15th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. J. B. Hayes) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
. -by leave - With great regret, I inform the Senate of the death in tragic circumstances last Saturday of Mr. Albert George Ogilvie, K.C., Premier of Tasmania, while still a comparatively young man. The late Mr. Ogilvie had been a driving force in Tasmanian politics, and in the public life of Australia generally, for about 20 years. While still pursuing an active and brilliant career as a barrister, he entered the Tasmanian House of Assembly in 1919. He held several ministerial offices including that of Attorney-General, Minister for Education, Minister of Forestry, and Minister for Mines. He was Leader of the Opposition in the Tasmanian Parliament from 1928 until he became Premier of that State in 1934. Mr. Ogilvie had a vigorous personality; he was a leader of men. The people of not only his State, but also the rest of Australia, have suffered a distinct loss through his passing. On behalf of the Senate I express to his widow and daughter sincere sympathy in their bereavement, and I move -
That the Senate expresses its sincere regret at the death of the Honorable Albert George Ogilvie, K.C., M.H.A., Premier of Tasmania,, places upon record its appreciation of his distinguished public service, and extendsits profound sympathy to his widow and daughter in theirsad bereavement.
– I second the motion. For many, years the late Mr. Ogilvie was a close friend of mine, and his unexpected passing was a great shock to me when I heard of it a few hours ago. Only in February last, when I travelled through Tasmania with my daughter, I had the opportunity of close, contact with him. He told me then that, although apparently in good health, he was very tired as the result of the strain of the previous five months, and that he intended to go away into obscurity for a few days. During a talk which I had with him in his room, he showed me a map of Tasmaniawhich had been divided into different medical districts; those districts in which a State doctor had been appointed were coloured yellow. He said “ I shall not consider my work finished until the whole of that map is painted yellow “. I mention that incident because it was indicative of not only his thought for the people but also his thoroughness and capacity for work. Irrespective of our political faith, we are all grieved at the passing of so valued a public man. The Opposition joins very sincerely in the motion moved by the Leader of the Senate, especially that portion of it which conveys to his widow and daughter the sincere sympathy of the Senate.
– On behalf of honorable senators of the Australian Country party, I express sympathy with the people of Australia and the Australian Labour party in the death of Mr. A. G. Ogilvie, K.C., M.H.A., late Premier of Tasmania. Mr. Ogilvie was for many years an outstanding figure in the public life of the Commonwealth. He was a man of great initiative, and his frequent public statements on national and social affairs exercised a wide influence on public thought throughout the Commonwealth, and found such a ready response outside the ranks of his own political movement that his early entry into federal politics had seemed to be assured. Mr. Ogilvie was a man of marked public spirit and exceptional ability, and the sympathy of the Australian Country party is extended to his widow and daughter in their irreparable loss.
– I associate myself with the remarks that have been made concerning the late Mr. Ogilvie. I knew him personally as a friend, and, in common with all honorable senators, particularly those from Tasmania, I feel his death keenly. That Mr. Ogilvie possessed outstanding qualities as a statesman is the opinion of not only his colleagues but also the great mass of the people of Australia. At all timeshe was willing to assist with advice his colleagues in the Ministry and every other member of the parliament. The work that the late gentleman did for Tasmania will remain as a constant memorial to one of the greatest statesmen that that State has produced.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. J. B. Hayes). - Before putting the motion, I wish to associate myself with the rem arks that have been made concerning the late Mr. Ogilvie, and to express my sincere sympathy with the widow and daughter of the deceased gentleman.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their places.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The following answers have been supplied by the Treasurer : -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the absence of Press reports of the proceedings of the Senate, will the Government consider broadcasting the speeches of senators ?
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answer : -
It is not considered practicable to adopt the honorable senator’s suggestion.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Development, upon notice -
In view of the timber requirements in connexion with the Defence, Supply and Development, and Civil Aviation Departments at Darwin, and in Western Australia, will the Minister responsible specify in the contracts that Western Australian timber must be used in the construction of buildings, &c. ?
– The Minister for Supply and Developmenthas furnished the following answers : -
The policy of the Government is to specify the use of Australian timbers for Commonwealth works, and not those of any particular State, us discrimination of this kind as between States would be undesirable for obvious reasons.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
With reference to the position of Commonwealth employees when attending military camps as members of the Militia Forces -
What is the position of State Government employees when attending military camps as members of theMilitia Forces, in regard to question (1) (a) and (b) above?
– The Minister for Defence has supplied the following answers : - 1. (a) Yes.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Collett) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The object of the measure is to provide for the taking of censuses for the purposes of national registration, and for the establishment of a national register. This is ancillary to the expanded defence programme of the Government, and marks a further step towards the completion of plans for all phases of national activity in an emergency. The intention of the Government to press on with this work was pointed out by the late Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) in a speech made by him early in 1938, when he said that the aim of these plans was to provide for the parts that could he played by every organization, industry and citizen, either in respect of their normal work in the life of a community, or by special voluntary effort. Speaking on the same matter in December last, the Minister for Defence (Mr. Street) stated-
Nothing less than organization on this scale will give a democratic State a comparable degree of preparedness to an authoritatarian State.
The wider steps necessary to implement the Prime Minister’s declaration are briefly: -
The organization of man-power and women’s voluntary efforts.
The regulation and control of primary production in an emergency.
Industrial mobilization of secondary industries in an emergency.
Commonwealth and State cooperation in peace and war.”
Initial action in this direction has been taken by the introduction of a women’s voluntary register, and its compilation is now in progress. The Department of Commerce has made considerable progress with regard to the planning necessary for the regulation and control of primary production in emergency. Finally, a great deal of preparatory work on industrial mobilization has been done by the advisory panel. The work of this panel will be continued by the Department of Supply and Development. At a conference held in Canberra at the end of March last, a firm basis was established for co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States in times of peace and war. At that conference all of the States, irrespective of the character of their governments, displayed the greatest willingness to co-operate whole-heartedly in the measures that this Government considered necessary for the defence of the country.
The necessity for the organization of our man-power remains, and the present bill was originally introduced to deal with the problem from that aspect. The necessity for the preparation of plans for the allocation of the man-power of the nation in a national emergency became evident as a result of the experience of the Great War. Many honorable senators will probably remember the serious waste of trained material which occurred at that time, owing to the misplacement of men. Recalls had to be made from the defence services of men specially trained, in order that essential services might be properly manned. It was found that men possessing technical qualifications were employed in units where they had no opportunity to use their skill, whilst other units in which they could have been profitably employed were short of the required number of technicians. The object of setting up an organization to register the man-power of the nation is to ensure that, as far as possible, every man shall be allocated to the task for which his training and calling best fit him, so that the utmost value in service will be available to the nation to meet an emergency.
Since the introduction of “this bill the Government has accepted proposals for the conduct of a census of property. The purpose of a general survey is to provide an assessment of wealth, and of all skilled labour and man-power throughout the country, in order to throw light on the adequacy or inadequacy of existing resources. It is unnecessary for me to point out that this is essential in Australia, where industrial organization is of comparatively recent growth. We do not yet know enough about it to give us complete confidence in the framing of plans to meet a national emergency.
The basis of national registration will be a census of all property owners, and of all male persons between the ages of IS and 64 years, inclusive, and this will be taken during a period to be defined by proclamation. Provision is also made in the bill for obtaining the requisite information from incoming migrants, and from persons as they reach the age of 18 years.
The first schedule of the bill sets out the nature of the particulars to be supplied regarding the approximate value of real and personal property owned or held on the 30th June, 1939. Information both as to assets and liabilities is to be given by the persons required to fill in the form. The second schedule sets out the information required from those “who are included among the persons of whom a census is directed to be’ taken. It is intended that these forms shall be placed in post offices where they will be collected, filled in, signed and sent post-free to the Commonwealth Statistician. In order to assist those who have to fill in cards, which have been made as simple as possible, full instructions will be available in printed form, and as much help as possible will be given through the ordinary publicity channels,, such as newspapers and radio broadcasting. It is hoped to have available in the larger centres officials .who will be able to assist by personal advice.
There are, I believe, some who say that this is a form of industrial conscription - that it is proposed to do something that is foreign to the spirit of democracy and abhorrent to Australians. I cannot believe that any one would say such a thing seriously. I need not remind honorable senators that already the law of the land provides for the calling up of all males between the ages of 18 and 60 years for service in time of national emergency. All that this bill sets out to do is to ensure that if, unhappily, that time should ever arrive, the law of the land shall operate intelligently.
It will be noticed that provision is made in the schedule for the collection of certain unemployment statistics. Two sets of information are required on this point, and when it is obtained we shall have at our disposal valuable data upon which to base unemployment statistics. At the present time we depend entirely upon information supplied by the trade unions.
The national register, as such, will be controlled by a national register board, which will consist of a representative of the Defence Department, who ‘ will be chairman; a representative of the Department of Supply and Development, and the Commonwealth Statistician. The board will function under the Minister for Defence, and an executive officer for general administrative work will be associated with the register. For the taking of the census, the machinery and organization of the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics will be used, and use will also be made at a special stage of the electoral offices.
When the cards are received, the Commonwealth Statistician will prepare detailed tabulations for special use. .A coding staff will be necessary for this, and will be composed entirely of returned soldiers to be recruited on a pro-rata basis in the various States. When this detailed analysis is complete, a set of machine cards will be available for use at any time in Canberra, and the original cards, which will be correspondingly numbered, will be sent back to each State capital, where they will be kept up to date as regards addresses, &c, by a small staff working in conjunction withthe electoral authorities.
At this stage both sets of personal cards will be available for use by the Defencee Department, the Department of Supply and Development, or any of the various planning committees. This work will take a considerable time, but special attention will be given to it to enable the information provided by the register to be utilized more rapidly in the event of a sudden emergency. Information on cards dealing with the property census will be available for use by the Commissioner of Taxation if the Minister so directs.
Should the defence forces ever be required to mobilize, they will need to increase greatly their peace numbers in all classes, and particularly in regard to men employed in many skilled occupations. At the present time, skilled men are necessary for the production of equipment and the output of munitions. Further, it is obvious that key men in industry must not be allowed to vacate their positions in order to enlist in the defence forces ; that would throw industry, in general, into difficulties, and affect the provision of supplies to the forces and the general life of the community. The national register, however, will provide means by which the allocation of appropriate classified personnel can be made to meet the requirements both of the defence forces and of the community in general. A list of reserved occupations is being compiled, and will be published for general information. Men trained in these particular occupations are limited in number, and there would naturally be a great demand for them in time of war. Individuals whose names and occupations appear on this list would be precluded from serving with the forces in an emergency. Thus, those, men for whose services there may be rival claims of various national activities will be allocated between the defence farces, munitions supply authorities, and industry generally. It is possible, of course, that some re-adjustment of the personnel at present serving in the militia may be necessary, in order to obviate the withdrawal of key men, or those on the list of reserved occupations, from their civilian employment.
Other provisions, of the bill do not call for special comment at this stage. In urging honorable senators to support the measure, I point out the urgent necessity for the Government to be in possession of knowledge essential for planning for the resistance of attacks against this country.
Debate (on motion by Senator Keane) adjourned.
In committee: Consideration resumed from the 9th June (vide page 1619).
Clauses 2 and 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 (Definitions).
– Goods are defined as including “ all kinds of personal property”. I should like to know what is covered by “personal property “.
– The definition is necessarily a broad one, and covers all kinds of goods and chattels other than land. Itincludes anything growing on land, and minerals and other deposits.
– I am not satisfied with the Assistant Minister’s explanation. I am aware of the legal definition of personal property. Does this bill propose a further inquisitorial investigation of the possessions of washerwomen, such as is now conducted in respect of old-age pensions? Will this class of persons be asked to supply details of their possessions such as furniture, including the grandfather clock in the corner ?
– This definition is limited in that it applies only to persons covered by paragraphs d and e ii of sub-clause 1 of clause 5, and clause 6.
– Do I understand that large sections of the community will not come within the scope of this inquiry?
– Exactly. They will probably come within the scope of inquiries to be provided for under the National Registration Bill.
– I understand that the legal definition of personal property includes money and finance. If “ goods “ includes cash we shall possibly be able, under clause 5 of the measure, to have a thorough, investigation of the sources of finance: In respect of definitions generally, does the Government take the legal definition? If it does so in this instance “ goods “ will include all kinds of personal property, and personal property includes cash. I should like the Assistant Minister (Senator McBride) to explain in detail just how the application of this definition will be limited as he has suggested.
– Paragraphs d and e ii of sub-clause 1 of clause 5, and clause 6, definitely limit the application of “ goods “as defined in this clause.
.- “ War “ according to this clause means “ any invasion or apprehended, invasion of, or attack or apprehended attack on, the Commonwealth or any territory of the Commonwealth by an enemy or armed force”. I point out that the Commonwealth holds a mandate from the League of Nations over the Territory of New Guinea which, therefore, is not Commonwealth territory in the sense that’ the Northern Territory and Papua are. Does this definition cover an apprehended attack on the Mandated Territory of New Guinea?
-The definition of “war” in this clause is identical with the definition in the Defence Act. I am afraid that I cannot reply fully to the point raised by the honorable senator until I peruse the. provisions of the mandate.
.- The definition of “goods” is not so readily limited as the Assistant Minister (Senator McBride) suggests. For instance, sub-clause1 e ii of clause 5 reads -
The investigation and development of Australia’s sources of supply of goods, which in the opinion of the Governor-General are necessary for the economic security of the Commonwealth . . .
If “ goods “ includes personal property, and personal’ property includes money, the Government, under this measure, will have power, which we on this side as a party would like to possess, to investi gate supplies of. money which are necessary to the economic security of Australia. There is nothing more essential than the supply of funds for the carrying, out of the provisions of. this measure which aims at the security of Australia. I fail to see that the Government would be limited in any respect in carrying, out such an investigation. If it is admitted’ that the legal definition of “ goods “ applies and, therefore, covers, personal property including money,, the reading of this definition in conjunction with clause 5 demonstrates the possibility of this department going to the extent of investigating thoroughly the sources of supply of money for the purposes set out in the bill. I should like the Assistant Minister to elucidate that point, because I am upset to think that this Government would investigate the sources of supply of money when it has so many wealthy friends.
. -I should like to know what is meant exactly by the definition “time of war “. Exactly in what circumstances would the Government consider that, we were in danger of war? Would the danger of
Avar be said to exist if a warship were sighted outside Port Phillip ?
– Aggressors do not declare war nowadays.
– I agree with that observation, but I should like to know exactly what is in the Government’s mind when it uses the words “ in danger of war “. For example, would it say that we are in danger of war at. the present time because a certain power has cause to disagree with the policy of the Empire in respect of trade with China?
. - This definition is . identical with that contained in the Defence Act, and that act has received the approval of this Parliament. The question as to exactly when the Government would consider a state of war to exist would depend entirely upon circumstances, and such a decision would be the responsibility of the Executive. It should be noted that the definition “ time of war” for purposes of this measure contemplates a period which might extend beyond the time war actually exists. This is necessary because some of the conditions which might exist during the time the country was actually at war would probably continue for some time after the cessation of hostilities.
– I am particularly pleased that Senator Cameron raised this point because it is very important. We wish to know exactly who will draw the distinction between a time of actual war and a time when the country is in danger of war. The Assistant Minister (Senator McBride) has said that this decision will be the responsibility of the Executive. At the moment the Executive happens to be a minority party in this Parliament. I wish to know definitely what individuals will be called upon to make this decision. The Assistant Minister’s reply that this definition is identical with that provided in the Defence Act is not satisfactory. I point out that definitions of this kind in the Defence Act were forerunners to the War Precautions Act. I repeat that the present Government represents a minority party. I realize, of course, that it has a majority in this chamber if not in the House of Representatives.
– This measure would not have been passed in the other chamber if the Government had not a majority there also.
– If the honorable senator studios the debate which took place on this measure in the House of Representatives he will find that every line of this measure, as originally drawn, met. with the outright hostility of the strongest party numerically. The answer given by the Assistant Minister on the point just raised is quite unsatisfactory. All he can say is that it will be the responsibility of the Executive to make ;i decision. In that case all of the things to which the Labour party objected, as exemplified in the War Precautions Act, will again be possible. I am drawing the attention of the committee and the people of Australia to that fact.
.- 1 am very interested in the definition of “ time of war “. It is the first indication in the measure that many things can be done by proclamation. The Assistant
Minister’s reply that the definition is identical with that contained in the Defence Act is to some extent an admission that some at least of the provisions of this measure are unnecessary because they are already provided for under other legislation. The Assistant Minister might indicate whether or not the Government would have considered a state of war to exist at the time of the international crisis last September. If the Government proposes to issue such a proclamation in such circumstances I suggest that it should first secure a far greater backing in the House of Representatives than it enjoys at the moment. Otherwise the proclamation would be unwarranted. It should be provided that when, in the opinion of the Government, a state of war is imminent, the Opposition shall be given an opportunity of learning just what is the position. The Government need not fear that at such a time the Opposition will not give it all necessary support. This party agreed to the appropriation of large sums of money when it believed that a state of danger existed. We are in favour of the proper defence of Australia, as every one knows. . One wonders what the Government would have done during the crisis of September last if this measure had been in operation.
– I do not know what all the fuss is about. Honorable senators should realize that this is a peace-time measure - not a war measure. It will come into operation as soon as it has passed through Parliament, and its purpose is to prepare for a time when we may be at war. I cannot understand why members of the Opposition are worrying about definitions.
– We want to know how near we are getting to a state of fascism in an alleged democratic community.
– We want to know when the Executive apprehends war.
– The Executive apprehends it now, and it wants to make due preparation. That is why this bill has been brought in. Every one will know when the country is actually at war; there is no need to define a state of war. The purpose, of this measure is to make preparation while we are still at peace for a state of war should it arise. This provision is necessary if Australia is to he saved when war actually comes. No definitions we may insert at this stage will affect the matter one way or the other.
– We know that this bill is a twin; that there is another measure, known as the National Registration Bill, upon which the Minister made his second-reading speech this morning. Although Senator Leckie became very hot under the collar, L remind him that we of the Opposition are fearful, as are the people who support us, of what may be the effect of this measure, and of the other to which r have referred.
– I do not think that the honorable senator has the right to assume anything upon what may be contained in another measure.
– But we have been told by the Minister that the National Registration Bill is merely a corollary to this one. In this clause reference is made to a state of war or the “ danger thereof”. At any moment, and for any purpose, the Executive may say that there is a danger of war, and regulations may be issued, so wide in their application, that the Government will be empowered, merely by the issue of a proclamation, to fasten on the workers the industrial shackles that they fear so much, lt is all very well for Senator Leckie to make light of our objections, but we entertain a very real fear on that point. We know the Government; we know the men comprising it. We remember that a government of the same kind passed the “ dog collar “ act in an endeavour to dragoon the workers into accepting its will. We know how a similar government tried to conscript the workers under the Crimes Act. Senator Collings and I remember how we fought the attempt of a tory government to amend the Crimes Act by a measure which would have made II Duce and the Fuhrer’ blush. If a state of emergency should arise, Parliament should be called together so that the Opposition, as well as the Government, may have an opportunity to express their opinions.
– To give the enemy an opportunity to subjugate us !
– I am trying to safeguard the workers from being brought under the Hitlers and Mussolinis of Australia. Senator Crawford is worried because he thinks that, before Parliament can be called together, hostile aeroplanes will be dropping bombs upon our cities. I remind him, however, that the words which we are discussing are “or danger thereof “. Those words do not contemplate an actual state of war, but they would give the Government authority, as soon as the bill is passed, to do the things we fear. The Government would be able to issue a proclamation declaring that there was danger of war, and then use its powers under this measure, and under another measure, to act in a “way detrimental to the workers. The Minister in charge of the bill said that these powers are already in the Defence Act. That does not seem to me to be an effective argument. If the Government has already, under the Defence Act, all the power it requires, why bother about this measure at all? Of course, we know that there is a purpose behind it all - that the fascist-minded members of the Government hope to achieve something with this measure that they could not achieve under the Defence Act. We do not trust the Government to exercise the powers which this measure would give to it, and we should like to see the clause altered.
– I cannot see that this clause or, indeed, any part of the bill, will confer upon the Government any additional powers. The purpose of the bill, as I understand it, is to create a new department, and the duties, responsibilities and limitations of those charged with the administration of the department are all specifically set out in clause 5 of the bill.
– Rubbish ! What about the regulations?
– Very few measures ever passed are capable of administration without regulations, and, as the honorable senator knows, regulations may be disallowed by either House of Parliament.
– Where the Government has a majority?
– Nothing can be done in Parliament without a majority, because the basis of democratic government is majority rule. It is the same in every organization, even in trade unions. I cannot understand the reason for this opposition to the clause, and to the bill itself. The purpose of the measure is to enable us to prepare for war, so as to put ourselves in a position to defend Australia. Surely the Labour party, which is so strongly represented in the Senate, is in favour of the effective defence of the country.
– I can see no reason for the confusion that seems to have arisen regarding the definition of a time of war. The matter falls naturally into two parts. There is the actual state of war, concerning which there can bo no possible doubt, and there is “danger of war”. In the first instance, war will either have been declared, or the fight will actually be on. “Danger of war” might represent the period between the issue and expiry of an ‘ultimatum. A prospective enemy might issue an ultimatum to the Government of Australia, and the Government might decide, not to comply with it. Up till the date of expiry, the country would not be at war, but it would certainly be in grave danger thereof. The Government should be empowered under this measure to . take whatever steps are thought necessary at such a time to put the country in a state of defence. The position is clear; I can see nothing wrong with, the definitions, and accordingly I shall support them.
– I am rather surprised at the attitude adopted by Senator Leckie, Senator Dein, and others towards the definitions in this clause. Members of the Opposition fear the powers contained in the measure, and the manner in which they may be employed against the interests that we represent.
– The usual suspicion and distrust !
– I hope that honorable senators realize the powers that are to be conferred on the Minister by this bill.
– We realize them.
– I hope that the honorable senator will inform those whom he represents of the powers to which he is so complacently agreeing. The clause defines the prerogatives to be enjoyed by the Government. The definition of “factory “ includes any establishment, and the definition of “ goods “ - includes all kinds of personal property, and also includes anything growing in or on land and mineral or other deposits.
The measure provides for the making of regulations, and defines “ time of war “ as - any time during which a state of war exists, and . includes the time between the issue of a proclamation of the existence of war or. danger thereof and the issue of a proclamation declaring that the war or danger thereof declared in the prior proclamation no longer exists.
Such a proclamation could have been made in September last; indeed it could have been made at any time because it is always held that if the British Empire is at war or is threatened then Australia is at war or is threatened. The bill also proposes to create advisory councils who are to assist the Minister and on whom certain powers are to bo conferred. Do the people of Australia realize what that proposal means? Does the small manufacturer know that in time of war, or when war is threatened, the Government will have power to take over and control his industry? Does the farmer know that this means that the Government will have power to take over his crop and that, in fact, the Government will practically be able to create a dictatorship by proclamation? Has Senator Dein told his constituents of the dangers that they will be running if this measure comes into operation? He might snigger and imagine that he will obtain control of the industrial movements that we represent, but the powers we are opposing are contained in the bill, and can be used when the Government thinks the time opportune. The Government supporters are dealing with these provisions only facetiously.
SenatorCooper. - Is not the bill to operate for only five years?
– It does not matter what the specified time is. Those powers are provided for, and the Senate should review ‘ the bill in a serious manner. I believe that in no other country where democratic government prevails has there been a greater surrender of power to the Executive than that proposed here, and we should not agree to it.
– No member of the Opposition has any desire to prolong this debate unduly, but we are determined to review the bill to the full extent of our capacity. The Minister in charge of the bill in this chamber should consult with the Prime Minister or with the Minister who was in charge of the measure in the House of Representatives, as to the advisability of overcoming the difficulty that is in the minds of members of the Opposition. We should lay it down that when the existence of war, or the danger of war, or an apprehended invasion, is declared by executive decision, the Government should sec that Parliament remains in continuous session so that it may be consulted as to tho successive steps to be taken. I am not” proposing a referendum, but I am proposing a safeguard to prevent the Executive from running away with itself and doing wrong things. If Parliament bc kept in session it. can be consulted as to the steps, not declared in the bill, that are to be taken. If the Government will undertake to look into this phase of the question we can switch to another clause.
– Members of the Opposition seem to have overlooked the clause with which they are dealing. This clause contains the definition of “ time of war “.
– The clause also contains a definition of personal property and so on.
– The last fewspeakers have dealt with a definition of “ time of war “. In this country the only person who can make a declaration of war is the King’s representative, the Governor-General, and he, according to precedent, will act on the advice of his Ministers. Whether or not Parliament is sitting, we shall not get away from the fact that the Governor-General, acting on the advice of his Ministers, will declare war and sign the proclamation. The words “ time of war “ appear in only two places in the bill, and both are in clause 5, sub-clause 1, paragraph e. There we find that the matters to be administered by the Department of Supply are - the arrangement or co-ordination of -
The words “ time of war “ also appear in sub-paragraph ii. When once the Governor-General has signed the proclamation this legislation will give no more power than now exists.
– None so .blind as those who will not see.
– So blind as those who, like the honorable senator, cannot see.
– Those who do not want to see.
– When the GovernorGeneral has issued a proclamation on the advice of his Minister, the department will do what every senator knows is necessary - it will survey and co-ordinate industry for the effective defence of this country.
– Does the honorable senator assert that the operation of the bill will have to wait on a proclamation of the Governor-General?
– Of course I do not. If honorable senators would only read the bill they would see that , the definition clause contains the words “ time of war “ in inverted commas.
– What do the words “or danger thereof.” mean?
– They are in the Defence Act.
– In interpreting the definition we must look to the two places in the bill where the words “ time of war “ are used. Certain powers can be exercised now, and others will be exercised during a time of war as defined in the measure.
– I am fearful not only of what is disclosed by the bill, but also of what is undisclosed, because on reading the measure I have found many references to the powers to be given to the GovernorGeneral, which really means the Executive. The members of the Opposition have realized for some time that this Government desires the continuance of government by regulation, and ministerial supporters, with few exceptions, have not spoken against that practice. The more one reads the bill, the more one realizes the possibility of government by regulation under its provisions.
– The clause has nothing to do with government by regulation.
– Under clause 27 the Governor-General may make regulations - -
– We are discussing clause 4.
– The bill contains many references to the GovernorGeneral. The suggestion of my leader (Senator Collings) that the Parliament should be consulted should be accepted. In the House of Representatives several amendments moved by the Opposition, which is the largest party in this Parliament, were accepted. Others were accepted after slight variations of verbiage. I should like some clearer statement to he made concerning the meaning of the words “danger thereof” in the proposed definition of “ time of waT “. Who will determine whether danger exists? Will it be the Executive? The opinion of the Opposition is that if Parliament were not actually sitting at the time such danger were thought to exist, it should be summoned immediately.
– I have no desire to curb the nights of imagination of members of the Opposition, but I point out to them that the definition “ time of war “ is merely descriptive of the time during which certain powers are intended to be exercised. No extra powers are being provided by reason of the definition itself. The powers which the Government will exercise under the measure are provided in other clauses of the bill and not in this definition clause.
– But the Government would have power to issue regulations.
– If honorable senators opposite are concerned about the regulation-making power, they would be well advised to defer their comments until the appropriate clause is reached. Senator Keane exhibited some fear that improper use might be made of the powers proposed to be conferred upon the Government, but I point out to him that although the Government had power to issue a proclamation during the September crisis it did not do so. Such power is, of course, contained in the Defence Act which was introduced in 1903 by the Barton Government. Successive governments of all political complexions have been in office since that time, but the power to issue the proclamations has not been withdrawn.
– I endorse what my colleague, Senator Wilson, has said, but he could have gone a little further. The paragraph of the definition clause relating to “ time of war “ is merely descriptive and not operative. Honorable senators opposite seem in a somewhat confused frame of mind on the subject, and I ask them to examine the definition calmly. Unless their antagonism is simulated, I think they will quickly realize that no foundation exists for the fears that they have expressed. The definition reads - “ time of war “ means any time during which a state of war exists, and included the time between the issue of a proclamation of the existence of war or danger thereof and the issue of a proclamation declaring that the war or danger thereof declared in the. prior proclamation no longer exists;
Such a power is necessary in these days when war may actually exist although not legally declared. This country might, conceivably, find itself in such a situation and the Executive might have no time to issue a proclamation after acts of war had really occurred, even though war had not been declared. It would obviously have far less time to take a referendum of the people. The words “or danger thereof “ are necessary in order that the Executive might act without waiting for the actual declaration of war. The period covered by the definition would bo the time between the issue of the proclamation and the time when a subsequent proclamation was issueddeclaring that war or the danger thereof no longer existed. The definition is merely descriptive. The operative power resides in clause 5, which declares that -
The matters to be administered by the department shall be . . .
surveys of Australian industrial capacity and the preparation of plans to ensure the effective operation of Australian industry in time of war.
the investigation and development of Australian sources of supply of goods which in the opinion of the Governor-General are necessary for the economic security of the Commonwealth in time of war . . .
In both these instances the use of the words “ in time of war “ is merely descriptive.
– Is it legally necessary for them to be there at all?
– The only reason I see for their use here is that although they are contained in the Defence Act that statute may not effectively cover modern conditions. As has been pointed out, a state of war exists in the East although war has not been actually declared. It seems to me wise that authority should be given for the issue of a proclamation declaring that war or “ danger thereof “ exists. The existence of war is one thing, the danger of it is another. I suggest that the wider term should be used in order that the body proposed to be constituted under this measure shall have full power -to function for the protection of the country not only in a time of war but also in a time when the “ danger thereof “ exists. In any case the contest, if the Opposition desires to wage one, should be on clause 5. The definition of “ time of war “ in clause 4 is merely descriptive.
– In my opinion the definition is much more than descriptive. It relates to “ a state of war “ and the “ danger thereof “.
– It is the danger of war that is to bo proclaimed to exist.
– Exactly, but is it not true that the country is always in danger of war? I remember that 60 years ago Australia was said to be in danger of invasion from Russia. Of course the invasion never occurred. The full needs of the case would be served if the words “ or danger thereof “ were excised. I know from bitter experience of some regulations made under other acts which have been capable of varying interpretations. Under this definition clause a “time of war “ also means a state of war or danger of war. Should the Government believe that danger of war existed, that would be tantamount to a state of war, and all powers contained in this bill would become operative.
– It is no argument to say that, because a similar definition appears in the Defence Act, its incorporation in this bill should not be questioned. We have the best of reasons for believing that it should not be inserted in this bill, irrespective of what is contained in any other measure. It does not necessarily follow that provisions embodied in the earlier legislation should be applied to present-day conditions.
– What does the honorable senator fear the Government might do?
– Judging by what happened during the September crisis, it is possible that some stupid things would be done.
. -Senators Cameron and Ashley raised a point which, I think, requires further elucidation. The definitions of “ time of war “ and “ war “, for the purposes of this bill, mean the same thing. Should a state of war occur, the position would he quite clear; but if the country were threatened, it would be necessary for some authority to decide whether or not danger of war or apprehension of invasion existed. As Senator Cameron pointed out, we feared invasion, by the Russians about 50 years ago. According to these definitions, a state of, or fear of, war would for the purposes of this bill be the same as war itself.
– That definition is intended to cover a wider field.
– Until a proclamation is issued?
– The proclamation would relate to the commencement of the act. The point which the Opposition is trying to make is that the Executive Council would decide whether or not a proclamation should be issued declaring the existence of a state of war. We contend that Parliament should decide that matter.
– That is provided for in the Defence Act.
– During the second-reading debate honorable senators on this side contended that the Government had all the necessary power under other legislation, to deal with a state of emergency. It is no wonder that confusion has arisen in this discussion on the definition clause.
.- I cannot understand the reason for all these arguments, which might better be applied, to clause 5. Clause 4 refers only to definitions which appear in the Defence Act. Honorable senators will recall the War Precautions Act which was passed in 1914. Under that legislation, neither the Labour government nor the Nationalist government which administered it, did anything to which honorable senators on either side could take exception, having regard to the circumstances of the time.
– The Government could have done something.
– But the point is that nothing was done to which objection could be taken. Apparently Senator Sheehan thinks that all sorts of injustices may be perpetrated by the inclusion in this bill of power which the Government may exercise under the Defence Act. Under the War Precautions Act the Government could have taken control of all kinds ofstores and necessary defence works, but that was not done. Therefore, why should honorable senators be afraid of it now? The Labour party was in power when the War Precautions Act was passed. This clause simply empowers the Government to prepare for defence should the danger of war arise.
– I was very interested in the explanation given by the Assistant Minister for Commerce (Senator McBride) and by Senator A. J. McLachlan, but I regret that they did not go a little further. It is. suggested that this measure will become law immediately it receives the Royal assent. I take it, therefore, that its provisions will come into effect immediately..
– All the operative powers will come into effect.
– That, is so. Therefore, we need not worry very much as to what is meant by “war” or “ time of war “, because the powers will be operative immediately. Under this legislation, the Government is empowered to do certain things. Do Government supporters agree that, acting on the advice of the proposed advisory committee, the Minister for Defence could order the removal of any industry from one part of the Commonwealth to another?
– There is no operative power in clause 4.
– If honorable senators were given a thorough definition of the Government’s powers under this legislation, it would be possible to discuss the bill in a more intelligent manner. This clause states - “factory” includes establishment; “ goods “ includes all kinds of personal property, and also includes anything growing in or on land and mineralor other deposits; “ munitions “ means armaments, arms and ammunition, and includes such equipment, machines, commodities’, materials, supplies or stores of any kind, as are, in the opinion of the Governor-General necessary for the purposes of defence: “the Defence Act” means the Defence Aft 1903-1934;
Later the bill provides that -
The Minister may, in relation to all or any of the matters specified in section 5 of this act, or in relation to such other matters as are prescribed, constitute committees, and appoint persons to be members of those committees to advise the Minister. and that -
The matters to be administered by the department shall be matters relating to arrangements for ascertaining costs and for the control and limitation of profits in relation to the production of munitions.
– I remind the honorable senator that the committee is now discussing clause 4, not clause 5.
-I would like the Assistant Minister for Commerce (Senator McBride) or Senator A. J. McLachlan to tell the committee whether or not the Government would have authority, on the advice of the advisory committee, to order the removal of a factory - which includes all kinds of establishments - from one part of Australia, to another, or to assume control of whatever property is considered, necessary in the interests of the country. I hope that the arguments put forward on behalf of the Government will be elaborated so that honorable senators on this side will know where they stand and will have a proper picture of the powers to be conferred by this legislation.
– Senator A. J. McLachlan said that clause 4 was not an operative provision, but merely contained definitions.
– I go further than that. I say that the phrase “ time of war “ has no operative effect. It is merely a descriptive phrase.
– Clause 4 is a definition clause, for the purpose of making operative clauses effective, so that for all practical purposes it is an operative clause.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m,.
– For all practical purposes the definitions clause is also an operative clause, because the operative clauses of the bill depend on the definitions clause.
– Not one-tenth of the words in any act are defined in the definitions clause.
– Why are these definitions here?
– Does the honorable senator pose as a legal authority?
– I have merely asked a question. When I get a reply to it, I shall be in a position to say whether or notI pose as a legal authority.
– The honorable senator is expressing a legal opinion.
– What is the reason for repeating in this, bill definitions already contained in the Defence Act?
– Does the honorable senator suggest that the bill has been wrongly drawn?
– I merely ask the reason for the repetition. If the contention of Senator A. J. McLachlan be correct, the definitions clause appears to be unnecessary. Senator Gibson said that similar powers to those contained in this legislation were not abused during the last war, but I point out that the position today is entirely different from what it was between 1914 and 1918. For instance, there was no proposal to establish annexes then.
– These definitions are so farreaching that they affect large numbers of workers, who would be greatly concerned if they had heard some of the statements made in this chamber this morning. For instance, Senator Leckie said that immediately, this legislation receives the royal assent, regulations will be issued. Senator Crawford said that he was opposed to the suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) that Parliament should determine when a state of emergency exists, as, in his opinion, it might lead to information being given to an enemy.
– The honorable senator’s remarks have nothing to do with the clause.
– The definition of “ time of war “ includes the time between the- issue of a proclamation of the existence of war or danger thereof, and the issue of a proclamation declaring that the war or danger thereof no longer exists. That definition . is so far-reaching, that it may lead to the creation of a war hysteria, and so enable the Minister, or the Executive, to say that there is danger of war, in order that arbitration awards may be broken. For that reason the workers of Australia are organizing against this legislation. They fear the powers contained in this bill. In view of the statement of the President of the Chamber of Manufacturers of Victoria that this legislation will operate immediately the royal assent is given to it - they have good reason for their fear. I desire to know whether on the passing of this bill the Government will immediately issue regulations, or whether it will agree to the suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition that Parliament should be called together to decide whether a state of emergency exists and be kept in session in the event of an emergency arising. The workers of Australia desire only to uphold democracy. If Senator Crawford be right in saying that it would be dangerous to tell to Parliament things which may be of value to an enemy, I say that the workers have reason to be afraid of their enemy, the government. This clause is far-reaching, for it may lead to the issue of a multitude of regulations.
– The honorable senator may not discuss regulations at this stage.
– Anything may be done under the definition which provides that the belief that there is danger of war constitutes an actual time of war. I am concerned as to the effect of this clause upon the workers.
– I do not think that Opposition senators are serious in their views regarding this clause. I regard the definitions clause of any bill, as being in the nature of a dictionary. If it were not for clause 4 of this bill, we should have to go to a dictionary to get the meaning of some of the words and terms used in the measure. If, in the absence of any such clause, the Minister were asked what was meant by “time of war “, he would have to consult an English dictionary to get a precise definition. In order to save honorable senators and the public generally from that necessity, certain definitions are included in the bill. A state of war or time of war is defined to mean the actual existence of war, and the time between the issue of a proclamation that a state of war or danger thereof exists and the cancellation of that proclamation. As has already been pointed out, clause 4 does not give any operative power whatsoever; it is merely a collection of dictionary definitions inserted in the bill for the purpose of defining certain words used therein, with a view to simplifying the measure for the general public and members of this Parliament. Honorable senators who wish to discuss the operative provisions of the bill should wait until the appropriate clauses are reached. Later, I propose to make some remarks as to the wisdom of Parliament being called together and remaining in session during a time of war; but as that subject is not relevant to clause 4, I shall not discuss it at this stage.
SenatorFRASER (Western Australia) [2.25]. - I cannot agree with Senator Wilson.
– Would the honorable senator set his layman’s opinion against that of a trained lawyer ?
– Sometimes the layman has a broader outlook than that of the purely legal mind. This clause has an important bearing on the whole bill.
– It has no bearing on the bill at all.
- Senator A. J. McLachlan told us how the Defence Act operates. There are clauses in this bill which will supersede some of the provisions of the Defence Act.
– What have they to do with definitions?
– They, are governed by the definitions clause.
– The committee is now considering clause 4. At this stage I cannot allow a discussion of subsequent clauses.
– Clause 4, with which the committee is now dealing, has an important bearing on subsequent clauses. The Defence Act will be suspended when this bill receives the royal assent.
– Nonsense !
– I shall have some more to say on this point at a later stage.
– I disagree with Senator Wilson that the Opposition is not serious in its objection to this clause.
– The secondreading stage has passed. The bill is in committee and I now ask honorable senators to be more definite.
– The importance of these definitions demands that due consideration be given to them. There has been so much conflict of opinion that the Leader of the Senate (Senator McLeay) desires, to prevent the elucidation of the points that have been raised.
– I am anxious to prevent obstruction by the Opposition.
– Ministers entrusted with the presentation of bills should be competent to furnish answers to queries such as have been raised.
SenatorWilson. - I invite the honorable senator to mention specifically any definition concerning which he is in doubt.
– The honorable senator should know that after a bill has become law it is frequently necessary for legal authorities to refer to the discussions in this Parliament, in order to understand the intention of the legislature in regard to it. When I desire legal advice I shall not appeal to the Leader of the Government in this chamber. I object to Senator Wilson imputing motives to the Opposition when he knows well that our inquiries are legitimate. If the honorable senator were in earnest, and desired to give to the people the benefit of his legal knowledge-
– Order ! The honorable senator must confine his remarks to the clause.
– I should welcome the assistance of honorable senators who have legal knowledge, in incorporating in the debates sufficient explanatory matter to indicate the exact meaning of the definitions. It is all very well to call this clause the dictionary of the measure, but even lawyers fail to agree as to the meaning of definitions. If these were couched in terms so simple that their meaning could not possibly be misunderstood, members of the legal profession would soon find themselves without employment. Many courts are required for the interpretation of statutes.
– The honorable senator who has just resumed his seat remarked that he would not come to me for a legal opinion. When I require legal advice I go to the Solicitor-General. I submit that my friends opposite are deliberately obstructing the passage of the bill. The clause under discussion deals only with definitions. Not one member of the Opposition has suggested a variation in the terms of any of those definitions.
– I take strong exception to the statement that the Opposition is wilfully obstructing the passage of the bill. We are merely endeavouring to do our duty as members of this committee. This chamber is recognized as a house of review. Since the threat of the Minister may be taken as indicative of certain action which I suspect, I ask that his remark be withdrawn. The stage has not yet arrived when the Opposition can fairly be accused of wilful obstruction.
– I cannot order the Minister to withdraw the remark. The Leader of the Opposition will have an opportunity later to reply.
– I can assure Senator Sheehan that, at all times, -I am willing to help the Opposition in any proper cause. On one or two previous occasions I have done so gladly, and, if any member of the Opposition desires me to do so, I am prepared, to the best of my ability, to give the meaning of any words used in this clause. Does any member of the Opposition desire further light upon the meaning of “ factory “ or “ goods “ ?
– What is covered by “personal property” ?
– In my opinion, it includes everything except real property, which is land, and that which is affixed to land, and passes with it from hand to hand.
– Does it include insurance policies?
– Cash in the bank?
– Yes. Does any honorable senator desire any explanation regarding the definition of “munitions “?
– If we did, we should have asked for it.
– It was suggested by Senator Sheehan that I was not willing to assist the committee in this matter. As far as I am aware, the Minister has readily elaborated any definition to which attention has been directed, but 90 per cent, of the debate has been totally irrelevant to the definitions, which led the Minister to say that, in his opinion, the Opposition was obstructing the passage of the bill. It seemed to me that there was fairly good ground for that contention.
– What does the honorable senator think of the definition of “war “?
– The definition states that “war” means “any invasion or apprehended invasion “.
– I point out that the definitions merely give the meanings of words used in the bill. I think that it w’ould be advisable to discuss them under the clauses in which they occur instead of dealing with them now in bulk.
.- The definition of . “ time of war “ refers to the issue of a proclamation of the existence of war, and I suggest that there is no further reference in the bill to such a proclamation, the implication being that, in the event of war, or threat of war, a measure of the utmost consequence to the people could be put into operation by proclamation.
– No such provision is contained in the bill.
– It would be dangerous to give the Government of the day the right to issue a proclamation declaring a state of emergency, without reference to both branches of the legislature. I well remember what took place from 1914 to 191S. Shocking things were done by a government opposed to the Labour party. I am afraid that proclamations may be issued when Parliament is in recess.
– I take it that Senator Keane objects to any authority other than this Parliament authorizing the making of a proclamation as to the existence of a state of war. If Australia were attacked while the Parliament was in recess, and if the Government could not proclaim a State of war until Parliament was called together, a couple of weeks might elapse’. What would happen in the meantime?
Senator Keane suggested that a proclamation should not be issued until Parliament had been consulted. That would mean a hold-up for at least a week or a fortnight.
– Has the honorable senator forgotten that I have asked that Parliament be kept continuously in session.
– Parliament should be called together immediately.
– lt should be in session when the Government apprehends a war.
– But war sometimes breaks out before it is apprehended. Some authority must take action to deal with circumstances immediately they arise, and that is the duty of the Executive Council. It would be absurd if the Government could not proclaim that a state of war existed until Parliament had been consulted. Addressing himself to this clause Senator Keane at least pointed out exactly what he objected to, but Senator Sheehan spoke for a quarter of an hour and never mentioned one word in the clause to which he took exception. Before the suspension of the sitting for lunch, several honorable senators opposite objected to the words “ or danger thereof “ contained in the definition of “ time of war “. Suppose that a country issued an ultimatum to this Government to hand over the Mandated Territory of New Guinea by the 30th June next, and this Government had no intention of acceding to that demand. Would not the Government be justified in such circumstances in proclaiming that the danger of war existed? Such a proclamation would need to be issued immediately; no one would expect the Government to wait until the 30th June to issue it.’
– I point out to Senator Dein that the Government already possesses power under the Defence Act to issue a proclamation declaring that the danger of war exists. The Opposition asks that provision be made under this measure that such a proclamation shall not be issued without the consent of Parliament. We object to government by regulation.
– I said that Parliament should be immediately convened.
SenatorFRASER.- The Leader of the Senate (Senator MacLeay) has assured us that full consideration has been given by the Crown Law Department to the legal aspect of these definitions. I am not inclined to accept the opinion of the Crown Law Office as infallible. Frequently we find Their Honours of the High Court differing in their judgments, and we know that in the past the opinion of the Crown Law Office has not always been proved to be right. In fact, instances have occurred in which the opinion of laymen in this Parliament have ultimately been proved to be sounder at law. I am afraid that more is contained in these definitions than appears on the surface.
– Does “personal property “ include all money, or moneys, in banks, shares, bonds and insurance policies ?
– It could.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 - (1.) The matters to be administered by the department shall be matters relating to arrangements for ascertaining costs and for the control and limitation of profits in relation to the production of munitions, and, subject to the directions of the Governor-General and to the next succeeding sub-section -
the acquisition, maintenance and disposal of stocks of goods in connexion with defence; and
– I should like the Assistant Minister (Senator McBride) to explain what constitutes costs -within the meaning of this clause, how they are to be ascertained, and by whom. My reason for asking this question is that in another part of the measure we are told what shall not be costs. I am not interested in those things : because they would not be included as costs except by dishonest people. But I wish to know what are to be included as costs, and how, and by whom, these costs are to be ascertained, because if this clause is intended to prevent profiteering it is absolutely childish in its conception. Profiteering has been going on for months past since the Government announced its new defence policy. Will the people charged with the carrying out of this clause do their job properly, or will they play into the hands of the profiteers? Do they intend, for instance, to ascertain by how much the costs of raw materials have already been inflated? What do they intend to do to ensure a decent limitation of profit?
– At the present juncture it is impossible for me to explain the exact procedure that will be adopted in connexion with the ascertaining of costs. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) is well aware of the fact that in order to attack this question on a proper basis an advisory panel of cost accountants has been appointed. Until that panel has met and decided upon its line of action a complete explanation of the methods it proposes to apply cannot be given.
– Have the terms of reference of that panel been decided upon ?
– Yes, the functions of the panel are “ to advise on the scheme of costing and profit control for the production of munitions by private industry in an emergency “. The contracts already let for work to he carried out in the annexes clearly set out what may, or may not, be included in the ascertaining of profits. As to the limitation of profits on work performed outside the annexes the department, pending the introduction of any new method, continues to purchase al] of its requirements through tho Defence Contracts Board, that exercises a close supervision of the tenders of which, invariably, a large number is submitted. The usual method is by open tender, which ensures that goods are supplied at competitive prices. As an example, I may mention that, for the supply of 60,000 garments for the Militia, no fewer than 64 tenders were received. As tenders are on an f.o.b. basis, manufacturers in all States are placed on an equal footing. Where competition does not exist, as in the supply of copper, zinc and lead, supplies are purchased in bulk on the basis of London prices, plus exchange.
For work done in defence annexes, contracts will be arranged on a cost basis. Up to the present, this method of purchase known as the “ cost plus “ method, has been employed only on special occa-sions. The manufacturer is paid the actual cost of material and labour, and is allowed so much for such overhead expenses as are directly attributable to the job. Certain charges are specifically , excluded, these being interest on capital, selling expenses, advertising expenses, bad debts, income taxes, debenture interest, reserves, commissions and insurance, and premiums on life policies.
– Those items would not be included by anybody except a thief. No honest contractor would include them.
– Those are noimal items of overhead cost, and are taken into account by all manufacturers when assessing costs of production. However, because there are peculiar circumstances attached to the operating of the defence annexes, they are,- in this instance, specifically excluded.
– One cannot apply ordinary rules of procedure to a time of national emergency.
– The. present, is not- a time of emergency, although we are preparing to meet such an emergency if it should arise. If we were now in a state of emergency, the Government would be failing in its duty if it did not adopt much more stringent measures to deal with the situation. A state of emergent does not now exist; we hope that it never will, but we must make preparations now. After the expenditure on a contract has been calculated, there will be allowed a normal percentage of profit. The rate agreed upon is 4 per cent., except in one special case, where 6 per cent, has been allowed. Thus, on, a £10,000 contract, the manufacturer can earn only £400. When the advisory panel has had time to consider the matter more fully, it will make recommendations curtailing profits and preventing exploitation.
– The Assistant Minister (Senator McBride) has not given us the information to which we are entitled. Provision is being made for assessing the cost of raw materials and the cost of manufactured materials. How is it proposed to ascertain the cost of either or both? We have been told that no exact procedure has been laid down. I submit that it is a perfectly simple proposition for exact procedure, or something closely approximating to it, to be laid down. Is it proposed to add to the cost of the raw material or the manufactured articles the cost of supervision by government officials? Does the Government propose to accept the costs submitted by the contracting firm, the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited, for instance, or will it take steps to ascertain those costs itself by a perusal of the books by Government officials? In other words, are the proprietors of private munitions establishments to be allowed to assess their own costs, or does the Government propose to make independent inquiries? We are entitled to know, for instance, whether raw material is being produced by obsolete and costly methods, or by up-to-date methods. Is a proper system of costing to be maintained, or are costs to be ascertained by the rule-of-thumb method?
– It is well known that before a manufacturer can ascertain costs he must know in detail the costs of the various processes of manufacture, as well as the cost of raw material. The Defence Department will have access to the books of manufacturers, and I am informed that the practice of investigating the various items already exists: On a number of occasions, such investigations have been made to ascertain in detail the cost of manufacturing individual articles.
– My reason for rising is to contradict, in effect, the statement of the Assistant Minister (Senator McBride) that contractors in all parts of the Commonwealth were placed on an equal basis. I take it that the contract for the construction of oil tanks at Darwin was one of the jobs that would be covered by the arrangement referred to by the Minister, and I say definitely that Western Australian tenderers were denied an opportunity to tender because they did not receive the specifications until too late. The closing date for tenders was extended for a week, but Western Australia was not notified of that fact. On this subject, I have received the following communication : -
You will be interested to know that the technical journal Tenders, dated 6th April, 1939 - which is published by the Tait Publishing Company Limited, 340 Collins Street, Melbourne - states that the closing time for tenders for fuel oil tanks at Darwin and Fremantle has been extended from the 4th April to the 11th April at 2 p.m.
Western Australian tenderers were not informed of this later extension. That proves conclusively that Western Austraiian firms are not placed on the same basis as eastern firms. For the jobs referred to, tenderers were requested to submit competitive designs. It is hoped that the new Department of Supply and Development will make available sufficient copies of specifications. For one job only two copies of the specification were available in Western Australia, so that some firms, which might have wished to tender, could not get access to the specification in time, and were therefore unable to prepare tenders. Another complain is that the deposits of unsuccessful tenderers have, in some instances, been held up for two or three months after a tender has been accepted. On the subject of preparing designs, my correspondent states -
It was stated that the cost of preparing designs was quite expensive for tenderers, but they would have little objection to offering alternative designs to the one issued by the Commonwealth Works Department in order to suit stock requirements or local conditions. This has already been done from the Canberra Office in connexion with the tender for nil tanks, where details of drawings and specifications were issued, but where the tenderers were invited to submit an alternative, presumably with the idea of taking the advantage of practical experience of tenderers, and, as the work was obviously urgent, to suit stock requirements. It was also pointed out that where tenders are on a competitive design basis, it is more costly to the department to check the designs thoroughly than it would be for the department to prepare a design and specification and call tenders for same, with everybody tendering on an equal footing as regards the work and material for which they are invited to tender.
I protest against the arrangement whereby two very small areas - I refer to Sydney and Melbourne - are given precedence over the rest of the Commonwealth.
– This clause states that the matters to be administered by the . department should be matters relating to arrangements for ascertaining costs, and the control and limitation of profits in relation to the production of munitions, &c. It is unfortunate that the Assistant Minister (Senator McBride) has not been able to state more precisely the procedure which it is proposed to follow. Even the legal men who support the Government have not risen to explain what it is proposed to do. The Minister has said .that it is intended to set up a panel of accountants, who are to act in an honorary, capacity. Over such a panel the Government will bt unable to exercise any control. It may refer certain matters to the panel, but will have no. authority over the members of that body. Experience has shown that all over the world, wherever private manufacturers have been given contracts for the supply of munitions, there has been profiteering and exploitation. Now the Government is endeavouring to introduce the same system, in Australia.
It is all the more” important, therefore, that the greatest care should be exercised in the control of costs. The Department of Defence should have its own experts to watch over such matters; they should not be left in the hands of an honorary panel. It has been proved that only in those countries where - the manufacture of arms and munitions is carried on exclusively in Government factories has it been possible to avoid profiteering. The only countries that have been able to impose a successful check on profiteers are those that have conducted factories and produced goods themselves. This applies especially to Great Britain. The British Government produced articles in government establishments, and they had to be made by private enterprise at similar costs. A Government supporter has pointed out that there will be a check in respect to shell cases.” That is all right for one item, but surely the Government does not presume to tell us that every item required for defence purposes will be checked. The authorities will know exactly what the shell cases will cost, but there will be no. check on every item supplied by the Government’s wealthy friends. The Minister has mentioned half-a-dozen times that 64 tenders had been received for supply of garments required by the Defence Department, but he forgot to mention what happened in regard to the supply of 16,000 tunics. Tho material was purchased in Victoria, and the garments were cut out and machined in that State, but because the factories were busy the clothes were sent to New South Wales to be sewn. No explanation has been given of that happening. I should like to see 164 tenders received. Then we should be more certain that there would be fair competition and that the people of Australia would get proper value for their money. I require more information about the costing procedure, and to know whether the Government will produce in its own factories articles of a similar kind to those required from the contractors.
: - 1 move -
That the words “ subject to the directions of the Governor-General and to. the next succeeding sub-section “, sub-clause (1), be left out.
I know that clause 5 as originally drafted had an entirely different character. I also know that the points of difference were submitted to the Government by the Opposition in the House of Representatives, and they were accepted. The clause now provides that-
The matters to be administered by the department shall be matters relating to arrangements for ascertaining costs and for the control and limitation of profits in relation to the production of munitions, and subject to the directions of the Governor-General and the next succeeding section.
Paragraphs a, l>, c, d and e follow. We believe that all the matters set out in these paragraphs are desirable, but the best provisions have been stultified by the inclusion of the words “ subject to the directions of the Governor-General “. Those matters should be inquired into without any decision of the GovernorGeneral. When the bill becomes law investigations into the matters specified in the paragraphs should continue all the time. Later, I shall submit another amendment that will enable me to say more on this subject. I was interested to hear the Minister in charge of the bill say, in reply to one of my colleagues, that terms of reference had been decided upon, and would be adhered to by the advisory panel. The Minister also repeated what he said in his second-reading speech, that in certain circumstances the Government considered - no doubt on the advice of its experts - that 4 per cent, profit was sufficient, but he added that in one case a profit of 6 per cent, was regarded as fair. That provides full justification for our criticism. The Government will go from a profit of 4 to 6 per cent.; and as it has no definite policy in regard to the limitation of profits, I do not see any reason why it should not favour a profit of from 6 to 8 per cent., or one of from 8 to 10 per cent. The Minister made out a good case, but he did not touch the points that I have raised. He said that it was well known that every manufacturer tendering for government contracts would have to ascertain what the raw materials would cost for the work. We all know that that is one of the first items considered. I do not believe the Government’s professions because they are against its political interests, and that is the basis of our opposition to the whole business.
Long before the manufacturer obtains a quote for the raw material, profiteering has been going on. I wish the advisory panel, the Government experts and the Government, as symbolized in the Governor-General, to go behind the backs of the manufacturer and to find out how much nefarious profiteering has already been engaged in. The price of Broken Hill shares has increased and there has also been a sordid squabble in regard to the contract for the Sydney General Post Office. Such things are responsible for the extravagant profit being made out of raw materials, and the nation has to pay it. I wish to know how much sincerity there is in the Government’s protest that it intends to limit profits? I have moved my amendment because the matters specified in the clause should not be left for the declaration of a state of war, or to a decision of the GovernorGeneral. ‘ Nothing should prevent the operation of the act in the interests of the’ people who have to stand by the country when there is a state of national emergency. I trust that the Minister will not think that we are embarking on a policy of wilful obstruction. We see danger, and I hope that honorable senators will assist the Opposition to carry the amendment. If it is agreed to, it will improve the bill, and will be a guarantee of the Government’s good faith, if such is possible. I shall also move an amendment affecting sub-clause 2 which will have to be omitted if the amendment before the committee is carried.
.- I support the amendment on the ground that the clause implies power to the Government to exempt certain industries from what we consider should be a continuous inquiry. I believe the Minister’s explanation and that the general supply of stores for the defence of Australia is accomplished in the manner outlined. Tenders are put through an excellent machine in the Government Tender Board, but that does not touch the root of the question. After all, as the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) has said, the traders get their heads together in regard to nearly every contract, and so the part played by the board is unimportant. That organization receives a man’s name and a price, but our party is interested in the story leading up to. that stage of the proceedings. I do not see why the words “subject to the directions of the Governor-General “ should be retained, because that really means that the permanent head of the department will be able to exempt certain industries. Every party believes that there should be some check on supply and costing. The proposed panel will probably be able to do effective work, but generally there will be a doubt as to whether it can succeed in view .of the intricate ramifications of modem business. The Government must have somebody to make the necessary investigations. I believe that the words mentioned in the amendment should be omitted so that, willy-nilly, all proposals for the supply of munitions and aircraft and the extension of industries should be under review. I do not wish to raise any ‘but’ helpful points. We believe that the amendment is worth while, and if it is agreed to it will not prejudice the bill. We oppose the provision giving the Government power to exempt .certain industries from an examination that we regard as necessary.
has said. If the amendment is carried, it will be a guarantee of good faith that the Government intends to do what the bill provides. If, however, the amendment is rejected, the Government, for all practical purposes, can ignore clause 5 and allow those who supply war materials to charge exactly what they like. Costs cannot be ascertained nor profits limited except by direct government control. The Executive must have complete authority to investigate the costs of raw materials and of goods at every stage of manufacture. If the amendment is agreed to it will be mandatory for the new department to make complete investigations into costs. If the clause remains in its present form the department will undoubtedly be able to pick and choose as to the inquiries it will make. That situation is not satisfactory to me. All activities put in hand for the manufacture of munitions and. war equipment generally should ‘be subjected to investigation to ensure that costs are properly ascertained and profits reasonably limited.
– As the clause reads at present the Government will undoubtedly have power to direct, in what I consider to be an unhealthy way, the investigation of various industries. It is my opinion that an investigation should be made into the costs of all materials required for war purposes so that profits may be properly supervised. The Government is now taking the preliminary steps to permit private enterprise to manufacture munitions of war. Previously all work of this description done in this country has been under government control. I wish to be generous in this matter, and I am prepared to say that if the Government’ is able to limit profits on work of this kind done by private enterprise it will achieve something that has never been achieved in any other country. It is in the best interests of the whole community that all manufacturing processes related to the production of munitions or defence supplies generally shall be closely investigated; but I object to the Government having any discretionary power in this connexion, and, therefore, I strongly urge honorable senators to vote for the amendment.
– I support the amendment because I think it seeks to give effect to a very important principle making it mandatory for the Government to inquire into operating costs in connexion with all the annexes now in process of establishment to assist in the provision of munitions. If this new department is to be of practical ‘ service to the community it must exercise complete power to ascertain costs and limit profits. If the Government is sincere in its declaration that it desires to prevent the making of excess profits on the supplies required by the Defence Department it will accept the amendment. It is only reasonable that it should do so. We know very well that the Executive cannot direct the Commissioner of Taxation whether he shall investigate the affairs of this tax payer or that taxpayer. The Commissioner is under obligation to satisfy himself in respect of every tax payer. Similarly this new department should be obliged to satisfy itself in respect of. all munitions produced and all supplies obtained for defence purposes. The affairs of one annexe should not be subject to investigation while those of another are not so supervised. The clause provides that certain things shall be done “ subject to the directions of the Governor-General “. Why should the Governor-General, through the Government of course, be brought into the matter at all? The Government and the public are entitled to a complete assurance that the costs incurred in all the annexes and the profits made in respect of them shall be within reason. Unless the Government agrees to . the amendment ii will justly deserve the severest criticism of the community at large. Not only the affairs of such firms as the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, but also those of the smallest backyard manufactory, .should be subject to periodical investigation to ensure that excess prices are not charged, and undue profits are not made. This relates not only to shell cases, time fuses, the provision of the ingredients for munitions, and the manufacture of rifles for the troops, but also to the provision of food and clothing, and all other requirements for defence. Such investigations are not likely to be objected to except by racketeers whose prime purpose is to make undue profits. Parliament will not be doing its duty to the people of this country unless it provides for the closest investigation of these matters, and I am sure that it will not escape criticism unless the measure that it passes in relation to these activities is so clearly expressed as to make the ascertainment of costs and the limitation of profits an obligation of the new department. I can see no reason for including the words “ subject to the directions of the Governor-General and the next succeeding sub-section “, unless it is to pull the wool over the eyes of the people. If the Government really desires to keep costs down to a reasonable figure and to prevent the making of undue profits it will accept the amendment.
– I give this clause an entirely different interpretation from that of honorable senators opposite. The functions of the proposed new department are clearly set out in paragraphs a to e of theclause. It has been felt for some timethat, owing to the huge expansion of defence expenditure, the Defence Department has been overloaded with work. The new department is being created and given specific powers to permit the Defence Department to function more effectively and to ensure that certain essential defence activities, especially of a preparatory kind, shall be effectively discharged. One of the functions of the new department relates to costs and limitation of profits. The clause reads -
The matters tobe administered by the department shall be matters relating to arrangements for ascertaining costs and for the control and limitation of profits in relation to the production of munitions . . .
These functions are at present being performed by the Defence Department. The new department will therefore do the work that the Defence Department is already doing. The ascertainment of costs and the limitation of profits are included among the functions of the department.
– Does the honorable senator say that the Defence Department is discharging all of the functions covered by that clause?
-Yes, and for that reason it is overloaded.
– But surely the honorable senator does not say that the Defence Department is responsible for the ascertainment of costs and the limitation of profits?
– That may be the honorable senator’s opinion. Some of us hold a different opinion. Sub-clause 2 of the clause provides that the GovernorGeneral may, from time to time, determine the extent to which, or the conditions upon which, any of the matters specified in paragraphs a to e may be administered by the department.
– We want it to be continuous.
– The issue involved is not so much the continuity of functions, but whether the Department of Supply and Development or some other department, should exercise these functions. At present they are being exercised by another department. Under this bill, subject to the directions of the Governor-
General, the administration will be in the hands of the Department of Supply and Development. . This clause deals with the transfer of functions. In my view it is essential that the Governor-General should determine from time to time whether or not it was advisable that any particular function mentioned in subclause 5 should be transferred from the Defence Department to the Department, of Supply and Development.
– It could mean a change of procedure as well.
– If the honorable senator will read the clause carefully he will see that the Department of Supply and Development is definitely entrusted with the function of ascertaining costs and limiting profits, and if the GovernorGeneral so directs it may be entrusted with the other functions mentioned in paragraphs a to e. I submit that it is essential that the words “ subject to the directions of the Govern or-G-eneral and to the next succeeding sub-section “ should remain, and that from time to time functions should be transferred from one department to another as the GovernorGeneral in Council deems desirable.
– I would like Senator Wilson to show me any section of the Defence Act which provides for the limitation of profits. Clause 5 of the bill states -
The matters to be administered by the Department shall be matters relating to arrangements for ascertaining cost and for the control and limitation of profits . . .
– Apparently the honorable senator did not listen to what I said.
– Yes I did, and 1 understood the honorable gentleman to say that the matter to which I have referred was provided for in the Defence Act.
– I said that the matters referred to in paragraphs a to e were already under the control of the Defence Department or some other department.
– I was under the impression that the honorable senator said that the matters mentioned in the earlier part of sub-clause 1 were already provided for in the Defence Act. It also enacts that profits shall be controlled and: limited ; but the Minister in charge of the measure (Senator Poll) spoke in the vaguest way of the measures to be taken. There is nothing in the clause to state that profits are to be limited to 4 per cent., 5 per cent., or even 6 per cent. All that it contains is a general statement of the Government’s policy with regard to the manufacture of munitions. The Government should state definitely what methods are to be employed. We are told that this matter is to be dealt with by certain advisory bodies. As has been pointed out, however, one member of one of the advisory committee on industrial organization is the general manager of the Broken Hill ProprietaryCompany Limited, and other men to be appointed are . closely associated with associated industries. How could such a body be absolutely impartial? If the Government were really in earnest in its proposals to limit and control profits it would include in this bill provisions authorizing the Commonwealth to commandeer, in time of war, all industrial enterprises necessary for defence. We know that that will not be done. The Government should set ‘ up price-fixing machinery similar to that now in operation in Queensland. This bill seeks to limit profits only on commodities that are to be used for defence purposes. Admittedly the definition of “ goods “ is very broad, and covers a wide range of commodities. Why should the Government appoint friends of the manufacturers to act as an advisory committee to inquire and report upon methods of production, costs, and profits in connexion with all Government contracts? Even when recommendations are made, it will not he mandatory for the Government to act upon them. Furthermore, unless this amendment is carried, the Government will not be obliged even to submit all. matters to the proposed advisory committee or to the accountancy panel. By executive action, the Government could say that it was not concerned with some particular items and would not seek advice upon them. The whole thing is absurd. We on this side are all opposed to the making of profits on the manufacture of munitions ; hut, realizing that we cannot convince the Government of the merit of our argument in that matter, we submit that profits should be strictly limited. We are re-inforced in this attitude by statements made by some leading statesmen in Great Britain. Mr. Lloyd George told the people of the Mother Country that by taking the manufacture of munitions out of the hands of private enterprise during the Great War, he saved the nation £440,000,000. . If this Government is really sincere in its desire to limit profits, instead of providing that certain matters may or may not be submitted to the accountancy panel, or to advisory committees, it would make this reference mandatory on whatever government might be in power. That is the intention of the amendment submitted by my leader, Senator Collings. All inquiries shouldbe made by proper tribunate and evidence taken on oath. Under this legislation it will be possible for the various advisory bodies to meet in the friendly atmosphere of their clubs with cigars and perhaps whisky and soda, and to arrive at decisions before the actual inquiries are held. As many members of these advisory bodies will be friends of the manufacturers, the decisions reached will not prevent the exploitation of the people. I repeat that . the methods to be employed for pricelimitation should be placed ‘before Parliament. At present the Government can please itself what . action it takes, and whether or not inquiries will he made. Parliament will have no say whatever in the methods to he employed for the fixing of prices, and the persons who will be charged with that important task will not be responsible to Parliament. Government supporters claim that they will be responsible to Parliament, but we know that in the practical working of this legislation they will not be. This measure is part of the policy of placing more and more power in the hands of people outside Parliament, so that action can be taken without the blinding light of publicity which discussion by Parliament would give. It is only fair that a matter so vital as the limitation of profits in the manufacture of munitions should be carried out in a proper way, by special tribunals, so that full and proper inquiries may be made. We should not be bulldozed by the statements madeby the Minister in charge of the bill.
. I assure the Leader of the Opposition (SenatorCollings) that the Government appreciates the fears which he and other honorable senators opposite have expressed regarding the limitation of profits and accept his assurance that the Opposition has no desire to obstruct, or to delay, the passing of this bill. The Government realizes that the purpose of bringing legislation before Parliament is that it shall be discussed from all aspects before being given the force of law. We on this side appreciate the motives which have actuated the honorable gentleman in bringing forward his amendment, but I point out to him that, even if it be agreed to, his amendment would not achieve the objective which he has in mind.
– It would take the brake off the investigations.
– If the honorable gentleman will again read the clause he will find that up to the word “ munitions “ it is absolutely unrestricted ; restrictions which he now proposes to take off do not apply to the preceding provisions, which give full powers to make investigations into the various functions, such as the ascertainment of costs, that are desired by honorable senators on both sides of the chamber. In consequence of the fact that the amendment does not affect the portion of the clause in which the Leader of the Opposition is particularly interested, I regret that the Government cannot accept it; the words which he proposes to delete are necessary . in order to avoid unnecessary duplication and overlapping by government departments. So far as the Government is concerned, no restriction is intended, but these words are necessary for smooth and efficient working. The reason that they are put in is obvious when we consider the purpose of the bill. The new department is to exercise certain functions which are now being carried out by other departments. One of these functions will be to decide in a time of emergency whether it is necessary or desirable to import either certain raw materials or manufactured goods. Should the new department decide that certain commodities or goods should be introduced into Australia, it would merely make a decision to that effect; the actual administration and control of such importations would be undertaken by the Trade and Customs Department. That is the purpose of these qualifications, which the Leader of the Opposition now desires to delete.
I desire to clear up some of the doubts that have been expressed as to the functioning of the Contracts Board. Senator Clothier referred to a case in which he considered that unequal treatment had been meted out to a Western Australian firm, I have no knowledge of the case referred to, but I accept the honorable senator’s statement. I can only suggest that in an organization as large, and with ramifications as wide as those of the Contracts Board and defence administration generally, there must ‘be occasions when complete efficiency is not obtained. I suggest that the occasion referred to by the honorable senator was one in which the general practice of the Contracts Board was not entirely followed. The method employed by the board is for the demanding service - the navy, the army, or the air service, requiring the goods to be purchased - to take responsibility for the specifications, quality and quantity of goods required, and for the subsequent payment for them. The Contracts Board, in its turn, exercises an amazing thoroughness in the calling for, and the acceptance of, tenders. It is important to note that, both in value and in bulk, most of the goods required and used by the Defence Department are obtained after an open invitation of tenders has been advertised widely throughout the Commonwealth. Tenders close at the same time in the various States, and are arranged on an f.o.b. basis, thereby giving all tenderers equal opportunity in competition. I suggest that no method could be fairer than that.
– How long has that system been in operation?
– It was adopted in 1933. If it can be shown that in some instances the general practice is not observed, I can only express my regret, but not a great deal of surprise, for, in view of the immense amount of work to be undertaken, it seems likely, that, on occasions, departures from the general practice will occur.
I was interested to hear the views of Senator Ashley, and I agree entirely with some of them. I was particularly pleased to hear him advocate for Australia, the system operating in Great Britain in relation to the limitation of profits and the assessing of costs, for that is the system which has been operating in Australia.
As to the clause which the Leader of the Opposition wishes to amend, I point out that the provision in the bill is similar to that in the British legislation which, incidentally, was introduced into the House of Commons after this bill was placed before the Commonwealth Parliament. I submit, therefore, that the Government is sincerely and definitely endeavouring to meet the fears which, with some justification, Opposition senators have expressed this afternoon.
– I am grateful to the Assistant Minister (Senator McBride) for the trouble that he has taken to make the speech which he has just, delivered. I assure him, however, thatI am under no misapprehension as to what the. words that I ask to be deleted mean or imply. Clause 5 is perfectly clear. As I said when I moved my amendment, this clause, as it came before us, was not in the original bill. The original measure has been wonderfully improved as the result of the efforts of the Opposition in the House of Representatives. And let me say - for I do not wish the Minister to mistake me for a gullible innocent - that I give to the Government no credit for accepting amendments moved by Opposition members in the other chamber. Such amendments were accepted not on their merits but after heads had been counted, and the Government found that it could not last unless it accepted them. There is no need for the Government to adopt that policy in this chamber where it has a majority. Clause 5 commences -
The matters to be administered by the department shall be matters relative to arrangements for ascertaining costs and for the control and limitation of profits in relation to the production of munitions . . .
It goes on to say that, subject to the directions of the Governor-General and to the next succeeding sub-section, certain other things may be done. They are all inter related, and cannot be separated.In this legislation it is proposed to hand over to a new department functions which I entirely agree should be handed over; but it is also proposed to put a brake on proceedings by the use of thewords “ subject to the directions of the Governor-General and to the next succeeding sub-section “. That clause then refers to the “ acquisition, maintenance and disposal of stocks of goods in connexion with defence “. 1 do not want the Governor-General in Council - which, in practice, means the Government - to say “ not on that particular stock “. I shall tell what happens under the Defence Act, for the Minister may not know of it. Let us suppose that under that legislation 100 tons of food supplies, such as oatmeal, tinned meat or other requirements for the troops in peace time, are obtained. After a certain time, those goods, although perfectly good, are not sold, because under the regulations they must be destroyed. That is going on, and has been going on, in this country for years. The Defence Department cannot sell a horse after it has reached a certain age, although the animal may be of considerable value to a farmer for some purposes other than Defence Department requirements. I know that that was what happened before a Labour government came into office, and I believe that that regulation still applies. If the practice has been discontinued, its discontinuance was due entirely to a previous Labour government. I am delighted that this new department is to have control of the. acquisition, maintenance and disposal of stocks of goods in connexion with defence. There is no reason for the inclusion of the words “ subject to the directions of the Governor-General and to the next succeeding sub-section “, except that the Government wishes to put on the brake in respect of certain goods, and says “ Don’t do that “. That is the reason for my amendment. When the opportunity comes, the Opposition will divide the committee.
SenatorE. B. JOHNSTON (Western Australia) [4.14]. - I have listened with much interest to the debate, particularly the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings), who, in his secondreading speech, dealt with the immense powers which are to be given to the Executive and to Ministers under this legislation. I agreed with his remarks on that point to a considerable degree. If his motion were to increase the power of the Parliament over the Executive, or the power of the Executive over departmental heads, I should certainly support it, for I am a firm believer in parliamentary control. But, it seems to me that the amendment aims at taking control from the GovernorGeneral in Council, which, as has been pointed out, means the Government, and giving it to the Department of Supply and Development.
– My desire is to prevent the powers of this new department from being exercised by way of regulations.
– Anything that we can do to increase parliamentary control of the Executive, or the power of the Executive over the departmental heads, we should do. I am anxious to attain the objective of the Leader of the Opposition, namely, that this legislation shall be effective in controlling profiteering.
– The Parliament should have the control.
– Yes. It would be far better to have the control vested in the Governor-General in Council than in the departmental head.
– Control by the Governor-General in Council means government by regulation.
– In theory, at least, the Executive and the Cabinet are under the control of Parliament, although quite recently we have had evidence that that is not always so. Even promises that have been made have not always been kept. The amendment would leave the whole matter in the hands of officials, but I should prefer the Minister to act with the approval of the Cabinet, rather than on his own initiative. Even if the Leader of the Opposition himself were administering the department, I should consider it desirable that the policy of the Cabinet as a whole should be adopted, instead of leaving these immense and extraordinary powers to beexercised at the whim of the department.
-Under the amendment, the control would be taken out of the hands of everybody except this Parliament.
– I do not see eye to eye with the honorable senator.
– In a time of national emergency, should not this Parliament sit continuously?
– Yes, but it seems to me that the clause as it stands provides for the retention of a measure of parliamentary and ministerial control, instead of leaving these important functions to be exercised entirely by departmental officials.
SenatorFRASER (Western Australia) [4.18]. - I support the amendment. The Minister said that open tenders would be invited by the Tender Board, and that profits on contracts let to the annexes would be limited to from 4 to 6 per cent., hut nothing was said in regard to raw materials. I draw attention to the fact that the accountancy panel would have difficulty in preventing the making of excess profits, because, even in times of peace, private commercial interests are closely interlocked. Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited is prepared to give its best advice in order to guide the destinies of this country, but it has so many subsidiary organizations that I fail to see how any panel of accountants could determine what profits are made from the handling of raw materials to the filling of shells. The interests of this company, and those of other organizations which it controls, or in which it has a controlling interest, are so interwoven that no body of accountants could trace the exact profits made. Imperial Chemical Industries Limited would be one of the foremost companies operating in the event of preparations for war, and the coal and shipping interests are also closely interlocked.
– Should we not attempt to limit profits at all?
– My contention is that the only way to overcome the diffi- culty in a national emergency would be for the Government to take complete control of industries. I do not know whetherthe4 percent. referred, to by the Minister applies to turnover or invested capital. The percentage of profit to be allowed is not mentioned in the bill.
– I was referring only to the profit already made in connexion with contracts let to the annexes.
– I have no doubt that profits on raw materials would be based on prices overseas. During the Great War, and even during the emergency experienced in September last, the price of jute sacks increased from 300 to 400 per cent. As Senator Leckie pointed out, this was due to the operations of the jute manufacturers of India, where the companies concerned are controlled from Great Britain. A remarkable feature of the bill is the fact that, whilst the reduction of profits has been advocated, not a word has been saidabout the imposition of penalties on those proved to be guilty of making excess profits out of either raw materials or finished products. Large profits have been made during the last twelve months and we are now being asked to pass preventive legislation. I have yet to be convinced that Senator Wilson is right in saying that the bill merely transfers to the Department of Supply and Development power already exercised by the Department of Defence.
Reference was made by the Minister to a statement by Senator Clothier. Not many weeks ago, I was a member of a deputation that waited upon the Government in connexion with certain Western Australian tenders. The closing time for these tenders was the same as that in respect of tenders submitted by manufacturers in the eastern States, which means that Western Australian contractors had two hours less than their competitors in submitting tenders.
– Now the honorable senator is splitting hairs.
– I have yet to be assured by the responsible Minister that any alteration has been made in that regard. I desire to see that the representations made by the deputation are not ignored. If I have an assurance that allowance will be made for the difference in time between Perth and the eastern States, I shall be indeed pleased.
– I appreciate the acknowledgment of the Assistant Minister (Senator McBride) of the value of my previous observations on this measure, but I should be much better pleased if the Government undertook to act upon my suggestions. The Assistant Minister stated that the Government proposed to observe the system employed by the British Government, which first ascertained the fair cost of manufacturing a certain article by making the article itself, and then called on private enterprise to manufacture at that figure. This Government has not observed that practice in the manufacture of tools, jigs and gauges for the Bren gun. These articles are being made by Holdens Motor Body Works, Adelaide, which firm, I understand, is turning them out rather roughly, necessitating trimming up at the Lithgow factory, where the guns are to be assembled. Here is a specific instance in which the Government could have manufactured the first set of these articles in one of its own factories, and having thus ascertained the fair price of manufacture, could have asked private enterprise to supply the articles at that price.
– At which government factory could these tools have been produced ?
– The New South Wales factory has men capable of doing that work.
– But it has not the machines.
– Is the department entirely satisfied with the job Holdens are doing? I agree with the practice that has been adopted in England in this connexion, but here is one instance in which the Government has failed to observe that practice. The Government should ascertain the fair cost of its requirements by manufacturing first sets in its own factories. It should then ask private enterprise to supply its requirements at that cost.
– Private enterprise would jump at that opportunity.
– It has not done so in this instance. The tools, jigs and gauges’ required for the Bren gun should first have been manufactured in the government factory where these parts will ultimately be assembled.
.- I share the desire of all honorable senators to prevent profiteering in the manufacture of munitions. In examining this clause, however, I first ask myself whether or not the Government is sincere in its efforts to prevent such profiteering. I am convinced that it is, and, therefore, I can find no fault with the clause as it stands. Of course, were I suspicious of the Government, like honorable senators opposite, I should be pardoned if I endeavoured to amend the clause along the lines proposed by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings). I have no doubt, however, that the Government is sincere in its endeavours to prevent profiteering in the manufacture of its defence requirements. If it were not, it need not have inserted this clause in this measure. The fact that it has done so indicates its sincerity in the matter. Honorable senators on both sides are determined, so far as is humanly possible, to prevent profiteering in the manufacture of munitions. The Government could have left this matter entirely in the hands of the Minister, but it gives further evidence of its sincerity by providing that the GovernorGeneral may determine the extent to which, or the conditions upon which any of the matters covered by this clause may be administered by the department. In reply to honorable senators who complain that no specific limitation of profits is provided, I point out that, whereas 4 per cent. profit on one order might be profiteering, 6 per cent. profit on another order might not be profiteering. It is because of that difficulty that no specific rate of profit is mentioned in the bill. Believing that both the Government and Parliament are sincere in their desire to prevent profiteering in this matter, I have no hesitation in supporting the clause as it stands.
– I hope that the amendment will be carried because it will clarify the position. The Assistant Minister (Senator
McBride) has indicated that up to a certain point the Government accepts the proposal embodied in the amendment. The department is to he charged with the responsibility of administering matters relating to arrangements for ascertaining costs and for the control and limitation of profits in relation to the production of munitions. That is as far as the department is charged with the responsibility of ascertaining costs. It does not apply to costs in respect of the supply of munitions. The clause as it stands will lead to confusion with regard to the duties of the department concerning profiteering in the supply of munitions as distinct from the production of munitions.
– It has already led to confusion among honorable senators opposite.
-Therefore, the amendment has been justified, because we should not leave room for confusion in the mind of any one. For instance, doubt might arise as to the powers of the department to undertake investigations into the costs of supplying munitions.
– The supply of munitions has nothing to do with costs.
– I am afraid that we shall not obtain any supplies of munitions free of cost. Indeed, there are many ways in which the cost of supplying munitions might be loaded. This is one reason why the clause should be amended as proposed by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings), but there are also many other reasons. The cost of munitions possibly will be the easiest of all costs to ascertain because the Government already possesses munitions factories, and a small arms factory, through the operations of which, thanks to the foresight of a Labour government, it can readily ascertain actual costs of production.
– To which government factories is the honorable senator referring when he speaks of the foresight of a Labour government?
– The munitions factory at Maribyrriong and the Small Arms factory at Lithgow. However, the department shall in the near future require supplies of many articles the cost of which it will not be so easy to ascertain. As the matter stands now, it would be within the prerogative of the GovernorGeneral in Council to institute investigations regarding costs.
– The Governor-
General has nothing to do with that.
– The clause states that, “subject to the directions of the Governor-General “ the department shall administer the matters enumerated in paragraphs a to e. I regard the control and limitation of profits as of such importance that they should not he subject to the direction of the GovernorGeneral, but of Parliament.
– That is definitely provided for now.
– I cannot see that it is, unless the amendment is agreed to. Is it clear that costs of manufacture of aircraft, or parts thereof, by the Commonwealth, or an authority of the Commonwealth, will also be investigated by the department without reference to the Governor-General ? I am afraid there is some doubt regarding that. The Government might take the view that the department would be exceeding its authority if it instituted an investigation into such costs. I should like to know, for instance, if it is really understood that the department is to have power to institute investigations, without reference to the Minister, into arrangements for the establishment or extension of industries for purposes of defence. Senator Johnston said that, in his opinion, the amendment would have the effect of destroying the power of the Minister.
-I am not responsible for what he said. Senator Johnston maintained that the amendment would place such matters outside the control of the Minister, and, therefore, of Parliament. So that there shall be no confusion, I think that the amendment should be agreed to, giving to the department power to conduct continuous investigations of costs and profits. The Assistant Minister (Senator McBride) stated that a very competent advisory panel was to be set up. I have no doubt that the gentlemen whose names are mentioned as likely to be appointed to that panel are honorable and competent. They are, however, to act merely in an advisory capacity, and they are to give their services without fee or reward. All of them have their own business activities, and it is unfair to expect them to give up their time to investigate costs of materials and profits of manufacturers. There should be a continuous investigation of costs, rather than an intermittent investigation by the members of an advisory panel, no matter how competent.
.- I cannot understand why there should be any confusion over this matter; it seems so perfectly clear to me. It is laid down as mandatory that the department shall administer matters relating to arrangements for ascertaining costs, and for the control and limitation of profits in relation to the production of munitions. The clause then goes on to provide that, subject to the directions of the GovernorGeneral, and to the next succeeding subsection, the department shall administer matters mentioned in paragraphs a, b, c, dand e. I was amused at the claim that the Government factories should determine costs, and that all private manufacturers should supply goods at the price fixed. As a matter of fact, private manufacturers would jump at the chance, and many of them would make enormous profits on that basis.
– In a final attempt to clarify the position, let me read the clause as it would appear if the amendment were accepted. It would be -
The matters to be administered by the department shall be matters relating to arrangements for ascertaining costs, and for the control and limitation of profits in relation to the production of munitions, and -
the manufacture or assembly of aircraft . . .
arrangements for the establishment or extension of industries for purposes of defence;
the acquisition, maintenance and disposal of stocks of goods in connexion with defence; and
surveys of Australian industrial capacity and the preparation of plans to ensure the effective opera tion of Australian industry in time of war including plans for the decentralization of secondary industries and particularly those relating to defence; and
the investigation and development of Australian sources of supply of goods, which in the opinion of the Governor-General are necessary for the economic security of the Commonwealth in time of war and, in particular, the investigation and development of additional oil resources, the production of power alcohol from sugar or other vegetable crops, and the production of oil from coal or shale.
AllI am asking is that consideration of the limitation of profits shall apply to the whole of the clause, without the intervention of the Governor-General in Council. I want the control of profiteering in respect of all those matters to be in the hands of Parliament, not in the hands of t he department, or the advisory panel, or the Ministry. Previously, I asked that, while a state of national emergency prevailed, or when war was apprehended or had been declared, Parliament should be continuously in session. If the Government would give to the new department instructions in the terms of the amendment the clause would be complete and satisfactory.
. -If the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) only wants the assurance he has just stated, I can say unequivocally that the removal of a portion of the clause as suggested by him will not limit or extend the bill. I repeat that whether the amendment be accepted or rejected, the arrangements for ascertaining, costs obtaining now will exist to the same degree. I mentioned earlier that the reason why the provision had been inserted was to permit of different functions being allotted to either this or another department if it were necessary. As an instance, I point out that under the clause the department is to control - the acquisition, maintenance and disposal of stocks of goods in connexion with defence.
Stocks of goods in connexion with defence vary toa large degree, and include many types of equipment. I suggest to the Leader of the Opposition that, whilst this department might be competent to dispose of clothing, or some other goods of that kind, it would feel that it would be better for the Defence Department to sell, say, horses, if it were thought that they were unnecessary to the department. The provision has been inserted in order to allow of discretion in the allocation of powers to some other department. I also mentioned that the department might deem it necessary either to have imported or itself to import certain classes of goods. That would not be done by this* department, but by the Customs Department. I can assure the Leader of the Opposition that the provision has been inserted to ensure the efficiency of the measure.
-Will the passing of the amendment make the bill worse or better in the direction that we seek?
– It will not make it. better or worse, but the inclusion of the words is necessary for the smooth working of the act and of the department. It will enable the Department of Supply and Development to delegate certain of its powers to other departments. The impossibility of assessing costs has been suggested by Senator Fraser; that point has been raised here and in the House of Representatives on a number of occasions, and I do not agree with it. In regard to clothing and certain things common to the Defence Department, I suggest that the Contract Board has full knowledge of the costs and of the proper prices to be charged for those commodities; consequently, it is futile to say that the board has no possible means of ascertaining costs. If it is in doubt as to a price quoted in a tender the board has the right, and, indeed, it is its duty, to make a full investigation of the costs, not only of the processing of the articles, but also, if necessary, the cost of the raw materials. Honorable senators will thus see that complete power is contained in the measure to enable a very true index of the costs position to he arrived at. In regard to goods not previously, made here, the practice adopted is for consultations to take place between the Contract Board and the company proposing to manufacture. A contract is let after the board has satisfied itself from the evidence available that the tendered prices are reasonable. When not less than 10 per cent, and not more than 20 per cent, of the contract has been completed, another investigation is made in the light of the actual production of the goods. If it is then proved that the original price was above a fair one, a reduction can be made in the terms of the contract. In view of these safeguards, I suggest that we are not too optimistic in believing that undue profiteering can be policed. Senator Ashley raised a query about the tools and jigs being made by Holdens motor-body works in South Australia. I have been informed that the goods supplied by the company are satisfactory to the department. There may have been minor faults, hut certainly none of a major nature, and as a general statement I am assured that the department is satisfied with the quality of the goods delivered.
Senaor Ashley. - I am glad you said “ minor faults “.
– It would not be remarkable in the first delivery of goods never previously made in Australia that there should be some minor faults. The prices of the goods being supplied are just below those for which similar articles could be imported into this country. In the circumstances, I suggest that the work done by the company is a matter for congratulation, as until the present time there have been no factories in the Commonwealth capable of turning out those tools. Another honorable senator suggested that the Lithgow factory might make these articles, but its machines are for the production of small arms, and without the addition of new machinery the factory could not manufacture tools and jigs.
.- The Leader of the Opposition says that he is seeking to secure parliamentary control in these cases, but it is already provided for. Certain matters are to be administered by the department which will be under a Minister who will control it. The Minister will be a mem ber of the Cabinet, and before he carries out works of magnitude he will submit his proposals to Cabinet, which in turn will bring them before Parliament, the final controlling factor. If the amendment be agreed to, it will accomplish nothing because Parliamentary control is the last factor in connexion with anything that the department will do. I think the public and honorable senators generally will be satisfied that the provision in clause 5 for the control of profits will be effective. Sufficient safeguards are included in the bill to prevent excessive profits from being made. Senator Sheehan has pointed out that the competition of State instrumentalities with private enterprise will provide one of the checks.
– That will not be a check.
– It will be a check on costs. If the State instrumentalities make huge profits we can obtain complete information about them, because we have their balance-sheets. The amendment of the Leader of the Opposition means nothing at all because parliamentary control is provided for in the bill.
– We have endeavoured to explain the meaning of this clause to the Opposition, but apparently it is not yet understood by some of those honorable senators. For the benefit of Senator Sheehan and others I suggest that if in su’b-clause 1 after the words “ shall be “ the letter a were inserted, and after the words “ munitions and “ the letter b were inserted they would more clearly understand the clause. The Opposition seems to be confused and to think tha/ provisions for ascertaining costs and the limitation of profits will be restricted by the directions of the Governor-General, but it has been clearly pointed out that that will not be so. It has also been suggested that it is impossible to ascertain costs, but that again is quite incorrect. The day of trial and error with manufacturers has gone. Every efficient manufacturing concern ascertains its production costs before it quotes for the sale of any goods.
– I point out that this is a matter of reference.
SenatorWILSON. - It is a matter of ascertaining the costs.
– It is a question as to whether the reference shall be subject to the directions of the GovernorGeneral. The matter of costs does not come into it; it is really a matter of jurisdiction.
– I was referring to the clause.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Collings’s amendment) be left out.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator James McLachlan.)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Declaration of Urgency.
– I declare that the Supply and Development Bill 1939 is an urgent bill.
That the bill be considered an urgent bill.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator James McLachlan.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Allotment of Time.
Motion (by Senator McLeay) put -
That the time allotted in connexion with the consideration of the bill be as follows: - For the committee stage of the bill, until 11 p.m. this day.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator James McLachlan.)
Majority . . 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I move-
That after paragraph (e) the following new paragraph be inserted: -
the construction and extension of roads and railways; .
I submit this amendment with a great deal of diffidence, for it may be thought by the Government that I wish to waste the time of the committee. Of course, I am upset to think that after the Senate has been in recess for six months we should find ourselves with only a limited time to discuss the remaining clauses of this bill. In the opinion of the Opposition the provision of adequate roads and railways is second in importance for defence purposes only to the provision of the strongest type of armaments for the Navy, the Army, and the Air Force. I do not think that any honorable senator, even among those who have just . stupidly voted for the “ guillotine “, would deny that roads and railways are, in fact, entitled to be considered as our second line of defence. Yet under the important part of this bill which bears the caption “ Part II. - Administration “, they are not even mentioned, I hope that if the Government will not accept this amendment, it will have the support of Senator Johnston, who showed his character and good judgment a moment ago by voting against the “guillotine”.
– Do not be too sure of that!
– I often feel doubtful about the attitude that Senator J ohnston will adopt towards proposals made by members of the Opposition, but I hope that in respect of this amendment at any rate he will display the same good sense and sound judgment that he has just displayed in voting against the limitation of debate. The Opposition is anxious to have incorporated in the bill provision for dealing with roads and railways. There can be no constitutional objection to this proposal.
Section 51 of the Commonwealth Constitution provides that the Parliament shall have power to make laws relating to - railway construction and extension in any State with the consent of that State.
I feel sure that Senator Collett will agree with me, because on several occasions he has been in opposition to some “ brass hats “, including Senator Brand, on the subject of railway construction. In the West Australian several months ago, Senator Collett said that the standardization of railway gauges was an essential factor in any strategical defence plan for the Commonwealth, and unless that work were undertaken there might be a tragic loss. As I said in my second-reading speech, although some of our military leaders may not be very much concerned with the standardization of railway gauges, they should be interested in the construction of roads, which, military experts agree, are essential for the rapid transportation of troops and supplies. It cannot be denied that while some of our highways are admirable for the light traffic which they now carry, they would be useless for heavy militaryvehicles, which would destroy the bitumen surfaces like piecrust. Construction of roads is, of course, a State responsibility, but the Federal Government gives substantial subsidies to the States for that work. Experience has shown that outside interests are often brought to bear on local governing bodies in connexion with expenditure on roads, which are not always built with due regard to their defence value. Honorable senators on this side believe that if this country is to be defended adequately - and, despite the innuendoes of some Government supporters, we would like to see it defended to the full - the Government should, appoint an advisory committee to deal with road transportation and the standardization of railway gauges. It has been claimed by some honorable senators supporting the Government that there is no need for this amendment, and that the Commonwealth Government should pay large sums of money to the States to assist in the carrying out of necessary road development work. We know very well, however, that in the expenditure of that money the strategic value of roads is not considered and that local influence is brought to bear.
– That would apply particularly to Queensland.
– It would apply to all . States. No one can deny that considerable antagonism exists between State and Commonwealth Governments. The States suffer great disabilities because of the large revenues that are taken from them directly and indirectly by the Commonwealth Government. They are unable to find money for many desirable and necessary State works. At a conference of Premiers held in Canberra on the 21st October, 1938, the Premier of Queensland, Mr. Forgan Smith, stressed the need for a defence road from Bourke to Charters Towers and for the construction of a railway between Dajarra andCamooweal and thence to Darwin. At present Darwin is isolated from the rest of the Commonwealth, despite the fact that one of the most important military axioms is that there should be ready access to every outpost of a defence system. Darwin now has a permanent garrison. It is definitely the northern outpost of Australia’s defence system; for this reason there should be means of rapid transportation between that town and the rest of the Commonwealth. If it be agreed, as I believe it will, that adequate defence implies not only strength in the various branches of the Defence Forces but also efficient transport facilities, control over railways and roads should be provided under this bill. It is grossly unfair to expect State governments to carry the burden of financing defence roads. If, as I submit, roads and railways are all-important in any defence scheme, these matters should be placed under the control of the new Department of Supply and Development.
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that the amendment moved by Senator Brown is not in accordance with Standing Order 201 and is, therefore, out of order. Any amendment must be relevant to the subjectmatter of the bill under discussion. The test of relevancy in this case is the title of the bill.I contend further that it would be unconstitutional, except by a tremendous expansion of defence powers, for the Commonwealth Government to engage in the making of roads or railways in the territory of any State. Standing Order 201 reads -
Any amendment may be made to any part of the bill, provided the same be relevant to thesubject-matter of the bill, and be otherwise in conformity with the Rules and Orders of the Senate.
The title of the bill indicates that it relates to “ the supply of munitions and the survey, registration and development of the resources of Australia, and for other purposes “. There is nothing in the bill to suggest that the Department of Supply and Development should have power to deal with roads and railways. The bill is for the specific purpose set out in the title, and beyond that we may not go. I ask the Chairman for a ruling on the point raised.
– I rule that the amendment is relevant to the bill.
– The purpose of the Opposition is to endeavour to provide for the adequate defence of Australia. I know the position in my own State, and other honorable senators know the position in their States. In no State has better work been done in the development of main roads than in Queensland, where the output for every working day of the last financial year was 5½ miles of splendid main road. Although these roads are wonderfully well made, they would not last a week if subjected to heavy military traffic in time of war. I doubt whether anywhere in Australia there is more than a few miles of road capable of carrying such traffic for any considerable time. Existing roads and bridges must be strengthened if our transport facilities are to be adequate for the strain that would be placed on them in the event of war. In view of the existing state of affairs, there is no reason why an honorable senator should endeavour to prevent this very important phase of the defence of Australia from being considered. I regard this subject as of sufficient importance to justify my devoting to it a little of the limited time at my disposal. How many of our railways are in a condition to transport large numbers of men and vast quantities of munitions from place to place? For several years the Premier of Queensland has placed before the Commonwealth Government, both at conferences and by correspondence, certain proposals regarding roads. That State does not ask that the Commonwealth should accept the whole of the responsibility in this connexion; it has offered to pay half the cost of a railway from Dajarra to Camooweal, which will be necessary if troops and munitions are to be transported quickly to distant parts of that State, conditionally upon the Commonwealth Government paying the other half. When that suggestion was first made, there was no immediate likelihood of war, but for several years the Government has known that the present unsatisfactory international situation was developing. However, it did nothing; now when the Opposition joins hands with it in an attempt to make provision for the adequate defence of Australia, an honorable senator, who until recently was a responsible Minister in the National Parliament, tries to take advantage of the Standing Orders in order to prevent the matter from being discussed. I am prepared to leave to the military experts the . determination as to which roads should be dealt with. I do not wish to be accused of being State-minded, but if there is a vulnerable part of Australia I should say that it is the north of Queensland, and the north of Australia generally. Any scheme for the adequate defence of this continent must take into consideration the need to defend the Queensland coast. Yet when we ask that to clause 5 he added the words “ the construction and extension of roads and railways “, honorable senators opposite attempt to prevent discussion. I hope that the Minister will tell us why he objects to the amendment, I submit that the adequate defence of this country must include the making of roads, railways and bridges sufficiently strong to withstand the strain thatwould be imposed upon them in the event of war. I hope that we shall hear from the Assistant Minister something definite as to the Government’s views on this subject.
.- The subject-matter of Senator Brown’s amendment could well be left to the Premiers Conference which will meet next week. I understand that that conference will have before it a list of defence works proposed to he undertaken, including roads and railways. Listening to some honorable senators opposite, one would think that roads were wanted all over Australia, and antiaircraft guns every 50 miles or so around the coast. These things ought to be left to people who know something about them. The Government’s military advisers have made their recommendations, and the Premiers Conference will decide what, works shall be undertaken. Every one who is anxious to get- men into employment will hope that money will be available for some of these works. The speeches of Opposition honorable senators would lead one to think that the War Railways Council was either dead or asleep, whereas, if honorable senators knew the facts, they would be surprised at what that body has done. It has everything mapped out - railway crossovers, extensions, additional sidings, greater facilities for loading and unloading, bridges, provision for temporary repairs, duplicate railway lines, strategic lines and alternative routes.
– The War Railways Council has not met for ten years.
– That is incorrect; a sub-committee meets fortnightly. The preparations are much more forward than I expected; only last Saturday I became acquainted with some: of the details. The amendment is not necessary, and has no proper place in this bill. The works mentioned should be included in the general works programme, with which I hope the Premiers Conference will deal. I hope also that a sufficient sum of money to carry out some of these undertakings will be provided.
– I support the amendment, for its inclusion in the bill would mean a definite contribution to the development of the national life of Australia; in that it would benefit people in civil, life, as well as provide for the defence of Australia. The people of this country are providing huge sums of money for its defence, but most” of the money will be expended in the erection and equipment of factories, and the making of armaments and munitions. Whether the work be done by private manufacturers or by the nation itself is immaterial at the moment. I urge that in preparing for the defence of the nation, we shall not neglect the social progress of our people. We should improve our road systems, and standardize our railway gauges. These works, if undertaken, would provide employment for a section of our people who will not obtain work in the various factories to be established for the manufacture of munitions. If the expenditure of approximately £80,000,000 on defence will ensure peace in this country, ,and contribute materially to world peace, it will be money well expended. In earmarking some of this money for the development of the national life of Australia, we shall be giving effect to the policy of decentralization advocated by some of the occupants of the Government benches. I appeal to the Minister to accept the amendment, which has been moved with a view to developing and creating employment in country districts, which are just as essential for the defence nf Australia as are the establishment and equipment of annexes, for the manufacture of munitions “by private enterprise.
– I had hoped that the Assistant Minister (Senator McBride) would state the reasons why the Government objects to the amendment of Senator Brown. I cannot understand why there should be any objection to it. In my opinion, it should be embodied in the bill. Senator Brand said that the building of roads and railways for the transport of men and munitions was a matter for the forthcoming Premiers Conference, hut that is no reason why the amendment should not be included in the bill. The amendment relates only to those roads and railways which, are considered essential for military purposes. Its acceptance would not mean, as has been suggested, that roads and railways would be constructed indiscriminately throughout the country, or that anti-aircraft guns would be placed where they would be of no use. The amendment anticipates that the decision of such matters would be left to. those qualified to deal with them. The inclusion of the amendment would improve the bill, and would amount to an instruction from Parliament that certain things should- be done.
– I regret that I am not able to surrender to the blandishments of Senator Brown, and support this amendment. In thi3 connexion ‘ it is interesting to study the constitutional powers of the Commonwealth in relation to the building of railways. Placitum xxxii. of section 51 of the Constitution reads, “ the control of railways with respect to transport for the naval and military purposes of the Commonwealth “. It is clear that, in a time of emergency, the Commonwealth would have power to take over and control for military purposes the whole of the railway systems of Australia. Placitum xxxiii. states -
Ulm acquisition, with the consent of a State, of any railways of the State on terms arranged between the Commonwealth and the State:
It is therefore competent for the Commonwealth, with the consent of a State, to buy a part or the whole of a State railway system. Placitum xxxiv. reads -
Railway construction and extension in any Statu with the consent of that State:
Those are matters, I contend, for consideration at a conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers. I have often regretted that some of the political leaders on both sides in this Parliament have not had the privilege of membership of a State parliament, before entering this legislature ; wi th such experience they would realize that it is essential that certain works should be carried out by the State, rather than the Federal, authorities. I agree with the suggestion by Senator Brown that work of this character should be done by the States concerned, as under the federal aid roads scheme. In Western Australia the first attempt at direct federal expenditure in this regard proved an utter failure when administered in detail by a federal department. Now the funds are provided by the Commonwealth, and the expenditure is carried out and supervised by the State authorities, with the result that we have a creditable system of federal aid roads. This policy should be pursued with regard to, not only developmental works, but also roads that are required as military highways. That is the- course which I advocate also in regard to defence railways, such as a strategic broad-gauge line from Kalgoorlie to Fremantle. Western Australia could not afford to allow the Commonwealth authorities to build and own that railway, because it would undermine the financial stability of the railway system of that State. The Commonwealth should grant to the State the £6,250,000 required for this work. In time of war, the Commonwealth has complete power, under the Constitution, to take over for defence purposes the control of every railway in Australia. I support the idea which Senator Brown has in mind with regard to developmental railways and roads, and those necessary for military purposes. Their construction and ownership should remain in the hands of the State authorities, if that be their wish in the matter; but the funds for these great works, which might be essential to our national existence in time of peril, should be provided by the Commonwealth.
.- In supporting the amendment I draw the attention of the committee to the fact that the platform of the Australian Labour party provides for -
The maintenance of naval, aerial and land forces at an efficient standard, and, in emergency, the mobilization of marine, aerial, and land transport facilities.
I have listened with interest to the comments of Senator Brand, because he is a military authority whose opinions carry weight; but it could not reasonably be contended that, as a defence measure, the Commonwealth should develop the whole of the railway systems of Australia. The construction of certain railways that are of military value could be usefully undertaken by the Commonwealth. The government-owned railways of Australia are 27,180 miles in length, and privately-owned lines extend for 787 miles. The cost of these lines was £318,000,000. If the War Railways Council pointed to the necessity for certain railway works for the defence of the nation, I see no reason why the Department of Supply and Development should not take charge of them.
I agree with the Leader of the OPPO.sion (Senator Collings) that, under war conditions, no bitumen road would be able to carry the heavy traffic of which a railroad is capable. The haulage of . tanks and heavy field guns over ordinary road’s, no matter how well they might be built, would quickly disintegrate them. Grass would probably be growing on them within a few weeks. In the event of war, it would be necessary to depend mainly on the railways of Australia for the transport of troops, munitions and stores, and also the goods required by the civilian population. The railways would assume an importance then that is not generally realized. The adoption of a complete scheme for the standardization of railway gauges is- not within the bounds of practical politics for the time being, but, since £63,000,000 is being expended on defence preparations, it is ‘ not unreasonable to ask that some of this money be diverted to the improvement of the railway systems. This matter was discussed in Melbourne some months ago at a deputation received by the then Treasurer (Mr. Casey), who promised that consideration would be given to the request. Acceptance of the amendment would, not. hamper the general defence preparations. The. railways of Australia are already well organized, and .are an important national asset. The Government could have made all the munitions required in the railway workshops dis- ‘tributed throughout Australia. Gun carriages, contracts for which were let to private firms, which did not carry out the work altogether satisfactorily, could have been built in the State railway workshops that are staffed by skilled artisans.
Senator WILSON (South Australia) [6.12 .- -The amendment seems to me to be quite unnecessary. The powers of the Commonwealth in respect of roads and railways are very limited, ais has been pointed out by Senator Johnston. At the present time, such powers as the Commonwealth has in regard to these matters are administered by the Department of the Interior, and the only effect of the amendment would be to transfer the functions of that department in respect of roads and railways to the Department of Supply and Development. The latter department was established because the
Department of Defence was overloaded witu work. Unless we are careful, we may overload the Department of Supply and Development. I think that the Government has given to this new department sufficient functions to keep it busy, without the additional work suggested by the amendment.
– Are not roads and railways of value in connexion with defence ?
– In the event of an emergency, they would be dealt with by either the Department of the Interior or the Department of Defence. The mere inclusion of an additional provision in the clause would not be the means of getting one extra mile of road or railway constructed, nor would it expedite the standardization of railway gauges. Whether standardization is to be agreed to is a matter of government policy. Strategic roads can now be built by the appropriate department. I suggest that the mover of the amendment is merely confusing the issue by claiming that acceptance of his proposal would result in increased work in the construction of roads and railways.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
.- I congratulate Senator Brown upon his able speech in moving the amendment. His proposal will test the sincerity of the Government’s defence policy. It will show clearly whether or not the Government has evolved its programme primarily with the object of enabling private enterprise to make profits. If the Government is sincere it will recognize the urgency of providing adequate transport facilities for use in time of an emergency. It is useless to recruit a large army or to build up reserves of munitions and stores if means are not provided for their rapid transport in a time of war. The importance of providing adequate transport facilities for this purpose is also accentuated by the fact that this Government is confining the majority of its defence establishments to Melbourne and Sydney. Should an invader gain a footing in the northern or western part of the Commonwealth we should he unable in these circumstances to stem his attack. Tt is imperative that we abolish all of the breaks of gauge in our railway systems. Furthermore, our existing roads could not carry heavy artillery traffic for more than a few days. Consequently, within a short space of time, the whole of the burden of our transport in a time of emergency would be thrown upon the railways. By tackling this problem in a business-like way the Government would not only render the defence of Australia more secure, but would also provide work for thousands of our unemployed, and thus help to build up a healthier and more virile nation. Senator Brand stated that the War Railways Council had considered all of the essential facts concerning transport requirements in a time of emergency. The Government has failed to place any of that evidence before honorable senators. I should like to know how long it would take to transfer a regiment with full equipment and supplies of munitions at the break of gauge at Albury^ for instance. Is it not obvious that a big advantage would be gained by abolishing all of the existing breaks of gauge?
– The amendment will not effect that.
– It will tend to overcome difficulties of that kind. Senator Johnston pointed out that under the Defence Act the Commonwealth already possesses power to take complete control of railways in a time of emergency, and Senator Leckie said that we are in danger of war at the present time.
– I did not say anything of the sort.
– I made a. note oi the honorable senator’s remarks. He said. “ We are in danger of war at the present time “. On the admission of honorable senators opposite, therefore, the Government should attend immediately to the problem of transport in a time of emergency. It is a very poor argument to say that the Commonwealth has no power under the Constitution to deal effectively with this problem and that it is entirely a matter for the States. All I can say on that point is that the Commonwealth Government will always find the States willing to co-operate with it in handling this problem. The States are unable to deal effectively with it at present because of lack of money, and this Government has given no evidence of its intention to help them in that direction.
.- I am quite aware that certain honorable senators opposite frequently rise to express preconceived opinions which no number of denials on the part of other honorable senators will remove from their minds. I did not say, as Senator Aylett stated, that we are at present in danger of war. Although I might very easily have made such a statement, I did not do so. If honorable senators opposite represent the amendment as evidence of their sincerity in the matter of defence they are on a bad wicket. The proposal falls down on the first testwe can apply to it - how can it be carried out? How do honorable senators opposite suggest that the Commonwealth can overstep the restrictions placed upon it under the Constitution insofar as the control of roads and railways in the States is concerned? The Commonwealth cannot build a road or a railway through State territory except” with the consent of the State concerned. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) stated this afternoon that the Government of Queensland is willing to co-operate with the Commonwealth in this matter. He said that the Premier of that State had proposed that the two Governments should co-operate in building a military road to Camooweal. What would be the military value of such a road, when it could be used only to defend the central desert of Australia ? That is a typical instance of the sincerity of the Labour party’s offers to co-operate with the Commonwealth Government in matters of defence. The want of sincerity on the part of honorable senators is evidenced in this amendment which proposes that the Commonwealth should do something which, under the Constitution, it.has not the power to do. All of the proposals set out in the clause can be investigated and a recommendation made to the Government to co-operate with the States in carrying them out, but the Commonwealth itself certainly does not possess the power to carry out these things. If this amendment can he taken as any criterion, I have no doubt that the further amend ments forecast by honorable . senators opposite will provide additional examples of the insincerity which has characterized the Opposition in this debate.
– The further this debate proceeds the more I become convinced that honorable senators opposite have not read the bill. I can now understand why the Leader of the Senate (Senator McLeay) applied the guillotine; it is obvious that he wishes to hide the lack of knowledge of. the bill on the part of ministerial supporters.
– The honorable senator must confine his remarks to the question before the Chair.
SenatorSHEEHAN. - I believe that if any honorable senator opposite made an effort to say something original, on this measure he would give himself a headache for a fortnight. After listening to Senator Wilson one wonders why the Government has gone to any trouble at all to present this measure.
– This Government is democratic and believes in placing the matter before Parliament.
– If that be so its democracy is a sham, because on Senato r Wilson’s own admission the Government already possesses all of the powers which it asks for under this measure.
– And it is using all of them.
-In that case the claim made by the honorable senator that the Government has been actuated purely by democratic motives in presenting this bill goes by the board. The proposal embodied in the amendment is most important. It is designed , to complete the work which the Government has? undertaken in creating the new Department of Supply and Development. It is obvious to every one that we have to face a tremendous problem in the defence of our extensive coastline, particularly in view of our sparse population, and the limited number of men of military age. It is essential, therefore, that what, forces we have at our disposal should be mobile.It is quite conceivable that, an enemy would be able to blockade our coast, with the use of raiders such as the Wolf and the Emden, in such a way as to hold up all coastal shipping. We would then have to rely wholly on land transport. Therefore our railway and road services should be efficient. It will be possible under this measure, without creating constitutional difficulties, to cooperate with the States in providing efficient transport services. The efficiency of our railways is seriously impaired by the breaks of gauge at the State borders. For instance, two breaks of gauge would be encountered in an attempt to transport troops from Victoria to Queensland, and similar obstacles would be met in conveying troops from Victoria to Western Australia. On the latter route, there is a break of gauge at Port Pirie and another at Kalgoorlie. Senator Brand, this afternoon, referred to the activities of the War Railways Council, and because of his high military standing, it might be assumed from what he said that all necessary provision in regard to transport had been made. I remind honorable senators, however, that the provisions of which he spoke would apply only to the movement of troops within a State, not to the movements of troops interstate. It would still be necessary to detrain troops and unload munitions at State borders. As all honorable senators know who have travelled on our railways, there arc great stretches of single-track line in all the States, making it necessary for trains to wait at sidings for other trains to pass. The plans of the War Railways Council might facilitate the movement of troop trains over such stretches of line, but they would not affect the position at the borders. The Commonwealth is in a position to help the State governments to improve transport facilities. The State governments, with their limited taxing powers, are all hard put to it now to finance their ordinary activities; they have nothing over for embarking upon undertakings such as the standardization of railway gauges. The Commonwealth, however, with its large revenues from the post office, customs, and various fields of taxation, would be able to finance the States in this work.
– And it could invoke the aid of the Commonwealth Bank.
– That is so.
– Is there a limit to the amount of credit?
– The question is so ridiculous that I shall not pause to answer it. There exists at the present time the same power to finance these undertakings through the Commonwealth Bank as existed when the transAustralian railway was built. Every one knows that if our roads were subjected to heavy and continuous military traffic they would rapidly become quagmires. Every one who took an interest in the Italian campaign in Abyssinia is aware that the Italian troops were able to make little progress, even against a people not far removed from savagery, until the Italian soldiers were put to work to provide proper transport facilities. It will be of little use to develop munitions factories, and enlist troops, unless our roads and railways be made more efficient. I cannot understand why honorable senators opposite are at such great pains to protect the interests of the private manufacturers engaged in the production of munitions, and are yet so little concerned about other matters of vital interest to the country. I remind them that, even from the point of view of assisting their commercial friends, such as the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, it would be to their interest to support proposals for the standardization of railway gauges, because the rails would be supplied by the great steel firms. They need not fear that the available money would be diverted from their friends, the munitions makers. Even on such undertakings as the standardization of railway gauges, those firms would get their share. Not only would this work be very valuable in itself, but it would also absorb a part of that great army of unemployed which has now to be supported out of relief taxes. I do not suggest that that is the chief reason why we should undertake the work, but it is certainly a consideration. The Government has declared this to be an urgent measure. Evidently it believes that the bill should become law as soon as possible. The Government must be of opinion that the powers, which this bill seeks to confer, should be exercised as soon as possible, and the Opposition merely seeks by the amendment before the Chair to make the measure really effective.
Senator McBRIDE (South Australia- - 1 do not think that there is any difference of opinion as to the desirability of putting our roads and railways in a condition suitable to meet both civil and military requirements in peace or in war, but I cannot see any need for this amendment. In the first place, as all honorable senators know, roads and railways are peculiarly the concern of the State governments. I was interested to hear the suggestion that the Commonwealth should use, in time of peace, the extraordinary powers which it possesses in war time under the Defence Act. We have heard many complaints from honorable senators opposite that the Government might abuse powers to be conferred by this measure; now they are suggesting that the Government should abuse certain powers which it possesses under another measure. The new department is to be established for the supply of equipment and munitions, and for the organization of the industrial life and the resources of this country. It will not be a department to undertake the construction of works of any kind. Those who have read the bill and listened to the Minister’s second-reading speech will admit that the department will have a full-time job with the functions already allotted to it. No reasonable senator will ask the department to carry out duties which are not within the province of the Commonwealth Government, or works for the performance of which a department already exists. The new department is not to undertake works decided on by existing Commonwealth departments. During the debate and at other times there has been a good deal of loose talk about tie sum of £63,000,000 which has been allocated for defence purposes. It is not proposed to spend that amount in one year; the expenditure is to l»j spread over three years, and every pound of it has been allocated for a special purpose. If honorable senators in their wisdom believe that the purposes for which the money has been allocated are wrong this is not the appropriate time to protest.
– We have not said that.
– The Opposition has referred to the £63,000,000 and has said that the amount has been increased to £78,000,000. It has also suggested that the Government could upset the whole plan on which its scheme has been based. Honorable senators opposite wished also to introduce factors which were considered to be outside the project, and which I still consider to be so.
– The Government added £1,000,000 on the report pf Lieu.tenantGeneral Squires.
– All the money appropriated under the various measures has been allocated for definite purposes. If we obtruded in other purposes it would mean that some of the proposals for which the money was intended, could not be undertaken. We realize the importance of railways and roads, and so we have competent authorities to deal with them. Senator Brand referred to them in his speech. For instance, the War Railways Council which has been established to confer with the railway authorities all over Australia, has undertaken a. good deal of investigation of this matter. I have no doubt that during its inquiries it has from time to time recommended step? which it believed to be necessary for the defence of this country. Honorable senators, without the information available to that council, may suggest that one railway line or another should be constructed, but the adoption of such advice would undoubtedly lead to confusion and indeed the break-down of the defence system of this country. In the circumstances, the Government cannot accept the amendment moved by Senator Brown. Even if the Government were prepared to accept it the amendment would not have any mandatory effect on the department.
The contention -that if the amendment were included, new roads and railways would be undertaken is nonsense. The only reason why certain functions have been named is so that the department will have power to inquire into such matters as it feels are proper for building up the defence of Australia.
– The amendment which does not appear to be very important to the Government proposes that the new department should have power to make a survey in relation to the construction and extension of roads and railways. Some honorable senators have asserted that the Opposion wishes the Government to assume in times of peace the extraordinary powers that it has in war time under the Defence Act. If the Government has extraordinary power to investigate the subject of roads and railways, why has the provision been introduced? Are not these matters to be proceeded with in times of peace and not in time of war? It is ridiculous for the Minister to say that extraordinary powers were suggested by the Opposition. The honorable senator also said that if the Government accepted the amendment nothing would result from it.
– I said that it would not be mandatory on the department to act.
– If that is the case it will not be mandatory on the new department to undertake any provision contained in the bill.
– It will be.
– Then why would nut the amendment be mandatory?
– Because it does not l.0 me within the mandatory part of the clause. The honorable senator should read sub-clause 1.
– Senator Wilson said that the Commonwealth Government has power to expend money on roads in certain areas. The Senate will remember that I pointed out that the Minister for Defence (Mr. Street) had stated that the Defence Department bad no money to expend on roads, yet Senator Wilson 3aid that there was any amount of money available for roads.
– When did I say that? “”’
– When the honorable senator was speaking before dinner. I made a note with the intention to ask him which- roads had been constructed by the Defence Department. I should be pleased to hear him answer when the next measure is under consideration. I do not ask him to explain the matter during this debate because the Government has applied the guillotine. When certain- roads were built in New South Wales, the Government remitted a portion of the petrol tax to the Country Roads Board, but the councils in that State had to contribute one half-penny in the £1 from their income. Therefore the people pay. The councils levy on the people and the board collects the revenue direct from those bodies.
– Do not the ratepayers use the roads at all?
– If they do, they are arrested. “Therefore they do not use the roads unless they possess vehicles.
– Why were the ratepayers arrested?
– Because the New South Wales law provides that people must not walk on the roads. Only a month ago two persons were fined 10s. with Ss. costs for having done so. Government supporters in this chamber are so indifferent to what goes on that they are not aware of the actual conditions ! Some have said that the Commonwealth has no power to build railways. I understand that the Commonwealth Government built the line from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie on the 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge, believing that the respective State governments would adopt the same gauge. .
– The Commonwealth did so with .the consent of the State of South Australia.
– The Commonwealth Government could build many railways to strategic points in New South Wales. I feel confident that the State would have no objection to such works. I doubt whether the bill will do what the Government claims that it will do. I think it is only to provide jobs for a Minister whom the Government wishes to pass on, and for its political friends. If clause 5 refers only to the manufacture of shells I am not very concerned about it, but if it aims at the organization of industry, and particularly at the development of annexes adjacent to country railway workshops and at utilizing the services of the great country people, it may have some virtue. People wishing to travel from the north-west of New South Wales to the northern rivers towns must go as. far south as West Maitland before they can proceed to the north coast. Grafton, which has a good harbour, and which was visited by a warship recently; Port Stephens, and many others places along the New South Wales coast would be the scenes of movements of troops if Australia were attacked. An insistent demand has been made for a considerable time for a railway from Inverell to the coast. The Defence Department is favorable to the project, but the State Government declares that it. has no money for the construction of roads, let alone railways. The States are unable to provide money for railways for defence purposes, and if the Commonwealth Government has to depend upon the London market for money it also will find itself, wanting. Nevertheless, this amendment is desirable, It has been stated that an amendment, which we desired to make in this clause but which was defeated earlier to-day would have given the Public Service charge of this whole matter. We, of course, disagree with that view. We also disagree with the opinion expressed during the discussion of that amendment that if our proposal had been accepted Parliament would have been robbed of its power. To our way of thinking that view of the situation was ridiculous. We feel that the power of the proposed new department, should be increased at least to permit it to deal with roads and railways. No harm could possibly follow the broadening of the scope of the new department to that extent. If the Government really believes that the passage of this bill is necessary to the development of the country it should accept the amendment. The Prime Minister has declared that this is an important and an urgent bill and that its passage is necessary for defence purposes. Very well ! We say that as roads and railways are not mentioned in it, this serious omission should be rectified.
– I am reluctant to support the amendment because it does not go far enough to suitme. In the speech which the late Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) made to a conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers on defence and development at Canberra on the 31st March last, he said that the proposed
National Council should be charged with the responsibility, among other things - to examine existing public facilities, par- larly power, transport and water conservation.
It seems obvious that this important, aspect of our national economy should be considered and provided for in such a bill as this. The Government has been guilty of a reversal of form. Without any question the late Prime Minister made it clear that the proposed national council should deal with such matters as the standardization of our railway gauges, and the conservation of water. Possibly the Minister in charge of the bill will tell us that the proposal to establish a National Council emanated from a previous government, but I remind him again that the Minister for Defence (Mr. Street) in this Government was also the Minister for Defence in that government. The Minister for Supply and Development (Mr. Casey ) was also a Minister of the Lyons Government. I cannot understand why the Government will not accept even the restricted amendment that Senator Brown has proposed.
-In what way is it restricted or limited?
– It is limited in that it makes no provision for the consideration of water conservation schemes. The late Prime Minister made it clear that in his opinion the proposed national council should report to the Loan Council from time to time in regard to the necessity for such facilities. I sincerely hope that the activities of the Department of Supply and Development will not be limited solely to defence considerations. We need developments which will go much farther than the provision of, munitions of war. If the department devotes its whole attention to this activity, we shall probably find that it will accumulate such large stocks that after the lapse of twelve months or so it will have to sell them at half price, perhaps to some other nation. This may also, conceivably, apply to the machinery that will be installed in some of the annexes.
– The new department, is intended to deal with only defence requirements.
– I respectfully disagree with the Assistant Minister, for it is clearly stated; in the bill that the development of secondary industries is to be considered. This point was also emphasized in the speech made by the late Prime Minister to the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers, out of which this bill may toe said to have emerged. In consequence of the procrastination of the Government, the railways of this country are being robbed of freight in order that the shipping companies operated by vested interests may obtain larger cargoes. The amount of commerce being carried from east to west by shipping companies is seven times greater than that being carried by the governmentowned railways.
– Because of the numerous breaks of gauge.
– There is only one break of gauge between Melbourne and Sydney.
– That is enough to increase freight rates very, considerably. The proposed National Council was intended - to examine existing public facilities, particularly power, transport and water conservation.
– That is being done.
– It is not being done. It is for that reason that this bill has been introduced. We have been told that no part of the £78,000,000 proposed to be expended on defence preparations can be devoted to railway purposes. I should like to know why not. Part of the defence expenditure has been allocated for the purpose of developing the. aeroplanemanufacturing industry, although so far as I have been able to ascertain, no public money has been voted for that specific purpose. If a part of the defence expenditure can be devoted to the provision of additional aircraft, I see no reason why a part of it should not be devoted to the improvement of our roads and railways. The present Minister for Defence in addressing the March conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers, said -
The financial aspect of developmental works of defence value from the point of view of the Commonwealth Government has been dealt with.It is desirable that there should be balanced railway and road development between adjoining States, so as to increase the capacity for through movement.
Senator Leckie has said that we have no power to deal with this matter, for it concerns the States. I submit that the closest co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States is needed if our defence preparations are to be adequate and thorough.
– There is nothing about roads, railways and water conservation in the bill.
– That is the basis of my complaint, particularly as these matters were specifically mentioned at the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers which dealt with the proposal to establish a national council. In such circumstances it is idle for the Government to say that it is not necessary to provide for these things in this bill, so that the new department may concern itself with them. Do honorable senators opposite realize that it would take six weeks and require probably 40 or 50 trains to transport a division of troops from east to west? Yet some of them have talked of the necessity to take a referendum to ascertain the mind of the people on the proposal to standardize our railway gauges! The whole situation is deplorable. The Government should accept the amendment without hesitation.
– It is apparent, from the attitude of Government supporters, that it is the intention of the Ministry to reject the amendment, submitted by Senator Brown and to implement this legislation by regulations - a method much favoured by this Government. The amendment, if accepted, would make available work in country districts, thus partially giving effect to a policy which this Government has often propounded, namely, decentralization of industry. The works to be carried out would be of immense benefit to the people, as well as having defence value. ,
– Desirable as it may be that our railway gauges should be standardized and that additional roads and railways should be constructed, there is no place in this bill for the amendment submitted by Senator Brown, because it relates to matters over which the Commonwealth has not absolute power. Subclause 2 is clear on this point. It reads -
All of the matters referred to in paragraphs a to e of sub-clause 1 are absolutely under the control of this Parliament. The amendment seeks to incorporate in the bill a matter over which the Commonwealth has not absolute control. Therefore, there is no place for it in the measure. But it does not follow, that because power to deal with railways and roads is not contained in this bill, the Commonwealth could not co-operate with the States in the standardization of railway gauges or the construction of additional roads and railways. No advantage would be gained by inserting in the clause a reference to matters over which this Parliament has no control. I shall oppose the amendment.
– I shall leave it to Senator Brown to reply to arguments raised by Government supporters against the acceptance of his amendment. I rose for one purpose only, namely, to pin the Assistant Minister for Commerce (Senator McBride) down definitely to a statement which he made recently with regard to this matter. I want the people outside Parliament to know what the honorable gentleman said. He declared that the money required for the defence of Australia had already been allocated, and that the Senate had no right to seek the inclusion in this bill of additional items of expenditure. It was not competent for the Senate to add to proposals in the bill because that would mean that some other work, which had already been considered necessary, would have to be sacrificed.
– I did not say that.
– That is what the Minister said. I wrote down the words at the time. He said that the £78,000,000 necessary for the defence programme had already been allocated and that the items of expenditure had been agreed to by the Council of Defence or some other body.
. -I said, and I repeat, that £63,000,000 was the figure mentioned when this matter was discussed by Parliament, and the Government stated tentatively how it was to be expended.
– Therefore we must not make any additions to it.
– I said that if anything were added some of the works already provided for would have to be excluded.
– That is what I said.
– When the figure of £63,000,000 was decided upon, the Defence Department made out a schedule of what were considered necessary undertakings for the defence scheme. The programme was made out not in detail, but in general terms, and was approved on that understanding.
– It is apparent that I can expect very little support for my amendment from Government supporters, no matter how powerful the arguments in favour of it. As Senator Keane has said on many occasions they arc so many “ Yes men “.
– Order! The honorable senator must confine his remarks to the clause.
– Little weight can be attached to the argument of Senator Dein that it would be unconstitutional for the Commonwealth to assume power over roads and railways. Section 51 of the Constitution provides that -
Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order, “and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to: -
The control of railways With respect to transport for the naval and military purposes of the Commonwealth.
Railway construction and extension in any State with the consent of that State.
Those provisions make the Commonwealth’s authority quite clear. Whilst, we do not claim that it would be necessary, under this measure, for the Department of Supply and Development to have full control over roads and railways, we do assert that as this measure relates to defence, it should deal with transport as it affects defence. Clause 5, paragraph b, deals with transport through the air by providing for “ the manufacture or assembly of aircraft’ or parts thereof by the Commonwealth or any authority of the Commonwealth “. It should therefore be possible to insert an amendment dealing with transport on the ground. I challenge Government supporters to prove that it would be unconstitutional or beyond the scope of this bill to bring control over certain railways and roads within the functions of the Department of Supply and Development. The bill in a later clause enacts that “the Governor-General may enter into any arrangement with the Governor of any State providing for any matter necessary or convenient for the purpose of carrying out or giving effect to this act “. That means, in effect, that the Executive Council, or the Commonwealth Government, may collaborate with the Executive Council or the government of any State on any matters that would come within the purview of this bill. That should overcome all difficulties’ that have been raised. Senator Leckie delivered a cheap gibe at one of Australia’s greatest State Premiers, Mr. Forgan Smith. At a meeting of Commonwealth and State Ministers held on the 21st October, 1938, Mr. Forgan Smith said -
The north coast railway in Queensland . is naturally vulnerable to attack. If that line were cut, it would bie very difficult to maintain communications. A road built inside the lange, linking up with the New South Wales horder, would be a valuable road at any time for thu development of the country, but of immeasurable value in regard to transport of ii.ll kinds for defence or other purposes. A trial survey of that road is practically complete. Much of it is already gazetted as a main road. It w.ould touch the railway at Charters Towers . .” .
The Premiers met later and formed a National Council. A day or two after the meeting, the late Mr. Lyons said that the Commonwealth and -the States were entirely agreed that adequate measures should be taken for the defence of this country. That National Council was formed, but it has practically ceased to function. Senator Brand said that roads and railways are matters for the forthcoming con ference of Premiers. Nonsense ! It is not intended that a committee shall be set up to deal with every railroad or road; what is proposed is a committee comprising men who- understand the position, whose duty would be to investigate thoroughly what roads and railways are vital for the country’s defence. If Mr. Forgan Smith’s suggestion be right, it. should be accepted; al] the States should associate themselves enthusiastically with the Commonwealth in building a road from Bourke to either Camooweal or Charters Towers. That is a sensible proposal. We are not asking for a committee to organize transport on all the roads and railways of Australia. Honorable senators opposite claim to be in earnest about the defence of Australia. They say also that the Labour party has no practical suggestions on the subject. Here is something practical-
– lt is not practical in the form in which it is suggested.
- Senator Brand spoke of the War Railways Council, but I am informed that that body has no* met for ten years.
– Rubbish ! lt meets fortnightly.
– Then my informant must be wrong. When Lord Kitchener came to Australia, in 1910 tinformation of a war railways council was suggested. That body has probably com>’ to some conclusions ; if so, there should be some co-ordinating body to bring the Commonwealth and the States together in- the interests of the defence of Australia. Immediately after the War Railways Council was formed the newspapers of Australia applauded the decision to form a body which would act for the defence of Australia. We claim that these things should be entrusted to specialists and experts who would be capable of seeing that various activities are co-ordinated in the interests of Australia’s defence. Is there anything wrong with that ? Government supporters admit, that roads are necessary for defence; but when a proposal is submitted, the Assistant Minister (Senator McBride) says that it is not within the province of the Commonwealth Government. Others would leave roads and railways to a conference of Premiers or to the National Council. I have said sufficient to show that the Opposition is anxious to do something for the defence of Australia. I have also pointed out how the bill can be improved by enlarging its scope, and giving power for the formation of a committee to co-ordinate the activities of Commonwealth and State governments to the end that work shall he done, and not merely that talk shall be indulged in.
– In order that Senator Brown may sleep soundly to-night, I inform him that some of the dangers to which he has referred are already receiving attention. There is already in existence a War Railways Council, which, is composed of the Commissioners of the State and Commonwealth railways, acting with the sanction of their governments in order to examine the whole of the railway systems of Australia, and to recommend what is necessary in order that they may function effectively in the event of war. The council is a statutory body whose functions are set out hereunder -
In times of peace the duties of the War Railways Council shall be generally to furnish advice on such matters as are referred to it by the Minister, and in particular -
to determine the method of supplying information to, and obtaining it from the various railway depots;
b ) to recommend regulations and instructions for the carrying out of movements of troops;
to advise upon the methods of organizing railway transport officers in time of war as intermediaries between the railways authorities and the troops;
to consider questions of extra sidings, loading platforms and the like, and proposals for unification of gauges; and
to advise upon the re-organization and system of training railway troops.
It is not necessary for me to say more. The views of honorable senators in regard to road and railway transport are appreciated by the Government, which is doing everything possible to meet the needs of an emergency, should it arise.
Question put -
That the paragraph proposed to be inserted (Senator Brown’s amendment) be inserted.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator James McLachlan.)
Question so resolved in the negative.
SenatorCOLLINGS (QueenslandLeader of the Opposition) [9.30]. - I move -
That sub-clause 2 be left out.
The discussion on the preceding amendment shows that it is essential that what the Opposition has been suggesting should be done, because this sub-clause provides that the Governor-General may, from time to time, determine the extent to which any of the matters specified in sub-section 1 may be administered by the department. He may say to what extent, they may be administered, and I take it that he may also say that they shall not be administered.
– I suggest that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) should accept his defeat in the last division, since sub-clause 2 is consequential upon sub-clause 1.
– My answer to the honorable senator is that he is not yet Loader of the Opposition.
– Does the honorable senator intend to divide the committee on a question which is practically identical with that on which we have just voted?
Question put -
That the sub-clause proposed to be left out (Senator Collings’s amendment) be left out.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator James McLachlan.)
Majority . . . . 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Cl ause 6 (Information ) .
– Subsection (2) states-
Nothing in this act shall authorize the making of any regulation rendering it compulsory for any person to disclose any secret process of manufacture.
I merely draw attention to the fact, that in a matter that may be of vital concern in connexion with the defence of Australia, vested interests are to be protected on every occasion.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 7 and 8 agreed to.
Clause 9 -
The Governor-General may establish, maintain and operate, or arrange for the establishment, maintenance and operation of. factories for or in relation to the provision or supply of munitions.
.- I move -
That the following sub-clause be added: -
No factory or annexe shall be established or erected upon land that is not the absolute property of the Commonwealth or of an authority of the Commonwealth, or of a State or of an authority of a State.
I am prompted to submit this amendment because the Opposition objects to the manufacture of munitions upon private property. Legislative provision is being made for the expenditure of £1,000,000 on annexes and machinery, and the vast majority of the annexes are to be erected on private property. We hope that at the expiration of the five years, the period for which this measure will operate, the clouds of war will have disappeared. Failing that, Australia will have been placed in a reasonably secure position for defence, and probably will have entered into alliances with neighbouring countries. Therefore, I visualize large plants in these annexes being left on private land. The committee has been assured by the Government that certain agreements have been reached with regard to the annexes, and I submit that the Commonwealth authorities would be fortified in their position if my amendment were accepted. Past experience shows that factories erected by the Government as a war precaution were dismantled, and, in some instances, disposed of to private enterprise at very low prices. I cite as an example the Cockatoo Island Dockyard.
– Have they ever been disposed of without tenders having been called?
– I am surprised at the Minister asking any question relating to the sale of the vessels of the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers, seeing that this fleet was sold to one of the greatest industrial crooks the Empire has ever known, at an abnormally low figure, and that the Commonwealth did not recover one-half of the sale price of the vessels. The Government woollen mills and the Government harness factory were similarly sold. Why riskthe erection of government-owned machinery on private and, in view of what, has happened in the last decade?
These, annexes are to be established as an adjunct, to large private establishments, and it is reasonable to suppose that they will be operated by the same belting and motive power as the plant in the main works. Probably the annexes will ultimately fall into the bands of the owners of the private factories. On the admission of the Minister, these manufacturers will have the use of the government-owned . machinery for experimental defence orders. What protection has the Government against the use of this plant for private purposes? Each of the eighteen annexes will cost £5,000, and will become an integral part of a private establishment. It may be contended that I am repeating what has already been said, but I emphasize that, in the opinion of the Opposition, it is unnecessary to build any of these annexes. The Government could secure all of its requirements through government workshops. Public ownership of any buildings erected by the Go- vernment on private land should be absolutely safeguarded. The Assistant Minister has explained that in respect of annexes erected on private land a certain rent is agreed upon. I am reminded of transactions conducted in the past by governments of the same political colour as the present Government which were attended by very unsatisfactory results for the taxpayers of this country. I know that other honorable senators wish to support my amendment, and that owing to the amazing action of the Government in applying the guillotine, their opportunities to do so will be greatly curtailed. 1 hope that honorable senators opposite will have the political decency to refrain from utilizing any of the remaining hour and a quarter of the debate.
– I support the amendment. I have always opposed the building of these annexes for use by private enterprise. I remind, honorable senators that when this matter was first mentioned the then Leader of the Senate (Senator A. J. McLachlan) stated definitely, in reply to a question whichI asked, that, the Go- vernment did not propose toerect any buildings at all for these annexes. He said that the machinery would be housed in portions of existing factories. The primary object of the amendment is to protect the rights of the taxpayers in any buildings erected by this Government. Experience in this country and overseas has shown that private enterprise is invariablysuspected of graft and exploitation in any activity associated with the manufacture of armaments and munitions, whilst government control alone is free from such suspicion. My objection to the construction of these annexes in the first instance is embodied in the amendment. The Government proposes to erect annexes on private land and to install in each machinery costing from £5,000 to £10,000. What is to happen to this property, say, five years hence when, most likely, the necessity for the annexes will disappear?
– It will be given to private enterprise.
– Yes. A definite undertaking was given not so long ago that the Government would not erect buildings for the annexes, but that they would be accommodated in portions of existing factories. What is the reason for this change of policy?
– Whilst I am not prepared to go so far. as is proposed in the amendment, I feel that preference should be given to the erection of annexes on Crown land. Even in private transactions, one is very diffident about erecting buildings on other people’s land. I certainly would not do so, because I do not believe in paying rent. However, in a time of emergency, we must recognize that State instrumentalities, such as railway workshops, cannot fully supply the nation’s requirements of munitions and armaments. In such circumstances, therefore, the Government has no alternative but to erect annexes adjacent to big industrial enterprises where, unfortunately, no Crown lands are available as sites. In each case, however, I hope that the Government will protect itself as far as possible. It should buy land for this purpose wherever it has an opportunity to do so. Failing this, it should secure leases on the most favorable terms. Indeed, in any case in which the -Government is not sure that its interests are safeguarded, it should decline to erect an annexe. I do not intend to repeat the list of twenty annexes which have already been approved. All of these are to be built in Sydney and Melbourne, with the exception of a few to be erected in Newcastle. I am amazed that so many annexes are being attached to private establishments before the Government has made any attempt to provide annexes at railway workshops in the outer States. We know that two annexes are being erected at the Victorian railway workshops, two at the New South Wales railway workshops, and one at the railway workshops in Adelaide, but so far no intimation has been given that any annexes will be constructed at railway workshops in Queensland, Tasmania or Western Australia. I am very much disappointed at the failure of the Government to accept the publicspirited offer of the Western Australian Government to provide facilities for the erection of two Or more annexes at the Midland Junction railway workshops. If the amendment were remodelled to provide that preference should be given to the establishment of annexes in connexion with railway workshops, and other government instrumentalities, I should certainly support it. If the amendment be defeated, as it probably will be, because some of us do not feel inclined to go so far as Senator Keane proposes, I plead with the Government to give an undertaking to show such preference to government-owned workshops. I recognize, of course, that some private companies have been generous enough to donate land as sites for annexes, but that is no reason why the public-spirited offers of the various State governments should be overlooked. Once again I urge the Government to adopt a policy of decentralization in this matter. Should Melbourne and Sydney be attacked, the Government would indeed be pleased to have not only annexes but also complete units for the manufacture of explosives, munitions and armaments in each of the States, and in outlying parts as well as in the capital city in each State. The Assistant Minister should explain why the Government has not yet taken steps to utilize the magnificent Stateowned railway workshops in this way.
– I support the amendment of Senator Keane. I am certain that if the Government were genuinely anxious to make the best use of the people’s money, it would make certain that the land upon which these buildings are to be erected shall be owned by the Commonwealth. That is an elementary business principle. There is not one honorable senator on the ministerial side who would put his own money into a business on the terms which the Government proposes to accept in connexion with the annexes. If the Government were to acquire the land, most of the opposition from this side of the chamber would disappear. The Government should not have to buy the land from such firms as the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited and the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, which have grown wealthy under the shelter of the tariff protection afforded by the Commonwealth. If the Commonwealth owned the land there would be no danger of litigation five or ten years hence. Senator Keane made a good point when he asked what would happen to the buildings and plant should the firm on whose land the annexe is built become bankrupt.
Senator Johnston touched upon the need for the decentralization of industry, but to me decentralization means more than the establishment of industries in capital cities other than Melbourne and Sydney. There are railway workshops in various country towns in Victoria and New South Wales, and to these annexes could be attached. I do not believe that the building of annexes in Hobart, or Adelaide or Perth would amount to decentralization; we should keep the annexes away from the capital cities altogether, and establish them in country towns. In that way the Government would win the approbation of the great majority of the people, and. might even save the political lives of Senator Dein and his colleagues at the next elections. Much of the suspicion at present existing in the minds “of honorable senators would be removed if the Government were to take steps to acquire the land upon which annexes are to be constructed. Even if the firms concerned would not give the land, the cost of buying it should not, in most cases, be high. I know the site at Pyrmont where it is proposed to construct an annexe, and it should be possible to acquire it for about £2,000. As 1 have said, however, such firms as the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited and the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, which made a profit last year of £1,300,000, should be only too glad to transfer the land to the Commonwealth.
– I want to make very clear the purpose of the Opposition in moving this amendment. We are definitely opposed to the growth in Australia of vested interests in the private manufacture of armaments or any defence supplies whatsoever. We know, of course, that this bill will ultimately be passed, but we are determined that our bands shall be clean so that we shall be able later to point to the fact that His Majesty’s Opposition, which is the Labour party, took every opportunity, in the Senate and in the Bouse of Representatives, to prevent the establishment of vested interests in the manufacture of armaments for the defence of the Commonwealth. Therefore, we are laying it down in this amendment that, even in connexion with the establishment of defence annexes, there shall be no opportunity for the growth of vested interests in the armaments trade. Wc want the annexes to be established on land owned by either the Commonwealth Government or State governments so that private enterprise may not be in a position to exploit the needs of the Commonwealth.
– Had it not been for the fact that the Government has been able to lease on very favorable terms the land it requires for the establishment of defence annexes, I should have been inclined to support the amendment. It has been agreed, however, that the Government is, in each instance, to lease the land for £1 a year. The owners will even pay the rates which, I presume, will amount to more than £1 a year, and the Government is to acquire a lease for ten years, which it can renew whenever it desires. In the circumstances, it would be folly to buy the land. If the Commonwealth were establishing a permanent factory the matter would be entirely different, but the annexes may never be used ; they are to be erected only as a precautionary measure. Senator Keane mentioned the fate of the Cockatoo Island Dockyard. I remind him that the dockyard is the subject of a lease, under one condition of which the Government may at any time re-enter into possession of the works. The Government’s rights are thereby amply protected. The honorable senator also spoke of the sale of the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers. Those who know anything about those vessels know that they were sold at a low price. They were sold because they had been destroyed by the pernicious system of job control, and consequently they cost the Australian taxpayers no less than £17,000,000. Every year consolidated revenue had to provide £500,000 to keep the line going. The steamers were sold cheaply, but in the circumstances the Commonwealth made a good bargain. Honorable senators have asserted that the annexes will eventually revert to the industrial concerns upon whose lands they are to be built. Such a thing is not provided for in the lease at all. The firms may buy the annexes at a fair valuation. I cannot say what the valuation will be ten or twenty years hence, and nobody else can. I know what the word “ valuation “ means, and so does the honorable senator who has just interjected. The Government will not ask more nor less than an annexe is worth. What other term than “ valuation “ could have been employed in the lease? If the annexes be not sold to the parent undertakings, the Government will have the right to dispose of them to anybody else for demolition or removal. If the companies do not agree to purchase the annexes the Government may demolish the structures and sell them as building material. The conditions in the lease amply protect the Government’s rights. I feel that there is no more effective way of preserving the interests of the people and the Government than by proceeding in the manner outlined in the bill for the establishment of the annexes. We have nothing to fear as to what will happen because the conditions of the lease provide safeguards in all directions. For that reason I am prepared to accept the clause.
– In supporting the amendment I remind the Senate that I recently asked questions concerning the Midland Junction Railway Workshops. I may say for the information of Senator Armstrong, who spoke about decentralization, that these workshops are 12 or 15 miles distant from Perth. When I made my inquiries I knew that technical experts had visited the Midland Junction to examine their possibilities. I also requested the Minister to make a statement as to why annexes were not to be erected there, and he declined to do so. I understand that since I sought these details the member for Perth in the House of Representatives asked similar questions and he was given an opportunity to examine the file. I resent the fact that the Minister did not afford me a similar facility.
– How does the honorable senator connect his remarks with the question before the Chair?
– The Midland Junction Railway Workshops are a State instrumentality and not a subsidiary of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. They are on government-owned land. We have a right to discuss this matter. Whilst the Government recognizes the necessity of building annexes, they should be on State-owned land. Although I accept Senator Johnston’s apology I regret that he is not prepared to go the whole way with us.
-There is no apology.
– Although Senator Johnston is not prepared to go so far as the amendment proposes he does not agree with the Government’s proposal. As I have already stated, Western Australia has one of the finest railway workshops in the Commonwealth. When it was a matter of placing annexes for the production of munitions, we were told that these workshops would receive favorable consideration. I wish to know why the Government has not decided to erect annexes at the Midland Junction Workshops, although it is proposing to build some at private establishments. Like the Leader of the Opposition (Senator
Collings) I am opposed to the construction of annexes at private workshops.I remind Senator Dein that when we are ready to develop this country still more we shall be tied up with many annexes standing on private land. The Minister has stated that the machines installed in the annexes will be of no value for the manufacture of goods used in the economic life of the community. Therefore, when the state of emergency is over to whom will the Government sell the machines? There is only one company that will have any use for machinery for the production of implements of war, and it is the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, which will continue to manufacture munitions in order to export them to other countries. Does the Government propose to prohibit that? Of course it will not. The valuation that will be placed on that machinery will be the valuation according to its possible use at that time. We shall be told that it was not intended that these machines should produce articles other than those to be used in time of war and that as the time of emergency had passed they might just as well be scrapped. Then the Government will do the same as it did with the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers and the Commonwealth Woollen Mills - hand the machinery over as presents to Ministers’ friends, and the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited will send a cheque for party funds. Time will prove whether my contention is correct or not. I take a great interest in the provision of the annexes. Although I have been told that it is impossible to manufacture shell cases in annexes in Western Australia and send them to the east to be filled, we have had an admission from the Government that actual experience of mechanized warfare has shown that it is impossible to do a complete job in one workshop. Parts are made in different workshops and assembled at a given centre. That is done in other countries, and it will have to be done in Australia. For that reason I can see no excuse for refusing some of this work to Western Australian enterprises.
– This amendment has been moved, not because honorable senators opposite think that the property rights of the Commonwealth in respect of these annexes and their equipment are not adequately protected, but chiefly, I believe, because they wish to direct attention to the policy of the Labour party which is that all activities of the kind now under consideration shall be concentrated in government factories. As I referred . to this aspect of the subject earlier this evening I shall not repeat what I then said. I merely point out. now that when a similar proposal to this was examined by a special committee in Great Britain it was stated that the Government could not possibly manufacture the whole of its requirements in a time of emergency. The Commonwealth Government believes that it would be impossible for us to manufacture all our requirements in such circumstances. These annexes are being established simply to assist government workshops to provide for the needs of the country in a time of emergency. Twenty-four annexes have already been agreed upon. Three of them will be located on land provided free of charge by the companies which have also erected the buildings and provided the equipment. In those cases, at any rate, the Commonwealth has spent very little money. Eight other annexes, including those at two railway workshops have been provided by interests which have made both the land and the buildings available free. The Commonwealth Government has been required to provide only the machinery in these cases. In the seven other instances, the land only has been provided by the companies. As to whether the public is likely to lose its interest in these properties, and in the annexes as going concerns, I remind honorable senators that it is competent for the Government at any time, under the Lands Acquisition Act, to acquire compulsorily the whole establishments. The Government feels, however, that the companies concerned have shown an earnest wish to render some public service, and that in the circumstances it is highly undesirable to exercise the power of acquisition. The private companies have all undertaken not to use, for their own purposes, any of the machinery in the annexes during the period of the contract that has been made. Consequently, the machinery is of absolutely no use to them for normal business purposes. In fact, it is a liability to them, for they have undertaken to maintain it, and to keep the buildings in a proper state of repair. Therefore the suggestion that the Government is placing in the hands of private enterprise equipment which they can use for their own profit is entirely incorrect. Something has been said about the danger of putting buildings on leasehold land. May I remind honorable senators that all the dwelling houses and business premises erected in Canberra by private interests are on leasehold land. Apparently those who have expended their capital on these buildings are not fearful as to the future.
– The circumstances are not analogous.
– I submit that a clear analogy exists. Moreover, the Commonwealth Government has far greater power to acquire property on leasehold lands than any private person or firm can possibly have. To show how the interests of the Government are safeguarded and also how private interests have cooperated with theGovernment to establish these annexes I direct attention to the following paragraphs which appear in the agreements that have been signed : -
The contractor shall erect or provide at his own expense …. a building of a type approved by the Minister.
The contractor undertakes to lease to the Commonwealth at- a nominal rental ofone pound (£1) per annum the site of the said building under a lease ….
The contractor shall install in the aforesaid mentioned building within a period agreed upon by the contractor with the board the plant necessary …. and, if required by the board, such other supplies as the board may require. The plant will bo supplied and delivered to the contractor by and atthe expense of the Commonwealth.
The plant supplied by the Commonwealth shall be installed by the contractor to the satisfaction of the board. The actual cost to the. contractor of installation, mutually agreed upon between the parties, but excluding profit, will bo paid by the Commonwealth to the contractor upon completion of the work to the satisfaction of the board ….
The said plant before and after the installation shall remain the property of the Commonwealth and in the absence of written authority of the board the said plant shallbe used solely for the manufacture of supplies ordered by the department ….
The contractor shallfor a period of ten years certain maintain in a serviceable condi- t ion the buildings and the said plant and thereafter shall continue to maintain the said buildings and the said plant, but at any time after the expiration of the said ten years the Minister will be entitled to give the contractor six months’ notice in writing that he no longer desires maintained as aforesaid the said buildings and the said plant, orthe contractor will be entitled to give the Commonwealth six months’ notice in writing that he no longer desires to maintain as aforesaid the said buildings and plant.
Honorable senators must, therefore, realize that their fears are entirely unjustified. The companies which have agreed to provide annexes have, without any question, demonstrated that they are prepared, at some considerable cost, to do something for the nation in return for the benefits that they have enjoyed.
Senator Johnston referred to the Midland Junction Railway Workshops in Western Australia. I can only say that the full number of annexes has not yet. been determined, and that the representations in regard to the Midland Junction Railway Workshops will be considered. I can give no undertaking, however, that an annexe will be established there. The claims put forward in that connexion will be carefully examined, and when the appropriate authority has considered all the facts it will make a recommendation as to the advisability or otherwise of locating an annexe there. The Midland Junction Railway Workshops, together with other government workshops, will receive due consideration for the establishment of annexes.
Question put -
That the sub-clause proposed to be added (Senator Keane’s amendment) be added.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator James McLachlan.)
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 10 to 23 agreed to.
Clause 24 (Vacation of office).
. -I point out that the words “ or insolvent’’ in paragraph a are neither appropriate nor necessary. These words were employed in Commonwealth legislation when State insolvency and bankruptcy acts were in operation. Since the passing of the Commonwealth Bankruptcy Act the use of the word “ insolvent, “ is lia ble to cause confusion, as it has done in a recent case. I suggest that in future, instead of following the model which was appropriate prior to the Commonwealth Bankruptcy Act, only the word “ bankrupt “ be used.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 25 and 26 agreed to.
Clause 27 (Regulations).
– I move -
That the definition of “ employee “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following definition: - “‘employer’ includes the Commonwealth and every authority of the Commonwealth “.
Sub-clause 3 reads -
In this section - “employee “ means employee other than an employee in the public service within the meaning of the Arbitration (Public Service) Act 1920- 1934.
That is not a definition but an exclusion; it does not define “employee” except to exclude a. section of employees from the operation of the bill. If carried, the. amendment will provide that no person employed in any capacity in connexion with defence preparedness shall be excluded’ from the operation of this legislation, whereas if the clause be allowed to remain in its present form, men will be declared to be public servants, not for the purpose of the Public Service Act, but merely that they shall be subjected to whatever conditions the Government may choose to impose on them. I foreshadow a further amendment, to delete from the definition of “ trade union “ the words “ but does not include an association of employees in the public service”. We do not want employees of any kind to be excluded.
– The amendment is one which the Government should accept. The Government knows that much of the hostility displayed towards this measure is on account of the clause now under discussion. A good deal has been said by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in an endeavour to assure the workers that both this measure and a cognate bill should be accepted. In order to make perfectly clear the position of workers who are engaged in the industries which will come within the scope of this bill, the Government should accept the amendment. It may be possible for employees in munitions factories, who to-day are under the jurisdiction of a wages board or an arbitration court, to be placed under the jurisdiction of the Public Service Arbitrator, and thereby lose privileges which they now enjoy. That is what the industrial organizations fear. In many instances, they have expended considerable sums of money in order to obtain awards; but as the bill stands their rights could be taken away from them. I believe that the Government realizes that, in order to make this measure a success, it must have the hearty support and co-operation of all who are engaged in industry. The least that it can do towards the attainment of that end is to accept the amendment. It should not be necessary to debate it at length, for the Government is fully aware of the feeling that is abroad in regard to the measure, due largely to the limitation imposed by this clause. We ask it to remedy the wrong, and to make the bill a little more acceptable.
– I am sorry that the Government cannot accept the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) ; for, . if carried, it would place temporary employees in the Government munitions factories in a different position from temporary employees in any other government department.
– That does not concern us; at this stage we can only improve this bill.
– These men have full and complete protection. Although the Government may make regulations affecting their wages and conditions of employment, they have the same access to the Public Service Arbitrator as all public servants have. I call attention to the fact that some time ago Commonwealth railway employees said that they would prefer to have access to the Public Service Arbitrator rather than to the Arbitration Court.
– In what way would this amendment create an anomaly between these and other employees?
– The present position is that temporary employees of the Government are governed either by regulations issued by the Government or by awards made by the Public Service Arbitrator. If the amendment were agreed to, the authority of the Government to make such regulations would be removed and this section of employees would be placed in an entirely different position from that of other temporary employees. Employees under this legislation are, and will be amply protected. The Public Service Arbirator. can make awards within his jurisdiction, notwithstanding anything contained in any act or regulation. The Commonwealth has never denied the right of its employees to approach the Commonwealth Public Service Arbitrator. The temporary employees in any of the munitions works of the Government will have complete and full protection.
– Is that why they are to be excluded from the operations of this legislation?
Question put -
That the words proposed to he left outbe left out (Senator Collings’s amendment).
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator James McLachlan.)
Majority … 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Senator Collings) put -
That the words, “but does not include an association of employees in the Public Service “ in definition of “ trade union “, be left out.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator James McLachlan.)
Majority . . . . 4
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator McBride) pro posed -
That the bill be now read a third time.
Motion (by Senator Dein) put -
That the question be now put.
The Senate divided. (President - Senator the Hon. J. B. Hayes.)
Majority . . 4
– There being more than thirteen affirmative votes I declare the motion carried.
Question put -
That the bill be now read a third time.
The Senate divided. (President - Senator the Hon. J. B. Hayes.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Senator McLeay) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till 1 1 a.m. to-morrow.
Motion (by Senator McLeay) pro posed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I rise at this juncture for the purpose of advising the electorate of the procedure that has been adopted in connexion “with the Supply and Development Bill. Every honorable senator agrees that that measure is one of the most important that has ever been submitted to this Parliament. The House of Representatives debated it for over three weeks, but the Senate was given only a few days in which to consider it, the Government applying the guillotine, a very unusual procedure in the Senate. The measure was gagged through, in spite of the fact that members of the Opposition deliberately curtailed their speeches and refrained as much as possible from talking on it. This chamber, however, receives no consideration whatever at the hands of the Government. Not a line of the last nineteen clauses was read; not the slightest consideration was given to any of those clauses, except for an interpolation by Senator Wilson. I am not complaining, or whining, and I am not pleading for mercy; but I want the public outside to know how this measure has been rushed through. The procedure followed in this chamber to-night is a disgrace to the Government. Only one reason exists for such action; this minority government, knowing perfectly well that, its complications are growing every hour, that it is unable to command a real majority in the House of Representatives, and that it is unable to be sure of what it is doing, realizes that its only possible chance of survival is to escape into the funkhole of recess, the refuge of an incompetent government. It is attempting to carry on under impossible conditions; it cannot command a majority by fair means.
– It has had a majority on every bill.
– I said that it cannot carry its legislation by fair means, and the honorable senator knows perfectly well that the guillotine was applied in the House of Representatives to the Supply and Development Bill.
– The Government must have had a majority to apply the guillotine.
– I am not. saying that it has not a majority to do that sort’ of thing. It resorts to the brutal methods to which I have referred in order to carry legislation. In those circumstances it will be obliged to repeat the process, because the Opposition in this chamber will certainly strive to discuss adequately every measure that is brought before the Senate this week. I am not pleading for mercy; I do not ‘care what the Government does, but I am determined that I shall do my best to let the electorate outside know what methods are being employed. When the Government lost the late Prime Minister, it lost the only man who was able to keep its discordant elements together. Now there is a new man in charge, who is not able to do that. The Government is in a desperate position, and its only chance of survival is to get into recess, so that it may keep the people from knowing what is going on, and prevent the members of this Parliament from doing the job for which’ they are paid. I enter my protest against its tactics.
. -I also protest against the action of the Government in applying the guillotine. It is significant that, immeiately the Opposition threw light upon some of the sinister aspects of the bill, the guillotine was applied. The Government had not intended to resort to the guillotine until the Opposition revealed some of the things that were being done in connexion with the establishment of defence annexes; but action was swift and severe when Idrew attention to the fact that the Government had arranged with Holdens motor-body works, in South Australia, for the manufacture of certain tools, jigs and gauges to be used in the construction of the Bren gun. The Assistant Minister admitted that the articles made by that firm were not satisfactory.
– I said that there may have been minor faults.
– The work was given to the firm merely to fill in during a slack time.
– The honorable senator should be pleased that the Government provided work.
– Why was it not done in the Government’s own factories ? . The Government could have got this bill passed quite as soon without applying the guillotine. What was the reason for its action? Does the Government want to provoke members of the Opposition? If it wants to arouse determined opposition, it is going the best way about getting it. and I shall do my share.
Motion (by Senator Dein) put -
That the question be now put.
The Senate divided- (The President - Senator the Hon. J. B. Hayes.)
– There being more than thirteen votes in the affirmative, I declare the motion carried.
Question put -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. J. B. Hayes.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
The following paper was presented : -
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired at Darwin, Northern Territory - For Administrative purposes.
Senate adjourned at 11.21 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 13 June 1939, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1939/19390613_senate_15_160/>.