15th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. J. B. Hayes) took the chair at 11 a.m., and road prayers.
-Will the Minister representing the Minister for Defence state whether the Government has taken any action with regard to the storage of petrol for use in a national emergency?
– Yes, the Government is taking action in that direction.
Blind Flying Equipment
– Yesterday, Senator Eraser asked me, as the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, the following question, upon notice: -
Has the Minister for Defence given consideration to the advisability or otherwise of compelling all aircraft to be fitted with instruments for blind flying?
The reply given was “ Yes “. The following additional information has since been furnished by the Minister for Defence : -
All civil aircraft employed ‘on regular scheduled air services are fitted with the basic blind flying instruments. In addition, the large modern types of aircraft are fitted with several supplementary blind flying instruments. All air force aircraft, except certain primary trainers, are fitted with basic blind flying instruments. All new air force aircraft will be fitted with supplementary instruments to complete what is known as a modern blind flying instrument panel. In addition, arrangements have been made to complete to this standard all Anson aircraft now in use by the Air Force.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
Has his attention been drawn to a statement to the following effect appearing in the Melbourne Herald of the 12th October: - “ National insurance is of serious concern to the man on the land “ said the general’ manager of the Gippsland and Northern Cooperative Co. Ltd. (Mr. A.W. Wilson) in presenting the address of the chairman (Mr.
Langham) at the annual meeting to-day. It is possible that federal legislation might prove a hardship to many engaged in agricultural pursuits, who contribute as employers, but receive no benefits. Farmers’ returns are already inadequate, and if reduced by insurance contributions they would be unfairly taxed”.
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answer-. -
Yes. In the interests of employees, the national insurance scheme will involve cooperation on the part of all sections of the community. It was not possible to exempt employer farmers from the operation of the general scheme hut, in framing the voluntary scheme which the Government is now considering, special attention is being paid to the position of employers with low incomes.
Starting Price Betting - Cost of News
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. The Government has not yet reached’ a conclusion on the. policy to be adopted, but has made arrangements to consult the State governments on the question.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made, and a reply will be furnished to the honorable senator as early as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– Inquiries will be made, and a reply will be furnished to the honorable senator as early as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
With reference to H.M.A.S.Hobart and H.M.A.S. Perth, bought by the Australian Government from theRoyalNavy -
What is the cost of each?
How long have they been built?
Were they in commission when purchased?
– Inquiries will be made, and a reply will be furnished to the honorable senator as early as possible.
asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
Is it a fact that when a returned soldier is refuseda war pension he cannot obtain from the tribunal a copy of the evidence used against him?
– The procedure is governed by section 45z of the act, which roads as follows: -
An appeal tribunal and an assessment appeal tribunal shall, so far as is consistent with the interests of the appellant, and with any obligation to respect information given to the commission upon a confidential basis, make available to the appellant or his representative information contained in the records relating to the case:
Provided that information given to the commission on a confidential basis may be disc losed to the appellant or his representative in any case if the person who has provided the information consents in writing.
In practice such information is made available to the appellant or his advocate at the State branch office of the department at a time mutually agreed on, and before the hearing of the appeal to the tribunal.
In committee: Consideration resumed from the 13th October (vide page 758).
Proposed vote, £1,618,768.
Upon which Senator Keane had moved by way of amendment -
That the vote - Division 10. £88.502 - be reduced by £1.
– This is a most interesting division vote, and judging by the speech of the Minister in charge of the bill (Senator Foll), the Government is really in earnest over the matter. I should say that it needs to be in earnest with regard to defence, because, when the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) visited Queensland a few weeks ago, an article written by an eminent naval officer, Commander Geoffrey Rawson, and published in the Brisbane Courier-Mail, contained this startling statement -
The truth is that to-day, at this very moment, and for some time to come, Australia is for all practical purposes absolutely defenceless on land and sea and in the air.
That is the considered statement of a distinguished naval officer. If the Government desires to defend Australia, it should certainly take steps to organize the production of all kinds of defence material and equipment; but I have grave doubts regarding the means to be adopted in organizing the manufacture of armaments and munitions. Possibly the Government is following in the footsteps of Great Britain, where shadow factories were built, but, from what I have heard from the Minister, and from what I have read, this particular step is merely a shadow of a shadow. In racing parlance I should call it “ a shade out of shadow by folly “. The proposed vote under consideration is £88,502, and I understand that a great deal of the money is to be expended in building annexes to various railway workshops throughout Australia. The Minister, however, did not say how much of the money would be expended in that way. If the proportion be one-half, this would leave, say, £40,000 to be expended with private firms, but how far would that take us towards the desired end of making it possible for these factories to produce the armaments or munitions that would be needed in time of war? If that be the total expenditure contemplated, it is very meagre indeed, but honorable senators on this side of the chamber fear that the Government is merely taking the first step in the direction of pouring many thousands of pounds into the coffers of private enterprise.
– I said that this sum was to be expended out of revenue, and I mentioned an item providing for trial orders to be given to private factories. The total sum to be expended in building the annexes will run into many thousands of pounds.
– I was afraid that the scheme would prove a farce through lack of expenditure, and now the Minister’s statement convinces me that many thousands of pounds, and possibly even millions of pounds will be expended, of which much money will go into the pockets of private firms. Who are the persons who will receive these many thousands of pounds as the scheme progresses, and will the plant to be provided be incorporated in the works of the private companies ?
– It will remain the property of the Commonwealth Government so that these firms cannot become beneficiaries.
– On the surface,the position appears to be satisfactory, but there is a possibility that the machinery supplied at the cost of the taxpayers will be used by the private companies for their own benefit. In order to make profits, private enterprise is prepared to set aside all patriotic feelings. In this connexion, I call attention to the experience of Canada. The Sydney Morning Herald recently contained the information that the Ministry of National Defence in the dominion had placed a contract for 7,000 machine guns with John Ingliss and Company, and had also agreed to lend to the company machinery which had previously been installed in the Government’s plant at Quebec. When Colonel Drew, a Tory politician, who was also prominent in the army, drew attention to the fact that when John Ingliss and Company was given the contract without tenders having been called, its establishment consisted of little more than four bare walls, the outcry from the people of Canada was so great that, notwithstanding that some of its members were implicated, the Canadian Government was compelled to appoint Judge H. H. Davis, of the Supreme Court, to make a thorough investigation. That is an example of what the greed for profits can lead to. The same greed exists in Australia, and although the proposals stated by the Minister may appear to be harmless, the desire for profits is so great that these Australian manufacturers who, according to Senator Leckie, do not desire to make profits out of the supply of munitions, will seize every opportunity to increase their profits, and we shall see in Australia what has taken place in Canada, England and every part of the world where the armament racket has wrung from the people millions of pounds. The Minister mentioned Mr. Lloyd George; In a speech which he delivered in the House of Commons on the18th August, 1919, Mr. Lloyd George said that private armament manufacturers had charged the nation £165 for a Lewis gun which could be produced in government factories for £35. That is the statement of an exPrime Minister of Great Britain. Mr. Lloyd George also said that 18-pounder shells for which private armament makers charged 22s. 6d. had been produced by the State for 12s. Those instances show what private enterprise has done at the very heart of the Empire. The manufacture of armaments is controlled by a few firms which have interests in every part of the world. Honorable senators may think that the Vickers Company operates only in Great Britain, but that is not so. I have here a publication entitled The New Era, in which I read -
Apart from selling to the British Government. Vickers-Armstrong Ltd., must look for markets abroad. In this it is greatly helped by its international connexions and its factories, which are strategically placed in various countries.
In Italy there is the Societa Vickers-Terni : in Canada, the Vickers Two Combustion Engine Corporation: in Japan.Vickers-Armstrongs has a subsidiary company, Kabushiki Kwaisha Nihon Seiko-Sho (Japan Steel Works), which is part of the Mitsui concern, the dominating armament industry in that country.-
Vickers have- their factories in Rumania, We may presume some connexion with the fact that Sir Herbert Lawrence, the chairman, is a director of the Bank of Rumania.’ There are Vickers factories in Ireland (Vickers Ireland, Ltd.); in Spain (Sociedad Espanola de Construccion Naval’ and Placencia de las Armas Company, Ltd.); in New Zealand, Vickers (Now Zealand) Ltd.; in Holland they are associated with Fokkers aviation firm, which also has connexions in America, whilst the Nederlandsche Engelse Technicse Handelsmij in The Hague is the bureau of Vickers, and the grenade factory of van Heyst is one of their factories. In Poland Vickers have holdings in the Societe Polonaise de Materiel de Guerre, in which the French firm of Schneider is also interested.
Many books Lave been published to show that armament manufacturers have their tentacles in every country. The report of the Temporary Mixed Commission for the Reduction of Armaments in 1921, brought to light very startling facts regarding the activities of these firms. It showed -
That armament firms have attempted to bribe government officials both at homo and abroad;
That armament firms have disseminated false reports concerning the military and naval programmes of various countries, in order to stimulate armament expenditure;
That armament firms have sought to influence public opinion through the control of newspapers in their own and foreign countries;
That armament firms have organized international armament rings through which the armament race has been accentuated by playing off one country against another;
That armament firms have organized international armament trusts which have increased the price of armaments sold to governments.
I t is one of the outstanding wonders of the .age that the peoples of all countries, who are so much against wai-, should allow private enterprise to do these tilings. The Commonwealth Government ha ving set out in’ the direction in which it has started, there is no knowing what the end will be. There is grave danger that the armament racket will develop in this country as it has elsewhere. Should that happen, it will be to the detriment of Australia. If the Government wants to do the right thing, it should use the money which it extracts from the taxpayers to utilize and extend its own munition works. The railway workshops and similar government establishments throughout Australia could also be utilized. There is no need to go outside government establishments. The Minister said that, in the event of war, the private factories would be available, but that is questionable. I submit that if the same money and enthusiasm were devoted to the development of government munition factories as are now expended in the encouragement of private enterprise, the result would be far more satisfactory.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I support the amendment’. Yesterday the Leader of the Senate (‘Senator A. J. McLachlan) said that the amount of £3,600 in respect of which an amendment had been moved was not of much importance, and, consequently, the Minister in charge of the bill had not given details of the proposed expenditure. Wo are now discussing an amount of £88,502 in division 10, being part of a proposed vote of £1,618,768 for the Department of Defence. I trust that the magnitude of the amount will convince the Minister that he should supply the fullest information regarding, it. I have no desire to introduce extraneous subjects into the debate, but I feel bound to refer to the announcement by the Government in the newspapers and broadcast through various radio stations a few months ago, that the increased expenditure on defence would relieve the State governments of the major portion of their responsibility in regard to unemployment. In giving effect to its policy, the Government should endeavour to treat the States fairly, but I point out that, whereas £S50,000 is to be expended .in Victoria, only about £150,000 has been allocated to New South Wales. I do not suggest, in fact, I do not think it desirable - that this expenditure should be distributed £1 for £1 between the States. Nor do I suggest that it is possible to distribute the work involved strictly on that basis. The larger States should receive treatment corresponding with their importance. I ask the Minister for more details concerning these annexes. Will these plants be allowed to remain idle, or will the factory owners be free to use them for private manufacture? Are the machines merely to be installed and allowed to rust? Senator Keane has described fully the excellent facilities which now exist in governmental railways workshops in the various States for the production of munitions and armaments. I listened very carefully to the honorable senator, and I appreciated his eulogy of the plant and workmanship of those shops. The only reply that has so far been offered to his suggestion has been that these railway workshops will be fully required for railway maintenance.
– I said quite definitely that in three States this Government is actually building annexes at railway workshops.
– I agree with Senator Brown that the Government should extend its existing munition factories to enable them to handle increased orders. A couple of weeks ago, when war clouds threatened to burst over Europe, and this Government was so fearful that Australia might become involved in the threatened conflict that it called Parliament together at 11 p.m., sixteen employees at the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow had just received notice of dismissal. How can the Government excuse that?I should be wanting in my duty to the people who sent me here if 1 did not protest against the Government’s proposal to give assistance to its friends in private enterprise in connexion with the manufacture of armaments and munitions. Some time ago a movement was inaugurated in Lithgow to encourage youths to take up vocational training in the technical school with a view to prospective employment at the small arms factory, and, as the result, the enrolment of students increased from 30 to over SO. I admit that the employees dismissed had been engaged in the manufacture of private orders for shearing machine combs, and that their dismissal followed a decreased demand for those articles in consequence of the drought last year, and the commencement of manufacture by private enterprise. I appreciate the efforts which have been made by the Minister for Defence (Mr. Thorby), the Parliamentary Secretary for Defence (Mr. Street) and the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. John Lawson) to have the employees recently dismissed at the Lithgow small arms factory re-employed. Those employees include five adults, two of whom are returned soldiers. It is a sad commentary on the managements of the munitions factories in New South Wales, if not throughout the Commonwealth, that men should be dismissed at a time when the Government is placing with private enterprise orders for the manufacture of armaments and munitions. Work with which these factories are quite able to cope, or could be enabled very quickly to cope, is being given to private firms. According to a recentpress report it is estimated that the defence of Newcastle, where our biggest iron and steel works are situated, will ‘cost £500,000. It is essential, of course, that every preparation be made for the defence of so important an area. The same observation applies to PortKembla. I also noticed a report recently that committee? were being formed in the States with the object of co-operating with the Commonwealth Government in the future planning of munitions factories inland, where they will be less vulnerable to attack from the sea. It appears to me, however, that this Government merely champions the policy of de-centralization at election time, and promptly forgets about it immediately the elections are over.
– The honorable member has exhausted his time.
– I take this opportunity to clear up the points raised by honorable senators opposite concerning the building of annexes. These buildings will house plant of a highly specialized nature, for the manufacture of shell cases, fuse caps and similar articles - plant which in many instances is not suitable for ordinary engineering purposes. The annexes a.re being located and designed in relation to what is known as parent factories, from which the specialized tool maintenance required will be readily available. As I pointed out last night, the object of building these annexes is to ensure that the necessary industrial organization will be at the Government’s disposal in time of emer- gency.
If such preparation be not made beforehand, we shall be placed at the disadvantage of having to undertake this work at the eleventh hour. Complete munitions will not be manufactured in any of these annexe’s. In some of them, for instance, shell cases will be manufactured, but the work of fixing fuse caps and cartridges, and filling the shells with high explosive, will be done in government munition works. I wish to make that point quite clear. In reply further to honorable senators opposite, I point out that the plants and buildings will remain the property of the Commonwealth Government.
– ‘Will the Government obtain title to the land on which they are built?
– That will be hardly necessary. In all cases the Government will retain ownership of the buildings and plant, but may, in certain instances, acquire the title to the land as well. Where annexes are built at railway workshops, the State Governments probably will hand over the title to the land, should such an arrangement be necessary.
– And what about private enterprise?
– I suggest that the securing of title to the land in every case is beside the point. The position is that we have received permission to build these annexes at various engineering workshops; Ave have entered into an arrangement Avith the firms concerned, whereby they have made available the land required for the building of the sheds- in which the machinery will be housed. The machinery will be bought and installed by the Commonwealth which will retain ownership of the whole plant. From time to time trials will be undertaken in order to test the efficiency of the plant, and also to afford opportunities to artisans to become acquainted, with the working of these machines. For this purpose trial orders will be given. Tn this way, workshop staffs will, be enabled to become accustomed to handling special plant of this nature. I cannot be more definite than I was last night in pointing out that the Government will retain control and ownership of these annexes and plants. This scheme is a step in the right direction. Our object is to establish co-operation as far as possible between our munitions factories and private enterprise in order ro ensure that in a time of emergency orders will be readily fulfilled. We do not Avant to find ourselves in a position similar to that of the government df Great Britain in 1914. On the declaration of Avar against Germany, the government of the United Kingdom Avas unable to secure the expeditious fulfilment of munition orders and Avas itself obliged to organize this work as quickly as possible. The scheme Ave arc 110-W debating has been adopted on the recommendation of the Defence Council. The plants installed in the annexes will not be allowed to go te rust, or to become covered Avith cobwebs fis one honorable senator facetiously suggested, but will be constantly maintained in first-rate working order.
– The defence policy of the Government should commend itself to every honorable senator. Senator Ashley believes that the Government should give effect to its policy of decentralization; but every honorable senator must admit that the Government is making every effort to decentralize the manufacture of armaments and munitions. The members of the Opposition contend that all the equipment required by the navy, army and air forces should be manufactured in government establishments. That would involve the construction of factories in every part of Australia where defence equipment is ro bo produced, instead of adopting the more economical policy of doing the work in factories already established. If the needs of the nation are- to be met some buildings. must bo erected, machinery installed, and men trained, so that in times of emergency we shall be able to defeud, (his country. Do honorable senators opposite suggest that the government should spend huge sums of money in establishing government concerns for the manufacture of arms and munitions? If a Labour government were in power today, it too, I believe, would have accepted the advice of its ex-ports, and submitted a defence policy similar to that which Labour senators now so vehemently denounce. Tears ago the. Commonwealth Parliament adopted a policy under which captains of industry could assist in the manufacture of arms and munitions to ho used in the defence of Australia. In the event of war the whole of the resources of the nation will be organized for the protection of this country and its people. Do honorable senators opposite suggest that the defence of Australia depends solely on the manufacture of arms, munitions and military equipment? Is it suggested that the primary producers are not concerned? Are they not responsible for producing the foodstuffs 011 which the lives of the people depend? In the annexes for which provision is made in this measure machinery will be installed which will bo used for general commercial purposes, and in the event of war for .the manufacture of arms and munitions. The Commonwealth Government is co-operating with State governments so that valuable plant and equipment in railway workshops can be used -for defence purposes. The fact that such workshops are to , be used for this purpose demonstrates clearly that effect is being given to a policy of decentralization which honorable senators opposite support. Do they realize Hint those engaged in pastoral, agricultural, mining and. industrial pursuits have been responsible for developing the vast resources of this great continent-? These resources have been developed, not by governments, but largely by private enterprise, whose profits have not been buried in the groundbut used to extend their businesses and to provide employment for thousands of men who work under conditions and at rates of wages superior to those in any part of the world. Australian manufacturers: pastoralists and agriculturists have played almost important part in the development of Australia, and now when the whole of our resources are needed to provide’ for our defence, those people are regarded by honorable senators opposite as our. enemies. The defence proposals of the Government have been .formula ted, not by Cabinet Ministers, but by the highest naval and military experts in- Australia, and had a Labour government been in power it would have acted upon the advice of the same experts. It is suggested that if we allow private manufacturers to engage in the production of arms and munitions, they will use their influence to create international dissension and bring about war. That could not be done in this country. The machinery to be installed in factories under private control will be used for other than military purposes.
– The Minister said that it would be given a trial run occasionally.
– No: he said that the operatives would be given every opportunity to become skilled in the manufacture of goods which would be required in the event of war. Does Senator Ashley suggest that the production of coal, which is most essential in the event of war, should be controlled by the Government? As the defence policy to which the Government is now giving effect has been recommended by experts, it should receive the support of this Parliament and the whole of the Australian people.
.- I should not have taken part in this debate but for the fact that honorable senators opposite are losing sight of the effect of the amendment so ably moved by the Deputy Leader of. the Opposition (‘Senator Keane). Senator Herbert Hays, who was in particularly go.od form this morning, endeavoured to cloud the issue.
– I did not do so deliberately.
– Surely the honorable senator does not suggest that the members of the Opposition, do not realize that the primary producers play a most important part in the defence of this country. They, however, are engaged in producing goods to sustain life; but the defence policy of the Government is to assist profiteers to manufacture arms for the destruction of life. The Opposition is determined that, if it has the power, it will prevent the recurrence in this country of the frightful crimes that have happened elsewhere in every war as the result of profiteering in armaments and munitions. That is the object of the amendment. Senator Herbert Hays does not -think that this is the defence programme of the Government. It is the policy of experts who advise the Government. They are in the background, and we cannot attack them: but the Government must accept the responsibility of accepting the advice of its’ experts.
– The Government makes no apology for its defence policy.
– It looks as though the . Minister’s colleague was endeavouring to apologize for its action in this respect.
NowI shall address a few words to the Minister in charge of this bill. I wish to make itclear that there is no equivocation about our attitude in this matter. We on this side say definitely that if Labour were in power in the Commonwealth, not one solitary manufacturing unit in the community, in any circumstances whatever, would be permitted to make £1 of profit out of the manufacture of munitions or other materials required for defence in time of national emergency. Anything that may be said by Government supporters for the purpose of clouding the issue cannot affect the fact that on this side of the chamber there are sixteen honorable senators who are undivided in their adherence to the principle embodied in this amendment. That is why we are so enthusiastic in our support of it.
This Government has nothing to be proud of in connexion with its defence programme. Such action as has already been taken is the result of measures passed by the Australian Labour party when it had control of both Houses of the Parliament.
– When the Labour party had some decency.
– A Labour government, many years ago laid the foundations of Australia’s present defence policy. Yet for the seven years during which this Government has had absolute control, it criminally neglected every essential phase of defence until complications on the other side of the world made action imperative. This Government, I repeat, criminally neglected its definite obligation to ensure the defence of this country; it left Australia naked to any aggressor who might wish to launch an attack on our shores.
– What did the Scullin Government do?
– We know what the Scullin Government did.
– So do we.
– The Scullin Government settled the tragedy that was being enacted at the Duntroon Military College and the Jervis Bay Naval College. It took the “ brass hats “ from these establishments and sent them about their business, because of the” snobbery and waste of Australian capital that was going on. The effective defence of Australia, under the then-existing regime, was the last consideration at both establishments; and the Minister knows it.
– I do not.
– The Minister has told the committee that the Government is taking effective steps to prevent profiteering in connexion with the manufacture of armaments in Australia. Well, all I ask him to do now is to cite one regulation or one law which can be enforced to prevent profiteering in the manufacture of arms by private enterprise. The Minister knows that nothing has been done, and that no action can be taken to prevent this profiteering.
– Of Course it can.
– This Government is not game to take action.
– Private enterprise must have profit or it cannot live. We claim that in time of national emergency no manufacturing concern should be permitted to make profits out of the supply of munitions required for the defence of this country. Great Britain, whose example we are often urged to follow, has already found it necessary to take action to eliminate pro- ‘ fiteering, not in connexion with a war which, thank God, did not take place, but in connexion with the preparations for it. I do not suggest that there is anything unusual in this, because it is well known that manufacturers who gain profits from the manufacture of armaments, have no patriotism and no country. They are international in their outlook. I regret that the workers ofAustralia and of other countries who alone make the profits for manufacturers and on whom falls the burden of providing man-power for military enterprises, are not as international in their outlook as are the profiteers.
I hope I have made the attitude of the Labour party quite plain and cleared the atmosphere in this debate. The issue before us is clear cut. When the vote is taken’ on Senator Keane’s amendment, on one side of the committee there will be those who believe that, in time of national emergency or preparation for it, manufacturers should not be allowed to indulge in profiteering; on the other side will be those who have learned nothing from the lessons of the past, and are unable to change their conservative outlook. Their mental condition is static. They are afraid of change. Their presence on the other side is eloquent testimony of this fact. They will, of course, vote against the amendment. I ask them to realize, however, that the amendment is not a mere skirmish between Labour senators and those who support the Government ; it is a serious attempt to establish once and for all, the vital principle that profiteering shall not be allowed in connexion with the measures taken for the defence of this country.
– Honorable senators opposite may mistake noise for argument; we do not. A new theory has been advanced this morning by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) who has stated in effect, that if a man sets up in business, and, because of his technical knowledge, becomes proficient in some manufacturing enterprise, then he must naturally be regarded as a greedy octopus, bent on bleeding his country white by profiteering in the manufacture of armaments in time of war. Surely such a charge cannot be laid against Australian manufacturers generally. That has not been our experience. Nor does the Leader of the Opposition always talk in this vein. For instance, I have heard the honorable gentleman, when discussing tariff matters, speak as one of the greatest champions of Australian manufacturers. To-day, apparently, he regards them in an entirely new light. Surely it cannot be claimed that the mere fact that an individual has the particular skill and knowledge required to establish a new industry, brands him as one who would bleed his country at the very first opportunity, by profiteering in the manufacture of death-dealing instruments? Such a thought is a scandalous slur on manufacturers from one end of the country to the other. As a matter of fact, the Government has received many helpful suggestions from Australian industrialists.
In fact, not long ago a deputation of manufacturers waited upon the Minister for Defence and gave an undertaking to install machinery at their own expense and operate it without profit should a national emergency arise and extensive manufacture of munitions be required. The manufacturers also stated that they were prepared to disclose all figures relating to the costs of production.
– Does the honorable senator believe that?
– Yes. Australian manufacturers are just as honest as are honorable senators on the other side of this chamber, who are criticizing them.
– I rise to a point of order. The Minister has questioned the honesty of honorable senators on this side of the Senate. The Leader of the Senate has expressed the hope that decorum will be observed in the debates of this chamber. Senator Foil’s remarks are not an incentive to that end.
- (Senator James McLachlan). - There is no point of order. In my opinion the Minister has not reflected onthe honesty of Opposition senators.
– What I said was that the reputation of the majority of manufacturers in this country would stand comparison with that of honorable senators opposite, and for that matter, on this side also.
– In my speech I divided the Senate into two camps. The Minister cannot sneak into ours.
– There is no need for honorable senators opposite to get hot under the collar. Whilst I have the greatest personal regard for the Leader of the Opposition, I always find that when he is getting worsted in an argument, he indulges in one of his notorious outbursts, and thumps the table first with one fist, and then with the other - a sure sign that he is beginning to take the count.
– The timewill come when the Minister will have to take, the count.
– I have heard prophecies like that before. I do not wish to labour this question; I repeat that the Minister for Defence has received from many industrialists of this country offers of the use of their plants in time of emergency.
– Those plants could be commandeered by the nation in such times.
– Exactly. Several manufacturers promised that, should the necessity arise, they would install machinery and, without profit, make available other plant necessary to perform work required by the Defence^ Department. I believe that among those engaged in our primary and secondary industries, and in other forms of business, are men patriotic enough to place all their resources at the disposal of the country in time of need.
– The Minister for Repatriation (Senator Foll) referred to what had been done in Great Britain with regard to the manufacture of armaments. Let us see just what, the captains of industry in that country did during the Great War. Senator Brown instanced the extraordinary profits made by the manufacturers of the Lewis machine gun. That weapon was being sold to the British Government* by private manufacturers for £165, but when control of the manufacture of munitions was assumed by the Government itself in 1916, the gun was produced at a cost of only £35. The same thing happened in connexion with the manufacture of 18-pounder shells, for which private armament firms were charging 22s. 6d. each. The cost of the shells fell to 12s. 6d. under Government control of manufacture. .Had the British Government not undertaken supervision of the manufacture of munitions when it did, war requirements would have cost the mother country an additional £500,000,000. That is one example of what industrialists have done in connexion with the manu-. facture of munitions. A similar state of affairs may be brought about in this country if private enterprise be permitted to engage in this work. How did many of the multi-millionaires in the United States of America make most of their money? At the time of the Great War they manufactured armaments and munitions for other. countries, and out of this they made their huge profits. As the Government’s scheme proceeds, what happened in America may be repeated in
Australia. Immediately it was said that the Government would let contracts for the manufacture of armaments and munitions in Australia, the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited raised the price of steel by 5s. a ton. It knew perfectly well that it could charge what it liked for its product.
I am grieved to notice the niggardly way in which Tasmania is to be treated! Senator Herbert Hays thinks that the Government’s policy in this matter is one of decentralization, but the sum to be expended on defence works in Tasmania this year is only £183,000. If the Government is sincere in its desire to cooperate with the State governments, by providing annexes to railway workshops to enable defence material to be manufactured, it must admit that £1S3,000 is inadequate, seeing that that sum is to cover all defence expenditure in Tasmania. The Minister said that senators on this side . had exercised, a great deal of imagination, but it would be necessary, in these circumstances, for us to be highly imaginative to expect a factory to be erected in Tasmania for the production of munitions. The policy of the Government cannot be described as one of decentralization, since we find that about £5,000,000 is to be expended in Victoria, £4.470.000 in New South Wales, and only £183,000 in Tasmania.
– What is the comparison on a population basis?
– The population of Canberra and the Australian Capital Territory is about 10,000, whilst that of Tasmania is over 230,000; but the defence expenditure in. this territory this year will be £174,000, or only £9,000 less than that in Tasmania. If the vast areas of Western Australia and Queensland were left unprotected, as apparently they will be, according to the provision made in this bill, and if they were occupied by an enemy, ihe people of Melbourne and Sydney would be in a serious plight. Is it necessary to vote £174,000 for the defence of Canberra, which is surrounded by New South Wales and has Victoria to the south? I fail to see why Canberra should have almost as large a share of this expenditure as Tasmania is to receive.
– One is the Australian Capital, and the other is a State.
– The lives of the people in distant parts of the Commonwealth are just as valuable as that of any member of this Government.
– But Tasmania is less liable to be attacked.
– It is’ quite clear that the argument that the Government is adopting a policy of decentralization is a hollow one.
– Let us have a machine gun in every backyard.-
– The Government will want to drag a man from every hack yard if war threatens us.
– The Government will be glad to get men to defend the country in a time of emergency, even from the homes of the poorest of workers. If the Government had decided to provide for the construction of annexes at the railway workshops in the various States, and to give preference to those establishments in the manufacture of defence requirements, all the material heeded could be manufactured without huge profits, and the amendment now before the committee would probably not have been submitted. The Government has itself to blame for the criticism directed against it.
– If vigour, volubility and enthusiasm would gain more marks in a debating competition than reason, logic and truth, the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) would easily win the prize. Munitions could be obtained from three sources - from private factories, government establishments, or by the method outlined in this bill. Members of the Opposition have spoken of the evils resulting from the manufacture of munitions by private establishments. Government supporters are, of course; fully aware of the position.
– But honorable senators opposite never refer, to that aspect of the matter.
– I a.m referring to it now. History has shown us the ramifications of the armament rings. We know that huge profits have been’ made, and, that, in some instances, guns have been trained upon those who manufactured them.
– That is our case.
– It may be, but that is the very thing against which this Government has set its face. The purpose of the proposed vote is to prevent the growth in Australia of a practice which has had. evil effects in other countries. Under private enterprise capital is subscribed, factories are built, agents are sent throughout the world to secure orders for various kinds of munitions, and the product is sold at the highest price that can be secured. This practice is unknown in Australia, yet the Leader of the Opposition was unkind enough to say that he would work tooth and nail against its recurrence in this country.
– I rise to a personal explanation, because my remarks have been misrepresented. I said that we are determined to prevent in this country the recurrence of the criminal profiteering which has taken place in every other country in every war. Senator DEIN. - I regret if I mis: understood the Leader of the Opposition. The Government has determined to prevent this profiteering in Australia.
The second source of supply to which I have referred is the factories established by the Government. These works are being availed, of by the present Government, particularly in the most important directions; but in modern warfare, many varieties of munitions are required, and, for the comparatively small quantity which Australia, would need, the Government would not be justified in building special factories, installing machinery, training technicians, and keeping them fully employed to produce armament and munitions that would perhaps never be required. The Government considers that it would not be justified in ‘ spending huge sums of money in constructing workshops which might never be put into operation. Under the third method the Government proposes to take advantage of the co-operation of suitable firms, which are prepared, in case of national emergency, to manufacture certain munitions. The Opposition describes as munition manufacturers these- firms which will have annexes attached to their establishments. They are nothing of the kind. A munition manufacturer has agents in every country endeavouring to dispose of his products, but under the policy of the Government, Austraiian firms will only make the munitions that are ordered from them by the Com mon wealth Government. When the articles arc made, the firms will not be able to sell them, because they will belong to the Government, which can be relied on to see that the prices charged are reasons b.e. ‘ But even if the prices be a little high it must be remembered that in most cases the making of munitions will be only a small proportion of the work of these establishments. Under the Government’s proposals these factories will be under the control of the Government just as much as if they belonged to the Government. Senator Sheehan inquired about the title to the land on which these annexes are to be built. What will the title matter in a time of emergency? Should the nation demand the conversion of any establishment to the manufacture of munitions the title would to all intents and purposes disappear within, twenty-four hours. That was the case in England during the last war; and it could happen’ here. Senator Sheehan knows that at such a time the title to the land is’ not worth anything.
I commend the Opposition on its consistency. Yesterday the Senate debated at some length the relative merits of day labour and the contract system. Throughout that debate, as again this morning, the desire qf the Opposition to get as many persons as possible into the public service was evident.
– Is not the honorable senator, himself a servant of the public ?
– Underlying the arguments of- the Opposition is the desire for social ownership.
– Of course it is. That is our policy.
– When an election is looming, Labour party candidates say nothing of that objective; it is kept well in the background. I do not blame Senator Sheehan for advocating what he has learned in the Trades Hall school, but I point out1 what underlies this amendment.
The Prime Minister recently appealed to the trade unions to co-operate in this scheme, but,, unfortunately, the minds of the trade unionists had been poisoned by exactly the same arguments as we have heard in this chamber to-day.
– The Opposition refuses to be partners in the Government’s infamy.
– These annexes will be so much under Government control that, to all intents and purposes they will be Government property. The trade unionists have been misled. I feel confident that if they were here this morning to hear both sides of the case, they would agree that the Government is doing the only thing possible in the circumstances. If effect were given to the policy of the Opposition, the defence vote would be tremendously increased, and in every Government factory there would be piles of munitions. Opposition senators have told us that when munitions pile up, efforts are made to dispose of them; and as their only purpose is to destroy life and property, their disposal must be by means of war. In my opinion, large quantities of munitions constitute a grave danger. I do not want such accumulations to occur in Australia. What we need is a .number of factories which, at a moment’s notice, can be utilized, under Government control, to make whatever articles the Government requires, in the quantities and at the prices specified by the Government. The policy which honorable senators opposite seek to alter will achieve that end. .
– Like my colleagues on this side of the chamber, I am concerned about profiteering in connexion with defence supplies. Honorable senators will remember that when we were discussing proposals for increased taxes to meet ‘additional defence expenditure, I pointed out that it was unnecessary to increase either the sales tax or the income tax, and I referred to a source of wealth which, so far, has not been tapped; I refer “ti the credit of the’ nation. If there is one thing for which the national credit should be used, it is the defence of the nation. Honorable senators will recollect that I drew attention to the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Monetary and Banking Systems that the credit of the nation should be utilized for national purposes. I maintain that the only way in which we can adequately defend this country is by utilizing the credit of the nation to that end. My proposal seems already to have borne fruit, for yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald contained the following paragraph : -
Following his broadcast last night on the new issues confronting Australia as a result of the change in the international situation, the New South Wales Premier (Mr. Stevens) motored to Canberra to discuss the question with the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Earle Page). Main points’ in the discussion will be : A new monetary policy ‘ to meet the new conditions.
– I hope that the honorable senator intends to connect his remarks with the amendment.
– The Senate is dealing with the proposed expenditure on the supply of munitions. My remarks have to do with the method by which that money will be found.
– The amendment is that the vote be reduced by £1.
– Yes, as a protest against private enterprise being- entrusted with the making of munitions.Money will be required to pay for the munitions, whether they be manufactured by the Government or by private enterprise. In the opinion of Mr. Stevens the money system should be changed.
– Mr. Stevens may come here to discuss financial matters, but that is not. what is now before the Chair.
-I bow to your ruling, Mr. Chairman, and shall resume my seat.
– I rise to support the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Keane). The present debate is one of the most important that, will ever take place in this’ chamber, because the principles involved are fundamental. The vote on the amendment will determine whether, in our preparations for the defence of Australia, we shall rely on private enterprise or give to the Government full control.
The Minister for Repatriation (Senator Foll) said that no undue profits would be made by private manufacturers of munitions of war, but, already, there has been an outstanding example of the way in which private enterprise makes profits from government defence orders. 1 refer to the industrial dispute which took piace recently at the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation’s factory, near Melbourne. That corporation is a combination of several powerful compauies in Australia, chief among them being the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, the Electrolytic Zinc Company and General MotorsHoldens Limited. If it- so desired, the corporation could treat its employees fairly, but, instead, it has endeavoured to impose on them working conditions which are most unfair, while, at the same time, seeking to increase its profits. I call the attention of the Senate to the remarks, of the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Curtin) on the subject. Having studied the matter, the honorable gentleman issued a statement on behalf of the striking engineers which was clear andunmistakeable. He asked the public to consider some of the amazing conditions imposed by the corporation on its employees. For instance, it asked that all repair and maintenance work performed on Sundays should be paid for at ordinary rates, and that, notwithstanding the presumed existence of a 44-hour working week, ordinary rates should be paid up to 48 hours a week. By omitting overtime rates for Sunday work, Sunday labour is encouraged, and the 44-hour week, instead of being protected, is, in fact, destroyed. Those two proposals, which violate all the accepted standards, illustrate that there is in Australia at least, one organization which is prepared to make extortionate profits out of the manufacture of armaments. That corporation was set up at the invitation of the Federal Government, which is prepared to purchase from it the aircraft manufactured in its factories. I do not mind that, but, unfortunately, this corporation cannot be depended upon to treat its employees fairly. During the last war, the ramifications of the armament make’rs were such that every investigation since the war has produced a. unanimous condemnation of their activities. A. commission set up in the United States of America recommended that, in future, the manufacture of munitions should be controlled by governments, and that profits should not be associated with their manufacture.
– The Government proposes that.
– It does not. Although abuses could be easily prevented now, that will not be so easy later, after the policy of the Government has been in operation for some time.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 till 2.15 p.m.
– Other unwarranted provisions in force at the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation’s works at the time of the recent strike, as indicated in the statement issued by Mr. Curtin, included unlimited juvenile labour, unlimited process workers, no restrictions regarding the number of apprentices, and, in order that Australian labour standards might bo destroyed at a blow, the employing corporation could” contract with any employee for a period of training in any skilled occupation at marginal rates not less than 40 per cent, of those prescribed. It was also provided that industrial contracts might be made with employees under 25 years of age to undergo training in any semi-skilled occupation at marginal rates not less than 50 per cent, of the rates prescribed. Obviously, any employee who refused to make such a contract when the employers invited him to do so ranthe risk of being incontinently sacked. Any award containing provisions of that kind was as bad as no award, because it enabled the employer to coerce men to accept contracts which involved working for far less than the Tate obtaining where no contract applied. For the defence of the nation the Government needs money, materials and men. Money standards are not being reduced below normal interest rates; employers are not obliged to tender at unprofitable prices, but wages and conditions are attacked without hesitation. Company profits have already mounted as the first effect of the increased expenditure on defence. Mr. Curtin added -
I protestagainst those monstrous injustices. National security isa nation-wide obligation andI stand definitely and decisively with the workers against the age-old tradition that defence and war shall always serve as a feast for profiteers on the one hand and intolerable sacrifices by the workers on the other hand.
A member of the British Government admitted in the House of Commons that Great Britain’s estimated expenditure on defence preparations as the result of the recent European crisis, totalled approximately £40,000,000. One of the first results of that crisis in England was that the so-called patriots engaged in private enterprise, of whom honorable senators opposite often speak so favorably, increased the prices of certain commodities by as much as 500 per cent. The following cablegram from London, was published recently in the Australian press: -
The Home Office has called a conference of contractors to consider the 500 per cent, increase in the price of air-raid precautious materials at thepeak of the recent crisis.
Tradeunionists are prepared to adjust labour charges to new figures but some local authorities have already paid bills which some municipalities declare are fabulous sums.
At the first threat of conflict, governments have no option but to be fleeced by profiteers. Exactly the same thing will happen in Australia as has happened in England should this Government place orders for its defence requirements with private firms. Already one concern in Australia, the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation, has not hesitated to slash the wages of its employees in order that it might make greater profits. This concern cannot justifiably claim that it is forced to ask its employees to share burdens in the establishment of this industry, because behind it are some of the most powerful interests in Australia. History contains many instances of disasters resulting from the giving of a free rein to private enterprise in the manufacture of war equipment. Private firms have forced governments at times to pay three, and even up to ten, times more than just prices for munitions. Our only means of preserving peace is to deny to private enterprise the opportunity to make profits in that way. Australia has been extraordinarily fortunate in this respect in the past,because no opportunity has been given to private enterprise to make profits from the manufacture of munitions.In recent years, however, this Government, handed over to private enterprise the Cockatoo Island Dockyard, and in doing so even guaranteed the company concerned sufficient work to enable it to make a profit. Should a conflict arise, a tremendous amount of work will have to clone at that dockyard, and, no doubt, the controlling company will make as much profit as possible on that work.
– The Government can take over the dockyard at any time. .
– I contend that the Government should take it over immediately.
- (Senator James McLachlan). - The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
– Misinterpreting some remarks which I made this morning, Senator Herbert Hays stated that I had suggested that the Government should take over coal-mining and other important industries. What I endeavoured to convey was that it is incumbent upon the Government to utilize its own factories to the utmost for the manufacture of its in- creased defence requirements, instead of placing orders for such materials with its friends in private enterprise, and building annexes to private engineering workshops in order to give the owners greater opportunities to make profits. The Minister has explained that the Government’s scheme is purely experimental. The Government need not experiment when its own munitions factories are already established. Until the man-power and machines in those factories are utilized to the utmost, no attempt should be made to place orders for war materials with private firms. The Lithgow Small Arms Factory is capable of manufacturing anything from a needle to a motor car, but it is. not being utilized as fully as it might be. As a matter of fact, its development is being retarded. Dealing with the record of private enterprise in the manufacture of war material, I can do no better than quote the following statement which was made by Sir Charles Marr, formerly a member of this Government, and a distinguished returned soldier: -
One of the most important considerations in war is the interchangeability of materials.
Wo discovered that fact in the last great war, even with things manufactured in Australia, including guns and small arms. The Mark VII. gun produced at the Lithgow Small Arms Factory equalled anything produced in the world and any gun that served in the war. A finer piece of gun mechanism was never produced. It was a credit to our factory and to the Australian workmen who turned it out. .. . . The unitI commanded in the war paid the penalty many times for munitions supplied by rotten American firms. I saw the British Navy go into action on many occasions firing did American shells, none of which exploded; they had been produced in private factories. I saw meat supplied by Armours, the meat packers in America, which was not fit for human consumption. In the meat tins manufactured by the canning factories I saw little steel things which had been put in the meat, and which, up to the time they were discovered, caused more deaths in the British Army than did even the shells or munitions of the enemy. These are matters which ought to he under proper control.
Coming from an ex-Minister of this Government, who served with distinction in the Great. War, that is a crushing indictment of private enterprise. Doubtless the Government regards the opinion of that gentleman as worthy of some consideration.
– Against whom is the indictment directed ?
– Against private enterprise. The same gentleman went on to refer to the deplorable condition of the food supplied to the troops during the Great War. When the late Mr. Ramsay MacDonald visited the Dardanelles to inspect the graves of men who had fallen during the Gallipoli campaign, he was shown over the area occupied by the Turks, and was filled with horror and dismay to find that the guns used against our troops had been manufactured by Vickers in England.
– But Australia does not propose to supply guns and munitions to any other country.
– Perhaps not; but I am showing that when private enterprise is allowed to engage in the production of arms and ammunition, such equipment is supplied to other nations who use it against the people in the country in which it was manufactured.
– Most of the guns used against the Allies in the Gallipoli campaign wore manufactured in Germany.
– The guns inspected by the late Mr.Ramsay MacDonald were made by Vickers in England.
– But a similar state of affairs cannot arise under this Government’s defence policy.
– It may. As a representative of over 700,000 electors of New South “Wales, I trust that the Government will pay some attention to the observations I have made on this subject. The conditions prevailing at the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow should be inquired into immediately. Why has that factory not been allowed to develop to the same extent- as similar establishments in other parts of Australia, and why are only 400 employed when 1,700 persons were once employed ? This Government proposes to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on defence needs, and to allow private enterprise to make profits while it has factories and idle machinery and idle man-power capable of producing almost anything required for defence purposes. The principal consideration of the Government, appears to be to play into the hands of vested interests.
– The honorable senator appears to be thinking only of the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow.
– As a representative of New South Wales, I am naturally interested in that undertaking, andI want to know why the Government is retarding its development. Why has not the Minister in charge of the bill, who has spoken twice on the amendment, answered some of the questions which I submitted to him? I asked how much money is to be expended for defence purposes, and whether there will be a fair allocation between the States. If the Government believes in decentralization, surely it will distribute the work between the factories in the different States, and in that way assist to solve the acute unemployment problem. I also want to know what additional work will be given to the factories in New South Wales, and to what extent these establishments will be developed. When these undertakings have reached their capacity the Government can next consider the extent to which the railway workshops can be utilized, and when they are working at full capacity will be time to determine whether it is advisable to allow private enterprise to produce for the Commonwealth.
.- I have listened to the debate with a great deal of interest, and also withsome amazement which gradually developed into a feeling of horror when I heard men with whom I have been associated for many years described as rapacious and greedy individuals willing to throw the man-power of Australia into the holocaust of war merely for the purpose of making profits. As some honorable senators are aware I have been a manufacturer for the last 25 years, and in that capacity have been associated with other manufacturers who have been indicted so forcibly by honorable senators opposite. It is surprising to find that in their opinion these men, who have ordinary human feelings, intense patriotism and good-will towards their fellow men, are influenced only by greed, are lacking in patriotism, and wish to throw even their own employees into war and slaughter. I am reminded of the words of Burns which you, Mr. Chairman, Senator Fraser and other honorable senators will recall -
O wad some power the giftie gie us
To see oursel’s as ithers see us!
It wad fra monie a blunderfree us
And foolish notion.
Those of whom. I am speaking ha ve had the foolish notion that they, in common with honorable senators opposite, have a love of country and feelings for their fellow men. 1. listened . with growing horror to the opinions which honorable senators opposite have of those with whom I am associated, and I could not help asking myself whether my associates are really what they are said to be or is the opinion of honorable senators opposite of no value at all. In order to determine that point, I had to study some of the arguments adduced by honorable senators’ opposite and decide whether they actually know what they were talking about. I do not claim to know everything concerning factory management and factory machinery, because I am engaged in only one branch of manufacture; but I know something of factory working and fac tory output. The scheme suggested by honorable senators opposite for the manufacture of armaments and munitions in time of war is so utterly futile that it is hardly worth considering. Under the scheme which they propose it would bo impossible to supply a one-hundredth part of the shells required.
– Could all of our requirements be produced under the” Government’s scheme?
– The establishment of Government factories, including the initial cost of machinery and plant, to do everything required for defence purposes would cost from £250,000,000 to £300,000,000.
– Why not use the factories already established ?
– For the last six oi seven years Australian manufacturers have been pressing the Government to undertake a survey of Australian industry so that every one will be prepared should the necessity arise. Certain manufacturers said that they were experienced in certain branches of manufacture, and that although they might not have the machinery necessary for shells they had the organization and as citizens were prepared to play their part in- times of nation peril. They said that they would be willing to hand over their factories to the Government in the event of war, but that it would be useless for the Government to take them over unless they were equipped to produce what was required. They therefore asked the Government what commodities it wished their factories to produce - it might be only screws for machine guns or tags for military boots - so that they would know what was expected from each factory. After some years the Government has developed a scheme and has now told the manufacturers that it will take them at their word and will provide them with machinery which they have not at present. Some of these factories are already equipped with plant that will produce . most of the commodities required, but the Government proposes to provide other machinery which is not now available in Australia. The Government told the manufacturers that as they have trained men, a start can be made, and that in the event of war they can within a few days be producing the commodities needed. These manufacturers will have the jigs, dies, formers and other equipment to enable them to undertake the work. The manufacturers told the Government to utilize as much of their equipment as they needed, and that they would provide experienced and trained men to show others how the work should be done. That is what the manufacturers of Australia said to the Government six years ago and have repeated every year since then. Honorable senators opposite say - Why not make use of railway workships for the manufacture of munitions? That is just what the Government intends to do. It will utilize these well-established workshops to their fullest extent, and has already arranged for the installation of special machinery in at least two establishments for the manufacture of defence requirements in time of war. I understand that it is intended to extend the scheme to other States, if necessary. The railway workshops, however, could not possibly turn out one-tenth or even one-hundredth part of the munitions that would be required by Australia during a war. Any one possessing a knowledge of factory management will admit that.
– If they were adequately equipped and efficiently staffed they could meet requirements.
– Do honorable senators opposite believe that during a war our railway workshops could be devoted entirely to the manufacture of munitions? Surely they realize that they would then be fully occupied in making good the wastage of railway rolling-stock. Do not they believe that there would be greater demand on their plant and equipment in time of war than in time of peace?
– -Either they do not realize this or are deliberately hiding their knowledge. To say that existing railway workshops could do all this class of work at any time is silly; to say that they could do it in time of war is still sillier, because as I have explained, they would be very busily engaged in the replacement of damaged rolling-stock and the repair of lines destroyed by the enemy, and could not he expected to keep up the supply of essential munitions. The best method to unsure the defence of Australia is for every individual citizen to bo properly organized for any emergency. Every man should know the job expected of him and how to do it. Australian manufacturers have not the slightest wish to do what some honorable senators opposite have advocated, namely engage in the manufacture of munitions. Senator Ashley said that he would like to see the Government start manufacturing munitions at Lithgow.
– That is not so. Senator Ashley said he did not wish to see men sacked from the ‘Small Arms Factory.
– Whereas honorable senators opposite would like to see the manufacture of munitions carried out now, we on this side only wish adequate preparations to be made for the necessary manufacture to be carried out should the occasion arise.
– I rise to a point of order. I did not suggest the manufacture of munitions at Lithgow. I am not so ignorant as to be unaware that the Lithgow establishment is a Small Arms Factory.
-I direct attention to Standing Order 4.10, which reads -
A senator whohas spoken to a question may again be heard, to explain himself in regard to some material part of his speech which has been misquoted or misunderstood, but shall not introduce any new matter, or interrupt any senator in possession of the Chair, and no debatable matter shall be brought forward or debate arise upon such explanation.
– I thank you, Mr. Chairman, for reminding Senator Ashley of that standing order. I submit that Senator Ashley distinctly advocated the employment of more men at the Lithgow Small Arms Factory. What would those men do?
– Manufacture small arms.
– Are not small arms included in the designation of munitions and accoutrements of war? It follows that if more men are to be given employment in the various munition factories they will be employed upon the manufacture of more munitions.
The Small Arms Factory at Lithgow is undoubtedly a munitions factory. Therefore, honorable senators opposite are advocating increased manufacture of munitions in time of peace - the very thing which the Government does not want” to take place. We only wish to make preparations so that in time of emergency Australian industries will be able to turn out the war material necessary for the defence of this country. When we speak of munitions we speak of almost every commodity that is produced in Australia, because all are required for our effective defence. Therefore the manufacture of all classes of products should be organized on a proper basis, so that work may be carried out in an efficient manner if and when the need arises.
I listened with growing horror to the word -picture of Australian manufacturers painted by honorable senators opposite, and I tried to forget that these industrialists, during the last four or five years, have added more than 200,000 hands to their staffs, which now total more than 500,000. Indirectly the Australian factories supply the bread and butter of at least 2,000,000 people in this country, yet the men who are responsible for this vast industrial organization are held up to scorn as enemies of the workers. The very men whose enterprise provides employment for thousands of workers under arbitration court awards, are held up to the world as horrible ogres whose sole object is to utilize the manpower of Australia in order to amass huge profits. Actually, the very opposite is the case. Why do some people pretend to regard with horror the suggestion of profits or reserve funds in connexion with industry when these are the very things that provide employment for workers? As a consequence of the ability of Australian manufacturers, and of the capital supplied by them., a living is provided for one-third, if not more, of the people of Australia. Surely the advice and assistance of these men are worth something to the Government in the organization and operation of factories in time of emergency? 1 think I have shown that the pet schemes advanced by honorable senators opposite are futile, and that most of their “hifalutin’” denunciations are merely so much hot air. The manufacturers have the interests of the workers of the community at heart.
.- I should like to press Tasmania’s claims for the establishment of .industries for the manufacture of munitions. The Minister said yesterday that negotiations were being entered into with the railway authorities in Tasmania with the object of establishing premises for this purpose. Last Monday the Launceston Chamber of Commerce passed a resolution asking the Chief Secretary and Minister for Transport and Health, Mr. T. G. D’ Alton, to communicate with the Commonwealth Minister for Defence (Mr. Thorby) and urge upon him the necessity for ‘ establishing the manufacture of munitions in Tasmania. A similar resolution was passed on the following night by the retail section of the Chamber of Commerce. It is feared that Tasmania may be forgotten on this occasion, as it was in regard to the establishment of the Citizen Air Force. The position was clearly outlined ‘by the Minister foi’ Defence in answer to a question asked by me recently. The Minister said that no provision had been made in the present defence development programme for the establishment of’ a unit of the Citizen Air Force in Tasmania, as it had been necessary, with the limited funds available, to give priority to other parts of the Commonwealth of greater strategic importance. Are Tasmania’s claims always to be shelved in this way? We believe that Tasmania is in a position to carry out the manufacture of munitions better and more cheaply than any other State of the Commonwealth.
Recently Mr. W. E. MacLean, Commissioner of the Tasmanian HydroElectric Department, made an investigation of industrial organization in other parts of the world. He was away for six months, and made very comprehensive investigations. In an interview reported in a Tasmanian newspaper he said -
Of all the countries in which 1 have travelled I feel that Tasmania offers the best centres for industrial development.
That declaration lends support to my contention that munitions of any description could be manufactured in. Tasmania more cheaply than in any other State of the Commonwealth. The newspaper report, continues -
He went to the British aluminium works at Fort William to look into the possibilities of manufacture in Tasmania.
After conferences in Edinburgh and an inspection of the Scottish grid-system he travelled to London, where he was immediately plunged into a number of discussions on various aspects of his mission. He inspected many of the industries established near London “which are using electric power. There has been a large development in this direction in recent years. Many industries have left the older manufacturing districts where they relied on coal fuel and have installed themselves in fresh areas where more economic working is possible.
Some consideration should be given to the industrial potentialities of Tasmania. At the present time many factories are idle. The Glasgow .Engineering Works, a very large organization, and the Salisbury Engineering Company, are employing only a few men. The State railway workshops are well equipped and have trained men capable of exercising supervision over all classes of manufacturing. I know that that is so, because I worked in those workshops for nearly 20 years. During the Great War specialists were sent from Tasmania to engage in the manufacture of munitions in Great Britain. Those men returned to that, State and are still employed in the railway workshops. Australia will be unable adequately to defend itself . unless there is a wider distribution of population and of industrial enterprises than there is at present. The distribution of population adversely affects Tasmania, which during the last four years has lost 5,498 persons to the. mainland. There was a slight improvement last year, when a gain of 492 was reported, but only by the establishment of industries in Tasmania can the population be substantially, increased. I could at short notice bring here from Tasmania several hundred fully qualified and trained mechanics of every description. My five brothers had to migrate to the mainland to secure employment in various trades. If a serious attempt is to be made to place the defences of Australia on a sound basis, the drift of Tasmania’s population to the mainland must be checked. The argument advanced by the Opposition is * well worthy of consideration. It is not necessary for me to describe what took place during the Great “War. We all know that when there was a surplus of military supplies on one side, it went through a neutral country to the other side. Our own portland cement was used to make “ pill-boxes “ for Germany. But I do not see how that could happen in Australia. Tho Opposition considers that this country should be sufficiently self-contained to manufacture all the defence equipment and material needed by it. Some consideration should be shown for Tasmania when defence expenditure is being allocated.
.- I have a headache through listening to all this political propaganda which will fill the pages of Hansard. National defence is too important a subject for acrimonious discussion. The main principles of defence preparation enunciated on both sides of the chamber, and by all parties, are very similar. The Opposition would receive much support from this side if it submitted a motion for the adjournment of the Senate for the purpose of drawing attention to the wisdom of setting up a parliamentary defence committee to co-ordinate defence measures. Labour’s representation on that committee would obviate a lot of the rubbish that is talked about profiteering out of munitions manufacture. ‘So far from profiteering, I think that every reputable manufacturing firm in Australia, including the smallest motor garage, would ask the Government, in a time of a national emergency, “ What can Ave do for you “? Anticipating that national sentiment, is it not wise for such firms to be told beforehand what orders for parts they may expect to receive. The payment for such orders would be on the basis of manufacturing costs at government munitions establishments. I venture to suggest that the conditions of manufacture are set out in. the Commonwealth War Book - a document which, no doubt, the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) would be permitted to peruse confidentially. All this hot air gets us nowhere in the serious task of making Australia selfcontained. The annexes proposed to bo established would not bc used for the complete manufacture of munitions, but for the manufacture of small parts which would bc sent to the main Government works at Maribyrnong and Footscray, there to bc assembled and fitted. None of the private firms could make an IS-pounder gun or a 4.5-inch howitzer, or ammunition for any big gun. I read recently that, in the manufacture of battleships on the Clyde, over 2,000 factories are employed in executing separate orders. I agree with Senator Ashley regarding the high standard of the work clone at, the Government factory at Lithgow. The high velocity Mark VII. rifle ammunition and the VickersMaxim machine gun made there are the best in the Empire. No doubt the Bren gun will also bc manufactured there, but there is no machinery at Lithgow capable of manufacturing an IS-pounder or a 4.5-in. howitzer.
Senator Aylett is concerned about what would happen to Tasmania in time of war. He need lose no sleep over that matter, because the defence of Australia involves the’ defence of every part of it. It would be unwise for anybody to tell him how Tasmania would be defended in a time of national- emergency.- A possible enemy would be very glad to know where and when the Royal Australian Navy and the Army would concentrate, in the event of an attack on Australia. I do not take the Leader of the Opposition seriously when he labels those senators who may vote against the amendment as friends of some mythical profiteers. He knows better than that. . I shall vote against the amendment.
– I lodge a protest on behalf of the people of Australia against the manufacture of munitions by private industry. I also protest against the comparatively small vote proposed for Western Australia. In reply to questions which I recently submitted to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, I was informed that last year the sum of £1,218,206 was expended on guns, ammunition, warlike stores and other defence equipment. The value of the material manufactured in Australia by private firms was £105,183, and outside Australia, £150,330. The purchases from government munition factories in this country Totalled £620,369, whilst from the British Government we purchased special . equipment not yet produced locally to the value of £341,524. Whether the defence plan now under consideration is based on that in operation in Great Britain I do not know. “We have beentold that certain machinery will be placed in private establishments, in which case, of course, the Government will have to meet the cost of the installation. But what arrangements have been entered into between the Government and the private firms regarding the cost of production? Will the Government retain control in this matter, or will the private manufacturers be able to say, as they did in the Great War. “ These are our prices; take them or leave them ! “
– I pointed out that the Government would have control in regard to prices.
SenatorFRASER. - The party to which I belong believes in government ownership and control of munition factories.
– According to its policy, the Labour party believes in government ownership and control of everything.
– I am discussing the matter under the immediate consideration of the committee. What has been said by Senator Ashley has not been contradicted. In Turkey and Germany, during the Great. War, arms were found which had been made by private firmsin England. Such arms were captured by British and Australian troops on both the eastern and western fronts. During a war, those who remain behind should not make profit at the expense of those who defend Australia. I have received no answer from the Minister as to how far the negotiations have gone regarding the use of the Midland Junction railway workshops, or any similar establishment in Western Australia, in. which the Government could install machinery for the manufacture of fuses or shell-cases. I hope that the claims of Western Australia in regard to defence supplies will not be overlooked as they have been in the past.
– I said that the negotiations between the two parties are in progress at the present time with a view to coming to an arrangement.
– If the Midland Junction workshops, or any other governmentowned factories in Western Australia can be fitted up for the manufacture of defence materials, that should be done.
– The Government desires to do what the honorable senator suggests.
– Between 1915 and 1919 I was employed in one of the largest munitions manufacturing establishments in Great Britain, and I concur in what Senator Ashley has said. I have seen thousands of condemned fuses which were purchased in the United States of America. That was a period in which we were facing a crisis on account of the lack of munitions, yet some manufacturers in Great Britain restricted their output, of them in order to keep up prices.
– We desire to avoid such evils.
– I am endeavouring to help the Minister. I know that difficulties are experienced in equipping workshops. I shall support the amendment, because I do not desire the Government to allow private firms to hold this country to ransom at any figure that may be asked.
– Not to ransom !
– According to the remarks of Senator Dein-
– Interjections are out of order, and it is disorderly to reply to them. . ‘
– The honorable senator who has interjected ‘knows very little about the manufacture of munitions. I am not going to allow myself to be cross-examined by any . one with less knowledge bf the cruelties of war and the manufacture of munitions than I possess. I conscientiously believe that this industry - if it can be called an industry - should bo controlled only by the government responsible for the management of the country. From a study of what has happened in the past, we may gain, a good idea of what is likely to happen in the future. What I have said to-day is supported by hundreds of organizations of women throughout the Commonwealth.
I know that the Minister is endeavouring to give, all the information possible.
I know, too, that he is in an awkward position, becausehe has to defend a programme which he knows is weak, and because be knows that some members of the Government have to respond to certain influences; but I hope that, in order vo prevent in Australia the exploitation that takes place in other countries, the Government will take steps to ensure that all manufacture of munitions shall be under government control.
, - In aneloquent speech, the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) said that not one penny of profit should be made out of the creation of instruments of war. I do not think that there is any suggestion that profits shall be made out of their manufacture. All honorable senators will agree that, in the event of Australia being attacked, the whole resources of the nation would be marshalled ; every man and woman would be required to assist in the defence of the country. The object of the Government is that, in the event of war, industries shall be equipped with the machinery necessary to enable thom to fulfil adequately their purpose as defence units. What would be the use of having these workshops unless they were equipped with the machinery necessary to make what would bo required in the event of attack? The amendment is premature. Should Australia be attacked, it would then be the duty of the government of the day to decide whether it would take over all the industries necessary to the defence of the country, or allow private enterprise to carry on. That situation has not yet arisen. ‘Should it rise in the future we do not know what Government will then be in office: We all sincerely hope that Australia will never have, to be defended against an aggressor. If effect were given to the suggestion, that Australia should immediately set, up industries to cope with the whole of the defence requirements of the nation, probably onehalf of the population would be engaged in the making of munitions which we hope will never berequired. The erectionand equipping of the annexes merely means that, at a moment’s notice, certain establishments could change over to the manufacture of those things necessary to defend the country. Almost the whole of the contention of the Opposition has been based on a wrong assumption. Listening to honorable senators opposite, one would have thought that Australia had already been attacked, and that the Government had immediately to decide whether the armaments necessary to the defence of . the nation should be manufactured by private enterprise, or by the Government itself. That situation has not yet arisen. Until it does arise, we must carry on with our normal requirements;we must strive to improve the standard of living of the community, and maintain all the ‘ resources of the country in such a state that at a moment’s notice they can be changed over to other uses.
– The Government proposes to build annexes on land adjoining existing factories owned by individuals and companies. Probably most of these annexes will be adjacent to establishments owned by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, the Newcastle Iron and Steel Works, and the railway workshops of the various States. According to Senator Leckie, it is not proposed to manufacture armaments unless the country is in imminent danger of attack. In any case, the machinery in the annexes adjoining tho various railway workshops is not likely to be utilized until needed, because the railway engineers will be fully employed in attending to rolling stock. But what is the intention of the Government in regard to the plant which will be installed in annexes to factories under . the control of private enterprise? The Government has had ample time to attend to the defences of the nation; by this time the people ought to have known that the necessary action had been taken. At the Cockatoo Island Dockyard, for instance, largo quantities of munitions could have been produced, but, instead, the Government handed over that establishment to private enterprise. I do not think that any honorable senator would say that Australia should manufacture armaments for any other purpose than its own defence. Senator Brand, who served with distinction as ft General in the Australian Imperial Force, said that he did not think that Australia would ever again send abroad an expeditionary force. Ho conveyed the impression that, in the event of war, all the forces available in Australia would be needed at home to defend this country against attack. I uttered somewhat similar sentiments when I spoke on a previous occasion. At the Small Arms Factory owned by the Commonwealth Government at Lithgow, shells, or ports of shells, could have been manufactured, but for some extraordinary reason men have been put off from that factory. The Minister for Repatriation (Senator Foll) said that the machinery to be installed in these annexes * would not bc in constant use, although, at times, it would be set running in order to keep it in working condition, and that cobwebs would not be allowed to gather. Unless the machinery is to be employed in the making of munitions, it will be impossible to give training to those who may be called upon to serve the nation, in the workshops. The Government cannot have it both ways. It talks of training apprentices, but if the machinery is not working, how can it do so?
– What does the honorable senator think should be done ?
– A Labour government would manufacture aeroplanes to defend Australia. But “before doing so, it would alter the policy of the present .Government, and ensure that adequate supplies of oil for the use of aircraft were available, and under the control of the Government. It would not hand over to private enterprise the control of oil supplies, as this Government handed over the Newnes shale deposits. Having ensured a continuity of oil supplies it would build aeroplanes.
– In the event of Avar, whatever government was in office would take o’er the control of oil supplies.
– Not unless it Avas a Labour government. I ask the honorable senator what factories were taken over during the last war? Tallow, which is an essential requirement in the making of munitions, rose from £9 to £90 a ton during the Avar, but the government of the day did nothing in the matter. It is useless to say that the present Government would take over these things. If a Labour Government is in office in this Parliament when war breaks out, it will do all in its power to prevent invasion by an aggressor. The policy of the Labour party is that no man shall be asked to leave these shores to take part in a Avar in another country. In order to ensure that efficient material shall be turned out at the least possible cost, the Government should place all of its orders for munitions with its own factories.
– That is exactly what is provided for in the Government’s scheme.
– No; Senator Leckie, for instance, said that railway workshops will be fully engaged in the maintenance of rolling-stock, and will be unable to undertake the .manufacture of munitions. Private enterprise, undoubtedly, Will take every opportunity, to make the greatest possible profit from these orders. We are all aware of the enormous profits which were made by armament firms in the last Avar, and, surely, no one is foolish enough to believe that similar firms to-day Will miss any opportunity to make profits from the manufacture of Avar material. Honorable senators opposite talk glibly about what the Labour party, if it were in power, would do for the defence of this country. I” wish they wouk be more sincere. I have not the slightest doubt that when this scheme is put into- operation the annexes at private engineering shops will be kept fully supplied Avith orders, whilst those at State.owned railway workshops will be allowed to remain idle. I ask the Minister to explain why this Government has been so lax in the ‘past in the -provision of armaments. -Why, for instance, . did it sell the Cockatoo Island Dockyard to private enterprise, when it must have realized that that establishment Wouk form a valuable unit for the manufacture of munitions and armaments?
– Those dockyards were not sold; they were leased by the Government, in order to SaVe a loss of £40,000 annually.
– They were given away. I should also like the Minister to explain why this Government, after doing all of the preliminary work in connexion
Avith the Newnes project, handed the work over to private enterprise. When the agreement with that company waa being considered in the House of Representatives, the then Minister for Defence (Sir Archdale Parkhill) stated that the company would concentrate on the. production of oil from shale at Newnes, and in the Walgan Valley. I now ask the Minister whether this company has undertaken any operations in the Walgan Valley for the production of oil from shale?
– This debate has more than justified itself. It has brought under the notice of the Governnent matters which have been agitating the minds of honorable senators on this side of the chamber. Three courses appear to be open to the Government in connexion with tho production of munitions within the Commonwealth. First. it can manufacture munitions in Commonwealth-owned factories. On that point, no doubt, we shall be told that time is of the essence of the contract, and that the Government’s existing factories cannot expeditiously fulfil these orders. The second course open to the Government is to manufacture its munitions and armaments in State-owned concerns, such as railway workshops. To some extent it proposes to follow this course, but it also intends to subsidize privately-owned foundries and factories, and it is on this point that we disagree with . it. The Labour party believes that the Government is wrong, at the outset, in establishing, by way of subsidy, rival plants to government-owned factories. It is not disputed that, should a crisis arise, the government of the day would seize the first opportunity to take over control of all factories and foundries engaged in the production of munitions. That is obvious to all honorable senators; but our contention, is that the Government, for the present at any rate, should confine the manufacture of munitions to governmentowned factories. We are not now at war. Our immediate object is to provide for the efficient manufacture of our requirements in the event of war. Now is the time to lay our plans firmly for the defence of this country, and all expenditure in this direction should be so planned as to enable us to gain permanent benefit from it. Had- the Go vernment, made a bold pronouncement at the outset of this debate that it intended to introduce legislation to provide for the proper supervision and control of munitions manufacture by private enterprise, and also to prevent profiteering on the part of firms with which it placed its orders for war material, much of the sting would have been taken out of our arguments, but all Ave - have got from the Minister so far is merely a statement that profiteering Will not be allowed. No definite pronouncement has been made, however, that legislation will bc introduced for that purpose. I can see no reason why the Government could not give such an assurance. We should not encourage the manufacture of munitions by private enterprise without first taking steps to provide safeguards .against profiteering, and also to ensure that the goods turned out by private enterprise shall be of the standard required. Such safeguards are very essential, but I have yet to learn that any member of the Government has made a pronouncement along those lines. We cannot afford to proceed haphazardly, so Ave ask for some better assurance in this respect than more statements on behalf of the Government that profiteering will not he allowed. Safeguards as to the quality of materials should be provided also in respect of munitions which Ave might find it necessary to import. I support the amendment.
– Honorable senators on this side of the chamber have expressed the greatest concern as to the probability of racketeering on the part of private manufacturers of armaments and munitions. The Government has assured ns that this is not likely to take place. I am very glad to have that assurance, but we cannot avoid this evil if the Government is determined to raise the sinews of Avar through existing banking channels, despite the fact that it could, through the Commonwealth Bank, raise all the money it required free of interest. For this reason Ave shall be confronted Avith tremendous unnecessary expenditure.’ I am puzzled by the Government’s refusal to act upon one of the most important recommendations made by the Royal Commission on Monetary and Banking Systems, namely, that relating to. the release of credit. We are aware that this scheme for the manufacture of munitions will cause most trouble in its financial aspect. Two years ago in England, Mr. Winston Churchill stated that, under the present monetary system, the world was heading for one of the greatest disasters in history.
– Order ! The honorable senator will not be in order in pursuing that line of argument.
-I hope that the fears of honorable senators on this side, that racketeering will develop in connexion with the manufacture of munitions byprivate enterprise, will not be realized.
– I am somewhat disappointed to find that honorable senators who, during the last few days have expressed some very high ideals regarding peace, are not likely to favour us with their support on this important subject. As the debate proceeded, the Minister in charge of the bill (Senator Poll) endeavoured on several occasionsto explain away the objections raised by honorable senators in Opposition, but, up to the present, he has not given any valid reason why the Government should embark upon this new system of producing armaments and munitions. Yesterday, I directed attention to the fact that if the amendment be carried, it cannot be regarded as a direction to the Government to refrain from preparing for the defence of Australia. Our attitude on this matter cannot be regarded as an indication that we wish to do anything to retard the defence of this country.
– Honorable senators opposite have not shown a desire to co-operate. The representatives of the trade unions would not even meet the Prime Minister.
– The carrying of this amendment would be a direction to the Government not to encourage an evil whichhas been condemned by members on both, sides of this chamber. It was my intention to refer again at length to the machinations of the combine controlling the manufacture of arms and munitions throughout the world. Senator Dein said that, he and other honorable senators were quite aware of the activities of these people. but in spite of that the Minister and other honorable senators have told us that such things cannot happen in Australia. . Such statements lead one to believe that, some in this chamber are not conversant with history, and the development of armament trusts throughout the world. Those who have read of the growth of these trusts know how governments in various countries have been approached. We know that the Krupps, the Schneiders and the rest of them set out to develop the manufacture of arms and munitions and wrote plausible letters tovarious governments with which they were associated. They even directed such communications to foreign governments, and slowly . and -surely their appeals were heeded, and engines of destruction were manufactured, with consequences of which we are so well aware. Whilst I have no desire to challenge the honesty of individual members of the Government, I venture to say that they are not made of a tougher fibre than are those who constitute the governments of other nations. Slowly . and surely, their minds will . be poisoned and we shall find that arms and munitions are being manufactured in this country for the benefit of private interests and to the detriment of the people generally.
– That is impossible under the Government’s scheme.
– It is not. Those in authority in the United States of America, France, Germany and Great Britain said that such things could not happen in those countries, but eventually they did.
– Those countries did not take the precautions ‘ which this Government is taking.
– What precautions are being taken in Australia? The Minister representing the Minister for Defence has not given us any information in that direction. In spite of the requests from those on this side of the chamber the Minister has remained silent. He told us that certain machinery would be installed and that it would remain idle as there would, be no use for it; but a few moments later he said that it would be used for training engineers and artificers. We do not know which statement is true. What is to be the policy of the Government when annexes are erected and placed in the control of private enterprise? No. information has been given to the committee or to the people of Australia on that point. A few days ago one of Australia’s leading jurists, Sir Robert Garran, led a deputation to the Prime Minister to point out that the contemplated action of the Government in this respect is in direct conflict with the covenant of the League of Nations. This gentleman has closely studied the whole problem and his opinion is worthy of the closest consideration. Emphatic protests have been lodged by other influential individuals and organizations against the policy of the Government; but in spite of these protests the Government intends to persist. “We recognize that if Australia must engage in . this awfulbusiness of manufacturing armaments, there is a way in which that can be done without placing men of the ability and honour of Senator Leckie in a position where they can be contaminated. We have not been told that the whole of our resources are being utilized. Is it impossible to extend Government workshops which exist in every State of the Commonwealth? Should not this be done, instead of erecting new buildings and installing additional equipment which will remain idle, or if used, will be used only for the benefit of private interests. The Chairman, of the Victorian Railways Commission said that the Newport Workshops are capable of producing the most delicate equipment used in aircraft, and that the high-speed machines already installed there can be utilized for almost any purpose. Someone has suggested that the debate on this subject is historical. It has fallen to the lot of few Parliaments to discuss a subject of such importance. Possibly in the days to come historians will speak of this debate in which a few men in this chamber have endeavoured to . prevent the introduction of the armament ring to Australia.
– The historians may also recall that the industrialists refused toco-operate with the Government of the country.
– The industrial movement in Australia has never refused to co-operate in the actual work to he done. Moreover, that section has supplied the most important part of the defence not only of Australia, but also of the Empire. If the industrial section of all communities refused to co-operate in any way there would be no guns or shells. Unfortunately it is the workers who have to shoulder the major burden of the defence of a country. If the governments and those who support them could not rely upon the assistance of the industrial section they would not be talking war, but because they know that they can expect that support they become aggressive. I again ask the Government to accept the proposal of the Opposition which is supported by influential organizations and individuals outside. I am sure that arrangements can he made whereby government establishments can be so equipped that the effective defence of this country will he assured.
Question put -
That . the vote - Division 10, £88,502 - be reduced by £1 (Senator Keane’s amendment).
The committee divided. (Chairman - Senator James McLachlan.)
Majority . . 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Owing to the state of business arising out of the suspension of the Standing Orders, I was unable, at 4 o’clock, to put the usual motion for the adjournment of the Senate. I now put the question -
Thatthe Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the negative.
Bill received from the House of Representatives and (on motion by Senator Allan MacDonald) read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Rep resentatives and (on motion by Senator Foll) read a first time.
Senate adjourned at 4.8 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 14 October 1938, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1938/19381014_senate_15_157/>.