15th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. J. B. Hayes) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Development take steps to advertise effectively the fact that work is not obtainable at the Maribyrnong Munitions Factory? I make this request because of the large number of applications which are made each day for work at that establishment.
– I shall bring the matter under the notice of the Minister for the Army. 2nd AUSTRALIAN IMPERIAL FORCE.
Ingleburn and Redbank Camps.
– Has the attention of the’ Minister representing the Minister for the Army been directed to the following statement by Mr. Eric Wren, a captain in the 1st 2 Brigade of the old Australian Imperial Force, which appeared in the Sydney Sun of yesterday’s date : -
Hundreds of men of the 2nd Australian
Imperial Force Brigade in camp atIngleburn have not even one pair of socks. Hundreds have only one singlet. Handkerchiefs are luxuries.
Without proper uniforms, the men have to wear heavy military overcoats, even on the hottest day, when they come to Sydney, to hide the motley collection of clothing that they wear.
It seems that the Defence Department has fallen down badly on its job.
Referring to the conditions at Brisbane, the following statement also appears in the Sun: -
Three thousand, soldiers are being fed daily at Redbank, and yet in this hot climate the camp has no refrigeration. There has been a heat wave for a week. Already considerable waste of food has resulted, and recently a large consignment of meat was condemned and buried.
I ask the Minister whether the statements are true, and if so, what steps are to be taken by the department to rectify these matters?
– I shall bring the honorable senator’s complaint to the attention of the Minister for the Army.
– by leave - On Tuesday of last week I promised Senator Brown that I would endeavour to obtain some information as to the working of the Department of Information. The Minister has now furnished me with the following statement : -
As the Prime Minister pointed out, when announcing to the House the decision of the Government to establish a Ministry of Information, the duty of the new department is to assemble and distribute over the widest possible field., and by every available agency, the truth about the cause for which we are fighting in this war and information bearing upon all phases of the struggle; also, by its many agencies, to keep the minds of our people as enlightenedas possible, and their spirit firm. The department will be conducted on strictly non-party lines. The Department of Information is responsible only for the censorship of press, cinema films, and broadcasting; the censorship of communications - postal, telegraph, and overseas - remains the responsibility ofthe Department of Defence.
The head-quarters of the department have been established in Melbourne, in offices at an annual rental of £866. This, however, does not include the rent of the Chief Publicity Censor’s headquartersa sum of£178 - or £328 for the District Censor and the Victorian branch of the Department of Information.
A branch office of the department, under the control of a Deputy Director, has been set up in each capital city and in Launceston, as it is my aim to make this work as autonomous as possible upon a voluntary State basis. The estimated expenditure for the current financial year is £22,500, which will be expended in the main in rents, salaries and payments to outside contributors of literary matter.
The staff so far appointed is a small one. At the central office, in addition to the Director, there are five journalists, with seven representatives spread over the six States. These are in addition to a limited clerical staff and typists.
The duties of the head-quarters staff are in the main- to initiate, news-edit and direct the supply of information to its various channels throughout the Commonwealth. Head-quarters will cooperate very closely with the State representatives. To expedite the supply of articles, photographs, cinema films and material for broadcasting, the supply for each State will, whenever practicable, be issued direct from each State office.
The department might have confined itself merely to the supply of information to the metropolitan and provincial newspapers of Australia to the degree to which those journals were prepared to find space for it. It appeared to me, however, that if we were to be content with this field only, we should be neglecting a great deal of the department’s potential, usefulness. It was, therefore, decided to invite all organized bodies in the Commonwealth to co-operate with the department in a voluntary capacity, in spreading as widely and as fully as possible all available information having a direct and an indirect bearing upon the war. In brief, the Government felt that, having taken the grave step of committing the people of Australia to this conflict, in co-operation with the rest of the British. Empire and France, it should not shirk the duty of assisting bv every means in its power the great Press of Australia, the broadcasting stations and every other agency, including the innumerable cinema activities, to tell the people why they were at war and as much as possible about every phase of the war.
A further decision was to set up in each State a writers’ or publicists’ committee, to co-operate with the Government in the selection and presentation of literary material upon matters of war interest generally. Similarly, in addition to this, voluntary committees are being formed of high executives in the world of advertising. These will meet frequently in co-operation with the department and will give to us the full benefit of their experience and wits in determining means by which this information campaign may be most effectively conducted.
In the very few weeks during which the organizing of this great voluntary body has been proceeding, I have been deeply impressed by the instant and widespread response of prominent men and women, representative of every kind of interest - religious, educational, social, professional, tr.ade union, financial, industrial, both primary and secondary, commercial, sporting and other - to the request that they might lend their aid to the work in hand. To all of them I express the thanks of the Government.
At the outset, I entertained some doubt as to the measure of the assistance which the department would be able to give to the great metropolitan dailies, but week by week we are finding that we can be of real help even to these very highly organized newspapers. To the weekly and other periodical press, it has been made clear that we can assist, not perhaps all of them, but at least a great many of them, very materially. The provincial press, which plays a far greater part in the affairs of the Commonwealth than is always recognised, has so far, with little exception, readily taken advantage of the new information service. A sound beginning has also been made with the magazines and other periodical press.
Up to date, regular services are being offered to 600 country and suburban newspapers. Some 60 per cent, of these appear to be using the service in full, and of the balance only 10 per cent, have refused it in full. More than 30 provincial dailies have accepted the offer of a day by day commentary upon foreign affairs, the war, and kindred subjects. Many special articles have been supplied to daily, weekly and bi-weekly papers and the periodical and specialized press, and have been freely published. There is a keen and rapidly-growing demand for photographs which deal in the main with Australian wartime activities.
Very little of the matter supplied by the department is published with any reference to its source. This, however, is a matter of no concern. The sole object is to have the material distributed and published.
The cinematograph branch of the Department of Commerce has been taken over by the department for the duration of the war, with the understanding that special- attention is to be given to the great rural activities engaged in the production and handling of produce for overseas. Films dealing with the three defence services are in active course of preparation and others are in contemplation. All interests engaged in cinema entertainments have shown a generous disposition to find room in their programmes for the department’s output.
The freest possible use of broadcasting in Australia will be commenced almost immediately. Arrangements for the initiation of overseas broadcasting from Australia are on the eve of completion. It is the intention of the department to broadcast to many countries for some hours during the seven days of the week, and in a number of languages. The central feature of the overseas programme will be, in the first place, a talk supplied by the department upon Australia’s instant and full-hearted co-operation in the war, and the steps it is taking for the defence of the Commonwealth; its war programme, and its development generally. The Australian Broadcasting Commission, with the fullest approbation and the most helpful support of my colleague, the Postmaster-General, has very cordially agreed to prepare the programme, other than the information talk, in co-operation with the department.
At the present time the Australian” Broadcasting Commission does not possess stations equipped with sufficient power for broadcasting - with limited exception - to the outside world. The assistance of Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited has, therefore, been sought, and. the prompt response of that company has been much appreciated by the Government. For six months at least stations of Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited will do the greater part of the overseas transmissions, but it is anticipated that by the end of that time the Australian Broadcasting Commission will have stations with sufficient power to take over this work. 1 had hoped to have this service in operation at an earlier date, but the arrangements have occupied more time than I anticipated.
Although, as I have indicated, a substantial beginning has been made in the actual distribution of information, the activities of the members of the headquarters staff, who actually commenced work on the 9th October, have been in the main taken up in the organization of the voluntary bodies which will, I hope, play a most important part in the task upon which we are to be together engaged.
The aim is to set up in each State a voluntary information council. To arrive at this council, organizing meetings are being held in each ‘of the six capital cities, with an additional one at Launceston. I might mention that these meetings were brought about by more than 2,500 individual letters of invitation, addressed by name to the presidents of different bodies, and personally signed by myself. The response was a very wonderful one. The fifth meeting is being held today in Perth. At the others, which I attended personally, in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide, in that order, the gatherings, all of them very large, were more representative of every interest and section of the Australian people than any I have attended at any time. I mention this as an indication of the profound interest shown by our people in this tragic ordeal which has been forced upon us.
In each case there was the warmest disposition to co-operate with the Government, or I should say, with the Parliament as, a whole, in the prosecution of the war, and to assist, in every practicable way, the new department. Meetings will be held immediately in
Hobart and Launceston. As soon us working conditions permit, it is intended to establish honorary branches of the organizations throughout th, provincial cities and larger towns of the Commonwealth, but this will take some little time.
The. organizations represented at these meetings are now being gathered, as far as meets with their wishes, into groups, unless indeed, as in the case of the friendly societies and many other units, they are already associated. These groups will elect’ small and, as I hope, active committees, and the committees, in turn, will elect a council for each of the six States.
It is intended that the committees shall form the point of working contact with the State executives of the department, acting all the time with the concurrence of the councils. We hope, through active discussion with these committees, to ascertain all available channels for the distribution of information, and, of course, also the class of matter desired in each case. Every possible effort will be made to supply, expeditiously, information of any kind bearing upon the war requested by the committee. Where organizations prefer to stand individually, the department will be no less pleased to consult with them, and meet their wishes.
There are published within Australia a few thousand periodical publications serving special interests. Some of these are, for example, the various trade journals of . substantial importance, whilst they run down to very small productions having, perhaps, only a local circulation. The organizations responsible for these publications are all being approached, and the department will be prepared to supply to them matter of a kind that meets with their distinctive demand, and of a wordage adaptable to their available space.
Apart from this activity through these special publications, however, it is intended to engage in the production of leaflets and pamphlets for circulation at meetings of all organized bodies acting in co-operation with us, which make a request for such letterpress. The field here is very great indeed. For example, in the State of New South Wales, no less than 1,200 meetings of friendly societies are held each week.
I could go on almost indefinitely indicating channels by which matter of a helpful kind might be circulated. My purpose has been, however, at this stage only to give to the Senate an indication of the purpose and early work of the new organization.
Finally, I come to the committees of authors and writers generally which are being set UP in each State. Here, again, the response to the appeal from the department for co-operation has been of a most generous kind. These committees will include, in addition to well-known authors, many writers of learning and distinction from the faculties of the universities, from journalism, and from the professions, and the best of our free-lance contributors. They will, it is anticipated, supply, in co-operation with the journalists engaged upon the staff, all the written information which is needed to supply what will become, 1 confidently trust, a very great demand from every corner of Australia.
To facilitate the work of these contributors, the department has been for some weeks engaged upon precis writing over a very wide range of subjects, directly and indirectly associated with the war. Each of these summaries will include the background of its particular subject, and will bc brought up to date from day to day. Copies of these will not only be available to our organized writers, but I hope will also be of value to honorable members of this Parliament, and, indeed, to any one in the Commonwealth who shows a disposition .to draw upon them for public speaking or for writing.
Moreover, speakers’ notes will be issued as soon as arrangements can be made, and these will be revised from time to time and kept up to date.
The organization is a comprehensive and ambitious one, but, nevertheless, I anticipate that it will be fully in action before the end of the year. The department is already, as I have pointed out, performing a definite service, and I can assure the House that each day from now on its contribution as an auxiliary in the national war effort will advance in quality, in range and in volume. I lay on the table the following paper: -
– by leave - I regret that the Minister did not move that the paper be .printed in order that honorable senators might have an opportunity to debate his statement. As I made some remarks on this newly-created department in my speech on Thursday last on other papers tabled by the Minister for the Interior (Senator Foll) and the Minister in Charge of War Service Homes I shall be very brief at this juncture.
The statement just read by the Minister is discreetly silent upon the real activities of this newly-created department. Although the Minister has alluded to the small expenditure incurred in this direction, the department is proving expensive. Its cost to date is estimated at £22,500, and, probably, that provision will enable it to cany on only until the end of the year. It has been created for two purposes, about one of which the Minister said nothing. There was in operation in connexion with the defence forces a defence censorship.
– I mentioned that.
– I do not recall the Minister mentioning that point. Perhaps he referred to it before I had recovered from my astonishment that a further statement in addition to those appearing on the business paper was to be made. In Queensland, and that is the only State for which I can speak in this regard, a censorship is in operation. I do not like censorship, nor does my party.
– The honorable senator’s party tried to censor Messrs. Beasley and Lang quite recently.
– I am glad that at least one Minister endeavours to keep himself up to date, if not with matters connected with the department he controls, at least with goings on in the world outside. I happen to know the individuals who are operating the censorship m Queensland. They are the persons who did this work in that State in 1914-18. They are not nearly so savage in their censorship on this occasion as they were in the last war. I am not suggesting for a moment that this change is due to any improvement of their conception of their job. It is due entirely to the fact that the psychology of the people in regard to the present war differs vastly from that existing in respect of the last war. The fact of the matter is that the censors were not opening enough letters, and were not putting a sufficient number of people into internment camps. Consequently, the Government has created this new department so that now any whisperer in the community who desires to put away a personal enemy whose name is not Brown, Jones or Robinson, but might include “ seh “ or “ ski “ need only whisper, not to the Minister for Information, who will be a long way from the scene of operations, as people of this type usually are when anything, dangerous is abroad, but to some hireling of the department, “ Keep your eye on this individual; I think that he has Nazi sympathies “.
– I rise to a point of order, Mr. President. The Leader of the Opposition was given leave to make a statement, but it appears to me that he is debating the paper tabled by the Minister.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. J. B. Hayes). - The honorable senator has been given leave by the Senate to make a statement. Any other honorable senator may be given the same privilege.
– The last remark which I made is based on my knowledge of what is going on. Speaking on behalf of the Minister for Information, the Minister said that this organization is non-party. That is contrary to the facts so far as Queensland is concerned, and also so far as my information regarding the position in the other States goes. I was not invited to attend the meeting held in Brisbane.
– Neither was any member of the Minister’s party.
– That may be so, but if there be one individual in Queensland who is known to take an interest in public affairs I am that individual. Parliament was not sitting at the time, and I was available to attend the meeting. No industrial organization was represented at that meeting, which was held in the Albert Hall, and at which, we are told, 500 delegates from various organizations were present. I am in a position to say that half of those delegates did not have the authority of their organizations to be there. Not one of the friendly societies was represented. I do not know whether invitations were issued to those societies. I am merely saying that they were not represented. None of the organizations represented at the meeting was connected in any way with the Labour party or the Trades and Labour Council. All the delegates represented organizations entirely antagonistic to anything savouring of working-class interestsand favorable only to war propaganda. I say that definitely.”
The Department of External Affairs has been doing excellent work, to which I have referred in appreciative terms on more than one occasion in this chamber. What was wrong with extending the operations of that department, and allowing it to carry on its splendid work ? However, let us judge the newly-created Department of Information on what it has accomplished. It has given no information to the people which differs from that which was beingsent out by the Department of External Affairs, or from the frequent statements relating to the war made during the last eighteen months in this chamber. We have not been told anything new by the department. Whether honorable senators opposite are in possession of information in addition to what we have been told I do not know, but I do know that the public has been told nothing new. Sir Henry Gullett, speaking in the House of Representatives, told honorable members nothing which had not already been reported in the press. I shall not abuse the privilege accorded to me by honorable senators in granting me leave to make this statement by going into details; but I say definitely that this organization has the two objectives to which I have referred, namely, the over-lordship of the censorship, and the over-lordship of the dissemination of information regarding the war. The real reason why the department has been organized, as a constituent part of it - the press representatives appointed - discloses, is that nothing shall be given to the people except United Australia party propaganda. This course is being followed in order to enable the United Australia party to escape paying for its own propaganda. Instead, the burden of paying for the party’s propaganda will be placed on the shoulders of the taxpayers.
– The honorable senator knows that that is not correct.
– I sincerely believe that that is the real, though not the ostensible, motive for the creation of this new department. If an election were not due towards the end of 1940 this department would never have been established. That is the challenge which I now throw out in this chamber, and I am positive that events will justify the two statements which I have made, particularly the latter. All the information circulated by this department will be prepared with the definite object of impressing the people of this country with the notion that the only political party capable . of seeing this country through the. present crisis is that led by the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). I challenge any honorable senator opposite to produce one report prepared by the Department of Information or by any of itshenchmen - I know the people who are associated with the organization in Brisbanewhich, the Minister says, is not of a partisan character. I thank the Senate for having given me leave to make a few remarks on this subject; but I . suggest that if other statements similar to that which the Minister (Senator Collett) has just read are to be brought before this chamber, the Minister submitting them should conclude his speech with the motion, ‘“‘That the paper be printed “, in order to enable the subject to be debated by honorable senators.
SenatorCOLLETT.- On the 23rd November, Senator Courtice asked the following question, upon notice: -
Can the Minister 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?
The Minister for Information has provided the following answer to the honorable senator’s question: -
Yes, it did not; no.
I presume the answer means that the information did not emanate from that department, and that the source of the information is not known.
– On the 23rd November, Senator Keane asked the following question, upon notice: -
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 am now able to state that the suggestion will receive- consideration.
The PRESIDENT announced the receipt from the Governor-General of a message informing the Senate that the proposed law, an act to amend the Judiciary Act 1903-1937, which was reserved for the. signification of His Majesty’s pleasure, had been laid before His Majesty in Council, and that His Majesty had, by an order in council dated the 5th day of October, 1939, confirmed, approved and declared his assent to it. The Governor-General had caused the King’s assent to be proclaimed in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, No. 147, dated the 23rd November,. 1939.
asked the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
In the case of a poultry-farmer who does notgrow 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?
– All new crop wheat available for sale by farmers has been acquired by the Commonwealth and cannot be sold direct by farmers. Consideration, however, is being given to the devising . of means to enable poultryfarmers to secure their supplies with as little inconvenience as possible to them.
Manufacture in Australia.
asked the Minister representing -the Minister for Supply and Development, upon notice -
– The Acting Minister for Supply and Development has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, ‘ upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers : -
Establishment in Western Australia.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon no tice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers : - 1 and 2. There is no necessity at the present stage for the establishment of munitions factories in Western Australia. Should the necessity for the creation of additional factories arise the facilities available in Western Australia will be considered equally with those available elsewhere.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Army has supplied the following answers : -
The question of the source of supply for any timber used was the responsibility of the firms concerned. 4, 5 and6. More vehicles will be required shortly and the capacity of Western Australian firms to undertake a portion of the work will receive consideration.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon, notice -
– The Minister for the Army has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minister, representing the Treasurer, upon notice–
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answers: -
Provision of Fresh Fruit - Wet Canteens
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice - «
For the purpose of providing fresh fruit for the Australian Imperial and Militiamen . billeted in camp and for the purpose of aiding the apple industry, will the Government issue instructions that an apple per day be issued to each soldier while undergoing intensive training in camp?
– The Minister for the Army has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’s question.: -
Existing regulations give camp Command suits discretion to include apples or other fresh fruits. in camp menus, providedthat the commuted cash value of the standard daily ration is not exceeded.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Army has supplied the following information : -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’s questions: - 1 to 6. I regret I am not in a position to furnish information as to the dismissal of employees by the institutions referred to. I am aware, however, that these bodies have been experiencing some difficulty in arranging loans. The Commonwealth Bank has to some extent assisted in the provision of finance for these bodies. I remind the honorable senator of the arrangements recently made by the Government for the expenditure of £2,000,000 on defence works of low priority, with the object of alleviating the unemployment problem. Some of these works have already been put in hand, and the commencement of the remainder is being expedited.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Army has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
Pay - 5s. per day (plus1s. per day deferred’ pay. after embarkation ) .
Separation allowance - from the 1st May. 1915, for wife1s. 5d. per day; for each child 4½d. per day.
Prior to the 1st May, 1915, separation allowance was payable only prior to embarkation, the rates being - for wife,1s. 3d. per day; for each child under sixteen years of age, 7½d. per day. The total pay and allowances therefore for a married private with one child after the 1st May, 1915, was6s. 9½d. per day (plus 1s. per day deferred pay after embarkation).
Pay - 5s. per day (plus1s. per day deferred pay after embarkation).
Separation allowance - for wife, 3s. per day; for each child under sixteen years of age, 1s. per day.
The total pay and allowances for a married private with one child is 9s. per day (plus 1s. per day deferred pay after embarkation).
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Air, upon notice -
– The Acting Minister for Air has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Development, upon notice -
– The Acting Minister for Supply and Development has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
National Brush Company Limited, £. Dixon and Company,
Palmer and Royal and Company,
Hindes (Australia) Limited,
Giboud Proprietary Limited,
Thos. Mitchell and Company Proprietary Limited,
Paul and Grey Limited,
British Xylonite Australia Proprietary Limited,
South Australia Brush Company,
Burfitt Selth and Company.
Western Australian Brushware,
These particulars cover only contracts arranged by the Genera] Contract Board and do not include the names of firms who may have supplied direct to ‘defence services - or under Commonwealth Tender Board - or local State contracts. 2nd AUSTRALIAN IMPERIAL FORCE.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Army has furnished the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
Undertaking at Brisbane.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Development, upon notice -
– The information sought by the honorable senator is as follows : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
Is Major-General Drake-Brockman, while performing his military duties, treated in the same way as Commonwealth public servants, that is, having his salary made up for sixteen days only; or does he receive his judicial salary in addition to that of his rank of Major-General ; if so, why?
– The Minister for the Army has supplied the following information in reply to the honorable senator’s question : -
In the case of public servants entitled to long-service leave, salary as well as military pay is paid. His Honour Judge Drake- Brockman has been given six months’ leave of absence, to which he is entitled by length of judicial service. During his leave he will, of course, receive his judicial salary. He has not up to date drawn any pay in respect of the military duties which he is performing.
Salaries of Members
asked the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
What are the salaries of members of the Central Wool Committee appointed by the Government ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
The chairman of the committee, Mr. A. F. Bell, accepted office free of any emolument; the executive member, Mr. N. W. Yeo, is engaged full time at a salary of £2,000 per annum; the fees fixed for other members are £500 per annum; several members are not drawing their fees.
Australia’s War Policy - Ministerial Changes - Wa r Cabinet - Economic Cabinet - Compulsory Military Training for Home Defence - Activities of Fighting Services - Defence Works - Civil Works and Buildings - The War and International Relations.
Debate resumed from the 23rd November (vide page 1533) on motion by Senator Foll (vide page 1322) and on motion by Senator Collett (vide page 1329)-
That the paper be printed.
– When I obtained leave to continue my remarks on Thursday last I was about to discuss the British loan issued in 1921. Concerning that transaction I quote the following from the London Times: -
There is being enacted before our eyes at this moment a most extraordinary performance in finance: and yet the spectacle seems visible only to a few . ‘ . . . The Government offering holders of £632,000,000 of 5 per cent. National War Bonds an opportunity, quite unsought, of exchanging each £100 into amounts of 3½ per cent. stock, varying from £160 to £163. In other words, they are being asked, to receive from the taxpayer £4,000,000 more in interest and between £300.000,000 and £400,000,000 of additional capital when the loan is redeemed.
By this time ‘the saner elements in the city had come to the conclusion that the limits of interest raising and capital conversion into increased plunder of the national debt had, at last, been reached. The public would stand no more of it. Yet new vistas of profit opened up to the rentier class when Wall Street and London City agreed to begin a policy of price deflation. The idea was that the bankers were to call in loans and overdrafts: they were to compel manufacturers to throw their goods hurriedly upon the markets so as to raise cash for the repayment of their bank loans. At the same time the Government were to throw their surplus war stores in clothing, ite, on the markets, thereby intensifying the. glut in the markets and making a fall in prices inevitable. As the prices of consumable goods fell, wages were to he broken.
But while prices were to crash the rates of war loan interest were fixed, and the bankers foresaw that every fall in the price of potatoes and wheat and cheese and boots and coal would mean that war loan interest would lie able to purchase increasing quantities of these commodities. If prices, let us say, fell I ry half, the value of interest would be doubled. In other words, a fall in prices by half would double the value of the war loans. As the nation would pay off the loans or meet the interest upon them, it would require to yield up double the quantity of consumable wealth in the money-lending class.
Mr. Bonar Law early saw the alarming possibilities of this new financial policy, and bravely warned the House of Commons of what it would mean to the taxpayer and the National Debt. “ Wo had borrowed “, ho said, “£8,000,000; we should require to pay £10,000,000”. (Hansard, 2/5/22.) Sir Henry Strakosch has estimated that the fall in prices during the four years 1025-28 added silently no less than £1,300,000 to the capital value of the National Debt, and Mr. J. M. Keynes has declared that a fall in prices to pre-war level (and some prices are already below pre-war level) would make the British National Debt 40 per cent, greater than it was in 1924, and double what it was in 1920. Nevertheless, this policy of deflation and price and wage reduction, with its appalling social consequences in poverty and unemployment, was relentlessly pursued, and not until 1932 did any British Government even pretend to set a limit to the toll of the money-lenders. . . .
But the controllers of the money-power, the men who cold-bloodedly raised their demands upon their fellow-countrymen with every German advance in the field and with every German U-boat campaign at sea; the men who organized the creation of hundreds of millions nf unnecessary debt, the men who inflated rates, of interest; the men who, as the price nf providing credits to free us from the threat nf German slavery, enmeshed us in an interest hurden of a million pounds per day - it is they whose wartime plunderings I have sought tn record.
The machinations of the organized money power during the stress of war provide the most convincing evidence that the nation must be the sole creator of money, and the guardian and banker of the savings and thrift of its citizens, if well-being and security are ever in bc the common lot of men.
Another eminent authority, the Eight Honorable Thomas Johnson, P.O., exLord Privy Seal, said this -
This manufacture of bankers’ credit-
– Order ! I should like to know what the honorable senator is discussing.
– I am. discussing the best means to be adopted for the raising of money for war purposes and other activities of the Government. Mr. Johnson said -
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.
Already the bankers are telling us that we shall have to be content with a lower standard of living in order to enable the Government to pay the interest on its loans. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has stated definitely that this Government does not intend to adopt any but orthodox methods for the purpose of financing its operations during this war. The Sydney Morning Herald of the 25 th of this month published this statement - “ Australia’s problem to-day is to divert resources from production for peace to production for war “, said Mr. Robert W. Gillespie, president of the Bank of New South Wales, in his address at the annual meeting of the proprietors of the bank yesterday. “ Some reduction in the standard of living appears to be inevitable “, he added, “ since maintenance nf this may not be consistent with the most vigorous war effort.”
Not a word is said about the reduction of interest charges, or of any intention on the part of the Government to relieve the’ taxpayers of this country by obtaining the whole of its requirements through the Commonwealth Bank free of interest. The statement continues -
Australia enters the war with a strongly organized economy.
That certainly can be said of the bankers. So strongly organized are they that they can force their will on this Government almost at any time. Thus there is no suggestion that war finance shall be obtained in other than the orthodox manne). notwithstanding that two of the States have strongly urged the Government to utilize the Commonwealth Bank credit for the prosecution of the war and foi the assistance of our primary producers. The statement continues -
Planning in the face of future uncertainties is made easier by Britain’s arrangement to purchase commodities at a stipulated price.
Because of this and the good seasonal: conditions, the level of reserves in London must bc considered sound. 3,
Reserves’ in London are kept at a level sufficiently high to meet the interest charge on our overseas debt for two years. Whenever the London balances fall below that level a hint is given that the people of this country must tighten their belts, so to speak, and be content with a lower standard of living in order that Australia may meet its obligations in the form of interest charges. Every loan raised in the -orthodox way means an addition to the tax burden of the people, and everybody knows that this falls heaviest on the poorer sections of the community. I am at a complete loss to understand why this Government will persist in a borrowing policy that has such a disastrous effect upon our people. We have been told that very shortly the Government will seek another £10,000,000 in the Australian market, but it is extremely difficult to get any information about it. This afternoon I asked how much of this proposed loan would be provided by private banks at Bi per cent, and how much would be obtained from the Commonwealth Bank which is tlie property of the people, and should provide the whole of it. If .the Commonwealth Bank made the money available, we need not worry whether the interest charge was 3£ per cent, or 5 per cent., because interest payments would go back to the bank and, through that institution, to the people.
The other day I cited in support of my contention the opinion of the most emiment banker in the Dominion of Canada, Mr. G. F. Towers, the Governor of the Central Bank of Canada. He declared that the bank would have no trouble whatever in finding interest-free money for the prosecution of the war, because, as he explained, every loan ‘ so obtained would be recovered indirectly from the people by the Government, and would make possible an improvement of the economic conditions of the people. There is no reason whatever why money borrowed from the people’s bank should be paid back. 1 notice that the Assistant Minister for Commerce (Senator McBride) is smiling. That is about all that the honorable gentleman is capable of doing in this chamber. But I dp not mind if he considers that the joke is against me. I know that the honorable gentleman is thinking that. As he and his ministerial colleagues command a majority in this Parliament, it does not matter what I may say on this subject of finance.
– The honorable gentleman should convince members of his own party as to the correctness of his financial theories.
– -We are at war. and it is of supreme importance that money required to prosecute it should not mean an addition to the already heavy burden on the people. The manner in which the sinews of war are raised is of the greatest concern to the people of Australia because, as I have shown, loans raised in the orthodox way will impose an extra tax burden on the people. The last war cost us £800,000,000, and the financial institutions of Great Britain robbed the people to the amount of £2,000,000,000 through the issue of bankcreated credit.
A few days ago Mr. Spender, the Acting Treasurer, had something to say on this subject. His remarks were published in the press and broadcast over the national network. The Minister poured scorn on those people who, he said, had suggested that there was an unlimited source of untapped wealth in the Commonwealth. I have never asserted, nor to my knowledge, has any one else, that our credit resources are unlimited. But they are limited only by our power to produce - by our resources in materials and men. During his election campaign, Mr. Spender admitted that he knew nothing about finance or banking, and not long ago I gave him an hour of my time on this subject. He admitted that what I had explained to him was wonderful, but apparently he has not profited by it. The honorable gentleman entered this Parliament as an independent, but very quickly realized that he could not be a member of the Government and still remain an independent so he surrendered his independence for ministerial rank. Se is now Acting Treasurer. The Minister is reported as saying -
Speaking at the annual dinner at the Master Printers Association at the Hotel Australia he said that he believed that more liberal views than many currently held on the country’s ability to finance the war and developmental work would be consistent with sound finance. But to follow the course advocated by the extreme advocates of easy money would be crazy finance.
Would it be crazy for the Government to get money for its war needs and other purposes from the Commonwealth Bank free of interest? We have the declaration of the royal commission appointed by the Lyons Government, that the Commonwealth Bank could give effect to government policy and provide interest-free money for public needs. Honorable senators may recall that last year I asked if we would have an opportunity to discuss the findings of that commission before Christmas, and I was told that we would. But it has not been discussed yet. Referring to the policy which he described as “ crazy finance “, he said -
It would result in disaster, and particularly in the impoverishment of the working man and woman.
All of the new interest charged on the loans to be raised has to be paid indirectly in increased prices and in taxes. Honorable senators will notice the subtle reasoning of the legal mind. The Acting Treasurer gets almost to the point, and then he goes off at a tangent. He stated -
We have learned a great deal about credit finance since the last war.
Yos, the public has learned what it means to borrow money, and to pay interest -
The evils of high interest rates and rapidlyrising prices, and the fundamental causes associated with these two phenomena, are known to us. f gave the Acting Treasurer” an hour on the -subject, and he ought to know something about it -
It may be said that the pressure of public opinion has played a tremendous part in liberalizing views on these matters.
The Acting Treasurer and other members of the Ministry get hundreds, if not thousands, of letters about these matters.
That is indicative of the pressure of public opinion. The Government will find out at the next election that the greatest force in the community is organized public opinion, which is telling the Government how it could get money free of interest. Mr. Spender continued -
There has, in the past, been far too much mystery associated with them-
When I was a young man I was told that it would be of no use to return a Labour government to power, because Labour men did not understand finance - too great a reluctance to tell the people about finance and the way in which it worked. Confidence of the public in the financial policy of its government is essential.
Undoubtedly, we should have confidence in the Government, and we should realize that the Government has the duty of protecting the interests of the taxpayers -
To maintain this confidence, I am one who believes the public should be taken more -and more into the confidence of the Government.
Why does not the Acting Treasurer take the public sufficiently into his confidence to inform them that he believes in the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Monetary and Banking Systems, which declared that the Commonwealth Bank could issue interest-free money to the Government? It also stated that, should there be a difference of opinion between the Commonwealth Bank Board and the Government as to the policy to bc adopted by the board, a free and frank discussion should take place on the matter, and, should the views of the board and the Government still be irreconcilable, the Government should say to the board “ We take full responsibility and will tell you how to act”. Surely the chairman of the royal commission, who was a Supreme Court judge, understood constitutional law. The commission said it was only necessary for the Prime Minister, without new legislation, to instruct the -Commonwealth Bank Board to issue sufficient interest-free money to meet the cost of the war activities of this country. Mr. Spender continued -
Of course, there are occasions when to reveal the steps which a government proposes to take to achieve a certain end would result in frustrating their .purpose, but I believe that, in the past, the public have not. been informed sufficiently from responsible quarters on matters in which they should and could have been safely confided in.
Of course, under democratic government, the people who govern get what they want. Meetings, are being held in all parts of Australia telling the Government what it should do in regard to matters of finance. We in this Parliament are servants of the people and should do what they want. In my opinion there is not one democratic government in the world. There can be no democratic government so long as there is a power in the land which can tell the parliament what it must do.
When the report of the Royal Commission on Monetary and Banking Systems was issued,’ one of its findings was that the private banks should keep a certain amount of their cash reserves in the Commonwealth Bank. Although the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) speaks of the Commonwealth Bank as being a central bank, it is nothing of the kind. We have no central bank in the true sense. Except for the fact that the Commonwealth Bank had been established ‘since 1912, the visit to Australia of Sir Otto Niemeyer and Mr. Gugenheimer would assuredly have led to the setting up of a central bank in the Commonwealth as happened in New Zealand. We already had a people’s bank here, and it was impossible to establish a central bank when there was a nationowned bank in existence. Australia almost lost the Commonwealth Bank in 1924 by the amending legislation submitted by the Bruce-Page Government. If I were asked to say what was the greatest achievement of the Australian Labour party, I should mention the establishment of the Commonwealth Bank, which to-day is our greatest asset, and almost the only instrumentality which can deal with the financial position.
Mr. Spender referred further to “ Nonsense about miracles “. His leader, the Prime Minister, had said -
There is a feeling in the community that there is a great source of wealth untapped, and all we have to do is to put a sufficient number of taps in and turn them on.
He said that there would then be no more borrowing, and no more interest to pay, and everything in the garden would be lovely. That statement was made by the Prime Minister in the House of Representatives, but let us analyse it. He knows that there is a tap which he can turn on, and which would provide free of interest all the money required, but the Government does not tell the public so much as that. He believes in enlightening the public up to a certain point, but not in telling it the truth. Mr. Spender proceeded -
Perhaps, had there been more confidence reposed in the people in the past there would be less of those who now speak so much nonsense about the miracles they claim money can perform.
We do not talk about money. We speak about credit, because the banks do not lend money. I gave my authority for that statement some time ago. I referred the Government to the Encyclopaedia Brittanica, in which there is an article by Charles Hawtrey, formerly an officer of the British Treasury. The fact that he was allowed to write for the Encyclopaedia Brittanica proves that he is regarded as an authority on finance. He said -
Banks are institutions for the creation of credit, which they create out of nothing.
I was informed by the Government in reply to a question that of the last loan of £4,850,000 raise’d when Mr. Casey was Treasurer, no less than £3,750,000 was bank-created credit. Not one penny of that credit went to the Government. The only thing the Government gets after a loan has been raised is the right to draw cheques against the amounts subscribed by the banks. A representative of a big insurance company which put £100,000 into a war loan, was asked, “ Do you keep £100,000 at call for that purpose?” He replied, “No, we instruct the banks to put it in “. When asked what the banks received he replied, “ Five shillings per cent.”. The company instructs the bank to borrow £100,000 in bonds on its behalf, and, on the strength of that, which is considered a cash purchase, the banks can and do buy £800.000 or £900,000 worth of bonds for themselves, without sending any money to the Treasury. I challenge honorable senators on the Government side to controvert that statement. I met Mr. Casey on the train one night-
– The honorable senator must connect his remarks with war activities.
– The question of finance cannot be separated from war expenditure. I can show how money could be raised free of interest.
– The honorable senator may not repeat statements which he has made in this chamber many times before.
– I bow to your ruling, Mr. President. I do not wish to waste the time of the Senate. We are not living in an age of miracles, but in an age of common sense, as far as this side of the Senate is concerned ; yet I cannot say that the Government is showing common sense in its borrowing of money for defence purposes. The Commonwealth Bank could issue the necessary credit. The quotation from the statement by Mr. Spender to which I was referring concludes -
To achieve the greatest war effort on our part, needs, in addition to a financial policy adjusted to the needs of the community and of the necessary directional forces of Government, the willing co-operation of private industry and private individuals in the national effort. This co-operation will not be forthcoming unless the people are fully informed and persuaded of the necessity for the course which the Government is pursuing.
I maintain that the course pursued by the Government in connexion with this war is against the best interests of the people of Australia.
: - I have read the statements by the Minister for the Interior (Senator Poll) and by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). Both were interesting, but I regret to say that they were not of a very informative, character. They dealt mainly with obvious things. We were told that a war is in progress, that Germany is the aggressor, and that the policy to be pursued by the Government has been adopted in the best interests of the British Commonwealth of Nations. I suggest that in order to obtain a clear idea of the position with respect to the war we should examine its causes. The failure of British and French imperialists to reach an agreement with Germany as to the division of the world’s resources and markets has been the fundamental cause of the present war. The force of arms is now to decide the issue where reasoning lias failed. I suggest that the war is, for all practical purposes, a continuation of that begun in 1914 for world economic domination. The then. Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) said repeatedly that it was a trade war, and I agree that it was. The signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1918, which subdivided the world and its markets, mainly in the interests of British and French imperialisms, was practically the beginning of the present war. To the provisions of that treaty hundreds of millions of people were committed,” without consultation, or agreement. Almost immediately after it was signed Germany again took the initiative for war, first, by organizing a new army; secondly, by re-incorporating the Saar: thirdly, by re-militarizing the Rhineland ; and, fourthly, by absorbing Austria. Czechoslovakia and Memel. I regret that when Germany took this initiative it was assisted very substantially by the British Government. In order to substantiate that statement I shall quote from World Finance 1938-39, by Paul Einzig, who is well known and accepted as a reliable authority. He refers to the growing trade deficit in England which made it essentia] that the Government should consider the adoption of bilateralism. He writes -
Mr. Oliver Stanley, President of the Board of Trade, deserves credit for having’ been the first to realize the necessity for adopting a policy favouring some degree of bilateralism, In a speech which he delivered in June, 1938. he declared that Great Britain was no longer prepared to confer favours without reciprocity in matters of international trade, and that henceforth trade agreements would have to be based on the principle of give-and-.take. Unfortunately, not all the members of the Cabinet were so enlightened, and in consequence there was very little indication in practice of a fundamental change in British foreign trade policy.
Under the heading of “ German default “ the author goes on -
The first test in this respect was provided by a conflict over the German external debt. As a result of Germany’s refusal to continue the service of the Austrian debt, the whole Gorman debt and trade situation was thrown into the melting pot. The Government gave notice of the termination of the Anglo-German Trade and Payments Agreement of 1934 as from July 1, 1938. There was an opportunity to correct the glaring inequalities of that agreement, which enabled’ Germany to accumulate year by year a large free sterling surplus and also to spend mainly on re-export? the amount -which she had undertaken to spend in this country. There can be no doubt that the agreement of 1934 was extremely helpful to German re-armament. Tt was very short-sighted of Whitehall notto realize at the time of the conclusion of that agreement that by not basing that agreement on the principle of give-and-take, and by enabling Germany to buy raw materials with practical ly the whole proceeds of her manufactured exports to this country, . Great Britain was actually subsidizing German rearmament.
Political short-sightedness was an explanation., if not an excuse, for the terms of the agreement of 1934. By 1938, however, it was only too obvious to everybody that Germany had become the enemy of this country, and that she was becoming increasingly dangerous as a result of the spectacular progress of her re-armament. It stood to reason that, since Germany had given legitimate grounds for the denunciation of the agreement of 1934, the Government should now insist upon the revision of the terms of that agreement with Germany and put a stop to the unilateral advantages derived by her. This aspect of the problem was far more important than the question of the default on the Austrian debt service.
Under the heading, “ British assistance to German re-armament “, the author continues -
Unfortunately the Government did not seize the opportunity, and when the German negotiators were prepared to give in regarding the external debt a new trade and payments agreement was concluded which secured for Germany almost as advantageous a position as the agreement of 1934. At a time when it was evident that Germany was arming against this country, the Government thus continued to provide her with the means to achieve that end. Germany was left, in possession of free sterling far in excess of the amount required for the service of her external debt to Great Britain. It is true that the percentage which she had to spend on British manufactures was now larger, but in spite ofthis the bulk of the proceeds of her exports to Groat Britain were still availablefor the purchase of raw materials.
Germany derived far more benefit fromthe British attitude towards bilateralism than merely her actual export surplus to this country. A large number of countries - especially Sweden, Finland, Poland and Russia - were allowed to maintain large excesses of imports to Great Britain. On. the other hand, their trade balance in relation to Germany was adverse, so that in practice their free sterling surplus found its way to Germany. Taking this into consideration, there can be no doubt that practically the whole of the free exchange available to Germany for the purchase of raw materials was supplied directly or indirectly by Great Britain.
I point out that this book was published in March, 1939. The author further says -
If the day of reckoning ever comes, the liberal attitude of the British Government in this mattermay well be responsible forthe lives of’ many British soldiers and civilians.
War material which will eventually be used against this country could neverhave been produced but for the generosity with which Great Britain is giving, her enemy free exchange for the purchase of raw materials.
While the Government could plead ignorance as far as the earlier phase of German rearmament was concerned, the continuation of the same policy at later stages was simply unpardonable.
– Does the honorable senator agree with those sentiments?
SenatorCAMERON. - I am stating facts as set out by the author of this work. If the facts are as he states, the Government of Great Britain has a great deal to answer for for the fact that Germany to-day is so well equipped to wage war against Great Britain and to slaughter thousands of British civilians and soldiers. I quote now from the News Chronicle, London, of the 19th August, 1939, in which, under the caption “ Germans again buyheavily in London “, the city editor of that paper writes -
Huge German orders for rubber and copper were executed in London yesterday, regardless of cost. The buying of nearly 3,000 tons of copper sent the price rocketing 19s. 9d. to £44 18s. 9d. a ton.
Already Germany has. bought over 10.000 tons this month in London alone.
The London Rubber Exchange enjoyed almost a record turnover owing to a German order for 4,000 tons.
The price shot up 3/l6d. to 8¾d. a lb. Germany is reported to have bought 17,000 tons already this month - two months’ normal consumption.
The ominous part of both’ transactions is that both these orders will largely be satisfied by shipping from the stocks of this country, which have already sunk to dangerously low levels.
Our holding of rubber has shrunk to little more than 50,000 tons, compared with 100,000 tons at the time of “Munich”, and of copper we have barely a. month’s supply.
We must take notice of these facts if we are to form an intelligent idea of what is taking place on the other side of the world and what has led up to the present conflict. I have quoted from matter published quite recently, but the Government was warned as far back as 1935 in an issue of the Stock ExchangeGazette, London, in the following terms : -
The more pertinent question is: Who finances Germany? Without this country as a clearing house for payments, and the opportunity to draw on credits under the standstill, Germany could not have pursued her plans. We have been so ready to sell to Germany that the question of payment, has never been allowed to interfere with the commercial side. . . . The provisioning of the opposing force has been financed in London.
We have evidence, on the authorities which I have quoted, that Germany was able to take .the initiative in creating the present position in international affairs, and that it was enabled to take a strong stand, mainly as the result of assistance it received from British imperialism, of which it is now a foe. Each step taken by Germany towards consolidating its position constituted a challenge to Great Britain and France. Those countries complained and protested, but Germany, which continued to defy them, finally invaded Poland and then Great Britain and France decided to oppose Germany by force of arms. Britain and France had either to oppose Germany or submit to the domination and aggression of that nation. Consequently, a war is in progress in which Australia as an integral part of the British Commonwealth of Nations is involved. We have been informed that this war is a war to save democracy. I deny that. There is not a democracy in the world to-day. Poland was never a democracy. Since its reconstruction after the last war, it has been one of the most brutal military dictatorships in the world. Poland was a nation ruled by blood and iron, industrialists and generals, and in waging a war to defend that country, Britain and France are defending, not a democracy, but one of the most ruthless dictatorships which the world has ever known. Here in Australia we find that there is a gradual and insidious whittling away of our democratic rights. Paul Einzig, who is not an advocate of democracies, concludes his preface with these words -
Perhaps, after all, the democracies will realize in time that their existence depends on the extent to which they are prepared to take a leaf out of the book of the dictatorships and to enforce discipline in their economic systems.
The only construction that can be placed on those remarks is that the author is a firm believer in dictatorships, and favours a dictatorship in Great Britain 31’milar to those of Germany and Italy. We have to visualize the attitude which the United States of America will adopt should this war develop into a worldwide conflict. In the United States
Senator Cameron. of America, there is a strong pro-British sentiment, but that is not the sentiment of the American imperialists, who although they are ready to help Great Britain and its allies, are animated not by sentimental reasons, but by a desire to make profits. During the last war, the United States of America, in consequence of the immense profits made at the expense of Great- Britain and its allies, became the leading creditor nation. This war may make it possible for the United States of America to gain economic domination of the world. That is the aim of American imperialists whose assistance some would welcome. According to the New York Times of the 15th September, 1939, Mr. Bernard M. Baruch, chairman of the War Industries Board during the last war, said on the 14th September, immediately after a confidential conversation with President Roosevelt at. the White House -
If this country ever participated in another peace conference it should demand a veto power over the terms of settlement instead of what it did at Versailles. We must not permit a situation like that after the last war when President Wilson made proposals for peace and had them vo.ted down by others who had this veto power.”
It is perfectly clear to me that if this war continues and the man-power and material resources of England, her ally, and Germany become exhausted the United States of America will demand the terms and conditions sought by American imperialists, which will give that country even greater power over other countries than it holds to-day. There can be no enduring or lasting peace in the world while warring imperialists are allowed to be a law unto themselves. If disputes could be settled without resort to physical force possibly the position would be different, but obviously that cannot be done.
– We cannot always do that in industrial affairs in Australia.
– This Government is allowing munitions and other manufacturers to make excessive profits at the expense of the workers. That would not have been possible had the workers been more determined to obtain a greater share of the wealth which they produce. Nations must oppose imperialistic policies. Already action has been taken by the British Labour party, as is shown by the following paragraph which appeared in the Sydney Daily News of the 24th November : -
When Parliament meets for the new session on Tuesday the Labour party will move an amendment to the King’s speech demanding the Government to take immediate steps to prepare for the general social and economic reconstruction which will be essential as soon us the war ends.
That is exactly what the members of the Australian Labour party said long before the last war and have continued to say up to the present time. There must be social and economic reconstruction before we can establish a lasting and enduring world peace. So long as control is vested in private banking institutions and monopolists there will never be world peace. Before enduring peace can be assured the people must have national control of industry and finance through parliamentary institutions.
– Has not Russia national control of industry and finance to-day ?
– Russia is a dictatorship; I have never suggested that that country is a democracy.
– The honorable senator has lauded it in this chamber.
– I challenge the Assistant Minister to mention one occasion on which I have referred to the form of government in Russia during the whole of the time I have been privileged to be a member of this chamber. Russia is a dictatorship and not a democracy.
– It has national control of money and industry.
– It has through the medium of a dictatorship just as we have in Australia under the National Security Act. The powers which this Government possesses under that act are equal to those exercised by Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini.
– That is not correct.
– Those powers will be. need even more ruthlessly than they are being used to-day if the people are prepared to submit.
– How many individuals constitute a. dictatorship?
– Half a dozen could constitute a dictatorship without any difficulty. A good deal has been said concerning the horrors of war, and it may be interesting to honorable senators to hear something about “the horrors of peace. According to “Whittaker’ s Almanac of 1925, the losses sustained by the British Empire during the last war were: - Deaths, 946,023, and wounded, 2,121,906. During a subsequent ten-year period the annual death rate in the United Kingdom averaged 56,2,009 or 10,807 weekly, the highest percentage of such deaths being caused by preventable diseases and poverty, largely a heritage of the war which terminated in 1918. The figures I have cited indicate the necessity for social and economic reconstruction if we are to be protected against a state of affairs similar to that which prevailed in Great Britain after the last war.
I now desire to refer to the reintroduction of compulsory military training. When Senator Brand was stressing the necessity for the re-introduction of such a system I interjected, “ Why were there so many prosecutions?” The honorable senator said that when, the system operated previously the prosecutions represented only 4 per cent, or 5 per cent, of the total number of trainees and dismissed my remark as if it were of no importance. The following passage appears in the publication entitled Conscription under Camouflage, by John Percy Fletcher and John Francis Hills.
– Has that anything to do with the merits of the system?
-It has everything to do with the merits of the system. Writing in 1919 under the heading of “ Prosecutions and Imprisonments the authors declared on page 144 -
It is impossible to bring up to date the position in regard to these, as it is now over three years since the Military Department discontinued its practice of publishing returns. Their latest figures were the following, summarizing the prosecutions for the military year ended June 30th, 1915.
– Why were the prosecutions launched ?
– The men were prosecuted because they refused to train.
– Were not some of the prosecutions launched against men for having neglected to register?
– Possibly some might have come within that category.
– I said “ for having neglected to register “.
– I prefer to use the words “ for refusing to register “.
– There is a big difference between the two phrases.
– There may be, but the following information should be most useful to honorable senators. It is -
– The honorable senator is certainly choosing his own figures.
– They are not; myfigures. They appear in the records to which I have referred.
– They suit the honorable senator’s purpose.
– Exactly ; and when the department discovered in 1915 that the figures were mounting rapidly, it discontinued their publication.
– That does not reflect on the system.
– It shows that the contentions of honorable senators opposite that compulsory military training is popular and that the public really want it are not borne out by the facts. The authors proceeded -
In the first three years, the average number of prosecutions per year was 9,248. For the year 1914-15 there were still6,193 prosecutions in spite of the war fervor and general interest in military matters. There was a wholesale dropping of compulsory trainee drills in the early part of the Great War, as the officers were wanted for other purposes.
A number of persons were condemned to very severe punishment as the accompanying list of commitments to continuous detention illustrates -
For thefirst three years of the training there averaged 159 per month. For the year 1914-15, as far as the military returns go. the monthly average was 151 per month.
The official figures for the last quarter covered disclose a monthly average of 296, which definitely illustrates that the system of compulsory training was becoming more and more unpopular and that if it had not been abandoned, young men were prepared to take a strong stand against the Government. I now desire to refer to the manner in which some trainees were treated;
– The system was bad!
– The present system is not likely to be any better.
– It is much better.
– What is the honorable senator’s object in quoting all this information ?
– My object is to prove that the system is not wanted by the public; to show the inhuman manner in which the trainee is treated ; to demonstrate that primarily, compulsory military training is not required for military purposes, but has been instituted because it is cheaper than the voluntary system; and to indicate that because it is undesirable, from the stand-point of the Government, to continue to add to its already colossal burdens of debt, it takes action to secure military service at the lowest possible cost. The Melbourne Age of the 7th February, 1914, published the following passage: -
Turning to more recent events still, evidence is not wanting that the troops which were in training at Lilydale last week were overworked. Since their return to town, many cases have been reported, though none officially, of youths who were unable to return at once to their civil occupations owing to fatigue and foot weariness. . . .
A medical examination, made indiscriminately down the firing line by an army medical officer, revealed the startling fact that ten trainees were suffering from acute dilation of the heart. When the troops, returned to camp - the last unit filed in at 7 p.m., having been in the field since 9 a.m., they were practically ready to drop from exhaustion. The lads lay about in their tents, too tired even to walk, too exhausted almost to sleep, and their feet were swollen and blistered.
– Are the authors mentioned by the honorable senator the gentlemen who wrote a book extolling Russia ?
– Not to my knowledge. I have never read any such publication by them. Although I cannot say for certain, I believe that they are Quakers. I give that as my opinion because of a letter, published at the time, in which Major (now Senator) Brand gave his candid opinion of that sect in connexion with the matter. If the trainees refused or neglected to register, they were subjected to most brutal treatment. For example, they were liable to be sentenced to solitary confinement on rations of bread and water for as long as seven days.
– Does the honorable senator make that as a general statement?
– The statement appears in the publication to which I have referred.
– The honorable senator cannot hide behind a book such as that. The information might be wrong.
-It is based upon the official records.
– The last statement made by the honorable senator is nol in accordance with his usual utterances.
– That is the opinion of the Assistant Minister; but ii does not necessarily follow that it is correct. It i3 merely his say-so. For the information of honorable senators, I pro-, pose to cite the case of Alfred Giles and his son, Alfred Francis Giles. The reference appears on page 83 of the booklet. Alfred Giles, who was a journeyman butcher, had conscientious objections to a system that compelled his son to train in the Military Forces. For his beliefs he was fined £100. The late Harry Holland, who was Leader of the Labour Opposition in the New Zealand Parliament up to the time of his death, was also fined a similar amount. But Alfred Francis Giles, the son, was incarcerated in prison because he refused on conscientious grounds to train. Referring to the incident the authors stated -
Some months after his father had been prosecuted for preventing him from drilling this brave lad was seized at his work, taken to the court, sentenced to a fortnight’s imprisonment, and an attempt made, while there, to starve him into surrender. “ On making inquiries at the gaol the father of the lad was informed that he would be permitted to send his son food during his incarceration; but last night a police officer called at his house and informed him that the permission given to send the lad food had been cancelled, and that for the first seven days he would have to subsist on I lb. of bread per day and as much water a? he cared to drink “.
The lad was not of German nationality. He was an Australian.
– He was not.
– The information is contained in the records.
– Does the honorable senator claim that the booklet is an official record? It might be based on imagination.
– It is easy for the honorable senator to assert that the statement might be based on imagination, but T challenge him to disprove it. I am prepared to hand him the document and if he so desires he may verify the information for his own satisfaction by reference to the official records.
– I want the honorable senator to prove the statement.
– If the honorable senator does not believe it, he should attempt to disprove it. I now propose to refer to the case of Victor Yeo. The publication reads as follows: -
Victor Yeo is the son of a thoroughly respectable well-read working man, an old Devonshire miner of the best type, who is opposed to war on humanitarian and economic grounds. His elder son, Vivian, true to his father’s teachings, had already served a fortnight’s imprisonment for not attending drill. The younger son, Victor, on 15th November, 1912, was fined £5 at the Children’s Police Court, in default to’ serve two months’ imprisonment. . . . But Victor Yeo was again charged, this time with refusing to be examined by the military doctor, and again fined, with one month’s imprisonment in default. He was again committed, on 25th August, 1913, six months after his first imprisonment, to Broken Hill gaol. His food consisted of dry bread and water for the first seven days, with only one hour’s exercise in the morning and one in the afternoon. He was not permitted to speak to the other prisoners. This practically amounted to solitary confinement.
That gives some idea of the treatment that was meted out to boys by the military authorities of this country in those years. They were treated as criminals. They could not have received worse treatment in Germany for similar offences. We know perfectly well that young lads who refuse to register or attend drills will be treated with the same ruthlessness in the future as they have been in the past. It was well said by a well-known American philosopher, that the cheapness of men is every day’s tragedy. It is a common experience that men who are cheapest get the worst treatment. This also applies in civilian life, as many thousands of workers throughout this country know to their cost - particularly those who have to work in return for sustenance.
There can be no -protection for military trainees unless they have the power to refuse to serve under conditions which are unjust - the power to refuse to submit to the domination of men who may be excellent soldiers themselves, but who are absolutely unfitted to be in control of young men. If we had in force the voluntary system, and ifour social conditions were in consonance with our concepts of humanitarian treatment, the majority of our young men would be quite willing to train. But instinctively they realize what is before them. We have before us the facts relating to this experience not only in Australia, but also in every other country which, has adopted the system of compulsion. Human life is never valued or regarded as sacred. This system of compulsion has been adopted for the pur- pose of ensuring enormous profits for the owners of industry and investors associated with the war-like activities of the Government, so our protest against its reintroduction is amply justified. I am perfectly certain that if the Government continues to give effect to this policy, and if trainees are treated with the same brutality as they were treated in the years 1912-1914, the young men of this country will eventually rise in revolt against the Government. I consider it necessary to direct attention to what has happened in the past, so that it may not be said that we did not realize what was likely to happen under compulsory military service, or that no protests had been made from this side in the Senate. We protest in the name of humanity, in the name of justice and in the interests of efficiency. This Government can never expect to make efficient soldiers under the system of compulsion. The same may be said of compulsion applied to industry. Actually such a policy is destined to defeat itself.
– Does not the honorable senator approve of compulsory unionism ?
– Yes, in opposition to compulsory economic, conscription, upon which the wage system is based. We are opposed to a system that compels men to work for a subsistence wage, or starve. In many cases it is impossible for the workers or their families to live on the paltry amount provided for them.
– That is not correct.
– It is correct, and the purpose of compulsory unionism is to defeat the brutal compulsion of the various governments involved. The system to which the workers are subject, including those on sustenance, is either to work for the wage provided or go without.If they refuse, they are denied food for themselves and their families. The whole economic system, to which my party is uncompromisingly opposed, is based on economic compulsion or conscription. Accordingly, we appeal to the workers to organize as unionists, as far as that is possible, for self-protection. In this way only can we impose on employers the condition that they should give preference to unionists, so that they will not be exploited to the same degree as unfortunate non-unionists are exploited.
We have been told by the Minister for Information (Sir Henry Gullett) - at all events the newspapers have attributed to him the statement - that, through this new department, we are to be told the whole truth and nothing but the truth about the war. I think the Minister was rather unfortunate in his choice of words, because no single government department would possibly tell us the whole truth about the war, even if it were in a position to do so. What this new department will do, as the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) has suggested, is to give information only about those matters which it thinks desirable the people should know. But not till long after the war has ended shall we, in my opinion, get anything like an intelligent idea of what is being done, particularly in connexion with negotiations for peace which, we understand, are in progress. Even after the war, members of this chamber, judging by our treatment by Ministers, will have to depend, in some degree, on other sources of information. We do not always receive proper answers to even ordinary inquiries. I have no confidence whatever in this new Department of Information. I believe that.it has been set up solely for propaganda purposes and to convey the impression that the Government is doing all that can be done in the present circumstances. But there is this saving quality in the situation: The results which will follow from the operation of this new department will strengthen the Opposition. They will disclose that the Government is not giving to the people all the information that is at its disposal. In this way distrust and suspicion will be created. Finally will come resentment which, we believe and hope, will lead to the defeat of the Government.
– I regret that the Government is not doing all that it could do in the manufacture of munitions in order to safeguard the people of Australia. We have been told that next year the aircraft industry in Australia will employ, at the peak of production, 4,300 men. It should be noted, however, that this employment, is to be provided in the larger .States of the Commonwealth. Tasmania and Western ‘ Australia have been overlooked, though I challenge any one to say that the workmen in those States are not as good as workmen elsewhere in the Commonwealth. Surely they have a just claim for a share of this work. I hope that the Commonwealth Government will co-operate with the smaller States, equally with the larger States, in order that the resources of the whole of the Commonwealth may be drawn upon, irrespective of the party in power in any of the parliaments. Why doe? not the Government intend to place some of its orders for the manufacture of- aircraft in other than the more populous States? We know, of course, that this Government has no time for the day-labour system, which operates so satisfactorily in Western Australia. I take the following from the Western Australian Worker of the 13th October: -
The twin labour policy of State enterprise and day-labour has been justified in unique circumstances this week. The Defence Department required military training camps erected at Northam in double quick time, and the State government’s timber mills and daylabour organization had to step into . the breach. Of course there was a howl at the absence of tenders’ for the job, but the Premier effectively countered that by pointing out that the £42,000 job could be done in the required time only if the State instrumentalities and day-labour, both of which are immediately available, were given the task.
The job was completed in the time allotted, and the men were able to go into the camp on the due date. That proved that the day-labour system for government works operates with complete satisfaction.
The fate of Australia, and, indeed, of civilization itself, depends upon the ability of the individual to regain and retain full democratic rights, including the right to initiative and freedom.
For years the Labour party has advocated the manufacture of aircraft in Australia, and has stressed the importance of the air arm as a means of defence. On various occasions the policy consistently advocated by this party has been scoffed at, but it is now realized to be right. In his policy speech in 1936, the Leader of the Federal Labour party (Mr. Curtin) said -
The strength of Australian defence must lie in aviation, if we cannot afford a floating navy equal to that of a world power. It is within our power to sustain an aerial fleet equal to any that could be brought against us.
The policy advocated by the Labour party on that occasion has been justified and endorsed by the building up of the Royal Australian Air Force. On the 5th October, 1936, Mr. Curtin said-
Our air forces should bc developed on the basis strong enough to attack a striking force.
On the 19th October, 1938, he further stated -
Wc should increase our Air Force from the proposed 198 planes by another 50 per cent.; up-to-date aircraft must be supplied in the Royal Australian Air Force.
As late as the 2nd September last, Mr. Curtin also remarked -
I have repeatedly said we should regard aerial effectiveness as essential. A country which cannot defend itself in the air is virtually defenceless.
For years the Labour party has stressed the importance of air defence, which until lately has been ignored and ridiculed by the Government.
I now draw attention to what opponents of the Labour party have had to say regarding the building up of an air force in Australia. Ex-Senator Hardy stated in this chamber on the 26th August, 1937- [f we were so foolish as to adopt the Labour party’s proposals, nothing but disaster could overtake us.
The Leader of the Country party (Mr. Archie Cameron), before he was appointed to that position, remarked -
The idea that aircraft are going to fight the next war is absolutely wrong.
But he now admits, that -
Australia wanted a most effective air force with sufficient machines of all kinds.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald of the 7th November,’ 1939, the right honorable member fer Cowper (Sir Earle Page) stated during the last election campaign -
The defence policy of the Labour party was just a plain invitation for Australia to’ commit suicide.
To-day, however, the Government is forced to adopt the very policy which Labour has advocated. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) recently said, “ In this war, air power ‘may be the determining factor “. On another occasion, he remarked, “ England will be asking for help in the air rather than for help on the land or sea “. Air-Commodore A. Critchley has assured us that the war will be won or lost in the air. The Minister for Air (Mr. Fairbairn), in a broadcast address, stated -
Victory in this wai- will depend upon mastery in the air. The need for instructors is most urgent.
I have indicated the views expressed by members of various political parties on the value of aircraft for defence purposes, and I have shown that the policy advocated by the Labour party has been adopted by the Government in connexion with the present war.
As to defence contracts, each of the States should derive an equal defence benefit from taxation for defence purposes, but will not derive an equal commercial benefit under the policy pursued by the Government. I contend that all of the States should get their share of defence work. A deliberate building up of the weaker States would give to the Commonwealth an improved economic and industrial balance, which would be valuable, particularly in wartime. It is pitiable to see great numbers of men, many of whom are highly skilled, thrown out, of work because money is not available to provide employment for them. Unemployment results in waste of talent and energy. We should not waste our resources at a time of national crisis. We should use them to the utmost for defence purposes. When I say that 1 have in mind, first, the employment of every available man, and, secondly, the direction of our efforts towards national security. Finally, I appeal to the Government to see that the work of aeroplane construction is distributed throughout the various States. When a dispute arose over contracts for boots, I telephoned to Perth to find out if any army boots were tobe manufactured in Western Australia, and I was pleased to learn that an initial order for 5,000 pairs had been obtained. I have no doubt that the boots being made in Western Australia will prove entirely satisfactory to the defence authorities.
.- The submission of statements by Ministers affords one of the few opportunities which honorable senators have to review the operations of the Government at this time of acute crisis. I shall proceed largely on the lines followed by my leader (SenatorCollings) whose opening remarks were of a most statesmanlike character. He said -
These statements are made at a time when we arc 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 statements so momentous, that I am sure we all regard them in the manner which I have d escribed.
What certain irresponsible people have said regarding the policy of the Australian Labour party is in direct conflict with the expressed policy of the party, as announced on the6th September last-
In this crisis, facing the reality of war, the Labour party stands for its platform. That platform is clear. We stand for the maintenance of Australia as an integral part of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Therefore, the party will do all that is possible to safeguard Australia and, at the same time having regard to its platform, will do its utmost to maintain the integrity of the British Commonwealth.
As to the conduct of Australian affairs during this unhappy period, the Australian Labour party will preserve its separate entity. It will give support to measures having for their object the welfare and safety of the
Australian people and of the British Com- monwealth of Nations.
When the National Registration Bill was before this chamber I remarked that, if the Labour party were in power, it would do many things that the present Government is now doing. That statement was criticized by people outside this Parliament who tried to cast reflections upon me, hence my emphasis of the fact that the Labour party realizes the seriousness of the international situation, which, in my opinion, is daily becoming worse. To differentiate between the Empi re and the British Commonwealth of Nations would be to split hairs. We are British people and. the Labour party has a definite policy, irrespective of what any irresponsible organization may say. The policy that I have read has been endorsed by every entity of the Labour movement throughout Australia, including the Australasian Council of Trade Unions, which represents all of the States except’ Western Australia and is comprised of men from each trades and labour council. Therefore I suggest that the ministerial statements from time to time are helpful, and that the Opposition should not, in the circumstances, propose amendments to the motions before the Senate.
Yet the Opposition offers criticism of some of the actions of the Government. Senator Darcey has expressed his views regarding the financial policy of the Labour party. The need for the use of the credit of the nation is one of the planks of the platform of the Labour party, and, if this party came into power to-morrow, financial reform would be one of its main objectives. The first act of the party would be to restore the Commonwealth Bank to the position which it occupied before the Bruce-Page Government emasculated it in 1924. The Labour party would make the bank competitive with the private banks. It would not interfere with the private banks, but it would make it mandatory for the Governments of the States and for municipal authorities to trade with the Commonwealth Bank. It may be said that that would take away the livelihood of many people. The answer of the Opposition to that criticism is that the ramifications of the Commonwealth Bank would be so extensive that all of the present employees of banks would be absorbed. Private shareholders, I frankly confess, would lose a very nice investment, but I am not concerned with their interests when 1 realize, as I am sure every honorable senator does, the position into which this country is drifting, and must drift irrespective of the political complexion of the Government in office. Our national debt at the end of this year will total £1,300,000,000, and in respect of that debt we shall have to meet every year - win, lose or draw - £45,000,000 in interest, or £3,900,000 a month, or £128,000 a day.
– Would the honorable senator issue social credit ?
– I am glad that the honorable senator asked that question. We should carry on the defence of this country on the. advice of our military advisers, as, I presume, this Government is doing. As tohow we should finance a war which, should it last three years, would cost from £300,000,000 to £400,000,000, I refer Senator Wilson to the platform which ensures uniformity in the declarations of the Labour party on this important question. That defence finance plank of our platform is -
Naval and militaryexpenditure to be allocated from direct taxation.
That carries the qualification that, as taxation must reach saturation point, it is possible for the Commonwealth to issue credit, as this Government is practically doing now in its efforts to getearly money to meet its war liability. I am not prepared to say that this party will pledge the credit of this country on a war which, after all, would not earn anything. That would be financial madness. Some credit would be used, but in moderation. The rich people and organizations of this country can stand extra taxation; and before long they will certainly have to stand it in order to enable this country to carry on. We shall not issue credit on any proposition that is not workable. Senator Wilson might ask what is a workable proposition. Australia recently experienced a very serious drought. We know that the opportunity exists in this country to establish tremendous water conservation schemes which, ultimately, would return the money invested in them. Such work would increase the productive capacity of this country tremendously. It might involve an expenditure of many millions of pounds, but such expenditure would not be risky. However, with the suggestion that we should finance a war to the extent of £400,000,000 on credit, I, for one, do not agree. I should not advocate that policy if I were leading this party. The present Government will, I believe, go out of office within the next twelve months, and why should all the credit of this country be used up in the meantime on one objective with the result that a later government would be placed in an impossible financial position, as the Scullin Government was in 1929?
– The honorable senator should have a word with Senator Darcey.
– I am merely explaining the platform of the Labour party on this matter. I am not giving my personal views. If I did, perhaps, honorable senators opposite would not like them so much.
– In substance, then, the financial policy of the honorable senator’s party is not much different from that of the present Government?
SenatorKEANE. - The honorable senator should not have made that interjection, because this Government has adopted in toto the defence policy of the Labour party, despite the fact that it “wangled” an election in 1937 on that very issue. I was amazed to read in last night’s Melbourne Herald the following i tem : -
To-morrow shareholders will receive £1,515,241 in dividends from some of Australia’s largest industrial companies.
Biggest individual contributor to this total is Colonial Sugar, whose dividend of 17s. per £20 share amounts to £497,250. B.H.P. is distributing £434,442.
The Government may not yet be faced with impoverishment, but it certainly will be obliged to look to some of these avenues when it has exhausted the little credit which it is prepared to issue at the present time. I repeat that the Labour party is not prepared, for war purposes, to pledge the credit . of this country beyond a reasonable limit. We say that the men who have the greatest stake in this country and most to gain from its defence, and who enjoy most of the good things of life - some of whom are represented by the list I have read - can fairly be asked, when Armageddon threatens Australia, to make the biggest sacrifices. After all, the Government is going to enlist men for service at home or overseas whether we like it or not. It is going to say to our men, “ The flag is calling. We want 500,000”. The men will respond, and give their all. The Government may be obliged even to raise a compulsory loan without offering any interest. If it is fair that a man should shoulder arms and leave his home and family in order to serve his country, it is not too much to expect the man with money to be prepared, to say to the Government, “For the love I bear my country, here is a loan of £100,000 without interest”. What is wrong with a proposition of that kind?
The Government has constituted a number of committees, one of which is known as the Treasury Finance Committee. It is quite a useful body, consisting mainly of government employees, who must be competent or they would not occupy their positions. But I object to the appointment as chairman of that committee of an ex-member of this Parliament, an ex-minister of a government that had control of this country for many years. I object to his appointment, because as a senator his infrequent attendance in this chamber was not a credit to him. He was brought here for the one time he attended during one session in order to enable the Government by his vote to have the National Insurance Bill passed. Honorable senators opposite might say that my action in querying his appointment in this way is paltry, but my object at the moment is to express the view which the man outside takes of it.
– I do not think that he should be appointed, any more than other gentlemen should have been selected for similar positions. In last night’s Melbourne Herald appeared the following item: -
(From Our Special Representative.)
Canberra, Tuesday. - The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) announced to-day that a Board of Business Administration has been constituted to assist the Defence Administration. Members are -
Mr. Essington Lewis, chairman, responsible for matters relating to equipment, stores and munitions-
– Mr. Essington Lewis is one of the greatest men in the industrial life of this country, but he is an executive of organizations which are doing a colossal business with this Government in connexion with defence contracts.
– He has nothing to do with contracts in the position to which he has been appointed.
– I am not saying that. I should not say that Mr. Essington Lewis is not entirely honest. I know his business capacity; but what I am saying is that the man outside, who must tighten his belt, will not swallow the appointment. It lends support to what the man in the street thinks about the matter, namely, that vested interests are to be given control of a most important governmental committee. The next name is that of Sir George Pearce, who has been appointed to deal with general administrative matters. If the Government can go one better than that, I should like to know how. For many years Sir George Pearce was a member of this Parliament. He was a very successful man. At one time he was a Labour member. Indeed, he was one of the “ reddest “ men that the Labour party ever produced. Senator Sheehan is aware of that fact. We do not want to see “ reds “ getting positions of this kind. Sir George Pearce was Leader of the Senate until he was defeated. He was not out of the Senate a month when a ramp was organized with the object of giving him a big job on the Inter-State Commission. That proposition was so hot that the late Prime Minister let it drop, but Sir George was appointed to the Commonwealth Grants Commission at a salary of £300 a year, plus expenses. Now the Government comes along with this proposition.
– What is wrong with it?
– Sir George Pearce was Minister for Defence in the last war, but I do not know that he exhibited any special administrative capacity. The Government will cut a very poor figure with the people of Australia, whom it intends to ask to back it in this war, when they wake up to this appointment. The next name is that of Mr. Norman Myer. Can honorable senators imagine an act of greater effrontery to the people of Australia than the appointment of Mr. Norman Myer to this position? Mr. Sydney Myer, and his general manager, Mr. Lee Neil, were financial geniuses ; unfortunately they are now dead. Both of them contributed more to the defeat of the Labour party in 1931 than any other individuals of whom I have knowledge. Now we find the Government enlisting the aid of Mr. Norman Myer, a junior member of the same firm, to advise it in respect of its clothing requirements. The Myer concern in Melbourne is a phenomenal organization. It is a place which the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner will have to watch very closely. Yet the present head of that firm is being conscripted by this Government in order to to help it to win the war ! The appointment of the three persons mentioned discloses very bad taste, and indicates the way in which the Government is blundering. There are sufficient highlyqualified -men in the various government departments to undertake all the work that will be done by the business board. Recently, tenders were called for the manufacture of hats and caps for the Defence Department, and a tenderer, whose name I do not know, submitted a price of, say, 8s. 6d. to cover the cost of labour and material in each article. His tender was accepted at that price for the labour only, whereas it covered the cost of the labour and material. That is an indication of the inefficient way in which the work of the Defence Department is being handled. I know that military men cannot expect to be business experts and capable of reaching a determination on contracts or defence works; hut there is no reason why there should be so much waste. Ministers have not the opportunity to go into the details of various contracts, but there must be experienced officials in all departments capable of protecting public funds to a greater degree than they are apparently being protected to-day. Those who are now undertaking such work will not bc assisted by the appointment of the gentlemen mentioned.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that persons who do nor know anything about the work should be appointed ?
– No; but I have shown that these three appointees are not likely to have the knowledge required. If I were in authority I would not appoint my political “ pals “ to such positions. In this connexion, I am reminded of the appointment of Judge Drake-Brockman, of .the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, to an important military post, in which he is drawing his salary as a majorgeneral, and at the same time receiving £2,000 a year as a judge. It is only reasonable to assume that in this military capacity he will have under his control men who may have suffered severely as a result of the .awards he has made in the Arbitration Court. Discipline will not be improved by the inevitable resentment against him, and his military appointment can be regarded as unwise. He should be instructed to resume in the Arbitration Court, where the work is already congested.
– Possibly some unionists will be glad that he is performing military duties.
– That may be so, but unionists in camp will object to serving under a man who has declined to give them the consideration to which they are entitled. I have already said that the defence policy now adopted by the Government is- similar in most respects to that of the Australian Labour party. We said years ago that a modern air force should be our main arm of defence, and I am glad to learn that the Government has at last realized the force of the arguments which we have adduced in that respect from time to time. I should like more activity to be displayed by the Department of Supply and Development in connexion with the construction of aeroplanes, as embodied in the proposal which was passed through. Parliament last September. I understand that a contract for the construction of the necessary buildings was accepted only a few weeks ago. The Australian Aircraft Corporation in Victoria is doing splendid work and is now producing one complete machine a day. Activities in this direction should be extended, so that Australian factories may produce not only aeroplanes for our own purpose, but also sufficient to meet some of the requirements of Great Britain and our sister dominions. This Government would have been in a much stronger position to-day had its predecessors not disposed of the instrumentalities established by a Labour government. Had the Commonwealth Woollen Mills, the Commonwealth Harness Factory, the Cockatoo Island Dockyard and other such enterprises still been under government control, the Commonwealth would have been in a much better position to meet its defence requirements. It is now suggested that Great Britain may ask Australia to proceed with the construction of merchant vessels in Australia. Had the policy of the Labour party not been discarded some years ago, a tremendous shipbuilding organization would now be in operation. Some of the chickens of United Australia partyism are now coming home to roost; in. fact, those chickens- have grown to the size of emus-
– But emus do not roost.
– They do not roost, but they rest, and the honorable senator may soon experience a long political rest.
During a debate on the wheat industry, Senator Cunningham said that when the Commonwealth Government controlled its own ships the freight charged by them on wheat carried between Australia and Great Britain was £7 a ton, whereas that charged by the private shipping companies was £15 a ton. It is probably too late to rectify the mistake which was made in disposing of those ships; but if they were under the control of the Government to-day, the wheat-growers would have no difficulty in shipping their product to Great, Britain. If it be true that the British Government has suggested that the construction of ships should be undertaken in this country while; the war is in progress, I trust that at an early date shipbuilding yards will be established, not only in Sydney and in Melbourne, but also at other suitable ports on the Australian coast where ample skilled men are available.
I do not wish to deal at length with the conditions under which our militiamen are working; but I consider it most unjust to pay them a rate lower than that which they would receive in their civil occupations. It has been said that the Government is trying to run the service on “ the cheap “, but whether that be so or not, it is most unjust to pay men less than the basic wage. - 1 do not raise this matter in a political sense ; but I trust that the Government will see that those men who have gone into camp receive a higher Tate than many of them are now receiving. A man who renders military service is undertaking a big job, and is entitled to adequate remuneration. The re-introduction of compulsory military training is a mistake. My justification for that assertion is that the voluntary system was yielding reasonably good results. The men who are to be compelled to serve have not the necessary physique or stamina. Why should men of 21 years of age be conscripted^-
– At what age does the honorable senator think that they should commence to train, and how long should they be retained?
– If I had my way no men should be subjected to compulsory training, but if men are to be compelled to serve they should not be under 25 years of age.
– For how long should they be kept in training?
– Senator Brand, who is recognized as a military expert, and has had extensive experience in Australia and overseas, has said that the Government should not call up men under 25 years of ‘age.
– Does the honorable senator agree with the views expressed by Senator Brand concerning compulsory military training?
– I do not. I am in the happy position of having always supported the same defence policy. I do not change my opinions with every wind that blows, as have some honorable senators opposite. The Labour party believes in the deletion from the Defence Act of all reference to compulsory military training.
– The Labour party once supported compulsory military training.
– That portion of the Defence Act in which provision id made for compulsory military training was suspended by the Scullin Government when a reduction of governmental expenditure became imperative. Honorable senators are well aware of the circumstances which prevailed when that government came into office. Our trade balance overseas was worse than it had ever been. The Bruce-Page Government, realizing the muddle it was in, ran for shelter, and the Prime Minister lost his seat. The Treasury was empty, finances were in a chaotic state, and unemployment was rampant. The Scullin Government which followed was faced with the responsibility of governing with the limited funds available. It sought the opinion of its military advisers, who. suggested that in order to save expense compulsory military service could be suspended. At that time disarmament was being considered seriously and the Scullin Government sent Mr. Fenton, one of its Ministers, to represent it at what was believed to be a conference which would lead to world disarmament. The British Government had advised the Commonwealth authorities that in view of world conditions there was no likelihood of war for a number of years. Acute depression was facing the country, money was difficult to obtain, and hundreds of thousands of men “were out of work. It was in these circumstances that compulsory military training was suspended. . In 1931 the Lyons Government came into power, and from that year until recently no attempt had been made to restore compulsory military training. In the policy speeches preceding three general elections, it was clearly stated that if an anti-Labour government were returned conscription would not be re-introduced in any form. Governments of the same political complexion as this Government have been in power for eight years, but until a few weeks ago no attempt had been made to re sume this objectionable form of military service. Honorable senators opposite cannot blame, the Labour party for the unpreparedness which now exists, because, for reasons which are known to every one, when appeals have been made to the people, the electors of Australia have not supported us in sufficient numbers. The- electors were told that when a Labour government wished to issue £1S,000,000 of fiduciary notes it was anxious to get hold of the workers’ savings. On every hand we heard or read the slogan “ Hands off the workers’ savings “. Even workers voted against Labour candidates. I realize the difficulties confronting the Government, but it -is the responsibility of the Opposition to direct attention to the mistakes which have been made and thus give the Government an opportunity to correct them. The Labour party represents a majority of the electors and honorable senators opposite represent only about 15 ‘per cent, who happen to have sufficient money to assist in the winning of an election. Members of the United Australia party have many sources of publicity, including a special press and as much of the radio as they choose to monopolize. In fact, every conceivable advantage lies with the party to which they belong. On the other hand, honorable senators on this side of the chamber are here at the will of the men and women who work and who are able to contribute only a few shillings towards our election expenses, which are not very considerable. Senator Dein would probably spend more in one campaign than I would expend in three, in spite of the fact that in New South Wales, which he represents, the United Australia party is in very bad odour at the moment.
– What verbosity!
– We senators are invariably treated to an exhibition of verbosity when the honorable senator is speaking. Unfortunately for him, he will face the electors next year in a very changed atmosphere. The “ Stevens bubble “ has burst, and the man who was to reform New South Wales so far forgot himself as a statesman as to bring down a “ crook “ balance-sheet. He who impugned the integrity of the Labour party and attacked it most bitterly is to-day in dishonorable retirement, while his successor is the object of ridicule. .Senator Dein should read the booklet, Why I remain a United Australia party man. If he did so, he would wonder why he is a member of that party.
The Labour party stands where it stood on the 6th September last. We shall continue to criticize what we consider to be wrong, and, despite what others may think, we shall emphasize that the party stands first and foremost for the interests of Australia.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wilson) adjourned,
2nd Australian Imperial Force: Departure Overseas - Empire Air Scheme: Details of Training.
– by leave - Shortly after the war began, the Government announced that it proposed to raise a force amounting to a division for service at home or abroad as occasion might require or permit. I have now to inform honorable senators that this force will proceed overseas when it has reached a suitable stage in its training. This, it is expected, will be early in the new year. When the force has had further training overseas, it will by the European spring take up its place in a theatre of war.
As the Prime Minister has repeatedly stated, the Government regards the protection of Australia itself as of primary importance. Indeed, it is naturally the first aim of any Australian defence policy. But our second aim must be and is to make the best possible contribution to the victory of the Empire and allied cause wherever and whenever that contribution is needed. The circumstances at present are that there has been relatively little land fighting between the British and French on ‘ the one side and the Germans ‘On the other. But it would be over-optimistic to imagine that this state of affairs will continue indefinitely, or that there will not be fighting on a great scale in Europe before we are many months older. Whilst we all feel complete confidence with regard to the outcome of the fighting, we should be blinding our eyes to the facts if we did not realize that Germany has an enormous and well- trained army, magnificently equipped, and that an effort of the first magnitude will be required to defeat it.
At the same time, the Commonwealth Government agrees with the other British Governments in thinking- that greater significance will attach to air warfare in this war than in the last. For that reason we have been collaborating with the Governments of the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand in a great Empire air-training scheme, the details of which I hope to be able to announce to honorable senators in a few days. The substantial effect of the scheme will be to give ultimately a commanding superiority to the air forces of the British Empire and of France. We can say at this stage that as a result of the negotiations in Canada, it is clear that a substantial amount of the Commonwealth’s share of the Empire air scheme will be completely carried out in Australia. This will mean the bringing- to Australia of both instructors and aircraft, and that during the whole period of the scheme this country will have in training and in use air forces and aircraft immeasurably greater than anything we have previously contemplated. In other words, for the duration of the war, the Empire air scheme will achieve the dual purpose of contributing powerfully and progressively to the success of the. air arm in Europe and of giving to Australia, through its own air defences, a very great measure of protection against attack. Moreover, we are building up an incomparably better trained Militia and an increasedRoyal Australian Navy. I should add that adequate assurances have been given to the Government with respect to the capacity and availability of the Royal Navy, which after all is our first line of defence, to give us protection against any major aggression. In these circumstances, the Government is of opinion that it is possible, and that being possible it is most desirable, to send the special division abroad.
What has been said will, I hope, afford the most eloquent answer to that broadcast German propaganda, which keeps on hoping day by day that the British dominions are not at one with Great Britain herself. Once more an answer to that foolish hope will be made by Australian soldiers in Europe, by thousands of Australian air men, and by the Australian Navy, which has, since the outbreak of war, co-operated fully with the British navy in the work of keeping the seas as clear as possible of the enemy. I lay on the table the following paper -
War Activities - Despatch of 2nd Australian Imperial Force Overseas - Ministerial Statement, and move -
That the paper be printed.
Debate (on motion by Senator Collings) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 6.11 to 8.0 p.m.
Debate resumed from page 1671.
– As the days pass since the declaration of war, it is becoming more and more apparent that this conflict is likely to be of long duration. I do not think that we should be wise to become too self-satisfied. Nor, on the other hand, do I think that we should under-estimate the part that Australia can, and is prepared to play in the winning of this war. It is clear that two forces are working side by side to ensure victory - our fighting forces, and our financial and economic strength. Australia is so ordering its activities as to bring these two forces to the point of highest efficiency. Immediately upon the outbreak of war, our naval Forces took up their strategic positions and have maintained ceaseless vigil over Australia’s interests. Our army also has been enlarged until to-day we have in training a body of men that can be considered adequate to deal with any potential enemy at the moment. But we cannot feel absolutely safe until every Aus- tralian capable of bearing arms is trained to do his part in defence of the Commonwealth.
– Does the honorable senator mean only those up to the age of 21 years?
– No; I said every man.
– The Government does not think so.
– Under the Defence Act 1903, every man between the age of 18 years and 60 years is compulsorily liable to serve in defence of Australia. That has been the law for 36 years, and it has had the endorsement of every Government and every political party since the Act was passed. The present Government, realizing the obligation that rests upon all Australian citizens to serve in defence of this country in time of war, has set about the business of training our young men to fulfil the obligations imposed upon them under the Defence Act. I welcome the Government’s action in calling up the second group of Australians for training early in the new year. The first group, called up when war was declared, was the Militia - at the time the only trained fighting forces in Australia. Members of the Militia are now serving in various parts of the Commonwealth under the provisions of the law of 1903. The second group that has been called up comprises young men who, this year, will attain the age of 21 years. As time goes on - I hope in the not distant future - every man in Australia capable of undergoing training will have received the necessary instruction to enable him to serve efficiently in time of emergency. It was obvious that the Government could not, at the outset, order into camp for training all of the men in Australia liable to serve under the Defence Act. Some selection had to be made and the Government wisely decided, first to call up the Militia and, more recently, to call up those young men who this year will reach the age of 21 years. Although, as individuals, we may have . other views - we may, for instance, think that men between the ages of 22 years and 25 should first have been required to undergo training - we may take it that the Government has, in this matter, been well advised by the military authorities.
In the organization of our air force, we must, I think, admit that the Government is doing all that is possible to ensure the air defence of the Empire. The intention is to make the Empire air fleet not only the largest, but also the most efficient, in the world. In this aspect of Empire defence, Australia will, I feel sure, play a very important part.
On the economic side, the manner in which Australia has changed over from peacetime to wartime operations is something of which we can be justly proud. The organization of the supply of foodstuffs is quite as ‘important as the organization of man-power. Arrangements have already been made for the sale to Great Britain of £100,000,000 of Australian foodstuffs required for the feeding of British and allied troops. That is a very substantial contribution towards Empire defence, and I urge the Government to take such steps as may be necessary to see that Australia, at all times., makes a maximum effort to supply essential foodstuffs and other commodities to Great Britain. This suggests that our economy should be changed over from the production of non-essentials to essentials. If it is ascertained that certain commodities which we are now producing are not essential for Empire defence, the production of such goods should cease and attention be given to those things which Britain., urgently needs. Already Great Britain is taking almost the whole of our primary products, the exception being wheat, barley, and fresh fruit, so that whilst we have been able to make substantial contribution to Empire security we have also found a market for our producers. By keeping all this important trade in foodstuffs and other essential commodities within the Empire, or between Australia and allied countries, we shall preserve credits that are necessary for the carrying on of war activities. Australia will have to buy substantial quantities of certain goods from foreign countries, in the earlier months of the war at all events, so that we shall require large overseas credits. Although wheat is, at the present time, low on the priority list of exports, I venture to say that within twelve months it may be urgently needed for the provision of foodstuffs for our fighting forces overseas. The consumption of wheat must increase tremendously when millions of men are in military camps for training or are engaged in actual conflict, and the demand will increase when large numbers of men who normally engage in wheat production are under arms, and therefore are non-producers. Another factor in the wheat situation is the heavy loss of shipping that is being incurred. It is reasonable to assume that many of the vessels lost through enemy action have large cargoes of wheat, and we cannot be sure that many more millions of bags of wheat will not go to the bottom of the sea before the war is many months older. Therefore, I would impress upon the Government that although at the present time there appears to be a world surplus of wheat, it is advisable to act with caution so that we may be absolutely sure that British and allied troops will not have to be rationed as the result of a foolish policy of not conserving so essential a commodity. I urge the Ministry to consider the advisability of storing wheat. During the last war it was demonstrated that wheat could be stored for years in dry sand. If the Government shipped some of our surplus wheat to. say, Suez, it could be stored safely there and made available at short notice to Empire and allied fighting forces in time1 of need. I am not unmindful of the difficulties confronting the Government at the present time with regard to shipping generally, and I would urge it to consider immediately the .taking over of the whole of our coastal shipping, and utilizing some of the vessels for the carrying of our primary products overseas. We are now carrying on our coastal vessels goods that could easily and more safely be transported on the railways, thus saving war risk insurance.
– The freight on the railways would be much higher.
– If the railways had the bulk, they could carry the goods for the same price as that charged for sea carriage. Even if this involved additional expenditure, I suggest that the burden should be carried by the Government, because of the advantage which would result from, using our own commodities, such as coal, without expending money for foreign oil, and thereby merely depleting the resources which we need for the adequate defence of the Empire. I put that forward as a suggestion for the consideration of the Government.
Foreign credits will soon be urgently necessary in all parts of the Empire. It is apparent that this war will be much more costly than was the last one. We need only compare the figures for the first, three months of the last war with those of the first three months of the present war to realize the enormity of the bill that will have to be met. Therefore, we shall have to bc extremely careful that we do not allow money to be sent out of this country for things which are not necessary, and which, before long, will be required for the .adequate defence of the Empire.
A little more appreciation of the efforts of Australia in this war, and a little more recognition of the services and sacrifices of the members of our fighting forces would be more helpful to this country than much of the party criticism that is indulged in, not to help the Government, but merely in order to make political capital. I urge honorable senators to tell the people, both inside and outside this Parliament, what part Australia is prepared to play, and to show appreciation of the services of those young men who have made tremendous sacrifices by joining the Militia and other fighting- forces. I know many young men who were getting £5 and £6 a week, but have readily and gladly sacrificed that income for 5s. a day. They are not grumbling; they are prepared to play their part, and we should recognize the sacrifice that they have made.
– Statements by members of the Government with regard to war activities appear to have been made for the purpose of political propaganda. Members of the Opposition are hopeful that this war will end in complete victory for Britain and its Allies. As an Australian, I consider that our first duty is to protect Australia, and to do it in a manner that will safeguard Australian standards. The policy pursued by the Government, however, will reduce the people to a state of semi-starvation, and then perhaps an effort will be made to compel them to accept a policy that will be nauseating to them. The Defence Act which was passed in 1903 was not introduced by a Labour government. A Labour ministry in 1910 brought in the policy of compulsory military training. and I have a clear recollection of the way in which effect was given to the policy subsequently. Before many years had elapsed that government tried to impose, conscription without giving to the people the right to say whether they were prepared to accept that policy. I fear that the Government now in office will, before many months have passed, seek to add to the Defence Act, which provides for’ universal service for borne defence, the words “ and overseas “. A year ago it was said that the voluntary system met the needs of the case, and that the Government did not intend to introduce compulsory training.
– But war has been declared since then.
– Every body thought in September, 1938, that war would break out, yet we were told that Australia would have sufficient volunteers and that compulsory service would not be necessary. I fear that within six months this Government will be urging that conscription is required for service overseas.
More than double the number of volunteers required for the Militia would have been obtained if the people had received the treatment they had a right to expect from an Australian government. For years, from every platform throughout the Commonwealth, and in every parliament, the complaint has been heard that many children attending the State schools suffer from malnutrition. When the campaign was instituted for the building up of the Militia, a large number of volunteers were rejected, because they failed to pass the necessary medical examination. We were told that a very small percentage was rejected. We then discovered that the Government thought it necessary to enlist the 2nd Australian Imperial Force. At the Ingleburn camp there is a dental hut containing twelve dentists and twelve dental mechanics. A large proportion of the volunteers have been rejected as medically unfit. During the last war the number of volunteers exceeded expectations, and men who offered to enlist in 1914 and 1915 were rejected even if they had one tooth missing, or if they lacked a fraction of an inch in chest measurement or height. On this occasion the desired quota of 20,000 troops for the 2nd Australian Imperial Force was not obtained, Queensland being the only State which supplied its full- quota. Of the 16,000 men who offered to enlist a large percentage have been rejected.
– What percentage?
– I believe that over 2,000 men were rejected. If a more exacting medical examination by means of X-ray apparatus were made, the number of rejects would be greatly increased. That very sad state of affairs has been brought about, not by the people themselves, but by this Government, because it has failed to deal effectively with the problem of unemployment. No attempt has been made to provide jobs for thousands of men, although if that were done, they would be enabled to purchase sufficient food for themselves and their children. Thousands of families have had no opportunity to secure nutritious food. Thus has arisen the evil’ of malnutrition, which bo-day is widespreadGiven jobs, the fathers of these families would be happy and contented, and our younger men as a whole would readily volunteer for military ‘service, either at home or abroad. The effects of malnutrition upon our manhood will be emphasized to a still greater degree in the future, when thousands more must be rejected as physically unfit for military service, whether they be called up compulsorily or volunteer for service. The 2nd Australian Imperial Force has been christened the 6th Division. I have memories of the 6th Division in the last war, and I hope that the division which the Government now has in mind will meet with a better fate. I witnessed a train-load of “ Tommies.” sent from Tidworth: they were equipped with ball ammunition with which to shoot down the men of the 6th Division. Twentytwo men of that division were sentenced to imprisonment for two years. The sad part of the story was that while these 22 men were in gaol the Prime Minister, backed up by the press, was denying in the House that a 6th Division existed. The authorities had got together men who had seen active service, with the intention of converting them into storm troopers. I hope that the new 6th Division will escape that unhappy experience. The men of Australia fear that their services will be misused, that they will be sent to a bloodbath somewhere on the other side of the world. Thousands who are unemployed object to rendering such service, because they feel that they have very little to defend.
– They are volunteers.
– Only a very small proportion of them are volunteers.
– All of the members of the Expeditionary Force are volunteers.
– We have the Minister’s word that only a small percentage of them are volunteers. The idea in the mind of the Government in introducing compulsory military training is to mobilize our young men of 21 years of age with a view to making them war.minded before transferring them to the 2nd Australian Imperial Force.
– The quota for the 6th Division has been filled.
– No; the Government is calling for more men for that force. I urge the Government to approach this matter in a more businesslike manner by finding employment for our workers. For that purpose it could utilize some of the millions of pounds which, no doubt, it will be able to find for war purposes. It should finance the social war which our unemployed are waging, and, by providing employment, lift the physical standard of our manhood. These men have a right to the necessaries of life - food, clothing and shelter. Once that right is recognized they will be only too ready to fight in defence of their country, as they fought for it in 191,4-18. Since the last war, however, thousands of men have been given a very raw deal by this Government and its predecessors of the same political complexion.
– A Labour government gave them the rawest deal.
– When the Labour party was in power and volunteers sent overseas were paid 6s. a day, the average wage was £2 10s. a week. To-day when wages generally are from £4 to £6 a week this Government proposes still to pay our soldiers a miserable 6s. a day. If our young men are sent to serve overseas they will go to fight armies which are backed up by the vulture Hitler. Hitler is a product of social and economic conditions similar to those which this Government is content to permit in this country. . When Hitler appeared on the scene unemployment was rife in Germany, and most of the German people were half starved. In those circumstances they sought their salvation in Hitler as the drowning man grabs at a straw. Thus Hitler became Chancellor of Germany. Had the German people been treated more justly there would bc no. Hitler to-day. Neither should we be at. war, or “threatened with war as we have been since Hitler took charge of Germany. I cannot understand why this Government does not realize that fact. A people among whom unemployment is rife cannot have a hopeful outlook on life. In to-day’s Sydney Daily Telegraph appears the photograph of a man, who is serving in camp for 5s. a day. He has seven children. Yesterday his hut, which was built of hessian, wood and iron, was destroyed by fire. While his wife was absent, his kiddies accidentally set fire to the place. That man is prepared to go overseas in order to fight for his country, but that is the kind of home which he is being asked to defend. Thousands of other men, however, are not prepared to do that. Honorable senators opposite know that fact quite well. It is not a laughing matter. I urge the Government to provide work for our unemployed. By utilizing the credit of the country through the Commonwealth Bank it could find millions of pounds for urgent national public works. The Australian people are workers. They are also fighters. Give them a job and they will appreciate it. But the Government does not intend to do that. It is all very well for us to sit here and smile about the matter. I know what it is to live on the dole. The great. Stevens Government in New South Wales threatened to summons me and to cut off my dole because I was receiving ls. Hd. a fortnight over the permissible income. I know what it is like to be on the dole and what it is like to have children depending on that slender income. My children have been obliged to go without food. I sincerely hope that other honorable senators will not have a similar experience. I know how sad the unemployed feel about their position. I appeal tn honorable senators opposite to give serious consideration to this problem at their caucus meetings with the object of influencing the Government to do something “about the matter. Surely honorable senators opposite know of the conditions that I am describing. They must see many people who are to-day going hungry; they must know of men who arc searching for employment, have been ejected from their homes, and are sleeping in the scrub. Such conditions exist in each of the States.
– They do not exist in South Australia.
– The honorable senator is telling a lie. There are none so blind as those who will not see. I urge honorable senators not to talk here as they are in the habit of doing, but to induce the Government at their caucus meetings to deal with this serious social problem.- Cannot they plead to the Government on behalf of the little children who are going hungry ? They are just as important as the children of any honorable senator, and they are entitled to the necessaries of life and a decent standard of living. It is the duty of the Government to give those things to them. On c, it provides them, the men of this country will readily volunteer to defend Australia irrespective of where they may btrequested, to bear arms.
– The papers which wi are discussing represent progressive reports of what the Government has dont in connexion with the defence of thi.-; country since the declaration of war. They have been laid upon the table of the Senate for the perusal of honorable senators, and the Government invites our criticism and suggestions in respect of them. I need hardly add that they have been fully discussed by honorable senator* opposite. In reply to Senator Amour, I am very glad to be able to say that in South Australia we have not experienced the horrible conditions which, according to him, apparently exist in the district where the honorable senator lives.
– Does the honorable senator deny that, such conditions do exist in this country?
– Yes, to the degree mentioned by Senator Amour. The Leader of the Opposition knows as well as I do that the honorable senator’s statement was exaggerated. Reference has been made to various forms of government in operation in other countries and Senator Cameron said that there are no democracies in the world. In Australia we have a model form of democratic government. There is nothing wrong with democracy, but fault can be found with the actions and aspirations of so-called democrats Mob rule is not democracy, and many who support or oppose a democratic form of government merely make noises instead of adducing arguments. Australia is governed under a democratic system, in that the people have direct representation in Parliament. The majority governs. Should the government give effect toa policy of which the people do not approve their representatives’ can defeat the government and elect another. The government represents the majority of the people.
– But this Government does not represent a majority of the people.
– If it does not, why does not the Opposition defeat it?
– We would do it to-morrow.
– The party to which the honorable senator belongs has not the numbers to do so. Honorable senators opposite represent one section of the people and those on this side of the chamber represent another, and if the policy which we support did not meet with the approval of a majority of the electors the Government could not retain office. The Government is giving effect to its defence policy as expeditiously as possible, and in time of war little criticism should be offered. Under norma] conditions we are entitled to criticize the legislation which the government introduces, because it relates to matters affecting only Australia, but in time of war we have to work in co-operation with the mother country and the other dominions, and our policy is influenced to some degree by what is being done in other parts of the Empire. In these circumstances we should be guided by the Government which possesses more knowledge of the international situation than we can be expected to possess.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that we are not entitled to criticize the policy of the Government?
Senator JAMES McLACHLAN.No, but when we do. not know all the facts we are not in a position to offer constructive criticism. We have been told from time to time that we are fighting for a principle, and that we are not opposed to the peoples of any nation; but I do not regard this conflict from that point of view. I believe that the German people are as solidly behind Herr Hitler as we are behind our national leaders, and therefore we are fighting a nation and not an individual. It is too early to consider what shall be done when the war is over, because the conflict has not yet been won, and Great Britain and its allies have yet to defeat a formidable enemy. I believe that in the end we shall be victorious, and we shall then have to consider the treatment which should be meted out to Hitler and his supporters. The Leader of the Opposition deplored the fact that there was an attempt’ by some to stir up international hatred and bitterness; but we should remember that at present we are fighting not only Hitler but the German people who are supporting him. We shall have to deal with them as they would deal with us. Drastic measures will have to be taken not only against Hitler, but also against his supporters. Peace overtures have already been made by the King of the Belgians and by the Queen of Holland, but that is only to be expected because of the situation of those countries and the horrors which Belgium experienced during the last war. Compulsory military training has been re-introduced, but as honorable senators are aware, the Defence Act of 1903 already provides that in time of war every able-bodied man between specified ages must be prepared to defend his country. Senator Cameron quoted extensively from certain books with respect to compulsory military training, but the importation of such books should have been prohibited, because apparently the writers were persons with distorted minds. Another honorable senator opposite said that the division of the Defence
Act providing for compulsory military training was suspended at the suggestion of the British Government led by Mr. Ramsay MacDonald. I had never previously heard of such a suggestion emanating from the British Government. Had Great Britain not adopted the policy of disarmament, we might not now be at war.
– Where have we got to with all our armaments? Both sides are scared to use them.
– We have reached a position in which we are able to combat a most formidable enemy, and thearmaments provided should enable us to win the war. The payments made to themembers of the 6th Division in relation to the basic wage of to-day have been compared with the rates paid to soldiers in 1914, in relation to the basic wage at that time. That wage is computed on the basis of the amount required by a man to maintain himself, his wife and two children. On that basis every man in that division is receiving the basic wage. The rate provided is 5s. a day with a deferred payment of 1s. a day.
– What would 6s. a day purchase in Great Britain ?
Senator JAMES McLACHLAN.How does the British soldier manage who receives only1s. 8d. a day? In the United . States of America where the standard of living is higher than in Australia, a soldier receives only a dollar a day. The English “ Tommy “ is paid 1s. 8d. a day.
– What do his wife and family receive?
Senator JAMES McLACHLAN.They receive a proportionate allowance.
SenatorFraser, - What is the proportion?
Senator JAMES McLACHLAN I do not know. At the rate of 5s. a day an Australian private receives £1 15s. a week. His wife is granted 3s. a day, which amounts to £.11s. a week. If he has two children, an allowance of 14s. a week is payable. Living expenses in the Army are computed at 17s. a week, while the value of the clothingprovided is reckoned at 5s. a week. If those several amounts are added, it will be found that the Australian private receives approximately the equivalent of the basic wage.
– What about military rates of interest and profits?
Senator JAMES McLACHLAN.Although I listened most attentively to the honorable senator’s remarks this afternoon, I did not hear him allude to those matters. If he had done so, I should have been pleased to deal with them now. Honorable senators opposite charged supporters of the Government with inhumanity. In refuting that accusation, I desire to remind the honorable senator that we are just as humane as are members of the Labour party. To talk of sending Australian troops to a “ blood bath “ is to be guilty of gross exaggeration.
– Does not the honorable senator consider that it is a. reality ?
Senator JAMES McLACHLAN.Senator Cameron should be well aware that we, on this side ofthe chamber, are just as deeply concerned about the welfare of our boys as members of the Labour party are about their sons. If the lads of honorable senators apposite are sent abroad, so also will be our sons. We are just as anxious as are honorable senators opposite to keep young Australians away from the front and to protect them in every possible way. To insinuate that we are inhuman and that we are bloodsuckers and profiteers is to descend to the ridiculous. Also, such statements are absolutely unfair.
– I did not hear any honorable senator referred to as a “ bloodsucker “.
– Perhaps the word was “ bloodithirsty “.
Senator JAMES McLACHLAN.If Senator Cameron did not use that word, it is about the only offensive expression that he did not apply to us. Senator Keane referred to the appointment of various persons to offices in which they will render great service to their country. Whilst I do not propose to take exception to all his criticisms, I desire to pay a tribute to one of the gentlemen he . mentioned. The honorable senator asked why Sir George Pearce had been appointed and what had he done to merit it.
– During the Great War, a government of the same political colour as the party to which Senator Keane belongs appointed Sir George Pearce Minister for Defence.
– At that time he was “ red “.
– Presumably because he was “ red “ he could do no wrong. But now that he has become a “ pure, dyed-in-the-wool merino “, everything is wrong with him. Sir George rendered wonderful service to Australia during the last war; throughout his career he worthily upheld the dignity of his various offices and ably attended to his responsibilities. Senator Keane’s declaration that the Government had no right to appoint him to a position in which he will do everything in his power in the interests of Australia was grossly unfair.
– It was a political appointment.
Senator JAMES McLACHLAN Many appointments are political. But so long as the right man is in the right place, that is all that is necessary. Unfortunately, the war will probably continue for a considerable time. So far as one can foretell, the Labour party cannot occupy the Government benches for at least another eighteen months.
Senater McBride. - Eighteen years!
Senator JAMES McLACHLAN.In eighteen months, the Labour party will have an opportunity to regain the treasury bench.
– Apparently the honorable senator is quite resigned to his fate in eighteen months.
– I have been in politics long enough to learn to be resigned to whatever might come. Accordingly, I ask Senator Cameron to become resigned to his fate, if he has not already done so. As the Labour party will have no opportunity to form, a government, during the next eighteen months, it should, in my opinion, give the Government credit for being honest and for endeavouring to do the right thing, and should seek to assist the administration, rather than hinder it.
.- By this time honorable senators should be well versed in the provisions of the Defence Act, of 1903, because Senator Wilson has quoted them over and over again. For my part, I am gratified that no government up to the present has exercised to the limit all the powers conferred upon’ it by that act. Furthermore, I hope that no government in future will have the audacity to take advantage of such sweeping powers.- Although honorable senators ‘ opposite have repeatedly declared that the voluntary system of military training: has failed, such assertions cannot, in my opinion, be substantiated. The voluntary system has never failed, and the greatest possible insult has been heaped upon the young manhood of Australia by the Government through the resumption of compulsory military training. While thousands of men offered their services to defend their country, they were not accepted by the military authorities. Why did the Government definitely refuse to accept them ?
– The Government never refused to accept them.
– The Assistant Minister knows perfectly well that the Government declined to enroll them.
– Senator Amour stated that they would not join up.
– He did not. The men were rejected by the Government. They were not permitted to enlist as. volunteers. When they offered their services, recruiting officers told them that they were not wanted in the Militia. Supporters of the Government cannot deny that statement.
– The honorable senator refers to what occurred last February.
– No ; volunteers were rejected only a few weeks ago.
– Will the honorable senator repeat some of the sentiments that he expressed in Tasmania upon the subject of universal training?
- Senator Wilson will hear, in this debate, a. number of the matters upon which I spoke during the recent by-election campaign, when the Labour candidate was successful in Wilmot.During the last recess, volunteers dosirous of joining the Militia were informed by recruiting officers that their services were not required. I am informed that in some small country towns, waiting lists contained as many as 40 names of men who were anxious to join the Militia.
– The honorable senator should have brought that matter under the notice of the Minister so soon as he became aware of it.
– Did the men join the 2nd Australian Imperial Force?
– I shall refer, to that subject presently, when I propose to charge the Government with having deserted the Australian public. But before Senator Cooper accuses me of concocting some story-
– I do not!
– Is the honorable senator satisfied that my information is correct?
– Not at all; but it was the honorable senator’s duty to bring the facts before the notice of the Minister.
– The honorable senator knows perfectly well that these happenings were occurring throughout Australia.
– I do not.
– The honorable senator should be aware that repeated requests made by federal members to the Minister to establish units of the Citizen Forces in various parts of Australia have been refused.
– The honorable senator refers to an isolated spot!
– I do not. I refer to centres where the municipal councils offered to guarantee the enlistment of at least 300 men, provided that the Defence Department would establish units there. Such offers were refused, although units were created in other centres where only 40 or 50 men enrolled.
– No units were set up in centres that could provide only 40 or 50 men.
– The Assistant Minister is lacking in knowledge of the facts. He has only to refer to the records to ascertain the truth of my statements.
– The records also disclose that the honorable senator, when in Tasmania, advocated universal training.
– I am at present referring to bungling in connexion with that State, and I am trying to show the honorable senator that the manhood of Tasmania are intensely loyal in their desire to defend this great Commonwealth. In the circumstances, it is quite unnecessary to introduce compulsory military training.
– The Tasmanian Labour party supported the principle of universal training, and the late Mr. Ogilvie advocated it in a broadcast throughout Australia. Further, the honorable senator supported it.
– That is definitely untrue. Through ignorance of the facts. Senator Wilson is guilty of a misstatement.
– Was not the honorable senator a member of the Labour party when it carried a resolution in favour of military training?
– I explained that aspect thoroughly on a previous occasion. Senator Wilson will find my explanation in Hansard.
SenatorWilson. - Before the honorable senator was elected to this chamber, he supported the principle of universal training.
– That is untrue. The Minister declared that the introduction of compulsory military training was necessary in order to ensure equality of sacrifice on the part of the people with respect to defence. I should like him to explain what he means by “equality of sacrifice “. Is there any equality of sacrifice in pulling a man away from his job where he is earning 15s. or £1 a day and compelling him to enter a military camp where he will receive 5s. a day. while at the same time appointing chairmen of various committees ‘ and commissions at salaries of £50 a week? While re-introducing compulsory military training, the Government has definitely refused to accept many persons who volunteer for service. The Government has ordered that every young man who this year attains the age of 21 years shall undergo training. This is because young men in that category are usually unmarried, and therefore cheap. Single men between the ages of 22 and 40 are not required to go into camp. The Government will not accept them.
– “What does the honorable senator suggest - that all the men should be called up for training?
– I suggest that the Government should continue the volunteer system. The present proposal is a definite insult to the people of Australia.
– “Who has said that the people have been insulted?
– I do. and large numbers of the people throughout the country are of the same opinion. I say that conscription is an insult to our people, because in the war years, 1914-1S, 410,000 of Australia’s manhood volunteered for service overseas, and 330,000 men were actually sent to fight on European battle-fields. Our casualties totalled no fewer than 226,000. This Government now says that despite the splendid response during the last war, the manhood of Australia to-day will not volunteer for the defence of this country. The Government has insulted our manhood by its action in conscripting our young men. That action was taken after Parliament had gone into recess. The Government was not game enough to submit that proposal to Parliament. It has also been stated that it was necessary to introduce compulsory training in order to maintain the quota of 75,000 for the defence of Australia. That was a definite mis-statement of the facts. The Government did not want to get the full 75,000. As a. matter of fact, it refused to accept some of those who volunteered because, for one reason, it was not in a position lo equip and train them. Senator Wilson, this evening, said that the Government was putting its policy into operation as quickly as possible. I agree with the honorable gentleman. The Government’s haste to introduce compulsory training is duc to its desire to ensure the training of ;i force for service overseas.
– That is pure imagi-nation.
– Before I resume my seat I shall prove what I am saying. 1 do not believe that the Government will get the number required for overseas service. Originally the Government called for 20,000 volunteers for the 2nd Australian Imperial Force. Up to date the enlistments fall short of the required number by 2,705. In 1914, over the same period, the number of enlistments exceeded 40,000, notwithstanding that the medical examination was extremely rigid. To-day the Government is taking almost every man who volunteers for the 2nd Australian Imperial Force and submitting many volunteers to one medical examination. If there appears to be a reasonable prospect of getting the 20,000 required, recruits are subjected to a second examination and those who disclose physical defects are passed out. But if there is any doubt about getting the number required, those who pass the first examination will remain in camp, although they may be much below the physical standard of 1914.
– That statement is not correct.
– It is correct. Not very long ago I asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army the different standard set for the medical examination of members of the Militia Forces and for members of the old Australian Imperial Force. He said that there was no difference whatever. We on this side know that that answer was not correct. I assert that the physical standard of members of the Militia Forces is not up to that of the old Australian Imperial Force, because many members of the Militia who have volunteered for the 2nd Australian Imperial Force have been rejected because of physical defects. One of the reasons for the poor response of volunteers for the 2nd Australian Imperial Force is that the young men of to-day think too much of their mothers, sisters and brothers. They know that their near relations would be without protection in an emergency if so many of the young manhood of this country were sent overseas, as happened during the last war. That is one reason. Another is the* paltry pay offered to the men. This aspect of the Government’s policy has already been mentioned by a number of my colleagues in this chamber. Still another reason is the unsatisfactory treatment meted out to ex-members of the old Australian Imperial Force by the Repatriation Department. The Repatriation Act needs amendment in several directions. Under the existing law considerable numbers of men with claims against the department get it “ right in the neck “ instead of the justice which they are seeking, and which they have a right to expect. Very many of these men have sons of an age which makes them eligible for enlistment in the 2nd Australian Imperial Force, but these young men are not likely to respond to the Government’s appeal because of the treatment of their fathers by an unsympathetic department.
– The honorable senator has made a similar statement before, and has never substantiated it.
– I have mentioned this matter before, and I submit that I have justified everything that I have said. The Assistant Minister knows also that I furnished to him a medical certificate relating to a returned soldier whose case I have repeatedly brought before the department. On the 6th June last. I received the following communication from the Assistant Minister: -
A copy of the attached certificate hasbeen forwarded to the Minister for Repatriation as you suggested.
I charge the Repatriation Department with not giving this man a fair deal.
– The honorable senator said that there were dozens of similar cases, and he produced particulars of two only.
– I said that the Repatriation Department was not dealing justly by this man, and I forwarded to the Minister the medical certificate. Later I received a reply from the Minister for Repatriation regretting that the Government could do nothing in the matter. The Minister added that he would have liked to discuss the case with me while in Canberra. I received that reply just as Parliament adjourned on the 22nd September last. Later, when I was in Sydney,I called to see the Minister, who informed me that he had not received the medical certificate although, as I have shown, it had been forwarded to him on the 6th June.
– What is the man’s name?
– His name is James. I have a copy of the certificate. The Minister did not get a copy of that certificate until I returned to Canberra at the beginning of the September sittings of the Senate. If it had been sent to the Minister, itmust have gone astray. When the Assessment Appeal Tribunal had arranged to consider his case he got four days’ notice, and I was informed that I could not appear before that tribunal on his behalf, when he requested that the case be postponed until the next sitting of the Assessment Appeal Tribunal Evidently the Repatriation Commission not only “ put it over “ James, but over me also. I do not intend to let the commission get away with these matters.- As the case which I have mentioned is not an isolated one, I contend that the treatment meted out to returned soldiers by the Repatriation Department is one very strong reason why the Government is not getting the full number of volunteers required for the 2nd Australian Imperial Force. We have been told that this special force will be sent overseas, but the Government has not yet got the required number. Compulsory training is only the forerunner of conscription in order to enable the Government to keep up reinforcements for the 6th Division when it is sent abroad.
– That. is pure imagination.
– On other occasions in this chamber we have made statements that were described as pure imagination, but which later events proved to be correct forecasts. This Government anticipates spending over £60,000,000 in connexion with its war activities during this financial year. What for? Is this expenditure being incurred because Australia is in danger?
– The Leader of the Senate has said that Australia is in danger. The expenditure of £60,000,000 for defencepurposes certainly leads one to theconclusion that this country is in danger of attack by an enemy. What other danger confronts us? If the expenditure of £60,000,000 to safeguard Australia against attack .is warranted, how can the Government say that 20,000 picked men should be sent from Australia for service in Europe? I suggest that there is no danger of invasion by Germany, and that the only threat to our safety would come from a country situated much closer to Australia. In the event of such an attack, what would become of the mothers and sisters of the Australian soldiers in Europe?
– Might it not be possible to prevent attack by sending our troops overseas?
– We should not prevent invasion by a yellow race by sending our troops to Europe to fight. There is no threat of an attack from Europe.
– But what if Germany succeeded in overwhelming Great Britain ?
– 1 claim that this Government, by reason of its present policy, is definitely selling the people of Australia.
All honorable senators know that the policy of the British Government is to defend, first, the British Isles; secondly, the trade routes; and, thirdly, British possessions. If we are hard-pressed we must first build up our own defences. The policy of the Labour party is almost on the same lines as that of Great Britain. This party believes, first, in the defence of Australia, and, secondly, in rendering to Great Britain any assistance that we can give. If Great Britain went under, and the flower of Australia’s manhood was overseas, what would happen to this country? We cannot shut our eyes to the fact that the massing of men on the Western Front will not play the most important part in this war. The Labour party lias long advocated the strengthening of our air defence, and experience proved that policy to be the correct one. It cannot be denied that Great Britain has advised that this war will be fought to a great extent in the air. If Australia concentrated on the production of aircraft and the training of the necessary pilots, it would, with the addition of an adequate number of submarines, have a good chance of defending itself against an invader. The recent demobilization of 100,000 French soldiers was carried out simply because it was feared that they might ‘be annihilated by surprise air attacks from Germany. If Australia were deprived of the flower of its manhood, our women and children would be left defenceless, in the event of this country being invaded.
In the last war, it was stated at the outset that only a small contingent would be sent overseas, but the numbers eventually grew to 330,000, of whom 60,000 perished. We have read a great deal in the pres3 concerning the declining birthrate of this country. So much suffering has been caused by the last war that the women of Australia ask why they should rear children for cannon fodder. They were told that the last struggle was a war to end wars, and, as the present conflict is likely to be much more intense than the last, Australia should not be bled of the best of its manhood. The Government admits that our troops may be required for the defence of our own country.
– Does the honorable senator imagine that there would be no men left to defend Australia?
– Our population is only 7,000,000, and we have a vast country to defend.
– We are 12,000 miles behind the front line.
– But we are not many, thousands of miles from a nation that has been talking in strong terms to Great Britain, and has been made hostile towards us because of our protectionist trade policy. This fact should be kept in mind before we send the flower of our manhood overseas.
– The honorable senator wants Great Britain to do all the fighting while we shelter here.
– When Britain was hard pushed in 1917, a message was sent to the Commonwealth Government and to the Government of each of the States, that Australia must be prepared to look after itself, because Britain’s hands were full. This fact, in conjunction with recent statements by the Prime Minister of Great Britain, shows that if the Commonwealth Government exercises common sense it will look after Australia first.
I hope that the Government will not proceed with the policy of conscription, which it is now endeavouring to impose. Its present policy is to conscript the manhood of this country, and to send men overseas to fight.
– That is a deliberate invention.
– The Government has no hope of getting the number of men it requires for the 2nd Australian Imperial Force without introducing conscription. In 1914, when the population of Australia was only 4,800,000., we raised 40,000 troops in almost the same period as we have recently taken to enlist 17,000 men, although the population has increased to 7,000,000. I ask honorable senators to note the difference between the response made at that time, and the response on this occasion. If, despite the numbers volunteering at present, honorable senators opposite can contend that the Government will get the full quotas required and reinforcements without conscription, they can see much further than can either honorable senators on this side or the public.
– What number does the Government desire?
– According to statements made by the Minister for Defence (Mr. Street) and the Leader of the Senate, it wants 20,000; and, although up to the present it has not yet secured the full quota of 20,000 men, it intends, according to the press, to launch a recruiting campaign in order to secure reinforcements for that force. The argument of equality of sacrifice advanced by the Government in support of compulsory military training is mere camouflage. The principle of equality of sacrifice is certainly not recognized, when only the youth of this country is compelled to train, whilst the services of men in their prime, who have volunteered, are refused. Senator Brand, who is an old soldier with great experience,reprimanded me for continually harping on the call-up of youths of eighteen. I am very pleased to hear that he has since come round to my way of thinking, and is of opinion to-day that a man of 21 yearsofageistooyoung for service, and that the minimum age of the initial groups for compulsory military training should be raised to 25 years. No doubt the honorable senator will withdraw that reprimand at his first opportunity. In any case I hope that honorable senators opposite will take notice of Senator Brand’s warning that it would be suicide to denude Australia of its man-power in the present crisis by sending men to fight overseas.
– I listened carefully to honorable senators opposite’ who have participated in this debate, but I failed to hear anything new from any of them. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) engaged in one of those phrenetic outbursts which characterizes the leadership of His Majesty’s Opposition in this chamber. He attacked the Government for reimposing compulsory military training, and, as was to be expected, his supporters to a man followed his lead. He even quoted the Oxford dictionary in order to show that there was practically no difference between compulsory military training and compulsory military service. I submit that there is a vast difference. I point out that when the young men of 21 years of age, who have been called up for military training, have completed their training, they will be no more liable for compulsory service than will any other man of military age, because the Defence Act provides that in a time of war every man between the ages of 18 and 60 shall be liable for compulsory military service. Therefore the fact that these young men have been called up for training makes them no more liable for compulsory service than a man of, say, 22 or 30 years of age, who has not been called up for training. Honorable senators opposite are perfectly aware of that fact, but, unfortunately, they are not fair enough to admit it. The Leader of the Opposition went on to refer to a declaration made by the late Prime Minister, Mr. Lyons, during the last election campaign in Tasmania, and accused the late Mr. Lyons, in conjunction with members of the present Government, of a breach of faith. He said that the late Prime Minister promised that there would be no conscription. There has been no suggestion of conscription.It has never been talked of by either the Lyons Government or the Menzies Government, and the Opposition is aware of that fact. The bogy of conscription arose in connexion with the last election, because Mr. Curtin, on his way to New South Wales to open the campaign for the Labour party in that State, delivered a speech partly prepared for him by the Australian Labour party executive and Mr. Lang, in which he was commanded to accuse the Lyons Government of the intention, if it were returned, of introducing conscription for overseas service. It was the late Prime Minister’s reply to Mr. Curtin on that occasion to which the Leader of the Opposition referred. I recall that during the last election campaign in New South Wales a member of the Labour party in the House of Representatives stated at an open-air meeting one Friday night, “ A vote for the United Australia party is a vote to put a gun in your boys’ hands so that they may be sent to a foreign battlefield as cannon fodder “. That statement is characteristic of the damnably unfair tactics indulged in by members of the Labour party. It was iri reply to such statements that the Prime Minister announced that conscription had never been considered so far as he was concerned ; and the fact must be admitted that the late Mr. Lyons was a straight-out anti-conscriptionist. The phrase “ Conscription for military service “ has not to my knowledge been used by any spokesman of the present Government. It is childish and dishonest for honorable senators opposite to say in this chamber and elsewhere that the call-up of these young men for three or four months’ compulsory training is conscription. But honorable senators opposite are not honest with themselves and consequently they are not prepared to be honest with the public. They know well what conscription really is. If compulsory training is wrong, why do not honorable senators opposite admit that the Labour Government, which they are all so ready to commend for having established the Commonwealth Bank, was wrong when it imposed compulsory military training in respect of boys of fourteen years of age? The statements they make are sheer hypocrisy, but unfortunately many of the elector.?, failing to use their intelligence, will be misled by the clap-trap of honorable senators opposite.
In declaring their abhorrence of compulsory training, members of the Labour party prate about the equality of sacrifice. They also claim that compulsory training is undemocratic. No system of compulsory military training which demands equal service from rich and poor alike is undemocratic or unequal in its incidence. On the contrary, it is based on equality of sacrifice and the Opposition knows that. If honorable senators opposite can convince me that compulsory military training is undemocratic I shall be the first to applaud their resistance to it, but their argument will need to be more logical than that which we have heard in this debate. They will need first to strip themselves of the cloak of humbug, and then emerge from the fog of uncertainty in which they have been floundering, with their vision blurred by incapacity, prejudice and misrepresentation. 1 fear, however, that such a change is beyond the Labour party. When the Labour party of old introduced compulsory military training in 1910 Australia was at peace. Although war broke out four years later there was no indication of it in 1910. However, the Labour party at that time believed that in the interests of Australia compulsory military . training was essential, and it legislated accordingly. At least the members of that government were true Labour men, whereas I do not know what the members of the Opposition to-day are, and they themselves do not know. I repeat that in 1910 Australia was at peace. To-day we are engaged in a war in which our existence is threatened by the most ruthless and tyrannical oppressor the world has ever known. If ever there was a time when the service of every man might be required it is the present. The Menzies Government has resolved, in view of the probability that our maximum effort might be needed at any time, to make a start with the military training of our young men. The Defence Act claims of every man between the ages of 18 and 60 compulsory service in a time of war. Yet apparently honorable senators opposite, whilst prepared to take advantage of that provision. would call up our young men and put them into the firing line without knowing how to handle a gun. If we demand military service of a man it is our responsibility to teach him how to defend himself. I cannot see anything wrong with compulsory military training at the present time. We are doing a service to the young men. of this country in teaching them how to defend themselves in the event of their having to engage in war. From an interjection made by Senator Courtice to-day I concluded that the honorable senator objects because one section only of our manhood has been singled out for training. lt is utterly impossible to put all “men in the country into camp and to train them simultaneously. That is economically impossible, and would be unwise from a military point of view. It is far better to concentrate on one draft at a time and to do the job reasonably well than to flounder about with numbers too large to be handled effectively. We do not know when the young men who will be trained next year will be called on for service. It might be three or four years hence; it may never be; we do not know. Therefore we say to them, “ Young men of 21, we are at war; we do. not know when your services and the services of every young nian may be required., but we are going to teach you some of the principles of self-defence.” The young men of . this country do not object to compulsory military training; neither do their parents, some of whom have said that the training will benefit their sons, who they know are being trained not necessarily for military service, although they may be called upon to serve at some time as the Defence Act provides.
Honorable senators on this side of the chamber are particularly interested in the so-called defence policy of the Australian Labour party. That remarkable policy was outlined in the Sydney Town Hall on the 20th November by the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Curtin), who,- upon that memorable occasion, made use of these words. “ The Labour party finds itself inevitably, unequivocably and inflexibly on the side of Britain “. Those noble words sounded well and appeared so interesting that I read through the whole speech in an endeavour to find to what degree the party’s “ inevitability, unequivocability, and inflexibility “ were involved, but there was not one word in any other portion of the speech to support what appeared to be a very attractive phrase. In other words, the Labour party, according to Mr. Curtin, is on the side of Britain, but between Great Britain and Australia there are two oceans and 12,000 miles. The Labour party will see that those two oceans and those 12,000 miles shall be kept between us and the European danger. He further said, at the same meeting, that “ it was the Labour party’s obligation to uphold the integrity of the British. Commonwealth of Nations “. Having read the speech I defy any honorable senator to find the slightest evidence that the members of the Labour party are prepared to lift even a little finger in the defence of the British Commonwealth’ of Nations. A few months ago, when Mr. Curtin was asked to clarify the Labour party’s defence policy, he said, “Labour’s defence policy does not mean that Australia will not lend assistance to New Zealand or to New Guinea “. The Australian people want to know not what the Labour party’s policy does not mean, but what it actually does mean. At a later stage, Mr. Curtin said, “ While the war lasts, Labour will continue the struggle for victory by Britain “. Those again are noble words, but what do they mean? In what way does the party propose to continue the struggle for Britain’s victory? At the meeting to which I have referred, there was a struggle, not for victory for Britain, but a struggle for unity within the party. The Labour party, which was described as being rotten to the core, was struggling for unity in its own ranks, and not for the preservation of the British Empire. The struggle of the party was to get 100,000 unfortunate recruits to pay their ls. to .the Labour movement, and to get 150,000 readers for that notorious paper known as the Daily News. The danger to the British Empire, and” the position in which Great Britain found itself, were nothing compared with the struggle for Labour unity and for recruits for the Labour movement. Twelve months ago, when an appeal was being made for recruits for the Militia Forces, not one member of the Opposition offered his assistance; but, when it was a matter of obtaining recruits for that despicable newspaper and the unfortunate Labour movement, the members of the Opposition lent their support. Notwithstanding this, they claim that they are in favour of the voluntary system of training. There has been no evidence on their part that they are willing to assist in the preservation of the British Empire. According to the- policy outlined by Mr. Curtin, this is the way in which the Labour party will assist in the struggle: “ There must be no requisitioning of our manhood for service in a war theatre thousands of miles away “. In other words, the Labour party says to Britain, “ We are in the war with Britain, but. no man shall go from Australia to help our kith and kin “. He went on to say, “ The Australian Labour party not only rejected compulsory military training and the sending of an expeditionary force abroad, but also rejected conscription “. That is a very definite statement. I’ remind honorable senators opposite that the members of the Labour Government in New Zealand, some of whom were prosecuted because of their anti-conscription activities during the last war, have offered an expeditionary force to Britain; Canada has done the same, but the members of this great Australian Labour party will not do anything. We cannot see the outcome of this great conflict. We shall win; but we shall require to put forth a tremendous effort. For all we know, Britain and its allies may need the help of every man of fighting age in order to secure victory. The late Mr. Andrew Fisher, a Labour Prime Minister, pledged Australia “ to the last man and the last shilling”. He was a Labour man, but I am sorry that I cannot say that of any honorable senators opposite. The struggle may become so intense, so bitter, and so severe that all .men of military age in the dominions may be- needed; a contingent from Australia might possibly turn the fight in our favour. Nothwithstanding this, the great Labour party in Australia says, “Empire soldiers, carry on - we are on your-. side,- we shall struggle for victory. We are inevitably, unequivocally, and inflexibly for the preservation of the Empire, but we prefer to watch the fight from a distance. Carry on, boys, and good luck to you”. That is the craven attitude of the Australian Labour party. No wonder they sit in silence. There is no kick in them, and they are ashamed of their defence policy. I think I have summed up the policy of the Labour party as enunciated by Mr. Curtin on the occasion mentioned. Is there any wonder that the electors will have nothing to do with it? Who is supporting this great Labour movement? I have heard in the Sydney Domain certain supporters of Labour declaring - “ Not a man, not a ship, not a gun shall leave Australia “.
I wish now to refer briefly to certain statements made by Senator Amour, who made a justifiable plea on behalf of those who are compelled to receive food relief. I would remind him that honorable senators on this side of the chamber are just as humane and sincere as are honorable senators opposite, but we do not have to get votes by prating about what we do. I regret that Senator Amour is temporarily absent from the chamber, because I should like to remind him that in 1930 and 1931, when a Labour government was in power in New South Wales, the amount of food relief allowed was much lower than it is now, and that the wages tax was the highest, but not one word of criticism was offered by the members of the Labour party. They preferred to remain silent while people suffered extreme hardship. It therefore ill becomes Senator Amour or any other honorable senator to make statements such as were made on this subject, this evening. The present New South Wales Government has not only increased considerably the amount allowed for food relief, but; has also reduced the wages tax, which, T admit, should be reduced still further. It has also increased the permissible income, which was very low when the Labour Government was in power. If these unfortunate people are being harshly treated - I admit that they are not treated as liberally as they should be - what was the Opposition doing when a Labour government treated them even more severely? At the time certain members of this Parliament went through New South Wales commending the Labour Government.
– It was worth commending.
– Apparently the people did not think so.
In common with other honorable senators, I do not think that the militiamen are being treated as liberally as they should be.
– The honorable senator should be careful.
– There is no need foi rae to be careful. I do not go into the party room and pledge myself to vote with the majority. I can do as I like here, and although I am an officer of the Government, I am not bound as are the members of the party to which the honorable senator belongs.
– The Prime Minister will hear of what the honorable senator is saying.
– I have no fears in that respect; the right honorable gentleman can read what I have said and I shall not need to apologize for .it. The honorable senator has to .vote as he is directed in the caucus room. I would not be bound in thai way by any party or by any individual. While a member of the United Australia party I can vote as I desire, and it ill becomes the caucus-bound honorable senator to throw insults at me. I do not believe that the militiamen have been treated as liberally as they should have been. With a few other members of this Parliament, I voiced my protest in Sydney some time ago, and subsequently the rates were increased. We did not receive any caning or raps over the knuckles. The increase was not so great as it should have been, and undoubtedly there is inequality of sacrifice. Militiamen are making a sacrifice out of all proportion to that of the rest of the community. After voicing my opinion in that direction, certain increases were granted, but they’ were not so great as I had hoped.
– The honorable senator supported the request of the Labour party. He took his cue from us.
– Rot and rubbish ! Li is the same old story. On the day on which the rates of pay appeared I consulted some of my colleagues in the federal members’ rooms in Sydney, not with the idea of obtaining some political kudos, but in the interests of the men on whose behalf I was speaking. My protest was made within three hours of the publication of the rates in the press. In the circumstances, how can honorable members opposite declare with justification that I took my cue from the Labour party? However, such remarks are characteristic of the Opposition, which claims to possess a monopoly of the milk of human kindness.
I was. gratified to have au opportunity to participate in this debate. Honorable senators opposite have been repeating the same old story for the last two years, and on this occasion I was tempted to fire a shot in reply. Naturally my remarks have not been appreciated by the Opposition, who know that none of my statements can be refuted.
– Listening to the vitriolic speech of Senator Dein I gathered that he was greatly concerned about a difference in policy between the Labour parties in Australia, and New Zealand, respectively. In his enthusiasm he apparently forgot one very important factor with respect to the policy of the Government of New Zealand. If the Common wealth Government paid Australian soldiers the equivalent of the amount granted by the Labour Government to New Zealand troops, it is possible that the 20,000 men which we require for service overseas would quickly be obtained.
– That is not the point a t issue !
– Obviously it does not suit the honorable senator to accept that suggestion. Despite all the sympathy that he expressed towards the public for the sacrifices that they are called upon to make, not once did he mention that the soldiers are being grossly underpaid. Honorable senators opposite claim that the Labour party does not possess a monopoly of sympathy, but I did not hear them make one remark of sympathy for the troops. Senator Dein uttered not a word in support of the Labour party’s proposal to increase the pay of those who are making the greatest sacrifice.
– The honorable senator should be fair. In my concluding remarks I advocated that an increase should be granted.
– I am fair to this extent, that the Government yielded to the pressure of public opinion and increased .from 9d. to ls. a day the allowance payable in respect of a child. Senator Wilson. - Does the honorable senator support the policy of the Government of New Zealand in regard to sending troops overseas?
– Although Senator Wilson, when speaking, might have considered that he was addressing his remarks to the ministerial statement, he referred to no subject other than the export of wheat. For my part, I do not intend to digress.
– I hope the honorable senator will offer constructive criticism.
– I am always prepared to support Senator Wilson if he offers anything constructive. Until the signing of the Munich Agreement, Germany absorbed one country after another, und finally the British and French Governments gave a. guarantee to Poland that if it were attacked by Germany they would go to its assistance. Although the ministerial statement refers evasively to our war aims, such as the preservation of democracy, I have yet. to hear a pronouncement on our real fundamental objectives.
– The fundamental objective is to win the war.
– Exactly ! That is. the all-important objective and the Labour party subscribes to it. Our paramount objective is to be victorious. The second aim is to create, after the war, a better Europe. I am profoundly disappointed with the Government’s statement because it is so indefinite. The Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mr. Chamberlain, declared that the Allies have guaranteed the independence of Poland. The first Lord of the Admiralty, Mr. Winston Churchill, in a fiery speech that was broadcast throughout the world, asserted that the Allies would prosecute the war until Poland and Czechoslovakia were freed from
German domination. But the map of Europe has been radically changed during recent months. While expressing our determination to free Poland from German domination, we make no reference to the fact “that Russia now occupies a large portion of Polish territory. The Allies are not at war with the Soviet. In fact Great Britain is endeavouring to negotiate a trade agreement with Russia. The statement with regard to our war aims is most indefinite, because no guarantee has been given that the portion of Poland acquired by Russia, will eventually be restored to the Poles. That our war aims are very nebulous is an opinion which the Commonwealth publication Current Notes on International Affairs supports. On the 3rd November last, in answer to a question relating to the war aims of the Allies, the British Foreign Secretary!, Lord Halifax, stated that it was not reasonable or possible to define in advance, at what moment or in what way, the British purposes would be achieved. He emphasized that the Allies and the dominions would have to be consulted before any settlement “could be made. On the 5th November, referring to Great Britain’s war aims, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons, Mr. Arthur Greenwood, de-“ cla red that Britain entered the war with the firm purpose of ending for ever the torture of other nations by dictatorships. “When the war is over, we shall see that there is freedom not only for ourselves but for German peoples and for all other peoples “, he said. On the 7th November Lord Halifax outlined the Allied war aims in the following words : -
There are two questions that arc likely to present themselves with growing insistence to thoughtful minds. 1. What is the real purpose of our struggle? 2. Can we feel secure that through victory in this conflict of physical forces we can achieve that purpose.
Therefore we have no definite views either from the British Government or the Commonwealth Government with respect to our fundamental war aims. All we know, and the Labour party subscribes to it, is that the Allies must be victorious.
I now desire to quote a circular letter, - its accuracy I do not vouch for - which was addressed to members of the
Commonwealth Parliament, and which, I believe, was published in the press -
We, a section of mixed ratings on board ships of the Royal Australian Navy regret that on account of the unreasonable attitude of the Navy Board in considering our grievances as advanced by ratings four months ago, are compelled to ask Federal members to intervene on our behalf.
This is necessary in order to stop a state of chaos from arising, which, we honestly believe will inevitably take place unless our grievances are rectified.
Ratings are cognisant of the fact that increases of pay were gained in the Royal Navy and New Zealand Navy by ratings taking direct action.
We appeal to you as a Federal member, with the welfare of our country at heart, to assist us in a request for decent rates of pay for naval ratings and avoid arriving at a state of affairs that will be regrettable to a service who desire to remain loyal. For decency’s sake it is ridiculous to expect us to live on a wage a little better than that of a relief worker.
Rates of pay, for example for ratings are 2s. per day, for an able seaman and a stoker 7s. 6d. per day, while ordinary seamen get £3 4s. per fortnight.
Trusting you see the justice of our request and appreciate that under the circumstances we cannot sign this letter, but are prepared to attend an enquiry where there will be no victimization.
– -It is undated, for reasons that must be obvious to the Assistant Minister.
– Is it of recent origin ?
– Yes; I received it two days ago.
– Why did not the honorable senator inquire if the statements were accurate.?
– It is not my business to inquire into the correctness or otherwise of letters sent to me. As a representative of the people, I consider it my duty to bring to the notice of Ministers matters which, I believe, should be investigated.
– The Minister for the Army says that the contents of that letter are not correct.
– If the Leader of the Senate can give me an assurance to that effect I am prepared to accept it.
– Why did not the honorable senator have sufficient intelligence to find out whether the statements were correct before he read them?
– I do not claim a monopoly of intelligence, but I do claim to have courage enough to stand up in this chamber and read letters sent to me dealing with matters of public importance. If the Minister can assure me that the contents of this letter are not accurate, 1 shall accept his assurance.
– - I received a copy of that letter and made inquiries as to the correctness or otherwise of the statements contained in it.
– In a statement recently, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said, as reported in the West A.ustralian -
The Federal Government this year would spend more than £(10.000,000 on defence. This was nearly £30,000,000 more than the expenditure contemplated on the greatly extended defence programme that was planned before the war and confirmed at the meeting of Premiers held simultaneously with the last meeting of the Loan Council, at which a borrowing programme of £41,000,000 was approved.
This greatly increased expenditure indicates that taxation increases will not end with those announced in the budget presented to Parliament last session,” Mr. Menzies said. “ New taxation measures are certain to be introduced in the supplementary budget that will be presented during the next session of Parliament. The Government, for some time, has been exploring fields that might be exploited. Tentative decisions have already been’ made but, officially, they are being kept a close secret.”
Unofficially, it is stated that the new measures, in addition to a further increase in income tax, will include various forms of war taxation,” particularly on luxuries. Mr. Menzies said in his statement that more than £00,000.000 would be spent on defences this year.
In reply to a statement by the Premier of Queensland (Mr. Forgan Smith) that the Government “ was running the war on the cheap,” Mr. Menzies said: “I have always envied Mr. Forgan Smith’s capacity for turning a neat phrase. The phrase ‘ trying to run the war on the cheap ‘ is certainly very neat, but. like so many neat phrases’, its sound is better than its meaning. The fact is that, in the first year of the last war, Australia spent about £15,000,000, while, in the first year of this conflict, Australia’s expenditure will be mine than £00,000.000. “ If this is what Mr. Forgan Smith calls cheap.’ I wonder what his idea of full-blooded expenditure is. Perhaps I will find out at the meeting of the Loan Council. “ 1 agree with Mr. Forgan Smith. As regards the payment of troops, it appears to me that this Government is running the war as cheaply as possible. By this I do not mean that any higher payment made to members of the naval, air or land forces could compensate them for the risks they run in carrying out their duties.
The Minister for the Army (Mr. Street), dealing with the pay of compulsory trainees from the 1st January, 1940, has stated that it will be at the rate of 5s. a day for single men, that the allowance for a soldier’s wife will be 3s. a day, and for each dependent child, ls. a day. The allotment for a soldier’s wife will be sufficient only to pay rent, and the ls. a day allowance for each child is less than the amount that is being paid by the Child Welfare .Department of the State which 1 have the honour to assist to represent in this chamber. Senator Dein has claimed some credit for having been responsible for an increase of military pay. I have studied all the available data dealing with this matter, and I find that at the beginning of next year, when the compulsory training system will come into force, there will be a decrease of the pay to unmarried members of the Militia If o rees, whilst the pay of members of the 2nd Australian Imperial Force will be raised to 5s. a day. Actually the Government will save 3s. a day in respect of the pay of unmarried members of the Militia Forces whose pay will be reduced from 8s. to 5s. a day.
– The men knew that the rate was fixed.
– It is true that men enlisting in .the 2nd Australian Imperial Force knew what they were undertaking, but the point I wish to make is that although the Government is to pay to members of the 2nd Australian Imperial Force 5s. a day, the rates of pay for members of the Militia Forces will be reduced from 8s. a day to 5s. a day from the 1st January next.
– In the case of single men, yes.
– What would the honorable senator pay them?
– Having regard to what is being done by the Labour Government in New Zealand, I consider that men called up for service in Australia should receive a like amount. I say this because if the Government wants the Australian Army to be efficient and the men satisfied, our soldiers must know that their conditions of service and rates of pay are at least equal to those of members of the forces of the other dominions. Unless there be equality, I am afraid there will be trouble. The New Zealand Government is paying its volunteers £4 Ils. a week. As Australia is paying its compulsory trainees 5s. a day, I think this Government is courting trouble.
– There were many variations of pay among British and dominion forces in the last war, and there was no trouble.
– On this subject I have received the following circularletter from Mr. Bolger, the general secretary of the Queensland State Service Union, under date the 22nd November : -
The quarterly summary of Australian statistics. Bulletin No. 15f>, for the quarter ended the 30th June. 1939. page 73. shows that the. weighted average nominal weekly rate payable for a full week’s work at 31st December, 1914, was 55s. 7d. The base rate of pay for the soldier was then fis. per day. The summary shows the weighted average weekly rate at’ 31 st March. 1939, waa 93s. 4d. The working of a simple sum in proportion will prove that, to establish relativity with 1914 figures, the present base rate should he 10s. Id. per day.
And the same rate of increase should apply to marginal rates above the base and to wives’ and children’s allowances, unless it is contended that the 1.914-1918 rates were too high - a contention which, I am sure, will not be advanced.
The Acting Commonwealth Treasurer, Mr. Spender, in a statement issued in Canberra, on Monday last, said, “ There is a curious delusion abroad, even in circles usually wellinformed, that our London coffers shortly will be overflowing to a degree which will suggest, either repayment of external debt or an appreciation of the Australian pound as compared with sterling. I am constitutionally an optimist, but I cannot rise to these heights “. A contemplation of this statement evokes another line of thought. In KU4. the rate of exchange wa.s in favour of Australia, so that’ those thou serving with the Australian forces overseas benefited by the appreciation above nominal value of the Australian pound. If those who serve overseas during the present war are to be paid in terms of Australian currency, they will receive, as the equivalent of the Australian pound in England, approximately 15s. 0d.. provided, of course, the Australian pound does not depreciate in value. The Assistant Treasurer, as the statement I quoted shows, sees no possibility of its appreciation.
I have communicated with the Deputy Director (Queensland Branch) of the Ministry for Information, who writes me as follows: - “ In reply to your question, ‘ If Australian soldiers go overseas, will they be paid in English or Australian currency while on service, say, in Britain or on the Continent ‘? “ I have to inform you that this is a matter of policy to be determined by the Cabinet. If it has been determined. Cabinet has not yet made an announcement “.
So that, not only does the Australian serving with the Defence Forces in 1039 receive approximately three-fifths of what he should receive to establish parity with the pay of his forerunner in 1914, but, unless the Commonwealth Government decides otherwise, if he goes overseas that three-fifths will be depreciated by the adverse exchange, so that in the final analysis, he will receive, overseas, less than one-half the pay the digger received in 1914.
I have requested the Trades and Labour Council in Brisbane to approach the Prime Minister in this matter through the Australian Council of Trade Unions, and action has been taken along that line. Any assistance you can give to bring about an improvement in rates of pay for, and in allowances for dependants of those whose sense ofpatriotism has induced them to enlist in the Defence Forces of Australia, obviously willbe appreciated toa high degree.
That statement cannot be refuted.
– It is not mentioned by Mr. Bolger that food and clothing are provided by the Government.
SenatorFRASER- They were supplied in 1914. The Sydney Sun of Thursday, the 16th June, contained the following news item: -
Soldiers’ Families get Allowances.
The Minister for War (Mr. Hore-Belisha) has announced that increased allowances will be paid to soldiers’ wives and families. The increase will be effectivefrom last Monday.
Up to £2 a week will be added where the rent paid bythe wife is out of relation to the existing allowance.
The allotment for children, after the first, child, will be increased by1s. for the second and third and 2s. for each subsequent child.
The lowest scale for a household with eight, children will be £211s. a week, excluding rent.
Yet it is proposed to make the allowance for children in Australia only1s. a day.
I have received from the Western Australian Branch of the Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association the following letter, dated the 27th October., 1939, with respect to leave for war service to Commonwealth Public Servants: -
By direction of mycouncil I desire to respectfully enlist your aid in connexion with the impending consideration by Parliament of the general question of remuneration of public servants undergoing military training and war service.
Whilst Commonwealth public servants do not seek favoured treatment in the event of being compulsorily called up for war service, they do consider that they have a legitimate grievance having in mind the conditions under which federal servants originally enlisted for militia and/or war service.
For a long time prior to the declaration of war. Commonwealth servants called up for military training in Australia received their full public service pay in addition to military pay. The authority for this was Commonwealth Public Service Regulation 51. This very generous treatment was doubtless part of the Government’s policy for the encouragement of enlistment in the Militia. Wide publicity was also given to the need for building up the defence forces of the Commonwealth, and em plovers throughout Australia were strongly urged to offer every inducement and encouragement to their employees to enlist.
Even after war became a grim reality the Federal Cabinet decided on the 5th September, 1939, that Commonwealth employees whose services were required for defence purposes - including war service - would be paid the difference, if any, between their civil and defence pays.
Undoubtedly the very liberal pre-war conditions and probably also Cabinet decision of the5th September, 1939, induced many public servants to enlist.
Subsequently, however, the Federal Government revised its decision, and on and from the 18th September, 1939, the following conditions apply to its employees in respect of defence leave : -
Almost simultaneously with this, the period of compulsory camps of continuous training was extended to one month.
As a result many federal public servants now find themselves in a position which will cause great hardship and very serious financial embarrassment. The compulsory calling up of Commonwealth employees who have voluntarily enlisted for militia training now involves a period of greatly reduced pay. For the majority of public servants defence pay is very much below their civil pay. Consequentlytheir loss will be great. In fact, it will be quite impossible for most of them to meet their obligations for any length of time.
Those who enlisted voluntarily with the full knowledge that reduced pay would apply are in quite a different category, as they would obviously not have enlisted unless they were able to make adequate domestic arrangements before doing so.
Apart from any other consideration, a member of the pre-war military forces would find himself in a most invidious position if he now desired to withdraw from those forces because of straitened circumstances. One of the many of his problems would be the stigma df cowardice in time of serious trouble.
Taking everything into account, especially the conditions under which Commonwealth public servants originally enlisted for military training and/or war service, it is considered that they have real cause for complaint. The Government’s latest action is particularly hard to understand when it is remembered that it is directly opposed to the very strong representations made to all other employers to encourage and facilitate enlistment.
In all the circumstances, any action which you may see your way clear to take in order to remedy the unenviable and difficult lot of federal public servants in this direction will be regarded by them with appreciation and gratitude.
The conditions applying to employees in respect of defence- leave affect, not only Commonwealth public servants, but also State government employees. The only body, so far as I am aware, that has observed the conditions previously set out by the Government is the Commonwealth Bank. There has been a distinct repudiation of a contract made with the public servants. The soldiers and sailors are not receiving the consideration that their position demands. Some men have served in the Militia for many years. Others, who have joined up since the outbreak of the war, have, as Senator Wilson remarked, given up jobs in civil life for which they were receiving £5 or £6 a week, but they still have their private financial commitments to meet.
T have received a letter from a citizen of Perth whose husband has been called up for service, and who is greatly concerned with regard to. the payment of future instalments to the War Service Homes Commission. The following is the reply she has received from the War Service Homes Commission : -
Further to your recent interview in connexion with the payment of future instalments duo to the War Service Homes Commissioner in view of the enlistment of your husband with the Garrison Battalion, I have to advise that the full particulars of the case have been submitted to the War Service Homes Commissioner for his decision.
I have now received advice from him to theeffect that it will be necessary for the ordinary outgoings in connexion with the contract foi the purchase of the home to be met in Unusual way. In view of this position regular payments of at least the instalment of i’A 16s. od. per month are required.
The Government is not meeting iti responsibility to the Militia. Representations have also been made to me by naval reserve men who have been called up for service. When a man’s earning capacity has been reduced by the fact that ha is serving his country, his circumstances should be taken into consideration in assessing his liability to the Government.
I realize of course that it is difficulfor the Government to lay down a definite policy in regard to this measure. Some men have received increased pay through leaving civil employment and joining the Army, the Navy or the Air Force. As in the last war, I fear that the greatessacrifices will be made by the workers. Only recently we noticed that, because of the special qualifications of a certain individual, he is to be taken from a job for which he received a salary of £2,500 a year, and is to be paid £3,000 a year. He is also to get an additional allowance of £2,000 a year because of the inconvenience suffered by him ! Trouble wil! arise from the fact that members of the 2nd Australian Imperial Force are to receive lower military pay than members of the New Zealand forces. I am not concerned merely with the small monetary gain involved in an increase of the soldier’s wages. No amount we can pay them will be adequate recompense for the service they render to the country. The women and children left behind carry just as great a burden as do the men who serve in the trenches, and it is the duty of the Government to see that they are properly fed and clothed while their menfolk are on active service. They cannot buy the necessaries of life out of the mere pittances which they receive to-day. So long as I remain a member of this Senate I shall plead on their behalf at every opportunity, and urge the Government to raise the wages of our soldiers and sailors. We depend upon these men to defend this country; yet the Government is content to pay less in respect of their children than the allowances paid by the State Welfare Departments. 1 feel very strongly on this matter, and I hope that the Government will take notice of what I have said. Care has been taken in order to ensure that private enterprise operating the Government annexes shall receive 4 per cent, profit on turnover. Surely, then, our soldiers and sailors are “worth something more than the pittance they are paid to-day.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cooper) adjourned.
Assistance to the “Wheat Industry - Commonwealth Railways : Dining Car Employees.
– In moving -
That tlie Senate do now adjourn,
I wish to make a further statement with reference to the wheat industry. A few days ago the Government announced that it had made certain financial arrangements in relation to the new season’s harvest. That announcement produced a good deal of discussion - some of it based upon misapprehension of the position - which proceeded very naturally from the undoubtedly distressed condition of this great industry. Towards the end of last week the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) received two deputations, at each of which I was present, consisting of senators and members of this Parliament. One deputation was led by the Leader of the Country party (Mr. Archie Cameron), and the other by the honorable member for “Wannon (Mr. Scholfield). The members of each deputation showed a full appreciation of the magnitude of the financial responsibility undertaken by the Government in relation to the payments already announced, but all of them urged that, having regard to the real need, the greatest possible first payment should be provided. It is fair to say also that it was recognized that at this stage no indication of what the -ultimate harvest realization might be was feasible.
In the light of the representations made, the Government has once more exhaustively considered the problem. I wish to make it quite clear that Ministers are fully appreciative of the importance of the wheat industry, and keenly sympathize with the difficulties by which wheat farmers, through no fault of their own, find themselves surrounded. Our attitude all through has been that we should go as far as wa3 humanly possible in attempting to relieve the position: The matter is one of intense difficulty all round. It. is estimated that a marketable harvest of approximately 160,000,000 bushels will be available. That total is being compulsorily acquired and its marketing is a matter for the Australian Wheat Board. But I must state quite plainly, not for the information of honorable senators, who appreciate the position, but for the benefit of some farmers who may have been misled on thi3 matter, that the marketable harvest is by no means marketed, and that, in fact, it may very well’ be that a considerable proportion of it will remain unsold at the end of the selling season. Local consumption will account for approximately 30,000,000 bushels, while quantities which are estimated at between 5,000,000 and 10,000,000 bushels may be sold for stock feed. The making of further sales will depend upon the obtaining of overseas markets, and what is not less important, the obtaining of the necessary shipping to transport the wheat to those markets. We are still in negotiation with Great Britain and with foreign countries.
The simple position is that, if we are able to sell and deliver such a quantity of the new wheat as will recoup the advances to be made and leave a margin for further distribution, the Government will be more than pleased, and will then be in a position to consider the question of supplementary assistance. But if the sales overseas are of small volume and the total receipts from the harvest, therefore, fall short of the advances now being provided, the loss will fall upon the Government, and, as honorable senators will see, that loss may, in certain contingencies, amount to millions of pounds. Whilst the genuine desire of every member of the Government is to do the best possible for the wheat-grower, it- is plainly unreasonable to expect that we can at this stage even hazard a guess as to what the ultimate return to the grower will be.
In the light of all of these considerations, we have once more given the most earnest thought to representations made by honorable senators and by others who speak for the wheat industry. I am now able to announce that we have arranged not only that the amount of the advances shall be increased to 2s. I0£d. a bushel for bagged wheat, less rail freight, and 2s. S£d. a bushel ‘for bulk wheat, less rail freight, thus giving an average return of 2s. 6d. a bushel on bagged wheat at the country siding, but also that the advances shall be paid in one amount as soon as practicable after delivery of the wheat These advances, financed by the Commonwealth Bank, are guaranteed by the Commonwealth Government and will involve a gross liability of approximately £23,000,000. Sales for local consumption, plus flour tax, will bring in approximately £7,500,000, whilst local sales for stock food may, as estimated, produce something over another £1;000,000. The balance represents a possible liability to the Government, which would, of course, be reduced by the making of overseas sales, but which will remain at an unprecedented level unless those sales achieve substantial proportions.
I earnestly say that these financial proposals represent not only a fair but also a generous approach to the problem by the Government, and I should welcome the cooperation of honorable senators in bringing about a general realization of this fact. After all, some regard must be paid to maintaining some limit upon the accommodation to be provided by the Central Bank, which is, in connexion with this war, already shouldering vast and growing responsibilities. Irresponsible talk of limitless millions would, if given effect to, produce a grave inflation of costs and prices; and the damaging impact of such a policy would be most felt by primary producers who cannot pass op their increased costs, and who in the last resort have the most vital interest in the financial stability of the nation.
I may add that all of the factors to which I have referred give rise to a wellfounded fear that large stocks of wheat will remain unsold at the end of the season, and that substantial losses will be incurred. For this reason, it will be clear to honorable senators that the policy adopted by the Government in the present emergency cannot be regarded in any sense as permanent, nor even as applying for the duration of the war. It is for the 1939-40 season only, and the Government will review the whole position at once. Senators are well aware that, in August last, the Prime Minister placed before the Premiers the Commonwealth Government’s plan for stabilization of the wheat industry. That plan envisaged stabilization of prices, subject to the limitations of Government finance, and stabilization of production during such time as special financial assistance was necessary. Both of those principles are sound, and must still be regarded as the permanent policy. We have had to adopt special measures this year because, under war conditions, we are faced with a bountiful harvest, and with grave marketing difficulties, and have not had the opportunity to adjust the industry to those conditions. It is most important, however, that these special measures should not be. allowed to obscure the position, nor to confuse the market realizations for wheat with the grant of financial assistance.
The function of marketing should remain separate from the function of financial assistance. One is the physical job of storing and selling the wheat; the other is a problem of Government finance. The physical job of storage and marketing, usually performed by the merchants arid the voluntary pools, is handled in war time by a special body established under the National Security Act, namely the Australian Wheat Board. It seems desirable that that Board should, in respect of any harvests which it handles after that of 1939-40, operate on a commercial basis, making such advances as the market prospects justify, and adjusting its accounts with the growers according to ultimate returns, including the Flour Tax. The responsibility of Governments will thus remain clearly defined in its two divisions, namely, the grant of any special financial assistance, and the adjustment of production, as far as possible, to existing world conditions. If we look at the position in this way, we see clearly that the Commonwealth Government’s plan of stabilization still stands, particularly as regards the control of production. We cannot continue to provide large sums of public money to support the wheat-growers while they go on producing unsaleable grain. Such a procedure would he. demoralizing and unsound.
It follows from what I have said, that to sow heavily for the 1940-41 harvest would be merely to aggravate an already alarming problem. The Government will, therefore, take into early consideration with the State governments and its own advisers the question of restricting production next year. I say this because, quite plainly as we see the facts at present, it is most unlikely that finance could be available for the 1940-41 harvest on lines similar to those which are now approved for 1939-40.
– What will the second payment be ?
– That will depend on realizations.
– Last Wednesday I asked, upon notice, the following questions of the Minister for the Interior (Senator Foll) : -
Is it a fact that the men employed in these services were promised that when the time-tables were speeded up, their hours and conditions would be reviewed?
The answers given by the Minister were -
I point out that two years ago the Australian Workers Union, on behalf of the employees concerned, lodged with the Commonwealth Arbitrator an application for the reduction of hours from 48 to 44. The industrial officerof the union, Mr.
Murphy, of Adelaide, has on several occasions since then asked the arbitrator to finalize the matter, and only three weeks ago the arbitrator’s’ clerk replied that, owing to the piling up of cases that had been listed prior to this claim, there was no prospect of dealing with it at an early date. In fact, he said that no date could be fixed for the hearing. These men are the only employees of the Commonwealth railways who are working a 48-hour week. All of the other employees now work 44 hours a week or less. I should like to know whether, in the event of the court granting the claim for the reduction of hours, the Government will be prepared to compensate these employees in respect of the extra hours they have been working during the last two years. If the delay is due to the fact that the court is unable to cope with the work before it, a special arbitrator should be appointed to hear this claim. I am informed that only one representative of these employees, of whom there are only 33, need give evidence. If the number of hours were reduced to 40 a week three additional men would be employed. In view of the unreasonably long delay which has occurred, and the volume of work in hand, I was surprised to hear that one of the Arbitration Court judges is on leave performing military duties when he should be at work in the court. Unless some action be taken at an early date there is likely to be a cessation of the service between Port Pirie andKalgoorlie. In the circumstances, I trust that the Minister will confer with his colleagues in order to see if the claims of these men can be heard promptly, and a decision given without further delay.
.- I understood the Minister for Commerce (Senator McLeay) to say that wheatgrowers are to receive 2s. 6d. a bushel at sidings.
– On an average.
– Yes, but is that amount inclusive of the flour tax and the £2,000,000 which the Government proposes to contribute ? If 2s. 7d. a bushel be available as a. result of re-sales, does the Government propose to provide the £2,000,000, which would add another 2d. a bushel?
– The Minister did not make any reference to a second moiety other than to say that, at the end of the year, after this harvest has been disposed of, there may be an increase on the first advance of 2s. 10½d a bushel for bagged wheat and 2s. S£d. a bushel for bulk wheat. I should like the position to be cleared up, so that I may be in a position to discuss the subject to-morrow.
– The complaint made by Senator Clothier should not be addressed to me or to the Commissioner for Railways, as apparently the delay to which he referred has been in the Arbitration Court. The men of whom he spoke are working under an award of the Commonwealth ArbitrationCourt, and not of the Public Service Arbitrator.
– Why has there been a delay of two years?
– There has been uo delay in my department or in the department controlled by the Commissioner. If the court should make- a retrospective award, such an award would -have to be observed by the Commissioner. I regret that Senator Clothier should have said that a judge of the Arbitration Court who is now performing military duties should bo recalled to his place on the bench, as Judge Drake-Brockman, to whom the honorable senator referred, has been working long hours on very important cases for a number of years during which he has not taken the leave due to him. He is now taking leave which has accumulated over a number of years, but as two new appointments have recently been made to the Arbitration Court bench the work of the court is likely to bc expedited. I shall confer with the Railways Commissioner, to soo if there is any way in which the difficulty in relation to shiftwork can be overcome and the conditions of the men improved. I shall also consult with the Attorney-General to see if there is any way in which the hearing of the. men’s claims can be expedited.
– I am sure that all of those who attended the deputation which waited upon the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) were grateful to learn that the Government has increased the first advance on wheat to 2s. 10½d a bushel at ports, but I. trust that soon as the Government is able to ascertain the probable price of wheat for the .forthcoming year, it will accede to the second portion of the request and guarantee a minimum price sufficient to cover the cost of production. The present world’s parity price, which is” the price, upon which the flour tax has been assessed, is 3s. a bushel at. ports, and if the Government is able to realize upon the Australian crop at that price - I am not unmindful of the difficulty in finding shipping space and buyers - and we add to that the flour tax of 4d. a bushel, and the £2,000,000 promised by the Government which will bring in an additional 3d. the total price will be 3s. 7d. a bushel, which is- only one penny below that sufficient to provide 10s. a bag at sidings. That is the amount to which the farmers consider themselves entitled, and I trust that the Government will accede to the request if that be economically possible-. T-he first advance that is to be made by the Government is generous., but the all-important question if to give that security to the farmers which those engaged in other industriesenjoy, and to enable them to realize that they will receive the cost of production.
– Copies of the statement I made on wheat prices will be made available to honorable senators. The position has been very’ clearly stated. The wheat-growers .will get the net proceeds of the sale when the wheat is sold, plus the flour tax, and if these two amounts do not bring the net realization to 3s. 4d. a bushel, they will get sufficient of the £2,000,000 to bring the net realization to 3s. 4d. a bushel.
– Suppose that the amount is 2s. Yd. a bushel at sidings?
– If the net realization and the flour tax bring the net realization to 3s. 4d- a bushel no portion of the £2,000,000 will bc made available.
– It will not be considered ?
– That means that there would be no assistance from the Commonwealth.
– If honorable senators will study carefully the statement read to-night they will appreciate the difficulties confronting the Government, because shipping space is a problem, and storage will be expensive. As was stated by Senator Wilson, an advance of an average of 2s. 6d. a bushel at country sidings is in the circumstances most generous.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Commonwealth Standing Committee on Liquid Fuels - Fifth Report, dated 6th November, 1939, dealing with Compressed Gas.
Commonwealth Railways Act - Report on Commonwealth Railways Operations, for year 1938-39.
Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1939, No. 86.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired at - Allansford, Victoria - For Postal purposes.
Biloela, Queensland - For Postal purposes.
Rosemount, Queensland - For Defence purposes-
Stanley, Tasmania - For Postal, Telegraphic, Telephonic and other like services.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1939, No. 85.
National Security Act -
National Security (Prices) Regulations - Orders Nos. 35, 36, 37, 38 and 39.
Regulations amended, to. - Statutory Rules 1939, No. 149- No. 153- No. 155.
Supply and Development Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1939, No. 151- No. 158.
Customs Act -
Proclamations prohibiting the exportation (except under certain conditions) of - Aluminium, unwrought (including scrap) ; Aluminiumbars, rods, angles, tecs, plates, sheets, circles and strips (dated 23rd November, 1939). ‘
Leather produced from cattle hides and calf skins (dated 16th November, 1939).
Sulphate of ammonia, Compounded Fertilizers containing sulphate of ammonia, and Phosphate Fertilizers (dated 23rd November, 1939).
Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1939, No.157.
Senate, adjourned at 11.28 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 29 November 1939, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1939/19391129_senate_15_162/>.