15th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. J. B. Hayes) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– In the event of a poultry-farmer who does not grow -wheat desiring to purchase wheat from an adjoining wheat-farmer, what facilities are available to save the necessity for the wheat to be carted to the nearest agent for the Wheat Board, and back?
– I appreciate the point raised by the honorable senator, but I have not yet had an opportunity to ascertain from the Wheat Board the detailed arrangements to meet such cases. I shall obtain the information during the week-end, and supply it to the honorable senator.
SenatorCOURTICE- Can the Minis ter representing the Minister for Information say whether the statement in the press this morning, that the price of petrol is likely to be increased by 6d; a gallon, emanated from the Department of Information; if not, does he know its source?
– I cannot answer the honorable senator’s question at the moment, but I shall have inquiries made, and let him have a reply.
SenatorKEANE. - Will the Minister representing the Minister for Information ascertain whether it is possible for the department to supply each day an official statement relating to war activities?
– I shall convey the honorable senator’s suggestion to the Minister in control of the department.
SenatorBROWN.- I askthe Minister representing the Prime Minister whether it is true that deductions are being made from the salaries of officers of the Public Service in order to provide funds for the Bed Cross Society? Is it a fact -that certain officers of the Canberra branch of the Bed Cross organization have made quick visits to Sydney and Melbourne for the alleged purpose of interviewing officers of the central Bed Cross organization, or of attending meetings of that body, and have drawn substantially on Bed Cross funds for expenses, including fares by aeroplane? Are such costs regarded as a fair or necessary charge on funds provided by public subscription, including contributions by public servants?
– To the first part of the honorable senator’s question, the answer is “no”. As to the second por- tion, I am unable, at the moment, togive an answer, but I think that it is most unlikely that such charges on the fund hare been made.
– Can the Minister for Commerce say what arrangements, if any, have been made by the Government for chartering vessels to carry Australia’s exportable surplus overseas ?
– The goods that have been sold to the United Kingdom Government have been sold f.o.b., which means that that Government has to make arrangements for their transport. The Commonwealth Government has been in constant touch with the British Ministry for Shipping, which is doing all in its power to provide sufficient space to lift the commodities purchased by the British Government. As to apples, barley and wheat, the British Government is not yet’ in a position to inform us what vessels will be available, but it has given an assurance that it will do all in itspower to provide as many vessels as possible. As honorable senators know, a good deal depends on happenings from day to day. The’ Government appreciates the great difficulties confronting the United Kingdom Government in this matter.
– I understand that the sum of £2,000.000 is to be made available to relieve unemployment. Is the Minister for the Interior able to say whether the States will be required to expend their share of that money oncertain specified works associated with defence, or will they be able to use it as they themselves think fit?
– The money has been made available for specific works of a defence nature, of which the State governments have been notified. Some of the works will be undertaken by the State governments, others by municipalities. They are all, however, definitely Commonwealth defence works which will be undertaken in co-operation with the State governments. All of the proposed works have been approved by the ‘State governments concerned.
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are- as follows : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will the Prime Minister instruct the Minister for Air, now in Canada, to urge the formation of Australian air units, officered by Australians, as part of the Empire air force, andthe retention oftheir identity throughout the present war, as in the Great War?
– The Prime Ministerhas supplied the following answer: -
Negotiations in respect of the Empire Air Training Scheme are still proceeding. The matter mentioned by the honorable senator is under discussion and the views of the Australian Government in this connexion have been very clearly expressed.
SenatorFRASER asked the Minister for Commerce, upon notice - 1.What retail price of sugar has been fixed in each State of the Commonwealth by the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice - 1: What Commonwealth works were in course of construction in Western Australia at the outbreak of war. including their cost?
– Inquiries are being made and a reply will be furnished as soon as possible.
asked the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
asked the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
asked the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
In view of the fatal accident during last weekend, when two planes collided in Sydney, and in view of the apparent overcrowding at the Kingsford Smith aerodrome, will the Minister confirm reports that it is the intention of the Government to construct an additional aerodrome at Bankstown, New South Wales?
SenatorFOLL. - The following answer has been supplied: -
There has been no decision to construct an additional Commonwealth aerodrome at Bankstown. The matter is under investigation but it is not likely that funds can be made available for this purpose during this financial year.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Development, upon notice -
SenatorFOLL. - The Minister for Supply and Development has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
SenatorFOLL. - The Minister for the Army has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
SenatorFOLL. - The Minister for the Army has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The Minister for Social Services has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Assistant Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Army has supplied the following answer : -
Persons who arc to becompulsorily trained during the period January - July, 1940, will be called up under Part IV. of the Defence Act, and exemptions will therefore be granted in accordance with section 61 ofthat Act.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
When will the Bren gun, -at present under manufacture at Lithgow, be ready for use by the Australian Army?
– It is considered inadvisable to make this information available.
Destruction op Canteen.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Army has supplied the following answer : -
The Commanding Officer, Eastern Command, has advised that an inquiry is being held regarding all of the questions raised and a full report will be submitted when the inquiry is completed. The Command has also advised that the demonstration was not on account of the excessive prices charged for goods supplied by the proprietor.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The provisions of the bill consist broadly of four main, sections. The first embodies proposals relating to the method of determining the order of the Senate groups, and the placing of the names of the candidates on the ballot-papers of the Senate and of the House of Representatives. The second relates to a proposal to simplify the directions on the ‘ballotpapers and to render formal slightly imperfect votes, and thus reduce the number of . informalities. The third section embodies proposals to extend the postalvoting facilities, particularly by reducing the difficulties experienced by voters in remote districts. The fourth comprises a series of more or less formal machinery amendments to remedy certain omissions in the existing law or to facilitate administration.
It is proposed that the order in which the respective groups shall be placed on the Senate ballot-papers shall be determined by a draw publicly conducted ‘by the Commonwealth Electoral Officer immediately after the close of nominations. It is considered that this will provide” a much fairer method than the existing system of arranging the names of candidates in alphabetical order. Further, it will remove entirely any advantage or handicap experienced by some candidates in the matter of names. It will also check a tendency, “ which might develop, of selecting candidates whose names come early in alphabetical order. It is proposed that the names of candidates not included in any group shall continue to appear on the ballot-papers below the groups as at present, but that the order of such names whichhitherto have been placed in alphabetical order shall in future be determined by ballot. The bill also provides that candidates forming a group may, if they so desire, agree upon the order in whichtheir names shall appear in the group and, if they so agree and notify the Commonwealth Electoral Officer accordingly, their names shall be placed on the ballot-papers in such order. As the law empowers candidates to form groups, it seems logical to permit them, if they so desire, to determine the order in which their names shall appear in the group. Where candidates in a group fail to notify any order a draw shall be conducted by the Commonwealth Electoral Officer and the names shall be placed on the ballot-papers in the order drawn. The hill provides that- the system of determining positions on the ballot-paper by a draw shall also apply to candidates for election to the House of Representatives. The Divisional Returning Officer shall in each case, at the . close of nominations, publicly conduct a draw and the names of the candidates shall appear on the ballot-papers in the order drawn. Each candidate will be given an equal chance regardless of name. Candidates will obtain no advantage or suffer no disability if their names commence with the letter A or the letter Z. A candidate named Zacharias- will have the same opportunity as one named Aarons.
The bill also contains a proposal designed to reduce informalities by rendering formal ballot-papers which, although not completely marked, comply substantially with the law. It is proposed, in both Senate and House of Representatives elections, to admit votes where the voter has indicated his preferences for all the candidates except one. It is believed that in such cases it is reasonable to assume that the voter’s preference for the candidate against whose name he has made no mark is his last, and that it would he safe to accept the vote. I propose to move an amendment to provide that the names on the ballot-papers shall be recorded horizontally instead of vertically, so that each group will be given an equal opportunity, and the possibility of obtaining what has been termed a fluke vote may be eliminated. During the scrutiny conducted in the various States after the last Senate election it was found, in some instances, that where the names of twelve candidates appeared on the ballot-paper the voter had shown his preference for only eleven, leaving one square Wank. It was quite obvious that that candidate could only be regarded as the twelfth in preference, and it is therefore proposed that such votes shall not be regarded as informal. Such an arrangement would not favour any party.
– What would he the position if a voter omitted, say, candidate No. 5 or No. 6?
– As the voter’s intention would not then be quite clear the vote would be regarded as informal.
– What would- be the position if a voter omitted to mark the names of the whole of the candidates in one particular group?
– That would ‘he an informal vote.
– It would indicate that the voter did not wish to vote for the candidates in that group.
– The vote could not be regarded as formal because quite a number of preferences would be omitted.
– Why adhere to the group system ?
– The group system was introduced for the convenience of voters so that the candidates of one political party could have their names grouped and therefore make easier the obtaining of a block vote.
The system to a large extent has reduced the number of informal votes. The bill also provides for the “Directions to Voters “ published on the ballotpaper forms, as set out in the schedule to the .principal act, to be made variable to meet each particular case, and to he couched in more simple and specific terms. By this means it is hoped that the directions will be more clearly comprehended, and, as the result, the proportion of effectively marked votes will be higher, with consequential reduction of informal votes.
Principally with the object of assisting electors in isolated areas to overcome the difficulties of time and distance, the hill contains provisions to extend the facilities for the recording of postal votes. It is proposed that the period within which an application for a postal vote may be made shall be advanced by ten days. This will mean that the application may be made and sent at any time after the tenth day prior to the issue of the writ, instead of, as at present, not until after the issue of the writ. This, it is expected, will prove of material benefit to electors in outback areas where mail services are infrequent.
– That ‘means greater facilities for dead men to vote.
– If any dead votes are recorded they are invariably recorded in favour of the party opposite. It is further proposed, in the case of remote subdivisions, such as, those embracing the Kimberley districts of Western Australia, that resident electors may obtain postal voting papers from the registrar for the subdivision. In the past these papers had to bc obtained from a far-away divisional returning officer. It is also proposed that postal votes received by the returning officer up to seven days after polling day shall be accepted for scrutiny when the returning officer is satisfied that such votes were actually recorded and posted prior to the close of the poll.
– That will not be sufficient to get the Minister back.
– Unlike the honorable senator I do not rely for my success on a mere alphabetical advantage of surname. That was the only qualification for election possessed by the honorable senator. The amendment I have just’ mentioned was recommended by the Joint Committee on Commonwealth Electoral Law and Procedure of 1926-27 in the following terms : -
Having considered this matter very carefully the committee is of opinion that an extension of time for receiving postal votes of seven days should be allowed provided that the envelope containing the ballot-paper bears a clear impression of a postal date stamp not later than the polling day.
The adoption of this recommendation will save many votes which, although posted prior to the close of the poll, do not reach the returning officer until after polling day. This applies particularly to the votes of electors in outlying parts from which mails take some days to reach the returning officer’s head-quarters, and also to the votes of electors absent from their home States.
Honorable senators of the Opposition interjecting,
– I’ can understand the anxiety displayed by honorable senators opposite, but the Government has introduced this measure because it recognizes the democratic principle that the real will of the majority of the voters should prevail, and that no candidate should be elected merely by a fluke, or a coincidence. Under this measure every candidate will bc given equal opportunities.
– Why was it not introduced eighteen years ago?
– Had the result of the last election been foreseen, proposals of this kind would probably have been introduced many years ago.
Two other proposals relating to postal voting are included in the bill. The first- is that tho word “ elector “ in subsection 2 of section 85 of the principal act shall be deemed to include a person enrolled on the roll of electors for the Australian Capital Territory, or the Northern Territory. Thus such a person may witness the postal vote application of an elector of a State who happens to be visiting the territory concerned. At present territory electors are not electors within the meaning of the Electoral Act, and consequently are not qualified to witness the postal vote application of a
State elector. The fact that not even the highest official in Canberra is now able to witness the application, although any elector in Queanbeyan can do so, has led to caustic criticism by electors visiting the Australian Capital Territory on the occasion of past elections. The second provision is merely the addition of secretaries of hospitals to the list of authorized witnesses before whom a postal vote may be recorded. The inclusion of such persons in the list has been strongly advocated by the executive committee of the Country Hospitals Association of Victoria, and is favoured by the department.
In order to improve the general effectiveness of the electoral law, it is proposed to add two new machinery sections. The first applies to election propaganda broadcast from radio stations conditions similar to those already existing in relation to like matter published in the press. Any such propaganda broadcast during an election, or referendum, campaign must henceforth include the name and address of the author thereof. The second proposal prohibits any officer, or scrutineer, from wearing or displaying in a polling booth on polling day any emblem or badge of a candidate, or political party. This proposal, which is similar to one embodied in the Queensland Elections Act, is considered a logical and reasonable extension of the existing provisions which prohibit, in polling booths, the soliciting of votes, the exhibition of any unauthorized sign, or any attempt by a scrutineer to influence any elector in relation to his vote. Its object is to ensure an atmosphere of strict impartiality within the polling booths in order that electors may record their votes absolutely free from party suggestion or influence.
I also propose to include an amendment in order to meet a request made by a number of members of this Parliament in relation to organizations which advertise in the press, or issue tickets on which are included names of certain candidates without the permission of the candidates concerned. Many organizations follow this practice which, however, is very often quite unfair to many candidates. The amendment, which I shall move in this direction, will make it an offence for any person, or organization, to include on any ticket the name of a candidate without the permission of that candidate. This improvement is long overdue.
– Will the names of the parties to which the respective candidates belong appear on the ballot-paper?
– That proposal has not yet been considered in connexion with this measure, but should the Senate express a desire that that should be done, I have no doubt that the Government will be willing to meet that request. The remaining amendments covered by the bill arc wholly formal. They have for their purpose the remedying of some omission or the improvement of administrative functions.
Summarized briefly, the proposals are: that the provision iu the law relating to the formal appointment of assistant returning officers at elections be made applicable in like manner to referenda; that the sub-section authorizing the preparation and printing of a supplementary roll for a general election be made applicable also to by-elections and referenda; that the second proviso to paragraph (b) of sub-section (1) of section 47 of the principal act be omitted for the reason that, whilst it now serves no useful purpose, it involves a considerable waste of time, labour and expense which might he profitably employed in other directions; that it he set out in the disputed elections part of the act by whom the petition may be signed, and the period within which the petition may be lodged in the case of a petition disputing the choice, or appointment, of a senator, by the Parliament or Governor of a State under section,15 of the Constitution; and lastly, the substitution of the word “ person “ for the word “ elector “ in section 216 with a view to widening the applicability, and ensuring the effectiveness, of the section. This measure is most democratic in that it will give to all candidates, irrespective of party, an equal opportunity at the ballot-box. I feel confident, therefore, that it will be welcomed by the Senate, and will be given, a speedy passage through this chamber.
Debate (on motion bv Senator Collings) adjourned.
Debate resumed from the 21st November on motions by Senator Foll (vide page 1322), and Senator Collett (vide page 1329)-
That the paper be printed.
– 1 take it that as the statement made by the Minister for the Interior (Senator Foll) on the war activities of the Government, and of the fighting services, and that made by the Minister in Charge of War Service Homes (Senator Collett) on external affairs, deal with cognate subjects, we may debate them simultaneously.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. J. B. Hayes). - If the Senate so desires, that’ course may be followed.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear!
– These statements are made at a time when we are faced with the greatest crisis in the history of the British Commonwealth of Nations. We are considering them in an atmosphere of crisis and appropriate and intense earnestness and anxiety on the part of each and every one of us, regardless of the political parties to which we belong. The position is so serious, and the matter contained in these state- ments so momentous, that, I am sure we all regard them in the manner which I have described.
Speaking for the Opposition, it is unnecessary that I should again state in detail the terms of Labour’s defence policy. On the 6th September last, I placed upon record in the Senate a declaration defining where the Labour party stands in relation to this war and its prosecution. That was, as I said then, the unanimous declaration made at a joint meeting of members of the Labour opposition in both branches of the legislature, at which every member was present. Since then, that declaration has been officially adopted in its entirety, and without the slightest alteration, by each State labour political executive in the six States, by the Federal Labour political executive, which consists of delegates from each of the States, and by the Australasian Council of Trade Unions which represents the ‘whole of the industrial unions comprising it. Upon that declaration, and upon Labour’s platform, after exhaustively reviewing the position in the light of all that has occurred since the beginning of September last, and also considering what is apparently likely to happen in the immediate future, Labour remains unshaken and unshakeable. I have made this definite statement because I desire to eliminate from this debate, as far as speeches from the Government benches _are concerned, any further unjustified and untruthful reflections regarding the policy of the Labour party. In September last, honorable senators opposite heard where Labour stands, and I have shown that this declaration lias been ratified by every section of the working class movement, which the Opposition specifically represents in this chamber. Surely there is no occasion, even in the heat of discussion, to say things which are not - -
– The honorable gentleman would like us to believe that there is a happy unity in. the Labour party.
– If, in this chamber, there is any disunity it is not among members of the Opposition. We speak with one voice ,a,nd we have one objective. We do not need to run about the precincts of this building holding Country party meetings, United Australia party meetings, and Cabinet meetings . as the Government parties are forced to do, before we come to a decision regarding what we shall do. As far as unity is concerned, I think that we set an example to the world.
I suggest that an obligation rests upon each member nf the Senate to examine thoroughly the facts of the position, so far as we have been permitted to know them, so that we may arrive at a calm and balanced judgment. I do not ask for protection from interjections. As far as they are allowed I shall welcome them, but I suggest that it is impossible to come to a calm and balanced judgment if our minds are already made up, and we refuse to listen .to reasoned argument, or if we create an atmosphere that will result in recriminations across the floor which, having regard to the serious matters to he considered, appears to me to be undesirable. I submit that we have a very grave responsibility to discharge, as members of the Parliament of a country which is still a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and in which most of us have some regard for democratic and constitutional government.
For the purpose of this debate, I shall divide my argument into three sections, each separate, yet together making a constructive whole. First, I shall review the purely Australian situation; secondly I shall deal with the position of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and, thirdly, I shall refer to the international outlook. I do not propose to indulge in criticism merely for the sake of criticizing. If I offer criticism; - and I shall do as I proceed - I desire honorable senators opposite to believe that the Opposition wishes to assist the Government. We desire to help it to prosecute this war to a successful conclusion. In saying that, I do not wish to be told later, as was said last night, that the Opposition has promised to support the Government in anything and everything it does or proposes to do. However, I do mean - and I suggest that Senator McBride should make a note of this, so that he will not be guilty later of misrepresenting what I have said - that my desire is to assist the Government to prosecute the war to a successful conclusion. I mean that I hope that complete, not partial, victory will be achieved by the democratic forces involved. I mean success and victory through all stages, and in every essential respect, now, during, and after the war, victory and success abroad and at home. Honorable senators will realize the implication of those words.
– Who is teaching us to hate the German people? Is notall the teaching in the opposite direction?
-That interjection recalls to my mind a speech made on the other side of the world only a. few days ago. We have been accustomed to hearing temperate statements by the Prime Minister of Great Britain (Mr. Chamberlain), Lord Halifax and others; but we heard an outburst from Mr. Churchill a short time ago, and if he did not ask every one of us to hate, insult and to be cruel to the people as well as to the rulers of the country to which I am now referring, I do not know the meaning of words.
– The speech was described as a necessary tonic for the people !
– I do not wish to enlarge upon it. The Opposition wishes the war to be won on behalf of those who, in most countries, love democracy, liberty and freedom, and all that we mean when we employ those terms; but, while we have that desire, we need not have our hearts so full of hatred of any other nation that we cannot come to a sane and balanced judgment as to the wisdom of the action which we propose to take in the conduct of our share of the struggle.
SenatorFoll. - The Prime Minister has stressed often that the fight is against a system, rather than a people.
– The Minister is quite right there. I do not think that the Prime Minister, in his public statements or in his speeches in the House of Representatives, can be accused of anything like the conduct of which Mr. Churchill was guilty, but the Prime Minister cannot control the forces in Australia which war has unleashed. We should see that we are not trapped into the same kind of conduct as that which these forces will cause. I mention these matters for particular reasons. Whatever we are forced to do, owing to the exigencies of the situation, we should keep uppermost in our minds the fact that some day the war will end ; and the sooner the better. When the war ends this question of success and victory will have to he decided. It, will not be a success and victory merely because Great Britain and her allies have vanquished their present enemy. Success and victory will be ours only if during the time of this conflict we refuse to give way to passions which war always unleashes in the best of us. and if we resolve now, not a month, a year, or three years hence, to give thought to the things that alone matter. We must resolve that when the time comes to negotiate a peace, when the time comes to establish, a new social order throughout the world, those of us who are left in responsible positions will be equipped mentally for the task which then will become ours. There must never again be a patched-up peace, never a treaty dictated by revenge. These are things which we must scrupulously avoid. We can say now, as good Australians and responsible members of this constitutional parliament, and with all the enthusiam which we can command, that, when the war ends, we must try to secure a peace that may be celebrated, not once a year as hitherto we have celebrated Armistice Day, but every day because it will be a peace that will ensure. This will be possible if, beforehand, we eliminate from our minds the idea of a peace founded on revenge. .We must have a peace based on justice and righteousness; a peace that every individual of goodwill in every country will he willing to accept. We must seek a peace that will lay the foundation of a new world order. That is the spirit in which I am approaching the consideration of this subject.
– There must be more than one party to a peace of that kind.
– Of course. And I am optimistic enough to believe that, when the day comes, be it near or distant, to consider peace terms, the people of goodwill in all countries will be in such an overwhelming majority as to make a just peace possible.
– There must be penalties for wrong-doers.
– I am sorry that the honorable senator feels that way.
– It is the commonsense view.
– The honorable senator believes that penalties must be imposed on wrong-doers. There must also be a reward for right-doing. Whatever we do, we must see to it that when peace negotiations are in progress, we do not lay the seeds of a future war.
– Our civil laws provide penalties for wrong-doing.
– I know, but I must not be led astray by interjections in this discussion of a subject of such moment to the world. My own thoughts are fairly well regimented. This is what I want to say : We on this side declare that we are irrevocably opposed to the rule of force; we are irrevocably opposed to the suppression of freedom of thought or speech. I would like honorable senators to remember these declarations. W° stand for the principle of arbitration in peacetime and in wartime. We stand for liberty of thought, of speech and of action. We stand for liberty in all these things, but not licence; for that freedom which recognizes no limit except the full right of all others to enjoy the same privileges, provided, of course, they are prepared to accept all consequent responsibilities. In the declaration of Labour’s policy there appears the statement that the Australian Labour party affirms its traditional belief that all international disputes should be settled by arbitration. I believe that to be one of our war aims, I believe that, in future, we shall be able to press our demand that there shall no longer be an appeal to the cruel arbitrament of war, for the settlement of international disputes ; a decision reached by war can never be satisfactory because it is based on force. I believe that we must appeal to the saner process of arbitration. The words which I am now about to use are not my own. but I would like to read them. I am not aware of the author so I cannot make acknowledgment -
Some day peace will return. Even to-day no service to humanity can be more, valuable than honest thought given to the building of an ordered world.
Somewhere must be saved a meeting place of minds. Some means must be kept for communication between the leaders of collective sanity and their many but scattered supporters. The results of hard thinking and close, eager discussion must be published in order that the nation may come to know of them. Good sense must continue its struggle even amidst the smoke and flames of disaster. There is no other hope.
That epitomizes what I have been trying to convey to the Senate-
It is well-known that negotiations are going on to bring about a settlement of the war in Europe. The Prime Minister indicated that in his statement and I think that his words were repeated by Ministers in this chamber. Apparently the Government of the United Kingdom does not at present regard the proposals favorably. I arn not criticizing the British Ministry for that, because I have some idea of the tremendous difficulties which confront it. But proposals have been made by, for instance, Queen Wilhelmina of Holland and King Leopold of Belgium. We have been led to believe, if reliance is to be placed on what we read in the newspapers, that opinion at the Hague - where the League of Nations was established, and to which eventually we must appeal for if the League of Nations ceases to function, we shall have at once, when war is ended, to set up some similar organization - is that immediate results are not expected from the negotiations. We on this side declare that in no circumstances must the door be closed to mediation for peace. We must be, at all times, willing to examine impartially every proposal made, so that, if possible, and before tho war breaks upon the world in all its cruel virulence, peace may be secured even at this eleventh hour. I know that it is not necessary to impress the seriousness of the international situation on Government supporters or my colleagues, but I would like to place on record some comments of leading world authorities on this grave situation. Viscount Grey, who, I suppose, is regarded as one of the greatest statesmen we have ever had in any British-speaking Parliament, said some years ago -
Great armaments inevitably lead to war.
Earl (then Mr.) Baldwin, the former Prime Minister of Great Britain, said in 192S-
Who in Europe does not know that one more war in the West, the civilization of the ages will fall with as great a shock as that of Rome?
Lord Ponsonby said -
We have more than enough to engage our attention at home. Wc want to build; we want to change things in our own way. Surely we have learned that war, whatever the cause, whatever the excuse, however nobly represented, must set the hands of the clock hack and will be encouraged and engineered by those who fear- the approach of the inevitable changes in our social system.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) spoke in similar vein in the House of Representatives last week when referring to the war situation. I take this from a report of his speech -
Whatever the final result is, I cannot visua.li/,0 a return to pre-war conditions.
Now I want to be quite sure that we are not deceiving ourselves and that we shall not fail to realize that when this war ends we shall not return to those social and economic conditions that obtained when it started. In this matter the decision will, of course, rest with those who, for the time beings may be charged with the responsibility of government. We do not fail to recognize that. We have knowledge of some of the problems facing this Government, and the governments of other countries that arc involved in this struggle. But whatever we do during this war we must, when it ends, be prepared for a change in our social conditions. We must face the fact that that change will come by either the evolutionary process or the revolutionary method. If it comes by the latter method, it will b6 engineered by those to whom our present constitutional procedure is anathema. If by the former process, we shall have an intelligent re-organization of society in which all the peoples will be encouraged by the full exercise of the spirit of freedom, which must not be interpreted as licence, to do all those things for which we now stand. Everything as regards that hoped-for new world order depends on what we do now and during the con- duct of this war.
I turn now for a few moments to deal with some of the matters mentioned in the statements which to me appear to be of particular interest to Australia. I note that the Prime Minister said -
I turn now to our war affairs at home. Of outstanding importance is the effect -which wartime experience has had upon the organization of government itself. It has become increasingly clear to me, as the head of the Government, that the machinery which was appropriate in time of peace is not only inappropriate, but also .inefficient, in time of war:
On numerous occasions, from this side of the Senate, we have tried in peacetime to impress upon the Government and its supporters that existing machinery for the government of this country is inefficient and inappropriate. The Prime Minister himself, who certainly has no sympathy with the traditions or political faith of the Labour Opposition, has now made this admission.
– I do not think the Leader of the Opposition is quite fair in saying that.
– But I am citing the very words used -by the Prime Minister. If I am unfair to the Prime Minister, it is quite unintentional. The right honorable gentleman referred to the fact - he would not put it in these words, I expect - that in a state of emergency like the present, due to the outbreak of war, we cannot trust private enterprise to stand by the nation. That is what he meant.
– Nothing of the sort. The honorable senator is distorting the facts.
– I am entitled to put my own interpretation upon the Prime Minister’s statement. I may not be right, hut I will guarantee that Senator Wilson cannot point to one wartime activity that the Prime Minister has not been speeding up. Every one knows how dissatisfied he has been, not perhaps with the work of individual Ministers, but with the speed or the effectiveness with which the job of carrying on the war activities of this country is being done.
– The Leader of the Opposition is not suggesting, surely, that private enterprise is part of the machinery of government?
– It has been found that private enterprise has looked after itself whenever the British nation has been involved in war.
– Or any other nation.
– Yes. I am not saying that of individuals, and though I may be looking at Senator Leckie at the moment I have not in my mind the thought that the honorable senator, as a representative of private enterprise and a manufacturer, cannot be trusted.
– The honorable senator ought to get inspiration when he looks a’t me.
– Perhaps. I cannot imagine Senator Leckie, in his capacity as a manufacturer, doing anything that was not essentially moral. I arn impeaching the ethics of business.
In the manufacture of armaments and munitions, as well as supplies and equipment, in a time of emergency, private enterprise cannot be trusted to do anything unless it can see excess profits -for itself. If honorable senators want proof of that statement, they should accompany me to the different camps, where I could show to them how money is being poured down the sink in 101 different ways, without regard to efficiency or righteousness.
– Is that money being wasted by private enterprise?
-Whenever there is a war private enterprise, like a vulture, gathers to feast on the carcass. I agree with the Prime Minister’s statement - and I hope that I shall be forgiven for doing so - that it has become increasingly clear that the machinery which was appropriate in time of peace is not only inappropriate, but also inefficient, intime of war. Indeed, I go further, for I say that that machinery has always been inefficient and inappropriate in times of peace. The right honorable gentleman has confirmed tie age-old faith of members of the Opposition. Let me carry the argument a little further, even though I know it will be distasteful to honorable senators opposite. I shall not put up any counter suggestions, because I am not impeaching the Government. I shall hot worry it with any proposals of mine ; I shall not suggest that it should do something different from what it is doing. The Government is the Government, and upon it rests the responsibility to carry on as it thinks fit. After a year’s controversy, which had nothing to do with the war, there has ‘been among members of the other chamber one long and continuous manoeuvring for political advantage.
– The party to which the honorable senator belongs has been engaged in a life-long effort for political advantage.
– At least the Assistant Minister will believe that a lifelong association with my party has taught me more about what it stands for than is possible to him through his cursory acquaintance with the party from the outside. He cannot deny that for years there has been a sordid struggle for political supremacy between the parties comprising the Government.
– There is only o-nt party in the Government.
– During this week the same sordid struggle has been going on, the same political manoeuvring has been in evidence. What does it matter to those engaged in that struggle that this country is facing an emergency caused by war ? To them nothing matters so long as they can prevent an election, and deny to the peoplethe right to say whether or not they endorse what the Government is doing. Did not an honorable gentleman from Western Australia say recently in the other chamber, in a debate associated with one of Australia’s most important industries, “ I will make any sacrifice rather than hand this country over to the. Labour party”? He was prepared to sacrifice an important section of the community in order to gain a political advantage. I tell honorable senators that they cannot do the right thing by Australia in the present struggle unless they put these sordid ambitions out of their mind, and concentrate on how best to come out victorious from the struggle, to limit its duration, and reduce, if possible, the destruction, debt and death which must result from it. In the House of Representatives, as well as in this chamber, the Opposition asked that a committee should be set up to scrutinize proposed war expenditure, so that the country might be assured that value was being received for every pound expended. That request was refused with contumely. I know that I shall be told that boards, presided over by wonderful captains of industry, have been appointed to attend to this and that matter, but I say that not one person appointed to such boards has been placed there to ensure that the common people of the community shall get value for every pound that is expended.
– What about the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner?
– My colleague, Senator Keane, will deal with that subject; but, in passing, I say that if ever there was a hollow sham, an attempt to throw dust in the eyes of the Australian community, it is the ridiculous and tragic farce known as price-control. Without encroaching on the ground that will he covered by my colleague, I say that the
Government is stabilizing not prices but profits. And the Assistant Minister knows that.
– It is also stabilizing poverty.
– I emphasize that unless we are prepared effectively and ruthlessly to control expenditure, we shall find that the heads of the Navy, Army and Air Force will, as they always . - do in such circumstances, get the bit between their teeth, and spend money regardless of what is obtained in return. I say advisedly that money is being wasted to-day. The Government can appoint whom it likes to these positions, but once the orgy of spending commences, liberty becomes licence, and money is metaphorically poured down the sink. Most persons who get temporary control during wartime spend money regardless of the needs of the nation ; all that they are concerned with is making a splash in an attempt to show that they are worthy of the positions which they occupy.
The Minister for the Interior (Senator Foll) read an imposing list of undertakings on which money was being expended. The Opposition does not disagree with that list. As I have said over and over again, we on . this side will not vote to reduce the amount which the Government says that it requires for defence purposes.
– The Opposition did so last night.
– The Assistant Minister and his colleagues cut a sorry figure last night; and they know it. Their dejected heads and crestfallen looks, to say anything of their crimson blushes, showed that they were ashamed of themselves. Senator Ashley will have something to say about, the imposing list presented by the Minister for the Interior. I agree with the Minister that, under existing conditions, defence works must, have priority. I feel confident that if the Minister’s notes were available they would not contain any reference to his subsequent statement that they did not mean the abandonment of other works. That was an afterthought. The Minister’s statement that defence works must have priority means, has meant, and will continue to mean a restriction of opportunities for employment in other directions which should never be allowed.
– Restriction is not abandonment.
– Will the Assistant Minister tell me to what extent the Government is making provision for the carrying on of essential public works other than those related to defence ? It would appear that an expenditure of £2,000,000 is the most that can be said to be outside that heading.
– The honorable senator knows as well as I do the figures agreed to by the Loan Council.
– Yes; I know that the Government, the Loan Council, the various departments, some State Governments, and the Commonwealth Bank, have set in motion as clever a scheme of financial juggling, and restriction of credit, when there ought to be an expansion of credit, as could possibly be devised.If the Government were prepared to say that, coincidental with the activity and expenditure on defence works, it would ensure that there would be no unemployment or poverty in the country, there would be less ground for complaint; as it is, the Government is doing only half of its job.
I never like to adopt the “ I told you so “ attitude, but it is a source of some satisfaction to the Opposition to know that the Government has belatedly awakened to !the fact that Australia is tremendously unprepared in the air. Two years ago the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives said, in definite language and in some detail, that whilst the Army and the Navy had their parts to play, the chief arm of defence for a country like Australia must be a strong air force. At the time, his statement was ridiculed ; but since then every defence authority who has come here from the Old Country, as well as those experts on whose advice the Government is now acting, has repeated it. They emphasize that Australia’s protection must be provided mainly in the air, and also that there is no occasion to send men out of this country to serve abroad. ,
– Who said that ?
– They have said that the maximum force which Australia can provide is the minimum that is required for the defence of Australia.
The need to give priority to defence expenditure should not mean the starvation of necessary social services. The paramount duty of every true Australian patriot - I use that term in its best sense - is to insist upon such action by the Government as will provide an immediate and permanent solution of the problem of increasing unemployment. On that rock the Opposition stands.
– We all subscribe to that.
– After the termination of the war there must be no ruthless sacrifice of those activities which have been found essential to protect this nation in time of war. I do not propose to go through the whole sordid story which has been told from the opposition benches on numerous occasions, but I ask Government supporters to realize that at the outbreak of war this country would have been in an infinitely better position had the Government still been controlling such instrumentalities as the Commonwealth Woollen Mills, the Commonwealth Clothing Factory, the Cockatoo Island Dockyard and the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers which were established by the Labour government. In 191 6 the Commonwealth Government purchased fifteen vessels for £2,000,000 and by 1921 the profits which had accrued, after writing off the purchase price, amounted to £1,699,000. In the five years between 1916 and 1921 the profit derived was £4,826,000.
– The honorable senator should complete the statement.
– I shall do so to the discomfiture of the Assistant Minister. When the Commonwealth owned its own ships wheat was being transported overseas at £7 a ton while the British ship-owners were charging £15 a ton. That is the . complete story.
– That is only onehalf of the story.
– The Government should have the pluck to commandeer those ships it sold, the full purchase price of which has not yet been collected. We have been informed from time to time that it is difficult to transport exportable produce overseas and that the British Government has only limited shipping space available. What a wonderful opportunity we would have had to dispose readily of our produce had the government line of steamers been still in existence! We should have needed only convoys.
Paragraph No. 6 of the Labour party’s declaration reads -
There must he a rigid control of commodity prices and house rents, so that war profited - ing will become impossible. Interest rates must be kept within bounds, and the monetary system re-adjusted so that the national debt cun bc kept as low as possible-.
The Opposition will not tolerate profiteering in any form, and especially shall we oppose any attempt by primary or secondary producers of this country to profiteer in respect of any commodities which they are supplying to Great Britain in time of war. We shall, however, be just as vigorous in our opposition to any attempt by the British Government to exploit our manufacturers and primary producers. There must be no infringement of the rights of the Australian people, and even at the risk of being designated poor patriots we shall oppose any attempt to exploit the Australian people because of the position created by war.
I now wish to direct attention to the treatment which is being meted out to Australian volunteers. Again I desire to assert very definitely that I am submitting facts, not in a spirit of carping criticism but with a desire to assist the Government. I am directing attention to these matters in the hope that the points I am making will be given the consideration which they deserve. In the matter of rates of pay we believe that the men who are asked to defend this country should be treated as fairly as other seclions of the community. On the 6th October it was announced that the rates of pay for the 2nd Australian Imperial Force, or the 6th Division as it is officially known, should be a pre-embarkation rate of os. a day and after embarkation an additional ls. a day in the form of deferred pay. Provision was also made for a separation allowance for all ranks of 2s. 6d. a day for a wife and 9d. a day for each child under sixteen years. The Militia pay for privates was fixed at 8s. a day, which was to be continued for the first 30 days’ training, and the pay for the subsequent three months was to be at the same rate as that provided for the 6th Division. There was also to be a separation allowance of 5s., but no married man was to be paid less than S.s. a day. At that time it ,was understood that the men were to be in camp for sixteen days. On the 20th October increased separation allowances for the Army were announced, making the rate 3s. a day for a wife and ls. a clay for each child under sixteen years. It has been stated that the separation allowance of 3s. will only be sufficient in some eases to pay the rent, and a wife will be fairly successful if she can secure suitable accommodation for less. That is a matter to which the Government should give immediate attention. It should also be noted that the Militia pay is made up by os. a day ordinary pay, plus 3s. a day efficiency pay. Separation allowance is not paid to Militia men, and after the first month’s training they will receive the same rate of pay, including separation allowance, as is received by the members of the 2nd Australian Imperial Force. In the first instance, the period of training was to be for sixteen days, and the Commonwealth Government decided that it would make up the difference between the civil and military pay of its employees during that time. The period was then increased to one month and then to an additional three months. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) went back on his slogan of “ Business as usual “ by declining to make up the difference in pay of government employees over the longer period. State governments and other employees immediately followed the lead given by him. Government employees now in camp will not have the difference in their pay made up after sixteen days have elapsed. Why were the men not informed at the outset that they would have to undergo four months’ training?
– We were not at war when they enlisted.
– It was the responsibility of the Government to explain the possibilities of the situation. Grave injustices have been inflicted in many directions. The Government has also decided upon the worst possible form of conscription - the conscription of youths–
– Rubbish !
– It is not. The Government proposes to conscript for military service youths who will he 21 years of age by the 30th June. The Premier of Queensland, who is known from one end of the Commonwealth to the other, said that the only reason why the Government is conscripting men of that age is to enable it to conduct its part of the war “ oil the cheap.” If I could be sure that the Government proposed to treat other sections of the community in the same way as it is treating its man -power, I would not be so critical; but I am not sure on that point. [Extension of time granted.] I do not believe that the Government has ever favoured the voluntary system. It has never . endeavoured to make the system a success. About two years ago when an honorable senator who is not in the chamber at present had something to say on this subject I said “ Now the cat is out of the bag “. He made a declaration before the Government had done so, and for having made it, I believe, he got a rap over the knuckles. The Government did not wish the voluntary system to succeed ; it preferred that the man-power of this country should be conscripted.
Sitting suspended from 12.b£ to 2.15 p.m.
– I wish now to refer to the very great, but unnecessary, distinction made between those on the top of the scale in the various services and members of the rank and file. I suggest that a little levelling upwards and downwards would be of advantage all round.
Complaints have reached me concerning the treatment of men in camp. I am not unmindful of the difficulties associated with the assembling of large numbers of men, and in making provision for their welfare, brit I believe that these arrangements could have been made in such a way that no one would have been given just ground for complaint concerning the quality of the food and insufficiency of clothing and uniforms. I noticed a report in the press recently that His Excellency the Governor-General on one occasion inspected a camp and was very interested in all he saw. When he returned to Sydney he made a public appeal for blankets for men in that camp, the weather at that time being very cold. The Government has no excuse whatever for allowing men who are willing to serve, as these men are, to go short of anything essential to provide them with a reasonable standard of comfort. I notice that even in Canberra a local welfare committee has been formed and has appealed for funds in order to provide for some of the men in camp from this district “ for clothing necessaries which they cannot personally afford “.
I propose now to deal with the Department of Information, and I feel as serious about this as I do about any matter upon which I have spoken to-day. I should like the Minister to tell honorable senators just what need existed for the creation of this department. I think that it is a scandal. I took particular note of its preliminary proceedings, and of the meeting which was held recently in Brisbane. The, Chancellor of the University of Queensland, who is also the Chief Justice of that State, presided. Addressing the gathering the Minister for Information (‘Sir Henry Gullett) said that six honorary State councils would be appointed to co-operate with the Government, and branches of the department would be established in the capital cities, provincial cities, and large country towns. He also said that the objective of the department was to disseminate information through every agency open to it. He added that the department knew no party. I should like to give some idea of the proceedings at. the meeting to which I have just referred. It was held in a fairly large hall and was attended, I understand, by over 500 representatives of various organizations. Sir William Glasgow moved -
This meeting, representative of almost every public and private activity in the State of Queensland, religious, educational, social, industrial, commercial, recreational, and other, in town and country, wholeheartedly welcomes and approves the action of the Commonwealth Government in establishing a Ministry for Information not only to supply facts and accurate details but also, by all means within its power, to sustain and stimulate Australia’s war effort; and that those present assure the Government of their cordial support and assistance in this endeavour.
This department is entirely unnecessary, and the proposal to appoint these bodies cannot but be an impudent interference with the conduct of the whole business. Other persons who spoke at that meeting were the president of the “National Council of Women, Mr3. Henry Robertson ; the president of the Women’s Emergency Legion, Mrs. W. A. Ryan; Mr. R. D. Huish, on behalf of the Returned .Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia; Mr. F. C. P. Curlewis, of the Australian Sugar Producers Association ; Mr. E. J. Shaw, of the Royal National Agricultural Association; the editor of the Queensland Agricultural Journal; and Mr. J. R. Churchill, representing advertising and wireless interests. Mr. C. P. Smith, honorary organizer of the department, said that the 500 delegates present represented possibly 50,000 people from all walks of life in Queensland. That is not true. No representative of the working class was present at that meeting. Yet Sir Henry Gullett said that the department “knows no party”.
– Were not representatives of the friendly societies present?
– No. It was also stated that these organizations would be grouped according to interests, and would form committees which would elect a small State advisory committee. The organization would be in working order by Christmas. I suspect that these organizations have been formed for two very definite reasons: First, to make on ite sure that every citizen can be rounded up if his neighbour is prepared to spy, or even without spying, report him to the organization should he express opinions which in the estimation of the Department of Information or the Minister or the informer may not be in exact accord with the policy of the Government.
– No Trades Hall methods here.
– I am glad that the Assistant Minister made that interjection, because I am sure that he could, with very great profit, suggest to Sir Henry Gullett that Trades Hall methods be adopted in this new department because those methods are always open and above-board. No member of the Trades Hall spies on his mates with a view to having him placed in a concentration camp. Yet I have no doubt these people have been got together for that purpose. If there is one thing which the Opposition hates it is censorship, but we recognize that a good excuse exists for the establishment of an official censorship during a time of national emergency. In Queensland we have a censorship board, every member of which I know personally. Not one of them, has the slightest sympathy with the policy of the party to which I belong, but at least they are decent and honorable men. All of them, in fact, held the same positions during the last war. To-day they are doing their job in a far less savage way than they did it in the last war., because they are aware of the different psychology of the people to-day. If they were left alone they would do the job. I repeat that the new Department of Information is an impudent attempt to supersede the censorship boards, for the simple reason that the existing censorship has not been applied savagely. Having regard to the personnel of the new committee established in Queensland by the department, and to other, factors with which I shall deal in a moment, as well as information which I have learned from persons who do not belong to the Labour party, I am convinced that the Department of Information has been deliberately established in order to enable certain officials appointed by the Government to tour Australia on a propaganda campaign in the interests of the United Australia party. I say that definitely, and I shall repeat the statement whenever I get the opportunity to do so. This new department is a governmentconcontrolled an d governmentfinaneec propaganda. machine for the United Australia party. I take very strong exception to the officials who have been appointed to control this organization. For the information of honorable senators I shall give their pedigrees. They include E. F. Hanman, who has been appointed principal of the Queensland branch of. the department. We have already had one brawl with that gentleman because, so it is alleged by the press, he incorrectly commented upon certain statements made by a member of this Parliament. Although the Department of External Affairs already issues Current Notes, and is quite capable of disseminating war information, we have never been able to get anything additional to what we. glean from the columns of the daily press. Despite the ability of the Department of External Affairs to handle war information, the Government has created this new and expensive organization. It is nothing more or less than a Keith Murdoch control proposition, and honorable senators opposite are aware of that fact. Mr. Hanman was connected with the Murdoch press, and so also was P. Jenkin, who has been appointed Chief Censor in Adelaide; whilst C. P. Smith, general manager of the West Australian, who is now in charge of the Melbourne office of the Department of Information, was formerly a Murdoch employee. It really means that the public is to be fed on news cooked in the Murdoch ovens and dressed with pro-Menzies sauce, the intention being to create a psychology favorable to this Government, which has proved by its manoeuvring during the last few weeks that it will do anything rather than give to the electors an opportunity to say what they think of its policy with regard to affairs both at home and abroad.
Reverting to the treatment of members of the Military Forces in camp, honorable senators on this side have received from the Victorian. Western Australian and Queensland branches of the Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association very strong protests against the decision of the Government to make up the difference between defence pay and civil pay for a period of sixteen days only, in spite of. the extension of the period of training to four months. While waiting to depart from the interstate station in Brisbane on our return to Canberra last week, Queensland members of Parliament were interviewed by young men who complained of the treatment they had received from the military authorities. These men had come from different parts of the State. At the Militia head-quarters at Kelvin Grove they had been medically examined and given a certificate of fitness. They were then accepted for enlistment, but after they had been three weeks in camp they were again medically examined, declared to be unfit, and dis> charged. I considered that if their state- ments were true the position was very serious. I and other members of this Parliament immediately took an opportunity to place their case before the Minister for the Army (Mr. Street). I pay a compliment to the Minister. Of all the men handling affairs in connexion with the Army, he is probably the most human and the most approachable. I referred these complaints to him, and he has done me the courtesy of sending me a reply with the promise to furnish further details later. It appears that these men were suffering from minor disabilities, which should not have debarred them from qualifying for military service. Their complaints could have been remedied after a few days or a week in hospital. Some of the physical disabilities were merely dental defects. The point, however, is that these men were placed in a most unfortunate position. One of them who came from Stanthorpe, 100 miles from Brisbane, told me that he would not go back to hi3 home town. Ee said that the military authorities had turned him out of camp, but had not told him what his disability was. At no time in camp had he paraded sick; yet he was told that he was not wanted-. He said “ I won’t go back to Stanthorpe, my home town, because the people there gave me a good send-off, and I could not face them “. The other man said that he could not understand why they had been rejected. The men also remarked that they had their own -working clothes in the camp, and had not been provided with working outfits or uniforms. At the end of three weeks they were turned out, and all they had, apart from the clothes they had taken into camp with them, were a new pair of military boots and a pair of socks each. I told them that, if the facts were as stated by them, they were entitled to compensation. They replied that they did not want compensation, because all that they asked for was the privilege of serving their country. Had they been told in the first place that they might be rejected within two or three weeks this trouble might not have occurred. I hope that the Government will give the same courteous attention to the statement that I have made as was given by the Minister for the Army to representations made to him. One of these men ha3 written the following letter to me: -
I have received both of your telegrams and I wish to thank you on behalf of the boys and myself for the trouble you are going to for us. We arc getting the benefits already. We have been paid for four days more than we actually served in the Army. We have also been told what our disability was. Most of the men that I know have been discharged for some very slight disability and are being treated for same at the general hospital. My own case was slight scoliosis. The doctor at the hospital said that it was practically nothing. 3!te also told nic that he would fix my legs for mc so that any doctor would pass me, but that takes six weeks. I received the first injection last Friday. This is for varicose veins. We will find some way to live till we are cured. Our only trouble now is, will we get back in the army when we are cured? I have made inquiries, but cun get no satisfaction.
I have read in the paper several complaints concerning the food. I would like you to know that it was none of the discharged men who made these complaints, as the food was army rations - good, solid food, and plenty of it.
I hope your efforts will get us back in the Army.
These men have only one desire, yet they were treated in a cavalier fashion. It seems that when military officers have large bodies of men to deal with, they cease to be human, and treat the individuals in their charge as merely living units to bo put through their hands according to the approved fashion.
I pay to Senator Foll the compliment that he takes seriously the responsibility which he has accepted as a Minister of the Crown; but, while making his statement, I thought that he was not altogether happy. Although I may be doing him an injustice in saying that, I believe that he knows that there is not the slightest need to compol any decent Australian to respond to the appeal made for volunteers. Nobody hates war more than I do, but, I do not know that I would not, even at my agc, offer my services to the country if the necessity arose to defend .it. There will be no lack of man-power to defend this country, and it will not bc necessary to ask twice for men. The Government not only has no mandate for introducing conscription, but I do not accept its protestation that it does not intend to go any further than introduce conscription for home defence. I do not believe it any more than I have believed its statements in the last eighteen months that it favoured voluntary service and would not introduce conscription. The Government quibbles whenever the words “ compulsion “ or “ conscription “ are used.
The late Prime Minister, Mr. Lyon.=. stated from his place in the House of Representatives, and also in. broadcasts over the air, that there was no truth in the suggestion that conscription would be introduced. He said, “ There will be no conscription “, and I believe that, had he lived, he would have honoured that promise. Dame Enid Lyons said -
Women of Australia, I have met you in meetings and you have heard me oyer the air. 1 say that my husband hae no intention of conscripting the manhood of Australia.
I think she also remarked that, if her husband did introduce conscription, she would seriously disapprove of his action.
– How does the honorable senator read conscription into what the Government has done?
– I have had no difficulty in doing that, because I have consulted the Oxford dictionary.
– If the Labour party gets into power, will it abolish compulsory military training?
– One of the main planks of the platform of the Labour party is the abolition of compulsion in connexion with military service. The death of Mr. Lyons resulted in the appointment of the new Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), who frequently denied any intention On the part of the Government to impose compulsion. First, there was to be no conscription, according to Mr. Menzies. There was no qualifying remark in that statement. Then we wore told that conscription for service overseas would not be applied. Now we are to have conscription for home defence, and I predict that eventually there will be conscription without qualification. What is the difference between conscription and compulsory military service? The Oxford dictionary defines “conscription “ as “ compulsory enlistment for military or naval service”. What is the Government doing with regard to men of 21 years of age? Are they not being compulsorily enlisted for military or naval service? Has any one of them been asked whether he desires to enlist?
What is the use of lowering the dignity of this chamber by a mere quibble over words? The conscription of wealth is described in the Oxford dictionary as “ Taxation or confiscation of property for war purposes to impose equality of sacrifice on non-conscripts “. That is the one form of conscription which the Government hates. According to the same authority the meaning of “ compulsory “ is “ because one is compelled “. If I am told that the men of 21 years of age are not to be compelled in 1940 to obey the edict of the Government, I desire to know what the decision means.
– Nobody denies that they are.
– The Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Curtin) stated -
The Government has turned to compulsion because it has failed to pay a fair rate of pay to volunteers and their dependants. In New Zealand, where the scale of pay is more equitable,6,665 applications were received in one day for a force of (i,000. A New Zealand territorial receives 7s. a day, plus 5s. a day while in camp or training school. A married man with two children receives £29s., his wife £11s. and his children £11s., a total of £411s.
I conclude my remarks by expressing the fervent hope that even at this late hour, war in its most disastrous aspects may yet be averted, not by yielding to the insatiable demands of power-drunk dictators in other lands, but by the efforts of those countries which still love democracy and liberty. To the assistance of all such the Opposition will give its support. But if that cherished ideal is not to be realized, we shall not shirk one jot or tittle of the responsibility, which should be gladly accepted by all of us, of seeing this war through to victory.
– I shall confine my remarks to one or two aspects of matters which could be discussed at considerable length. We read in the press day after day that the terrible shadow of conscription overhangs the people of Australia.
– We think so.
– All right. I remember the position that obtained prior to federation. At the time of the South African war I had a commission in one of the militia regiments in New South Wales, and I know that the law then, in the different colonies, was exactly the same as the law of the Commonwealth to-day. That is to say, in the event of this country being attacked in war, every male citizen, from the youngest adult up to, I think, men of the age of 60 years, was liable for military service. Why do the Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues so consistently overlook this fact?
SenatorCourtice. - This Government is conscripting young men up to the age of 21 years.
– Why are not the people told the truth? Why do we hear so much of this hogy of conscription? Why are not our people told that if at any time this country be attacked, every citizen will be liable, under an act that has been in operation since 1903, to be called up to take part in some form of war activity, whether in the front line trenches or in some other sphere, in defence of this country? I ask our friends in the Labour party to be fair and tell the people the truth about this matter. I urge them not to be always covering up this fact, as I submit it has been covered up, whenever any declaration is made on this subject by Labour critics of the Government.
– Evidently the honorable senator has not read the statement of war policy by the Government.
– To put the matter beyond all doubt, I refer honorable senators to section 59 of the Defence Act, which reads as follows: -
All male inhabitants of Australia (excepting those who are exempt from service in the Defence Force) who have resided therein for six months and are British subjects and are between the ages of eighteen and 60 years shall, in time of war, be liable to serve in the Militia Forces.
That act was passed in 1903 by, I think, a Labour Government, and that provision has been operative ever since.
– Does the honorable senator say that it was passed by a Labour Government?
– I do, but I do not care which government passed the law. The point I am making is that it is the law and must operate in a national emergency. If the need arose the Leader of the Opposition, if not beyond the age of 60 years - aud his appearance and vigour suggest that he is not - would, with me, be liable for military service. This fact ought to be put before the people.
I am not an advocate of conscription. I am not in favour of unnecessarily sending Australian troops overseas, and I do not want ‘to see conscription introduced for that purpose. But 1 think that our friends opposite should face this fact honestly, and tell the people what are their obligations under the existing law. They object, apparently, to what the Govern.men.t is doing to instruct young Australian manhood in military tasks. But would they dare to send them to fight in defence of this country without knowing the first thing about modern military weapons and equipment? Do they not realize that our young men need technical training in order to become proficient in the handling of modern war equipment? And is there anything wrong in saying that they should be trained, so that if, unfortunately, they were called upon to defend this country, they would not be ruthlessly murdered because of lack of knowledge? Who can say, in this dreadful state of international affairs, that Aus- tralia may or may not have to face such a national emergency? Will anyone dare to boast that we shall pass through. this crisis without being menaced? We are all hoping, of course, that this country will not be threatened, but if it is, we shall feel the more secure if our manhood has had some training in the task of defending it. Our system of compulsory education is, in essence, conscription, and if it is fair to conscript our school children in order to equip them with knowledge to play their part in the civil life of the nation, are we doing a wrong to the manhood in this country when we say that they should receive instruction in the business of defending it? It is positively wrong for our friends opposite to mislead the people on this issue, because there is no threat of conscription. I challenge the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Curtin) or the Leader of the Opposition in this chamber to face this issue fairly, either on the public platform or in the press, and tell the people exactly what is contained in the Defence Act. If they do this, and if they produce evidence of an attempt to conscript the manhood of this country for overseas service, we shall have to hang our heads in silence, and admit our error. But there is no such evidence.
– We on this side are fearful that this Government will add to that section of the Defence Act two words - “ for overseas “.
– It will be time enough to raise that bogy when there is some definite move to do that. Every responsible member of this Government, as did every member of the preceding Government, has given an honorable assurance that no such action is contemplated. Yet this awful bogy is being held up to the people. Every member of this Government, every leader of parties on this side in politics, is held up as being as untruthful and as unworthy of trust as the present dictator of Germany.
I do not wish to pursue this aspect of the subject further. Like my friend, the Leader of the Opposition, 1 have a strong leaning to peaceful methods for the settlement of all disputes. But I recognize that there can be no lasting peace among nations until the world rids itself of certain elements that have disrupted good relations between the powers. Until we effectively remove, not merely the leader of one nation, but also those other elements in that country and other countries that are responsible for so much misery among the peoples at the present time, we cannot expect to make the world a reasonably safe place for peaceful-minded human beings. That is what the British and French nations are fighting for. That the cause to which Australia is committed.
During the recess, the Prime Minister made a number of broadcasts. In one he made a declaration of the Government’s war aims with which I do not agree. The right honorable gentleman stated, I quote from memory, “Australia is not out to dictate to Germany or to any other country, the kind of government, that it shall have “. I disagree with that. I say that that is the very thing for which we are fighting. Perhaps I should say that we are out to dictate the kind of government which Germany shall not have. That is a government whose policy is to threaten, bully, and interfere, with the peace and good government of other countries and the liberty of their peoples ; a government which threatens the very existence of our own democratic system; a government which challenges the very right of the exercise of conscience, of free expression through those democratic institutions to which we have become accustomed and which we so highly value. We are fighting to dictate to not only Germany, but also other nations in future, the kind of government that they shall not set up for the purpose of threatening the liberties of other peoples. We are- fighting to remove the bullying and tyrannizing party which at present has the unfortunate people of Germany under its heel.
– We are fighting for a new world order.
– I agree, but can we have a new world order while this sort of thing is held up, as it is in Germany, as the ideal form of government for a great people, who, in science and in culture, have given so much to the world ?
I refer to a letter which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald a few days ago dealing . with the new German hynm of hate. I shall not read the whole of, the letter, hut I quote this from it -
The same perfidy is found in Hitler as in the ex-Kaiser, and between the latter and that unspeakable Prussian Frederick (whom the Germans call the “ Great “ ) there is not an iota of difference. At the risk of becoming tedious, note a few maxims of the type of man whomthe Germans idolize. “ As for war (wrote this man. Frederick), it is a profession in whichthe smallestscruple would spoil everything “. “ Nothing exercises a greater tyranny over the spirit and heart than religion “. Do we wish to make a treaty with a Power ? If we then remember that we are Christians all is lost? “Do not commit the vulgar fault of not abandoning them (i.e. your Allies) when you believe it to be to your advantage to do so; and, above all, ever follow this maxim, that to despoil your neighbours is to take from them the means of doing you harm “.
That is applauded by Germans and is regarded by some as an ideal to be cherished in the hearts of present and future generations. We, who understand and value the privilege of free expression of opinion, and the right to voice our discontent every three years at the ballotbox, are fighting, not to force our system of government on the people of other countries if they do not want it, but in order that we, who for so many hundreds of years, have enjoyed these rights shall not have them taken from us at the dictation of a man whose sanity is almost in question.
I desire now to deal with an aspect of this question which was touched on by the Leader of the Opposition. What are our aims for the world after the war, assuming that we shall he successful in the conflict? I disagree with those who think that this is a small war, which will be over quickly. Bather do I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that it will be a dreadful business - that the troubles and difficulties in which the world will find itself, materially, spiritually, physically and economically, will be such that men will be forced to take stock of themselves, and set to work, in a spirit of conciliation, to establish among all the peoples of the world a system which will at least give some guarantee of lasting peace. After the last war the League of Nations came into being. Many people think that it has failed, but in my opinion that is a wrong attitude to adopt. It is true that, at the moment,the League appears to have failed, but its establishment gave to the world a basis upon which to build something better. The League of Nations failed for the same reason as we should have failed in this country if we made it. . obligatory for the police never to be armed, whilst members of the criminal and lawless classes were entitled to carry machine guns as they liked. The League of Nations was a fine ideal, but it had no force with which to back up its decisions. In this connexion, I recommend to honorable senators a book entitled Union Now. by Clarence Streit. I do not suggest that all of his recommendations be adopted, because I do not agree with all of them, but there is much food for thought in the book. It is not too early to start planning, or at least thinking, of the steps to be taken when the day of peace comes. I shall not go into the history of the League of Nations because it is well known to honorable senators, but I point out that In his book Clarence Streit draws a distinction between a league and a union. He says that in a league, such as the League of Nations, tlie delegates of the nations are not armed w ith discretionary powers, but act according to instructions received beforehand. Should any question of which they have not previously been acquainted arise, adjournments must be made in order to enable the delegates to obtain instructions from their governments, and then they re-assemble and, perhaps, arrive at decisions. There is a great difference between a league of that sort, and a union consisting of elected representatives of the nations, meeting to deal only with those matters which are delegated to them by the nations which they represent. Whilst I do not agree with many of the conclusions of the author, I suggest that Australia and the great republic of the United States of America have something of value to offer to the world, because written in their constitutions is a model for a future league of nations. Why should not the League of Nations, or whatever term may be applied to such a body after the war, be entrusted with the powers of force and discipline? Why should not the power to enforce peace and order and international moral conduct be concentrated in one representative international body as the sole custodian of peace? I suggest that to such a body each nation should elect its representative on the basis of equal representation, such election to lie under the control of the central body along lines similar to the Commonwealth electoral legislation. It would not be a league of nations in the old sense, because its operations would be limited strictly to a few functions, the chief of which would be the enforcement “f peace and the exclusive control of and the manufacture of armaments and the means of war. It would also have charge of the periodical elections of representatives to such body. In short, it would, in those few but important matters which affect the peace and happiness of mankind, be an effective international parliament, and the sole body to control the means of enforcing .the collective will of the -peoples of the world. There would be no interference with any nation, but once the whole of the means of making war was concentrated in a body representative of all the peoples of the world, I venture to say, in the light of the experience of the misery caused by recent wars, that there never would befound a majority which would permit disorder and war so long as such a body lasted.
In conclusion, I urge that, in these days, when the public mind is distracted,, we shall not arrive at conclusions in the absence of vital facts.
.- Australia to-day is in the midst of oneof the greatest crises in history; a wave of unparalleled barbarism issweeping over the world, threatening todestroy all that is best in human society. The great issue that faces mankind is whether men are to live as free citizens of a democracy, or are to be the docile followers of a despot, and forced to develop that servile mass mentality which dictators demand from their subjects.. The truth is that the defence of Australia docs not depend upon arms alone; it is equally a political question. In my opinion, the will to fight depends upon what men are fighting for. We are conscious, as Senator Abbott has said, of the promises made during the last war as to the state of society that should be established when it was over. Among other things the world was promised a peaceful and contented Europe, but that does not exist to-day. On the contrary, the world is in a worse position to-day than it was when tho great struggle of 1914-18 began. In ray opinion one of the main causes of the present unhappy state of affairs is the attitude adopted by the British people towards Russia. I have in mind the attitude, not of the people generally, but of the Conservative element which to-day is in power in Britain. When I last spoke on this subject I demanded, as the people of Great Britain demanded, an alliance with Russia. Such an alliance would have resulted in a brake being applied to Hitler and would have prevented the present crisis. The British people demanded a pact with Russia, but certain organizations in Great Britain were working in the opposite direction. I have just read a book issued by the Left Book Club of Great Britain in which are given the names of persons and organizations which aim at bringing about in Great Britain a state of society similar to that which exists in Germany to-day. If therehad been a more democratic outlook and more concern for the welfare of the people generally, we should have entered into an alliance with Russia andHitlerism would have been overthrown.
– Half of Poland is the price paid for that policy.
– If we had done as the British people demanded twelve months ago - arranged a reciprocal treaty with Russia - the present situation would not have arisen.
Like the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) I believe that Australia would get all the fighters it requires if the men were properly paid. Senator Abbott said that the manhood of Australia was not being conscripted, but that the law provided that men could be called up at any time for the defence of their country. The Labour party believes that one volunteer is worth ten pressed men. It is admitted on all sides that an army of volunteers will do better work than is possible with an army of conscripts. In my opinion the men in the Militia are not paid enough ; they should receive 9s. a day. I arrive at that figure on the basis of the amount, paid to members of the fighting forces during the last war. At that time, when the basic wage was about 7s. ft day, the men were paid 5s. a day. In Tasmania there has been a strong agitation in favour of increased pay for soldiers. I have here a letter which appeared in the Launceston Examiner of the 14th November in answer to another letter on the same subject -
Sir. - It has been stated by yourself and military officers that the “ pay question “ for the military forces is not deterring men from enlisting in the special force. I beg to differ. 1 have asked quite a number of those in the Militia (and others) if they are going to join up, and the answer in every case has been, “ No, notfor five bob a day “. Much has been paid of patriotism, but the Federal Government expects it to be all on the side of the men.
A man is expected to -risk his life for his country, and all the country thinks he is worth, for doing this, is 5s. a day and keep. Twenty years ago they got 5s. a day, and since then the cost of living has made a big jump. Pay the men a decent wage, and there will not then be any hesitation on their part to enlist. Married men are not the only ones who have dependants and other obligations to meet, so single men should also he given a fair deal. . . .
We are engaged in this war in the conviction that our cause is just, and we are determined to win. The war must be paid for, and that should be done, not by reducing wages and the standard of living, but by using the credit of the nation. A Federal Labour Government established the Commonwealth Bank with the object of utilizing the credit of the nation, but since Labour has been in Opposition that institution has been transformed by our political opponents into a mere puppet of the private banks. In order to assist national defence the Commonwealth Bank must have its original charter restored, and when the Labour party is again in power the Commonwealth Bank will occupy the position it formerly held. The cost of war can be met without’ piling up huge debts, and without permitting interest payments to destroy our national life. Under a Labour Government the Commonwealth Bank would1’ provide a freer and fuller service to our people. The rich should pay an insurance premium for the safety of themselves and their possessions, and for the special privileges which they enjoy in the community. In order to assist in the successful prosecution of the war higher taxation should be imposed upon wealthy interests. To ensure a continuance of our security there must be industrial decency, a limitation of the profits made by private enterprise, a cessation of profiteering and amore effective use of national credit. Our duty to the British Commonwealth of Nations does not mean that we shall condone the rascality, robbery and monopoly of those who would batten on the workers. The basis for social readjustment when the war is over should be considered and even established while the struggle is in progress. I have always advocated a national defence contribution based upon profits made during the period of the war and for two years thereafter. Such a contribution should he made by those engaged in any trade or business of any description, including in the case of bodies corporate whose functions consist wholly or mainly of the holding of investments or other property, a tax of 10 per cent. or 20 per cent. according to the amount to be raised. It is true that some businesses have different accounting periods, but a suitable basis could be adopted. The tax should be imposed on the profits of trades and businesses carried, on in Australia whether by companies, individuals or firms, or carried on outside Australia by organizations operating in Australia. The tax would not apply to professions, and computation of profits could be made on the same basis as is used for the income tax. Dobson’s Investment Digest of the 15th November discloses the profits made by thefollowing Australian companies during 1939 : -
Peters American Delicacy Company made the following profits during the last five years : - 1935, £55,720; 1936, £68,517; 1937, £109,320; 1938, £113,491; 1939, £96,812, making a total of £443,860. In addition, £458,423 was placed in reserve. The profits of Toohey’s Limited have been- 1935, £92,750; 1936, £108,819; 1937, £120,137; 1938, £151,973; 1939, £152,288.
Reference has been made to the proposal to despatch an expeditionary force. Although the opinion may be held in some quarters that Australia will not be attacked, we have no definite assurance on that point. The man-power of Australia must be conserved. Our immense area and tremendous coastline tax our resources to such a degree that the maximum of our man-power constitutes the minimum required for our own safety. The Labour party has repeatedly stated that in providing for the security of Australia we render the best possible service to the British Commonwealth of Nations. Members of the Labour party made that statement before ‘ the last general elections, and it is receiving additional support to-day. Of what avail would it be to- Britain if after our man-power had been sent abroad, Britain lost this great storehouse of grain, wool and manufactured products? Imagine the feelings of Australian troops on the other side of the world if they were informed that their country, their homes and their loved ones had come under alien control. Britain will not look in vain to Australia for many commodities which will be of more assistance to it than an expeditionary force. It is exceedingly dangerous to send an expeditionary force abroad until there has been a definite alignment of other powers. In this connexion, I refer honorable senators to the following statement made by Senator Brand in this chamber on the 13th September of this year : -
Nothing would give the people of this country a greater feeling of confidence and composure, than an official announcement that a trained home defence force, equal in numbers to the Australian Imperial Force, is the Government’s objective. Honorable senators should not think for one moment that I am visualizing an expeditionary overseas force. I have already said in this chamber that the despatch of such a force, voluntarily enlisted, is a remote possibility. No government would dare denude this country of its virile manhood unless some extraordinary developments warranted’ such action. No one can foretell what the future has in store for us. I, for one, would not stampede the Government into doing what the Opposition, for political reasons, imagines will be done. Our defence problem is different altogether from that of New Zealand or any other dominion.
I regard Senator Brand as one of the best military strategists in Australia, and his opinion on this important subject is worthy of respect. Following are some startling comparisons showing the area and population of Japan and Australia, and separate figures in respect of Queensland : -
The population of one city in Japan (Tokio) is 6,274,000, as compared with Australia’s total population of 6,806,752. This table discloses that the population of Japan is 91,193,248 greater than that of Australia; and whereas the area of Queensland is more than four times as great as the area of Japan proper, the population of Japan (including Korea and the islands of Formosa and Sakhalin, &c.) is 98 times as great as that of Queensland. If the war in Europe becomes intensified and Holland and Belgium should be attacked the former country may find it impossible to defend its possessions in the East Indies. Japan, which is fighting an undeclared war in China, may invade the Netherlands East Indies, and thus directly menace Australia. As further evidence of the necessity to maintain the security of Australia, instead of sending an expeditionary force overseas, I cite the following paragraph which appeared in the Daily Telegraph of the 20th September -
Listen carefully to our Minister for Defence (Mr. Street) : - “ The British Government has stated that at present the best contribution Australia can make is the defence of Australia herself”.
This is the policy that the Australian Government is carrying out.
It is not a policy of isolationism.
No thinking Australian can be an isolationist when the Empire is at war.
No. It is a policy of intelligent co-operation based upon a cool and expert evaluation of the situation that faces us.
Yet the silly, stale chorus of armchair strategists and self-advertising scaremongers continues. “ We are falling down on the job,” they say. “ There is a deplorable contrast between today and 1914. “ Why aren’t we rushing our young men into expeditionary forces as we did in the last war ? “
And so on…..
And their final argument is usually, “The danger to-day confronting Australia is immeasurably greater than in 1914.”
This argument, at least, is sound.
Because we are much less secure in Australia to-day than we were 25 years ago, because we are not sure of the final attitude of countries now neutral, is the very reason. why we must concentrate on our home defences.
We have another important job to do, of course.
We must speed up our production us much as possible so as to provide England with the food and war material which she needs more urgently than men.
The Menzies Government is going about these important tasks calmly, swiftly, and effectively.
It has not forgotten the spirit of 1914.
Nor has it forgotten the mistakes of 1914.
Our position is much less secure to-day than it was 25 years ago, and as we do not know the attitude which certain neutral powers will adopt, the Government must concentrate on an effective system of home, defence. We must speed up production in order to supply Great Britain with the commodities it requires in order to prosecute the war. At present there is a stalemate on the eastern front, with Hitler holding one half of Poland and Russia holding the other half. What will be the position should Germany he defeated? Shall we then declare war on Russia in order to recover the part of Poland which Russia now holds? The restoration of Poland is impossible, and we should realize that fact. I agree with Senator Abbott that we should make some endeavour to bring about security in the world based on a just peace. I have not much faith in the League of Nations, or in a policy of collective security; but I believe that a conference of the great powers - Great Britain, France, the United States of America, Russia, Germany and Italy - could establish a just and lasting peace based on democratic principles. Australia’s relationship to Japan is of paramount importance to our interests, and we must constantly bear that fact in mind. “We should not send an expeditionary force abroad. We are doing a real jab in supplying Great Britain with all of the things it needs, and we should best continue to do that job by conserving our man-power in order to be able to defend this country most effectively.
.- The present crisis has revealed to the Government that the preparation of our defence services to meet any contingency can no longer be regarded as a spare-time occupation. Camp training for eight or sixteen days sufficed in peace time. That system did not seriously interrupt the civil employment of the volunteer. The permanency of his employment and hia advancement therein were not threatened ; but to-day both he and his employer consider the disadvantages of the longer period of camp training to be too great. The result is that the militiaman either has to hand in his kit or risk the loss of his job at the termination of his intensive camp training. No matter what his pay and the allowances for his family may be, the militiaman has to look to his future. I do not know how many have sought their discharge, but I understand that considerable numbers have done so. Although volunteers are still available, the number in the aggregate is not sufficient to make good the wastage. A much longer period of training is essential for the co-operation and cohesion of the various units that are necessary before a division can take the field and acquit itself with any degree of success. An individual or a unit might be efficient, but unless a unit can take its allotted place and be exercised as a component of a brigade or a division, that brigade or division will be only halfbaked. If I judge public opinion rightly, something more than half-baked divisions is expected. Every honorable senator opposite desires, I feel sure, that our home defence troops should reach the highest standard of efficiency possible under existing conditions. That standard can be achieved only when adequate numbers undergo intensive training over a given period. There should be no inequality of sacrifice. Volunteers who enlisted before the present crisis for sparetime training have practically been subjected to compulsion. Is that fair? Why should they carry the full hurden? Why should the unselfish employer be at a disadvantage in competition with the employer who scowls at the young employee who wants to do his bit? This inequality should be removed by requiring the same sacrifice of every one - employees and employers alike. Universal training is fair and democratic; during ray long years of service I did not find any serious objection raised to universal training except when the trainees’ Saturday sport was interfered with. They enjoyed and look forward to camp training. A few, like the brumbies, were difficult to handle.
– Why, then, were there so many prosecutions?
– I understand that it is intended to cut out Saturday parades and to concentrate on training in camps. My chief criticism of the Government’s proposal for the resumption of universal training early in the new year is that a start is to be made with men 21 years of age. We found, in the Australian Imperial Force, that the men ‘between the ages of 25 and 30 stood the strain best. Those under 25, particularly those 20 and 21 years old, went down like ninepins after carrying heavy packs on long marches. Although they continued gamely next day, their constitution failed them. It might be urged that in the present war infantry ride in mechanized vehicles. That may be so, but they must still dig trenches, and man them day and night, with possibly little or no sleep or rest. Train the 21 -year-old young man by all means, but start first with the 25-year, or even the 27-year class. Let us hope that before the 21-year-old fellow is called into camp, the necessity for training him will have passed.
The Defence Act prohibits the sale or consumption of liquor in compulsory military training camps. When the compulsory system was replaced by the voluntary system in 1929, approval was given for Militia officers’ and sergeants’ messes to have a locker in their respective drill halls. No doubt, when universal training is in full swing next year, the provisions of the Defence Act regarding liquor in camps and drill halls will be strictly observed. A wet canteen has been for years, and still is, part of the regimental life of the permanent soldiers in all of our defended ports. The question of a wet or dry canteen refers more particularly to camps of the 2nd Australian Imperial Force. The personnel of this force are now permanent men of mature age, like the Royal Australian Artillery and the Royal Australian Engineers manning the forts. Unlike the old Australian Imperial Force, they may remain in Australia until this present war ends. Why should they not be treated in the same way as the permanent gunner or sapper? Should the 2nd
Australian Imperial Force go overseas, the wet canteens in the British Army will open to them. I can see no valid reason, why this force should not have a wet canteen under military control and administration. The hours would be regulated and the quality of liquor guaranteed. Those who do not desire a glass of beer after a strenuous day’s work can be provided for in a Young Men’s Christian Association or Salvation Army hut, with stimulants to their taste. To deny members of the 2nd Australian Imperial Force such liquid refreshment as they are accustomed to in private life is distinctly unfair. It penalizes patriotism. On the other hand, a wet canteen properly supervised obviates illicit trading and excessive drinking and consumption of injurious liquor. ‘
asked why there were so many prosecutions if, as I said, no serious objection was raised by our young men to universal training in the years gone by. If the honorable senator examines the figures be will find that those prosecutions did not represent more than 5 per cent, of the total number of trainees. The majority of the prosecutions were for non-attendance at home training - Saturday afternoon - parades.
– The figure would be less than 5 per cent.
– Yes. That is my answer to the honorable senator.
– When the Defence Estimates were under consideration I stated- that I was more concerned as to how the money required would be raised, than as to how it would be expended, although, of course, it is -the duty of the Government, in the expenditure of such money, to avoid overlapping and waste. I also said twelve months ago that the present monetary system had brought the world to a state of poverty, and was rapidly heading for a war that would destroy our civilization. As the result of my experience in the League of Nations Union, I thought that machinery was already at hand to maintain world peace. I find, however, that the financial manager of the league, Sir Robert Strakosch, was appointed to that position by Mr. Montague Norman, the governor of the
Bank of England. I repeat that we shall never have lasting peace on earth so long as the present monetary system remains, and I propose to give very cogent reasons for that statement. I have taken the following extract from The Financiers and The Nation, by the Right Honorable Thomas Johnston, P.O., who’ was once Lord Privy Seal and, therefore, a man whose opinion on this subject carries considerable weight: -
When the whistle blew for the start of the great war in August, 1914, the Bank of England possessed only nine millions sterling* of a gold reserve, and as the Bank of England was the bankers’ bank, this sum constituted the effective reserve of all the other banking institutions in Great Britain. The bank managers at the outbreak of the war were seriously afraid that the depositing public, in a panic, would demand the return of their money. And, inasmuch as the deposits and savings left in the hands of the bankers by the depositing public had very largely been sunk by the bankers in enterprises which, at the best, could not repay the borrowed capital quickly, and which, in several and large-scale instances were likely to be submerged altogether in the stress of war and’ in the collapse of great areas of international trade, it followed that if there were a widespread panicky run upon the banks, the bankswould be unable to pay, and the whole credit system would collapse, to the ruin of millions of people.
I explained previously how that happened in August, 1914.
Private enterprise banking thus being on tho verge of collapse, the Government (Mr. Lloyd George at the time was Chancellor of the Exchequer) hurriedly declared a moratorium, i.e. it authorized the hanks not to pay out (which in any event the banks could not do), and it extended the August Bank Holiday for another three days. During these three or four days when the banks and stock exchanges were closed, the bankers held anxious negotiation with the Chancellor ‘of the Exchequer. And one of them has placed on record that “he (Lloyd George) did everything that we asked him to do “. When the banks re-opened, the public discovered that, instead of getting their money back in gold,, they were paid in a new legal tender of Treasury notes (the £1 notes in black and the 0s~. notes in red colours). This new currency had been issued by the State, was backed by the credit of the State, and was issued to the banks to prevent the banks from utter collapse. The public cheerfully accepted the new notes and nobody talked about inflation.
Dr. Walter Leaf, late chairman of the Westminster Bank, said: “The amount and manner of the issue was left to the absolute discretion of the Treasury. This was essentially a War Loan, free of interest, for an unlimited period, and, as such, was a highly profitable expedient from the point of view of the Government “. . . No sooner had Mr. Lloyd George got the bankers out of their difficulties in the autumn of 1914 by the issue of the Treasury money, than they were round again at the Treasury door explaining forcibly that the State must on no account issue any more money on this interest-free basis; if the war was to be run, it must be run with borrowed money, money upon which interest must be paid, and they were the gentlemen who would sec to the financing of a good juicy War Loan at 3) per cent, interest, and to that last proposition the Treasury yielded. The war was not to be fought with interest-free money, and/or with conscription of wealth; though it was to be fought with conscription of life. Many small businesses were to be closed and their proprietors sent overseas as redundant, and without any compensation for their losses, while finance, as we shall see, was to be heavily and progressively remunerated.
As each War Loan became exhausted the lenders upon the first lower interest . War Loans were permitted to transfer into the later higher interest loans, and usurers’ interest upon credit was added to the national burden, so that to-day the national burden is insupportable and the nation staggers along cutting the bread and cheese of its poor, and starving the social services in a vain attempt to meet the charges incurred in the Great War Loan ramps.
I foretold that this would happen. It happened in Australia in the last war, and it will happen again. The matter which I have just read provides sufficient reasons why peace cannot he maintained under the present monetary system. Mr. Johnston continued -
The report of the Cunliffe Committee ( 1927 ) relates the story of the progressive piling up of our War Debt burdens. But it is in no wise a complete chronique scandaleuse of usury in war-time, nor did its authors intend it to be. We find in its pages no reference or hint of the magical process by which, while the nation struggled almost at death’s door for its very existence, and while masses of our manhood were daily being blown into bundles of bloody rags, our banking fraternities continued to create for themselves a great volume of new credit and to lend that credit to us at interest, and indeed, at progressively increased interest; no reference to the fact that by this manufacture of bankers’ credit some portion, variously estimated in amount, of what now stands as the public debt, was simply fabricated for private ends and was not a bona-fide loan of real wealth to the nation. Professor Soddy has estimated that the bankers actually created two thousand million pounds, no less, of this bank credit, and lent it out to us at 5 per cent. That means £100,000,000 a year on nothing. The first war loan at interest was floated in
November, 1914, at 3-J per cent., and the investors were only required to subscribe £95 for each £100 of scrip.
The investors received £100 worth of bonds or scrip, hut contributed only £95 worth of bank credit - not money.
The total amount of the loan was £350,000,000, but as there were not £350,000,000 of money in the country, what the State received was credit - the pledged credit of individuals and corporations and banking houses (the same banking houses which, as we have seen, three months earlier had been begging the Treasury notes on loan from the Government to, save their precious banking system from bankruptcy).
The second war loan was issued at par in June, 1915, at 44 per cent, interest; and such investors and corporations and banking houses as had held the previous war loan stock at 34 per cent, were permitted to transfer into the new loan at the increased rate of interest. Actually, of the 4-) per cent, loan, the sum of £176,000,000 was not new loan money at all, but was a considerable portion of the old 34 per cent, loan silently “ jumping the counter “ on the higher rate. And, in addition to that, the holders of no less than £138,000,000 of the new 44 per cent, loan were old holders of the 24 per cent, consols and 2 per cent, and 2) per cent, annuities, who also had been permitted to transfer into the higher rate of interest yield. These conversions at the higher rate of interest meant a clear gift of at least £4,000,000 a year in extra interest to the money lenders.
But the story of this great finance ramp of June, 1915, is incomplete without a reference being made to the pledge extracted from the state by the finance houses and banks that, should there be any subsequent issue of war loan at a still higher rate of interest than 44 per cent., the holders of the new 44 per cent, loan (£901,000,000 in amount) would be entitled to convert at a higher scale, and this the great bulk of them succeeded in doing.
We must note another, even more amazing and more impudent, of the methods of debt and interest concoction in these delirious wartimes. The banks actually issued circulars to thousands of their customers inviting them to apply for a portion of the new war loan and to borrow credit from the banks for that purpose at 3 per cent. The customer was to put up no money for his war loan, no margin, no securities. The bank was to supply the credit, or rather was to back the customer’s credit, and was to charge the customer 3 per cent, interest for so doing; but the State was pledging itself to pay 44 per cent, interest on the war loan which the customer was purchasing with his 3 per cent, money. The customer, after allowing for Mb income tax, &c, was clearly 1 per cent, better off on the deal.
It is indeed difficult to write in cold blood of these financial dodges, arranged between the city and the Treasury, and committed upon a nation in extremis.
In March, 1916, the Bank of England, without any apparent sense of shame, issued press advertisements which ran : “ If you cannot fight, you can help your country by investing all you can in5 per cent. exchequer bonds . . . Unlike the soldier, the investor runs no risk”.
Yet all these efforts surely paled before the shameless greed of the third great war loan in January, 1917. . No foreign conqueror could have devised a more complete robbery and enslavement of the British nation. The rate of interest in war loan was jumped to 5 per cent. (or at the option of the investor 4 per cent. free of income tax until October, 1942), and the holders of previous war loans and Treasury bills and war expenditure certificates were invited to’ come in and convert their old stock into the higher rates of booty, and for each £100 of stock in the new loan, only £95 had to be subscribed, so that the rate of interest really had been raised to 5½ per cent. Into this 5 per cent. war loan tumbled the holders of £820,000,000 of the 4½ per cent. loan, thus securing an extra i per cent., or £4,000,000, in addition to the increases which many of them had secured when the rate of interest was previously jumped from per cent. to 4½ per cent. And not only were the 4½ per centers permitted to convert into the 5 per cent. war loan, but the holders of £130,000,000 of Treasury bills and £280,500,000 of exchequer bonds also converted. The new 5 per cent. loan of £2,075,750,000 secured only, in fact, £844,750,000 of new loans, the balance being paper conversions from the old lower interest stocks, whereby the converters were enabled to dig deeper into the national pocket than they had hitherto done.
– Can the honorable senator tell me with which part of the statements under discussion he is dealing?
– I am discussing war expenditure, which is inevitable in connexion with war preparations. When I heard yesterday of what the Premier of Tasmania had said at the recent meeting of the Loan Council I glanced at the report in the Hobart Mercury, but found no reference to the profound statement by Mr. Dwyer-Gray.
– The honorable senator must confine his remarks to war matters.
– I contend that the discussion of war expenditure involves consideration of the problem of war finance.
– We have not discussed war expenditure in these statements.
– Can there be war expenditure without money? I shall tell the Government how it could finance its war expenditure. I have given the information before, but it is necessary for me to say it over and over again. In 1936, the Royal Commission on Monetary and Banking Systems presented its report.
-The honorable senator is quite right in saying that he has expressed his views on finance over and over again, but he is not at liberty to reiterate them when debating the statements before the Senate.
– I bow to your ruling, Mr. President; but, in view of the fact that a profound statement by the Premier of Tasmania has been kept from the public, there should be some way of informing the people in regard to it. It has been stated by the Prime . Minister that , there will be no suppression of news, and I was wondering whether the speech by the Premier of Tasmania had been censored. If it has, a great injustice has been done to the people of that State.
– Iam not preventing the honorable senator from continuing his speech, but I request him to refrain from repetition.
– To my mind, it is most important that we should discuss the means by which money is to be raised for war purposes. Since this Government takes no notice of the recommendations of a royal commission appointed by the Lyons Government, somebody should remind it of its duty to the taxpayers. The quotation which I was making continues -
By June, 1919, we came to what was gleefully described as the Joy Loan. The rate of interest was nominally 4 per cent., but the investor had only to pay £80 for each £100 of stock, so that the yield was 5 per cent., and the holders of the previous4½ per cent. war loan, various exchequer bonds, and the first three series of national war bonds were accepted at par. The total issue of the loan was £409,000,000, but £120,000,000 of this sum was simple conversion from a lower rate of interest and really meant an annual increase of over half a million sterling for the taxpayer to meet in interest. . . . The Joy Loan, moreover, was made more joyous still by a clause decreeing that stock costing £80 was to be accepted in payment of death duties as if that stock were the equivalent of £100 - a clear gift of over 17 per cent. to the heirs of the patriotic lenders . . .
When, in 1921, a load of national war bonds was being converted into an additional burden to the state, the Times was constrained to utter a solemn protest and warning.
As I regard this matter as of the utmost importance to the people of Australia, I ask leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Senator McLeay) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till Wednesday next, at 3 p.m.
Northam Military Camp - Defence Administrative : Staff - Australian Imperial Force Emblem- Militia Forces: Exemptions and Protection in Civil Employment - Marketing of Apples and Pears.
Motion (by Senator McLeay) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Replies which were not to hand when questions upon notice were asked this morning are now available.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army -
The Minister for the Army has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army -
Will he supply the Senate with a statement showing -
Increase of defence administrative staff in Victoria since 30th September, 1939?
Cost of overtime in Victoria for the Defence Department over the same period?
The Minister for the Army has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army -
The Minister for the Army has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister, representing the Minister for the Army -
Will there be any exemptions from compulsory military training for boys who are sole supporters of their mothers and younger sisters and brothers, especially where they are the sole manager of a business or a farm?
That matter is now receiving consideration.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army -
The Minister for the Army has supplied the following answers : -
– I ask the Minister for Commerce (Senator McLeay) whether he will be good enough, at as early a date as is convenient, to make a statement relating to the Government’s proposal for the marketing of apples and pears. This subject is causing anxiety to growers, particularly in Tasmania. There is a good deal of confusion regarding this scheme and the price likely to be received by the growers. I should also like to know if the attention of the Minister has been directed to a statement made by the Minister of Agriculture in Tasmania, and, if so, whether the statement is a correct representation of the Commonwealth Government’s attitude in connexion with the acquisition of the fruit crop. As the harvesting of the crop is fast approaching, it would be in the interests of all concerned if the Minister would makea complete statement as soon as possible.
– in reply - The statement which appeared in the press, and purporting to have been made by the Minister of Agriculture in Tas mania, was not correct in all its details. I received a deputation from members of both Houses of this Parliament and representing all parties, requesting that the advance be increased from 2s. to 2s. 6d. a case for apples, and from 3s. to 3s. 6d. a case, for pears. I have also received an urgent request from a large section of the peargrowers in Victoria, directing attention to the fact that the pear crop in that State is not likely to be so large as was anticipated, and I am to receive a deputation from their organization on Wednesday. Their request is that Victorian pears be not included in the Commonwealth apple and pear acquisition scheme. As I do not yet know whether we shall get refrigerated space for overseas shipments, I am not in a position to reply to the deputation, but I shall inform honorable senators of the Government’s intentions as soon as possible. I hope to be able to make a complete statement next week.
– I am not asking that a statement be made now, but as early as possible.
– I shall do that. A preliminary statement has been prepared giving certain details of the pool which the Apple and Pear Board is considering for the marketing of apples in the event of the Government being able to get freight. If honorable senators wish to see that statement, spare copies are available.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Australian Wool Board - Third Annual Report, for year 1938-39.
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1939, No. 154.
National Security Act - National Security (Prices) Regulations - Declarations Nos. 18-19.
National Security Act - National Security (Prices) Regulations - Orders Nos. 32, 33, 34.
Supplementary Convention between the United Kingdom and Iceland for the Amendment of the Extradition Treaty of 31st March, 1873 (London, 25th October, 1938).
Senate adjourned at 4.7 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 23 November 1939, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1939/19391123_senate_15_162/>.