certain expen diture, but if their gamble fails there will be no occasion for smiles.
. - As a new member of the Senate, I am disappointed at the meagreness of the information with which we have been supplied concerning the defence policy of the Commonwealth. The only details we have received have been through the press, and some of these appear to be contradictory and misleading. . I read in the newspaper a few days ago of the- manner in which the expenditure was to be allocated between the States. For instance, we were informed that £320,000 was to be expended on an explosives factory at Maribyrnong, £300,000 .on an ordnance factory at Maribyrnong, £200,000 on a munitions factory at Footscray, and £150,000” on a small arms factory at Lithgow. The amounts for Victoria total £820,000. According to a paragraph in the Sydney Morning Herald, the allocation between the State’s and territories of the Commonwealth is to be as follows : - New South Wales, £507,150; Victoria, £438,300; Northern Territory, £316,500; Western Australia, £2S9,500; Federal Capital Territory, £174,200; Queensland. £8S,000; .South Australia, £31,000, and Tasmania, £32,630. An extra £75,000 has yet to be allocated. I cannot understand why a curtain of silence has been drawn over this expenditure. The only information honorable senators can get is by lifting a corner of the curtain or peeping through a hole in it. I suppose that the figures I have quoted are correct, as they have ‘already appeared in the press and have been used by a Minister in a broadcast speech, which ‘appears to be a new method of enlightening, the taxpayers. A statement also appeared in the press outlining the policy of the Federal Government in regard to ‘ the taxation that would be imposed to meet some of the cost in this respect. ‘‘It was stated that the expenditure of this money would be a means of relieving unemployment. If the figures I have quoted are accurate, it would appear that there has not been a fair allocation of work between the ‘States. I should -like to know why so much work, is to be undertaken in Victoria, when the Government is pledged to a policy of decentralization.
– Money is to be expended at Lithgow, in New South files
– I shall deal with New South Wales presently, and probably Tasmania. The work undertaken at the Woolwich Arsenal in England, which is probably, the most important arsenal in the world, is now .being distributed between two establishments in Scotland and one each in the north and west of England. If that policy is being followed in the United Kingdom, why should not a similar policy be adopted in Australia, particularly as each State contributes towards the revenues of the Commonwealth? There is a small arms factory at Lithgow operating on a peacetime basis. Reference has been made to war hysteria., but I do not know if hysteria is the correct word to use in connexion with defence, because I should define hysteria as a nervous complaint involving a fit of laughing or crying. 1 do not know why there should be such feverish haste in defence matters. Apparently the Government wishes the assistance of the Opposition in this matter, but at the same time it does not place sufficient confidence in us to supply us with details of the proposed expenditure. The small arms factory at Lithgow employs at present a peace-time staff of 370 men and boys as compared with from 1,500 to 1 ,700 during the last war, and it has been proved that the factory is capable of turning out almost anything of a mechanical nature. Not only does it manufacture rifles, machine guns and anti-aircraft guns, but also various types of machinery, crown wheels, motor car parts, charger clips and other things. Before private enterprise is called upon to manufacture munitions, all governmentfactories should be employed to the fullest extent. . Further, instead of establishing more munitions factories in Victoria, these undertakings should be distributed amongst the various States, on the principle of decentralization.
– What factories are to bc established in Victoria ?
– An explosives factory and an ordnance factory at Maribyrnong, a munitions factory at Footscray, and, I think, two other under takings elsewhere. It is of interest to. note that the small arms factory at. Lithgow has constructed machinery forthe Broken Hill Proprietary Limited, oneof the companies that will probably besubsidized by the Government for theproduction of armaments. Dyring theGreat War it was found desirable, to seek the assistance of engineers to operate that factory, and that is the policy I would! recommend at present in preference toobtaining munitions from private manufacturers. I do not think that there isadequate supervision of the various munition works. Mr. Brodribb, an explosiveschemist, has been appointed Controllerof Munitions Supply, but in my opinion! a highly-qualified engineer should beplaced in charge of these undertakings..
The word “ hysteria “ has been used a great deal to-day, but it cannot beapplied to the erection of a building at Lithgow which was planned in 1920, but the excavations for which are now being, made. Another building is being erected., the excavations for which were made twoyears ago. The former job is beingcarried out by the unemployed as theresult of what I may term a Christmascheer grant of £2,000 made by the Commonwealth Government, and I suggest: that as an indication of its earnest desireto provide for the defence of the country,. the Government should proceed at once with the building to be erected there. At the present time there are 30 or 40 mein working overtime at the Lithgow Small Arms Factory, while skilled men whowere trained -there are walking thestreets. That state of “affairs should heremedied.
During the debate reference has been made to the closing of trade routes in the event of war, and the position that would then arise with respect to the disposal of surplus products which are now sent toEngland. But there is another importantfactor to be considered - the supply of oil1 to meet the needs of this country. It hasbeen said that Australia could withstand” a blockade longer than any other nation because it is self-contained; but Australia can never be self-contained until it has an independent oil supply. The Leader of the Senate will probably reply that the Government is financing a company to the amount, of £500,000, while the- company itself provides £166,000, to undertake the production of oil from shale at Newnes, but so far nothing has been done beyond inserting in the newspapers a few advertisements. I understand however that a survey has been made of the possibility of constructing a pipe line from Newnes toWindsor, a distance of 120 miles, for the purpose of conveying crude oil to that point for treatment and that it is proposed to transport coal from Lithgow to Windsor.
SenatorFoll. - The principal difficulty up to the present has been to obtain a modern cracking plant. Until that is obtained production cannot be commenced and the plant is not available in Australia.
– The Government is to provide 15s. out of every £1 to be expended by the company and it should supervise the undertaking. It is essential that there should be at least a supply of oil for defence requirements, if not for commer- cial use. Honorable senators will realize what would happen in the event of a blockade of our shores. It was stated by a Commonwealth authority during the investigation into the possibilities of the Newnes oil shale deposits, that in the event of war occurring and a blockade being enforced, there would be only two months’ supply of oil in Australia. If war occurred, a state of emergency would at once be declared, and no motor car or motor lorry would be permitted to leave a garage. Industry would be plunged into chaos. It behoves the Government, therefore, to ascertain the exact position with respect to the Newnes field and to endeavour to hasten the production of oil from shale there.
Further, the Government should exploit the possibility of producing oil from coal. This matter has been frequently discussed both here and in another place, and no one should be more conversant with the position than the Leader of the Government. At Lithgow twelve months ago he said that within a few weeks men would be engaged upon the re-conditioning of the Newnes railway line, but so far not a pick has been used upon it.
Senator Pearce, in rather satirical vein, said that we could not win wars by means of roads, but if war occurred and the cities had to be evacuated, good roads would be very desirable. There should be a long range policy of road construction which would provide employment for many people. Provision has been made for the carrying out of certain defence works at Darwin and a road has been suggested from the Western road in New South Wales, through Longreach, Queensland, to Darwin. The provision of such a road would give access to the latter place and would permit of the extensive use of motor transport.
In conclusion, the proposal to establish five or six munitions factories in Victoria may be regarded as satisfactory from the point of view of economy, but economy should be subordinated to efficiency, and consideration should also be given to the matter of providing employment for people elsewhere by arranging for an equitable distribution of work between the various States.
SenatorFoll. - Complaint is made in Victoria that too much work is going to the Cockatoo Dockyard in Sydney.
– I would not be surprised at that.
– Very much more money is to be spent in New South Wales than in Victoria.
– I doubt that, in view of the money to be spent at Laverton and Point Cook upon defence organization in connexion with the Air Force.
– Surely we are dealing with the defence of Australia rather than a distribution of expenditure between the States.
– I have no wish to appear parochial, but there should be a fair distribution of the proposed expenditure between various States. The Government has pointed out that this expenditure will relieve the State governments of a good deal of the responsibility to provide employment. In view of the recent decision of the Loan Council to limit, the amounts to be made available to State governments for public works, it is not unreasonable to ask for a fair allocation of the money to be expended under this bill.
– The Government’s defence programme is not a subject upon which speakers of either side of the chamber should seek to make debating points. I am one of those who believe that if ever Australia is in danger, the hackles of Opposition senators and their supporters would rise just as sharply as would the hackles of government supporters and the people they represent in this Parliament, against a government if it had neglected to take the necessary precautions to safeguard this country.
I congratulate the Government upon having at. last realized the seriousness of the position of Australia, but I should have been much ‘better pleased if action had been taken earlier. ‘The defence programme outlined by the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Foll) is ample evidence that the Government appreciates to the full the need for a sound scheme of national defence. It is gratifying also to know that the Minister for Defence (Mr. Thorby) is discharging his responsibilities in a manner that reflects the greatest credit on the Ministry.
– The electors did not think very much of his predecessor.
– Possibly they were right; I do not know. But I do know that the Government is tackling the problem of defence in a proper way. It is possible, of course, that some things are still wanting. That is inevitable. If the Government, is not in a position to train fresh men, and if, because of the rush of work in Great Britain due to re-armament in the Mother Country, some of the essential equipment. is not readily available in Australia, we cannot blame the Government; but I believe that a little later, when the necessary instructional men have been trained and further equipment is to hand, our position will he much more satisfactory.
T rose particularly to remove some misconceptions that have arisen during the debate. The first is in connexion with the manufacture in time of war of munitions and equipment. Senator Pearce dealt very fairly with “this aspect of the Government defence programme. Manufacturers in Australia have, for some years, been advocating what the Government now contemplates doing, namely, having a proper survey of Australia’s resources in order that manufacturers, when the time comes, may be in a posi tion to produce without undue delay, equipment and munitions as required. I ma.yi add that they have no wish to make one penny of profit out of the manufacture of war material in either peace or war. Their one desire is to be in a position to help the nation in time of need.
– Super patriots requiring no profits ! A new breed of men !
– That is much better than snarling at people who wish to do their duty to their country. The Leader of the Opposition seems to follow the advice of an eminent Irish philosopher who’ is credited with having said - “‘If you don’t want to believe a thing,, it does not matter whether it is true or not. If you do want to believe me, it does not matter either “. I tell the honorable gentleman frankly that alf responsible manufacturers in Australia are prepared to provide the nation, in. time of war, with munitions and other immaterial at cost price, without one pen., of profit.
I was amused at the suggestion of Senator Brand that our manufacturers should be required to produce munitions or war equipment at, a price not exceeding the cost in government factories.
– They would like contracts at that price..
– If they had them, they would be millionaires in a few months. I have no illusions about .the cost of manufacturing in Government factories. I know that it is absolutely necessary for the Government to supply its own needs in certain defence requirements, but no one can suggest that the price of such goods is comparable with private manufacturers’ costs. Senator Ashley spoke of the desirability of increasing the personnel of the small arms factory in Lithgow. Evidently, the honorable gentleman is unaware of the difficulty of obtaining skilled men.
– Many are walking about the streets up there.
– I cannot speak authoritatively about the position in New South Wales, but I know that in Victoria there is a definite shortage of trained engineers, turners and fitters. Any man with a knowledge of the metal trades is sure of a job in that State. As a matter of fact, we could absorb three times the numbers at, present unemployed at Lithgow; I speak with some authority on this subject as I have been dealing with machinery and factory management for many years, and I know something about the state of the trade in Australia, and in Victoria particularly.
I agree with the Leader of the Opposition and Senator Brown as to the necessity for expanding dock facilities for the refitting and repair of ships. There is the beginning of a useful industry of this nature in Sydney, Newcastle and Melbourne. It would be much to the advantage of Australia if all sizes of ships could be repaired and even constructed efficiently and expeditiously in this country.
I was surprised at a statement made by Senator Brown and repeated, I think, by Senator Cunningham, that Australia is sending £50,000,000 a year overseas in interest on British capital investments in Australia, including interest on loans raised for war purposes. The figure is’ an exaggeration. Our obligations in respect of loans raised in London is about £20,000,000 a year. “With the exception of £70,000,000 or £80,000,000 of war debt due to Great Britain, the whole of our war expenditure was met from loans raised in Australia, and honorable senators must be aware that, for some years, we have not been asked to pay interest on the war debt owing to Great Britain.
One Opposition senator also said that it was the intention of the Government to subsidize manufacturers in connexion with the production of defence equipment. I did not understand the Prime Minister to say that, and I feel sure that manufacturers generally do not expect to be subsidized.
– The Prime Minister publicly declared that the Government will control profits, so evidently it is anticipated that profits will be made.
– If the Prime Minister made that statement, it was because the manufacturers had informed him that they did not wish to make any profit from the manufacture of munitions or defence equipment.
– Senator Brand emphasized that statement about profits.
– - I understood. Senator Brand to say that the manufacturers would be expected to charge not more than the c’ost of production in. government factories. But my point is that the subsidizing of factories is not contemplated. ‘Nor is it necessary. As Senator Pearce pointed out, all that the Government will ask manufacturers to dowill be to provide space in their establishments for the installation of special machines. The manufacturers themselves will train men to work those machines so that they may be immediately available in time of emergency-
– The Minister for Repatriation (Senator Foll), in his statement to the Senate,, said that adequatesteps would be taken to control profits.
– I think the Ministry was invited by the manufacturers to make that statement. They told the Government that they did not wish tomake any profits from defence contracts. They do not regard the statement as a threat because they have made it clearto the Prime Minister that they will doall that is asked of them, without any profit, in time of emergency. Their onedesire is to be able to do their part effectively in the carrying out of the Government’s defence programme.
Some honorable senators spoke of thestandardization of railway gauges as an. essential part of any effective defence scheme. I confess that I do not regard it in that light. I also believe that, from a business point of view, the expenditure of” £40,000,000 or £50,000,000 on this work, at a time when motor, air and other formsof transport are competing successfully with the railways would be so much, money wasted.
– The Government should spend more money on road construction. .
– It isspending millions yearly . on roads.
– That is so. I understand that between £3,-000,000 and £4,000,000 a year, the proceeds of the tax: on petrol, is being handed over to theStates for road construction.
– This vear there will be an additional £500,000.
– Some defence authorities are of the opinion that the break of gauge, at places like- Albury, might be an advantage, because large bodies of troops being transported over long distances must be rested at some point. Apart ‘altogether from this aspect of the proposal, I am sure that there are sufficient motor cars in Melbourne and Sydney to transport 1,000,000 troops from one city to another within three or .four days, so I do not attach much importance to the argument that the standardization of railway gauges is essential. From a business point of view, it would be uneconomical, and from a defence point of view, unnecessary.
I come now to the consideration of the personnel of the militia forces and the much discussed subject of universal military training. I believe in universal training as inaugurated by a Labour government, and still advocated by Mr. Ogilvie, the present Labour Premier of Tasmania. I do so because I think that the young men of Australia owe a duty to their country. In any case, the training would do them good. But they are not the only persons in the community who have a duty in this connexion. If they make sacrifices in the interests of the defence of the country, they should be properly remunerated. Trained men are more necessary to-day than formerly, because the new weapons of warfare are intricate and have to be thoroughly understood if they are to he effectively used. A trained man is worth more (than is a man without training, and therefore I suggest that trained men should have something added to their wages every week. There has been some outcry about preference to returned soldiers, but I would go further, and give preference to those who are willing to fight for their country and to be trained to that end.
– That is economic conscription; “ no job if you don’t train.”
– It is not. Each week 5 per cent, of every trainee’s wages could be added to the amount to which he is entitled. It could he kept for him until the conclusion of his period of training. I make .that suggestion to the Government because I believe that means will have to be devised to increase the trained men to three times the present number.
I rose to congratulate the Government on having at last grasped the nettle and started out on a comprehensive and thorough scheme of defence. I believe that the money will be well expended. I believe, moreover, that the people of this country now fully realize the seriousness of the position and are willing to pay for the defence of the country. The Government has been slow to rouse the people to a sense of their responsibility, but now that it has started on a comprehensive defence scheme it is to be congratulated on the way in which it is facing the situation.
.- Although on broad lines I support the defence policy of the Government, I agree with Senator Duncan-Hughes that it is time that universal training was reintroduced. As Senator Leckie has said, the discipline would do the young men of the country good. The Government’s proposals are open to criticism. We are asked to provide £43,000,000 for defence during the next three years, but we have not been told how it is intended- to raise that money. All that we have been told is contained in the epitome presented to us by the Minister. He informed us that -
Funds for the early authorization of most urgent proposals will be provided from a loan bill for defence purposes. Certain miscellaneous expenditure totalling less than £100,000 which can be carried out by the 30th June, is being provided from the Treasurer’s advance, and the balance of the first year’s requirements will be dealt with in the -next budget.
That is a very bald statement to explain an expenditure of £43,000,000. We ar« asked to sanction these proposals without »being told how the money is to be raised. The Government should have taken Parliament into its confidence in this matter. We read in the newspapers and financial journals various comments on the subject, but the elected representatives of the people have been given only the meagre information contained in the Minister’s speech.
– The next budget will reveal how the balance is to be dealt with.
– That budget will not be presented to Parliament before August, and I do not suppose that in the meantime action will be withheld.
– We shall know our financial position better then.
– We are being asked now to agree to proposals which will involve us in an expenditure of £43,000,000 during the next three years. We should know how that money is to be raised.
– A loan bill, covering the first portion of that expenditure, will probably be before us to-morrow.
– But whether the loan bill will be for £1,000,000 or £10,000,000, or even £20,000,000, we do not know.
I was interested in that portion of the Minister’s speech in which he stated -
TheRoyal Military College is being expanded to ensure an annual output of officers that will remedy in a reasonable period the present shortage in the Australian Staff Corps. A command and staff school is to be established at Sydney to conduct courses of instruction in tactics and staff duties for officers of the permanent and militia forces, and to carry out the practical part of their examinations. Schools of military engineering and signals are to be provided, and the small arms school is to be expanded. . . .
A special defence course for officers of the Australian merchant navy will be instituted at Sydney, Melbourne and F remantle early next month.
There is little in his speech about the Air Force. A few days ago a letter which had been sent to the Minister for Defence by an enthusiastic young man who had trained for, and had received the special efficiency licence for air pilots, came under my notice. Throughout Australia there are numbers of young men who, at their own expense and without government assistance,have gained the advanced A licence, entitling them to fly most classes of aeroplanes. The letter, which is dated the 24th January of this year, reads -
I have received notice that my air pilot’s Licence expires on 1st proximo, and, like the majority of those who fly for pleasure, I have now reached the stage where I can no longer afford the flying hours necessary to keep my licence current.
May I ask you to consider the following points: -
I have spent approximately £150 over the last two years in training myself to my advanced A licence.
An advanced A standard is such that any pilot possessing same could with little instruction fly service machines.
To induce all private pilots to keep flying with their respective aeroclubs would ensure; more semitrained pilots in case of war.
To do this the Defence Department would be involved in an expenditure of only, say, £21 per year for each advancedA standard pilot -i.e., giving them through the medium of an aero club or aero school one free hour per month at, say,35s. per hour.
From my own close observations, it seems that few private pilots keep their flying up after the first two years of gaining their advanced cer- tificate - for the small expenditure which would be involved it appears to me that we cannot afford to lose such pilots.
If, as suggested in the letter, the Government paid the aero clubs for the use of their machines, the cost would be about £21 a year for each of these young men, but if Government machines were made available to them, practically the only cost would be that of the petrol used. On the 17th February the Minister for Defence replied as follows : -
Further to your communication of the 24th January. 1938. regarding the question of expense in connexion with your flying training and suggesting that consideration should be given to a scheme whereby one hour’s free flying per month be provided with an aero club for pilots who have attained the advanced A standard, I have made inquiries but regret that at the present timeit is not possible to accede to your suggestion.
It is realized that the cost of flying training must necessarily be expensive by virtue of the equipment required by an organization to operate a flying training school, and although the Government ismindful of the value of semi-trained civilian pilots as a potential defence reserve, the present financial commitments for national defence require; ments preclude the inauguration of a scheme as proposed by you, or an extension of the present system for financial assistance to approved aero clubs.
That letter contains no encouragement to those young men who, at their own expense, have qualified as advanced A class pilots. All that was asked was that they be enabled to keep their certificates in force by being granted the cost of flying for one hour each month, but the request was refused by the Government. ., Minister’s answer in this instance is in keeping with what happens only too frequently. It would appear that, at times, Ministers sign papers without realizing what they are signing. I cannot believe that the Minister for Defence himself would write such a letter. Another matter to which I would like to direct the attention of the Government is that it is the failure to give sufficient encouragement to the manufacture of light metals which have to be used in the construction of aircraft. Obstacles are being placed in the way of those who wish to continue work in this respect. One of the most important of these metals has already been manufactured in a small way in Tasmania, and I am confident that it can be produced economically and profitably on a larger scale without difficulty, if more encouragement is given by the Federal Government. I urge the Government to :give consideration immediately to this matter.
Senator COURTICE (Queensland) 9.47 J. - It is not with enthusiasm that 1 rise to participate in this debate. I would have remained silent but for certain remarks made by Senator Pearce and Senator Duncan-Hughes, who, by implication, endeavoured to convey the impression that neither the Labour party nor this Opposition is prepared to defend Australia. I’ hope that we shall hear no more of that kind of thing in this chamber. If those honorable senators studied the history of this National Parliament and of the Labour movement in Australia, I am sure they would appreciate the fact that no political party has done more for the defences of this country than the Labour party.
– I think I was fairly even-handed in my criticism.
– Senator Pearce said, “ Of course that was another Labour party.” For many years I have been a student of Australian politics and public affairs and I emphasize that the Labour party has invariably stood solidly for the defence of this country. I point out that it was only during the regime of a Labour government that concrete steps were taken to defend Australia adequately, taking into account our small population. I appreciate Senator Leckie’s remark that he believed that all honorable senators recognized that if a crisis arose in this country every Australian would be prepared to do his duty. Statements such i.s those made by Senator Pearce and Senator Duncan-Hughes are heard all too frequently and if they are persisted in repercussions are bound to occur. Such statements do a disservice .to Australia and 1 sincerely hope that we have heard the last of them. I reiterate that the Labour party stands for the adequate defence of Australia. Simply because we cannot see eye to eye with honorable senators opposite we are accused of being disloyal and unmanly. I resent such charges and feel sure that the people oi Australia do not believe them. As a matter of fact the people clearly Shower al the last election that they had confidence in the Labour party, and I have no doubt that at the next general election; they will decide that the Government of this country will be more secure in the. hands of the Labour party.
As. I am not a military expert I feel at a great disadvantage in discussing the subject of defence. I fail to understand why honorable senators opposite do not feel the same way. Perhaps they are not so modest as I. Some honorable senators opposite believe that the;-‘ are experts on defence, and that they alone know the best methods by which this country can be defended. I have not much confidence in the experts on which the Government relies, and I am very perturbed by the prospect that the defence of Australia is to be handed over to a board of military gentlemen who have no true conception of our economic conditions. My life has been spent in an endeavour to’ raise industrial efficiency of this country. I believe that, ultimately, it will be found that the best way to protect Australia is to develop its resources to the utmost. In connexion with the controversy which arose many years ago over the White Australia policy, I recall that at that time the political ancestors of honorable senators opposite endeavoured to perpetuate a system which would have confined employment on the sugar-fields to Kanakas. As a result of the policy then adopted by the Labour party there are to-day employed on the sugar belt in Queensland 20,000 white Australians, who are equal to any body of workmen in the world, and every one of those men would be prepared to defend this country should the need arise. That is the kind of defence we need.
This Government has not made adequate provision for defence. Let us consider, for instance, its attitude in respect of the development of our oil supplier. Only a short while ago it was asked for support for a proposal to manufacture power alcohol, and its only reply was that such a proposition was uneconomic. I contend that such an industry could be economically established in Australia. If recent anti-Labour governments had possessed the foresight of men like Deakin and Kingston, Australia to-day would be supporting a far greater population than its mere 7,000,000 people. If our oil supplies were cut off in a time of emergency, how would this Government act? Yet it persists in the contention that it would be uneconomic to establish the power alcohol industry which would be the means of settling thousands of acres, and giving employment to hundreds of people. If this country is to grow up, its national government must abandon such an outlook. This Government has no constructive ideas in this regard, and similar criticism can be levelled against it in respect of the establishment of many other industries. Fortunately, on occasions in the past every political party has produced at least some big men who were prepared to put their country before party.
– A lot of money has been put into Newnes.
– The Minister indicated that no money had been put into Newnes, but I am pleased that the Government proposes to do something to promote the development of the oil shale deposits there.
– Newnes will supply only 3 per cent, of the fuel needs of the Commonwealth.
– If Australia is lacking in defence to-day the blame can be laid at the door of this Government, because it has been in office for many years. In those circumstances it is unfair for Senator Pearce and Senator Din near -Hughes to endeavour to blame the Opposition for the present state of affairs.
– I blamed both the Government and the Labour party.
– If the present position is deplorable, the people of Australia will appreciate the fact that this Government is to blame. One would not be human if he did not realize the present serious state of affairs so far as our defence is concerned, and one would be foolish, and both un-British and unAustralian, if he did not realize the great part that Great Britain and the British Commonwealth of Nations have played in conserving the liberties we enjoy today. I feel sure that should a crisis arise the people of Australia could be relied upon to do their part in defending our liberties. The Labour party represents a very large section of the people of Australia, and no honorable senator has any grounds for suggesting that we are not prepared to defend Australia.
– No one lias suggested that for a moment.
– Perhaps at some future date the great value of the attitude of Great Britain and Australia in respect of the reduction of armaments in recent years will be properly assessed. I believe that Great Britain’s past endeavours to preserve peace will strengthen its hand when it is obliged to act in a time of crisis. To-day it has been compelled to change its former attitude, and to take steps to preserve the liberty of its people by the use of force. In that respect it will have the full support of Australia.
I repeat the hope that, in this National Parliament we shall hear no more suggestions that the Labour party is disloyal and unwilling to defend this country. I recall that in the days of an earlier crisis similar charges were hurled at Senator Pearce and, at a later date, at Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, when he was Prime Minister of England. Because men in the Labour movement are prepared to stand up for what they believe is right in the face of opposition from vested interests, which are represented by this Government, they are dubbed disloyal. I do not believe that there is any justification for the unusual activity being displayed in this country because of the alleged possibility of a European war. However, we have to use every endeavour to ensure the safety of this country, and to place it in a position to compete with other countries, but this cannot be done until we have a larger population than we have to-day. There must be greater development of our primary and secondary industries in order that they will be able to absorb the large number of unemployed in our midst. If given a fair chance, the young men and women of to-day will .be good citizens as are their mothers and fathers. But the youngmen of to-day who have not constant employment hesitate to marry and even if they marry, do not feel justified in facing the responsibility of rearing a family, and we cannot blame them. The policy of the Labour party provides for greater security in employment, and the Government in framing its defence policy should have endeavoured to give them greater security in that direction. At the last meeting of the Australian Loan Council the State Premiers were informed that a reduced amount of loan money would be made available with which to carry out their works programmes; that restriction must necessarily have a detrimental effect upon employment. If this Government were wise, it would see that there was greater co-operation with the States, particularly in the matter of providing employment for those who will eventually bc called upon to defend this country. To-day there are many unemployed young men who cannot get work, and in framing a defence policy consideration should bc given to their claims. I am totally opposed to the suggestion of Senator Duncans-Hughes, that the policy of Germany in placing unemployed men in military camps where they are drilled, fed and clothed, should be adopted in Australia, because I do not think for a moment that such a scheme would be acceptable to our people. It: would be infinitely better to place them in industry and enable them to become responsible citizens. What can we expect of men who have no prospects in life ? We cannot expect them to be enthusiastic about anything. We cannot reasonably look to them to assist in the defence of a country which cannot provide them with work. I shall not attempt to discuss this subject from a technical standpoint. I sympathize with the Government and Ministers generally because I know that they are being stampeded from all angles. I realize that the Government is doing its best to establish the nucleus of an effective defence force, although I regret that such action is necessary. Every effort should be made by the Government to improve the physical and mental capacity of the people by placing men in industry. Australia would be a better country if there were a complete absence of militarism; I hate militarism in any shape or form. The establishments of unemployment concentration camps on military lines as suggested by Senator Duncan-Hughes would not be in the interests of the Australian people. Our men should be provided with work in industry, and when that is done Australia will have nothing to fear from the workers who I know are prepared to play their part in defending their country.
– I agree with Senator Duncan-Hughes that Parliament should have been called together earlier to enable the important proposals that were to come before it, to be considered in an intelligent and constructive manner. It would also be an advantage if the Government remembered that the -members of this chamber and of the House of Repre-‘ sentatives are elected by the people not only to pass legislation but also to help in framing it. We have heard a great deal about war hysteria, and the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) stated quite definitely that those who are to be engaged in the manufacture of armaments and munitions are encouraging a. state of hysteria so that they may have the opportunity to make huge profits. I do not think that there is much in such statements, because we have only to consider the position in Europe and in Asia to realize that there is every necessity for the nations to be prepared for war. If we are prepared war may be avoided. All political parties in this Parliament appear to be agreed that a defence policy is necessary, and whatever party is in power must depend to a large extent upon the advice given by the members of the Defence Council and other experts. I believe that if a Labour government had been in power at this juncture it would have sought advice from the same source, and in all probability would have acted inthe same way as this Government is acting. Senator Cunningham said that there was no reason why the different political parties should not get together in order to frame a defence policy for Australia. That is what the Government wishes. It would welcome the co-operation and assistance of the Opposition, and is anxious to frame a defence policy acceptable to all political parties. There appears to be a great fear in the minds of many persons that in the event of private companies being permitted to engage in the manufacture of munitions they will be allowed to amass huge profits. At present the manufacture of munitions is being undertaken only by the Government, and the intention is to arrange for private manufacturers to engage in the business should the necessity arise. The Government is merely assessing the capabilities of certain manufacturing concerns, and that is a policy which has been adopted in other parts of the world. A gentleman who travelled through Germany a few years ago said that the German Government measured up the capabilities of certain industrial undertakings and actually purchased the machines utilized for commercial work, but left them in the factories until they were required for war purposes. I maintain, without fear of contradiction, that many of the big manufacturing undertakings in Australia are making twice as much money out of commercial manufacture as they could possibly make from producing war materials. In these circumstances, they will not be too anxious to engage in any work which the Government may ask them to do. Employment in industry should receive first consideration, and that is being given at t he present juncture. Although it has been said that the State governments did not receive fair treatment at a recent meeting of the Australian Loan Council, I maintain that no government which has occupied the treasury bench in the national Parliament has done more to assist the States than has the Lyons Government. In South Australia we have a good roads policy and the Government has treated that State very fairly out of the proceeds of the petrol tax, a proportion of which is given to the States to assist in the construction and maintenance of main roads. Larger sums are expended on roads in other countries, but the probabilities are that those thoroughfares are constructed through mountainous country, have to cross numerous rivers, and also carry a greater volume of traffic. I agree with the last two speakers on the Opposition side of the chamber that provision should be made for reserve stocks of petrol that are so essential to the defence of any country. It is also the responsibility of the Government to consider seriously the production of power alcohol on an extensive scale. One of the most vigorous speeches I heard from the Leader of the Opposition was when he was opposing the Government’s proposals in connexion with the development of the Newnes shale deposits.
– Yes, because the Government was handing the work over to private enterprise.
– The proposal was to assist private enterprise. Senator Cunningham also said that the Labour party was responsible for the establishment of the Australian Navy. That is true, and I commend the party for what it did. I believe that Senator Pearce, who was a Minister in the Labour Government of that time, piloted the bill through the Senate. But I direct the attention of honorable senators in Opposition to the fact that although the Australian Navy was established in 1909, it was decided at an imperial conference held in London in 1911, at which Australia was represented, that the Australian Navy should be placed at the disposal of the British Empire whenever its services were required. That is not the policy of the Labour party to-day.
SenatorCollings. -Who said so? I said that if we protect this country we are rendering the best possible service we can to the Empire.
– I give the Labour party credit for having established the Australian Navy, but I am afraid that if it were in power to-day it would not placethe vessels of the Australian Fleet at the disposal of the British Admiralty.
– Conditions have altered altogether.
– I am not talking of conditions but stating facts. Senator Brown said that the cruisers of the Australian Navy would be incapable of protecting our trade routes, and as we owed Great Britain a great deal of money it was the responsibility of Britain to protect the carriage of our exports across the water. There are always plenty of sellers, but in order to do business it is necessary to find buyers. Great Britain is the best customer that this country has ever had for its exportable products. It is up to us to do our share to keep the trade routes open so that in time of war our produce may continue to be sent to England. At a later stage we shall have a further opportunity to discuss these matters, but I feel that the Government is working on right lines and that it is supported by public opinion. The country must be defended, and even if complete agreement regarding the cost or the location or the nature of the steps to be ‘ taken cannot be achieved, the majority ofthe people are of the opinion that the Government is acting wisely and should proceed with its programme. It has been suggested that no indication has been given of how the necessary money willbe raised. I have been in politics a good many years and have never yet known a Government that obtained money from any sources other than taxation or loans.
– in reply - In view of the lateness of the hour and of the fact that honorable senators have bad a long day after spending a night in the train, I propose not to reply to the debate to-night. Therefore, I ask for leave to continue my remarks at the next sitting.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 10.18 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 4 May 1938, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1938/19380504_senate_15_155/>.