15th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator theHon.J. B. Hayes) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
. - by leave - I desire to announce to the Senate that, on the 24th November, 1938, the Honorable H. V. C. Thorby was sworn in as Minister for Works and Minister for Civil Aviation. As previously stated, he will be represented in this chamber by Senator Foll.
Assent to the following bills reported : -
Land Tax Bill 1938.
Income Tax Assessment Bill 1938.
Ministers of State Bill 1938.
- by leave - On the 23rd November, several honorable senators urged that special relief be granted to the unemployed before Christmas. I then promised to submit the matter to the Government for consideration. I now inform the Senate that the policy of the Government is to avoid the necessity for granting special Christmas relief to the unemployed by providing full-time employment on defence works wherever possible. To show the success of the efforts of the Government in this direction, it may be stated that by next week every unemployed man who is registered in the Australian Capital Territory will be employed on one or other of the defence works which have now been commenced.
In addition, arrangements have been completed with the Government of New South Wales for work, mostly of an unskilled nature, and costing £6,000, to be carried out at the Mascot aerodrome. Of this cost £4,000 will be provided by the Commonwealth and £1,000 by the State. Registered unemployed are to be engaged for this work. A schedule is being prepared for each State, with the object of providing the maximum amount of employment over the widest possible area before Christmas. It is considered that this will be much more satisfactory to the governments concerned, and more beneficial to those who have been unemployed, than would any other form of relief.
Supplies fob “Western Australia - - Vickers Machine Guns - Rifle Parts - Manufacture of Bren Gun,
-On the 24th November, Senator Fraser asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, the following questions, upon notice: -
The Minister for Defence has now supplied the following information in answer to the honorable senator’s questions: -
– On the 23rd November, Senator Brand asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence the following questions, upon notice: -
The Minister for Defence has now supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: - 1 and 2. (a) So far as the stocks of machine guns and rifles are concerned, the information is of a secret nature, which it is not desirable to make publicly available. It can be stated, however, that adequate manufacturing capacity exists for the requirements of both items. (6) By the provision of the necessary tools and gauges, certain of the rifle manufacturing machines could be used for the manufacture of other items, but such action would seriously interfere wi th the manufacture of rifles at short notice should this be necessary. In the scheme of munitions production in Australia, the function of the Small Arms Factory is to produce machine guns and rifles, and it is essential that no action bc taken which would interfere with the efficacy of the factory for those functions. Hence it is necessary for the plant to be retained for the purpose for which ithas been provided, i.e. the manufacture of machine guns and rifles.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: - 1 and 2. The Commonwealth Grants Commission Act 1933 does not make any provision for a minimum or maximum age in connexion with appointments tothe commission. 3 and 4. The conditions and tenure of appointment of members of bodies such as the Commonwealth Grants Commission differ materially from those of officers appointed under the Commonwealth Public Service Act, and it has not been considered necessary to prescribe a retiring age in respect of appointments made to such bodies.
Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
Minister representing the Minister for Works, upon notice -
What are the proposed new works, including buildings, to be erected at Canberra for which tenders have not yet been called?
– The Minister for Works has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’s question : -
The proposed new works to be undertaken in the Australian Capital Territory during the financial year 1.938-39 for which tenders will be invited, are as follows: -
Erection of Patents Office, hoarding house, cottages (approximately 80); office accommodation for Civil Aviation Department and National Insurance Commission; store at Government Printing Office; public lavatories, Manuka: new pumping unit, Cotter pumping station; naval wireless stations;engineers’ school, Duntroon; signal school, Duntroon; Army Service Corps school, Duntroon; drill hall; hangars and other buildings for Royal Australian Air Force establishment; extensions to Royal Military College, Duntroon; alterations and additions to Government House; additions to Albert Hall.
In addition there are a large number of minor works.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Motion (by Senator Foll) proposed -
That the bill be now read a first time.
– The Opposition desires that this bill shall pass through all its stages in time to allow tho various departments to make, without delay, payments which require parliamentary sanction. In this connexion, I again draw attention to the fact that the Parliament is in the closing stages of the session, although proposed expenditure amounting to many millions of pounds has not yet been authorized. As usual, honorable senators will have insufficient time to give to this bill the consideration which ought to be given to it by a deliberative chamber in order to safeguard the public purse. History records that for the right to control that purse there has been a long and serious struggle. In saying this, I am not unmindful of the fact that the Senate had before it for some time a motion that the budget papers be printed, and that members of the Oppotion, as well as Government supporters, took advantage of that motion to say many things which they wanted to bring before the Parliament and the public. But since the motion was discussed there have been so many changes, that certain things ought to be said now. In order that I shall not be accused of wasting time, I shall read only a brief portion of an article which sets out the views of the Opposition. A paragraph in the leading article in this morning’s Canberra Times reads -
Yesterday, the Treasurer complained that the House had actually spent 32 hours in discussing the budget, and the fact that the Opposite was responsible for eighteen hours of this time was mentioned as if it were n fitting subject for reproach. Actually, the Opposition was doing its job. and the passage of the Estimates yesterday in the space of thirteen hours was an example of Parliament being prevented from discharging its responsibility to the peop?e.
The Opposition believes that that comment is justified. Something eke might have happened this afternoon ; it has not happened, for the reason that the Opposition desires that as much time as possible shall be devoted to the discussion of this bill before the hour arrives when it .must become -bw if essential services are to be maintained. On page 39 of the budget-papers, I find the following item under the Department of the Treasury, “ National insurance - Preliminary ex penditure and provision towards cost of medical treatment of the wives and children of insured persons and other expenditure, 1936-37, £5,447; 1937-38, £6,344.” None of that money, which totals £11,791, has been used to provide any. benefit to any one. Entirely inexcusable waste is being indulged in by the National Insurance Commission in the issue of printed pamphlets and mimeographed circulars in a vain endeavour to explain what this scheme really means to the people who are supposed to get benefits under it. That expenditure is entirely unwarranted and the commission should be directed to stop it.
– Dissemination of that information is made necessary because of misrepresentation.
– It has been rendered necessary, because the Government would not take notice of the advice offered by the Opposition when that legislation was being considered in this Parliament. “We told the Government then that its scheme proposed would be entirely unworkable, and that, in attempting to explain it, the Government would land itself in trouble. It now finds itself in a hopeless muddle, with the result that every mail the commission has to send out a fresh sheaf of material in an endeavour to explain the sr-heme, but this procedure is merely making confusion worse confounded.
Honorable senators are aware that on each occasion when the budget has been considered in this chamber, I have pressed for the abolition of .those very undesirable tenements situated at Molonglo and the Causeway. Naturally, I have not been able to achieve anything in that respect with this particular Government. About a fortnight ago, I re- ceived a letter from a lady, a resident of Canberra, in which she stated that she had noticed my remarks in this chamber on that subject, and added that she would be glad if I would have a look at the tenements where she resided, because they were much worse than anything of which I had yet spoken. In company with Senator Cunningham, who will substantiate all I propose to say on this matter, I visited those tenements which are situated at the Manuka Arcade, at the rear of the Capitol picture theatre.
The building itself is quite a nice structure. On the ground floor are shops which are quite satisfactory; the wares in them are attractive and well displayed. Above the shops are several apartments; I do not know how many, but the two which .L visited are numbered 21 and 22, so there are at least two dozen apartments there. I say without any reservation that never in my life have I seen anything so bad. I have visited such congested areas as Surry Hills and Wooloomooloo, and Richmond and Fitzroy, and I am fairly familiar with housing conditions generally throughout Australia, but I have never seen anything like I saw at the Manuka Arcade. I shall be more than pleased to make arrangements to accompany any other honorable senator, or the Minister, on an inspection of these places. The lady who wrote to me showed me’ two rooms which I judged to be probably 9 ft. by 12 ft. The corridors on to which these cubicles - I cannot call them anything else - face, would not be wider than from my finger tips to my elbow. The interior is dark and as the structure is of concrete the rooms are very cold. The first two rooms which I inspected were occupied by one couple. The woman was born in Queanbeyan and the man, who is an employee of the Government, has been in Canberra for seventeen years. No yard is provided for the use of the occupants of these rooms, for each of which the rent is 7s. 6d. a week. The couple I refer to pay 15s. a. week for two rooms, and ls. a week extra for electric light. I point out that this is not Government property, but belongs to a private landlord, and’ as such offers another example of what private enterprise will do in order to make profits. However, the building is just as much the responsibility of the Government as if it .were State property. One of the rooms was used as a living room and the other as a bedroom, and with the couple lived their two daughters, one aged ten and the other eight years, both of whom attend school. An older daughter, from twelve to thirteen years, cannot live with them because of lack of accommodation. A stove is in the living room, which, of course, is also used as a kitchen ; the firewood is stored there. The vegetables are kept under the bed.
The inmates cannot dry their clothes except in one of the rooms. As you approach the foot of the stairway leading to these tenements you see garbage bins; we saw four of them and the flies were swarming about them. Common bathrooms and lavatories are provided. I do not know how many there are, but the one I visited was enough for me. I have not seen anything, more filthy, and I should not attempt to take a bath there if I were not sure of being able to get in and out without touching anything, and of being able to stand on something clean when I emerged from the bath. I am not exaggerating ; these tenements are most filthy. While I was there I met another tenant, a lady, who I judged was about 23 or 24 years of age. She appeared to be healthy and clean, and was carrying a baby scarcely twelve months old, who was almost too big for her to nurse. She can get only one room in these tenements,- and in it she and her husband are obliged to live, eat and sleep and do their washing and drying. She is able to cook in another room which is rented by a man who works out all day and who allows her to use his stove. In ordinary circumstances one would ask, “ Why do not these people get out of such tenements?” But the fact is that they have been trying for years to get out of them, and although they are prepared to pay a rent of 25s. a week, they cannot secure a house in Canberra. The second man to whom I have referred, has occupied his room for eight years and he also is an employee of this Government. As we left the building, Senator Cunningham agreed with me that those people, if left there much longer, will lose all semblance of selfrespect, and, as the result of their struggle, will become mere creatures to whom happiness and comfort mean nothing. Every time they have applied for a house they have been told the same story - “ We are sorry ; we have not got a house we can give you, and we have over 300 on our waiting list.” At the conclusion of this debate we shall give authority for the expenditure of millions of pounds. We have been told this afternoon that the Government cannot see its way to do anything better for the unemployed than to provide work under the Defence Estimates. We thank the Government for nothing, because it was already pledged to this expenditure. If the Government would make available £250,000 of the money it proposes to expend on defence to build workers’ homes - not hovels or tenements such as are to be found in some parts of Canberra - the problem would be solved, and these unfortunate people would not be kept waiting much longer for decent residences. After making a few inquiries, I concluded that the only effective action to correct conditions such as I saw at Manuka would be through the health authorities, who have the power to condemn such accommodation. Doubtless they are thoroughly aware of the conditions which exist. But should they condemn the place, these unfortunate people would be forced out, and their last condition would be worse than the first, because they can go nowhere else. In the second case which I cited, the husband, being a handy man, endeavoured to overcome the clothes drying problem by fixing a long line to one end of a cleft stick, allowing the spare length of line to hang down. The stick was then pushed out into the open air, with the clothes attached to the line, and in that way an attempt was made to dry them. As the clothes were hanging over the street, orders were issued that the use of this device must be discontinued, and inmates now have to dry their clothes indoors as best they can.
– Is there no yard at all?
– There is no yard of any kind. The only place where children can play is in the street. After a few years, concrete buildings become unsatisfactory. The steps become chipped and slippery, and should a woman carrying a baby happen to fall probably both would get concussion. The whole surroundings are the most sordid that one could possibly imagine, and I ask the Minister to give the matter attention as quickly as possible. It is the responsibility of the Government to see that some of the money which is being appropriated for defence works is transferred and” used immediately to construct 100 workmen’s cottages. If that number of cottages were constructed, not only the occupants of rooms in the Manuka Arcade, but also those living at Molonglo, Causeway, Westlake and some parts of Acton, could be transferred immediately from the wretched places which they are now occupying. The first consideration should be given to those in the Manuka Arcade. They would jump with joy if they could occupy one of the “ horrors “ of which I have spoken at the Causeway or Molonglo, because at those centres there are yards, and grass lands on which the kiddies can play.
I ask the Minister what has been done in connexion with the Payne-Fletcher report, the proposed Barkly Tablelands railway, and the suggested road to Charters Towers which could be used to great advantage for defence purposes in transporting troops and material? Numerous Ministers have visited northern Queensland, and the Northern Territory and they are all impressed by the necessity to do something. I trust that action will be taken in connexion with those works. On the subject of defence, I should like to say that members of the Opposition who represent Queensland are particularly anxious to know what is being done to defend northern Queensland.
– Hear, hear!
– If there is any part of Australia which is more vulnerable than another it is the far northern portion of Queensland.
– And it is the part most coveted by potential enemies.
– Yes ; if we have the potential enemies of which the members of the Government speak so frequently, we should like to know how security to that portion of Australia is being assured. I do not want to be told that large sums of money are being made available for defence purposes, but I wish to be informed definitely what is actually being done. We should have a complete statement of the manner in which money is being expended for defence purposes. It is our responsibility as senators, particularly those representing Queensland, to ascertain what action the Government is taking to defend Queensland.’ What has been done for the aerial defence of Townsville ?
– That is all in the air.
– It should not be all in the air, ‘because much valuable ground work has to be done. Queensland has a wonderful asset in the Barrier Beef, and sometimes when Ministers want an excuse for their inactivity they refer to that reef as a protection against aggression from the sea.” That is a myth, because ifr is nothing of the kind. Certain things are happening in the north in which the nationals of a certain country are particularly interested - I shall not mention the name of any country. Concerning these doings protests have been made by the members of the Opposition on numerous occasions. Foreigners are spying out the land, and they know all the entrances through the Barrier Reef. It is alleged that that reef is a protection to that part of Australia; that is true to some degree, but it is the easiest thing in the world for those conversant with northern waters to find a channel through the Barrier Reef into Townsville. According to press reports £1,800,000 is to be expended in the defence of the western coast of Australia. That is a substantial expenditure, especially having regard to the fact that if any portion of Australia is protected by the Singapore base, with the assistance of the British fleet, it is Western Australia, yet there does not appear to be the intention to spend one penny on the defence of the eastern seaboard and the northern littoral, which lies open to an attack by an eastern” power. It is essential to prevent an enemy from gaining a foothold in the Commonwealth, and in planning defence we must consider Australia as a whole. I hope that I shall not be accused of being parochial in alluding to some matters which concern particularly the State of which I am one of the representatives in this chamber, but I believe that many honorable senators will agree with the remarks which I have made and also those I propose to make now on another subject.
In Queensland, especially in the northern part, it is very desirable for the people to have the very best meteorological information with regard to approaching, cyclones or other disturbed weather conditions. I am pleased to be able to say that we have in that State a. gentleman who has made considerable and valuable research into the influence of sunspots on weather changes in Australia, though I am aware that his theory has not the support of many orthodox meteorological authorities. His name has been mentioned here on several occasions. I have no doubt that honorable senators know that I am referring to Mr. Inigo Jones, whose studies of. the sun-spot theory in its relation to long-range weather forecasting is acclaimed by competent authorities in other countries, and certainly is highly appreciated by a large number of primary producers in Australia, who gladly pay him a small fee in order to have the benefit of his forecasts. Ex-Senator Guthrie, on one occasion in this chamber, spoke very highly of the excellent work done by Mr. Inigo Jones. I mention the matter now because several of us have, from time to time, urged that the Commonwealth meteorological authorities at Canberra should take cognizance of the work which Mr. Inigo Jones is doing, and should, in fact, co-operate with him, at all events to the extent of persuading the Government to assist his work by the payment of a small annual subsidy. But always we have been met with the official reply, based on an out-dated report, that the methods employed by Mr. Inigo Jones are unscientific and are of no practical value. Despite the official scepticism, amounting almost to hostility to Mr. Inigo Jones, there is no consensus of opinion that his methods are unscientific. Furthermore, it is true to say that scientific authorities are divided in their opinion, though almost invariably they agree upon the profound interlocking of solar activity and sun-spots with terrestrial changes in the atmosphere, and the .formation and precipitation of clouds, during sun-spot activity, by the ionization of the atmosphere. Crohamhurst Observatory for solar physics was the result of Mr. Inigo J ones’ tireless efforts. He provided the site and built the observatory largely at his own expense, supplemented by a contribution by the Queensland Government. He has drawn up a deed willing both the site and the observatory with everything in it, including all his files and data, to the Queensland Government, as a perpetual gift to the people, in the interests of solar research in Australia.
Mr. Jones has produced a veritable library of historic data which should be priceless to the Commonwealth. We need all the data available, and Mr. Jones has printed a vast amount which will not be found anywhere else in Australia, and which no scientific worker can ignore. The whole of Mr. Jones’ data has been forwarded to the solar authorities at Cambridge. Professor Stratton, of the Solar Observatory and University Astrophysical Lecturer, declared that Mr. Jones is doing a valuable work. Later, he brought Mr. Jones’ name before the Cambridge University Royal Astronomical Society, and proposed his election as a fellow of that body at its annual meeting at Burlington House. Not long afterwards Mr. Jones was also elected a fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society. I am informed also that some of the most famous European solar meteorologists have warmly eulogized the work don© by this famous citizen of Queensland.
Those who are familiar with his work contend that the Commonwealth Government, if it cannot do anything to assist him, should at least leave him alone. I suggest that the departmental file upon which officialdom always acts whenever Mr. Inigo Jones’ claims are mentioned, should be put away and forgotten, because it is out of date, and is not in conformity with astronomical and meteorological knowledge o”f the moment. As a matter of fact, it has not been up to date for many years. There is good ground for asking that Mr. Inigo Jones should be assisted financially to carry on his work. I am informed that he has no means of livelihood, apart from the occasional sale of his long-range weather forecasts, which are extremely valuable to the primaryproducing interests of Australia. I shall be obliged if the Leader of the Senate will convey my suggestions to Cabinet, especially my request that departmental officials be instructed to cease “ knocking “ this man by the issue of untruthful and untenable reports, also that they should, if necessary, in collaboration with me, because I have some knowledge of what Mr. Inigo Jones is doing, see if something can be done to recompense him for the services which he has rendered, as well as to encourage him to continue his researches.
I turn now to the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I first raised this subject about three years ago, and I think that most honorable senators know my views on it. I regard the broadcasting services of. the Commonwealth as an important part of the daily life of our people, and also of the activities of government. I have not very kindly thoughts about the commission or its personnel, but I do not propose to deal with this aspect at great length this afternoon. In my opinion the appointment of the women members of the commission has depended not so much on their special knowledge of broadcasting and cognate subjects, as upon their success as social climbers. As for the men, I think it is true to say also, that their appointments have been due to the amount of social pull which they have been able to exert. Not long ago, when speaking i» this chamber, I gave five striking instances. In one case I erroneously spoke of a single man as having a son. I subsequently corrected that statement In respect of the other four cases I was correct. It is high time that the whole subject of broadcasting in Australia was reviewed. The annual revenue from licences has grown to a large sum, and this Parliament has the right to review any of the activities of the commission.
The commercial station at Canberra, 2CA, is rendering good service, but on- occasions matter to which children may be listening runs right up to, if not a little over, the borderline of common decency. This sort of thing should be stopped. It is a crime against the nation that the Government ever allowed the broadcasting activities of subsidiary stations to pass out of its control. The commercial stations should not be in the hands of private enterprise, and be dependent upon advertising for their revenue. They should not be permitted to put the stuff over the air which they do, because most of it is diabolically wrong, and entirely opposed to the interests of the rising generation, as well as those who have reached the adult age. The annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Commission is submitted to the Parliament, but unless we take advantage of this debate we have no opportunity to review its work. 1 suggest now that the Government should take notice of the announcer at 2CA to whom I have referred. His name is Phil Furley. I am not advocating a censorship, but, if this Parliament is responsible for the work of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, we have a right to tell it what it shall and shall not do. One of the things it should not be permitted to do is to pollute the domestic atmosphere with unsavoury stories.
– But the commission has no control over the commercial stations.
– I am grateful for the interjection, because the exPostmasterGeneral knows more about this matter than any other honorable member qf the Senate. 1 claim that the time has arrived when the Government should take over the complete control of broadcasting. The commercial stations are putting over the air the supposed wonderful qualities of abominable nostrums. First, they try to create a conviction in the minds of listeners that they have certain ailments, and then they recommend the use of these nostrums. The disorders spoken of over the air would never have been thought of by listeners were it not for Ihe stuff poured into their ears every night. At every station to which one chooses to listen, alternated with every musical or dramatic item, are wretched lying advertisements, claiming benefits for nostrums alleged to be of medical value, but which have not a particle of value in the treatment of the ailments they are supposed to cure. The advertisements are of this nature: “ Drink Clement’s Tonic and be a man “. Everybody knows that that mixture is composed mostly of alcohol, and is of no value at all except that the person who drinks it becomes temporarily exhilarated. The sale of Lifebuoy soap is worth millions of pounds a year to the manufacturers; but it has no value as a . germicide or as a disinfectant. One could buy a ton of the chemical that it contains for the price charged for a dozen cakes of the soap. These illustrations lend themselves to levity, but I am dealing with a very serious matter.
My charge against the commission is that its work is being conducted for the social glorification of a selected few. I have a photograph before me which was reproduced in the press. It shows a group of nien and women in evening dress, and under it are these words -
A group at the cocktail party held at the Hotel Adelphi after the opening of the new national station CWN last night. Left to right: Mr. C. J. A. Moses, the Lady Mayoress (Miss S. Harper), Messrs. W. J. Cleary and C. Charlton (standing), Mrs. C. Charlton, the Lord Mayor (Mr. C. Harper), Mrs. J. G. Kilpatrick and the Acting Deputy-Director of’ Posts and Telegraphs (Mr. J. G. Kilpatrick).
It may be said that not all of those persons are responsible for what is done by the Australian Broadcasting Commission, but several members of the commission were present. What did that cocktail party cost? The extravagance of the commission is so great that, if the Government shut down on its activities by intelligent action on the part of the PostmasterGeneral, the wireless listening licence could probably be reduced to 10s. 6d. a year, instead of listeners being penalized by having to pay fi ls. a year. I do not know that it is advisable to follow this matter further, but I do ask that there be a cleaning-up in regard to it. I understand that it is proposed to allow the commission to carry on a little longer, and then’ to reconstitute it. If we are not to go further than merely confirm Messrs. Moses and Cleary in their jobs, I now enter my protest before the event, so that I shall not be an accessory after the crime, because neither of them has the necessary qualifications for the work entrusted to him. I made this criticism at the time when Mr. Moses was appointed. What qualifications has he for his position? I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General to find out and let me know. We know the capacities ki which Mr. Cleary served prior to his appointment. I know that he receives only a part-time salary, but I think he should get a full-time salary if he ia worthy of his appointment. All these jobs should be full time, but the activities of the members of the commission should be under the close supervision of the department. Much evidence of the utter incapacity of these mcn could be produced. Mr. Cleary received a bonus of £2,000. I ashed what justification could be advanced for that, and the reply I received was that he had done exceptional work in his own time, which he could not be expected to do for the salary of £500 a year, and that this extra payment was only fair remuneration for services rendered. If that be true his salary should be raised so that it would be unnecessary to grant a bonus. He should be paid in accordance with the value of his services, and if that were done the justification for the payment of £500 a year would need to be closely examined.
The commission is often attacked because it provides high-class concert programmes. I believe in Australians being given the best music available, but we have a right to know the terms on which contracts with artists are made. Coincident with the importation of the best artists from other parts of the world, local talent should be encouraged. “We all know that it is difficult for local artists of merit to obtain public recognition in this country, and it is very discreditable to Australians that that is so. Local artists who have been able to achieve distinction in the musical world have had to leave Australia and obtain a reputation abroad, before being able to make their mark in their own country.
– That happens in most countries.
– ‘But that is no reason why we should perpetuate the mistake here. Only last week, Miss Gertrude Concannon, a fine artist, who was born in Queensland, gave a performance in Canberra; but the smallness of the audience which greeted her was a reflection on the musical intelligence of the people of the Australian capital. Musical intelligence cannot be developed as it should be in Australia because the Australian Broadcasting Commission -is putting all too much jazz and other inferior “ canned “ music over the air.
Here are a few queries which I desire to submit to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General : I had something to say about Mrs. John Moore some time ago. She is abroad, drawing up report* on unspecified matters, and receiving half her usual salary. What salary is being drawn by Professor Bernard Heinze, who talks of spending enormous sums of money in connexion with the work of the commission? What salary is Mr. McMahon Ball getting from the commit sion? What does he report upon, and what is the value of the weekly letter which he sends to the commission?- At the present time, these persons are all abroad. Mr. Eric Sholl left Australia for England a few months ago to broadcast cricket tests. What salary is he receiving, and will he do work of any value! Mr. Brookes, who has been overseas, has brought back reports to the commission. I should like to know what the reports relate to, but I am much more anxious to know what he drew in expenses while away from Australia? I think that these are fair questions, which the people who Pay a guinea a year for the privilege of listening to broadcast programmes are entitled to ask. In the case of many citizens, listening to wireless broadcasting is the only recreation which they can afford. I am anxious not only that the people of Australia, shall have the best broadcasting service obtainable, but also that they shall not have to pay more than is justified. We hare every right to ask what the various officials of the commission are doing abroad. The commission has agencies in London and the United States of America, and I should like to know what they cost.
– During recent months our attention has centred mainly on foreign relations and the undoubted need for strengthening the defences of the Empire. In addition to considerable discussion in this Parliament and comment in the press, the Government has made certain proposals, for immediate action, and outlined others, which are to be developed later. As the whole issue has become somewhat involved, I shall endeavour to throw some light on the subject and to stress some fundamental factors which should be within the knowledge of honorable senators. I hope that in my attempt to do so I shall have the indulgence of every honorable senator.
L know that honorable senators are by no means disinterested. Indeed I have derived some satisfaction from the statement of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) that the policy of the Labour party provides for the efficient defence of Australia. Formerly the honorable gentleman used the word “ adequate “. The two words may have the same literal meaning, but to me the first suggests adequate means and their effective use, whilst the second implies the provision of all essentials, but not necessarily sound judgment in their application. Keen as is the Opposition on this issue, I say with all respect that I do not think that its members are seised of the vital importance of some factors which should be comprehended in any sound policy. I do not wholly agree with Senator Uppill that defence is a matter for experts. The need, the capacity and the ability of a nation to defend itself are based, in the first instance, on the domestic and foreign policy of the government of the day. That policy is supposed to be controlled by Parliament. When that policy has been determined, it is the duty of the experts to do their best with the means at hand to save what might possibly be an erring policy from leading to a grave state of affairs. I drew further comfort from Senator Sheehan’s dictum that we must take time by the forelock and be prepared for any emergency, as well as from the disapproval of the Opposition, unanimously voiced a few days ago, to certain suggestions made by Senator Dein. I shall endeavour to get down to the root of the matter. Field-Marshal Lord Milne, who was appointed Chief of the Imperial General Staff shortly after the expiration of the Great War, was asked by the British Government either to create a new army or re-organize the remaining elements of the old one. Being a man of great knowledge and experience, he was prompted to ask, “ What do you want an army for “ ? In other words he asked, “ What is to be your foreign policy “ ? If we apply that question to Australia, the answer that I suggest is that .we need a defence system. We need it first, to preserve our trade and commerce, and in connexion therewith, to keep open the trade routes, failing which we should be starved economically, financially ruined and industrially destroyed. Secondly, we need a defence system that we may preserve our territory inviolate, and protect the lives and property of the people. In passing, I say that it is not necessary to assume, as Senator Armstrong did, that commerce routes are automatically closed at the outbreak of hostilities. It is to be regretted, although it is quite understandable, that the popular conception of a defence force does not extend beyond the possession of a few warships, aeroplanes that drop bombs, big guns, and men armed with either rifles or machine guns. Let us consider what are the chief elements in the defence of this island continent. I suggest that they are a navy, an air force, and a field army, all of which should be strategically mobile, and capable of being placed and used where they would serve the best purpose at the moment. Behind those three forces there should be fixed and coast defences, including submarines. In addition, we should possess dockyards, airports, arsenals, munition factories, repair shops, oil and fuel reserves, and adequate means of communication such as railways, roads, bridges and telegraphs. Further, there must be provision for anti-aircraft and anti-gas protection, and the effective shielding of our power sources so that they will not be exposed to attack. There should also be ample supplies of large scale maps of any area which is likely to be included within the sphere of operations. Further still - and this is of almost supreme importance - there should be adequate man-power and large stocks of foodstuffs. The successful training, preparation, construction, collection and coordination of all these elements is the work of the Defence Department in times of peace. As to how they should be utilized in time of war, I remind honorable senators that war is itf itself a natural science - certain natural laws have to- be observed if we wish to avoid defeat. Strategy is governed almost entirely by such considerations. In this, Australia has the initial advantage of being entirely surrounded by the seas; yet that condition, from a strategical point of view, may be also a disadvantage in that it entails the defence of an enormous coastline, with, possibly local weaknesses, which would enable an enemy which has the freedom of the seas to assail us at unprotected points, in- fact, if left to ourselves - if we adopt a “ stay at home “ defence policy - we could, in effect, be surrounded, and possibly ultimately subdued. I shall offer a simple, but by no means classical theory of the strategical defence of Australia. I believe it was Euclid who said that “ A line has length but not breadth “. For our needs a line should, in plan, be established some distance from our shores, each extremity resting figuratively on some secure points. Paradoxically, that line might be stronger at one point than at another. It would, of course, not be occupied along the entire length, but so long as it remained intact, our safety would be ensured. If however, through pressure the line were bent so far back as to sever the ends from the secure points, it might ultimately coincide with the coast-line of this continent, in which event we should have temporarily lost command of the sea, and the role of defence would then perforce have to be undertaken by the land forces.
– The honorable senator is presupposing an invasion?
– I am anticipating that possibility. If that continuous line were cut at any point, what remained might cease to be of value. The result would be to place us at a great disadvantage. The best way to keep the line intact is not to sit down all day and wait for it to be assailed, but to maintain an active defence. If honorable senators have a map of the world in mind, and have some idea of distances, they will observe that there are certain avenues of approach to our shores which must be used by a major force of a potential enemy. It should, therefore, be the aim of our strategy to block those avenues. In other words, we should stop the leak in the dyke rather than endeavour subsequently to mop up the escaped flood. Even so, our flanks would not be immune from danger. Here, again, sound strategy requires sane measures for their protection. In order to illustrate my meaning as to the vulnerability of a flank, I point to the Maginot line on the western side of Czechoslovakia. That seemingly impreg nable system of fortifications was rendered almost worthless when the Germans entered Austria to the south, and thus got behind that line. The same mightbe the fate of any one of our defended ports unless we have a reserve mobile force which would be available- and fully trained to meet such a contingency. Therefore, the additional protection that is needed to maintain the original line can be secured only from elsewhere, namely, through the operation of the imperial scheme of defence, which is based on the co-operation of all the units of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Every unit must play its part if it wishes to survive. With these units of the Empire we have the greatest trade; to the people of those units we are bound by ties of race, kinship, tradition and free institutions, as well as by feelings of natural gratitude for the protection that we have received throughout our history. This, I suggest, is not - to employ a term which Senator Collings used the other day - a mere business consideration. My faith is firmly embedded in a system of active defence within certain limits. I should not go so far as to say that there should’ never be another Australian expeditionary force. Circumstances may demand it. But I maintain that never again should we contemplate sending our armies to Europe. Looking back over the years, I think that an error was made in sending Australians to France and Belgium, although there may have been political reasons for so doing. Our soldiers could have been better used in one of the other theatres of operation. Had they been so used, I am convinced that the war would have been considerably shortened, and many lives and much treasure would have been saved. To sum up this phase, I maintain that our sphere of active interest lies between the limits of the Suez Canal and South Africa on the one hand, and New Zealand on the other, with special attention to our eastern and western coasts, New Guinea and the Darwin to Singapore line. Having all things in mind, I regard that as a reasonable view to take. It will be supported by any one with a knowledge of history and actual experience of war.
As to our present needs, I think that the Government is proceeding along right lines, but it needs to take its courage in both hands and speed up the fulfilment of its plans. The test of any system of defence is the efficiency with which the three main elements of the defence force - the navy, army and air force - cooperate. Despite all the writings and the vapourings which honorable senators may have read and heard to the contrary, it must be accepted as a fact that, nowadays, no element can effectively function without the assistance of the others.
The tactical value of our navy needs to be enhanced considerably, and this it will not be impossible to bring about by methods which, I feel certain, have not escaped the consideration of the Government. We need, inter alia, the backing of one or more capital ships, the value of which was amply demonstrated by the presence of the Australia on the outbreak of war in 1914. To that we owed the immunity of our coasts from bombardment. But relatively weak though our navy may be at present, its mere existence is a standing threat to a possible invader, and of immense strategical importance in regulating the movements of his forces. An historical example of this was provided towards the end of the seventeenth century when the presence in Plymouth Harbour of Admiral Sir Clowdisley Shovel’s squadrons prevented the French from proceeding with their plans for an invasion of England.
Some concern has been expressed as to the efficiency of our air force. All I would say at this juncture is that it is a new service, the building up of which through many difficulties has been the work mainly of Air- Vice-Marshal Williams. It has still far to go and our hopes for it, and in it, will not, I am sure, be misplaced. Further, there is nothing in Sir Edward Ellington’s report to justify the extravagant criticism levelled at the air force by some members of this Parliament. There is, however, one desideratum in the creation of larger reserves of trained personnel. In this respect the Government would be welladvised to offer much greater and more practical encouragement to aero and glider clubs, in addition to which there should be a fuller utilization for train ing purposes of the services of ex-officers of the air force.
I propose now to deal with two important features of our system, the weakness of which gives cause for grave anxiety. The first is the absence of a standardgauge railway between Broken Hill and Port Augusta, and between Kalgoorlie and Perth. Standardization of our railway gauges is needed, especially against a possible loss of our sea communications, for by no other means could we effectively transport reinforcements, munitions, raw materials and food supplies from one side of Australia to another. The second, and graver, feature is the insufficiency of the existing small mobile land force, with which I wish to deal in some detail. Before I do so, however, let me suggest the following: -
In order to appreciate fully what I have just said, one can imagine what might have happened in Abyssinia, and in China during the last two years, if the people of those countries had been properly prepared to defend themselves. Let us see how far we, in our turn, are prepared to meet a similar possible contingency. In the first place, Australia has, as yet, no field army worthy of the name. On paper it has 35,000 men designated as citizen forces, sworn in to serve with various units, and distributed over the six States. These men voluntarily enlist for three years during which they undergo 36 days of instruction, only half of winch is occupied in camp. Unfortunately, owing to economic causes, but due mainly to the exigencies of their employment, a considerable percentage of the men are unable to enter the camps. In view of the technical nature of modern weapons and equipment, .the knowledge thus gained by this small force, is almost wholly inadequate. Further, full war equipment is not supplied to many units and, therefore, they have had no opportunity to make themselves conversant with its uses. There is, too, the additional disadvantage to the nation that, contrary to the position which existed on the outbreak of the’ Great War. we no longer possess a large trained reserve of militia and volunteers. Those who have passed through the forces in recent years - and 50,000 have been discharged since the 1st July, 1933 - have received only a minimum of instruction, whilst the surviving members of the Australian Imperial Force are no longer young enough to he aMe to serve effectively in a mobile striking force, valuable though they would be as garrison troops and instructors. No less than 83,000 of these survivors are drawing disability pensions.
The Labour party’s scheme, or schemes, of defence change in some essential characteristics from time to time. It is. however, satisfactory to note that each change seems to he for the better. But one serious omission from the Labour party’s policy is noticeable throughout, and that is the absence of a clear statement as to how it proposes to secure its man-power. In an outline of policy, communicated recently by Mr. Curtin to the Canberra Times, I noted the following two paragraphs : -
Point 1. - Survey of man-power resources, industrial and primary. It is essential that the number of men able to carry out all forms of work be known.
T agree with that, entirely.
Point 8. - Established cadres at bases at strategic points. Cadres must bc of a character capable of implementing, with the addition of the militia when emergency arises, all phases of defence.
In a statement of over a column in length those are the only references . to man-power for our defences. That fact discloses a serious lack of frankness in facing the actual position, and I can only conclude from observing the use of the word “ militia “ that Mr. Curtin is prepared to depend upon it although he must be aware of the paucity of numbers and the many imperfections in the standard of training. I admit the possibility that he may be awaiting the excuse of the outbreak of war for adding greatly to the strength, but if that be the case the position will become infinitely worse, and Senator Sheehan’s dictum goes for nought.
Let us now leave this depressing prospect and consider the measures by which the Government hopes to remedy the present defects. I confess that the result of the examination cannot be very exhilarating. The Prime Minister has said that “ Now that the urgent necessity for adequate man-power is realized “, the Government proposes to make an extensive drive immediately to bring enlistment in the militia forces up to a strength of 70,000. I hope the project will succeed. At any rate, it is one that must appeal so strongly to the Opposition that, in the interests of the nation, it will feel impelled to support the action of the Government with all its weight of influence and oratory. But I am urged to ask myself, “ How can it be ‘a success ? “ Drives have been made to secure 35,000 volunteers yet, to-day no one is satisfied with the result. To aim at 70,000 seems likely to double the error. Nevertheless, there is a glimmer of hope that the Government’s new objective will be achieved, provided that it can make service more attractive in some special and useful way - not by such a trifling as the granting of a badge to be worn with civilian dress - provided that it will more than double the period of training in camp, and come to satisfactory terms with employers so as to ensure that neither employees nor employers will be unduly prejudiced through their efforts on behalf of the nation. In the Sydney Morning Herald of the 8th November, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hughes) is reported as making this call upon men to whom the country is already greatly indebted -
It is because I believe that ex-members of the Australian Imperial Force can lead the country in this great national crusade of preparedness that I turn to the men who fought and won the last war. They have earned the right to speak for Australia, to urge the young men to fit themselves to defend their country.
Does the Government forget that the men now being appealed to have repeatedly availed themselves of the right to speak for Australia, and for years have been urging the Government to remove the suspension of Part XII. of the Defence. Act, to enable our young men to become efficient for the purposes of defence?
– Only a section of them.
– The Federal Congress of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia has expressed that opinion. Too well they know the fate of the untrained and the unfit. Is that advice still to go unheeded? Another solution of our defence problem has been offered by those who advocate a standing army. With our enormous territory and limited finances this idea is impracticable. I believe in strengthening the garrisons of the defended ports by enlisting more permanent troops, but with a standing army in peacetime we must either retain its units within a limited area or distribute them over the States. In either case the vast distances and absence of really efficient means of transport throughout the Commonwealth would, on the outbreak of war, partially immobilize them as a field army. Apart from these factors the cost of maintenance would be enormous. Is it not better to train the citizens who dwell in various areas so that they may be able to offer the maximum resistance until, if necessary, reinforcements can be sent from elsewhere ?
One proposal which appeals to me is worthy of the consideration of the Government at a later stage. It is that we should make some direct contribution towards the defence of the Singapore Naval Base, which is of such vast importance to Australia. This contribution might take the form of a battalion of permanent infantry. It would be necessary to raise two in Australia by voluntary enlistment, and they could interchange every two years, one being at Singapore and the other on home service, distributed over the States at important points and providing the cadres to aid in the training of the Citizen Forces.
To demonstrate more clearly my own views and to come down to the immediate problem of the provision of a field army, I should say that I am not in favour of the restoration of the system of universal military training as formerly conducted. It was wasteful, unbalanced, and produced inferior results from a training stand-point. More time and attention was devoted to its administrative side than to training, and instructors earned more kudos for a well-kept record book than they did for the standard of musketry attained by a trainee. Apart from that aspect, however, the effect upon the mind and body of a youth of a regulated life, food, and exercise, was greatly beneficial. I speak from a personal experience which covered the whole period of the operation of the lav/. I believe in the obligation for the efficient defence of Australia being spread over the whole of the people. To every individual who is a free member of this enlightened democracy we should readily concede the right to have some share in the measures necessary for the protection of his liberty and privileges. This is the essence of democracy. Senator Armstrong rightly said that there should be “ no private enterprise in war “. We are not without means to achieve the desired end. All must be aware of the existence in Australia of a large reserve of men of military age. According to the census figures of 1933, there were 1,898,202 male persons between the ages of 19 and 59 years. Of these 930,453 were under the age of 35 years, and there was a further quota of 456,565 between the ages -of 35 and 44 years. Therein is disclosed a great asset. I believe that to attempt to train fully such large numbers as I have indicated would be inexpedient, unnecessary, and uneconomic.
With this in mind, and not overlooking the urgent necessity for action, I definitely advocate a limited application of the powers conferred by Parts IV. and XII. of the Defence Act, so as to provide ourselves, as soon as possible, with a citizen force of 200,000 men, including trained reserves. This force should receive the maximum of training as quickly as possible, having regard to the just claims of the civil community, so as to establish firmly the reserve against contingencies. The training would have to be much in excess of 36 days of eight hours spread over three years as at present. It would also be necessary to ensure that men were carefully allotted to duties for which they were best fitted, that key-men were not taken .from vital industries, or square pegs jammed into round holes.
– Who -would determine that?
– I should say permanent officers.
– A good number would be claiming that they were. square pegs.
– I admit that.
A force thus trained and organized would be of great tactical and strategical value and would be well-fitted for frontline work. In numbers it would be sufficient to complete our -present seven skeleton divisions, and, at the same time, furnish lines of communication troops and reinforcements to replace initial casualties. Yet there is still something further to be done to improve the measures for defence. There should be some system of registration of the remainder of the people, so that in a national emergency every able-bodied person would have a definite task assigned to him or her. Men of a military age, not called up for service with the citizen force, plus women and youths, where suitably located, should be given instruction in what could be done locally in case of bombing or gas attacks, in assisting the collection and transmission of information, in supply and transport work, in first-aid, and in nursing and hospital duties.
I trust that it has been understood that I have been dealing with the problem of home defence only, and that the real and primary issue is the recognition of a universal obligation to undergo naval and military training for the sole purpose of fitting the individual to aid in the protection of his country against invasion.
I am content to disregard the bogy of conscription for service abroad which is so often trotted out for political purposes.
– The honorable senator does not believe in conscription for service overseas?
– No. I have already said that I favour universal service for home defence.
I regret to say that any attempt to raise and train effectively the 200,000 men I have mentioned would be futile unless certain preparatory measures were at once undertaken. First, it is imperative that the planning and directing force - the Australian Staff Corps - be considerably expanded. At present it is too weak numerically to cope with the extra work that would be entailed. At this juncture, I should like to say that the action taken by a Labour government in 1911 to establish the Royal Military College was fully justified. Its graduates have performed great service for Australia, and we can look to the future with confidence, knowing that we have a highlytrained and experienced corps of officers capable of putting into execution any reasonable plans for our defence. Secondly, preparatory measures must be taken to secure through the Staff Corps the instructors necessary to undertake the groundwork of the training of the citizen force army. Thirdly, we should have the necessary equipment to mechanize the force completely. This would have the effect of increasing the tactical power while at the same time conserving manpower. There would also be the great need to provide .additional and easily accessible facilities for training leaders. Finally, we must have permanent cadres in order to afford standards and stiffening for the lesser-trained units. All these factors mentioned arc vital; but we must travel beyond that goal. I say, without.’ hesitation, that with any real scheme of national defence, capable of withstanding a test, there must be an active policy designed to improve the standard of public well-being. By that I mean the operation of some form of semi-compulsory hygiene and physical training, or supervision, entailing improved diet, education and housing. In other words, we must see that the much,talkedof national fitness campaign becomes a living force.
Senator Collings has told us that “Labour does not desire to make £1 of profit out of war.” I am with the honorable gentleman in that sentiment. T know that Labour does not wish to make profit out of war. I know, too, what the working man was capable of when the last call was made upon him, and I feel certain that he is even now prepared to bear his share of the burden should a further need arise.
But as profiteering has been mentioned during the debate on the Government’s defence programme, let me state my own convictions upon this matter. They are that in the last war, manufacturers greatly benefited financially. So did contractors aud shopkeepers. Primary producers gained through the rise of prices brought about by increased demands for their produce. Munition workers in England struck for higher wages while their brothers and former fellow-workers offered their lives in the front trenches for ls. or 2s. per day. Even French and Belgian peasants acquired comparative wealth through the sale, to our own soldiers, of trifling necessaries at exorbitant rates.
The only person who did not profit was the man who fought for us and who, to-day, if he survives, is fearful of another war and prays that it may be averted. To those who still suffer as a result of their patriotic service, and to the relatives who have incurred deprivation, we are this year - 20 years after the war - paying over £7,000,000 towards some mitigation of their sufferings. It is no wonder that the ex-service man is ‘to-day clamouring for a defence policy worthy of the name.
Senator Aylett suggested that we would be lost once an enemy landed on our shores. I ask the honorable gentleman to place a little more reliance upon the stamina of his countrymen. We art not a pusillanimous race, nor should a perusal of the records of the Australian Imperial Force fail to lend encouragement to even the most faint-hearted.
I conclude on this note. The subject upon which I have been speaking is one of the utmost gravity. There is no room in dealing with the solution of our problems for the intrusion of what Senator Collings so aptly termed as “ political indecency.” The utmost resolution must be shown by the nation. If this Parliament, the Government, and the people are determined to do the correct thing we shall be able to proceed along the path of peace and progress without serious hindrance.
Senator DARCEY (Tasmania) [4.54J. - I listened with interest to the speech which has just been delivered by Senator Collett, and I have before me an explanatory statement of the Government’s proposed expenditure on defence. 1 note, also with interest, that the amount of contemplated expenditure is increasing almost from day to day. The Government proposed to expend no less a sum than £24,800,000 in three years, as part of a total expenditure of £43,000,000, but, according to the newly-appointed Minister for Defence (Mr. Street), the probable total expenditure will be £60,000.000. I am not so much concerned about whether Australia is to be provided with battleships or bombers. I am interested in the financial side of the Government’s programme. When first I spoke in this chamber, I directed attention to the important subject of banking and finance, feeling that as there were now fifteen Labour stalwarts in this chamber willing to talk about unemployment and national insurance, I should do well to leave industrial matters to them and keep to the subject of finance.
Honorable senators will recall that 1 criticized severely the orthodox methods adopted by the Lyons Government in connexion with the flotation of loans, instead of utilizing the credit resources of the nation through the Commonwealth Bank. On the occasion referred to, I directed attention to a statement in 1916 by the then Treasurer, Mr. Higgs, in which he described the manner in which loans are floated on the London market. The cost of raising money under the orthodox system was nine times greater than the cost under the system advocated by the Labour party. Honorable gentlemen may also remember that not long ago I addressed a question to the then Leader of the Senate (Senator A. J. McLachlan) relating to the recommendations of the RoYal Commission on the Monetary and Banking Systems, and they will, perhaps, recall that the reply was an evasion, indicating ‘ clearly enough that the Government did not intend to instruct the Commonwealth
Bank to make available credit, free of interest charges, for the needs of the nation; that the Ministry preferred to stick to present obsolete but orthodox methods of raising money and paying 4 per cent, for it, instead of tapping the sources of national credit, lt is now even suggested that, in order to meet our commitments in respect of defence, it may be necessary to float another loan overseas for some portion of the money required. If this is done, we know what will happen. Our experience always has been that money raised overseas through the orthodox channel is expensive. We do not know definitely whether this proposed expenditure of £60,000,000 will be sufficient to provide adequate defence. Why should not the Commonwealth Government exercise its constitutional powers in their entirety? Under the Constitution, the Commonwealth has complete control of finance, and if it wished, it could use the method suggested by the royal commission, that is. to say, it could issue credit through the Commonwealth Bank based on the resources of the nation, thus providing free of interest charges, all the money necessary for the safety of the nation. I doubt that any person in the Commonwealth would object to this proposal. In fact, I consider it to be a national crime for the Government to adhere to orthodox methods of finance. Yesterday, at the Sydney University, I attended a lecture delivered by Dr. Black, under the Rockefeller Foundation. He has just returned from a visit, extending over two years, to Great Britain and Europe, and was in’ England in the September crisis. He gave us a vivid word picture of the state of public feeling in England, and the unpreparedness of the nation for war, which then seemed imminent, telling us of the frantic efforts that were made, on every hand, to prepare underground gasproof bomb shelters. He spoke also of the orthodox financial proposals of the British Government which I contend were directly responsible for the capitulation at Munich a few weeks later.
Since we are living in a dynamic age, it is worse than useless to stick to static and outdated financial methods. On the occasion of my first address in this chamber, I stated that finance is govern- ment and government is finance and that our financial methods would have to be revised in the light of modern developments. I am sure that the figures which I supplied on that occasion startled many honorable senators; so much so as to cause some honorable gentlemen to question their authenticity. But the fact remains that the nation is in urgent need of an enormous volume of credit in order to make effective the Government’s defence programme. The Royal Commission on the Monetary and’ Banking Systems has pointed the way to national salvation, so there is no justification whatever for the Government’s adherence to orthodox methods. I well recall the debates in connexion with the draft Constitution of the Commonwealth, and we know that its sponsors took as their model the Constitution of the United States of America. Thus we have a House of Representatives and a Senate. This chamber was never intended to be a party House. The framers of the Constitution intended that it should be a chamber of review. To this end, they provided for equal representation and equality of voting strength for all States. In the course of time, however, the Senate has become a party chamber.
It has been suggested and, I think, truthfully, that when our consciences are stirred, we are more responsible. Government supporters in this chamber should bear that in mind. They cannot continue indefinitely their support of a government which disregards the vital interests of the nation in such an important matter as finance. Soon the time will come when we shall be compelled to re-organize the banking system of the Commonwealth. Those who take an interest in European affairs are aware that the Government of Germany has not issued a budget since 1935. The same may be said of the Dictatorship, of Italy. We have it on the authority of Dr. Goebbels, the wizard of modern propaganda, that Germany’s rearmament and rehabilitation have been made possible by utilizing the national credit and by the effective control of the profits of industry. In other words, Germany has applied unorthodox methods of finance to meet the extraordinary demands of the nation during the last few years. I am not championing Nazi methods,, but force must be met with force, and force of circumstances will compel other governments, including the Commonwealth Government, to follow Germany’s example of unorthodox finance.
Great Britain is confronted with a very grave financial situation. People there are asking what is going to happen. The national debt is well over £8,000,000,000, and the Government is committed to a defence programme to cost £1,500,000,000, Does any one believe that the taxpayers of Great Britain will be able to meet the interest burden on this huge addition to the national debt ? Honorable senators should give serious thought to the methods by which Australia is to finance its defence programme. Senator Collett has told u3 that to ensure the safety of Australia, wc shall require at least 200,000 trained mcn. Obviously the men must be fully trained and well equipped. Half measures would be worse than useless. This ‘expansion of our defence proposals means a vastly increased defence vote.
From the dawn of history we have evidence of national crises arising from the misuse of the money power. Some leaders of British public opinion are aware of the impending danger in the Mother Country, and have warned the people to prepare for revolutionary changes. Two years ago, Mr. Winston Churchill declared that if the world situation did not improve, Great Britain would experience one of the greatest financial and economic crashes in its history. Mr. Stanley Baldwin and Mr. Lloyd George have said much the same thing-
– Is it not true to say that the economic crisis in Germany some years ago was due to unorthodox finance?
– Herman Bernstein, one of the greatest financial authorities in Europe, has declared that but for the debasement of German currency after the war there would have been no chance for Hitler to rise to power. But I can take honorable senators much further back than that - to 600 B.C., and that surely is far enough - to prove, my case against orthodoxy in finance. The debasement of the currency in the Greek Republic was the cause of grave internal troubles, leading to the downfall of the republic. Later, the debasement of private currency in the Roman Empire had the same result. Gibbon, in his monumental Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, reminds us that unconscionable usury led to the decay of that great empire. Interest rates of 20 per cent, and 25 per cent, were common. In some instances, the rate rose as high as 40 per cent. The situation impelled Cicero to declare that the lending of money at interest was debasing alike to the lender and the borrower; that eventually the borrower became the slave of the lender. In this way, the peoples of the world have, through the centuries, become the slaves of money-lenders and they will continue to be slaves for so long as we adhere to orthodoxy in finance.
Recently, there came into my hand a little pamphlet issued by the Rotary Social Credit Research Committee. I am not a Rotarian, but I have attended a number of Rotary dinners in various centres, and I know that all Rotarians are men standing high in their various professions or businesses. The pamphlet to which I refer deals with the inflationary policy of the Bank of England and shows that in recent years, the number of suicides in England, due to financial anxiety, has increased by 100 per cent. The deflationary policy of the Bank of England was marked by an immediate increase of the number of bankruptcies in a year from 700 to 1,500. During the ten years in which this policy has been in operation, bankruptcies have increased by 600 per cent, and suicides by nearly 100 per cent. We cannot disregard these figures. I am rather shocked to notice honorable senators opposite laughing. I am afraid that we do not take our work sufficiently seriously. I have previously remarked that we are doing the most important and onerous work in which men can engage.
– How does the honorable senator associate suicides with the Bank of England?
– Because men have been ruined mentally and financially by the deflationary policy of that bank. The figures issued by the health authorities- support me in my contention, and their accuracy cannot be” denied. The Bank of England started the deflation. That is the only way in which it could be commenced. We live under a system of credit; 99 per cent, of the business of the world is done on credit. When a man’s overdraft is. called up what can he do? I told honorable senators about a week ago how the bankers took the people down in connexion with the war loans. Unfortunately, that is true, and I have before me a statement by the then Treasurer, Mr. Higgs, which proves it. We have to make laws under which millions of people have to live, and the laws may be good or bad. If they be bad laws, the Parliament is blameworthy; but, whether they be good or bacl, if the people do not obey them, they may be cast into prison. 1 do not appreciate the attitude of honorable senators opposite who laugh at statements made on matters of vital importance to the nation.
– Who is responsible for all this supposed hilarity?
– I have not noticed it.
– I could continue for another half an hour on this subject.
– Now the honorable senator, himself, is laughing.
– The Lyons Government is pledged to orthodox methods of raising loans. I stated last week that, in 1916, R. Nivison and Son, of Threadneedlestreet, London, who underwrote an Australian loan of £4,000,000, charged commission at the rate of £2 7s. Id. per cent. That was the orthodox way of raising money; but, when Sir Denison Miller was Governor of the Commonwealth Bank, the cost of floating a war loan of £38,000,000 was 4s. lOd. per cent. The latter loan was raised by the unorthodox method, and the saving to the taxpayers of Australia amounted to over £700,000. 1 also referred last week to the actions of money sharks in London who were squeezing the last penny out of Australia in interest at a time when its soldiers were up to their knees in the mud of Flanders ou the western front. At the same time, English shipowners, after raising the freight charges on food carried from Argentina to England 900 per cent., refused to send their ships to sea unless the British Government guaranteed to repay the value of the vessels in the event of their loss through submarine attack.
How can honorable senators support a system which is impoverishing the people of Australia ? The Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) visited Western Australia several years ago, when the economic depression had reached its worst stage, to persuade the people of that State not to secede from the Commonwealth. He remarked -
Your principal loss will be the loss of the Commonwealth Bank. If it had not been for the Commonwealth Bank, with the national credit behind it, the private banks would have had to close their doors in this crisis.
And the Prime Minister told the truth. A few weeks later, however, speaking at the Sydney show among his banker friends and supporters, the Prime Minister said -
I stand four-square for the banks. If it had not been for the banks, we would have had no money for unemployment, and no money to carry on the business of the country.
Again, the Prime Minister told the truth. Although be boasted that the Government has complete .control of finance, he has to go cap in hand to the banks for money, and the parties which support him stand for the continuance of the orthodox banking system. It was a disgraceful statement for any man to make. The Prime Minister would perpetuate a financial system which is robbing the taxpayers of Australia. I fail to see how honorable senators can continue to support a government which is so indifferent to the interests of the people.
Orthodox methods of government, especially in regard to finance, will have to go by the board. Britain adhered to orthodox finance and orthodox parliamentary methods until, in the recent international crisis, the Prime Minister of Great Britain brought humiliation upon the greatest Empire of modern times, the Empire upon which the sun never sets. At first, high finance favoured the dictatorship in Germany, because the dictator controlled the minds of millions of people, and high finance had only to deal with the dictator Yet Herr Hitler found that he had to destroy the power of high finance, because no individualor nation could exist without money, and he desired to re-arm Germany. He has now removed the grip which the financiers had on thepeople of that country. According to a statement by Dr. Goebbels, the Minister for War in Germany that country is using the credit of the nation to finance war expenditure. A few months ago, Dr. Goebbels issued the slogan, “ Guns before butter “. When the Finance Minister, Dr. Schacht announced that Germany required a further loan, the Governor of the Bank of England, accompanied by Lord Runciman, proceeded to the United States of America to float a new loan. Was the money required for the purchase of butter? No; the German people have not tasted butter for years. It was sought to enable Germany to purchase the implements of war which have caused Britain to fear it. According to a man who was on the spot, and who lectured yesterday before the League of Nations Union, in the recent international crisis Britain was not ready to fight, but had to knuckle down to Germany. It was stated that it was not Mr. Chamberlain who saved the world from war, but Czechoslovakia, by its magnificent renunciation of territory. Herr Ribbentrop, formerly German Ambassador in London, was informed that if Germany invaded Czechoslovakia, Russia and France would move, and Britain would notdisappoint the Fuhrer. So the crisis was postponed from May to September; but, eventually, it was believed that a thousand German bombers could be flown over London, and that, in the event of war, nothing could prevent the destruction of the city. Britain has not departed from orthodox methods of finance, and is beginning to wonder whether it will be able to pay for its defence. If Australia does not adopt unorthodox methods, it will go the way of all countries which disregard the fact that, in a critical situation, dynamic methods must be employed.
SenatorCOOPER (Queensland) [5.15]. - I bring under the notice of the Senate the serious condition of the pearling industry. This industry, like many other primary industries, has recently experienced difficult times. I think that I am correct in saying that at no period during the last three years has the cost of producing pearlshell been below the price received for the product. Some of the main reasons for the present disastrous position of the industry are low world prices, the high cost of production, the lack of selling organization, the heavy carry-over of stocks, and the under-selling by alien fishing organizations. I draw attention to the everincreasing size of the Japanese pearling fleet which is operating in the Arafura Sea off the northern coast of Australia. That coast is a great distance from the thickly-populated eastern and southern littoral of this continent, and I am afraid that we are apt to forget the outposts of industry situated on the sparsely populated northern coast. The pearling industry, which provides employment in northern Queensland, chiefly Thursday Island, in the Northern Territory and in the northwestern portion of Western Australia, is carried on along a coastline of approximately 3,000 miles. The value of the wealth won from the sea by the industry is great, and in some years a considerable amount of customs revenue has been collected by reason of its activities. The Tariff Board’s report on the pearl shell industry in 1935 shows that the value of the production since 1923-24, when the industry first came into prominence, has been as follows : -
In 1935-36, the production was valued at £240,000. It will be seen that at one period the industry yielded practically £500,000 of new money to Australia. Unfortunately, the value of the industry has gradually dwindled every year since 1929-30, when the peak was reached. Among the causes of the losses are the difficulties under which Australian pearling fleets have to work. They are confronted by ever-increasing competition from Japanese pearlers. When I was in Darwin, I was informed that the Japanese pearling fleet, which is growing each year, is subsidized by the Japanese
Government through the firm of Mitsui and Company. Of the total world production of mother-of-pearl, So per cent, is obtained in Australian waters. The value of that production should be retained to Australia. About 80 per cent, of the world’s supply of mother-of-pearl finds its way to the American market; the remainder is sold at auction in London. Another cause of the losses to Australian fleets is the lack of co-operation between the three chief pearling centres. Prior to 1936, the whole of the Australian supply of mother-of-pearl was marketed by the American firm of brokers, Otto Gerdan and Company, and up to that time those engaged in the industry in Australia did reasonably well. When that organization was broken up, it approached the Japanese pearlers and offered to dispose of their shell in the American market. The offer was accepted, to the advantage of the Japanese pearlers and the detriment of the Australian industry. When I visited those centres, I found that some of the pearlers had asked the Commonwealth. Government to form its own selling organization in New York. That would mean considerable expense in forming an organization which would be in direct competition with brokers who are already in business in the United States of America.’ Moreover, the Commonwealth Government would have no effective control over such an organization. The persons engaged in the pearl-shell industry at Broome, Darwin and Thursday Island would do well to come to an arrangement with the firm which served them so well in the past. I do not think that it is the duty of the Government to form, especially in other countries, organizations over which it would have no effective control.
I shall probably be told that the Australian pearling industry does not employ many Australians. That is true, but we must realize that the industry operates in places which are outposts of this country. Its value should not be assessed merely on the basis of the number of Australians actually engaged. Were it not for the pearling industry, there would be no town and very few white people at all in some of the regions where it now operates. Because of the competition from foreign fleets, those in the industry have asked for an advance on the shell that they have in stock, and also for a bounty, in my opinion, that is not an unreasonable request, particularly when we reflect that both secondary and primary industries in the southern portions of the continent are protected against outside competition. This industry, which gathers wealth from the sea, on isolated parts of the Australian coast, asks only that it be treated on the same basis as other Australian industries. The men in the industry ask for an advance of £S7 a ton against the shell that they have in hand. The present world price of mother-of-pearl is about £110 a ton. Even if the whole of the money advanced were not repaid, the investment would be a good one for Australia, for it would encourage these people to remain in those remote areas. The production of shell in 1933-34 was about 1,500 tons and in 1935-36 a little over 2,000 tons. When the pearlers placed their case before the Tariff Board in 1934-35, they asked for a bounty, but not on the basis of production. A bounty on production is always paid to the persons who are least in need of it. A man who produces a commodity in large quantities is far better off than is the man who produces only small quantities. The report of the Tariff Board contained an admirable suggestion, namely, that the Commonwealth Government should pay a bounty of £100 a year for each diver unit. That meant that, if the vessel were not actually in service, the bounty would not be paid. It would have, encouraged the production of shell, and ensured that the money would be paid to those who were most deserving of it. Although the Tariff Board did not condemn the proposal outright, that body was not entirely in favour of it. On page 5 of its report the board stated -
The bounty requested by the Brooms pearlers would be unduly costly to the Commonwealth if the price of shell remained low. The request was for £100 per divine unit. The return of shell at Broome was estimated at 7i tons per unit per annum. Higher returns are obtainable at Port Darwin and Thursday Island, but if it be assumed that the average return for the Commonwealth be as high as 12 tons ner unit per annum, IBO units would be required to raise the normal output of 2,000 tons per annum. The cost of the bounty in these circumstances would be £10,000 per annum. If the price of shell increased by £20 per ton, the bounty would still cost £8,000 per annum.
As we are now dealing with the expenditure of millions of pounds on defence, and numerous other activities, I cannot conceive why the Government should quibble about granting assistance amounting to not more than £16,000, in order to keep in existence our pearling fleets, which are Virtually holding 3,000 miles of coastline in the north of Australia. Should the price of shell rise to £20 a ton, as the Tariff Board points out, the industry would require only £8,000 per annum. That is a very small amount in view of the very great advantages which would be obtained in return for it. In 1935-36, 215 boats were engaged in fishing for pearl shell, trochus shell and bechedemer, these boats being distributed as follows : - Queensland, operating from Thursday Island, 98; “Western Australia, operating from Broome, S7 ; and Northern Territory, operating from Darwin, 30. Each boat is manned by a crew of approximately ten men. As an example of the conditions in this industry, this year one large operating company working from Thursday Island with a fleet of fifteen boats, has found it necessary, owing to the heavy unsold stocks held and the low price of shell on the world’s markets, to put nine vessels out of commission, because it is unprofitable to man them. This is a fair example of the whole of the industry. “When I was in Darwin a few months ago, I was informed on very sound authority that 200 Japanese luggers, as well as their mother ships, which received the shell and carried supplies, were operating in the Arafura Sea with a base at Melville Island. Each lugger is manned by a purely Japanese crew of ten men, making a total of 2,000 trained men engaged in these operations. The fact that so strong a fleet of Japanese luggers i3 operating within practically one day’s sail, or less, of Darwin makes us consider very carefully the necessity for encouraging the expansion of our own pearling fleets in northern waters. The Japanese operate at a tremendous advantage over Australian fleets, because their craft are better equipped at less cost. The equipment of their boats, including engine, ropes and gear, can be purchased much more cheaply in Japan than in any market available to Australian pearlers. I point out that the report of the Tariff Board in 1935, page 9, stated -
This comparison showed that the prices of many of the local products, such as rice, diver’s hose, underclothing, Sue., were approximately equal to the landed duty paid costs of the imported. This is not to be wondered at when it is realized that Broome is so far removed from the centres of Australian production. Australian-grown rice, for example, needs to be transported from Leeton, nearly 400 miles by rail, 2,450 miles by interstate boat, and 1,400 miles by coastal vessel to reach Broome, whereas but for the duty it could be obtained from Singapore, 1,700 miles distant-
From Broome to Darwin would be about another 1,000 miles.
Imported rice can be landed into store duty free at a cost of £10 lis. 9d. per ton compared with a cost of £25 13s. 4d. for Australian rice.
I might add that rice is even dearer now than it was in 1935. Thus, in every way Australian pearlers are obliged to work under very great handicaps. They are thousands of miles from the markets in which they must purchase their requirements, including foodstuffs, with the result that high transport costs must be added to purchase prices. They are compelled to compete at a very great disadvantage, therefore, with the Japanese who operate practically in the same waters. I urge the Government to inquire into this matter very carefully. I repeat that the assistance required is practically negligible, whereas the encouragement ‘ of our pearling fleets would prove a very good investment, economically and also from a defence standpoint. When the Minister for the Interior (Mr. McEwen) visited the territory, he was interviewed at Darwin and Broome by representatives of the pearlers, who asked for assistance for the industry. Pie was unable to interview the pearlers at Thursday Island. As far back as the 31st October, I received a letter from the Department of Commerce, stating that a certain sum had been allocated to these pearling centres in order to provide advances against shell held in storage, and I forwarded that information to the different organizations of pearlers. However, on the 26th
November, I received the following letter from Mr. V.’ I. Clark, a pearler at Darwin : -
Dear Mr. Cooper,
Yours of the 3 J st October reached me last week, and I heartily thank you for your kind interest in our affairs.
I am very disappointed to report that, to date, nothing has been done re making advances to us against our shell.
The position, owing to the delay in granting us assistance, has grown steadily worse and 1, for one, am on my last legs and when the season ends in ten days’ time will be unable to pay my men. I du not know what is the Government’s idea in promising us assistance that never materialized, for we have relied on the Government keeping its word and would have been better off had assistance been refused straight away.
I have not had an opportunity to’ forward that letter to the Minister, but I intend to do so as soon as possible. 3 cannot understand how, after it was advised in October that funds had been made available for the granting of advances in respect to shell held in storage, no such assistance had been provided. If the Government intends to assist this industry, it should act immediately.
– Was not a grant made to the pearling industry some years ago?
– Yes, but that grant was made on a production basis and not on a unit basis, with the result that the companies producing most of the shell, but really the least in need of assistance, got most of the money, whereas the pearlers, who had had a bad time, received very little aid. I do not wish to labour this subject, but it is at least worth emphasizing that this industry, which was completely controlled by Australians some years ago, is now dominated by boats manned and owned by aliens. It is futile to expect Australians engaged in pearling to compete successfully in an open market, without any assistance by way of bounties or cash advances, with foreign subsidized pearlers whose operating costs are much lower. Those controlling the 200 well-equipped boats now off Melville Island, which is their bare, will no doubt, within a year or two, increase their fleets considerably. Even if an expenditure of from £8,000 to (616,000 a year were incurred, the cost would be relatively small when we remem ber that these pearlers patrol, at least to some degree, a large portion of our northern and north-western coasts. I earnestly ask the Government to consider the position very carefully with a view to giving some definite financial assistance at once in order to enable these men to continue their business which, in the past, they have conducted heroically. Although the Broome pearlers lost more than onehalf of their boats during a cyclone several years ago, they are still carrying on their important work far removed from the conveniences which civilization has to offer. We are prone to forget the valuable work being performed by these staunch mon in a distant part of Australia.
– I regret that Senator Darcey is temporarily absent from the chamber, because I wish to refer to some statements he made this afternoon. He was under the impression that some honorable senators on this side of the chamber were laughing at him when he was speaking; but I assure the honorable senator that we were not. I believe that in expressing the opinions which he does on finance he is in deadly earnest, but he will have to agree to disagree with honorable senators on this side* of the chamber. He informed us that all the members of the Labour party are’ behind him in. the financial reform which he advocates. I should like to know if that is the case.
– He did not say how far they are behind him.
– No. I do not think for a moment that they are. I know that he believes in the opinion* which he expresses on finance, but I am certain that all the members of the Labour party do not support him. ‘ Mr. Theodore, when Treasurer of the Commonwealth, said that as currency is depreciated the purchasing power of money decreases. If money has only onehalf of its nominal value the prices of food and services are doubled.
– Community control of credit is a plank of the Labour party’s platform.
– I am merely stating that Mr. Theodore, when a member of the Labour party, stated in the House of Representatives that as the value of money is reduced its purchasing power is also reduced. That being so, £1 could be worth 10s., 5s., 2s., or even ls. When in Germany in 1924, after paying at an hotel - I did not go to the worst - I received in change, five billion marks, representing about 2s. Such a state of affairs would exist here if Senator Darcey’s financial proposals were brought into operation. 1 shall give Senator Darcey a simple sum in arithmetic, but, before doing so, I would suggest that he has made a great mistake in becoming a member of this chamber. He should be organizing not the Senate, but the workers of Australia. If he could establish a bank by inducing 2,000,000 workers each to-deposit £1, he would have a capital of £2,000,000. If, as he says, banks lend ten times the amount of their deposits, he will be able to lend £20,000,000.
– Not cash, but credit. I have said so a dozen times.
– If I deposit £1,000 in a bank, the bank gives me 2£ per cent, interest, or £25. The honorable senator says that the hank could then lend £10,000, or ten times the value of my deposit, at 5 per cent.-
– It could make that amount of credit available.
– Call it credit if you like. It could lend £10,000, for which it charges 5 per cent., which would return to the bank £500 per annum. Does Senator Darcey contend that the bank could make £500 per annum out of the £1,000 which I deposited at 2£ per cent.?’ Surely he does not mean that?
– If that is the case, the bank could borrow at 5 per cent, and lend at 1 per cent, and still make a profit, which is absurd.
– The honorable senator is confusing money with credit.
– The honorable senator admits that a bank could lend £10,000 at 5 per cent, for which it would receive £500 pei annum; but if a bank could make £500 out of every £1,000 deposited it should pay a dividend of 50 per cent, instead of 10 per cent.
– It is all credit.
– It is not all actual cash, but the bank gets its £500 just the same. Senator Darcey should establish a bank of his own. He has only to obtain £1 from each of 2,000,000 workers and he will have a capital of £2,000,000, equal to the original capital of the Commonwealth Bank. The opportunities are tremendous. Senator Darcey and those who support him - I believe that there are only one or two - should go into the business immediately. There is nothing in the world to prevent them from doing so. All they have to do is to have the capital and give to the Commonwealth the necessary guarantee.
– If the banks will not clear your cheques, one cannot start.
– The honorable senator could smother all other banks by paying 5 per cent, to depositors and lending at 1 per cent. Instead of spending his time in the Senate, he should be instructing the workers of the community in the advantages of his financial system.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– I wish to refer to the remarkable speech delivered . by the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) last week in support of unification.
Mr. Scullin, who deservedly stands high in the estimation, of not only members of the Labour party, but also the people of Australia, has advocated a tremendous increase of the constitutional powers of the Commonwealth Parliament; he has advocated, in fact, that effect be given to the Labour party’s mischievous policy of unification.
– In what way is it mischievous ?
– It is mischievous because it is opposed to the wishes of a majority of the people in, I believe, a majority of the States. If adopted it would mean the abolition of State parliaments and State governments. That Mr. Scullin made his meaning quite clear will be seen from a perusal of his speech, as reported in Hansard of the 18th November.
– He merely advocated what was promised to the people at the inception of federation.
– That is not so. The smaller States were induced to accept the Constitution by a definite promise that the powers and functions of the State parliaments could not be interfered with.
– Federation meant the abolition of State parliaments.
– Not at all. The people were told that federation would mean little more than the creation of a National Council of Defence, the cost of which would not exceed the annual charge for a dog licence. No one anticipated, at that time, that the Commonwealth Government would more and more seek to acquire power, and to subordinate the States to its will. No one dreamed that one day we should be faced with the dire threat of a policy of unification. In his speech Mr. Scullin said -
I wish to give the people an opportunity to elect one Parliament for Australia. If given that opportunity I believe they will accept it.
I entirely disagree with the right honorable gentleman. I am one of those who believe that the closer we can keep the Government to the people the better it will be for all concerned. Only in this way can we be sure that Government expenditure will be closely scrutinized and the wishes of the people observed. I do not think that the majority of the people of any State, even the States of New South Wales and Victoria, would benefit from unification in the way and to the extent suggested. They would not, I am sure, approve of the transfer of control from State parliaments in State capitals to a central government at Canberra. Unification would mean ruin to Western Australia. Nor do I think that the people of Tasmania and South Australia would approve of the strengthening of Commonwealth financial power leading to domination of the States, by a greedy central government.
– Without Commonwealth grants the claimant States would be put out of business.
– Commonwealth grants to the State are merely repayments of State moneys burglariously secured by the Commonwealth. The claimant States pay tenfold for every grant that is granted for them by the Commonwealth.
– Can the honorable senator point to any item of revenue of which the States have been improperly deprived ?
– Certainly. The convention which approved the final draft of the Constitution considered, and very nearly accepted, a proposal that for all time three-fourths of the customs and excise revenue would be returned to the States. The compromise provision in the Constitution dealing with this matter was the greatest blunder that could have been perpetrated. Then there is the overlapping of federal land and income taxes.
– I thought that the people of Western Australia wanted freetrade.
– They wanted the right to buy from people to whom they sold their products. That, too, is the present-day opinion in that State. We wish to buy in markets which take our primary products; failing those markets, we prefer to buy in the Western Australian market which, I may inform honorable senators, is daily becoming more important owing to the gradual development of infant secondary industries despite the evil effects of dumping by manufacturers in the eastern States.
– On other occasions the honorable senator has told us that the Western Australian market was too small to support secondary industries.
– No. It has been a small market, but it is improving; the people of Western Australia are no longer tied to the manufacturing industries in the ecomomic monstrosities known as Melbourne and Sydney. Mr. Scullin concluded his speech with these words -
With one parliament we should march forward as one people to higher and greater achievements.
The peroration was merely a nice platitude. I admire Mr. Scullin as a phrase maker.
– His view is supported by the Prime Minister .and Mr. Menzies.
– During the dinner adjournmentI read the statement made by the Prime Minister to the newspapers on the suggestion made by Mr. Scullin, and I was struck with the fact that, as a representative of one of the smaller States, the right honorable gentleman was strictly non-committal. The same report of the Prime Minister’s statement was expressed by the Perth Sunday Times in the last issue to reach the Parliamentary Library. The article dealing with Mr. Scullin’s proposal bears a heading -
Prime Minister Lyons Non -committal.
Those headings very correctly sum up the attitude of the Prime Minister. I give the right honorable gentleman credit for astuteness in declining to walk into the trap that was so nicely set for him. Any suggestion to increase the power of the Commonwealth Parliament is of course, popular in Canberra ; so it is to the credit of the Prime Minister that he was entirely non-committal. The effect of the proposal would be to give to the central parliament at Canberra control of primary industries in distant States with sparse populations engaged in pioneering new country, and control over mining and timber industries as well as dairying and pastoral activities. Western Australia has a population of only 460,000 people, in control of an area comprising nearly one-third of the Commonwealth.
– Federation has definitely retarded the development of Western Australia in every direction. Through the tariff the Commonwealth Government has placed a heavy burden on our primary industries. In fact it has driven hundreds, if not thousands of people, off the land. The recent tremendous and gratifying increase of the price of gold, which to-day, is higher in terms of sterling than it has ever been, alone has revived the gold-mining industry in Western Australia to the great benefit of all the people there. Gold mining has revived in spite of the manifest disabilities imposed on it by the Commonwealth tariff policy.
– What does the honorable senator say about stabilization of wheat prices as an act of federal policy ?
– That proposal is the one bright spot in a very murky federal atmosphere. It is no exaggeration to say that the 460,000 people of Western Australia are the busiest community dependent on primary producers in the world. Our exports per head of population are more than double the Australian average.
– The honorable senator is not doing justice to his own State.
– I am endeavouring to do full justice to it. If successive Commonwealth Governments had, during the last three decades, done justice to Western Australia, its population would to-day be nearer 1,000,000 than a mere 460,000. From a defence standpoint that increase of population would have been very important. I admit candidly that the development of such a huge area is almost more than the people of Western Australia can do without Commonwealth assistance. But a solution of our problem lies not in unification and government from Canberra. It is to be found in proposals to strengthen and support financially the State Government in the task which lies before it.
– When we advocated decentralization in connexion with defence expenditure, the honorable senator voted against us.
– I have never voted against decentralization in this or any other Parliament. I have always stood for that principle and have always been against unification, which would mean disaster for primary industries in the outlying States. The people in those States would then be at the tender mercy of a bureaucracy at Canberra and a central parliament, the majority of whose members are drawn from New South Wales and Victoria. It would spell ruin to Western Australia and the outlying portions of this great Commonwealth, of which we ought to be proud. When I read Mr. Scullin’s speech, in which he advocated unification and the abolition of State parliaments, I could not help wondering why the Labour party always wishes to abolish Houses of Parliament, and .particularly second chambers of proved worth to the whole of the people. In this Parliament the party opposite aims at the abolition of the Senate, although I absolve any member of the Opposition of desiring to see that change introduced during the next six years. We hear members of the Opposition advocating the abolition of the Senate at every opportunity, including annual picnics of railway employees and other gatherings where people congregate in large numbers, despite the fact that the Senate is the more representative and more democratically elected of the two branches of this Parliament. Broad-based as it is on the votes of the whole of the people of the States, it will last as long as Australia endures. In the State arena, the Labour party seeks the abolition of’ the Upper Houses, which afford protection to every householder, every home-builder and every person of thrift. That party has actually succeeded in abolishing the Upper House in Queensland to the dismay and regret, of the great majority of the people of that wealthy State. I do not consider that any State less wealthy than Queensland could have recovered from the effect of that action. Mr. Scullin desires unification, further subordination of the States, and actual abolition by attrition of the parliaments and governments ot the States. Of course, Mr. Scullin is one of the leaders of a unificationist- party, since unification is one of the planks of its platform, and he was entirely justified, as a Labour leader, in bringing forward proposals which . represent the pledged policy of that party. I point out, however, that it is not usual for a major policy advocated by Opposition leaders and Labour ex-Prime Ministers to be so quickly approved by members of the government of the day as has happened in this instance. Some honorable gentlemen in the Ministry, and associated with parties whose platforms express no desire for unification, seemed to jump at the idea of extending the powers of the Commonwealth as soon as it was suggested by Mr. Scullin. It is true that the Prime Minis- ter (Mr. Lyons), who represents the small and comparatively weak State of Tasmania, did not rush in to applaud the proposal for unification and the grasping of further power by the rich and wealthy eastern States which control the Government and the Parliament at Canberra. Ho was most non-committal in his remarks on this subject, and I applaud him for that fact. It is a tribute to his real sense of national leadership that he did not fall in with others behind Mr. Scullin in this matter.
– There are two wealthy eastern States.
– There are three, and probably the wealthiest potentially, considering its area and resources, is that which Senator Crawford so energetically represents in this chamber. I recall that Professor Griffith Taylor, in an interesting work entitled The Future of Australia, suggested that in the long run, Queensland would be the most populous of the six States.
The Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies), who represents an exclusive Victorian metropolitan constituency, promptly supported some, at least, of Mr. Scullin’s suggestions for greater federal powers, and for a constitution session next year to consider what those powers should be. In a brilliant speech in the House of Representatives on the 22nd November last - and it is significant that, whilst the Prime Minister was non-committal in his remarks to the press, the AttorneyGeneral spoke emphatically to the Parliament - the Attorney-General set out the necessity for an extension of the Commonwealth’s powers, and pointed to important directions in which he thought that there was real necessity for the granting of those increased powers immediately. Certainly, he did not specifically support unification, but he referred to eight important directions in which he contended that the powers of the Commonwealth should be made paramount, and, inferentially, those of the parliaments of the States relegated to comparative obscurity. The matters which he mentioned were “the following : -
Transport might mean anything from roads, railways and motor traffic down to the good old spring cart of the farmer. The Attorney-General did not say whether agriculture embraced the great work of land settlement, which has been conducted at tremendous expense by several of the States.
– The AttorneyGeneral means marketing only.
– He did not say so. I do not enjoy the confidence of the Minister in that regard. I do not know what the full interpretation of the eight points would be, but I think that they could easily be interpreted on lines which would leave to the governments of the States very little except the administration of certain departments which undertake large expenditures, such as those dealing with education, the police, the administration of justice, the granting of assistance to settlers and the relief of unemployment. The eight points mentioned could be enlarged in directions which would enable them to go a long way towards fulfilling Mr. Scullin’sdesire for unification. These domestic departments of the States, which cost much money to maintain, would, of course, be left to the States, according to the view of the Attorney-General. I have no opportunity now to follow his arguments in detail, but however interpreted, those points would make serious inroads upon the authority of the parliaments and governments of the States. It is worthy of notice, however, that the AttorneyGeneral, when Acting Premier of Victoria in 1934. was entirely opposed to unification. He then said -
Under federation, which is designed to preserve the balance of power between central and local government, we have the best hope for the development of Australia.
With that sentiment, I am entirely in accord. We should endeavour to restore that balance, and the States should be placed in a position of greater financial independence and security than they have enjoyed since the passage of the FinancialAgreement, which I opposed both in the Parliament of Western Australia and when the referendum of the people was taken in regard to the matter.I then saidthat the Financial Agreement would mean financial unification, and it has proved to be even worse financial unification than was forecast at that time. I recall the proposals made by Mr. Bruce when he was Prime Minister that the Commonwealth Government should evacuate the fields of income and land taxation and leave them entirely to the States. It is, of course, doubtful if the Treasurer of the Commonwealth (Mr. Casey) could afford to give effect to that proposal in the somewhat different circumstances obtaining to-day. Even if the circumstances had not altered, we all know that the Commonwealth Government never has given up, and never will voluntarily give up, any financial or other power which it has been able to extract from the States. Therefore, I warn this Government that it will not obtain from the people of the smaller States at a referendum the power to make any changes involving unification. It was Mr. Scullin’s speech in complete favour of unification that brought the AttorneyGeneral’s proposals to the surface.
Under the Constitution, the Government has complete power in relation to defence. Under the Financial Agreement it can raise all the moneys required for defence purposes, without consulting the Loan Council, and the serious position of Australia to-day in regard to defence must not be used for the purpose of foisting on the Commonwealth the Labour party’s policy of unification. The consideration by this Parliament of amendments to the Constitution could take place next March or whenever desired by the Government. I think, however, that it would probably be preferable to hold a constitution convention at which each State should have equal representation, as was the case when the original Constitution was drafted. We certainly should not have the sort of convention which was offered by the Prime Minister when he visited Western Australia on the occasion of the secession referendum. He told the people of that State that if they voted “no.” a constitution convention would he summoned, but the people voted “ yes “ by a majority of two to one. After the vote had been taken, a proposal for a convention was brought forward in Canberra. The Government said “ We shall have a convention, and we shall appoint three representatives from each of the six States. Then the Commonwealth will appoint eighteen representatives, and there will be a total of 36.” The people of the States howled down the suggestion. The original Constitution was framed by an equal number of representatives from each of- the six States.
– And they were not necessarily politicians.
– In most of the States the representatives were elected by the open vote of the people. In Western Australia they were selected by the State Parliament. If we are to have amendments of the Constitution, they should be decided by a convention at which each State would have equal representation. In my opinion, the Commonwealth, being the creation of the States, should not have any separate representation at all. The proposal that the Commonwealth should appoint eighteen delegates to a convention, and each of the States three delegates, was so absurd that once it was put forward nothing more was heard of it. We do not want that sort of a convention. I doubt whether this Parliament, constituted as it is at present, is the proper body to draw up alterations of the Constitution. When we recall that Sydney, including Parramatta, has fifteen members, and Melbourne ten members, in the House of Representatives, whilst Tasmania and Western Australia, which had equal representation with the other States at the original convention, have only five members each, it seems unlikely that this Parliament would draft alterations which would meet the requirements of the primary producers in States like Western Australia, Tasmania and South Australia.
– That anomaly could be remedied.
– I stand as an uncompromising opponent of Mr. Scullin’s unific ideas, which would spell ruin to Western Australia, and to the industries and people in the outlying parts of the Commonwealth. 1 am confident that any proposals in the direction of unification which may be submitted to the people will be rejected by them. Particularly will that be so in South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania. Thank goodness, the Constitution cannot be altered unless not only a majority of the people of Australia, but also a majority of the States, favour the alteration ! Surely the Government has learned some lesson from the referendums on marketing and aviation. The proposals then submitted to the people were defeated, notwithstanding that they had the support of most of the members on this side of the House and practically all the States. I deplore the defeat of those proposals, but I am confident that’ their defeat was as nothing to the overwhelming defeat that would face any suggestion for alterations of the Constitution in the direction of unification. Practically nothing connected with the development of primary industries that the Commonwealth could take over from the States could not he done with greater knowledge and more efficiently and economically by the State governments concerned. Particularly would that be the case if the States had financial stability. In that direction they should be assisted. The closer the government is kept to the people, the better. The more the power that is placed in the hands of a few the easier it is for that power to be abused, and the easier it is for some form of Fascism to gain control. We in this free democratic country do not want anything of that kind to occur, but it could occur after the State parliaments had been destroyed, and control was left in the hands of a few people in Canberra. I should like the AttorneyGeneral to say why the Commonwealth Government does not exercise the power it has under the Constitution to act in the interests of the people, . before making Mr. Scullin’s speech the excuse for grasping further powers in directions which were not foreseen by the great men who framed the Constitution. The Commonwealth has the power to legislate for marriage and divorce. In that direction unified legislation, particularly on the vexed question of domicile, would be of considerable value to the people of the Commonwealth. In respect of that matter, which has been specifically entrusted to the Commonwealth under the Constitution, the Government takes no action; instead, it reaches out for further new powers at the expense of the States.
I opposed the legislation for a scheme of national insurance on the ground that it would place on the people engaged in primary industries a burden which they should not be asked to bear, particularly in this period of adverse climatic conditions and depressed prices for wheat, wool and other primary products. I doubt whether that measure would have become law had it come before this chamber after the numerical strength of the Labour party was increased on the 1st July. The action of the Government in rushing that legislation through the Senate on the votes of men who had been defeated at the poll nearly eight mouths earlier was wrong, as well as undemocratic. I opposed that bill, and shall continue to oppose such legislation as long as farmers, graziers and other producers receive no benefit from it. People engaged in agricultural and pastoral pursuits throughout the Commonwealth will have to pay, both directly and indirectly, for the insurance of others, whilst they themselves will be excluded from any of the benefits under the scheme. In this connexion, I should like to know what has become of the supplementary legislation which was promised last session for the benefit of these and other selfemployed persons. As the Christmas recess is approaching, it is time that we heard something of the Government’s intention regarding that proposed legislation, the promise of which enabled the bill then before the House of Representatives to pass through that chamber. According to the budget, contributions by the public towards national insurance will be £5,500,000 for the first six months of its operation. The charge on the Treasury for that period has been estimated at £1,100,000, but since that estimate was made a further £466,000 was voted under a supplementary measure.. It is clear from these figures that’ national insurance will be a charge on the budget and on industry amounting to about £13,000,000 a year. Since the Government succumbed to the blandishments of Sir Walter Kinnear, and put his bill through the legislature, the necessity for largely increased expenditure on defence has been made manifest to the people of Australia. It has been stated officially that the defence expenditure for next year will exceed £20,000,000. Commitments of that magnitude were not foreseen when the national insurance legislation was before the Parliament. In the circumstances, the Government should either repeal the act, or postpone its operation until economic conditions improve and commodity prices are restored to their former level. With that legislation out of the way, for the time being at least, the Government could concentrate all available funds for providing for the defence of Australia. At present no section of the community wants this particular scheme of national insurance. In my opinion, the cost will be more than industry can bear under existing conditions. If the scheme be not discarded, I suggest that its operation be postponed for at least a couple of years. It is nobody’s darling.
In conclusion, I entirely support the Government’s present active defence policy. In this connexion I compliment Senator Collett on the excellent speech that he made to-day. The most vital duty of the Federal Government is to protect Australia and its people against aggression. Defence is largely a matter for experts. In Senator Collett the country has an expert who, in a voluntary capacity, has devoted his whole life to defence matters. The defence of Australia is of paramount importance.
.- During my life I have listened to many speeches on a variety of subjects, but it remained for Senator Johnston to make one of the most amazing utterances that I have ever heard from a representative of the people in the National Parliament. As a basis for an attack on 90 per cent, of the electors of the Commonwealth who desire unification, the honorable senator quoted from a speech by Mr. Scullin, a former Prime Minister, and referred to the platform of the Labour party. While the honorable senator was speaking, I interjected that his proper place is not in the Federal Parliament. When I reflect on what has been done by the Commonwealth for his State, I can only say that his criticism of the Commonwealth this evening ill becomes him.
– The Senate is a States House.
– Practically from the inception of federation, Western Australia has relied on the Commonwealth. Within a day or two we shall probably have before us for endorsement legislation to help a Western Australian industry. On top of that, the honorable senator has made a request on behalf of the Government of Western Australia for a further £100,000. He is forgetting the gold bonus which this Parliament presented to the people of Western Australia, thereby making possible the resuscitation of the gold-mining industry in that State. The honorable senator knows that at the time of the enactment of that legislation in which he took an active and honorable part, the mining industry in Western Australia was in difficulties. Since then as much as £6,500,000 has been invested in the industry, with the result that unemployment in that State is now les: acute than that in any other State. If this Parliament is to be in fact, as well as in name, a national parliament, the natural corollary is that the State Parliaments shall be abolished. Before this Parliament could do one thing to help the wheat industry, for instance, eleven Houses of Parliament throughout the Commonwealth had to be consulted, and each of those Houses had to pass contingent legislation. The urgency of assisting our primary producers has been obvious for many months past, but because we stupidly maintain eleven Houses of Parliament in the States, this National Parliament is dependent on action being taken by those eleven chambers. I remind honorable senators from the smaller States, that this Parliament has made colossal grants to those States, and rightly so. This Parliament has always shown its readiness to assist States which were in need, and to legislate for the benefit of their industries.’ For the benefit of South Australia we have provided the wine bounty and assistance to the iron industry; in Western Australia we have assisted the gold- mining industry and the wheat-growers; and, in respect of Tasmania, we have given assistance to the apple and pear industry, and have subsidized the establishment of a shipping line, and laid a special cable between that State and the mainland. This Parliament has done everything in its power to assist the smaller States. The Labour party believes that the abolition of State Parliaments is a natural corollary of the proper functioning of the National Parliament. The abolition of State Parliaments does not imply any weakening of the representation of the people. If the Parliament of Western Australia, for instance, were abolished, the number of senators from that State would not be limited to six, nor would the representation of that State in the House of Representatives remain at its present strength. Furthermore, local councils would be established to carry on the work of local government, which is now largely carried out by State Parliaments.
– We prefer to retain State Parliaments in preference to a system of that kind.
– In this National Parliament we have the responsibility of legislating for Australia as a nation, and the representatives of Western Australia and of the other smaller States have a responsibility equally with the representatives of the other States, to co-operate in an endeavour to mould a policy that would give effect to the aspirations of the Australian people. The honorable senator referred to the speeches on constitutional reform made recently by Mr. Scullin, the present Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies), and the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons). I do not think that by any strength of the imagination, Mr. Menzies could be claimed to be a Labour man. It is significant that the press and the thinking people of this country favour the elimination of the existing eleven vexatious Houses of Parliament in the States, which to-day prevent any Australian policy from being evolved in respect of urgent problems confronting this country. In this connexion let me mention, for instance, industry. All parties in this Parliament are of one mind that this National Government should have complete control in the industrial sphere. However, if I or any other member of the Parliament wishes to discuss the introduction of a 40-hour week we are told that that is a measure over which the States have control. When- the measure is referred to the States, we are informed that the question is one for decision by the National Parliament. In respect of taxation a similar position exists, simply because we have superimposed upon this Parliament an army of politicians greater than that supported by any other country in the world. To-day 700 politicians in this country are messing around, and involving Australia in a muddle that becomes greater as time goes on. 1 have no doubt that so soon as all members of this Parliament go to the country in support of unification, we shall witness hundreds of members in all of the State Parliaments, including representatives of all parties, opposing the proposal. There can oe no doubt that Australia is over-governed. Senator Johnston is opposed to unification, but I suggest that, if he endeavours to make an issue of this question at the next elections, he will need to make a, better hand of it than he did of the secession issue; otherwise he will not bo a member of the Senate after the next elections.
The Opposition agrees with the honorable senator’s criticism of the Government’s national insurance scheme. We, of the Opposition, believe that national insurance is necessary, and I believe that if the Government had accepted a more opportune time to enact this legislation and had included in it provision for unemployment insurance, it would have drawn many of the teeth of the Opposition. That legislation, however, will never be effectively implemented; yet a postponement of national insurance on a proper basis would be calamitous. Certain rumours are now. in circulation that, because of the financial features of the Government’s scheme, it will never be implemented. Even the supporters of this Government do not wish to see this scheme in operation. It is an impossible scheme and, I repeat, the Government will never apply it. I was glad to hear Senator Johnston affirm that any move to repeal this legislation will have his support, but I hope that if any action to that end is taken by the Opposition the honorable senator will give to it greater support than he gave to our adjournment motion last week in respect of - unemployment. I say emphatically that this country is in a parlous condition, and I. am no Jonah. Annually, we must send abroad £20,000,000 in order to meet our interest bill, win, lose or draw. It does not matter whether there are 100,000 unemployed in this country, or whether we have to find nearly £50,000,000 for our defence requirements, or whether we are obliged to find £30,000,000 a year to maintain our social services - no matter how great our obligations may be in any of these directions, we must find £2,000,000 a month in order to meet our overseas interest bill in respect of money lent to us for works and not always wisely expended. No provision is made in these Estimates to provide work for one unemployed man. I know that the Minister will say that ive have to meet a colossal defence programme; that programme is so colossal and of such long range that it is nearly out of sight. Already we have had four ministerial statements, including two from the exPostmasterGeneral, of the Government’s intentions to provide liberal amounts for work for the unemployed. The amount of real work which will be provided for our unemployed under this programme is obvious to any honorable senator. Only this afternoon the [Leader of the Senate (Senator McLeay) stated that as a means to provide relief for these unfortunate people at Christmas, certain defence work is being planned. He mentioned an amount of £5,000 to be expended in New South Wales, and also touched upon the skeleton plans of work to be undertaken in Victoria and the other States in order that the unemployed might be tided over the Christmas period. The provision proposed is entirely inadequate for that purpose. This Government has failed to tackle the problem of unemployment. Some years ago that problem was admitted to be the responsibility of the National Parliament, but to-day it is said to be the responsibility of the States, depite the fact that this Government has reduced loan allocations to the States and assistance by way of grants, in some cases by as much as £750,000. The Labour party claims that unemployment is a federal responsibility. Surely the employment of our people is a matter of national concern. I need not dilate on the causes of unemployment; all of us are agreed that they are mainly the mechanization of industry and business mergers. If society will not make provision for the unemployed, it will not last for very long. In addition to the difficulties arising from the necessity for meeting our commitments in respect of defence and social services, we find that overseas markets for our products are being restricted. A further difficulty arises from the fact that this Government must soon enter on fresh loan conversion operations. We have not got sufficient money to meet all these commitments and we must face that fact. As Senator Darcey so eloquently pointed out this afternoon, the day is fast approaching when orthodox finance will not suffice to meet the needs of this or any other country. The Labour party claims that we should utilize the Commonwealth Bank to get us out of this difficulty. We could now call upon the aid of that institution were it not for the fact that in 1928 the Bruce-Page Government mutilated it. We should give that institution a monoply of government business. If we endowed it with all the powers which it could exercise in the interest of the nation, it would be capable of helping us to accomplish all of the things visualized by Senator Darcey to-day. The emergency is here, and it has to be faced. We cannot borrow sufficient money to meet our needs. I do not wish to prejudice in any way the success of the pending conversion loan of £68,000,000. Indeed, I hope that that loan will be over-subscribed. The nation wants money and must get it if it is to carry on. Apart from that loan I see no chance of raising any further substantial sums in this country. We cannot carry on without the Commonwealth Bank. The private banks have nothing to fear in respect of Labour’s financial policy. Nevertheless, supporters of this Government, in campaign after campaign, tell the people that if the Labour party be given control of this Parliament it will swindle them out of their hardearned savings. The Labour party’s proposals involve nothing of the kind.
– Is not the socialization of banking any longer a plank of the Labour party platform?
– The socialization of banking and industry is included among our ultimate objectives. Briefly, our policy is this -
The Commonwealth Bank to be developed on the following lines: -
A nation-wide trading bank handling the ordinary business of the community.
A saving bank performing the ordinary functions of such a bank; and
A credit foncier system for the purpose of providing advances to primary producers and homebuilders.
Plan of Action.
The operations of the Commonwealth Bank to be removed from and made entirely independent of private banking interests and free from sectional influences or constraint.
The abolition of the Commonwealth Bank Board and the re-establishment of the original method of control as set up at the time the Commonwealth Bank was founded.
Expansion of the bank’s business asa trading bank, with branches in all suitable centres, in vigorous competition with the private banking establishments.
A statutory provision that the banking of all public bodies shall be reserved for the Commonwealth Bank.
The members of the parties opposed to the Labour party in 1931 denounced the Scullin Government for proposing to issue £18,000,000 worth of fiduciary notes. That action was to relieve the conditions of hundreds of thousands of unemployed and tens of thousands of primary producers, who, owing to the fall of the prices of export commodities, were in difficulties. Although the Scullin Government was condemned because it proposed to issue £18,000,000 of additional notes, without gold backing the British Government had issued during the war fiduciary notes amounting to £370,000,000. The slogan of the opponents of Labour at that time was, “Hands off the people’s savings “, but within twelve months of the defeat of the Scullin Government there was not a single sovereign in circulation in Australia, and the superscription on Commonwealth bank notes promising to pay gold on demand had been removed. There has been too much humbug, and the people have been deluded to such a degree that they will not be again misled. The Lyons-Page Government has remitted to the wealthy taxes to an amount exceeding £16,000,000. Had that amount been used to provide employment the burdens which are pressing with undue severity upon the unemployed’ could have been removed. That, however, has not been done, because the people made a wrong political choice.
Recently, in answer to a question I was informed by the Minister representing the Treasurer that employees of the Commonwealth Bank number 5848. When I asked how these employees were selected I was told that they do not have to submit to an examination. It is, therefore, reasonable to assume that they all came in by what may be termed “ the back door “. I ask the Government to look further into this matter, and to consider whether it is in the interests of the community to permit appointments to be made to such an important national institution without applications having first been called. I do not suggest for a moment that those engaged in the Commonwealth Bank are not capable officers, but appointments should not be made until vacancies have been advertised. I also asked how many employees are engaged in the Department of External Affairs, and how they entered the Service. I was informed that in Division 3 thirteen are employed, and that they all entered the Service without having to sit for an examination. In Division 4 there are fifteen, eight of whom were appointed without examination. Although these officers may ‘be highly qualified, such positions should be open to all university graduates and others who wish to enter tie Service.
Some time ago, when I referred to the wireless broadcasting of news during the recent international crisis, I said that Sir Keith Murdock and the Associated Press of Australia had used its influence to suppress information supplied by Reuter’s service, because the broadcasting of such . news militated against the sale of newspapers. The ex-Postmaster-‘General (Senator A. J. McLachlan) said, in reply to the charge which I then made, that the Associated Press had no hand whatever in the- matter. Since then I have received the following extract published in the Radio Times, of the 6th November: -
Permission to rebroadcast overseas news in the Commonwealth of Australia was withdrawn following requests received by us from Reuters which were based on representations made to them by press interests there.
This corroboration by the British Broadcasting Corporation, proves that I was right and that the Minister’s reply was wrong. I repeat that the “Murdoch” press prevented the broadcasting of overseas news in Australia in order to assist the sale of the newspapers which it controlled. I mention the matter now in fairness to my informant on the subject.
During this debate reference was made to the Munich Agreement and to the policy adopted by the British Prime Minister, Mr. Chamberlain. When the Government announced that a settlement had been reached honorable senators on this side of the chamber said “ Hear, hear !” So long as peace is preserved, whether it be by the intervention of Mr. Chamberlain, Mussolini, Mr. Lyons or any one else, I am content. I do not care what methods are adopted, because I believe that everything should be done to avoid the horrors of another world war.
Other honorable senators will reply to comments made by honorable senators on this side of the chamber concerning the Labour party’s defence policy, but I desire to express my views in this way: The Australian Labour party stands for the effective defence of Australia under the voluntary system, and will support and implement that system. The Labour party’s policy ensures the adequate defence of Australia. We are opposed “to compulsory military training, and in that attitude we have the support of the leading military authorities in this country. If the war god should sound the gong now or ten years hence, it will be found that 95 per cent, of those who man the ships, trenches, and guns will be members of the working class as was the case in the Great War. Incidentally I may mention that honorable senators on this side of the chamber followed with keen interest the speech of Senator Collett thi9 afternoon. It was one of the best speeches we have heard on defence, and we compliment him on the moderate and wellreasoned opinions which he expressed.
The present budget involving an expenditure of over £30,000,000 is the largest that has ever been presented, but it is regrettable that the work of this Parliament has been so arranged that honorable senators are practically precluded from discussing effectively the multitudinous details of the Estimates. We are supposed to be the watchdogs of public expenditure, but it is impossible to get sufficient time to study intelligently the numerous documents submitted for our information. I hope that whatever government is in power after the next general election a more satisfactory system will prevail, and that we shall have ample time in which to discuss the financial proposals of the Government.
The members of the Opposition are disgusted to find that notwithstanding the approach of the festive season, and despite their frequent and persistent requests, the Government has been unable to afford any relief to the unemployed. I remind the Minister that in the darkest years of the depression, when Australia was faced with financial and economic collapse and was almost on the verge of bankruptcy, because the Bruce-Page Government had exhausted our credit in London, and could not borrow in Australia, the Scullin Government, in 1931, provided £100,000, and in 1932, £250,000 to relieve the unemployed. But this Government, which is spending millions of pounds on defence, cannot make sufficient money available to assist those unfortunate people who cannot obtain work. A few days ago I suggested that £500,000 of the money which has been appropriated for defence purposes should be utilized on a works programme in order to assist them. They do not want charity. A month’s work prior to the Christmas season would have helped them wonderfully. The gesture which the Government has made in this respect is unworthy of comment.I hope that even now the Government will do something to assist these people to enjoy what we all hope to have and that is a happy Christmas.
– The adequate defence of Australia is foremost in the minds of the majority of the citizens of the Commonwealth. The clamourings of many border on war hysteria or war panic; others are indifferent. I belong to neither class, but am an advocate of steady progressive speeding-up of defence preparations with less talk and more action. The Government is embarrassed with a plethora of defence experts. Since the European crisis in September, they have been appearing like mushrooms after a rainstorm. Their advice is based either on insufficient knowledge, disregard of history or lack of appreciation of the relative values of modern offensive and defensive techniques. Most thoughtful people favour a much stronger fleet with or without a battleship or two ; others pin their faith on the air service with numbers of submarines like porpoises round the coast; others plump for a standing army, whilst the opinion of those best qualified to speak leans towards a combination of the three services, with the Navy, as our first line of defence, predominating. Because Great Britain is feverishly strengthening its air services, there is a suggestion that Australia should do likewise. Great Britain is within two hours of hostile aircraft. We are in a much more favorable position unless we are stupid enough to relinquish our mandated territory of New Guinea. Under the Covenant of the League of Nations, no mandated territory may be fortified or used as a base for operations. A hostile offensive nation outside the league could snap its fingers at any such restriction. For that reason alone, Australia must retain its mandated territory in northern waters. The recent non-stop flight by a British bombing squadron from Egypt to Australia makes one think, until it is remembered that in war there are neutralizing conditions. The flight was a great achievement and a fine tribute to British craftsmanship and human endurance and skill. Over-accentuation of the importance of mechanized armies in modern warfare has resulted in an under-rating of the importance of man-power. The tendency of modern times is to scrap old methods for new, instead of judiciously blending the two. Japan hoped to capture Canton by the barbaric aerial bombardment of its civil population, combined with the destruction of the lines of communication between that city and the Chinese Army. The innocent citizens suffered, but the means to supply the defending army was dislocated only for short periods. Three weeks ago, the Japanese general had to resort to the ages-old principle of meeting in open combat the man-power of the opposing army in order to gain a decision. Ibis is a lesson that Australia should keep in mind. When a decision has to be made, trained man-power is the dominating factor. Whilst attention in order of priority is being given to other phases of defence preparation, the matter of trained manpower seems a political football rather than a grave national question beyond party or sectional prejudices. Those whose business it is to advise the Minister for Defence (Mr. Street) recommend doubling the present “ paper “ strength of the Militia Forces, leaving it to the Government to decide how the extra 35,000 is to be raised. The Government has decided to try to raise that number by voluntary enlistment. If the constant ebb and flow of recruits is to continue as in the past, and so prevent the building up of a reserve personnel, and if the physical standard be below active service requirements, all efforts will be wasted and valuable time lost. On the other hand, the athletic youth and young men of the Commonwealth may realize their responsibilities, come forward, and serve the full three-year period of enlistment. Of that I have grave doubts. Because there has been a good response to the call for recruits in the proposed Darwin force, optimists consider it an indication that young Australia will enlist freely in the militia service. I point out that the Darwin force is a permanent soldier’s career - a livelihood ; the militia is not. After a three months’ intensive campaign, should the required number of recruits not be forthcoming, the Government should grasp the nettle firmly and take the obvious course. I do not favour universal training on the same lines ss hitherto, but I suggest a modified scheme which would embrace the pick of our young manhood in a long period of intensive training. In this way only can a real reserve be built up.
Not being a naval expert I hesitate to express an opinion on naval requirements, but it does not require an intimate knowledge of n,val matters to come to a decision that a battleship, apart from its huge cost, should not be a unit of the Royal Australian Navy. In 1914, there were no enemy submarines in Pacific waters. The battleship H.M.A.S. Australia drove lesser enemy craft to the other side of the Pacific. To-day .the situation is different. The technique of under-water craft has been developed out of all knowledge. Of course the underwater armour of surface ships has also been developed. Nevertheless, my naval friends assure me that modern submarines have still to be reckoned with. Though H.M.A.S. Australia, whilst in Pacific waters was free from submarine attack the battleships of the Royal Navy supporting us at Gallipoli were not so fortunate. A month after the landing, enemy submarines appeared and created consternation. H.M.S. Queen Elizabeth, tha most powerful battleship afloat, was immediately ordered back to the North Sea, the risk of leaving that ship in the Gallipoli theatre of war being too great. On the 25th May, 1915, at a distance approximately of Duntroon to Parliament House, we had a grandstand view of the torpedoing of H.M.S. Triumph, a less modern battleship, at 11 o’clock in the morning; within fifteen minutes of an attack by a submarine the ship was bottom uppermost, and fifteen minutes later it had disappeared, but thanks to splendid seamanship and manoeuvring by a destroyer, of the 700 souls on board, all but a few were saved. Every craft dropped its own task and headed for the helpless battleship. It was a sight none who were eye witnesses will ever forget. Two days later, off Cape Helles, another battleship, H.M.S. Majestic, met the same fate.
I cite these incidents to show that Australia must not be stampeded into incurring a huge expenditure in that direction. Capital ships have their special role in naval tactics. That role is not the guarding of trade routes that are vulnerable to enemy under-water craft.
The compiling of a national register showing the qualification of every male citizen, and the kind of help which he could give his country in an emergency, is a task which should be undertaken. Scattered throughout the Commonwealth are men with all kinds of technical and professional skill. A knowledge of their disposition is most desirable. The listing of these facts would in no sense be an arbitrary or undemocratic move. It would merely be au extension of the census. The existence of this information would be of incalculable value in time of national emergency. The British Medical Association has a complete list, I understand, of every medical practitioner in the Commonwealth. Each is assigned, according to his professional qualifications, to specific duty in a national emergency.
There is already in existence an organization which could undertake the scheduling of ex-service men as to what specific duties they are best fitted for. I refer to the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League. On mobilization, the strength of Australia’s Army in officers and non-commissioned officers would be increased 500 per cent. The great majority of Great War officers and noncommissioned officers resident in Australia are over 40 years of age, so they could not find a place in our field force, but their experience would be invaluable in less strenuous posts. It may be necessary to call up these veterans to fill positions in ‘ the field army, otherwise where is the supply to come from ? No criticism can be levelled .against the officers and non-commissioned officers “ now serving. They devote six times the number of hours for which they are paid to making themselves as efficient as possible with the appallingly small and irregular attendances of the rank and file. Further, commanding officers are limited in their choice of officers and noncommissioned officers. Class distinctions, inevit-able under a voluntry system, has already made its appearance. The suspended universal system gave the widest choice in the selection of young leaders. Under it the working man’s son had equal opportunities for advancement as the public school boy.
In the House of Representatives, a ministerial statement was made recently that thousands of young militiamen have passed through the ranks to become a potential reserve. I challenge that state- ment. Thousands have no doubt passed “ through “ - through the front door of the drill hall and out of the back door. I doubt that, one-third of them have completed the full three-years’ period of twelve days each year, and not 5 per cent, of them have joined the rifle club of their unit so as to acquire extra skill in the use of the rifle, Lewis gun and Vickers gun.
Whether this special recruiting campaign be successful or not, there must be a definite declaration that war profits will not be allowed - that wealth will be /rested similarly with the sacrifices of time, energy and life. We must be certain that no advantages will come to any one in the community from the sacrifices which will have to made by others.
I regret that the Government has not seen fit to amend the Repatriation Act in order that “ burnt out “ South African War veterans may become eligible for the service pension. Each year, I plead in this chamber for this “ Lost Legion “. There are not now more than about 250 in need of such assistance. Many are dependent _ upon charity. Some consideration might be given to these old soldiers who have rendered personal service to the Empire. The South African Soldiers’ Association in each State appreciates the Government’s help in granting £10 towards the funeral expenses of those who die in indigent circumstances. Butwhy wait till they are dead? The cost of relief would be comparatively small. To contend that if this request were agreed to, the mercantile marine and munitionworkers in the Great War would also claim similar treatment, is beside the point.
– It is not beside the point.
– Some time ago, I asked what was the amount raised in each State during the South African War and what amount had been expended in assisting those who had been incapacitated by service in that campaign. I have reason to believe that much of those patriotic funds was diverted to assisting ex-service men in the Great War - a responsibility of the Commonwealth Government. If that be so, the war veterans of 1899-1902 have some claim on the National Government now that they are in necessitous circumstances. The patriotic funds in each State were raised to meet such cases.
– Since last I spoke in this chamber on the subject of unemployment, official figures, which have been issued for Victoria, entirely confirm what I then said. These figures show that the number of registrations of men unemployed for the month of November were - Metropolitan, 10,2S1 ; relief work, 4,940; country, 8,000; total, 23,221. Corresponding figures, up to the end of November of last year, were : - Metropolitan, 10,211 ; relief work, 5,555; country, 5,3S1; total, 21,147.
I direct attention to the fact that, despite heavy expenditure on armaments, unemployment is increasing in Victoria, and 1 have no doubt that the same condition obtains in other States. The increase of the number of unemployed in Victoria for November of this year, as compared with November of last year, is 2,074. It should be noted also that many thousands of unemployed persons, including women, are not eligible for registration.
– That argument would apply to last year’s figures also.
– The Government of Victoria proposes to make a grant of £16,000 for the relief of the unemployed during the . approaching Christmas season, but so far not one penny has been set aside by the Commonwealth Government. Increase of expenditure on armaments will not solve unemployment. The remedy lies in a shorter working week, increased wages, and provisions for holidays with pay. I may add, in parenthesis, that the Commonwealth Government is the chief offender. Permanent employees are granted annual leave with pay, but casual workers, some of whom may have twenty years’ service to their credit, are not given this privilege. An appeal has been made to the Minister to grant holiday pay to these men, but the request has been refused. It will be necessary to raise the school age, to reduce the age at which pensions become payable, and to extend social services; but the fundamental reform needed is the national control of banking and planned production and distribution. The question may be asked “ How are these reforms to be financed? “ In this regard I direct attention to what is now being done to the detriment of the working classes, both the employed and the unemployed. On the 17th November I asked whether the currency had been depreciated, and the reply I received was in the affirmative. It read as follows: -
The purchasing power of the £1 note to-day is 46.57 pur cent, of what the purchasing power of the sovereign would he if such coin were in circulation.
I then asked who was responsible for this depreciation, but responsibility was not admitted. On a former occasion I asked -
What was the amount in pound notes raised as the result of such depreciation, and to which department or to whom has it been credited t
The reply furnished was. -
No amount was “ raised “ as the result of such depreciation. Australian pounds became less valuable in terms of oversea currencies and gold, while oversea currencies and gold became more valuable in terms of Australian pounds.
The last answer, to say the least of it, was incorrect. Millions of pounds have been raised by the depreciation of Australian currency to the detriment -of the majority of the people. Depreciation has the same effect upon the currency as the forging of pound notes. If I were to forge millions of pounds of notes, andwere able to purchase real estate and wealth of other kinds with them, I should receive something for mere scraps of paper. That is precisely what the Government, or whoever has been responsible for the depreciation of the currency, has done. The difference between the Government and the forger is that one is privileged under the laws and the other is not, but the actions of both have the same effect. This depreciation has resulted in an increase of the prices of commodities, mainly at the expense of the wage-earners, and particularly those whose remuneration is not adjusted periodically by wage-fixing tribunals. I refer to such persons as pensioners and others living on small incomes, small creditors who cannot pass on their losses, and small bank depositors who are dependent on their savings in times of stress and illness. As these persons are being more or less pauperized by the depreciation of the currency, skilful financial manipulators are becoming fabulously wealthy, by methods equivalent to borrowing money for the purchase of real estate, and paying off the debt with worthless paper. This is indicated by the unprecedented increase of the profits of practically all the leading and long established business firms. The daily press constantly publishes financial statements showing that private profits are increasing to a record degree.
– Three or four years ago there were no profits at all.
– But profits have been increased as the result of the depreciation of the currency, and thousands of workers have been reduced to the level of paupers.
– But the worker is better off now than he was five or six years ago.
– He is not. I repeat that most of the increased profits have accumulated as the result of the inflation of prices through the medium of currency inflation.
Another effect of currency depreciation to which I direct attention is noticeable in connexion with the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund. which was established in 1922. If I had paid a sovereign into a bank prior to 1929, and wished to draw it out to-day, I should not receive that sovereign back, but I should possibly be handed a £1 note. The amount I should receive in terms of gold would be worth only 50 per cent, of what I had paid in or, in other words, 50 per cent, of . my sovereign would be appropriated. This is what has happened in regard to the superannuation fund. Even if the Government decided to pay back the money contributed to the fund by the public servants, it is doubtful whether it would pay the real amount actually contributed by the subscribers to the fund, let alone what the Government itself has undertaken to contribute to the fund.
My remarks concerning currency depreciation are apparently regarded with a certain amount of scepticism. I have consulted numerous authorities of long standing in the English-speaking world, and every one of them condemns depreciation of the currency, and points out, in language far more scathing than I have attempted to use this evening or on any previous occasion, the effect it produces in the last analysis. In his Essays in Persuasion, John Maynard Keynes, Fellow of King’s College, Cam-, bridge, and a leading economist, states -
Lenin is said to have declared that the best way to destroy the capitalist system was to debauch the currency. By continuing the process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens. By this method they not only confiscate, but they confiscate arbitrarily; and, while the process impoverishes many, it actually enriches some. The sight of this arbitrary rearrangement of riches strikes not only at security, but at confidence in the equity of the existing distribution of wealth. Those to whom the system brings windfalls, beyond their desserts and even beyond their expectations or desires, become “ profiteers “, who are the object of the hatred of the bourgeoisie, whom the inflationism hae impoverished, not less than of the proletariat. As the inflation proceeds and the real value of the currency fluctuates wildly from month to month, all permanent relations between debtors and creditors, which form the ultimate foundation of capitalism, become so utterly disordered as to be almost meaningless; and the process of wealth -getting degenerates into a gamble and a lottery.
Lenin was certainly right. There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose.
To most people finance is a mystery, even to allegedly well-informed business men. It is certainly a mystery to the working man, whose lack of knowledge in this respect is capitalized most effectively. Sir Josiah Stamp, referring to the attraction of inflation, states -
Why do governments almost invariably, in war-time and afterwards, have to resort to this expedient? First, because most people have to be kept reasonably sweet-tempered, sometimes even the most patriotic, to go on producing hard, and because taxation is psychologically repressive in production. Hie lessened reward and the smaller fund for reinvestment in new capital have their aggregate effect. Secondly, because loans also have a definite limit - a limit of credit (in the State) and personal inclination (in the lender). “We should keep in mind the limit imposed on Australian loans -
But inflation of the currency is easy, and more or less unsuspected and unnoticed while it is going on. If skilfully done, prices creep up, and real rewards in wages and interest arc reduced slowly, while business enterprise and employment receive a great fillip.
That fillip is only temporary. Lastly, I shall quote from The Scourge of Europe, by Professor Birck. On page 97, rereferring to inflation, he states -
It is destructive as regards State finances, making the power of the State dependent upon native and foreign financiers; in destroying the finances of the State it ruins the efficiency of the State machinery and dissipates its revenues; by creating an inordinate and undeserved wealth and at the same time bringing down the wages-earners to the limit of starvation, it produces a community socially unbalanced, a plaything of revolutionaries.
That is exactly what is happening in Australia to-day; wage-earners are being brought down to the level of starvation. There was never a period in Australia’s history when so many able and willing workers were dependent on charity and the dole. In every way they are being impoverished, and their morale is being undermined.
– At the same time companies are making record profits.
– After Senator Darcey had resumed his seat this afternoon, Senator Gibson endeavoured to show that Senator Darcey’s credit scheme would make the present position worse than it is. Either Senator Gibson did not understand what was said by Senator Darcey, or he himself does not understand the position. Senator Darcey referred to creating, using, and lending credit. If credit were created and used merely for speculative or gambling purposes, the position would be as Senator Gibson said. There is no doubt about that. It would have the same effect as the inflationary policy of the present Government is having to-day. But if it were used, as it could be used, for the creation of wealth on a value for value basis, such as building houses, factories, railways, and bridges, or for installing sewerage schemes and the like, there would be no risk whatever. That would not be inflation as we understand the term ; it would be an expansion of credit, consistent with the value created by the carrying out of these works, and it would have a beneficial effect on the community, for it would help to increase consumption. If there were more spending power in the hands of the workers, there would be an increased demand for food, clothing, and shelter, and the amenities of life generally. That demand, in turn, would create more employment. A conscious expansion and curtailment of the issue of credit would not involve the slightest risk, particularly at the points where private enterprise has failed. Throughout Australia, private enterprise has failed to employ all the labour offering. I ask honorable senators opposite who disagree with Senator Darcey and with Labour’s policy for financing the nation, what alternative they have to offer. If private enterprise cannot employ all the labour offering, what do they propose? Honorable senators opposite have no policy beyond the granting of relief work or the payment of a dole. They would allow an increasing number of men to be reduced to lower levels. If they have a policy to overcome such a state of affairs, why is it ‘ not mentioned or put into effect? In support of what we say can be done by the issue of credit on a value-for-value basis, in order to create national wealth and work for the unemployed, I quote some remarks by the late Sir Robert Gibson, who was Governor of the Commonwealth Bank, at a time when he had good reason to believe that if the private banks were allowed to go their own way they would make a bad position worse. On the 31st May, 1931, Sir Robert Gibson delivered a broadcast talk in which he said -
The Commonwealth Bank has control over the note issue and can command reserves in the form of currency to any extent which, in the opinion of the bank, is deemed necessary.
At that time the banks were calling in overdrafts, foreclosing on mortgages, and withholding credit, but, according to Sir Robert Gibson, the Commonwealth Bank was willing to step into the breach and issue currency to the extent necessary to restore normal conditions.
– Sir Robert Gibson was the idol of the United Australia party.
– All the recognized authorities throughout the English speaking world agree, first, that depreciation is ruining the nation, and, secondly, that the position can be overcome only by the national control of banking as proposed in Labour’s policy. Finance is regarded as a great mystery by many people who claim to speak as authorities; they confuse prices with value, and believe that all our troubles are due to the fact that we are off the gold standard. It is true that we are off the gold standard to the extent that gold does not now circulate as freely as formerly. Although the export of gold is prohibited, gold still remains as the measure of value in respect of all currencies and commodities. Sterling is measured in terms of gold as compared with Australian or New Zealand notes, German marks or French francs. The values are all measured in terms of gold. All international trading settlements are completed in terms of gold. As a money commodity, gold is used to measure the relative values of all other commodities. As is the case with other useful commodities, the value of gold is determined by the average amount of labour time needed for its production. In practice, the value of gold is the average labour time spent in its production, and the selling price is governed by this value. Price is a different thing. In the long run, what we call the price of any commodity is determined by its value in gold, although it could just as effectively and satisfactorily be determined in terms of other useful and necessary commodities. The price is not the same as value. Value is the rate at which commodities, including gold, are exchanged for one another. Price, on the other hand, is the expression of the value of commodities in terms of money. Price as a purely monetary term is distinct from value. Price oscillates around value, and need not coincide with it. When’ prices rise, money is worth less ; when prices fall, money is worth more. When currency is inflated money is worth less, and when prices fall, as the result of a glut or a devaluation, money is worth more. As the price of gold, for example^ rises, the purchasing power of money falls.
– Is that true of the £1 note in Australia at the present time?
– Yes. In the Melbourne Herald of last evening, I read a very interesting report by the financial editor, in which he claimed that the recent rise of the price of gold in London by 10s. an ounce, if maintained, would increase the value of Australia’s gold production by £1,000,000 a year. He added-
To-day the Commonwealth Bank declared an all-time record Australian price for gold. Last week’s deliveries to the Mint ore to be paid at £9 Cs. 4d. an ounce.
As the price of gold goes up, the purchasing power of the £1 is reduced and as the purchasing power of the £1 is reduced, the cost of commodities that the people require is increased. Thus we see the far-reaching effect, and the difference between what we know as the price of a commodity and what is called the value of a commodity. It is because those terms are confused that quite a number of people who should know better, believe that, the price of gold having increased to £9 6s. 4d. an oz., its value has increased. Its value has not increased one iota. As a matter of fact if it were mathematically possible to calculate the process that is at work in Australia, we should find that the value of gold, far from being stationary, is going down, as it requires less labour time an ounce for its production. It is necessary to direct attention to that aspect of the position, because, as the result of the fact that finance is regarded as a great mystery beyond the understanding of ordinary people, this mystery has been capitalized to the detriment of the people, to such a degree that in this country whose material resources are practically unlimited, we have an increasing number of workers who are unable to live under reasonable conditions. Although they are able and willing to work and apply their labour to our natural resources in order to create wealth in all its forms and to raise their own standard of living and ako to increase national wealth, they are denied that opportunity, because finance is a mystery to many in the National Parliament who are charged with the responsibility of managing the country’s affairs.
I listened to the speeches made by Senators Collett and Brand on defence. With many of their views I agree, but when they say that profit-making in connexion with defence measures should not or will not be allowed, I remind them that so long as the policy of the present Government is given effect, enormous profits will be made- out of public expenditure -on defence preparations.
– Tell us how.
– First, the Government is letting contracts and contractors are not philanthropists. They are in business for profit, not for defence; no one can carry out a contract unless provision is made for a certain amount of profit; secondly, the Government proposes to raise much of its money by loan, on which interest will have to be paid, and interest is profit. Money will not be lent by any one, and particularly by people overseas, if profit is not guaranteed to them. Thus the policy of the Government is to allow profit to be made out of its defence expenditure. Consequently, if Senators Brand and Collett attempted to give effect to their views they would be obliged to vote on this matter with honorable senators on this side of the chamber. The policy of this Government undoubtedly is to allow huge profits to be made out of the manufacture of armaments and the various contracts associated with defence preparations and out of loans raised to meet this expenditure.
– The Government cannot check profit-making.
– It does not intend to attempt to check it. I venture to say that if the Government attempted to put Labour’s policy into operation and endeavoured to raise the money required by taxation - and this could be done - it would not last for very long. The economic interests which it represents would soon be condemning it from one end of .the country to the other. The making of profits is inherent in the Government’s policy, and any member of this Parliament which supports that policy supports the principle of profits being made out of defence expenditure to the detriment of the men whom the Government calls upon to prepare to defend the country. It follows as night follows day that to the degree to which profits are made out of war-like preparations and war itself, less money is available to pay our soldiers and our workers, on whom we depend wholly to fight and work while the nation is at war.
– And also to die.
– Several honorable senators have dealt with the” relative merits of the compulsory and voluntary systems of military training. As Senator Keane and other honorable senators on this side have said, the Labour party stands for voluntary training. Unless the Government is prepared to do what should be done in this regard it will defeat the voluntary system in its present recruiting campaign. If the voluntary system is to succeed, the Government must be prepared to offer to the volunteers the very best conditions possible. I suggest that if it were prepared to provide the rates of pay and conditions which the State governments provide to their civilian police forces, it would secure more volunteers than it could accept. The chief feature of the compulsory system is that it encourages profiteering, because it is designed to provide the services of as many men as possible at the minimum cost, in order that those who have invested money in war loans and defence contracts may be guaranteed their profit and, incidentally, that big salaries may be paid to imported experts. Universal military service was adopted by Prussia in 1S13, and it has since displaced, to a large extent, the old form of conscription in Europe. Under a system of compulsory service every able-bodied male, usually with certain exemptions pertaining to education and public service, must personally serve under the colours, no substitute being allowed; secondly, the period of service in the ranks, instead of being for 25 years or more, is usually for a short term, limited to two or three, years, after which the soldier is listed on the reserve and returns to ordinary civil life, except for short periods of subsequent training; thirdly, 2d., or even Id. a day was given to the soldiers. The object of universal service in Prussia, and in other European countries, was as I have already pointed out, to secure that service at the least possible cost.
– The honorable senator is dealing with conscription.
– No. Under conscription some of the soldiers did 1101 receive any pay at all. Conscription was first adopted as a military expedient by the French Directory for Napoleon’s campaign in 1798. Upon its introduction, Napoleon cried, “ Now, I can afford to expend 30,000 men a month “. And he expended them. The conscript system in France was continued until1872, when it was abandoned in favour of universal personal military service.
– We are asking for universal military training in order to fit men for service.
-The point is that universal service does not sound so fearful as conscription to the people whose services it is desired to enlist, but, in the last analysis, the two mean much the same.
– Well, on this point I shall quote Colonel Arthur Lee, who, when a member of the House of Commons, made a speech at Fareham, on the 17th August, 1915, on the subject which the Times commended as a “ clear statement of the facts of the matter”. In that speech, Colonel Lee said -
Not content with coaxing and pushing and bullying Britons to do their duty, we had also descended to bribing them. We had the spectacle at the front of motor and lorry drivers drawing 6s. a day and living in ease and in safety, while their comrades who worked the machine guns and heavy artillery, and who must also be mechanics, were paid only1s.6d. and were risking their lives every moment.
I point out that Colonel Arthur Lee was not the only military authority to express that opinion. Quite a number of others expressed a similar view, but in much more forceful language. Colonel Lee objected to lorry-drivers being paid 6s. a day! I suppose that had he been asked to express an opinion on Australian soldiers receiving 7s. a day he would have said that they were being bribed. The idea behind such sentiment is that compulsory service is required at the lowest possible cost. The man who has to be forced to render service, whether it be in industry or in battle, is not by any means as good a man as he who goes forth of his own volition, fortified in the belief that he is acting in the best interests of his country.
– Does the honorable senator advocate compulsory Unionism, and would he apply the same argument in that regard?
– In all these things it is a matter of the limitations laid down. We have compulsion within limits, but beyond those limits it is injurious and damaging and defeats the objective. Compulsion is used against a man who ill-treats his children or who does not provide adequately for them. There is nothing wrong with compulsion within limits, but when it is used, as it has been used, in all past wars, including the Great War, to make such conflicts profitable for financiers, private banking institutions, contractors and others at the expense of the worker and the soldier, we are opposed to it. Where compulsion is used for constructive purposes and to safeguard human life it is totally different.
– The honorable senator may yet advocate compulsory military training.
– If those who support the system were prepared to go to all unemployed youths, whom they considered eligible, and say that they would be paid the basic wage, provided” with a uniform, drilled and educated and taught necessary trades, there would be no need to appeal for recruits.
– What of those in employment?
– If an appeal were made to them to engage in military training it naturally follows that they could not follow their usual employment while being trained. It would be unreasonable to take them from their employment and refuse to pay them for the services they render.
– They have not been asked to do so.
– I believe that they have. A few days ago I directed attention to the fact that thousands of eligible young men are being denied the right to earn a decent livelihood. The Government is appealing to these men to help in the defence of the country.
– During the 18th century the Germans hired Scotsmen to fight their battles. The British also hired Germans.
– Yes, the Germans found the Scotsmen such good fighters that they dispensed with their services, because they thought that they might eventually take possession of the country. Another objection to universal training is that it is used against the workers who are making a stand for their rights. To-day the French workers are making a stand against the policy of the French Government to reduce the purchasing power of their wages. lt is necessary that they should do so. The French Government now proposes, under the military system in operation in that country, to call them to the colours, and if they refuse to join up, they can be dealt with under military law and gaoled or, possibly, shot. With compulsory military training in Australia, our people might be treated in the same way. That practice has been adopted for years in European countries, and it may be introduced in Australia.
– It cannot be done under the Defence Act.
– The Government can amend that act to suit its own purpose. If we had conscription in Australia, the waterside workers at Port Kembla who are refusing to load scrap iron for Japan could be called to the colours, and, if they refused to join up, they could be dealt with under military law. Some honorable members of the House of Representatives have made no secret of that possibility. There is a good deal to be said against compulsory training; there is more in it from the standpoint of the workers than appears on the surface.
I agree entirely with what Senator Brand has said on behalf of the veterans of the South African war. Here again we have an example of the manner in which ex-soldiers are treated. I remember well when an appeal was made for Australians to serve in South Africa. They were heroes when they went away, but when they returned to Australia and asked for jobs, many of them were regarded as nuisances. Only a few are left, but those who remain have not been treated- fairly. They are asking this Government to provide them with a small pension in order to enable them to have a small measure of comfort. I know a man who was a member of E Company of the Fifth Victorian Contingent. He had a leg shattered and, on his return to
Australia, was unable to follow his usual occupation. He receives a small pension of 7s. a week from the imperial authorities, and he has had to live on that since 1902. He earns a little at casual work, but I do not think that his earnings as a fruit hawker bring in more than 10s. a week. I sent him along to Senator Brand some time ago to see if he could be assisted. Moreover, he is afraid that he will have to pay ls. 6d. a week out of the paltry 10s. which he receives, as his contribution under the national insurance scheme. Senator Brand is making some inquiries, but up to the present the National Insurance Commission regards him as a borderline case, and does not know whether he will or will not be exempt. I understand that there are about 200 South African war veterans who are in circumstances more or less similar to those of the man I have described. We can understand the moral effect of such cases on young men to whom the Government is appealing. Since the depression, I have acted in an official capacity at the Trades Hall in Melbourne, and every day until I became a member of this chamber returned soldiers came there seeking jobs. Despite the service these men rendered to the Empire, they are, to all intents and purposes, paupers. Young men of to-day see the position in which thousands of men who responded to the call are placed, and naturally ask why they should serve when others have been treated merely as flotsam and jetsam. I join wholeheartedly in the appeal made this afternoon by Senator Brand on behalf of the South African War veterans, and I trust that his appeal will not fall on deaf ears. It is the responsibility of the Government to see that they are provided for.
– How many South African veterans are there?
– About 200 throughout Australia. Senator Brand, who is the president of the South African Soldiers’ Association, has done splendid work on their behalf, and I trust that his eloquent appeal to-day will not be in vain.
– Did not Senator Cameron also serve in the South African War?
– I was privileged to do so, and the views 1 am expressing are based on that experience. The appeal is on both humanitarian and economic grounds. The larger the amount of money in circulation, the greater the demand for commodities produced. The representatives of -Tasmania in this chamber have said that 6,000 acres of apple-bearing country will have to go out of production. The world’s supply of wheat is considerably in excess of world requirements, and before long the production of that commodity will be restricted. I trust that the Government will note my remarks on -behalf of the unemployed, and also that it will heed the appeal made for ex-soldiers who took part in the South. African “War.
– I direct attention to extraordinary discrepancies between answers furnished by Ministers within the last fortnight and answers to similar questions asked by the late Senator Barnes a few years ago. On the 30th June, 1932, the late Senator Barnes asked the Minister representing the Treasurer the following question : -
What is the amount of total paid-up capital of all the trading banks in Australia as at the 30th June, 1932?
The answer was £60,602,816. Last week I asked a question in exactly similar terms, and the Minister representing the Treasurer told me that the paid-up capital of the private trading banks, as at the 30th June, 1938, was £37,136,362. There must be some mistake somewhere. Amalgamation of private banks since the date of the first question cannot wholly account for the discrepancy between the two sets of figures. On the 20th June, 1932, the late Senator Barnes asked -
What was the cost of establishing the Commonwealth Bank and the Commonwealth Savings Bank?
On that occasion the then Treasurer - the present Prime Minister - said that the cost was nil. Yet a fortnight ago when T asked the same question, I received the following answer : -
The exact purport of this question is not clear. The Commonwealth Bank commenced business by taking over all Commonwealth Government accounts, which included large credit balances, it was, therefore, unnecessary, at the commencement of business, to supply capital beyond a small initial advance, which was repaid.
In 1932, Senator Barnes asked -
What is the total profit of the Commonwealth note issue since its inception to the 31st December, 1932.
The reply received was £21,565,122. When I asked the same question a fortnight ago, I was told that the profit was £11,056,205. These inaccuracies are disgraceful, and demand an explanation. I have taken the trouble to examine in the library official statistics contained in the Commonwealth Finance Bulletin, and I find the net profits of the note issue given at £15,510,580. These glaring inaccuracies disclose a gross disregard for truth. A few days ago I was taken to task for having stated that being in the Senate was something of a joke. The replies to questions which I have just read support what I then said. Some at least of the answers given by Ministers in this chamber are a joke. I shall leave it at that.
A week or two ago, the Government, in furtherance of its defence programme, sent out the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hughes) on a recruiting campaign. Since then I have received a letter asking for my co-operation. I regret that I cannot accept the invitation, because I am convinced that the campaign for recruits is purely a stunt arranged hy the inner group of NaziFascists that is controlling the present Commonwealth Government.
– Rubbish !
– The honorable gentleman is entitled to his opinion. I claim that my views- are more representative of those of the people on this particular subject. Australia’s safety does not depend on a huge army such as is now proposed.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that 70,000 men constitute a huge army?
– I prefer to be guided by the views of acknowledged military experts. The late Lord Kitchener declared that Australia could be adequately defended with a mobile force of 80,000.
– Will the honorable gentleman advocate the establishment of a force of 80,000?
– I believe that with an adequate air force and efficient submarines we could prevent a hostile force from landing on Australian soil. The Government’s altered plan may give some of the friends of the inner Cabinet a chance to cash in on the scheme, whereas Labour’s policy is to manufacture aeroplanes and submarines in Australia.
SenatorFoll. - What does the honorable senator mean when he says that some of the Government’s friends might benefit from its defence policy?
– I have in mind the annexes for the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, and other people who contribute to the Government’s election funds.
– Does not the honorable senator believe that we should manufacture munitions in this country?
– We believe that they should be manufactured at Maribyrnong and other government establishments.
– That is so. The Government is making a direct appeal to the unemployed. How can men in receipt of a dole of 7s. 6d. a week feel interested in the defence of this country?
– Many of the men to whom the appeal is being made are getting much more.
– That may be true, but before I participate in the recruiting campaign I should like to have more evidence of the sincerity of the Ministry in connexion with the unemployed. I notice that the Minister for External Affairs made an appeal at Newcastle a few days ago. It is significant that he addressed his remarks to members of the Legacy Club, and some of the overfed and wealthy people of that city. Why did not the right honorable gentleman go to his own electorate, where there are not so many unemployed. Let him also ask Mr. Spender and Mr. Menzies to co-operate by appealing to their electors.
– No doubt that will be done.
– Now that the campaign for recruits has been launched I take my mind back to incidents that occurred many years ago, and I cannot help thinking that the Government was not quite wise in asking Mr. Hughes and Mr. Thorby to lead the appeal for recruits. People must have short memories if they have forgotten the activities of the Minister for External Affairs when he was Prime Minister during the war, and the political persecution and prosecutions for which he was responsible under the wicked powers vested in him by the War Precautions Act. Here is a list of persons against whom false charges were made by the right honorable gentleman, and a record of what happened to them. - The late Honorable T. J. Ryan, Premier of Queensland, case dismissed; the late Senator Barnes, case dismissed; the late Senator McDougall, case dismissed; the late James Matthews, M.H.R., case dismissed ; Mr. J. H. Catts, M.H.R., case dismissed; Mr. Cain, M.L.A., Victoria, case dismissed ; Mr. A. H. S. Rocke, case dismissed. One of the worst features of his activities was in connexion with the Sixth Division of the Australian Imperial Force. Although the Fifth Division overseas was crying out for recruits, any mention of the Sixth Division rendered the person making it liable to prosecution. If I were to take part in the recruiting campaign now being conducted by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes),’ I should be fearful lest the young men who are now asked to enlist were injured in health by the quality of the food supplied to them in military camps. I quote the following extracts from the reports of the veterinary inspectors ontroopships conveying Australian soldiers to the front in the Great War: - 2nd March, 1916.
We rejected 1,100 lb. of ox livers on account of finding some affected with hydatid cysts and fluke. Owing to the frozen state of the livers, no extensive inspection could be undertaken, but as some were diseased and others were repulsive in appearance we rejected the lot. 6th March 1916.
The livers were again submitted for examination; we found some with hydatid cysts and signs of fluke, and many half livers were included - appearance bad. We rejected the lot. 8th May,1916.
I rejected 707 lb. of ox liver, as it was diseased with fluke and hydatids. 26th May,1916.
The ox livers were rejected, being dirty and badly infected with hydatid cysts and fluke. This parcel was so bad that I called the attention of the Board of Health inspector to same, and the lot was seized and destroyed.
The present Minister for External Affairs was Prime Minister at that time, but he refused to divulge the name of the contractor who supplied the diseased meat for the troops. Until such time as we know who that person is, in order that he may be held up to public opprobrium, I should fear that, under a government of similar political colour to that in power in 1916, history would repeat itself in that regard. First we were told that it was necessary to increase the strength of the militia to 70,000, but now some expert has advised the Government that at least 120,000 men will be required, and that possibly even a larger number will be needed. The effective defence of Australia depends not upon infantry, but upon an air force and submarines.
– And a referendum of the people, to seek their permission to fight.
– If the Government desired to send troops overseas, the people should certainly be consulted by referendum.
– This has been a most interesting debate, and I desire, at the outset, to clear the atmosphere with regard to certain remarks by Senator Keane. I do not know whether to attribute them to a momentary mental lapse on his part, or whether he was rather careless in his rejoinder to Senator Johnston concerning the advocacy of unification by the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) and the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin). The honorable senator said that this Parliament had given to Western Australia a gold bounty, but that is not quite correct. This Parliament passed a law providing for the payment of a gold bounty to all the gold-producing States in the Commonwealth.Senator Keane also remarked that, as a result of the passage of that legislation, capital to the amount of £6,000,000 had been attracted to Western Australia forthe development of the gold-mining industry. That was not so. The real reason that actuated overseas investors in pouring capital into Australia for the further development of gold-mining was the manipulation and increase of the price of gold throughout the world. Although Western Australians are grateful to this Parliament for having made legislative provision for the payment of the gold bounty, the fact should be remembered that payments under the act ceased shortly after the legislation had been passed. Western Australians should not have been singled outby Senator Keane as havingreceived something from this Parliament which was not also given to the other gold-producing States. He also said that, since federation, Western Australia had been liberally treated by the other States, but that also is incorrect. As a matter of fact, my State has been very badly treated. It made a poor deal in entering the federation. The infant secondary industries which were in operation in Western Australia at the time of the federal union soon afterwards disappeared. For the first ten years of federation, 75 per cent. of Commonwealth revenue was returned to the States under section 87. For that provision was substituted a per capita payment of 25s. to the States. Later that payment was abolished by legislation, and it is well known that the Inter-State Commission which investigated disabilities under federation recommended the payment of special grants to Western Australia and the other smaller States in order that a certain measure of justice might be received by them. Honorable senators, irrespective of the heat that may have been engendered in the course of the debate, should observe a degree of accuracy in their remarks concerning the States of the federation.
Senator Johnston has taken exception to the remarks of Mr. Scullin with reference to his advocacy of an alteration of the Constitution with a view to securing increased powers for this Parliament. Reference has been made to the fact that he advocated unification. Of course, he was merely consistent with the policy of the Labour party in advocating a convention for such a purpose. But Senator Johnston went further and castigated the Attorney-General for having gone back on certain remarks made by him when a Minister in the Victorian Parliament. I remind Senator Johnston that at one time he was a member of the Labour party in Western Australia, and was also a supporter of its policy ; but he has since changed his views, so the AttorneyGeneral is in good company. From time to time members of Parliament alter their opinions on matters such as unification and alterations of the Constitution. It will be admitted by all thinking members of this Parliament who have the interests of Australia at heart that the time has arrived when alterations must be made to the Federal Constitution.
– Does the honorable senator favour unification?
– Certainly £ do; but a great deal depends on the interpretation placed on the word “ unification “.
– Everybody has his own opinion.
– Every man is entitled to his opinion. It will be admitted that there are certain anomalies in our Constitution which ought to be remedied in the interests of the nation. It stands to reason that 38 years’ experience of the operation of the Federal Constitution have revealed some anomalies. When sensible people are faced with difficulties which prejudice the best interests of the country their determination should be to have them removed.
I am of the opinion that a convention, similar to those which led to the federation, should be held to consider amendments of tho Constitution. When the terms of reference are under consideration will be the time for us to state what matters should in our opinion be referred to that body. I agree with Senator Johnston that it would not be altogether fair to give to the smaller States representation on any such convention on the basis of their limited strength in the House of Representatives. This is an issue of major importance which the people of Australia are called upon to face, and we must consider it seriously. Moreover, a start must be made immediately. For years there has been considerable overlapping of Commonwealth and State departments. Overlapping means wasting the revenues which have been collected from the people by both Commonwealth and State authorities. I do not think that it will be denied that Australia has a surfeit of parliaments. Formerly there were fourteen legislative chambers in Australia; to-day there are thirteen chambers to govern a little over 7,000,000 people. The cost of such government must be considerable. The time has arrived when, in the interests of economic government, this matter should be taken up seriously. I am not afraid of the word “ unification “. I am here to do my best in the interests of, not only the people of Western Australia but also the Commonwealth generally.
The Treasurer (Mr. Casey) has stated that, because of the large sums required for the defence of Australia, no money will be made available this year to assist mining. That is a short-sighted policy, and I ask the Government to review its decision. By discontinuing the assistance formerly given to mining the Government is retarding the development of local markets for primary products. The expenditure of money to assist prospecting and mining ventures generally during recent years has been a profitable investment; as the result of that expenditure expanded markets have been made available to primary producers. I hope that the Government will give to this matter further consideration, with a view to conserving those markets and opening up others. When we reflect on what has been said by members of the trade delegation that recently visited the Old Country, we must conclude that the outlook in respect of markets for Australia’s surplus production is serious indeed. Actually, the carefully-worded statements of members of the trade delegation mean that the prospects of disposing of such primary products as wheat and wool are poor and the general position alarming. The trade agreement entered into between Great Britain and the United States of America certainly will not improve the position of Australia in this respect. As far as we can learn from the meagre information made available to us, markets for our exportable surplus primary products are .being closed against us.
– I said that a few days ago in respect of the market for apples, but the honorable senator would not accept my statement.
– I realized then the real position. We have only to think of the alteration of the duty on apples provided for in the AngloAmerican trade agreement to realize that the market for Australian apples will be restricted. That applies also to other commodities, including wheat. Members of the trade delegation have told us that in future we must look more to an expansion of secondary industries in this country for a market for our primary produce, and to that end we must provide ourselves with many of the things which hitherto we have imported.
– What is the use of expanding our secondary industries if we cannot export our manufactured goods ?
– Although we have received this advice from the trade delegation, we have not been told anything concerning potential markets for the output of our newly-established or re-established secondary industries. The outlook does not appear to be bright; indeed I do not see a ray of hope. Yet the Government is not doing anything to develop a spirit of progress among the people. Its only policy is connected with its defence programme, and there is such a tardiness in giving effect to that programme that there is danger that some industries will perish before markets are found. The outlook before those who are unemployed is hopeless indeed. It is not my desire to paint a doleful .picture of the future of Australia, but the Government, which has all authority to act in the interests of progressive development within the Commonwealth, is not doing anything. This budget proves that that is so. A study of the contemplated expenditure must lead to the conclusion that the Government is without a policy for the development of Australia. For the last twelve months, the authorities in England have been planning how to re-absorb into industry those men who are now engaged in the manufacture of munitions, but, we in Australia, have not even made a start with some of the undertakings which would provide work for many Australians. There has been a good deal of talk of long-range planning, but the plans never seem to come to fruition. The number of persons unemployed is as great as it was twelve months ago. I am beginning to believe that the people are correct who say that Australians are great talkers and nothing more.
– Does the honorable senator think that the States and the Commonwealth should cooperate ?
– Yes. That is why I want a convention held, so that overlapping between the Commonwealth and State authorities, which has blocked progress for many years, will be eliminated. There should be greater co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States. But so long as there are in various States reactionary Legislative Councils elected upon a restricted franchise, and intent on protecting vested interests to the fullest possible extent, we shall not secure that measure of liberal government in the States which is essential to the establishment of that co-operation. This war between the Commonweatlh and the States can be sensed in the negotiations that took place recently in connexion with certain agreements which this Parliament will shortly be called upon to ratify. Such bickering must cease, because it is responsible for our greatest difficulties in government to-day.
– What does the honorable senator suggest?
– 1 support the suggestion made by Mr. Scullin, that action to amend the Constitution should he taken as quickly as possible.
– The suggested amendments of the Constitution could not be made without first being submitted by way of referendum to the people.
– Many things can be done without resorting to a referendum. Some twelve or fifteen months ago a referendum was taken on two proposals, both of which were defeated ; but later this Government and the governments of the States got together with the result than an agreement was arrived at whereby the control of aviation within the Commonwealth was handed over to this Government.
– But the States retain control within their own boundaries.
– At the proposed convention agreement no doubt could bc arrived at between the States and the Commonwealth on the proposals to be submitted to the people by way of a referendum. In those circumstances we should not have the Commonwealth advocating certain reforms with the States combating them. It is essential that a convention be held for the purpose of getting down to bedrock, and preparatory to taking the steps necessary to amend the Constitution as desired.
.- The first matter with which I propose to deal is a set of circumstances which is gradually becoming moTe aggravated. I refer to appointments to our defence services. It seems that when any big men are required for important jobs, upon the advertisement is written, “ No Australian need apply “. The time is opportune to give some publicity to this attitude on the part of the Government. This morning in one of our weekly publications I read of the success of certain Australians overseas. Yet it seems no Australian is given credit by this Government; unless a man bears the brand of the imported article his qualifications are not even considered. Recently the Government imported a man at a salary of £3,500 a year to re-organize our military forces. Our Navy also is controlled by an imported gentleman, whilst efforts are now being made to import a man to take control of affairs in the Air Force.
– Who said that?
– Such reports are being made at present.
– Made by whom? The press?
– No, by the Government. In any case the press seem to be able to forecast Government decisions very accurately, although members of this Parliament cannot secure such information until the very last moment.
In forecasts of this kind, the newspapers are more often correct than not, and I believe that their guess on this occasion will be proved to be correct. If the Government does not proceed with its reported intentions in this matter it will be because of the adverse comment which has already appeared in the press. When I review the history of our Air Force and’ the careers of our famous airmen, it seems a tragedy that we should refuse to place an Australian in charge of this arm of our defence services. I well remember Mr. Lloyd George testifying that he had discovered too late that an Australian general in the Great War had all the qualifications of a commander-in-chief. He was referring to the late General Monash. Throughout our history, Australians have proved themselves capable of command, and, despite the denial of opportunity to them by Australian governments, they have, by the sheer force of their brilliance, risen to the top as military leaders. To-day, many brilliant men in our Air Force are condemned to death, as it were, because of the apathy of governments and the failure to provide well-deserved opportunities for their advancement. Often I. wonder who is to blame. To-day, Captain Taylor, whose record as an airman is unrivalled, is a member of the committee that is inquiring into the Kyeema’ tragedy, but I feel that that appointment was given to him merely as a sop. This brilliant man should be given greater opportunities, and I suggest that the Government could avail itself of his services in many ways. We refused to utilize the experience of such outstanding aviators as the late Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, the late Bert Hinkler and the late C. T. P. Ulm, all of whom were forced to go barn-storming in order to earn a livelihood. The treatment that we have accorded our aviation heroes is disgraceful in comparison with that accorded by other countries to their heroes. We might well have regard to the honours which the United States of America conferred upon Lindbergh for his intrepid trans-Atlantic flight. Contrast the recognition extended by the United States of America to Lindbergh with the treatment meted out by Australia to Kingsford Smith, who, in my opinion, was a greater airman.
The Government’s policy of ignoring Australians when it seeks capable men to fill important positions was again exemplified in its selection of an actuary .for the national insurance administration. When information was sought as to why an Australian had not been appointed to that position, we were told that the Government would have preferred an Australian, but could not get one with the necessary qualifications. Subsequent inquiries, however, disclosed that the Government had made no attempt to secure an Australian for the job. The secretary of the Actuarial Society stated -
The position was not advertised in Australia. The Council of the Actuarial Society was not consulted and no offer was made to any Australian actuary on the terms reported.
In view of these facts, therefore, there is every justification for the belief that Australians are deliberately disregarded in the making of important appointments. I cannot understand such an attitude on the part of the Government, because, after all, nine out of every ten members of Parliament who support the Government are Australian born and those who were not born here are possibly better Australians than are those who were born here. Yet it seems to be the policy of this Government to be swept off its feet by the claims of men who bear an overseas brand. Unfortunately, also, a tendency is now apparent on the part of State governments to follow this bad example of the Commonwealth. Led by Mr. B. S. B. Stevens, the Government of New South Wales recently sought a director of physical training in its Education Department. One would imagine that no difficulty would be experienced in securing numerous Australians capable of filling such a position, particularly when we remember that Australians have won honour for this nation as swimmers, boxers, footballers, cricketers and runners. Nevertheless, the Government of New South Wales passed over Australians and selected a Canadian for this job. It is interesting to note that at the very time this appointment was made, two Australians were competing in Canada for the world’s rowing championship. One of those men, like Kingsford
Smith, had been forced to leave this country in order to earn a livelihood. The best job that was offered to him was foot-slogging on a policeman’s .beat.
– What job would the honorable senator have given to him?
– He would certainly be capable of filling the job of director of physical training to which the Government of New South Wales appointed a Canadian. But again, apparently, this was another instance in which no Australian need apply. Yet our beaches are crammed with thousands of young virile Australians who are perfect physical specimens. Surely, from among their number, one could have been chosen to fill this position. Unfortunately, however, our governments seem to have an inferiority complex in this respect. They believe that no Australian is good enough to fill any important position, yet members of such governments have the audacity to claim to legislate in the interests of Australians. It is certainly the limit when a State government prefers to go abroad in search of a physical instructor. We must take stock of the Government’s attitude in this respect.
– Perhaps the Government will soon be importing its Ministers.
– And in present circumstances that would be a great improvement; any change would be one for the better. Reverting to appointments in the Air Force, it is noteworthy that many Australian aviators who were given no opportunities here have won prominence abroad. In one of our weekly publications I read this morning that early in September two Australians and one New Zealander were appointed to senior commands in the Royal Air Force in England. They were Air Commander McClaughry, appointed Director of Training; Wing Commander Evens, who was appointed to command heavy bombers at Abbotsfinch; and Air Commander Park, who was placed in charge of fighter squadrons. The Government’s antagonism to Australians is beyond my comprehension, and I shall be glad if the Minister will endeavour to explain the reasons for it. Australians who have received appointments in the Royal Air
Force have had extraordinarily fine records. We find that at Heliopolis an Australian, Group Captain Drummond, is Chief of Staff of the Middle Eastern Division of the Royal Air Force, which is a much bigger concern than the Royal Australian Air Force, whilst at Rami eh aerodrome, ‘ another Australian, Flower, is in charge.
– But where did he gain his experience?
– AU of these men enlisted with the Australian Imperial Force, and laid the foundation of their careers in Australia.
– But they gained their experience abroad.
– Well, then, if it is necessary to go abroad in search of appointees, which I deny, why not select for appointment here an Australian who is doing well overseas? Can the honorable senator answer that question ?
In a Sydney paper within the last fortnight, I read a statement by Mr. W. E. Carpenter, one of Sydney’s prominent business men .who said that it was impossible to build ships of 10,000 tons in Australia, and that he was purchasing two ships overseas for the islands trade.
– He did not say that it was impossible to build them in Australia.
– I have quoted his statement. The ships are not to be built here, and conditions in Australia have developed in such a way that large numbers of ironworkers are losing their jobs, and many of the yards are working half or quarter time. Between the 24th October and the 11th November 157 ironworkers and 53 boilermakers at Mort’s Dock were dismissed.
– Because contracts had been completed.
– Yes, but surely other contracts should have been forthcoming. During a period of six weeks 500 ironworkers and others engaged in the iron trades were dismissed from the same establishment. From the 31st October to the 15th November 74 ironworkers and engineers who had been employed at the Cockatoo Dock were dismissed, and before long other dismissals are likely to occur. This is due largely to the apathy of the Government which positively declines to act in the interests, of those engaged in the ship-building industry. If this Government would honour its obligation to the people, as the governments of other countries are doing, ships would be built in Australia and Australian labour would be employed to a much greater degree than at present. If a shipping company in the United States of America even dared to suggest that it proposed to have ships built in another country, because the work could be done more efficiently or at a cheaper rate, it would be told that it could not do so.
– But there are 10,000,000 unemployed in the United States of America.
– That may be so, but we have in Australia competent tradesmen -who are anxious to engage in ship construction. British ships are not built in Germany. Shipowners in the United States of America are compelled to have the vessels which they require constructed in the country, and the same policy operates in Russia, Germany and elsewhere. About twenty years ago Australian ship-building yards were constructing vessels of 10,000 tons and over, and even if we have not advanced in ship-building capacity, we certainly have not retrogressed.
– Carpenter and Company Limited are not purchasing overseas because ships cannot be built in Australia, but because the cost of local construction is too great.
– That company is only one of many that have adopted the same practice. Metal Quarries Limited contemplates purchasing overseas a small ship of 500 to 600 tons. The Port Jackson and Manly Ferry Company has recently purchased overseas a beautiful craft to carry Australians from Sydney to Manly: The Australian people provide the money which enables that company to amass huge profits, but when it has any money to spend on new ships it purchases them abroad. Two years ago the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited purchased a new vessel in Great Britain, and the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited and Burns, Philp and company also purchase their ships from British yards. Since the adoption of the Ottawa Agreement, 46 vessels valued at £5,900,000 have been imported, whilst our own ship-building yards have constructed only one vessel of 500 tons. A study of those facts discloses that all is not well with the ship-building industry in Australia. There are ship-building yards in Sydney in which many more men could be employed.
– Why did not we hear the voice of the honorable senator when Mr. Lang was in power?
– I do not know to what the honorable senator is referring. Australian yards can build vessels of any description up to 12,000 tons gross for the intra and interstate trades. If vessels of that tonnage could be built nearly twenty years ago, surely they can bc built to-day ! The Australian people have been more or less betrayed by this Government, but those more directly concerned are the ironworkers, who have evolved a plan which, if carried into effect, will lead to further industrial trouble. Realizing that their work is being taken from them, they have decided that when imported ships require repairs in Australia their services will not be available. I am not prepared to say, offhand, that I approve of the action they propose to take, but I can understand their feelings in the matter. Ship-owners who amass huge profits from which enormous dividends are paid, should have their ships built in Australia. The Stock Exchange reports show that the stocks of these companies are at a premium, and that many of thom are paying large dividends, in some instances on watered stock. These companies are entitled to a fair return on their capital, but companies which have been assisted, as these companies have been, by the Australian people should reciprocate. Next year there may be trouble in the industry, because the ironworkers will refuse to service ships. We shall then find the owners’ representatives travelling post haste to Canberra to tell the Prime Minister that the men have taken control. It will probably be suggested that they be licensed as the waterside workers are licensed, or dealt with under the Crimes Act. It is time the Government stood up to its responsibilities in this respect.
– In what way could the Government help; by means of a bounty?
– This Government should do as other governments do. Australian ship-owners should be compelled to construct ships in this country. Bounties are paid to aid other Australian industries, and there is no reason why the ship-building industry should not receive assistance. If the lowest Australian tender were higher than the overseas price, arrangements could be made for the Government to make up a proportion of the difference.
– The industry in Australia should be encouraged.
– I am gladto have the honorable senator’s support. Several weeks ago the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Perkins) stated that something definite would be done, but up to the present no information has been made available. I should like the Government to make a good job of the work it has in hand, not that I believe it to be a good Government, but for the sake of the people who, for the time being, have to depend upon it for assistance. If the industry were properly handled, it could expand and occupy a very prominent position in the industrial life of this country. The people in the vicinity of Balmain, Glebe and Pyrmont are looking forward eagerly to the day when more employment will be available. Practically all the people of Balmain depend upon the work which is available at Mort’s Dock and Cockatoo Dock, and when employment at these establishments is slack, there is a general feeling of depression in practically every business house and home in Balmain and Rozelle. I trust that the Minister will ask Cabinet to give this matter its most earnest consideration, because I know that the men who are dependent upon these establishments for employment are only too anxious to give of their best.
I support the remarks made by the Leader of the Opposition this afternoon concerning the housing conditions in Canberra. Housing is a simple business proposition which should appeal to the overnment. There is a firm market in Canberra. Hundreds of citizens are waiting for homes and a large number of those already in occupation of houses would like the opportunity to get improved accommodation. Senator Collings has described the deplorable conditions in which many people are living at Molonglo and the Causeway. Houses there have been condemned but are still being occupied. Many of the people living in them would be quite willing to pay a reasonable rental for a decent property. Some of them live in these houses, not because of their economic condition, but because no other homes are available. I am completely at a loss to understand why the Government does not handle this problem of housing in a more satisfactory manner. The trouble cannot be due to a shortage of labour, because skilled artisans are walking the streets in our capital cities in the vain search for employment.
– We can only go by our experience in Canberra, and I tell the honorable gentleman definitely ‘ that skilled artisans are not available.
– What trades has the Minister in mind?
– Bricklayers, plumbers and carpenters.
– Large numbers of bricklayers, carpenters and plumbers are looking for employment in Sydney. I know, because I have been approached with requests to find employment for them. .
– Have these men made application to come to Canberra?
– What good would that do? The Government has not a building programme.
– If the honorable senator were less offensive and would face the facts he would know that the Government has in hand, at the moment, a building programme for 80 cottages, besides other work.
– What accommodation could be found for additional workmen if they did come to Canberra?
– I admit that that is a problem. Some men working in Canberra are living in Queanbeyan.
– I have no desire to be offensive to the Minister, bat I say definitely that the Government should expand its building programme. I know from my experience in Sydney that skilled artisans would be glad of the chance of employment here, and Senator Sheehan has told us that there is a considerable number of unemployed artisans in Melbourne.
– A ship load of skilled workmen left for New Zealand the other day, because they could not get work in Australia.
– We have heard that sort of propaganda before.
– Has the Government announced its building programme in the capital cities of the States, and slated its requirements for Canberra?
– That is a matter for the Works Department. I understand that it is continually advertising for men.
– I have a strong personal love for this capital city - more so than for Sydney, my native city. I think that Canberra is a wonderful place, and I pay a tribute to those who have been responsible for its development to date. But the Government should get on with its housing programme. 1 read the other day that about 2,000 Indian civil servants were about to retire and that they thought of coming to Australia. I feel sure that many of them would like to come to Canberra, because in this city, they could maintain a high standard of living on comparatively small incomes.
– There is nothing to prevent private investors from making contracts for the erection of homes in Canberra. It is not the Government’s job to build homes for everybody.
– I am well aware that the Government’s first responsibility is to its public servants, and I understand that about 350 of them are waiting for homes to be built. I have no desire to embarrass the Government, but if it launched a more comprehensive building programme the transfer of the remaining departments from Melbourne could be expedited. There was no difficulty about the erection of a home, at a cost of £7,650, for Mr. Casey, the Treasurer. All the skilled artisans required were available for that job. We may be sure also that there will be no delay in providing better accommodation for the Duke of Kent, who will arrive in Australia next year for a short term as GovernorGeneral. The Minister for the Interior might have some difficulty in getting sufficient money made available for a larger building programme, but there should be no excuse for hesitancy, because theinvestment should show a return of about 12½ per cent. Earlier in the debate Senator Collings referred to faulty design in a building at Manuka. Clearly the building to which the honorable senator referred was not up to departmental specifications relating to homes, and the complaint made is evidence of the need for closer supervision.
Senator Brand this evening delivered an interesting address on the Government’s defence programme. The honorable senator mentioned the rush of recruits for the Darwin garrison, and pointed out that the satisfactory response was due to the fact that service in Darwin meant permanent employment in the Defence Forces - quite different from voluntary service in the Militia Forces, Some of the men who enlisted for Darwin were, no doubt, glad to get off the dole.
– Many men who were in employment responded to the appeal.
– At a recent convention of the United Australia party in Sydney, Mr. J. McLean, one of the delegates, declared that during the recent crisis, youths actually prayed for war, because it would give them a chance of getting a job.
– That does not mean anything.
– It indicates that if the Government called for 70,000 recruits for the Permanent Forces at a decent rate of pay, there would be a rush of suitable applicants to join Australia’s standing army. I live in one of the most highly industrial areas in the Commonwealth, and I know from the state of local business undertakings what is the degree of prosperity in this country. Having this knowledge I do not hesitate to say that the Government would not have the slightest difficulty in raising a standing army of 70,000 men if it an nounced its intention to pay the men a decent living wage.
Many returned soldiers who served this country well in the last war have to battle with the Repatriation Department in order to get their well-earned pensions. In some cases, widows with children are eking out a miserable existence. One woman who came to see me last week declared that her fortnightly pension was a miserable 5s. 3d. People, she said, laughed at her when she told them that. A man whom I met yesterday sent four sons to the last war. One rose to the rank of major, and two were killed. Now the father gets 5s. 3d. a fortnight. The Government is dealing with these men in a most niggardly spirit.
– It is generally admitted that the Australian war pensions scheme is the most generous in the world.
– That may be so, but I know that a large number of returned soldiers feel that they are not getting a fair deal.
Sitting suspended from 12 midnight to 12.30 a.m.(Thursday).
Thursday, 1 December
– Although the problem of alien immigration is one of the most difficult which confronts the Government, and it cannot always acquaint the public and the Parliament with full particulars of what it is doing in -the matter,’ I hope that definite measures are being adopted. I read in last week’s issue of the British Medical Association’s journal that three doctors, obviously Jews from a European country, doubtless driven from their homes by persecution, had become registered in Victoria as medical practitioners. European doctors first go to England, where they sit for their final examination, which they can pass within twelve months. This gives them a British degree, which is recognized throughout the Empire. Although they are not permitted to practise in Great Britain, their degree enables them, on migrating to a British dominion or colony, to set up in practice. Probably the medical profession is not in the best odour with the Government at the present time, owing to its attitude to the national health and pensions insurance scheme, but I suggest that the Government should carefully watch the position in regard to alien doctors who register for practice in Australia.
– That is entirely a matter for the authorities in the various States. In some of the States these men are not allowed to practise their profession.
– I am not sure that they would be allowed to practise in New South Wales. I admit that all of the registrations to which my attention has been called have occurred in Victoria.
It has been freely rumoured that Jewish migrants are now displacing Australian workmen in factories. I have this advice from a source which I believe to be reliable, and the Government may be in possession of more information on the subject than is in my possession. If that be so, the Government should be galvanized into action to curtail alien immigration.
– Are Jewish immigrants taking the place of Australian workmen?
– I have been assured that, at a shoe factory in Sydney, Australian workmen have been dismissed to make room for Jewish migrants.
– Has the honorable senator definite evidence of that?
– I am not prepared to mention the name of the company concerned, because I am not positive regarding the matter, but I have reason to believe that the information supplied to me ie reliable.
– A case of this kind occurred last week at Mark Foy’s establishment in Sydney, where an Australian was displaced by a Czechoslovakian.
– This evil has not yet become pronounced, but if the Government does not take action immediately, it will soon assume serious dimensions. Deposits are made on behalf of these migrants, and jobs have to be found for them, with the result that Australians are often displaced to make room for them.
– Can the honorable senator produce evidence to show that that statement is correct?
– I believe that the position is as I have already stated, but I do not desire to take advantage of parliamentary privilege in order to disclose information of the accuracy of which I am not certain.
I have dealt with the appointment of persons from overseas to important positions in Australia, and have shown that men of an imported brand seem to be given preference over Australians. The many attractions of Canberra are advertised far and wide, but it is essential to make adequate provision for the housing of public servants and others who wish to establish homes here. I have also dealt with the ship-building industry, which, in my opinion, is the most important matter to which I have referred. Definite action by the Government in this regard would be greatly appreciated throughout Australia, and particularly by residents along the waterfront in Sydney, hundreds .of whom have been dismissed from their employment in the last few months. Steps should be taken to place the industry on an economic basis.
– I am disappointed over the allotment of the money to be made available to assist the large and growing army of unemployed. In New South Wales, where the unemployed number 32,000, it is proposed to expend £5,000 in providing relief work at the Christmas period. They will not be able to purchase much chicken and asparagus with that amount.
– That £5,000 is for only one job at the Mascot aerodrome, but an effort is to be made to accelerate the commencement of other works.
– It has been said that building operations would be extended in Canberra if tradesmen could be found. I should like to know whether tenders have yet been called for the construction of the 80 cottages that are to be erected. If so, builders will be ready to tender for the work, and, if the necessary tradesmen are not available in Canberra, the successful tenderers will doubtless bring to the city the men they require. On another occasion I shall have something more to say on this matter.
Important statements have been made in this chamber to-day with regard to defence. It has been estimated that it is essential to marshal an army of 30,000 militiamen. The number required is now considered to be 70,000, but an expert has declared that no fewer than 120,000 men are needed. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hughes), who is in charge of the recruiting campaign, is determined to disguise himself. So afraid is he that he may be recognized as a pastmaster of trickery, that he recently proceeded to Newcastle incognito as Mr. Black. It seems extraordinary that the right honorable gentleman should have gone to Newcastle, where the industrialists will never forget him for his actions and statements in the past. His record is certainly black enough. Could any one imagine the right honorable gentleman with a beard? It would be impossible for him so to disguise himself that the industrialists of Newcastle would not recognize him. He has initiated a recruiting campaign, and hopes to gel young men to join the militia forces, but he has started at the wrong time of the year. Had he gone there in the winter, young men would have responded to hi3 appeal in order to get boots to keep their feet dry and overcoats to keep their bodies warm. But in the summer overcoats are useless, and boots are not required.
It has been said that the defence policy of the Government does not involve sending men overseas. That means that the defence forces would be engaged only in the event of an enemy landing in Australia. Surely no one expects that to happen! Since the termination of the last war conditions have changed considerably. It has been proved that the best means of defence is an adequacy of implements of war similar to those which would be used by the attacking force.
– Why is the Labour party opposed to the voluntary system?
– Senators Collett, Brand, Foll and Cooper must have some knowledge of what happened in the last war; they must know, that particularly in tie last stages, aeroplanes played a prominent part. During the twenty years which have elapsed since then, wonderful developments have taken place in: connexion with aerial warfare. It is more than foolish for Senator Collett or any other honorable senator to suggest that a number of men be banded together to defend Australia unless they be properly equipped. If an enemy force were to land in Australia every man, and also many women, would be ready to defend their homes, but without proper equipment they would be slaughtered by enemy’ aeroplanes. Australia is only dallying with its defence. It may be that large supplies of oil are being placed in storage, but when I sought information some time ago relating to the importation and consumption of oil, I was informed that it was not in the best interests of the nation to give particulars of the quantity of oil in storage. The quantity of petrol in Australia probably does not exceed 12,000,000 gallons. That would not be sufficient for more than, say, four weeks’ supply for the motor vehicles which would be urgently required- for defence purposes. There would be very little oil for fighting aeroplanes. Any government which knows the true position and does not take action to ensure almost unlimited quantities of oil is not doing its job and should not talk about defence.
We are told that Mr. Davis, the gelatine manufacturer is doing something with the shale oil deposits at Newnes.
– The company is playing with Newnes.
– What was the company doing at the time of the Czech oslovakian crisis?
– Even then, the Labour party would not help the Government.
– The great majority of the men who left Australia with the Australian Imperial Force belonged to the working class, and are supporters of the Labour party. The Labour party says definitely that there is a proper way to defend Australia. This country certainly will not be defended by a Minister travelling incognito from place to place. I wonder whether the director of the recruiting campaign sneaks about in slippers, so that he shall not be heard. Those who investigated the Newnes shale deposits, proved beyond doubt that an expenditure of £600,000 would not only have started the plant working but also would have enabled hospitals and homes to be built. The provision of decent homes and proper hospital and medical attention would have made the lot of the workers much more congenial and safe. The Government which would not spend £600,000 to develop Newnes, now talks of spending millions of pounds on defence. A little over a week ago, Mr. Butler, the manager of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, assured me that neither Mr. Davis nor any other individual could make a success of the Newnes field. It is useless to dally with the position. Mr. Davis has visited the United States of America and England allegedly in order to obtain machinery for Newnes. All the machinery that is needed was at Newnes before he left. Messrs. Creighton and Conacher submitted reports to the Government, but it has not done anything to give effect to them. The people of this nation are entitled to a sense of security. They should not be stampeded into believing that at any moment Australia may be in the throes of war. If the people could be sure that there was in Australia a sufficient supply of oil to meet all requirements for at least twelve months, their whole outlook would be entirely different. There is no intention to develop the shale deposits at Newnes. It may bo that there are sufficient men on the property to avoid cancellation of the leases, but they are not in the Walgan Valley, where the plant is situated, but at Capertee.
– Mr. Hamilton told me last week at Lithgow that there are 70 men at Newnes.
– There may be 70 men on the, pay-roll, but the company is only playing with the proposition. I know that there are many men with long experience of obtaining oil from shale and coal who ure convinced that no private enterprise can successfully develop Newnes. It is the responsibility of the Government to control oil supplies ia this country, particularly when the oil may be required to resist an attack upon Australia. I do not think that an enemy will attack us, but it may be that this continent will be offered as a prize to an enemy in the event of war occurring. Should that position arise, the people of this country would have to decide whether they would defend their territory or accept domination by a foreign nation. That is the only way in which I can imagine Australia being involved. No nation is likely to attack Australia directly.
– What makes the honorable senator think that?
– I have sufficient common sense to understand the position.
– Does the honorable senator know what has been going on during the last three years*?
– I do. If Australia were attacked, 30,000 men would not save it. A strong and efficient air force will provide our only effective means of defence. We require 30,000 mechanics and pilots rather than so many thousands of men merely walking around with rifles. In the last war the rifle was proved to be obsolete.
– The rifle was the decisive factor in every battle.
– It was obsolete.
– The honorable senator would be wise not to say any more on the subject.
– It was obsolete so far as I and my comrades were concerned. Senator Cooper will have an opportunity to explain in what respect the rifle proved a decisive factor, and I shall be prepared to listen attentively to him. In 1911, Lord Kitchener advised that a force of 80,000 trained men would be capable of defending Australia.
– That was the number suggested as the maximum which should be in training at the one time.
– A force of 80,000 or 100,000 would be useless unless it had at its disposal effective weapons, and the only effective weapon for Australian defence to-day is the aeroplane. The value of the air-arm is acknowledged by every modern nation. The Government talks glibly about what we should do in order to prepare our defences, but apparently it has gone to sleep, for it refuses to give any consideration whatever to the development of oil supplies in this country by exploiting the shale in the Walgan Valley. Two committees have reported that this enterprise could be carried to the point of production at a cost of £600,000, including the construction of a railway, a hospital, and homes for the workers.
– The company has guaranteed to spend £166,000 in the Walgan Valley.
– But how much has it actually expended? I have no confidence in private enterprise in this connexion. We know only too well that the major oil companies will do their utmost to prevent the utilization of our oil resources. The Labour party believes that if Australia is to be attacked, the attack will come from the air.
– And from the sea.
– In the event of an attack from the sea, we can shift our civilian population inland out of reach of the invader, but the fact that recently aeroplanes flew non-stop from Egypt to Australia should cause us to think seriously.
– They could not do so with bombs on board.
– But they could take on bombs from vessels stationed within reasonable range of our shores. In a recent debate in this chamber, the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Foll) asked me if I would repeal the New South Wales Returned Soldiers Preference Act and I replied in the affirmative. I now propose to give my reasons for that attitude. I submit that the care of returned soldiers is the responsibility of the National Government and not that of the State government. It was never intended that the States should accept that responsibility. A soldier is an Australian citizen and when our men left for overseas in the last war, they were told that they would receive at least £1 a week if they were injured, and would generally be cared for by the National Government.
– And they are cared for.
– The honorable senator may be well cared for, but I could introduce him to numerous diggers who to-day are sadly neglected. The care of returned soldiers is the responsibility of the National Government.
– It is also the responsibility of the Australian people.
– Does not thi* Government claim to represent the Australian people? I do not suggest that it is the responsibility of the present Commonwealth Government, but I say definitely that it was the responsibility of those governments which were in office from 1916 until 1920, when the returned soldiers were being discharged from service. Those governments, however, shirked that responsibility with the result that to-day thousands of returned men are idle; many have committed suicide whilst thousands have died in degradation.
– The Labour party never offered to do much for them.
– It was a Labour government which provided that soldiers’ pensions could be ‘ increased without appeal to any tribunal.
– Which government ?
– The Scullin Government.
– That Government cut down the pensions of dependants of returned soldiers.
– It did that because it was forced to accept the advice of gentlemen like Sir Otto Niemeyer, and I regret very much that it gave way on that occasion.
– But the honorable senator has just said that the Scullin Government increased the soldiers’ pensions.
– In 1930.
– By what amount?
– I cannot give the amount at the moment, but I know that the pensions were increased because I myself received an increase.
– That was done by the tribunal.
– There was no tribunal in existence at that time.
– The tribunals were established before the Scullin Government assumed office.
– Honorable senators opposite seem to ‘he very concerned to show that a Labour government reduced pensions, but I remind them that it was within the power of their party, which at that time held a majority in this chamber, to reject the cuts which were forced upon the Scullin Government. I have studied the debates’ which took place on that occasion, but I have failed to find that any honorable senator opposite even protested against the reduction of those pensions. Therefore, Government senators who are interjecting are indulging in humbug. If my statement that the Scullin Government increased soldiers’ pensions is incorrect the Minister can refute it to-morrow.
– I refute it now.
– Any returned soldier who is unable to work is entitled to a pension, and it is definitely the duty, not of State governments but of the Commonwealth Government, to look after unfortunate war veterans. No legislation similar to the Returned Soldiers’ Preference Act of New South Wales applies in any of the other States. Under that act a returned soldier who comes from any other (State qualifies for preference of employment under this legislation immediately he becomes a resident of New South Wales. He becomes entitled for preference over any nonreturned soldier, even though the latter has been a resident for very many years in a town or centre in which a job is to be filled, is a married man with a family, and has been unemployed for a long period. The returned soldier, whether he be single or married, is not obliged to’ wait for engagement, if jobs are offering. However, the only preference which is given to returned soldiers even under that legislation is at the end of a pick or shovel ; when good jobs are going the soldiers are not considered.
– They are given preference in regard to all classes of jobs.
– Why was not a returned soldier given the preference when the position of secretary of the Prince Alfred Hospital Board was filled on the last occasion? Although a returned soldier might .already be in a job, say, as a Town Clerk, or in some other official position in a municipal or shire council, he was entitled under the New South Wales act to apply for any other job, and it was provided that he should be given that job, even in preference to a married man with a family and better qualifications. Local governing bodies were the only people to apply these .provisions. The act was not operative in respect of private enterprise. As no one over 35 years of age can be appointed to a position in the Railways Department, returned soldiers are disqualified from appointment. Furthermore, a fair opportunity to obtain employment is denied men who were too young to enlist for active service, although many of these men to-day have families. The act also precludes from securing work the sons of crippled and tubercular soldiers and the sons of soldiers who were killed in battle or who died outside the Commonwealth. If the Government wishes its present recruiting campaign to succeed I urge it to make representations to the Government of New South Wales to repeal that legislation, otherwise thousands of men iu that State, resenting the* injustice of the preference act, will bo bitterly opposed to any activity in connexion with preparation for war. I point out that at a conference of representatives of local authorities held at Orange last week, it was unanimously decided to ask the State Government to repeal the act. Legislation of this kind reacts against the returned soldier himself, because it has aroused considerable animosity on the part of men, who, despite the fact that they have to keep families, are unable to secure employment, merely because it is laid down that a returned soldier must be given preference in respect of all jobs offering. In many instances the men who suffer were only babies when their fathers were killed at the war. These are the reasons why, in answer to the Minister for Repatriation recently, I said that I would repeal that act if I had the power to do so.
Senator Gibson said by interjection that inflation was likely to bring about misery and poverty, and, in some instances, possibly suicide. This afternoon Senator Darcey directed attention to the exorbitant interest rates that are charged to governments and the extent to which the people of Australia are penalized. Not only governments are affected, as will be seen from the following paragraph which appeared in a recent newspaper : -
Mrs. Sofia Tarrell, 32, said in the Quarter Sessions yesterday that she had taken poison because of worry over a debt with a money- lender. “ After I took the poison I was taken to hospital, and was unconscious for some days,” she said.
A jury acquitted her of a charge of having obtained f 300 by false pretences from Ernest Mandelberg, of Park-street, City.
It was alleged that in June she had falsely pretended to Mandelberg that “ all the stock and fittings of a mixed grocery business at Warrawee were her sole property, free and unencumbered, by means of which she obtained ?300.”
Mr. W. Hutton (for Mrs. Tarrell) asked. Mandelberg how much interest he was charging forthis money?
Mandelberg. - I don’t know.
Would it be over 60 per cent? - The money was lent on an unregistered bill of sale; if it had been registered the interest rate would have been lower.
Do you know you drove this lady to distraction and that she took poison? - No. I know she took poison.
If the Government wishes the members of the Labour party to assist it in its recruiting campaign, it will have to submit a defence policy that will be of benefit to the Australian people. I again direct attention to the fact that Mr. Davis, who is in control of operations at Newnes, is neglecting to carry out his responsibilities to the people. If the recommendations of the Newnes Shale Oil Committee were adopted, the project in the Walgan Valley would be started, and about 600 men could be provided with work. If undertakings such as that were carried out in an efficient and business-like way, the defence of Australia would be strengthened, and the Government would find that its recruiting scheme would receive more support. The Air Force should be increased and every precaution taken to ensure that our shore defences are so strengthened that no foreign vessel could approach close to our shores.
When speaking on the motion for the printing of the budget-papers I referred to a road under the control of the Bankstown District Council. I have since received the following letter from the Minister for Defence : -
I desire to refer to your remarks inthe Senate on the 26th September, regarding the reconstruction by the Defence Department of the road from Bankstown to Milperra, and to inform you that your representations on behalf of the council of the municipality of Bankstown have received consideration.
As stated in your speech, this matter has been raised by or on behalf of the municipality of Bankstown on numerous occasions in the past, but the attitude of the department has always been that the construction and maintenance of public roads such as this is a definite responsibility of the State authorities, who receive annually substantial financial assistance from the Commonwealth for such work.
The funds voted to this department are for specific defence purposes, and it is regretted that it is not possible to allocate any portion of these funds towards the coat of road work.
That letter was written on the 10th November. On the 4th November, the Treasurer wrote the following letter to the honorable member forReid (Mr. Gander) : -
Relative to representations made by council forthe allocation of a portion of the petrol tax to local government bodies, and intimating that “ It is pointed out that ofthe Commonwealth grant, 2?d. customs and l?d. excise duty on petrol is specifically for the construction and reconstruction, maintenance and repair of any roads approved by the State governments, and that?d. per gallon may be devoted” to any other works connected with transport. In practice the greater proportion of the latter amount has also been used for the maintenance and construction of roads.
The question of the allocation of any portion of the grant to local government bodies for road works is purely a matter for the State governments. So long as the purposes for the grant conform to the Federal Aid Roads and Works Agreement the Commonwealth can make no objection to any allocation made by the State in the direction they desire.
The question is, therefore, one which can only be settled by the State Government.
On the 3rd November, in reply to a similar request, the Minister for Transport in New South Wales, Colonel Bruxner, wrote -
Re council’s application for on allocation of the proceeds ofthe petrol tax to be made available to councils, that this matterhas al ready been taken up with the federal authorities, without success.
When a request is made to the State Government, it states that it is a Commonwealth matter, and when the Commonwealth Government is approached, it says that . the matter is one for the
State. It would be interesting to know who is the responsible authority. I understand that the State Government receives 3½d. of the petrol tax collected by the Commonwealth, on the understanding that it is to be used on the construction and maintenance of roads.
– The Bankstown Council has again requested me to ask the Commonwealth Government to urge the New South “Wales Government to use some of the money which it receives from the petrol tax on the road at Bankstown which was once used for defence purposes, but which is now in such a state of disrepair that another road ha3 to be used. I trust that the Minister will again bring this matter under the notice of the State authorities.
– I regret that as my presence was required at a Cabinet meeting, I have been unable to hear the whole of the debate. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) criticized the action of the National Insurance Commission in issuing leaflets, which have been distributed to acquaint the people of Australia with the provisions of the national insurance scheme. That is a desirable course to pursue.
– I objected to such wasteful expenditure.
– I do not know the exact amount involved, but I definitely repudiate the suggestion that there has been any waste. The scheme is the largest social benefit plan that Australia has ever undertaken. It is a wise and benevolent scheme, and it is very desirable that people should be fully acquainted with the conditions under which it is to operate. The only way in which that can be done is by a systematic distribution of literature. The issue of leaflets to every householder is a part of the publicity programme of national insurance arranged by the commission many months ago. The object of the commission is to educate the general public in the provisions of the act, which affects a majority of the Australian people, and to satisfy a public need by supplying answers to hundreds of inquiries which reach it in the form of correspondence. The commission is charged with the administration of the act, and in distributing these leaflets, it is really carrying out what it considers to be an essential part of its administrative policy. In Western Australia, hundreds of inquiries regarding the scheme are being made by citizens. A representative of the West Australian, the leading newspaper in that State, interviewed me when I was last in Western Australia, and he agreed that answers from correspondents on general principles only, and not in respect of details, would be made through that paper subsequent to a visit of the chairman of the commission, Mr. Brigden, to Perth, Kalgoorlie and other parts of the State. These inquiries are not only continuing, but are also increasing. In these circumstances, a leaflet is essential, so that those who come under the scheme will know exactly what is required of them. Inquiries were made from officials concerning the early working of a national insurance scheme in Great Britain. Explanatory and educative literature was widely distributed in Great Britain in order to inform the people of the details of the British scheme. We are doing the same in Australia.
Senator Collings referred to the need for additional housing in Canberra. At present the Department of the Interior has 376 applicants for houses, made up as follows : -
I am informed, further, that 30 houses are in course of erection, tenders have been accepted for 75 houses, tenders have been invited for 54 houses, and preparatory work is in hand for inviting tenders for an additional 74, making a total for this financial year of 233 houses. In addition, an amount of £40,000 has been provided on the current year’s Estimates for the granting of loans under the Commonwealth Housing Act to persons desirous of erecting their own homes in Canberra.
The Leader of the Opposition and Senator Cunningham referred to some complaints, about the Manuka Arcade, which, I am informed, is privately owned, and is let through agents. Advantage of the housing shortage is being taken by private landlords and others, and many home-seekers are forced to live under very undesirable conditions. The Government is endeavouring to put an end to this unsatisfactory state of affairs. The Government owns in Canberra 1,495 residences, including the following cheap types : - Acton, 15 ; Causeway, 133 ; Molonglo, 65; Westlake, 61. All of these houses are supplied with electric light, sewerage and water services, and all services arc maintained at departmental expense. At Molonglo houses comprising three rooms are let for 5s. 6d. a. week, and houses of five rooms at 9s. a week. The houses at Acton, Causeway and Westlake originally contained four rooms, for which the normal rental waa lis. 3d. a week. In many instances, at the request of tenants, back verandahs have been enclosed and an additional rental of ls. 3d. charged, making tha total rental for a five-roomed house J 2s. ‘ 6d. It is the intention of the department to transfer the tenants at Molonglo to more suitable houses as opportunity offers, and the existing houses will be demolished as they become vacant. A number of these tenants have intimated that they do not, wish to move from their present homes. Opportunities have occurred for transferring tenants from the Causeway and Molonglo, but the available houses not being in the locality which they prefer, they elect to remain in their existing location, despite repeated complaints of the unsuitability of the houses which they occupy.
Senator Collings, in his references to the Northern Territory, inquired what action was being taken to implement the Payne-Fletcher report. Honorable senators are aware that during the last parliamentary recess, the Minister for the Interior visited the Northern Territory for the purpose of personally investigating the implications of the report of the Payne-Fletcher committee. As the result of his investigations, the Minister has submitted to the Government import- ant and comprehensive recommendations for a long-range plan of development for the Northern Territory. Necessarily, the policy envisaged involves financial commitments not only for the present financial year, but over a period of years. The Government is considering the whole subject, together with its financial implications, in the light of the budget provisions for future years. A full statement of Government policy for the future development of the Northern Territory will be made in Parliament during the present session.
The Leader of the Opposition also dealt at some length with the Commonwealth meteorological services, and made an appeal on behalf of Mr. Inigo Jones, who is well known throughout Australia for his long-range weather forecasts. The Minister for the Interior, who is in charge of the Commonwealth meteorological services, recently made a statement in the House of Representatives regarding the work carried out b.y Mr. Inigo Jones. The Minister stated that he was aware of the widespread confidence in the system which Mr. Inigo Jones adopts in forecasting the weather; but, as a layman, he was unable to form any conclusion as to the merits of the system, and he ‘ did not consider that a satisfactory solution of the problem could be obtained by referring the matter to the Commonwealth meteorological authorities for their comment. The Minister stated further that he had arranged with the Vice-Chancellor of the Melbourne University, that university having been selected by the Commonwealth for endowment in connexion with the establishment of an associate professorship in meteorology, to submit the names of members of a committee which would be prepared to inquire into the meteorological methods of Mr. Inigo Jones. This action -will be taken, and I trust that the result will be satisfactory to all who have interested themselves in his claims.
I had hoped to be able to reply in some detail to the remarks of Senator Cooper concerning the pearling industry, but the information which I sought has not yet come to hand. I may be able to furnish it to the honorable gentleman later. I have taken a keen personal interest in the pearling industry. About two years ago I visited Broome to inquire into the conditions under which the pearlers are working there,- and I lean assure the Senate that the matter is receiving very careful consideration with a view to assistance being given to those engaged in the industry. Pearlers and the pastoralists of the north-west of Western Australia are the only white population in that portion of the ‘Commonwealth, which has aptly been termed the Achilles Heel of Australia. I should be loath to see the pearling industry closed down, and I can give Senator Cooper an assurance that I shall do everything possible to see that some assistance is given to it.
Senator Darcey, this afternoon, gave us another dissertation on the advantage of raising interest-free loans for the defence of Australia. For various reasons, I did not agree with the honorable gentleman’s policy. A brief statement of Commonwealth loan operations will be of interest to honorable senators. Prior to the war of 19.14-18 the cost of certain loans floated by some of the ‘States in London was as follows: -
in the year 1926-27, shortly before the Commonwealth and States entered into the Financial Agreement, Victoria floated a loan in London at a cost of £2 2s. Id. per cent. I cite Victoria because that State was able to raise money on the London market at a rate below that of many other ‘States. Certainly no other State could raise money in London more cheaply. The cost of raising the £7,000,000 Commonwealth loan, which was floated in London in May last, was £!l 10s. 7d. per cent. The cost of the conversion loan of £11,410,000, issued in London in November, 1937, was £1 5s. 4d. per cent. This shows that the cost of loans raised by the Loan Council in London, under the authority of the Financial Agreement, is less than the cost at which the States could float loans when they were individual borrowers on the London market. The cost of raising the November, 1937 loan in Australia, the last loan for which statistics are available, was 36s. 2d. per cent.
Senator Amour spoke about repatriation problems, especially in relation to the Government’s policy of giving preference in employment to returned soldiers. I shall leave that matter in the capable hands of my colleague the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Foll), but I should like to offer a few comments on some of the remarks made by Senator Amour. The benefits given and maintained under the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act are due, not to the generosity of governments or the Parliament, but to the goodwill of the people of Australia, As one who has been connected with the returned soldier movement since I came back from the Great War, I take pride in knowing that no other act throughout the world gives benefits to returned soldiers equal to those enjoyed by Australian ex-service men.
– I bring under the notice of the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral the claims of allowance postmasters for increased remuneration. When I raised this matter some months ago Senator A. J. McLachlan, who was then Postmaster-General, promised that an inquiry would be made. I suggested that, in view of the increase of the basic wage, the equivalent of that increase should be paid to the keepers of allowance post offices. A departmental inquiry was held, as the result of which officials with salaries of less than £1 a week received an increase which brought their remuneration to about £50 a year. Whilst the increase given to these poorly paid officers is appreciated by them, there is a large body of allowance postmasters - they are practically public servants - who have not yet shared in the increase of wages given to permanent members of the Public Service. I desire to know whether the inquiry related to allowance postmasters generally, or was limited to those in receipt of not more than £1 a week. On many occasions I have referred to the value of the services of these officers who are distributed throughout .the Commonwealth. When the basic wage was raised, they should have participated in the increase.
– Last year the High Commissioner’s office in London cost £54,945, and the proposed vote for this year is £74,240, an increase of £19,295. Having looked through the Estimates, I notice that most of the votes show an increase over those of last year, and I wish to know what justification there is for this increase when the Commonwealth is hard pressed for money. A further expenditure of £24,800,000 is to be made in regard to defence during the next three years, in addition to the £45,000,000 already allocated. I do not complain of the sum proposed to be expended on defence, but I am anxious to know whether provision will be made to comply with some of the requests that have come from Tasmania. On the 19th October last I ‘asked a question regarding the provision of an aeroplane for the purpose of training a citizen air force in Tasmania. I was informed that the matter would receive consideration in the event of any further expansion of the Royal Australian Air Force. As an additional £24,800,000 is to be alloted for defence purposes, I take it that a portion of that money will be devoted to the expansion of the Air Force, and that therefore it should be possible to supply the aeroplane necessary to enable Tasmanians to qualify as pilots in their own State.
Although much debate has occurred in regard to defence matters, one important phase of the subject has been entirely overlooked. I refer to the health of the growing population that will provide the Citizen Forces of the future. When Senator Dein was speaking a few days ago with regard to the problem of unemployment, he said that one way to solve, it was to increase the school-leaving age, and another was to reduce the age at which the old-age pension becomes payable. It would be a good plan to raise the school-leaving age if the whole of the cost were not thrown upon the States. If the age were raised from fourteen to sixteen years, and the Commonwealth Government would co-operate with the governments of the States in that matter, much could be done to improve the physical condition of lads between the ages of twelve and sixteen years. This would be of the utmost advantage to them in later years. A good physical training during the school-going period would be of far greater value, in building up the man-power of the nation, than will the present system of military training, and the system that was in operation a few years ago. Under the compulsory training scheme money was wasted, because the members of the forces received little instruction except in drill exercises such as forming fours.
A statement was made to-day by the Leader of the Senate (Senator McLeay) that money would be made available before Christmas from the defence works funds to provide employment for as many of the unemployed as possible, so that they will receive some relief at Christmas. As Tasmania will not share in the defence expenditure, how does that State stand in regard to the unemployment relief? Will its interests be entirely ignored? According to the promise of the Minister, works will be put into operation which will provide employment for a week or two prior to Christmas, but, as far as I can see, Tasmania will not receive any share of the work. The Government of Tasmania .would be most willing to co-operate with the Government of the Commonwealth with regard to defence matters if this Government made that possible. Seeing that Tasmania has such a small sum allotted to it this year, that State will have little opportunity to co-operate with the Commonwealth Government. Should provision be made whereby Tasmania would get its rightful share of defence expenditure, I have no doubt that arrangements could be made for cooperation between the two governments. There are many ways in which money could be expended in Tasmania to the advantage of both the State and the Commonwealth. Tasmania has lakes at high elevations in mountain country, and is, therefore, able to provide electric power at low cost for any industries which may be established on the island. I have heard it said that the cheapest electricity in Australia is obtainable in Victoria, but I do not think that any State can supply electricity more cheaply than i3 possible in Tasmania, with its natural water power. If the Government of Tasmania were allowed to do’ so, it could assist the
Commonwealth materially by supplying cheap electricity to factories for the manufacture of armaments and munitions. Moreover, Tasmania’s sources of power would not be affected by a coal strike as on the mainland. I cannot understand why the representatives of the Commonwealth on the Loan Council are opposed to Tasmania getting money to develop these undertakings.
asked how the Labour party would increase the strength of the militia force to 70,000 men. The answer is simple. At the present time only a small- allowance is paid to volunteers. In an emergency they would be called upon to act in a capacity somewhat similar to that of members of a police force, because they would be required to protect the general public and maintain law and order. Like members of the police force, they should be paid while undergoing training. If sufficient inducements in the way of reasonable pay, good food and clothing, and decent conditions generally were provided, Mr. Hughes would be in danger of being knocked over by those who would rush to join the militia force. I cannot understand the Government asking men to volunteer unless it makes conditions in the militia so attractive that men will not be worse off than in. civil occupations. We cannot expect a man to give up 15s. a day in order to receive 5s. or 8s. a day when in camp. If better conditions were offered I believe that no great difficulty would be experienced in increasing the strength of the militia to 70,000 men. Many of the young men who are expected to join the militia have never had a regular job. It is the duty of the Government to make some provisions for them, so that they may have something worth fighting for. Until the conditions are made more attractive men. cannot be expected k> volunteer in the numbers hoped for by the Minister in charge of recruiting.
In an earlier speech, Senator Brand said that it would be unreasonable to tell me where each cruiser, battleship and aeroplane would be stationed in an emergency. I do not remember asking for such information at any time. I am not so stupid as to expect that the where abouts of each unit of our defence force in an emergency would be divulged. I did urge that in giving effect to the Government’s defence programme there should be greater decentralization and that the money to be expended should be divided equitably amongst all the States.
The sum of £160,000 is to be voted for national insurance this year. Some timo ago I asked for the estimated cost per annum of national insurance, and I was told that it would be about £100,000 a year. Yet for the first year the sum of £160,000 is set down. That amount is exclusive of £23,000, which was expended largely in research before the bill was introduced. That an expenditure of £160,000 on a scheme of national insurance is not justified at the present time is the considered opinion of the great masses of the people.
– The honorable senator, and those who think with him, are misleading the people.
– I should like an election to be fought on the national insurance issue, for I am sure that after the poll Senator McLeay would be on this side of the chamber. Every penny expended on national insurance in its present form is a waste of money.
– The honorable senator is a poor judge.
– Every contribution by an employee to the national insurance fund represents a direct reduction of his wages, and that is how the workers regard it.
– The honorable senator is saying these things merely as political propaganda.
– The Government asks those who are in poor circumstances to pay for their own pensions, although in the past pensions have been paid from Consolidated Revenue. On reaching the retiring age they will not get any more allowance than will be granted to others who have never paid a penny. At this stage I sha.ll not discuss national insurance in detail, but I repeat that every penny expended is a waste of the money obtained from the taxpayers.
The Assistant Minister (Senator Allan MacDonald), when replying to the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) in regard to Canberra housing, said that there were 376 applications for houses in Canberra. He also stated that the Government intend to build 273 houses this year. That will still leave 103 applications on the waiting list. I fail to see how the Government can expect tradesmen to flock to Canberra in order to find employment on its building programme, when sufficient houses are not available to accommodate those already employed here. The Government should speed up its housing programme in Canberra, and, at the same time, institute a housing scheme for workers in the other capital cities, because the housing problem is just as acute in them as it is in Canberra. Senator Dein said that honorable senators on this side have failed to advance any worthwhile suggestion towards a solution of the problem of unemployment. Here is one direction in which the Government could take action and, at the same time, provide work for a large proportion of those unfortunate men who are now unable to secure jobs. I remind honorable senators opposite that in the last election campaign the Government promised to introduce a housing scheme.
– When I addressed the Senate for the first time I mentioned that the holiday enjoyed in recent years by honorable senators opposite was over, and that in future they would be obliged to devote more time to the consideration of matters of importance to the nation. I appreciated the fact that in days gone by it was possible, owing to the numerically weak Opposition in this chamber, for the Senate to meet at infrequent intervals, and to hurry into recess without giving due consideration to the matters placed before it. I did not then anticipate that work such as that with which we have yet to deal would be brought before this chamber. During recent weeks a very striking speech was made in the House of Representatives by the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) in which he advocated that a special parliamentary session should be held next year with the object of devising ways and means to effect amendments of the Constitution in many important respects. I suggest that another special session of Parliament might be held to consider the amendment of our standing orders with the object of enabling us to get right down to business, and deal with the more important matters that concern the people. The rules and procedure have developed over the centuries, but the Senate should not be shackled by obsolete parliamentary forms. While we talk of modern thought and modern development the present is an opportune time, I suggest, to apply a modern outlook to the present forms of Parliament. No doubt the people of Australia will have their faith shaken in democracy when they realize that both in the Senate and in the House of Representatives the expenditure of vast sums of money is given very scanty consideration because of the prolongation of debates of this kind into the early hours of the morning. We should give more serious consideration to the country’s problems than has been given to them in the past, because if the forms of democracy are to remain - and we hope they will remain - we must retain respect for the parliamentary system of government. Immediately the people lose faith in this form of government, we shall be only a very short step from a dictatorship.
The first subject I propose to deal with, and I believe the most important problem, is that of unemployment. To say that 1 am surprised at the statement made by the Leader of the Senate (Senator McLeay) to-day is to express my opinions very mildly. A few days ago a debate took place on this subject in this chamber, and the Leader of the Senate was good enough to promise that he would place the matter before Cabinet. To-day he announced Cabinet’s decision. From his’ statement one is justified in inferring that the Government is proud of its policy, which it claims will enable it to avoid the necessity for granting special Christmas relief to the unemployed. It says that wherever possible it will give full-time employment on defence works. From debates that have taken place both here and. in the House of Representatives, we gather that at present there are about 160,000 men unemployed in this country. That figure has been compiled from a source which if not altogether reliable, is likely to err in the direction of underestimating rather than over-estimating the number who are actually unemployed.
The estimate of 160,000 has been compiled from information supplied by the various trade unions. Perhaps, it is unnecessary to remind honorable senators that trade unions have very little opportunity to keep a correct record of the number of their members who become unemployed, especially as the longer a man remains unemployed the greater is the possibility of his name disappearing from the register of his trade union. I know that that is the position in the industrial organization to which I was attached prior to my entering this chamber. In that organization immediately a man becomes unemployed, or leaves the service of the Railways Commissioner, the union loses trace of him for the time being. He may become a charge on some sustenance or unemployment relief organization, but, in any case, it is almost impossible for the trade union to keep trace of him and therefore it cannot keep a detailed record of the number of its members who are out of work.
Senatorherberthays. - Would he not be registered in some municipality?
– He might or might not. Possibly, as the result of his having had fairly continuous employment over a period of years, he would not immediately register for sustenance. As a matter of fact, because he had earned a certain amount while in employment he would not be eligible to be registered for sustenance immediately he became unemployed, and consequently it is possible that he would endeavour to obtain a job, perhaps believing that he had every prospect of promptly finding work. Furthermore, he may have saved a few pounds, in which case he would prefer to live on that money rather than register as unemployed. Senator Amour drew attention to the fact that this Government proposes to expend £4,000, and the Government of New South Wales £1,000 for the purpose of employing unskilled men on works at the Mascot aerodrome. We have also been informed that a schedule is being prepared in respect of each State, with the object of providing the maximum amount of employment over the widest possible area before Christmas. If we take the figure of 160,000 unemployed-
– Where did that figure come from?
– I understand that it was compiled from information supplied by trade unions and trades hall councils.
– They are usually fairly accurate, arc they not?
– I have already said that it is probably an underestimate rather than an over-estimate of the actual number of unemployed. However, whether it can be regarded as reliable or not, this figure has been utilized by the present Government for the purpose of demonstrating to the people of Australia that as the result of its wonderful legislation unemploymenthas decreased. Therefore, it illbecomes honorable senators opposite to question the accuracy of this figure. They cannot have it both ways. That figure was cited to show that until recently unemployment was decreasing. We must therefore have resort to it in calculating the unemployment position to-day. Unemployment is increasing, and the Government proposes to grant relief to the degree indicated by the Leader of the Senate (Senator McLeay) to tide these unfortunate persons over the Christmas period. The Government should endeavour to grapple with the unemployment problem. Under various State acts provision is made for a permissible income, and when the income of a family, from all sources, reaches a stipulated amount, the father, if out of work, is denied relief. In consequence of the remarks I made in this chamber when the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) moved the adjournment of the Senate to discuss unemployment, I have received letters from persons who are denied sustenance because the permissible income of a family is exceeded. I recall a communication from a woman who stated that there are six in the family, and that the total income of £2 17s. 6d. a week is’ provided by two daughters, who are in employment, and a third daughter receiving aninvalid pension of 15s. a week. The husband is out of work and his wife asked if she can receive sustenance to tide the family over Christmas. During the ordinary Christmas vacation the factory in which the two girls are employed will he closed, and their income will cease. Evidently, they have not been employed sufficiently long to benefit by an award of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, which provides that if employees have been engaged for a specified period prior to the cessation of operations at Christmas, they must be paid.
– I did not know that there was such a provision. I thought that factories closed down, and that even if employees had been working throughout the year, they did not receive pay during the holiday period.
– Under an award of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, persons employed in certain industries for a specified period are paid for the Christmas holidays. Certain unscrupulous employers, in order to circumvent the award, dismiss their employees, and notify them that if they report in. the new year they will be re-engaged. The Government has suggested that when defence works commence unemployment will be relieved.
– So it will to a large extent.
– Relief cannot be afforded for some time, and then only to a limited degree. Something additional is necessary. I trust that even now the Government will reconsider the position and distribute some of its surplus revenue to many of those who are in need. The Victorian Government has decided to make available a fairly large sum of money, and as its revenue is considerably less than that of the Commonwealth Government, its action is commendable.
I have failed to notice any determined effort on the part of this Government to deal with the important problem of providing employment for youths.. Quite a number on reaching manhood lose their employment because younger men are engaged to take their places, but nothing is being done to assist them. During the last general election campaign, -when the Government supporters were wooing the electors, promises were made that immediate attention would be given to the employment of youths. I realize that honorable senators opposite receive requests from fathers and mothers of unemployed boys. Many of these lads have received a good education, and, in some instances, the parents have made great sacrifices in order that they may be properly equipped for the” battle of life.
– The State industrial laws should be amended to enable them to learn trades.
– The lads of whom I am speaking were not intended to be tradesmen. The education they received should enable them to obtain occupations requiring skill higher than that possessed by artisans. I recall Sir George Pearce telling an audience of what the Government of which he was then a member would do if it were returned to power. The people listened with intense interest to the right honorable gentleman, and naturally expected that some assistance would be afforded. I regret that Ministers and supporters of the Government in this chamber have not suggested any solution of this problem. The Government is appealing to the young men of Australia to join the militia, and in that way assist in the defence of Australia; but before it does so it should give them some hope in life. It has been said that the defence of Australia involves not only the defence of property, but also safeguarding the lives, rights, privileges and liberties of the people. Are these merely sentimental expressions? Are the young men of Australia to believe that this country is worth defending? It i3 idle for honorable senators opposite to say that the employment of adults and youths is a responsibility of the State authorities.
– We have not said that.
– Will the honorable senator assist the States to solve the problem of unemployment?
– The Government is already doing so.
– What encouragement did the Premiers receive at the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers held in Canberra a few weeks ago? The Government has been talking about its general policy for the last six or seven years, but so far it appears to be incapable of giving expression to a positive programme for the defence of this country. The humiliating excuse was advanced in the House of Representatives recently that because of unforeseen international happenings the Government was unable to get on with the business of the country.
– Let the honorable senator be fair and compare the defence policy of the Government with that of the Labour party.
– The Government is incapable of giving expression to its policy because of disagreement within its own ranks.
– Nonsense !
– The honorable senator is thinking of the New South Wales Labour party’s troubles.
– At the moment the Labour party led by Mr. Lang is not called upon to outline its policy. If it were, I have no doubt that it would produce one that would be acceptable to the people of New South Wales. But let us examine this Government’s defence policy and contrast it with Labour’s attitude. The Labour movement stands for the adequate defence of Australia. Senator Collings this afternoon delivered a most informative and convincing speech. Labour, I repeat, approves of the voluntary system of recruiting. I admit that this Government is making an effort to obtain recruits by the voluntary method, but I do not forget that there are associated with it persons who are clamouring for the adoption of compulsory military service, and it is because of this conflict within its ranks that the Government is unable to give concrete expression to its policy. Senator Collett this evening told us that, according to the census of 1933, there were in Australia 1,898,202 males between the ages of 19 and 59 years. Under a system of compulsory military training the greater number of those enumerated wouldbe called upon for service. The honorable senator went on to say that of the number mentioned 930,453 males were under the age of 35 years - an ideal group of men who could be called to the colours. Can those who are clamouring for compulsion in militaryservice claim that the Defence De partment is at the moment, or would be in the near future, able to equip and. train that number of men?
– It has never been suggestedthat the number mentioned should be trained.
- Senator Collett also pointed out that 456,565 males would be between the ages of 35 and 44, well within the age group for compulsory military service. Do those who stand for compulsion suggest that this number of men should be immediately called to the colours ?
– No; to even suggest it is ridiculous.
– Unless they were all called up, class distinctions would inevitably arise, and certain sections of eligible persons would endeavour to dodge their responsibilities, with the result that once again the burden would be thrown upon the workers in industrial areas. In my opinion, the Government is, perhaps unwittingly, doing its best to make the voluntary system so unpopular as to be likely to fail. I say this because it has entrusted to avowed conscriptionists the task of organizing the recruiting scheme.
– The honorable senator would like to see the recruiting campaign fail.
– I charge the Government with insincerity. Whilst one section of the Ministry is advocating voluntary enlistment, other elements in the Government believe in compulsion. It is the boast of the Government that this year’s budget is a defence budget, and particular attention is given to the mechanization of the military forces. Fuel oil, essential to the operation of a motorized army, is not produced in Australia. Therefore, weshould have to rely upon horse flesh for the mobility of our armed forces. This being so, I was amazed last year at a parade of military forces in Melbourne to notice that horses, which hitherto had been largely used in the Australian defence forces, had been displaced in favour of mechanical transport. This development involves the storage of immense reserve supplies of fuel oil for naval vessels, the air forces and mechanized units. I therefore approved of the action of the Minister representing the
Minister for Defence in declining, recently, to disclose, in answer to a question,what were the reserves of fuel oil in Australia. Such information should not be disclosed to potential enemies. It has been suggested that if, unfortunately, Australia should be invaded, we should have to depend on guerilla warfare to harass and exhaust the enemy. As we know, this method was successfully employed for a time by the Boers in South Africa. It is important that every encouragement be given to the use of horses by Australian troops, in order to ensure their mobility in the event of oil reserves being exhausted during a war. The Government should not be led into further “ motorization “ of artillery units, because we have not yet discovered sufficient oil to enable mechanized forces to be maintained.
Senator Johnston referred to the speech made by the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) in regard to the necessity for amendment of the Constitution. The statement of the right honorable gentleman has received support from unexpected quarters. His remarks were ably supported by the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Menzies), the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender), the honorable member for Henty (Sir Henry Gullett) and others, including Sir Isaac Isaacs. Senator Johnston rather belittled the suggestion that any move should be made to grant additional powers to this Parliament.
– What he opposed was unification.
– I gathered that he was opposed to the granting of additional power to this Parliament. Whether he attacked the proposal for unification or not, his remarks were of an anti-federal nature. He endeavoured to show that Western Australia suffered grave disabilities under federation, although it entered the union with its eyes open. The question of unification, or, at least, an increase of the powers of this Parliament should have the closest consideration by all who have the welfare of Australia at heart. When this Parliament was brought into being, I took a good deal of interest in the debates at the various federal conventions. Some of the finest and most prophetic utterances, were those of that great democrat, Henry Bourne Higgins, who was regarded as an anti-federalist because he pointed to anomalies in the draft constitution upon which the people were asked to vote. He suggested that the proposed bill should have been rejected, because at every convention at which the proposal for federation had been discussed, the powers sought for theCommonwealth Parliament had been increased. In 1885 many old pioneers and great Australians considered that the time had arrived when the people of this country should become one nation, and from that period onwards the provisions of the proposed constitution underwent many changes. It was thought by Mr. Higgins and others that, if the actual union were deferred until a later date, a better constitution than was adopted would have been obtained. Surely the most ardent “ States righter “ must deplore the position that prevails in connexion with the railways, the control of which was expressly excluded from the powers granted to the Commonwealth, in order to meet the wishes of the opponents of federation. To-day the control of the transport system of this country is shared on the mainland by five governments; in Tasmania it is under the control of the Government of that State.
– The Constitution makes provision for the appointment of an interstate commission to deal with such matters.
– It was suggested that that difficulty could be overcome by the Commonwealth authorities purchasing the transport instrumentalities of the States. The control of the waters of the River Murray and its tributaries was excluded from the Commonwealth powers, and difficulty has been experienced in the distribution of those waters among the riparian States.
– Those States secured a very satisfactory agreement.
– Possibly a better agreement could have been reached, but that is one of the matters that should be discussed. Surely honorable senators do not agree that it should be necessary to create an interstate dispute in order to have an industrial grievance ventilated before the Commonwealth Arbitration Court.
In the light of our experience, we might find it desirable for Australia to have only one parliament, as in South Africa and Canada. As Canada has developed the national parliament has transferred certain functions to the various provinces.
– That is a d i ff ferent proposition.
– But the fact that the various States of Australia were colonies first is no reason why the Constitution should be regarded as unalterable, like the laws of the Medes and the Persians.
– Did the honorable senator ever support a proposed amendment of the Constitution not submitted by a Labour government?
– I supported the most recent proposal- for its amendment.
– The 1926 proposal for increased industrial powers?
– I supported that.
– In Victoria it was defeated by about 200,000 votes.
– I cannot help that. No doubt that was due to the intrusion of party politics.
One of the arguments advanced in favour of federation’ was that the powers which were playing a certain part in the Far East reduced their activities when they saw Australia developing as a nation. Those who wooed the electors at that time pointed out that the people of Australia should have one flag and one destiny. The ideals of those great Aus,tralians, who could not foresee the difficulties that would arise under the Constitution, were expressed without knowledge of the parochialism that would be displayed in later years. Assuming that Western Australia had not joined the federation, and still had the right to impose tariff barriers against the products of the eastern States, it would have been practically at war with the other States. Therefore the opinion expressed by Senator Johnston is un-Australian. If the proposed session for consideration of the amendment of the Constitution be held, a full discussion can take place regarding the granting of additional powers to this Parliament. -
I have endeavoured to reveal to the people of Australia some of the shortcomings of the Government which is in control of the destinies of the nation. It is not surprising that those who support the Government do not approve of all that I have said. I conclude on the note on which I began. If it be worth while for honorable senators of the Opposition to give time and thought to the problems that beset Australia ; and if it be worth while for members of the Ministry and supporters of the Government to consider what is said, there is a proper time for those things to be said. That time is when men are alert, and not, as I have seen in the other branch of the legislature, when only a few of the members are making a pretence of carrying on responsible government. If there is one thing more than another which has pleased me since I was elected to this chamber, it is the fact that honorable senators do attend in their places to do the business of the country. When I was elected to the Senate I remembered that I had witnessed in various Houses oE Parliament business being conducted in the absence of a big proportion of members, and I then expressed to one of my friends on the other side the hope that members would realize that the British parliamentary institution was the last bulwark against the march of dictators and totalitarian forms of government, and act accordingly. I hope that before many years have passed steps will be taken to reform our practices and pro:cedure, in order that the business of the country may be transacted with the despatch and earnestness that the great problems which confront us merit.
– I had intended to speak of aeroplanes and submarines, but sufficient has been said on that subject for there to be no need for me to speak at length at this early hour. The Leader of the Government (Senator McLeay) spoke of undertaking defence works in the various States as a measure of Christmas relief. I do not know what work of this nature can be undertaken in Western
Australia. The only aerodromes in that State are one at the Pearce aerodrome, Bullsbrook, and another at Maylands. It may be that some works are contemplated at Rottnest Island. If there is no work offering, what is to happen to the men who are idle? In the metropolitan area alone between 300 and 400 men are unemployed. In my first speech in the Senate I spoke of the need* to provide some measure of Christmas relief for those in need of it. As there is not sufficient work offering in Perth for men who are on sustenance, I hope that the Commonwealth will come to the aid of the State government in providing relief.
A recent issue of the Canberra Times contained some criticism of Australia House. It is unfortunate that Australia has not a better advertisement in London. The newspaper report also said that some of the employees of the Commonwealth had been employed in Australia House for 25 years, and had never seen Australia. That is not right. Every man employed there should be an ambassador for Australia. I do not advocate the dismissal of those employees, but I suggest that there be periodical exchanges between London and Australia as there is, to some extent, between Canberra and the other capital cities of Australia. “We are informed by the newspapers that the only advertisement in the windows of Australia House is one for a shipping company, and that on the ground floor of the building is a cafe which is not a good advertisement for Australia. In my opinion all Agents-General for the States should have their offices in Australia House. That would mean a saving to the States and the Commonwealth.
The legislation recently passed to provide for a scheme of national insurance pleases neither employers nor employees, and should be repealed at the earliest possible moment.
I have never been able to understand why Parliaments, both Commonwealth and State, rush business through towards the end of each year. Such methods are unfair to members generally, and particularly unfair to Ministers. The strain on Ministers must be great indeed, especially when questions are directed to them. Owing to the pressure at which the work is performed mistakes frequently occur. The business of the country should be proceeded with under reasonable conditions. I hope that next year the budget debate will be concluded long before the end of November. Late sittings are undesirable, and should be avoided.
– Senator Gibson asked whether members of the Opposition are behind Senator Darcey in his advocacy of monetary reform. I assure the honorable senator that we are not behind our colleague, but are in the front row with him. Senator Darcey and other members on this side of the chamber are not alone in advocating an alteration of the monetary system of this country. The royal commission on banking, which was appointed by the Lyons Government and took evidence in every capital city of the Commonwealth, in its report backed up in no uncertain manner the suggestions made by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) a few days ago with respect to the need for monetary reform. When- 1 spoke on this subject before, I said that when the opportunity occurred I would refer to the paragraphs in the commission’s report in which an alteration of the monetary system was advocated. I now draw the attention of the Senate to paragraphs 503 and 504 of the commission’s report - 503. The central bank in the Australian system is the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. This bank is a public institution engaged in the discharge of a public trust. As the central bank, its special function is to regulate the volume of credit in the national interest, and its distinctive attribute is ite control of the note issue. Within the limits prescribed by law, it has the power to print and issue notes as legal tender money, and every obligation undertaken by the Commonwealth Bank is backed by this power of creating the money with which to discharge it. 504. Because of this power, the Commonwealth Bank is able to increase the cash of the trading banks in the ways we have pointed out above. Because of this power, too, the Commonwealth Bank can increase the cash reserves of the trading banks; for example, it can buy securities or other property, it can lend to the governments or to others in a variety of ways, and it can even make money available to governments or to others free of any charge.
That report substantiates the soundness of Labour’s monetary policy. The urgency of monetary reform is being realized not only within the Commonwealth itself but also throughout the world, because, as has been rightly said, “government is finance, and finance is government “. Consequently, if this Government fails to deal with the matter its successor will certainly be obliged to face up to it. When Senator E. B. Johnston was referring to the proposal to hold a special parliamentary session next year to consider amendments of the Constitution, I interjected that the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), as well as the Attorney-. General (Mr. Menzies), had applauded Mr. Scullin’s speech on that subject. The honorable senator denied that the Prime Minister had applauded Mr. Scullin’s. speech; he said that Mr. Lyons had merely made a very diplomatic statement to the press. It is unnecessary for me to remind honorable senators that both Senator Johnston and the Prime Minister served their apprenticeship in the ranks of the Labour party, and, for quite a long period, subscribed to its policy. Senator Johnston was inconsistent in the opposition, he uttered this evening to any suggestion that the State Parliaments should be abolished, because he supported the proposals submitted at the last referendum in respect of the control of aviation and marketing. . He seems prepared to advocate, or oppose, unification, according to his whims. Undoubtedly the States fully endorsed the principle of unification when they entered into the financial agreement with tho Commonwealth.
I am not accustomed to throwing bouquets, but apropos the complaint made by Senator Arthur concerning the answer supplied by the Treasurer to a question which he asked recently, I take this opportunity, as one who has asked his share of questions in this chamber, to pay a tribute to the accuracy of the answers invariably supplied to my questions by the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Foll). I have checked up on each of those answers and, without exception, have found them to agree with information already in my possession. In respect of the matter about which Senator Arthur complained, I point out that an answer supplied to the late , Senator Barnes stated that the paid up capital of the associated banks in 1932 was £60,000,000. Therefore, the information supplied by the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) in answer to Senator Arthur that the paid up capital of the associated banks in 1938 was £30,000,000 does not seem to be correct. I should not imagine that much research would be involved in securing accurate information on that point. I point out that the report of the Royal Commission on Monetary and Banking Systems mentioned that, according to the balance-sheets of the trading banks, shareholders’ funds in 1936 totalled £70,000,000. In view of the authenticity of this information, I am not prepared to accept the figure of £30,000,000 for 1938 given by the Treasurer.
I agree with much of what Senator Sheehan said in regard to tho problem of unemployment. So far as the youth of this country is concerned the most serious aspect of that problem is the lack of apprentices, due mainly to the mechanization of industry and mass production. Owing to a shortage of openings in industry many young men accept positions in emporiums, but, on reaching the age of 21, they are dismissed and thrown on the labour market. A commission which was appointed by the Government of Western Australia to inquire into this problem emphasized the tragedy of young men who had the misfortune to suffer in this way.
I support the representations that have been made by Senators’ Cameron and Brand urging the Government to come to the assistance of veterans, of the South African war who now find themselves in distress. I subscribed wholeheartedly to labour’s policy of defence. We stand foi the adequate defence of this country. In the comparatively short period in which Labour governments have been in office in Australia they have done much more than all of the other governments combined to build up our defences, and Labour’s record in that respect will stand the test of time. This Government changes its defence policy practically daily; gradually it is accepting the policy enunciated by the Labour party at the last election. That cannot be denied. Our policy is backed even by a large section of the press. In view of the frequency with which it changes its mind, this Government can hardly be said to have any policy on defence. Although members of the Government supported the Minister for Works (Mr. Thorby) when, as Minister for Defence, he was attacked by the press, they were, nevertheless, prepared to “ dump “ him in the recent Cabinet reshuffle. The uncertainty of mind of the Government has done more to disturb the right defence of this country than has any criticism levelled against it by the Opposition. Senator Dein, in order to cover up the mistakes of the Government which he supports, misrepresents the defence policy of the Australian Labour party. I can assure the honorable senator that the statements which he has made by way of interjection are not likely to mislead the Australian people, who can follow the defence policy of the Labour party more intelligently than he is capable of doing.
– I have read the Labour party’s blue book.
– If the honorable senator has done so, he has misunderstood the valuable information which it contains.
Although the Prime Minister promised that a commencement would be made on the standardization of Australian railway gauges nothing has yet been done. Thousands of pounds is being expended on doles for the unemployed, for which there is no return, yet a reproductive work such as the standardization of our railway system has not even been seriously considered. It would he interesting to know what would have occurred during the recent international crisis had it been found necessary to transport troops and the necessary equipment over railways dislocated by numerous breaks of gauge. In 1911 the late Lord Kitchener said that one of our greatest defence weaknesses is our transport system. It would be necessary to have 42 or 43 trains to transport a division fully equipped for active service from the east to the west of Australia and that the work would take six weeks. Until recently, roads would be quite incapable of withstanding heavy traffic. Senator Johnston, who supported the referendum proposals in respect of marketing in order to assist the primary producers, surely realizes that if the Australian railway systems were standardized the transport of primary products would be facilitated. I trust that the Minister will outline the policy of the Government in respect of the standardization of railway gauges.
. - in reply - The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) referred to the unsatisfactory conditions under which people are living in the Manuka Arcade, Canberra. As was stated by the Assistant Minister, that building was never intended to be used for residential purposes. I shall bring the matter under the notice of the Director-General of Health, and ascertain whether the department, the powers- of which are somewhat limited, can remove the undesirable features which undoubtedly exist.
– I hope that the tenants will not be removed until suitable accommodation is provided.
– That is the difficulty. The Leader of the Opposition also referred to the Payne-Fletcher report on the Northern Territory. The Minister for the Interior (Mr. McEwen) is now dealing with a revised policy for the Northern Territory, but he is in the unfortunate position of many other Ministers, in that the requirements for defence preclude necessary expenditure on essential developmental works. I hope to be in a position later to supply the Senate with details of what is being done in connexion with the defence of Northern Queensland, but at present I am not permitted to do so. I congratulate Senator Collett upon his informative speech on defence problems, and I assure him that the Government’s defence policy is being speeded up as much as possible. In reply to those honorable senators who have criticised the Government’s defence policy, I may say that owing to the disturbing development in world affairs it has been necessary to expand the policy from time to time. The Government is guided by the advice of its experts, and it is essential that defence policy should be amended in some respects to ensure the safety of Australia. I remind Senator Sheehan, who took such a delight in denouncing the Government’s defence policy, that it ill becomes him or the party to which he belongs to attack the Government in that connexion. He should study closely the defence policy of the Labour party.
– It is the only real defence policy.
– That is an idle statement, because at the last federal elections the policy outlined by the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Curtin) was rejected by an overwhelming majority of the Australian people. The last general election was fought on the defence issue, and in the popular chamber where representatives were elected, not on an alphabetical basis, the Government was returned with a substantial majority. This was due partly to the fact that the Government submitted an effective defence policy, and partly to the fact that in mattersof defence the Labour party was floundering then as it is to-day. Senator Sheehan was also most unfair in his attacks upon the militia system. He stated most deliberately that the Government and its supporters did not wish the appeal for volunteers to succeed. That is grossly unfair and inaccurate. The Government is particularly anxious that the appeal shall succeed. Employers are being asked to grant their employees time off in which to attend training, to keep their jobs open, and to make up the difference between their military and civil pay while they are in camp. Many large employers are responding to the appeal. I recall one firm in particular - I shall not mention the name - employing 3,000 men, which has sent a circular to each of its employees suggesting that they should serve in the militia, and assuring them that it will not only keep their jobs open while they are in camp, but also will make up the difference in their pay. That is not an isolated case, as other employers are agreeable to adopt a similar policy. I do not propose to deal in detail with many of the subjects raised by honorable senators, but I shall see that their remarks are brought under the notice of the appropriate Minister.
Senator Brand and several other honorable senators suggested that the veterans of the South African war should receive the benefits provided under the Australian
Soldiers’ Repatriation Act, but Senator Brand supplied a portion of the answer to his request. Shortly after a deputation waited upon me asking that the benefits of that act should be extended to those who served in the South African campaign, I was inundated with applications from men who had served on troopships during the great war, and, although they may have been in the danger zone for a longer period than men who served in the South African war, their claims could not be considered. There are others, including those who served in munition factories, and if benefits were extended to the South African war veterans they would also have to be extended to thousands of others. The Government is not disposed to include veterans of the South African war, and I, as the responsible Minister, could not make a recommendation in their favour unless the privilege were extended to ‘ other persons who have approached me since I met the deputation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This measure provides for the appropriation of revenue for the ordinary services of the various departments. For the first four months of the financial year, the ordinary transactions of the Consolidated Revenue Fund were - Receipts £27,142,000; expenditure £27,505,000; excess of expenditure over receipts £363,000. This excess of expenditure over receipts cannot be regarded as fully indicative of the position at the 30th June next, as the incidence of receipts and expenditure is not uniform throughout the year.
The bill provides for an appropriation of £16,379,300 for the services of the year 1938-39; to that sum should be added the amounts already granted under Supply Acts Nos. 10 and 29 of 1938, namely £8,824,700 and £5,349,050 respectively, making the total amount £30,553,050, which is the estimated expenditure from annual appropriations for ordinary services for the year, as set out in detail in the second schedule of the bill.
I shall be obliged if honorable senators will assist the Government to make some progress with the bill in committee, because when the Senate re-assembles later to-day, it will be necessary to consider a group of measures to assist the wheat industry. These bills should be disposed of this week in order that the collections of revenue under them to provide for the payments to wheat-growers may commence from Monday next.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
First schedule agreed to.
Proposed vote, ?137,400.
– I bring to the notice of the Government the inconvenience caused to very many honorable senators by the present arrangement for the sittings of this chamber. Many of us believe that, instead of having a number of short sessions and frequent adjournments, it would be better to follow the practice of State Parliaments and have a continuous sitting of the Senate from, say, early in July until the first week in December. The existing arrangement is most inconvenient to honorable senators representing distant States. Honorable senators from New South “Wales and Victoria are in a more fortunate position. They are able to reach their homes during week-end adjournments and return to Canberra in time for the sittings of the Senate in the following week. Since I would have to travel 3,000 miles to reach my home and return, I am obliged to remain in Canberra or visit Sydney or Melbourne during week-end or other short adjournments. Our suggestion would, I believe, be helpful to Ministers also, because they must find it extremely difficult to attend the sittings of Parliament and at the same time deal with affairs in their departments, as well as assist in the framing of proposed new legislation. I do not know how much notice the Government will take of my suggestion, nor do I realize yet, perhaps, the obstacles in the way of its adoption.
- (Senator James Mclachlan). - I remind the honorable senator that the item before the com mittee relates exclusively to the financial provision made for the Parliament.
– I am aware of. that, Mr. Chairman, and I point out that the present arrangement involves honorable senators representing distant States in expenditure which is not incurred by honorable senators from New South “Wales or Victoria, because, as I have explained, they are able to reach their homes in less than two days. I am not suggesting that honorable senators from distant States should be given special financial privileges, but I urge the Government, in the interests of those who have to travel long distances, to consider the advisableness of having continuous sessions, so that in the longer recesses we who travel far may be able to spend more time among our constituents.
– Some consideration should be given to the plight of ex-members of this Parliament who have served this country for many years, but to-day are left practically destitute. I suggest that the Government might well consider the possibility of granting an allowance to them. In the course of many years of Parliamentary service, the average member loses money, and, in the end, political changes occur which displace him and leave him without a means of livelihood.
– I support Senator Cunningham’s remarks. He pointed out that senators are in Canberra for only a few days at a time owing to the frequency of adjournments of the Senate. The more frequently we travel, the greater are our expenses.
– I was waiting for Senator Cunningham to connect his remarks with the proposed vote under consideration, but he did not do so. The matter referred to may not be discussed now.
– Should I be in order in referring to the manner in which the business of the Commonwealth is submitted to the Parliament?
– I hope that 1 shall be permitted to comment on the short notice at which honorable senators are called upon to deal with the expenditure provided for in the Estimates. It is impossible to make an intelligent analysis of the Estimates, and of the explanatory statement which has been circulated in regard to defence expenditure, in the brief time available for their consideration. Members of this chamber are at a great disadvantage in discussing the finances of the country, and it would be advisable to appoint a sub-committee to consider the details of the proposed expenditure. It is impossible for me to say whether the money will be expended in a manner which will safeguard the best interests of the people.
– Referring to the item “ Conveyance of senators and their luggage to Canberra “, I draw attention to theunnecessary time spent in travelling owing to the shortness of the sittings. It takes 38 hours to travel from Adelaide to Canberra, and on the basis of the present sittings, 76 hours’ travelling is involved in three days’ work. If this chamber sat continuously for a fortnight or three weeks a considerable saving in travelling expenses would be effected.
– This proposed vote contains no reference to the conveyance of honorable senators between Canberra and the other States.
– By intelligent planning, time and expense now incurred in travelling to and from Canberra unnecessarily could be saved.
– I cannot allow the honorable senator to proceed on those lines.
– I give honorable senators an assurance that the matters mentioned by them will be taken into consideration. In reply to Senator Courtice, I point out that practically all of the information contained in the Estimates was circulated some time ago.
.- The matter mentioned by Senator Keane has been submitted to the Government, and it will be considered in due course. It is a sad commentary on the work of this Parliament that men who have given the best years of their lives to the service of their country, through the turn of fortune which comes to all of us sooner or later, eventually find themselves in a destitute position. Often I have thought that it would not be asking much of the country ifsome provision were made to assist these men who have not the benefits of superannuation which are enjoyed by members of the Public Service.
– Why not adopt the Canadian system.
SenatorFOLL. - Naturally, that would appeal to us, because the members of the Senate in that country are elected for life. Any proposal submitted for relief to ex-m embers of this Parliament will be considered by the Government.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed votes - Prime Minister’s Department, £515,000; Department of External Affairs, £18,100 ; Department of the Treasury, £862,000; and AttorneyGeneral’s Department, £218,000 - agreed to.
Department op the Interior.
Proposed vote, £662,000.
– Is the Minister able to give honorable senators any information as to the operations of the Forestry School during the last twelve months? I should like to know how many cadets are at the school, what States they have come from, and to what extent the States have co-operated with the Commonwealth authorities.
– I understand that there are eight or nine cadets now at the Forestry School and that there is a greater desire on the part of the States to co-operate with the Commonwealth than existed some time ago. I know that the Queensland Government is actively co-operating with the Commonwealth authorities, and is making provision for the employment of students who have passed through the school. The chief difficulty associated with the Forestry School is that of finding openings for men who have finished their course. I shall obtain the information asked for by the honorable senator and forward it to him.
– I do not know of any reports on the activities of the Forestry
Branch. We were led to believe that the Forestry School would be a training ground for cadets who, on the completion of their training, would return to the States from which they came.
– The Director-General of Forestry issues an annual report from which the honorable senator should be able to obtain the information that he seeks.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of DEFENCE
Proposed vote, £6,874,000.
– The sum of £6,000 is set down for “ Recruiting Expenses “. I should like the Minister to give some information regarding this item.
– I take this opportunity to bring under the notice of the Minister what I consider to be a dangerous practice, namely, the publication in certain evening papers of details of certain types of anti-aircraft guns. In my opinion, such information should not be made public.
.- The sum of £66,100 is provided for rifle clubs and associations. Last year £66,070 was voted and £65,678 was expended. I “draw attention to the following paragraph in a memorandum submitted by the Minister for Defence : -
New rifle clubs were formed during the year at sixteen centres, but 37 others having become inactive had to be disbanded. There are still 54 clubs, classified as non-efficient, which are under consideration for disbandment. When their cases arc finally decided it is hoped that it will be possible this financial year to approve of the formation of a greater number of new clubs, in view of the considerable waiting lists in several States.
It would appear that insufficient provision has been made for rifle clubs and associations. These clubs should be encouraged as part of the country’s defence policy, but if the expenditure is to be the same this year as it was last year, there is no room for expansion.
– Senator Aylett referred to the proposed expenditure on recruiting. The amount of £6,000 is provided to meet the expenditure in connexion with recruiting necessary to keep the Royal Australian Navy up to the approved complement. The principal items of expenditure are in connexion with the medical examination of recruits, rail fares, and advertising. The item has nothing to do with the recruiting campaign now being undertaken in connexion with the militia.
I assure honorable senators that the Government is not unmindful of the good work which is being .accomplished by rifle clubs and associations. In a statement issued by Mr. Thorby when he was Minister for Defence, he set out some of the ways in which the services of rifle club members could be utilized by the Defence Department. The Government recognizes the value of these clubs, and their claims will not be overlooked. I am associated with the Southern Queensland Rifle Association, but I have not seen any requests for additional assistance from the Government to such clubs or associations. I, therefore, can only conclude that they are fairly satisfied with their treatment. I shall, however, bring the honorable senator’s remarks under the notice of the Minister for Defence.
– During the last financial year an amount of £132,485 was expended on training. This year the vote is £174,300. I view of the large numbers who are expected to enlist as the result of the Government’s present recruiting campaign, this increase seems to be rather small.
Senator FOLL (Queensland - Minister for Repatriation) [4.46 a.m.l. - This sum is being provided in connexion with increased training activities, and includes a special amount of £41,300, apart from the ordinary developmental programme, and a sum of £4,600 to meet exchange on salaries, allowances and fares, &c. of officers sent abroad for training.
– How many officers are sent abroad annually?
– I cannot state the number, but nearly all of our staff officers are sent to England, or India, for special courses.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vole - Department of Trade and Customs £726,000- agreed to.
Proposed vote, £135,500.
– A sum of £15,950, representing an increase of £1,324 over the expenditure incurred last year is allocated in respect of Western Australia. Can the Minister state how many successes and failures were recorded last year in tests made at the X-ray laboratory at Kalgoorlie where applicants desirous of entering the mining industry must be examined.
SenatorFoll. - At the moment I cannot give the honorable senator that information, but I shall obtain the details he seeks, and forward them to him as soon as possible.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote, £510,000.
– An amount of £21,150, representing an increase of over £10,000, is being provided in respect of general expenses in connexion with our representation in various countries. I take this opportunity to urge upon Ministers the desirability of extending their visits to the various States beyond the respective capitals. In order to make themselves better acquainted with local conditions they should periodically spend at least a week in country centres, particularly in the more distant States.
– Does the amount of £4,450 allotted in respect of representation in the United States of America include any expenditure in connexion with the Anglo-American trade agreement which was recently concluded ?
Senator FOLL (Queensland - Minister for Repatriation [4.51 a.m.]. - The details of this amount are set out on page 244, It is made up of salaries and allowances of our trade commissioner, and assistant trade commission, in New York. Naturally, our commissioner there, Mr. Macgregor, would take any action in connexion with that agreement which he was required to take, but this amount refers to the items I have mentioned.
– Would the Minister give details in respect of our representation in Egypt?
SenatorFOLL.- The amount provided covers the salary and office expenses of Colonel Hughes who is our trade representative in Egypt, with head-quarters at Cairo. He originally went abroad as a trooper in the Light Horse from Tasmania, and after the war, remained abroad as a member of the War G raves Commission. As he has an intimate knowledge of Egypt, the Government took the first opportunity to secure his services as our trade representative in that country, in which position he has already done excellent work.
– Will the Minister explain the item, “ overhaul of and repairs to steamers, boats, and launches, £7,800 “?
SenatorFOLL. - That amount represents expenditure on ordinary annual overhauls and minor repairs to the launches controlled by the Trade and Customs Department, the Health Department and the Department of Commerce.
– Will the Minister give the Senate some details concerning our trade investigations in India?
– The sum of £2,500 is provided to cover expenditure incurred by a delegation of three men who were selected to visit India in order to investigate the possibilities of expanding our trade with that country. Representations had been made to the Government that such action was desirable, and this delegation subsequently presented a comprehensive report which was tabled in Parliament some time ago.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote, £1,356,000.
– I notice an amount of £2,000 for an annual allowance to Mr. A. B. Piddington. I draw attention to it, appropos the remarks I made earlier regarding allowances to necessitous ex-members of this Parliament.
– I understand that 0118 of the members of the Commonwealth Grants Commission has retired, and I should like to -know whether any fresh appointment has been made.
– No such appointment has yet been made.
– “Will the Minister explain why the vote for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has been increased by £34,000? *
– “With the advance in aviation generally it was decided to establish a Chair of Aeronautics at Sydney University, and also a Chair of Natural Philosophy at the Melbourne University. This amount represents the cost incurred.
– An amount of £30,000 ie provided for ‘Research - Grant” and I should like to know if that amount in-, eludes the item which follows : - “ Tobacco investigation and instruction, to be paid to the credit of the Tobaccogrowing Investigation Trust account, £15,000 “. Has any alteration been made of the grant paid to “Western Australia for research purposes? Is it considered that the grant is insufficient?
– The grant for tobacco investigation and instruction has been reduced from £20,000 to £15,000, and I understand that the reduction will operate proportionately in the various States. The bulk of the work is being done in “Western Australia and in Queensland, which are the two principal tobacco-growing States. As a considerable amount of research work has already been completed, the Government does not consider it necessary to provide the same amount this year as was voted last year. It is considered that £15,000 is ample to meet this year’s requirements.
– Provision is made for the appropriation of £6,300 in connexion with representation at the unveiling of the Villers Brettoneux “War Memorial. Will the Minister explain ‘ the manner in which that money has been or is to be expended.
– It represents the cost of transporting a number of Australian ex-soldiers from London to Villers Brettoneux and returning them to England. The cost was about £5 or £6 a man. When the Villers Brettoneux memorial was unveiled by Hia Majesty the King, the Commonwealth Government felt that it was appropriate that a guard of honour of ex-soldiers should attend the ceremony. The Government defrayed the cost of the visit which, I think, did not extend beyond two or three days. The expenses of Ministers who attended the ceremony are not included in that amount.
– I direct the attention of the Minister to the appropriation of £5,000 for a national health campaign. The amount voted last year was £100,000 and the whole of the vote was expended. Is the Government reducing its activities in that connexion ?
– The amount of £100,000 was provided last year for the construction of child clinics in each capital city. That amount was placed in a trust fund, but although sites are available, all the clinics have not yet been erected. It is not a recurring item.
– Under the Department of the Treasury £100,000 is being appropriated for “ National Insurance - Preliminary expenditure and provision towards cost of medical treatment of the wives and children of insured persons “. I understand that legislative provision has not yet been made for the medical treatment of wives and children of insured persons.
– Honorable senators will recall that during the passage of the National Health and Pensions Insurance Bill the Government promised that it would donate 5s.” for each insured family to enable insured persons to provide voluntarily for the insurance of their families. This is merely an instalment.
.- The sum of £830 is to be appropriated for “ Brown coal deposits,
Moorlands, South Australia - Geophysical Investigation.” Can the Minister state whether a geophysical investigation hasbeen carried out, and if so whether it has been successful? Why has the amount been reduced from £2,500 voted to £830 this year?
Senator FOLL (Queensland - Minister for Repatriation [5.8 a.m.]. - The amount represents the balance of £3,000 originally appropriated for investigations conducted by the Commonwealth Government at the request of the South Australian Government to determine the quantities, accessibility and quality of the coal in the area mentioned. Field work has been completed and the results are now being compiled. The report should be available shortly.
– Under the Department of Health £500 is being appropriated for investigation of industrial diseases. Will the Minister explain the manner in which the money is to be expended and state whether he considers it sufficient for the purpose ?
– This amount is to provide for research work in connexion with silicosis, a disease contracted by miners, stone masons and persons employed in wheat silos. It is a grant to assist universities in certain research work. The Commonwealth Arbitration Court requested the Commonwealth Government to investigatethis complaint, and I believe that 26 or 27 cases have been dealt with. This amount is sufficient to cover the necessary investigation.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote - Refunds of Revenue, £l,450,000; Advance to the Treasurer, £2,500,000- agreed to.
Proposed vote, £1,333,000.
– Under the Department of Defence £100 has been appropriated for miscellaneous expenditure in connexion with the Australian Imperial Force, including special expenditure by the High Commissioner’s Office. Is that £100 additional to the £74,240 appropriated for the High Commissioner’s Office under the Prime Minister’s Department?
– This amount has no relation whatever to an earlier appropriation. It is to cover the expenditure incurred in connexion with ex-Australiansoldiers in London needing assistance.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote, £681,430.
– I understood the Minister to state that the Government intends to improve the housing conditions of the employees engaged on the transcontinental railway line.
– That is provided for in the works estimates which have already been passed.
– I understood thatsome further provision was to be made.
– No further appropriation is proposed. Improvements are being made in the accommodation provided for fettlers and others working on the transcontinental railway.
– What is included in the £61,560 provided under miscellaneous services?
SenatorFoll. - That is interest on railway loans.
Proposed vote agreed to. postmaster-general’sdepartment.
Proposed vole, £11,804,400.
– Will the promise given by the ex-Postmaster-General with reference to the proposed erection of an automatic telephone exchange at Bankstown be honoured, and will the work, for which £3,500 is provided, be put in hand soon? I should also like to know whether consideration will be given to representations made in the form of a petition for a postal delivery at Revesby, and to extend the postal facilities to Milperra, Penania and East Hills?
SenatorMcLEAY (South Australia – Vice-President of the Executive Council ) [5.16 a.m.]. - I shall bring to the notice of the Postmaster-General the honorable senator’s request and other requests that may be made by honorable senators.
– I hope that the Government does not intend to permit the disclosure of the numbers of silent telephones.
– If the honorable gentleman will put that matter in the form of a question, I shall obtain a reply from the Postmaster-General.
– I direct attention to the item- “ Allowances for conducted businesses of non-official post offices, including railway offices, £113,800 “. This represents a substantial increase in every State.
– That is due to an increase in the rate of payments to nonofficial postmasters.
– I notice an item of £500 to cover defalcations by officials, and I should like to know if the Leader of the Senate will request the Postmaster-General to expedite the inquiry concerning a man named Hicks, who has a wife and children dependent upon him. It is desirable that his case should be cleared up as soon as possible.
– The honorable senator’s request will be placed before the Postmaster-General.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote - Territories of the Commonwealth, £770,220 - agreed to.
Second schedule agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without, requests; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
– In moving -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn til) 2 p.m. this day,
I take this opportunity to thank the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) and honorable senators generally for their assistance in passing the Appropriation Bill without delay.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Pursuant to Statute -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. -
No. 27 of 1938 - Fourth Division Postmasters, Postal Clerks and Telegraphists’ Union; and Federated Public Service Assistant’s Association of Australia.
No. 28 of 1938 - Australian Third Division Telegraphists’ and Postal Clerks’ Union.
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointment - Department of Health - F.R. T. Stevens.
Audit Act - Transfers of amounts approved by the Governor-General in Council - Financial year 1937-38.
Commonwealth Railways Act - Report on Commonwealth Railways Operations for the year ended 30th June, 1938.
Senate adjourned at 5.25 a.m. (Thursday).
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 30 November 1938, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1938/19381130_senate_15_158/>.