15th Parliament · 2nd Session
The. President (Senator the Eon. J. B. Hayes) took the chair at 3 P.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce whether the Government will give consideration to a proposal that, in order to place the export, of fruit upon a just basis, the system be adopted of granting licences to all firms engaged in the export business last year, the quantity to be exported to be divided pro rata among them on the basis of 1939 exports?
– The honorable senator’s suggestion will be taken into consideration.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice - 1, What tonnage of scrap iron and pig iron has been shipped to Japan since the outbreak of War?
-The Minister for Commerce has supplied the following answer : -
In view of the present international situation it is not the practice to make available for general information particulars of goods exported to specific countries.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for Supply and Development has supplied the following answer: - 1 and 2’. Arrangements have been made for the United Kingdom Government to purchase Australia’s exportable surplus of wolfram and scheelite. The price decided upon is 60s. sterling per unit free on board. The Government is not aware that the operations of producers are being hampered in any’ wan Advices of certain details from the United Kingdom Government are awaited. These are expected within the next fortnight. When they are to hand, full particulars on details will be available for the information of producers.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
Is it a fact that certain lands and/or buildings utilized or proposed to be utilized by the Army- Department for military purposes ha>-« been abandoned or are proposed to be abandoned by the department?
– The Minister for the Army has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Air, upon notice -
– The Minister for Air has supplied the., following answers: -
Motors and Trucks - Paint Supplies - Transportation ok Trainees.
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 Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Army has supplied the following answers : - .
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 Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Army has supplied the following answers : -
Corps, and Army Medical Corps units are being sent to eastern States for training. In view of the small numbers involved in each monthly reinforcement it is not practicable to train all men in the States in which they enlist. In addition, the decision regarding the concentration for technical training in certain States was reached after careful investigation was made with a view to obtaining the most efficient training with the minimum of expenditure in providing the special facilities required.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Air, upon notice -
– The Minister for Air has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Air, upon notice -
– The Minister for Air has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The Minister for Commerce has supplied the following answers : -
September, 1929 - the Australian £1 was at a discount on sterling of 1 per cent, to 1.4 per cent.
In 1930, the rate of discount increased to 8.5 per cent.
In January, 1931, the rate of discount was 19.7 per cent.
In February, it increased to 30.0 per cent. and remained at that figure until December of that year, when it was reduced to 25.3 per cent.
In January, 1932, it was stabilized at 25.0 per cent., at which point it has since remained.
– On the 19th April, Senator James McLachlan asked the Minister representing the Treasurer the following questions, upon notice: -
The Treasurer has now furnished the following answers : -
Debate resumed from the 19th April, 1940 (vide p. 197), on motion by Senator Wilson -
That the following Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General’s opening Speech be agreed to -
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
– I wholeheartedly support the motion. Honorable senators were well aware that this session would be devoted to business arising out of the war. If any doubt existed on that point, it has been removed by the GovernorGeneral’s Speech. When Parliament went into recess we were fully alive to the fact that war had been declared, but at that time hostilities directly affecting us had not actually occurred. To-day, however, we are faced with the realities of war; the fight is on, and there can be no retreat. For us it must be either victory or defeat. We were told that the last war was fought to end war. We little dreamt then that less than a quarter of a century later we should again be engaged in a lifeanddeath struggle for the preservation of not only the British Empire but also of democratic freedom throughout the world. In his speech, the Leader of ‘the Opposition (Senator Collings) evaded the main issue arising in this debate by dealing with what he called the internal war. He devoted much of his eloquence to that subject. What he described as the internal war, I submit, is but a minor issue. Senator Abbott, in seconding the motion, addressed himself principally to post-war problems and possible methods for their solution. Without in any way minimizing the importance of the honorable senator’s argument, because I fully realize that our post-war problems will he immense, I suggest that we must at this juncture deal with first things first, and that our most urgent problem now is the winning of the war. We are fighting for our very existence. That is the paramount problem which confronts our people to-day. Up to date the Government’s war effort has been commendable. I admit that it has not been spectacular. The Prime Minister has not gone around the country waving a flag and merely talking defence. He, and every member of the Government, are solidly applying themselves to the job, and so far their efforts have been outstandingly successful. The Leader of the Opposition declared that Labour’s defence policy to-day is the same as that enunciated by labour leaders 26 years ago. I do not agree with him. On the outbreak of the last war the then Labour Prime Minister of Australia, Mr. Andrew Fisher, when asked to declare Labour’s policy, replied that Australia would help Britain in the conflict “ to the last man and the last shilling “. Labour’s policy to-day cannot be -summed up in that phrase. Approximately 365,000 Australians volunteered for active service in the last war. To-day the Labour party is opposed to sending one man on active service overseas.
The Government’s defence policy has been criticised on the ground of its secretiveness. The defence policy of any country must, to a certain degree, be kept secret. Particularly is this so in a time of war. Should we blazon our proposals abroad, even among our own people, we should run the risk of betraying our intentions to the enemy. That, of course, would be greatly to our detriment. Not only in respect of purely defensive matters, but also on the economic side, this Government has already done much to assist the Mother Country in the present conflict. However, instead of meeting with a full measure of approbation, it has been attacked by carping critics. The Leader of the Sena’te (Senator McLeay)* in his address, reminded us of the sale of £120,000,000 worth of Australian primary products to ‘Great Britain. It is natural to expect a measure of adverse criticism of a deal of such magnitude, but such criticism as has been voiced has been directed to administrative rather than the organization aspects of the transaction. The attitude of a number of” critics can be summed up in these words, “ All right,..we have sold these products to Britain; but Britain wants those products just as much as we want to sell them to Britain “. That attitude is not justified by the facts. With the exception of wool, we are not selling anything to Britain which that country could not secure from neutral countries. In addition, such countries would be prepared to pay for the transport of all products which they sold to Britain. In our case, however, the Mother Country has undertaken to lift our products from Australia and to bear insurance, freight, and all other charges. Of course it is only human to be parochial. Usually we are prone to view big issues from our own particular point of view, and to judge transactions of this kind in the light of their effect upon ourselves. Unfortunately, many people have criticized the sales to the United Kingdom in that selfish manner. Our producers of wool, meat, wheat and fruit have been clamouring for greater sales -and higher prices for their products. Taken as a whole, however, this transaction represents a wonderful achievement on the part of the Government, and much of the criticism which has been levelled against it is entirely unfounded. Take for instance the sale of our wool to Great Britain. This is a controversial matter about which I profess to know something. Those who were associated with this industry during the eventful years 19i4, 1915, and part of 1916 know exactly what the position of the woolgrower was at that time. It was the most anxious period in the history of the wool-growing industry of Australia. The growers did not know from day to day what was going to become of their product. To-day, although still in the first years of this war, Australia has sold practically three-quarters of its total clip to Great Britain and payment for it has been made to the banks in Australia.
A good deal has been said regarding price levels. This afternoon the Minister gave a comprehensive list of average prices over a long period of years. Growers and others have told us through the press that the price of producing a pound of wool is approximately ls. 2d. This is nonsense. A. commission set up by the Commonwealth. Government in 1932 to examine this matter found that . the cost of producing wool was a little less than 9d. per lb. This finding was later supplemented by a commission appointed by the Queensland Government, which arrived at a price even a little less than that fixed by its predecessors. It can be seen therefore that the average price of ls. l£d. being paid by the Government of the United Kingdom is approximately 50 per cent, higher than the cost of production. The effect of the agreement under which we are selling our primary products to Great Britain, is that almost all of these products are practically pooled, and every one engaged in our primary industries is getting a share of the market. It is not possible under this scheme for one producer to rush in and grab the market for himself.
I feel confident that the Government is doing more than ever before to eliminate profiteering during the war. Some months ago, a very wise piece of legislation was passed through this Parliament presenting the prices ruling on the last day of August, 1939, as the standard of pre-war prices. In the previous war it was not until 1917 that the Commonwealth Government decided to embark upon a price-fixing scheme, and the difficulty then encountered was that of fixing a pre-war standard. The difficulty cannot occur in connexion with price-fixing during this war. If at any time it is desired to investigate the price of a commodity, with a view to controlling profiteering, a standard pre-war price is readily obtainable.
It is noteworthy that, although there never was a time when Australia was engaged to such a vast degree in the manufacture of munitions, these munitions are being turned out at cost price. All manufacture of munitions is under government supervision, and the closest scrutiny of profits is maintained. That is a very commendable state of affairs. A few days ago the Leader of the Opposition read out a list of rising prices. It should be realized, however, that 90 per cent, of the commodities referred to were primary products, such as bacon, eggs and fruit, the production of which is . subject- to seasonal conditions. Whether or not a war were now in progress, the prices of these- commodities would have risen because of adverse seasonal conditions.
The Leader of the Opposition also complained that the Government had kept Parliament in recess with the object of keeping the people in ignorance of what was going on. That assertion was unjust. I am sure that the Government had no such idea in keeping Parliament in recess. The honorable senator then went on to deal with inflation, which he said was being used by the Government as a bogy with which to frighten people who knew little about finance. That is not correct. The Government’s desire is not to frighten people but rather to make them realize that many of these newfangled ideas’ about raising money are, or will be eventually, not a benefit, but rather a detriment to the community. If inflation is the bogy with which we on this side are frightening the people, I can claim confidently that Douglas Credit is something that is being used by honorable senators opposite to. delude the people into the belief that they can get something for nothing. It has been tried over and. over again, and in no instance has it been successful. As an excuse its exponents usually claim that the scheme waa not given a proper trial, or that the credit was not of the right brand. Senator Darcey, who . frequently treats this chamber to eloquent addresses on the subject of finance, which he has studied so thoroughly, likened finance to an aeroplane. He said that an aeroplane, when used in peaceful transport is a vastly different instrument from an aeroplane used as a bomber. In the one instance, there is wise use, and in the other, abuse, of the machine. Similarly, inflation, or moneyless credit, may be wisely used or it may be abused. How is it to be controlled? We had inflation during the last war, and we are sure to have it during this war, but so long as it is controlled, and so long as the importance of the occasion warrants it - I maintain that wartime is a sufficiently important occa-sion - a country is justified in using itAs an everyday instrument of national finance it would not be of benefit to the community, but, on the contrary, would be a source of considerable danger. We have had many illustrations of social credit schemes, and I should like to cite one which occurred on the island of Guernsey in 1811. No doubt Senator Darcey, who apparently has studied this matter very fully, will know something about it. In 1811 the people of Guernsey decided that they wanted a meat market and consideration waa given to a . plan very similar to the social credit schemes propounded to-day. The people wanted £4,500 with which to build the market, and after a great deal of haggling and discussion, construction was undertaken in 1819. Bonds to the value of £4,500 were issued, and they were to- be redeemed in ten years by market rents from the butchers and a customs duty of ls. a gallon on wines and spirits. The market was successfully opened in 1822, but, instead of the debt being liquidated in ten years, as arranged, it was not discharged until 1894, or 72 years later. During that period the butchers had paid rent to the amount of £10,800, and the public had contributed £21,600 in customs duty, so that about £32,000 had been paid for £4,500 worth of credit. Will any of the exponents of the Douglas Credit system tell me how it could be applied successfully to public works, housing schemes, the relief of unemployment, and similar undertakings?
Reference was made by the Leader of the Opposition to the paragraph in the Governor-General’s Speech dealing with the proposal of the Government to amend the electoral law. He accused the Government and its supporters of proposing to do something for its own benefit. 1 claim that, if tie present voting system does not result in a true reflex of the will of the people, the Government is entitled to propose that it be altered. If, as was suggested by the Leader of the Opposition, the Government’s intention in this regard is to give a political advantage to its own parties, it is logical to suppose that the advantage under the present law rests with the parties in opposition to the Government. I maintain, however, that the Government has no desire to gain an advantage at the expense of its opponents. Its one object is to institute an electoral system by which the will of the people may be expressed.
The Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration was established for the settlement of industrial disputes. The coal-miners who are now on strike have obtained a decision from the court, but have refused to abide by it. Therefore, there can be no argument as to which side is responsible for the present cessa-. tion of work. Arbitration courts have been brought into being at the instance of political parties of all shades of opinion.
– Before there was a Labour party in Australia, industrial arbitration was in operation in New Zealand, and Mr. Kingston had introduced it in South Australia.
– That is so. The coal-miners say that the employers could settle the strike if they wished to do so. Of course they could, if they gave the miners everything they asked for, but that would merely result in the postponement of the dispute. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) had the courage to address the miners on the northern coal-fields ‘last Friday. When will Mr. Curtin, the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, go to the coal-fields in order to address them?
– Ask Mr. Curtin.
– 1 am addressing the question to the people of Australia.
– The Arbitration Court should go there.
– The court has given its decision, &ad the miners are at liberty to appeal to the court again, if they wish to do so. Labour members of this Parliament had an excellent opportunity a few days ago to do something of a practical nature to settle the strike. They might have requested the parliamentarian from Great Britain.. Mr. Grenfell, M.P., who visited Canberra last week, to address the miners. He is a miner and a member of the Labour party in Great Britain who has risen from the ranks.
– He has also led a miners’ strike.
– He may have done so, but, if he made an impassioned appeal to the miners on the northern coal-fields similar to that made by him in this chamber, there would be something radically wron’g with the miners if they did not heed his advice. He could have told them that in Great Britain the miners had voluntarily increased their hours of employment to 60 hours a week, and were prepared to go even further than that if the authorities required them to do so.
– That was in France.
– No, it was in England.
We have heard a good deal about the menace of communism. Doubt seems to have arisen in the minds of certain honorable senators as to where the Communists are, but we need have no further doubt upon the matter. A non-Communist Labour party has recently been formed in New South Wales, and this surely shows where the Communists are to be found. Senator Keane referred vaguely to this matter. He said that there might he a few Communists here and there, but he was not sure about it. He cited the Corio by-election as furnishing an indication of the power of the Communists in Australia.
– They are the friends of the party opposite, because they helped the Government at election times.
– Whether they help the Government parties or not, they certainly vote for the Labour candidates. Senator Keane mentioned that, out of a vote of about 56,000, there were 2,000 Communist votes, showing that one elector in every 27 in Corio was a Communist. I point out, that, at the time of the Russian revolution, when the Soviet Government took control, the population of that country was over 150,000,000, and it was reliably estimated that the Communists numbered only 2,500,000. There was only one Communist among every 600 people, but’ they turned Russia into the Soviet Union. If that is a fact -
– The honorable senator’s figures are not correct.
– I said that, the Communist candidate in Corio received about 2,000 votes out of a total vote of 56,000. Actually he had a little more than .1.800. It ia not necessary to search far to discover where the Communists are. One has only to read the report of a meeting that was held in the Northern coal-fields on Friday last. Mr. T. Hoare, the president of the miners’ organization, is reported to have said -
Russia has the only true Hag - the Red Flag /or the blood of the workers. All other Hags are just indications of geographical boundaries.
Then Mr. Orr, the general secretary of the combined Miners Union, said -
I have spent a lifetime studying Communism - aud it is the only thing for the workers.
– Does the honorable senator associate us with those sentiments ?
– I take it that the honorable gentleman does not dissociate himself from the activities of the coal-miners?
– Mr. Orr is not a member of our organization.
Senator JAMES McLACHLAN.;Are not the coalminers constituents of Labour senators? Can our friends opposite dissociate themselves from these gentlemen without dissociating themselves from the rank and file of the Miners Union?
– Those men do not belong to our party.
– Do not the coal-miners belong to the Labour party?
– Of course they do, but the honorable gentleman was speaking of two men.
– The truth is that the coal-miners who belong to the Labour party are controlled by these men.
– What does the honorable senator suggest should he done?
– Clean up the Communists.
– 1 take the following from the speech delivered by the Leader of the Opposition a few days ago. Referring to Senator Wilson, the Leader . of the Opposition said -
– Is not that correct ?
– It forecasts a revolution.
– It is merely a modern version- of the Sermon on the Mount. The Government censored that in the last war.
– I have listened to many speeches delivered in this chamber by the ‘ Leader of the Opposition, who has had much to say about a new world order and new social conditions. I quite agree with much of what he has said in that regard, but never, since I have been in this chamber, have I heard him speak about threatening the live3 of people. I do not believe that he himself intended to use those words. I prefer to think that he used them in the heat of debate. Nor do I believe that other members of his party would approve of any threat to the lives of other people because of their political beliefs.
– The present social system threatens the existence of the people.
– As I have said, I am sure that the working men of this country do not subscribe to that sort of thing. And certainly the people of Australia will have none of it. What would have happened to a number of Communists in Sydney the other, day if the police had not been in attendance to protect them? If. these men cannot get everything they want they preach revolution.
– Nobody said that.
– What does the statement of the Leader of the Opposition mean if it does not mean what I have said? But I repeat that I do not believe that the honorable gentleman truly represented in that portion of his speech either his own view or that of his colleagues, and I feel sure that when he reads in Hansard that .part of his speech he will regret what he said.
– I have looked at it and I am proud of it. I stand by every syllable.
– The Leader of the Opposition issued a warning that, in a certain event, the very lives of those people who represent vestedinterests would be in danger. Does the honorable senator recall what happened to the people of the last country that indulged in a revolution ? Is it not true to say that the position of the workers who were responsible for that was worse after the revolution than it was before? I do not for a moment think that the working men of this country wish to destroy our present democratic system of government. I believe that they wish to make it better.
– We say so.
-But it will not be done by a policy of destruction.
Some exception was taken by honorable senators opposite to the designation applied by Senator Wilson to Hitler and Stalin. In my view his language was in no way extreme. The Standing Orders of the Senate prevent me from saying of those two men just what I think. No word in the English language could fittingly describe their cruelty and perfidy.
There is no need for pessimism as to the outcome of this war. A thorough survey of the strength of Great Britain and her Allies, in man-power and financial resources, indicates that with the loyal co-operation of all parts of the British Dominions, victory will be ours. There is .reason for optimism when we compare our present position with that of 1914. Adequate man-power and money are the essentials. This war is proving to be more costly than the World War of 1914-18. In that war Great Britain was spending at the rate of £3,000,000 a day ; in this war the expenditure daily is £6,000,000. France in 1914 was spending £2,500,000 a day, as compared with £4,500,000 at the present time. The greater expenditure is due largely to the higher cost of war materials. Battleships cost practically twice the amount required in 1914, and aeroplanes, which now are used extensively, are much more expensive to build.
– Has the honorable senator any idea of the increased labour cost for a battleship at the present time as compared with 1914?
– No, but the figures show that naval construction costs have practically doubled.
– That is due to the operations of the armament rings.
– The necessity to provide air-raid shelters and for the evacuation of the civil populations from great cities has also increased the cost of conducting a war. I am sure that the Leader of the Opposition and the people generally will agree that Great Britain is making wonderful preparations to meet the post-war problems. In 1915 the Mother Country was spending less than one-fourth of its revenue from taxation in order to meet war costs. Today, it is spending more than one-half and we have been told that the Government is prepared to go still further; so there will be, when the war is over, less leeway in social legislation to make up. let us examine the economic position of Great Britain, the Dominions and our Allies. After the last wat Britain’s debt to the United States of America was £2,300,000,000. The whole of the debt has not yet been paid. Summing up our resources for this war we find that Britain has a gold reserve of £500,000,000 ; France, £750,000,000 ; Canada, £54,000,000 ; and the other dominions £130,000,000, making a total of £1,434,000,000. Apart from gold reserves we have cash balances in the United States of America at the present time amounting to £317,000,000. One-half of this amount belongs to Great Britain. We also have liquid securities amounting to £355,000,000, and non-liquid assets amounting to £385,000,000, so that with our securities, cash balances and gold reserve we have in hand £2,490,000,000, as compared with £1,600,000,000 in 1914. The total of American sales to the Allies in the ‘last war was £2,300,000,000. If, at this moment, we owed that amount to the great Republic we could actually pay cash and still have a surplus. Also our trading position is better. Great Britain is buying less from the United States of America. The Empire is supplying itself with many essential commodities which we had to buy from the United States of America in the last war. For instance, in the 1914-18 war we paid to the United States of America £200,000,000 for wheat. In this war the Dominions are supplying the whole of the Empire’s requirements of wheat. Between 1914 and 1939 the annual gold production of the Empire increased from 14,000,000 oz. to 21,000,000 oz., or an increase of 50 per cent. It is unnecessary for me to inform the Senate that during that period the price of that commodity also has increased by 150 per cent. We have not only a substantial gold reserve, but also the annual production and price of gold have increased considerably. Between 1914 and 1939 the production in the Dominions of nickel, copper, aluminium and rubber has expanded from 277,500 tons to 2,117,000 tons. Materials which during the last war were purchased from foreign countries are now produced within the Empire. The production of fuel oil within the Empire remains at about 6,000,000 tons annually, whilst about 25,000,000 tons is purchased annually from companies operating outside the Empire but in which British capital is invested. These figures are very heartening because they show that, apart from having men of the necessary calibre to render excellent service in the defence .of the Empire, we also have the money and materials. The Empire is in a sound economic position and should, if necessary, be able to starve the armies under Hitler, and I would prefer them to be brought to a state of starvation rather than that human beings should bc slaughtered. The economic position is strongly in our favour, and I sincerely trust that this great conflict will soon terminate to our complete satisfaction. We, and those who have preceded us, have enjoyed such uninterrupted freedom that we regard our freedom as an inherent right, but it could be lost. I trust that it will not be; but if it should be we should not add to the humiliation of defeat a realization of the fact that we had not done our best.
– I followed with interest the Speech read by His Excellency the Governor-General in opening this session of Parliament, and since then I have studied it with an equal measure of interest. The Speech, which conveys a message to the people of Australia, demonstrates clearly that we are faced with our share of responsibility in the terrific war which is now being waged in Europe. It also demonstrates to us that, although we may not be in a theatre of war, other nations not now at war are enshrouded in war clouds. Fearful as conditions now are, something even worse may be in store for the nations of the world. Civilization is faced with a dreadful prospect. A few months ago when we were carrying on our ordinary vocations, it seemed impossible that within such a short period the nations which wo regarded as civilized would be at deathgrips, and using all kinds of infernal engines for the destruction of mankind. That is the picture that is presented to us to-day. We have been informed that the people of Australia will be asked to pay heavier taxes in order to enable the Commonwealth Government to sustain its war effort. We all know that that means not only taking away from the people the money which they now have, but also that the taxpayers are to be asked to mortgage their future earning capacity. That is an enormous responsibility; but the position has to be faced. I agree with those who say that we can pay tribute to the Prime Minister of Great Britain for using every effort to avert war. Regardless of what has been said concerning the attitude of the Labour party towards this conflict, that party is prepared to do its share to assist in the defence of this country, and to help other self-governing dominions within the British Commonwealth of Nations to do their part to protect civilization. The members of the Opposition are fully aware of what may happen, and efforts must be made by all parties to safeguard the Australian people and at the same time assist those who are fighting overseas.
There are other matters of more or less local concern with which we can deal. The Treasurer (Mr.
Spender) has - announced that in all probability amending legislation will be introduced to repeal the gold tax. I am not surprised because when the legislation imposing the tax was before the Senate some months ago, I pointed out that it should not be allowed to pass in the form in which it was presented to Parliament. I said that the imposition of the tax would interfere seriously with the present and future development of the gold mining industry; but I shall reserve further comment on that subject until the legislation foreshadowed is before the Senate. Reference is also made in the Speech to the Government’s price-fixing policy, and whilst I believe that the action taken has done a great deal of good in the interests of the community, there have been many breaches of the regulations. Members of the Opposition will endeavour, not only in the Senate, but also by getting in direct touch with the Commissioner, to bring under his notice the fact that some persons in Australia are taking advantage of the present situation to extract money to which they are not entitled from the pockets of the people. Many cases have been brought under the Commissioner’s notice and others will be ventilated shortly. It is the responsibility of the Government and also our duty to see that the profiteers are not allowed to amass wealth when the nation is fighting to preserve its existence. This £s not a time when unscrupulous persons should enrich themselves at the expense of others. A matter which has been brought under our notice by the Treasurer was raised by members of the Opposition some time ago. He has warned mortgage companies against increasing rates of interest, and promises that drastic action will be taken unless they act differently. Warnings are not much good to such persons; legislation should be passed by this Parliament without delay in order to safeguard those who are burdened with heavy mortgages.
As a member of the Labour party, I should like to express my personal views on the subject of defence. I am not satisfied with the efforts made by the Government for the proper defence of Australia. I believe that it should do a great deal more. The defence of the country is tie first responsibility of the Administration.
It is easy to chide the Labour party with promising support of the Allies at a distance of 12,000 miles from a theatre of war; but when we realize the hopeless position of the Norwegians in consequence of their inadequate defences, the dangers with which we are confronted will be apparent. In these circumstances, the Government should tell the people of the urgent necessity to expend every ounce of energy and all the money available to defend Australia.
– Where is the parallel ?
– Denmark, Norway and Sweden relied upon the goodwill of their powerful neighbours, but that was of no avail.
– Whoever suggested that we should adopt that policy?
– That is the policy which the Government has followed up to date.
– No; that was the policy of the Scullin Government.
– The policy adopted by anti-Labour governments during the past eight years has placed Australia in its present hopeless position. No effort was made until just over a year ago to finance our essential defence preparations.
– That is not correct.
– I recall that shortly after I entered this chamber Ministers here referred to the startling fact that a sum of at least £8,000,000 was to be made available for defence preparations. That sum was to be obtained from accumulated surpluses that had been built up over a number of years. Apparently, had it not been for accidental circumstances no money at all would have been available for defence.
– What logic !
– That is true. Governments composed of parties to which honorable senators opposite belong have consistently neglected the defence of this country. For a period of at least six years such governments made no attempt whatever to prepare our defences. That statement cannot be denied. Indeed, with the exception of a very brief period, anti-Labour governments have been in power in this Parliament for the last 25 years, and not until quite recently was any effort made to build up our defences. The people of Australia realize that fact. Irrespective of what honorable senators opposite may say about the “ Beds “ controlling the Labour movement, this Government ‘has forfeited the confidence of the people. This fact has been evidenced by the result of by-election after by-election. Not only as a representative of the people in this chamber, but also as a good Australian, I urge the Government to provide for the effective defence of this country. I raise no argument as to whether any one arm of the services should be developed more than another. In that respect, I admit, the Government should be guided by its defence experts.
– We should train our man-power.
– There is no dearth of man-power in this country. In reply to a question which I asked to-day, the Minister representing the Minister for the Army stated that applicants for enlistment in the Air Force were so numerous that the department has not been able to handle all of them promptly. Consequently it cannot be said that there is a dearth of man-power. I recall that following the voluntary recruiting campaign some time ago, the Minister in charge of it stated that Australians had responded to a man, and that the department had been obliged to call a halt to the campaign. Many men who have applied for admission to the Air Force have travelled great distances to present themselves at recruiting offices, and after being passed as physically fit have been obliged to wait for a further period before being called up. On account of this uncertainty they have been unable to return to their homes or to go very far afield in search of employment.
– Advertisements have been published advising intending applicants in’ the country to remain in their districts until recruiting officers visit them. This is being done in order to meet their convenience. Many young men have come down from the country under a misapprehension.
– That may be so ; but 1 assure the Minister that I have read advertisements in the press which contained no such direction.
– I am referring to enlistments in connexion with the Empire air scheme.
– If what the Minister says is correct, so much the better. Such action no doubt has been taken as the result of the inconvenience caused to many men, as I have indicated. I urge the Government to get on with the job of providing an uptodate and efficient defence system for Australia.
– What is a proper system of defence?
– A proper system is that advocated by the Australian Labour party which proposes to utilize not only the cash reserves and the credit but also the material and manpower of the country, having regard to the defence requirements of other self-governing dominions within the British Commonwealth of Nations. I also urge the Government to give immediate attention to problems likely to arise immediately after the conclusion of the war. Now is the time to get to work on such matters. The conflict may last for many years; it may end very soon. Nevertheless we must build for the future. If we wish to avert confusion in the economic life of the people we must now prepare to deal with post-war problems. The Government should make a pronouncement on this matter. We should be advised of what proposals it has in mind to deal with post-war problems. The people need to be assured on such matters if we hope to maintain contentment amongst them. We should not leave them in a state of uncertainty. I should like to know that the Government is utilizing every means in its power to ensure that the people shall not be let down when hostilities have ended. I do not blame the Government for all that happened during the depression. I know that governments had very little to do with the depression which brought so much misery and trouble on the world in 1930. That development was managed by international financial manipulators who control and, indeed, govern most countries. I have no doubt on that point. Although I cannot completely follow Senator Darcey in his advocacy of monetary reform, I commend that honorable senator for bringing this subject so much before the public. He has visited many country centres in order to speak on this matter, and has thus enabled the people to do their own research on the subject. We all are very much interested in the problem of monetary reform. Every honorable senator, I believe, has made up his mind that action must be taken to bring about reforms in the present monetary system. Such a development must come in the natural order of things. Our own economic welfare, as well as our relations with other countries, demand* such a reform.
Senator Wilson appealed to honorable senators on this side to take action to rid the country of Communists. Hedeclared that thousands of working men in Australia are controlled by a small minority of Communists in our midst. The Leader of the Senate (Senator McLeay) also appealed to honorable senators on this side to take action against the Communists. He declared that upon us was cast the responsibility of taking political action against the communistic element in the community. What does the Minister mean? He also said that the Communists were retarding the nation’s war effort. Senator Wilson said the same thing. We have been asked to take political action against the Communists. Surely honorable senators opposite realize that wo as an opposition are not able to enact legislation; that is the responsibility of the Government. I point out that these charges are levelled against us to-day although the war has been going on for eight months. Honorable senators opposite claim that foreign influences are at work in this country retarding our war effort, but during that time the only thing which the Government has done to suppress such influences has -been to prohibit the publication of a few communistic newspapers. Yet to-day it asks the Opposition to take political action against the Communists.- The responsibility of dealing with disruptive elementsin the community belongs to the Government, and I should like to know what it proposes to do in this direction. It possesses full constitutional power to deal with the Communists and it should, if necessary, introduce legislation immediately to safeguard the interests of this country against such disruptive elements.
– “Will the honorable senator support the Government?
– Of course. Last session we were called upon to pass the National Security Act from which the Government derives almost all the war powers that it requires. Yet no action was taken. Now the Minister asks this party to take political action, but such action can only be taken if a party has sufficient numbers in both Houses of Parliament to pass the legislation which it initiates. The present Government has the power to do that. Irrespective of what honorable senators opposite may say, the statement that Communists control the Labour party is untrue.
– They do in New South Wales at least.
– Not only during the past eight months, but for many years, the Labour movement has been purging its ranks of not only “ red “ elements, but also other undesirable influences.
– Without much success.
– We have been most successful. We have been far more successful in purging our ranks of Communist elements than have the United Australia party and the Country party in their endeavours to control the law-breakers who have brought these parties into disrepute by the evasion of our arbitration laws. Law reports contain list after list of unscrupulous employers who have not only’ been breaking arbitration laws’, but have also called upon youths to sign false declarations as to the amount of money they have received weekly. Is it fair to blame any government or any party for the misdeeds of these* people who are out to make greater profits? Honorable senators on this side of the chamber rarely impute dishonest or questionable motives to the people’s1 representatives on the other side of the chamber. Yet we are told that we are tainted with “ red “ doctrines, because here and there throughout this great working-class world in Australia, there are some individuals who make statements of an irresponsible character. An examination of the evolution of the Labour movement in Australia will show that a cleansing process is continuously in operation. We are always out for the purification of the rank and file because the Labour movement stands for high ideals which, when put into effect, will raise the standard of living and working conditions, and improve the mentality and culture of the people of Australia. For that reason we cannot allow any poisonous influences to wreck the Australian Labour party.
I should like to refer also to the remarks of the Leader of the Government (Senator McLeay), and also those of Senator Wilson, in connexion with the “ Hands off Russia “ resolution in Sydney recently. The fact is that the conference in question carried a motion declaring a policy of non-aggression towards all neutral countries - countries with which we are not at war.
– Russia was the only country mentioned.
– The resolution referred to all neutral countries, including Russia.
– I repeat that Russia was the only country mentioned.
– I ask Senator Dein to be fair. All countries with whom we are not at war, including Soviet Russia, were included. I am not a Communist nor do I sympathize with Stalin; I do not believe in Russian methods; I am hostile to the procedure adopted by what are referred to as Communist governments; I do not support fascism; I have a tremendous dislike of nazi-ism ; therefore I cannot have levelled at me a charge of being a “ Red “. I am not a “ Red “ ; I never have been, and I never shall be. But not many years ago a British Cabinet Minister sponsored an invitation to Soviet Russia to enter the League of Nations. As a result of Russia’s acceptance of that invitation, the league lost Italy and Japan, and, in addition, Germany said that it was useless to continue its membership of the league if Soviet Russia were to be admitted.
– Italy left the league because of the Abyssinian affair.
-HAM.- Mr. Anthony Eden supported the invitation which led to the acceptance of Soviet Russia as a member of the League of Nations. We also know that representatives of France and Britain sued for favours from Russia just prior to the announcement of the Russo-German pact. I do not blame them, because nations have to do these things. Similar negotiations are in progress to-day. Shortly after the peace ‘between Russia and Finland was signed the British newspapers announced that the tone of the Moscow press, previously very pro-<German, had changed considerably and was more favorable to France and England. Efforts to reach an understanding with Russia are still being made, and a few days ago a Cabinet Minister stated in the House of Representatives that Australia had no quarrel with Russia. That statement may be found in Hansard. It was published to the world by the newspapers as the statement of a responsible Minister. In making that statement, the Minister and the Government knew quite well that international relationships are continually changing, and that those who to-day are our enemies might to-morrow be our friends. Who knows what tomorrow has in store for us? He who can prophesy what will happen in international affairs six months hence is indeed a wise man.
I have made my position clear. I have no wish to be an ally of Russia I do not stand for the Russian system headed by Mr. Stalin; I would not support or encourage any representatives of Stalin in Australia, and I advise the people of Australia to give such representatives, if any, a wide berth; I support whole-heartedly any action taken by this Government to safeguard the interests of this nation against the insidious influences of any foreign power. En saying that I speak in harmony with my colleagues of the Labour party.
– Does the honorable senator agree with the “ Hands off Russia “ resolution ?
– Does Senator A. J.
McLachlan believe in “ Hands on Russia “ ?
– I will go a little further and say that the New South Wales conference merely followed the lead given by the Prime Minister of Australia, by Mr. Chamberlain, and by the French Premier, because the position is this: Even when Russia invaded Poland, and took from the people of that country the Polish Ukraine neither of the great powers which to-day are allied against Germany declared war against the Soviet Union. When Russia, with the backing of 180,000,000 people, invaded Poland and foisted its detestable system of government on that country there was no armed intervention by the great democracies.
– That is “Hands off Russia “ in excelsis.
– It certainly was not “hands on Russia”. Yet we find even responsible Cabinet Ministers, who have very important duties to carry out, wasting time with an utterly useless and nonsensical outcry against the “Hands off. Russia” resolution. Surely they are not engaging merely in political propaganda. Who has got his hands on Russia? That is what I want to know. The Government of Australia certainly has not. The Prime Minister and members of his Cabinet know full well that it would not be politically expedient to make a pronouncement of “Hands on Russia “.
– Does the honorable senator think that Australia sympathizes with the Soviet?
– I do not know what honorable senators think, but I certainly am not in sympathy with Russia. I shall allow Senator A. J. McLachlan to make his own declaration in that regard. Incidentally, I remember one of his declarations when he was a responsible Minister. Honorable senators will recall that one night Senator A. J. McLachlan painted a vivid picture of the uselessness of aircraft in war. His ideas, however, are apparently as old as Methuselah. He stressed the fact that it took 920,000 shots from an aeroplane to make one hit. To-day he has been proved absolutely wrong. The honorable senator may refresh his memory with regard to that speech by perusing Hansard.
– The outstanding triumph in this war has been that of the British navy.
– It cannot be denied that an air force is an indispensable arm of defence. I do not think even Senator A. j. McLachlan will deny that. However, I am prepared to allow him to speak for himself. He is very capable of doing so.
Later I shall have something to say on the subject of taxation and., no doubt, I shall have a more adequate opportunity to do so. When I do deal with this subject, honorable senators will be under no misapprehension with regard to my opinion. Undoubtedly the people of Australia will be called upon to do much more than they are doing now towards financing the war effect. But that obligation must be faced, and I am sure that anything within reason will be done willingly by the people of Australia and by their representatives on this side of the chamber.
– It is only natural that the first expression by His Excellency should have been in connexion with the war and the part . which the Commonwealth of Australia will play in it. I congratulate the Government upon the declaration by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) immediately following the Corio by-election. Up to that time there was a feeling abroad, and I shared it, that, seven months having elapsed since the declaration of hostilities, Australia was not doing what many , people considered to be its full part in helping the Mother Country. The Prime Minister stated that Australia’s expeditionary force would be expanded immediately to a corps of two divisions, with the addition of the necessary corps troops. That is a substantial first contribution by this country towards the defence of the Empire. The declaration has no doubt had a timely effect on other nations, especially those which continue to imagine that Great Britain is a country of only 46,000,000 people. They overlook that there are also India and the other Dominions, which demand that they be taken into account when lesser breeds forget the extent and power of the British Empire. They seem not to have profited by their experience of 25 years ago, when nearly 3,000,000 Empire troops, apart from those of the Mother Country, went to the Empire’s assistance. Possibly that number, and half as many again, will be in the field before this struggle is brought to a conclusion. If Germany or any other nation continues to flout the peaceful endeavours of Great Britain and France, they must expect to reap the full results of their perfidy in again involving the world in a holocaust. For that reason I thank the Prime Minister, on behalf of the people of Australia, for offering these additional troops, as well as our complement of the Empire Air Scheme, in order to restore world equilibrium, so that there may be some hope for calm and peace in the future.
Many proposals such as we are accustomed to hear in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech are missing on this occasion, and the charge could be made that the Speech contains little or no indication of what honorable senators may expect during this session of Parliament. If one reads between the lines, however, there is a wealth of possibilities in regard to the work that the Senate may be called upon to do in the next two months or so. With regard to taxation, particularly, there will, no doubt, be much heartburning ; but the war situation has to be faced, and the only way to do it is with a full purse. I draw attention to the continuous kite flying from Canberra, and the threats of increases of all sorts of taxes, which have a disturbing effect upon commerce generally. The people of Australia know that taxation will naturally have to be increased for war purposes, and it is undesirable to harp upon that fact. For heaven’s sake, let us know the worst, so that the people may become reconciled to it at the earliest possible moment, and adjust their affairs accordingly.
Honorable senators will recall that last session a good deal of discussion took place regarding the gold tax. During the recess I have endeavoured to move the apparently immovable Treasury towards relaxing certain conditions, which, owing to the incidence of this tax, have a rather serious effect on certain low-grade mining propositions in Western Australia. It is urgently necessary to assist these mines to keep in operation, because most of them provide the sole means of employment in their respective districts, and, should they cease operations, disaster would overtake the employees, their families and the tradespeople who supply their needs. I suggest to the Leader of ;he Senate that further representations be made to the Treasurer to assist Western Australia in this regard. In respect of one mine the increased benefit enjoyed from the excess price of gold during the last seven months’ operations has been about £6,000, of which no less than £4,500 has gone in increased costs of the treatment of ore. The actual increase has been ls. 6d. a ton. No added cost has been met as regards head office administration or other incidental expenses, which are usually debited on a twelve months’ basis at the termination of the taxation year. I am dealing only with a broken period. It should not be particularly difficult for Treasury officials properly to supervise an exemption in a case such as that I have mentioned. The closing down of this mine would mean the collapse of one of our smaller mining centres. I hope that the Treasurer will exempt such mining enterprises from the payment of the gold tax.
There are good grounds for the view held in Western Australia that producers of gold and the Commonwealth Treasury are not receiving the full value of the gold exported to the United States of America, which,, as we all know, goes into the dollar pool in order to meet payments for war materials purchased in that country. The opinion has been expressed in Western Australia that far more than many of us realize could be secured on the disposal of the gold, and, as a consequence, the industry in Australia and also the Treasury would benefit. At the present time, the United States of America is paying for Australian gold 34.918 dollars a fine ounce. Reckoning on that basis, and in conjunction with recent rates for the exchange of dollars into sterling, which had slumped in February of this year, when the dollar stood at 3 dollars 45 cents to the £1, the value of our gold in the United States of America would be £10 2s. 6d. sterling a fine ounce and £12 12s. 6d. Australian. If we deducted the gold tax, 50 per cent, of the wartime excess price, the tax would then be £1 16s. 3d. an ounce - it is now 16s. 7$d. an ounce - and that would yield to the producer £10 16s. 3d. Australian an ounce, less 3s. 2d. Australian, for selling expenses. At the present time the gold industry receives only £9 16s. 7id. a fine ounce. The difference between 16s. 7£d. and £1 16s. 3d. would enable the Treasury to collect an additional 19s. 7$d. a fine ounce more than the Treasury now receives. On 1,000,000 ounces of gold, which is less than the annual production in Australia, the Treasury would receive an additional £1,000,000, and the industry would get a similar sum in excess of what is now received from the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. It may be argued that these violent fluctuations of the dollar-sterling exchange rate are most undesirable and that every effort should be made to stabilize the rate, as far as is humanly and economically possible. I agree with that, but the fact remains that any attempt to stabilize the exchange would call for too great a sacrifice from the gold industry, and our wool-growers. I cite wool and gold because these are the two major imports into the United States of America from Australia. It is true that other imports would bear their share of the cost, but to a far less degree than the two main industries which I have mentioned. I think there is room for investigation by Treasury officials or our Minister Plenipotentiary in Washington to see if it is not possible to effect a greater realization on our .gold in the United States of America. There should be no scruples with regard to this matter, because the United States of America has very definitely indicated that it will nol allow a recurrence of the financial situation which developed during the last war. It has stated that during this war the purchase of munitions and other war materials by the Allies must be on a strict cash-and-carry basis. This being so, it is reasonable to argue that Australia and the other Dominions concerned should demand the highest possible value for gold exported to the United States of America, in order to meet their war commitments.
– Lacking control of dollar valuation we could not do much.
– I am aware of that. The natural banking law determines the exchange rates between different countries; so, in order to secure a more favorable rate, we should require to increase the volume of our exportable commodities to that country. I think, nevertheless, that in our own interests there should be an investigation of the realization of our gold.
I mention the present coal strike noi for the purpose of discussing its merits or demerits, hut because of the very serious effect of this industrial upheaval on the people of Western Australia. Before we left Perth for Canberra we had news of a possible shortage of sheet and corrugated iron stocks, owing chiefly to the greater demand being made on available supplies for the construction of military hutments and other defence works. We also were informed that the sailings of some ships had been cancelled, thereby prejudicing the renewal of existing stocks. This dispute seems to be very one-sided. There have been far too many occurrences of such troubles on the coal-fields in New South Wales; but I believe that if one could appeal to the miners themselves, and if one could impress upon them how seriously this strike is affecting people in the more distant States, good results might follow. Already interstate shipping movements have been restricted on account of war conditions. Now we have added to that inconvenience, ‘ the further cancellations of sailings of coalburning vessels on account of the coal strike. In this way the coal strike is inflicting great-‘ hardship on the people of Western Australia, especially those living in the northern part of that State, where the demand for galvanized iron and other commodities made in the eastern States is great and urgent. I would like to appeal to the men to consider the effects of this dispute in the broadest possible sense of the term. I urge them to have regard not so much for their dignity as a leading trade union in the Commonwealth, as for the effect of this dispute on the whole of the Commonwealth.
What the men are now seeking is an alteration of the conditions applying to our system of arbitration. If these disputes are to recur, especially during a national crisis, some remedy must be found to bring the principle of conciliation and arbitration back to the place which many of us thought it would occupy in the minds and lives of the people. In the early days of conciliation and arbitration, we thought that in time, when the system was in full operation, the Arbitration Court would bc clothed with a dignity corresponding to that of the Commonwealth judiciary, and be treated with the same respect. In other words we believed that the arbitration law would be equally as important as any other law and that the breaking, of it would he as serious as the breaking of our penal laws. If, however, we are to have a recurrence of these industrial disputes, in defiance of the findings of the Arbitration Court, we shall have to consider the adoption of other methods for their settlement. Many of these troubles are, I believe, duc to bad leadership, and to meet this difficulty I suggest that we should clothe the Arbitration Court with all powers necessary to take under its wing all the organized labour unions, the members of which then would be responsible, not to their leaders, but to the court. If this course were adopted, I think we should bc able to avoid the ghastly tragedy of seeing the Commonwealth seriously crippled through the action of men following bad advice from their leaders.
– That would apply also to the employers.
– Undoubtedly. We cannot have one-sided arbitration. “What is good for Jock is no bad for Sandy “.
– That is what we say.
– The suggestion which I have made is not new. If adopted, all concerned in the industrial life of the Commonwealth should come under the aegis of the Arbitration Court. I have no doubt that the miners of Kurri Kurri or Cessnock or of any other coal-field of the Commonwealth are just as good and loyal Australians as I am; but I do think that out of a rather enlarged sense of loyalty to their leaders in this dispute they do not like to retrace steps which they have taken mistakenly on the advice of their leaders. In view of the consequences of this strike to industries throughout the Commonwealth - consequences which will be accentuated soon if settlement be not reached - all personal considerations should be jettisoned and the miners should face the situation as Australian citizens. Disputes have occurred in other industries and they have been settled amicably. Not long ago there was trouble in the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation’s factory in Melbourne. At one stage it threatened to interfere with the defence preparations of the Government ; happily, that dispute was settled to the satisfaction of all parties. I do not see why the parties to this coal-mining dispute cannot do likewise. As the full effect of the strike is being felt in all States, the leaders of the men will have to face the responsibility that they are doing something that is not only prejudicial to our progress and prosperity, but also may interfere with our contribution to Empire defence. It is time that these men took stock of their position.
I have no doubt that the Government will continue the good work which it has started with regard to home defence. It is by no means a light task, and I feel quite sure that the Ministry is doing everything possible to see that all parts of the Commonwealth are being defended adequately. But there is one part, outside the Commonwealth, which definitely is not properly defended. I refer to the Mandated Territory of New Guinea. I am aware that under the terms of our mandate, it is not possible to establish elaborate defences in New Guinea, but I doubt very much whether other countries holding similar mandates are so scrupulously observing the conditions of their mandate. Having regard to the fact that other countries are erecting defence works in the territories over which they hold a mandate, Australia should act similarly in New Guinea. As that territory in its present undefended state is now becoming a menace rather than an asset, the Commonwealth should prepare for its defence. A declaration by this Parliament should be a sufficient warrant for the League of Nations to recognize that its defence provides a bulwark to Australia. This subject calls for immediate attention, particularly in view of the fact that during the last two weeks a good deal has been said regarding the status quo in the Dutch East Indies. We should attend to our own affairs before devoting our attention to those of any other country, such as the Netherlands Indies. Doubtless the Government has this matter under consideration, but it is a subject which requires immediate attention.
I now wish to speak briefly on the subject of wool. I realize that the Government has done very creditable work, and that it is to handle the Australian clip for the duration of the war and also the clip following the termination of the conflict. I urge the Assistant Minister (Senator McBride), who understands the Australian wool position much better than I can ever hope to do, to realize that in Western Australia there is a strong feeling of disappointment over the prices realized, and the wool-growers in that State think it most desirable that a clause should be inserted in any future agreement to provide that prices may be reviewed. I appeal to the Assistant Minister to do his best to see whether it is possible for a review principle to be inserted. There is a feeling in Western Australia that some mistakes were made in the first appraisement and during more than one-half of the second appraisement, and a grave doubt exists as to whether these mistakes can be rectified. These mistakes were rectified in the latter part of the second appraisement and in subsequent appraisements, but those who sold their wool in the first appraisement and in the first part of the second appraisement feel that they had been dealt with unjustly. So far as I can ascertain, some growers will not reap the full return from their clip, and I urge the Assistant Minister to evolve some scheme of equalisation which will embrace all the participants in the first and second appraisements. I have heard from various authorities that similar conditions apply in the other States; hut I am now speaking only of the position in Western Australia. I trust that an effort will be made to recompense the participants in the first and second appraisements, so that they will get a fair return from their labour and investments. I believe that the Minister realizes the position in which they are placed, and I trust that relief will be afforded. I also ask the Assistant Minister whether appraisement centres can be established at Albany and Geraldton. There is a great danger of Albany being deprived of the advantages it enjoyed during the last war, and if that port, be overlooked it may commence to deteriorate. If Albany is selected as an appraisement centre there will be increased shipping, and the export of the great bulk of our apple crop, which has increased in the Mount Barker district, would be facilitated. If additional vessels call at Albany, shipping stagnation will be avoided.
Senator Keane directed attention to the dilution of labour in connexion with the Government’s proposals to institute the training of engineers in connexion with Australia’s war effort. I trust that the Government will proceed with the scheme, which is still in its infancy, and that nothing will be done to interfere with its success. There are many men in Australia possessing an elementary knowledge of engineering, and there are some who have advanced beyond the elementary stage, who could be trained to the standard of men belonging to our craft unions engaged in the manufacture of munitions and war equipment. It would not take a long course to bring those men up to the required standard. There are many men of about my own age capable of doing a good day’s work who, in a brief period, could become competent engineers or toolmakers or engage in other sectional engineering work. Although the course has already started in New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia, the work should be extended to Western Australia where there is a technical committee of employers and employees which I am sure would be only too willing to supervise any extension of technical training to that State. I am sure that the Minister for
Supply and Development (Sir Frederick Stewart) would favour an extension of the scheme to all States.
Senator AMOUR (New South Wales) [5.30J. - Regardless of what has been said by honorable senators opposite I do not believe that the Government is acting with sufficient expedition to provide for the adequate defence of Australia and the territories under its control. Although the Minister for the Interior (Senator Foll) spoke at some length on the policy which the Government has adopted with respect to the production of flow oil, which is the life-blood of any nation, its energies are not being exerted in the right direction. I am not in any way concerned with the schemes mentioned by Senator Arthur, and I am not interested in the production of flow oil by small companies in which persons invest their capital, or by major oil companies which have tremendous resources. The time has arrived when the Government itself should take immediate action to discover flow oil in Australia, instead of being guided by the recommendations of the companies. 1 2-emind the Minister for the Interior, who said that Mr. Steinbuchel will have to leave Australia by the 4th June, that if is the responsibility of the Government to protect those who have invested their capital in the companies formed by that gentleman. I do not know whether Steinbuchel possesses any special equipment or whether he is merely what is known as a “ diviner “, but the persons who have invested their money in the companies which he has formed should be protected. If he says that oil can be found at a certain depth, he should be permitted to continue operations, even if it be necessary to protect him from the activities of the oil combines. If oil be found at the depth predicted the Government should pay this man the prize of £50,000. Indeed, if he were successful, I suggest that the Government should pay to him a much bigger sum per annum in order to retain his services for the nation. I put that proposition seriously. I have no confidence in the Government’s geological advisers. I recall that on one occasion, when Dr. Ward gave a lantern lecture in the Senate club room on the search for oil in Australia, the projection machine was operated by a Japanese.
To mo that was most astounding, particularly when most of the operations on the fields were under guard. It is evident that the major oil companies have been responsible for the failure to discover flow oil in this country, or to produce oil from coal or shale. Must I repeat over and over again what happened in connexion with the production of oil in the Wolgan Valley in order to demonstrate that those companies are doing their utmost to prevent the production of oil in Australia? I am confident that oil will be produced here when these companies find it convenient to do so. That will be a glorious day for this country, but we should not wait for the major oil companies to crown our efforts with success. If Steinbuchel is genuine lie should not be deported. The Minister for the Interior (Senator Foll) suggested that he is a fake. If this be so he should be put in gaol, because it is the duty of the Government to protect those people throughout New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia who have subscribed to his companies. If he is found to be genuine the Government should use his services; if he is not genuine it should deal appropriately with him. The Government is not seriously concerned in the search for oil. I base that view on the belief that the Minister for Supply and Development (Sir Frederick Stewart) is most anxious that no action should he taken to increase oil production in this country. Recently the Bankstown Municipal Council received a circular which was distributed by another local authority to all of the local governing bodies throughout New South Wales. The Town Clerk of Bankstown wrote to the Minister for Supply and Development supporting the representations made in the circular, which was as follows: - Dear sir,
I am directed to seek the co-operation of your council in urging the Federal Government to make available portion of the increased revenue from the petrol tax for the exploitation of the extraction of oil from coal-shale as a necessary and urgent defence measure.
Australia depends entirely upon ocean-going transport for the whole of its oil and petrol supplies. In the event of a determined enemy blockade, this important link could be broken, transport would become immobile and the wheels of industry idle within a very short period.
After the last war it was generally conceded that petrol shortage, due to the Allies, effective blockade, was primarily responsible for Germany’s collapse.
During the years following the last war, all nations, other than Australia, were actively engaged upon consolidating oil supplies and Germany now leads the world in the production of synthetic motor spirit from coal. Spain legislated for the Government control of the refining and distribution of oil. Italy spent vast sums in seeking further oil production in Albania, Northern Africa and the Near East. France trebled her oil production in the Near East. The growth of Russian oil production has been the main lever for her various trade pacts and Overseas credits. Japan’s military occupation and control of the oilfields of Sakhalien bland and the exploitation of Manchurian shale deposits enables petrol to be sold in Japan at about one-third the price obtaining in Australia. Diplomatic activity and military stategy in the present war all pivot upon oil supply. In the face of all this evidence, the lethargy of the Federal Government in neglecting a definite attempt to make Australia in some measure independent of overseas oil supplies, is very difficult to understand.
It is a generally accepted geological fact that the prospects of the discovery of flow oil in Australia are negligible. Australia has unlimited coal supplies and a number of dormant shale deposits. The Newnes Shale deposit ( the only one being worked ) will produce shale with a content of 102 gallons of crude oil per ton, which in turn will produce 60 gallons of petrol, 30 gallons of fuel oil, together with other valuable by-products. Other shale deposits exist at Baerami, Barigan, Burragorang, Wollar, Murrurundi, Marrangaroo and in many parte of Queensland. Coal deposits, rich in oil content, everywhere await development.
The importance of awakening public interest in the necessity for a determined effort to produce oil from coa] and shale, both in the interest of national security and for the economic advantage which must accrue from the establishment of an important new major industry in time of war or in time of peace, needs no elaboration.
Council will very much appreciate the valued co-operation of your council in forcibly bringing this matter under the notice of the Federal Government, per medium of the Federal Parliamentary Representative of your district, urging that Australia produce Its own oil and petrol supplies.
Thanking you for your assistance in this matter.
In the first paragraph of the circular will be noted a reference to “coal-shale”. It is evident that this reference was an error. It should have read “coal or shale”. But the Minister based the whole of his reply on this error. I suggested to him that the way to comply with the representations made in the circular would he to allocate a sum from consolidated revenue for this purpose. His reply was-r-
My dear Senator,
I have to acknowledge your letter of the 4th instant, with enclosures from the Bankstown Municipal Council.
I must admit that I am somewhat at a loss as to just what is meant by the representations. 1 notice that the council is urging for the exploitation of oil from “ coal-shale “, but 1 do not know what coal-shale is. Could you enlighten me, please?
On reading the circular to which 1 have referred, any person with a semblance of intelligence would know that the reference “ coal-shale “ was an error, because coal and shale are different minerals. In view of the Minister’s reply T am convinced that he is most anxious that the major oil companies should have the last say in the search for oil in this country, and that the Government does not seriously intend to develop our oil resources.
Since the outbreak of war no fewer that 23 boards have been appointed by the Government. “We have now a board for this, a board for that, and a board for something else.
– Does the honorable senator say that 23 boards have been appointed since the outbreak of war?
– That statement is incorrect. They have not been set Up since the war.
– I have here a list of the names of the boards to which I refer. I find that on the 20th March last, wartime organizing and advisory committees, boards, panels and commissions numbering about 50 were in operation, and are now costing taxpayers of this country £250,000 per annum. Much of that money is simply being, wasted. Many people concerned in the manufacture of defence requirements for the Government who hoped to co-operate in our war effort have had their hopes dashed owing to interference by these boards. They have been told that they cannot do this,, that, or the other thing. Mr. Essington Lewis, who virtually occupies in Australia a position comparable with that held by Goering in Germany, is mainly responsible for this confusion. The Government talks- a lot about defending the- nation against aggressors; Let it beware df enemies in our midst. The main desire of this steel genius is that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited should be enabled to make more profits. I say definitely that the Government has dishonoured its pledge to Parliament that no section of private enterprise would be given an opportunity to make profits out of the manufacture of arms or armaments until such time as the State instrumentalities were working at their full capacity. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited manufactured shells and sold them to the Government at 30s. each, but the Government subsequently found that the shells could be manufactured at Maribyrnong, for 10s. less. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited then returned to the Government 7s. 6d. a shell, representing a total of £10,000. The general manager of the company is Mr. Essington Lewis, a member of one of the defence advisory councils.
– The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited was charging less for the shells than the cost of manufacture at Maribyrnong.
– Then why did it return the money to the Treasury?
– It did not.
– Why did Mr. Essington Lewis say that there had been a mistake in costing?
– He did not do so.
– I emphasize that the Commonwealth instrumentalities have not yet turned out a shell. They are by no means working to full capacity; but the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited is manufacturng shells.
– Because the company got going quickly.
– The Government announced at the beginning of the war that until the government-owned munitions workshops were engaged to their full capacity, private enterprise would not be permitted to engage in the manufacture of armaments,, and so amass huge profits on the pretext of patriotism.
– The Government has never said anything df the sort.
– The honorable senator has the Essington Lewis complex.
– The honorable senator has that complex, and he will retain it for just so long as his patriotism remains the same as it has been in the past. That patriotism starts with profits for the rich, and there it stops. In the interests of those who are deriving wealth from this war, the Government is sending men overseas as cannon fodder when their proper place is in the factories. This action enables people such as Essington Lewis to exploit the community, because the sending- of men overseas creates the demand for the profitable munitions. The Government should have heeded the request of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings), expressed at the beginning of the war, that the manufacture of arms and munitions should be retained in the hands of the Government.
His Excellency referred to what he called “ a full measure of defence The Government has conscripted certain categories of youths for service in the Militia. These lads are paraded twice a day in the camps, and urged to volunteer for service abroad with the Australian Imperial Force. In this connexion, the Government is employing tactics similar to those used during the last war. When the militiamen are paraded and asked to volunteer for the Australian Imperial Force, certain men - urgers or buttoners - step forward. These, however, are only dummies, and are switched from company to company in order to give the same performance, and so encourage others to volunteer. The Minister for the Army (Mr. Street) has denied the existence of this practice, but despite his protestations, it is carried out, and I challenge contradiction on this point. I do not suggest that representatives of the Government go into the military camps and urge the boys to join up for overseas service, but there are in these camps, certain jingoistic officers who are responsible for this work. I fear that there will be a general call-up, which will, in effect, be conscription. The boys who are now conscripted for service in the Militia will be forced to go to the war. Once again I warn the country against the enemy within. There is a sinister influence at work to get these hoys out of the country. Is that what is meant by “ a full measure of defence “ for Australia ? Should the Government be unable to secure sufficient volunteers for the Australian Imperial Force, we may again see in operation a system which was in- augurated during the last war, when proclamations were issued and posted at military establishments and police stations, stating: -
Whereas by the Defence Act 1903-1915 it is amongst other things enacted that in time of war it shall be lawful for the Governor-General, by Proclamation, to call upon persons liable to serve in the Citizen Forces to enlist and serve as prescribed:
The proclamation is signed “ G. F. Pearce, Minister of State for Defence “. Following its publication, the Government called up the “ Hughesliers “. I fear that the “full measure of defence” spoken of by His Excellency will include the issue of such proclamations.
– That was done by a Labour government.
– I am sorry that Senator McBride has so little knowledge of Australian political history as not to know what was the composition of the government at the time to which I refer.
Let us beware of the enemies within. A member of the House of Representatives, who formerly held the portfolio of Postmaster-General, is reported in this morning’s Sydney Daily Telegraph as having said that another “ new guard “ should he formed in the State of New South Wales. It is noteworthy that there was no talk of stopping the sending of Communist literature through the post when that gentleman was Postmaster-General. The former New Guard was a Fascist organization, and just as the Communists get their instructions from Moscow, Mr. Eric Campbell and his New Guard got their instructions from Berlin. It is also reported in the press that Mr. Vinton Smith, the defeated candidate of the United Australia party at the Corio byelection, intends to organize a youth movement. Hitler organized a youth movement - a movement that is now menacing the security of the world.
– The Labour party has just found the enemy within.
– Senator Dein and all members of his party have relied on the Communists for their success at elections. They are sorry that the Australian Labour party is determined to rid itself of these people who have insinuated themselves into the movement. Whether they attempt their “ putsch “ by underground methods or any other methods we shall push, them all back where they belong. At no time has Labour had any association with the Communist party, but it is well known that Senator Dein and the Government of which he is a supporter are very interested in the movement at election time. Therefore I say, that if the Government is determined to send men away from Australia, it will have to watch carefully the brown shirts, the youth movements, the new guard, the Eric Campbells and the Vinton Smiths. Australia should be the most democratic country in the world. There is no need here for Communist organizations or youth movements.
There is another matter on which I should like to touch and in connexion with which, I believe, the Government is not aiming at “ a full measure of defence “ for Australia. A promise was given in the House of Representatives that the Government would embark upon a homebuilding programme involving the expenditure of £20,000,000. Despite the fact that the Government has expended only a comparatively few pounds in the building of new houses for the people in Canberra, it has gone out of its way to prevent the expansion of co-operative building societies elsewhere, irrespective of their stability and the character of those who have been elected at public meetings as their directors.
– Tell us the name of one society that has been stifled.
– The Bankstown Co-operative Building Society has been placed in such a position that it is unable to secure power to organize new societies. It desired to extend its operations by setting up a permanent building society in order to enable its members to do their banking through that body, but that was prevented by the Federal Treasurer. Up till recently it had paid 5 per cent, interest on money lodged with the permanent societies, which in turn charged the persons to whom the money had been lent 5 per cent. In Great Britain, it was discovered that these permanent societies were interfering with the banks, and, apparently the determination of the Commonwealth Government is to prevent the increase of the number of institutions of this character, despite the fact that the building of homes in working-class districts is a matter of national importance. The Government decided that it would not allow the desired extension of activities at Bankstown, unless the permanent society would be satisfied with an interest return of l£ per cent., or less than the bank rate of interest. I have received the following letter from Bankstown Cooperative Building Societies Nos. 1, 2 and 3 Limited: -
Dear Sir -
The society’s solicitor has made application to the Federal Treasurer under the National Security (Capital Issues) Regulation on behalf of the Permanent Building Society for permission to start business.
You would be able to give the application a push along and this would be very much appreciated by the local lads of the Building Society Board and building trade, and yours truly,
In Bankstown there are still SOO persons out of employment, and I am greatly concerned about the action of the Commonwealth Government in this matter, which has had the effect of retarding employment, although the Speech by His Excellency the Governor-General was so framed as to suggest that everything possible had been done to provide for the defence of Australia. This country cannot be adequately defended, if thousands of men are out of employment; therefore, I regard the speech as mere political propaganda.
When I heard the speech by Senator Abbott regarding international affairs, I thought that it would be a good thing if something could be done in the direction indicated by him for the prevention of war. I happened to refer by interjection to the Menzies Government, and the honor able senator slightingly suggested that, as he was speaking of matters of international moment, it was inappropriate for me to refer to such local matters as unemployment at Bankstown, but I consider that it is of the utmost importance to deal immediately with this problem. We should do something to relieve those workers whose cupboards are bare, and whose clothing is far too scanty to enable them to face the rigours of winter. The honorable senator and other supporters of the Government would be better Australians if they displayed greater readiness than they do to consider the best means of promoting the welfare of the unemployed. The success of the building society operations at Bankstown would give impetus to the local building trade, in the success of which I am particularly interested. The Government would have the people believe that it is doing everything possible to ensure the adequate defence of Australia ; yet thousands of men and women are unemployed, and they and their’ children have insufficient food and clothing. Nothing is more demoralizing than keeping able-bodied men and women in idleness for long periods. What is morally wrong cannot be economically right or politically sound. It is essential to put into employment all the men and women who are anxiously seeking it. Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– Many years ago, when I was a boy in England, I read over the editorial in the local newspaper the following lines, which had been dedicated to an old crow : -
Fond of the speculative heights,
Thither he wings his airy flight, And thus securely sees
The bustle and the raree show That occupies mankind below, Secure and at his ease.
Those lines came back to me while I was listening to the speeches of honorable senators this afternoon. In the security of the Senate we sit at out ease, and we should be able to discuss, calmly and deliberately, the various issues that come before us. On the other side of the world nations are being wrecked and men are being blasted out of existence. Knowing of this we should keep the debate on a high plane. Our friends opposite have on many occasions told us that we should do this. Of- course we all wish that that were possible. I do not suggest, of course, that we are all so many Jekylls and Hydes; but somehow when men get together in debate, they say things which they would not say in private conversation. One gentleman I know is normally very calm, yet when he rises to speak in public ho becomes almost a revolutionary. I think sometimes that this change in men is, perhaps, psychological. We can find examples of this phenomenon amongst Fascists, Communists, and even amongst members of the United Australia party.
In the Speech of the Governor-General which, I presume, was written by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) or someone deputed by him to do so, three matters are specifically mentioned - the colossal conflict on the other side of the world, the cunning Communists, and the coal strike. I am somewhat disappointed with the Speech, not because of what it contains, but because of what is not to be found in it. The Prime Minister some months ago declared that the right thing to do during this war was to carry on as usual. It would appear, however, that the right honorable gentleman has not followed his own precept, because he has left out of the Speech many matters which might very well have been included.
Sometimes in my pessimistic moments I think that we shall never be free of international conflicts, because wars are, in some respects, biological in their origin. There is, I believe, in most of us, a pugnacious impulse which must have an outlet. I am reminded of the truth in the following lines by Edwin Arnold in his Light of Asia. The gentle buddha noted. -
How lizard fed on ant, and snake on him, And kite on both; and how the fish hawk robbed
The fish tiger of that which it had seized; The shrike chasing the bul-bul which did chase
The jewelled butterflies; till everywhere Each slew a slayer, and in turn was slain. Life living on death. So the fair show Veiled one vast, savage grim conspiracy Of mutual murder, from worm to man, Who himself kills his fellow.
It seems inevitable that men will always display this fighting spirit. It is pos.sible, though perhaps this is wishful thinking, that some day we may sublimate our individual or national pugnacity and we may be able to direct it on to a higher plane, eventually treading the path to a better world. We may thus evolve a form of society in which it will be possible for every individual to get the best out of life without doing harm to his neighbour.
We on this side believe in a real democracy. We are strongly opposed to totalitarianism. We stand for democracy - not only political democracy, but also industrial democracy. We believe that in fighting Hitler-ism Ave should endeavour to establish in this country a really democratic form of government so that we could prove to Hitler or any other dictator that we have solved all social problems without doing violence to any individual. I do not think that we have yet gone very far along that road. We have in our midst a number of sentimentalists, who tell us that the day is coming when we shall have a universal language and shall abolish armaments; that, in fact, we shall achieve such a measure of amity among the peoples of the world that it will be possible for one small army to police international law. We have such idealists in this chamber - honorable senators who use nice language and speak almost with tears in their voices when speaking of the world that is to come. But when we are discussing Australian industrial conditions, and when it is a question of establishing a real democracy, in which every citizen of the Commonwealth will enjoy what is his just due, these, gentlemen display an extremely pugnacious spirit and almost evince a desire to crack someone’s skull, particularly the skull of unfortunate workers who dare to demand a betterment of their conditions. Senators Wilson and Abbott have lately given us their conception of the new world order -
Till the war drum throbbed no longer, and the battle flags were furled
In the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world.
But there was very little sentiment about these gentlemen when they came to deal with the coal strike. They declared that “we must deal with these people “. They were, of course, referring to the terrible Communists who, we are told by some, are in control of the coal-miners. In this Parliament we have “ Shoot-‘ em down “ Thorby and “ Cannon-ball “ Cameron. Both these gentlemen would counsel the use of force against the workers in this strike. I have no doubt that Mr. Archie Galbraith Cameron and Mr. Thorby have some sentimental ideas about the future world order but their immediate need, apparently, is to come down with a heavy hand upon those workers who are struggling at the present time to uphold the original decision of the Arbitration Court.
I would call the attention of Senators Abbott and Wilson, Mr. Thorby and Mr. Cameron to the fact that there is something more in this fight on the coal-fields than the adherence, by coal-miners, to the lead of men who owe allegiance to the Communist faith. No one can persuade me that thousands of men will vote almost unanimously in favour of a strike, knowing full well that it will put them on the bread line and cost them the loss of wages for many months, merely to follow some will-o’-the-“wisp Communist who is obsessed with the doctrine of Stalinism. I do not believe that Mr. Orr or any other leader of trade unionism has such authority over the coal-miners as to persuade them, against their will, to strike against an award of the Arbitration. Court.
Yesterday in the Sydney Domain, I listened to a lady speaker, who is a familiar figure at these gatherings. Behind her was the Union Jack. I understand that this lady, Mrs. Thomas Walsh, formerly Miss Adela Pankhurst, is now crusading under the auspices of the Guild of Empire. When I met her first, 25 or 30 years ago, she was a very active member of another political faith. As a matter of fact she has run the gamut of political beliefs. At one time she was a red-hot socialist. To-day she has other views. But the lady is always interesting, and I was impressed by what she said on Sunday. She told us that the Government would be doing wrong if it attempted a policy of repression in this dispute, because, she added, in the coal-fields areas there were thousands of men who had been cavelled out of jobs in the mines and thousands of young men who had no hope whatever of getting employment in the mines. A spirit of hopelessness permeated all these workers and the urgent need was for the Government to convince these men that they had a solution of their problem. She said further that it was a mistake to suggest that a few Communists were controlling and ruling all the coal-miners in New South Wales, and she declared that, as soon as a solution of the economic problems in the coal-fields district was in sight, the influence of Communists, Fascists or Nazi agents would disappear. The remedy for the present trouble was economic security and the right of every man to earn a living in consonance with Australian standards.
I should like to impress this fact upon those Government supporters who are too prone to declare that all this trouble on the coal-fields is due to the influence of Communists. Despite our wealthproducing powers and despite our capacity to feed, clothe and educate our people, a vast number of workers are not to-day getting a square deal. I am supported in that contention by Bishop Moyes, of Armidale, who, according to a paragraph which appeared in a Sydney newspaper, interviewed some of the coal-miners and their wives. He said that the workers did not trust the bosses and the bosses did not trust the workers, but he was impressed by the straightforward sincerity of the representatives of both parties. He contended that he could not see how the problem could be solved by emphasizing li.o existence of an Arbitration Court. Bishop Moyes, who spent a good deal of time on the coal-fields, conversed with the rank and file, and even went down some of the mines, concluded his state-‘ ment with these words -
Some of the miners with whom I conversed had opposed the strike, while others voted in favour of it; but all were convinced that there was a massed feeling on the men’s part and that the strike was not the result of agitation by a few.
If the problem is to he solved we shall have to ascertain all the facts associated with the dispute. If the Government imprisons Orr and other leaders, the trouble will be intensified. If the leaders of the men be gaoled a fire will be lighted which will burn from one end of Australia to the other, and those who are now sitting on the fence will come down on the side of those who are participating in the conflict. Coming to Canberra by train to-day, I was shown a series of articles which appeared in a newspaper The Common Cause, dated the 27th April. Three parts of these articles had been censored severely. It is many years since I read this paper but the articles which I perused to-day did not contain one word concerning Russia. I could not find any references to that country at all; but there were many articles and paragraphs relating to the strike on the coal-fields. There was also a statement by Judge Davidson published in May, 1929, under the caption Employers are not angels, in which he pointed out that in that year the employers by acting contrary to the letter and spirit of the Arbitration Act had rendered a great disservice to the Australian public. The blue pencil had gone through that. I could understand the censor exercising his authority had the newspaper said that the employers were dastards, but it did not do so.
– Judge Davidson’s references were to an occasion when the men were locked out by the employers.
– Yes, but his statement “ the employers are not angels “ had been deleted, as were statements made by union officials dealing with the cause of the strike. Although advertisements compiled by the employers are published freely in the Australian press, the men are deprived of an opportunity to put their case before the people. They said that they are ready to abide by Judge Drake-Brockman’s award in which he granted them a 40-hour week, but the blue pencil had also gone through that. Another statement which had been censored was that the miners are the only members of an industrial organization who have not had their working hours reduced since 1916. If the Government acts in the direction suggested it will be looking for trouble. I can recall the days when I was associated with socialist movements, and although some may say that I have now fallen from grace because I am too moderate, I can see that some of the actions which I took years ago were not justified. There are thousands of men in the trade union movement in Australia who, if the Government acts as some say it will act, will make a firm stand. They are opposed to the methods of Hitler, Mussolini and other dictators. It will be the height of folly for those in authority to exercise power in the manner that is threatened.
– What has been done?
– I have already explained to the Senate how the articles and paragraphs in a paper owned and controlled by the miners have been censored, and I make bold to say that nothing that has been eliminated would have benefited Hitler, Mussolini or Stalin in any way. One would think from the manner in which some honorable senators opposite speak that, if the miners were allowed to tell the truth, the world would come to an end. The miners believe that the censorship is being used with undue severity. The Government, instead of getting them back to work, will add fuel to the fire of industrial unrest and class hatred will be intensified. I am putting the case in a calm and dispassionate way in the hope that Ministers in this chamber will endeavour to influence those mad swashbucklers who would use force against men who arc fighting in the interests of themselves and those dependent on them.
– That is ridiculous.
– It is not. I have had conversations with some of these men, and I know that there are in our midst Fascist’s who are prepared to sink the boot into the workers at every opportunity. It has been stated that one ex-Minister is pleading for the re-constitution of the New Guard, and it has been said that Mr. Vinton Smith, the defeated candidate for Corio, wishes to organize the youth of this country. Is there any necessity to establish a force in this country to operate against those who have democratic tendencies? The Australian people believe in law and order and favour our present democratic form of government, but they will give short shrift to those who exceed their powers. This is a matter which Ministers should discuss thoroughly before any action is taken which will add fuel to the fire of industrial discontent. I do not wish to be misunderstood in this matter. The members of the Opposition in this Parliament believe in arbitration; but we do not think that the arbitration system is perfect. It is true that there is a struggle between different sections of society, and we know that in the past men have gone on strike and have remained on strike until they and their women folk were on the verge of starvation. Arbitration has been a plank of the Labour party’s platform for many years. It was not introduced by the Labour party, but it has always been supported by sections of the workers who think it necessary to avoid useless struggles in the industrial arena. Even if we have an arbitration system, it does not mean that all struggles between different sections of society have been eliminated. We have endeavoured to bring industrial disputes on to a higher plane, and to avoid all those difficulties which arise in the economic field between the owners and the dispossessed. In listening to some honorable senators opposite one would think that in the arbitration system we had discovered the philosopher’s stone with which we can ensure industrial and economic peace. I understand that Judge Drake-Brockman heard the representation of both parties and the proceedings of the Arbitration Court extended over nine months. He then made an award with which the men were satisfied, but the employers appealed to the Full Court, which consisted of Judge Beeby, Judge Piper and Judge Drake-Brockman. Judge Piper said that he would not know a coal-mine even if he fell down one.
– Who told the honorable senator that?
– If I am wrong I shall publicly retract that statement. However,- it has appeared in the press, and I am reliably informed that what I say is true. Judge Piper said that he was not a coal-miner and- would nol know a coal-mine if he fell down one. When he and Judge Beeby heard tha appeal from Judge Drake-Brockman’s decision did they call before them any representative of the miners or indeed of the employers? No. It is well known that Judge Beeby is somewhat bitter against Judge Drake-Brockman. No matter what Judge Drake-Brockman’s decision may be, Judge Beeby will alter it.
– That is nonsense.
– Lawyers know their judges. It is the impression among lawyers that a good deal of jealousy exists between judges and that one judge requires but the slightest excuse for upsetting another judge’s decision.
– What alteration did the Full Court make in respect of hours ?
– I understand that Judge Drake-Brockman granted a 40- hour week in respect of the whole of the industry. That has been a plank in the miners’ programme for many years. The miners have always contended that there should be uniformity of hours throughout the industry, and that there should be one award to cover the whole of. the industry. I understand that the Full Court, by a majority of two to one, decided on a 40-hour week for the miners and a 43-hour week for the surface workers. When workers are deprived of what they consider to be their rights, when thousands of men are convinced that they are being denied justice in their fight against their employers, then we cannot rely solely upon arbitration to enable us to solve a problem of this kind. If arbitration consists of upsetting by a higher court of the judgment of a lower court, it fails, and we must find other means of solving this economic struggle and bringing peace into the mining industry.
– What does the honorable senator suggest?
– A few days ago the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Curtin) declared that peace could possibly have been brought about in the industry if an arrangement had been made for the observance of a 40-hour week exclusive of meal time for surface employees and a 40-hour week, inclusive of meal times, for the miners.
– Those hours are operating now.
- Mr. Curtin declared, as the result of his close association with trade union organizations, that if such an offer had been made to the men there was every prospect of restoring peace on the coal-fields. Senator McBeide. - What do the Kalgoorlie miners say about the strike?
– I do not know what they say about the strike, but I understand that the unionists at Kalgoorlie dismissed an official because he espoused the Communist cause.
– They voted against supporting the coal strike.
– That is not correct. In any case, I know what the honorable senator believes about the strike, because he is a unit in that great army which exploits the workers at every opportunity; but at other times his bosom swells with patriotic enthusiasm when the services of the workers are required for the defence of this country. When miners lose their lives below ground through fire, explosion, or some other catastrophe, the honorable senator and others of his class shed tears. [ worked in a mine in the Old Country, and I know that miners as a class are of a fine type. At the same time I know of those who exploit them. When the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited issued a dividend which would return to shareholders per cent., allowing for bonus shares issued twelve months ago, a lot of money-suckers in this country were dissatisfied. I am telling the honorable senator something about his rich friends who are only too willing to exploit those poor devils when they work below, but at the same time are not satisfied with a dividend of 12£ per cent.
– The honorable senator has not worked down a mine. He sits in this chamber smirking and sniggering, and possibly he imagines that he knows all about work in a coal-mine. He has never had the experience of having to go without a crust. I have no time for men of his kind who, in times like the present, sneer at the workers, but I have no desire to add fuel to the dispute. I do not wish to see the miners out of work a day longer than is necessary.
– Why not tell the men that?
– I am telling the honorable senator and his colleagues opposite that the miners ‘believe that they are fighting for their rights. They are not being misled .by Communists at the head of their union affairs. When honorable senators opposite are bubbling over with patriotic fervour in the fight foi1 democracy, they should try to excite in themselves some human sympathy for these workers. Let us have democracy here. Let us see that there is fair play between the workers and those who live upon the workers.
– The leaders of the coalminers live upon the workers.
– I have been an official of an industrial union and when I occupied that position I earned my money. I did my best for the workers in that organization. There may be certain gentlemen in the union movement who are not what they should be, and who are exploiting the workers. But, generally speaking, it cannot he said that those engaged ‘by the workers to look after their interests are not doing their best for the workers. I am endeavouring to demonstrate here to-night that the men themselves are anxious to win this struggle, because they believe they are fighting for their rights. The miners are just as loyal men as any other body of Australians. Enlistment figures in connexion with the last war show that pro rata the miners of Australia have given their bodies just as freely in defence of this country as has any other section of the community. I have no doubt that they will be equally loyal in this war. Over 40,000 members of the Australian “Workers Union saw active service overseas in the years 1914-18. Yet, honorable senators opposite accuse the workers of being disloyal, and endeavour to excite public sentiment against the strikers. Whilst this Government prevents the miners from telling the truth about the dispute to the public, it allows its own press, including the Sydney Morning Herald and the Telegraph, Sydney, to misrepresent the workers’ position. I stand for free speech, but I say deliberately that any man who is guilty of sedition should be imprisoned. As one who has been through the ranks and suffered imprisonment - as one who once held revolutionary ideas and had the greatest sympathy for the Russian Revolution as a great social experiment - as one who has gone through the’ whole gamut of working-class activity and has suffered imprisonment, I say that in the present war against totalitarianism, any country which allies itself to Germany is an enemy of this country. I make no quibble about that. In those countries which have adopted totalitarian methods, a tendency exists to make of men and women mere automatons. They remind me of professional “ rooters “ at football matches in the United States of America. Under their direction groups of partisans sway backwards and forwards just like clockwork. The trouble in totalitarian countries to-day is that a few men can control the mass mind, and can twist it in any direction they choose. Unfortunately, this is also becoming a weakness in our democracy, because of the lack of real education. To-day we drill into the minds of the young, certain facts, but we do not develop their intellectual facul-ties, with the result that politicians can sway the mass mind. It is possible also for the minds of unionists to be twisted and turned this way and that by their leaders. Wc .can never hope to solve our problems of this kind until we educate the children of this country to think for themselves, to analyse a problem, for themselves, and to be intellectually independent. In totalitarian countries mass control by a few men has been developed to a fine art. The word goes out, andovernight the people change their convictions. I do not suggest that a man, because he is a Communist, should be imprisoned or deported. Every individual has a right to his own opinion.
– The honorable senator said that disloyalists should be imprisoned.
– I said that if a man commits a seditious act he should be” dealt with according to the law. . Every man who engages in subversive activities* in order to weaken this country in its struggle for freedom and democracy should be punished. But even the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle’ Page) has declared that the theoretical Communist is not a danger. No one’ should be subjected to penalties, merely because he expresses a certain political view. If it is proved that organizations’ are working subversively in the interests of the enemy, then, whether they are Communist, Fascist, or Nazi, they should be dealt with. I would point out, however, that in this country to-da)’ there are people other than Communists in “ the fifth column “, which is one of the most formidable forces of the enemy. We have heard of the. operations of the fifth column in Norway; we know that it is at work in Sweden, Belgium, and Holland. But, more than that, it is working in the highest quarters in Great Britain. Through the influence of aristocratic sympathizers, prominent Nazis have been released from concentration camps. Wc know that, prior to this conflict, a secret organization was at work in England; and numbered among its members some of the highest in the land. The workers’ of this country say that if the present war is a real fight for democracy, these” eople should he tracked down and placed behind bars, in the same way as workers who are foolish enough to act subversively. That does not mean that we should adopt Fascist methods. We do not wish to see in Australia a repetition of the methods adopted by the German Brown Shirts, who beat their victims into insanity, or even death. Let us keep cool, calm and collected and deal with this matter promptly and sensibly. Do not let us adopt Hitlerism in order to protect democracy. That would be absurd. Let us use our powers of persuasion; let us try to view the question from every point of view, and not merely from the point of view of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, or any organization which is exploiting the workers of this country.
– That is in contrast with what the honorable senator said a few moments ago. The honorable senator is changing his views.
– I have said all along that I do not wish this Government to be controlled merely by the rentier class, the coupon clippers, or the bondholders. I am striving to make honorable senators , opposite see things from the workers’ point of view, and to impress upon them that Bishop Moyes and Adela Walsh are right. These people are of the same political complexion as the Government, so surely their views should carry some weight. They say that the Government is wrong, and that the miners are not controlled by the Communists. The miners, in fact, have a very democratic organization.
– Why then did they not have a ballot?
– They have the right to a ballot. Recently I spoke to the honorable member for Hunter in the House of Representatives (Mr. James), who is a miner from Newcastle. M.r. James informed me that the Miners Union of Australia is a most democratic organization. We on this side of the House want to see this strike settled, and the fight ended. We want every one to realize that, so far as Australia is concerned, we are in this fight, not merely to extend the imperialism of Great Britain or France, but also to establish a real democracy, and in order to show our bona fides in the fight we desire to preserve true democratic rights in Australia.
– Surely the Arbitration Court is not undemocratic.
– I have not said that. There is, however, something wrong with the court. One judge gave an award after a hearing which lasted for nine months and then, without calling evidence, two judges revoked that judgment. That is absolutely undemocratic. It is notable that one of two men responsible for rescinding the award admitted quite frankly that he knew nothing about the industry. Yet he assisted to undo the good work done by one judge after a long a.nd detailed examination of the industry.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that there should be no right of appeal?
– If there is to be a full court, then it should be composed of men who understand the industry. I do not think that Senator Hays or any reasonable working man thinks that arbitration is the be-all and end-all of the machinery for the solution of industrial problems. A better system would be conciliation boards - representatives of parties interested in a dispute sitting together at a table with an independent chairman who knew the industry from A to Z. Such a body would decide more equitably than a full court of lawyers who ad;mittedly know nothing about the matter. The weakness in our present arbitration system is that our courts arc composed of lawyers who know nothing about the industries with which they deal. I have worked in many industries, and I understand many industries. I have had experience of industrial litigation. I have spoken in the courts, and have frequently found that despite the fact that I ami other Labour representatives had endeavoured to make our case perfectly clear, the legal men had been unable to understand. We cannot blame them; a man cannot possibly understand every industry. That is why it would be preferable to have round-table conferences presided over by nien who completely understand the industries concerned.
– The miners’ leaders do not believe in arbitration at all.
– Possibly some of them say that. A great majority of the workers, however, believe that their case should be thoroughly dealt with, and they believe it was thoroughly dealt with by Judge Drake-Brockman. Then came a low blow which they considered to be unfair.
– The miners lost nothing as the result of the appeal. It was the surface hands who were adversely affected.
– The miners had not had a reduction of hours since 1916. If, as my leader has said, three hours is such a small matter why have the employers plunged Australia into industrial chaos? The Attorney-General (Mr. Hughes) said that he could not make any headway with the employers. The right honorable gentleman’s persuasive power is well known, and yet with all his understanding, all his oratory, and all hi3 experience of the working classes as leader of the Waterside Workers Federation, he could do nothing. Bishop Moyes has said that both sides, insisting that they are right, are adamant, so why not attack the problem properly instead of raising the cry against communism? I admit that some members of the Communist movement are so obsessed with their own doctrines that they go so far as to act contrary to the best interests of the country. A similar obsession was seen in operation in Norway quite recently. Many Norwegians were so overcome with the propaganda of those who fervently believe nazi-ism to bc right that they betrayed their own country. Anywhere a few men may be convinced by an extraneous or foreign idea, and so fanatical are they in their adherence to that faith that they are prepared to go against the .best interests of the country that gave them birth.
– Mr. Orr has admitted that he is a “ Quisling “.
– That does not make the miners wrong. Of what use is it to talk about Mr. Orr? What is the use of stirring up hatred amongst the workers? Orr is said to lie “ the nigger in the wood-pile “, but if he were put in gaol or deported, that would not end the strike. We do not agree with everything that Mr. Orr says just as I do not agree with everything that Senator Dein says. Under our democratic system we have the right to express ourselves in complete freedom, but so soon as a man preaches sedition in time of war he must be dealt with.
– Would the honorable senator accept the Wages Board system rather than the Arbitration Court as a means of settling this dispute?
– I would like to see the creation of a body like the Hibble tribunal. Mr. Hibble knew the coalmining industry from A to Z, and a man of his knowledge would do more justice than three legal gentlemen sitting in judgment on something about which they know very little.
– Had there been no war there would have been no strike.
– I do not agree with” that. I do not believe for one moment that the miners of this country are so disloyal that they would deliberately strike in time of war in order to further their aims.
– Their leaders would.
– Had the DrakeBrockman award not been superseded by the majority judgment of Judge Beeby and Judge Piper there would have been no strike. The suggestion, that the strike was brought on only because of the war is paltry and narrow-minded. Honorable senators opposite should realize the facts of the matter and act accordingly. I have had a certain amount of experience in the industrial world, and I know that the great masses in the industrial movement are good Australians and are anxious to do their best for their country. I am making a plea, on their behalf to the Government. Honorable senators opposite should understand the problem, not merely, as Mr. Menzies does, from the legal point of view, but also from the workers’ point of view. The Government should take heed of the remarks of Bishop Moyes that the men are honest and sincere.
– Bishop Moyes knows nothing about industry at all.
– He went to the coal-fields and met the miners, as well as the employers, and expressed an opinion based on what he had heard. Mr. Menzies went to the coal-fields and addressed the miners, and in so doing he showed a good deal more moral courage than we expected of him. Mr. Menzies, however, is not a working man. He was born and bred in the legal world, and he does not understand the problems of the worker.
– His grandfather was a working miner.
– And my grandfather was a gold-digger. That does not make me one.
– Was the honorable senator born and bred a politician?
– No; unlike Senator Wilson, I have developed. I hope that I have made myself clear.
– As clear as mud !
– I do not claim to be so erudite as honorable . senators opposite who have had a university education, but I have been trained in the university of life, and I understand industrial conditions from the workers’ point of view.
During the last week or two, newspapers which support the United Australia party have published editorial articles pointing out that, although the Government has collected huge sums of money from the public, expenditure has not been carried out at the rate expected by the people, and, as a result, unemployment is still rife throughout the Commonwealth. At the outbreak of the war, I wrote an article for one of the newspapers, and expressed the opinion that, within a few weeks, every man and woman in Australia who desired employment would be able to obtain work. I anticipated that the acceleration of the production of munitions, and that work to be provided in other avenues in connexion with defence preparations, would quickly eliminate unemployment. I was wrong, for the office in Brisbane which I attend daily is regularly visited by men seeking work. A short time ago, an ex-soldier who had served two months in the Australian Imperial Force, but was found to be suffering from blood pressure, was dismissed from the force. He has been unable to obtain employment, since his discharge, by the military authorities, and when I saw him on the. third occasion he said, “ After all, the Communists are right. There is no hope for us except by a revolution”. Senator McBride and other honorable senators opposite, who have been in comfortable circumstances all their lives, may not understand the feelings of this man. He had given his body to the military authorities to be used to defend Australia and democracy, and, when he was dismissed from the Army through illness, he could not find any employment. What a pathetic case! Millions of pounds have been extracted from the people.
– And expended almost entirely in Victoria.
– That may be; but, no matter from which State a man hails, if he is an Australian citizen and willing to work, employment should be found for him.
Communists are produced because of the intensity of the economic struggle. Give the workers economic security, and the Communist bogy will be slain. If the statement in the tory press that the huge sums being collected from the people are not being expended as rapidly as they should be., thus reducing unemployment, is correct, there is a grave fault somewhere. We should be informed whether the accusations in the articles on this subject published in the Sunday Sun, the Brisbane Telegraph and the Courier-Mail are justified. It appears that full use is not being made of the services of the people for the prosecution of this war against totalitarianism. If that be the case, it is time that another government was put into power to see that Australia wages a 100 per cent, fight for real democracy.
.- I am disappointed at the tone of the speeches from the Government side of the Senate. The Empire is on trial for its life, and islands in the East, only a few days’ journey from our shores, are also seriously threa tened. Last week Senator Wilson and Senator Abbott congratulated the Government upon its efforts in. prosecuting the war, but I fail to see why the Government should be congratulated. Honorable senators opposite who have spoken on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply have accused the Labour party of having failed to get rid of the Communists and of having done nothing to settle the coal strike, but are they not aware, that the Opposition has no. power to do these things.?. One industry after another is becoming para:lysed because of the present industrial dispute. What has the1 Government done to bring about a settlement pf it,? The Commonwealth Conciliation, and Arbitration Act charges each judge with the duty of endeavouring at all times,, and by all lawful means, to reconcile the parties in industrial disputes. Whilst I cast no reflection upon the judiciary, I remind the Government of the growing feeling among the people that the judges, of the Arbitration Court have not acted in the interest of the Commonwealth, because they have failed to call a conference of the parties with a view to a settlement. Even if the judges do not consider it necessary to take this action, does npt the- Government consider it desirable to call the parties together? In reply to a question submitted by me, the Government replied that it had no power to dp this; but we know that it has all the power it needs to summon a compulsory conference if only it had the spine to use it.
– Could not the trade unions ask for a conference?
– It is the duty of the Government to make some effort to bring about a settlement. Has not the Government under the National Security Act all the powers necessary to call a compulsory conference of the parties? Neither the mine-owners nor Commonswealth Ministers appear to desire a settlement at the present time.
– I would not say that.
– If the Government does not desire the dispute to continue, why is no effort made to bring the parties together? Reference has been made by Senator James McLachlan to the fact that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) endeavoured to induce the miners to return to work, but did he also address the mine-owners in order to bring them into line? The whole of the blame for the dispute seems to be cast upon the miners. Senator James McLachlan also asked why Mr. Curtin, the Federal Labour leader, had not also addressed^ the miners. If the mine-owners and the miners could be brought together, Mr. Curtin would be prepared to do anything to effect a settlement of the dispute, but the duty devolves upon the Government to take action.
– Who broke the agreementthe owners or the miners?
– The owners were really the first to break it. It has been pointed out repeatedly in this chamber that Judge Drake-Brockman made an award which was acceptable to the miners, who were quite willing to work under it, but the owners appealed on a technical point regarding the competence of an arbitration judge, sitting alone, to make, an award touching standard hours. That led to the trouble, Senator James McLachlan offered some, comment on the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) with reference to this internal Avar. My leader was quite right. The internal war is on to-day, and it has been, going on for many years. Every honorable senator knows what was in the mind of the Leader of the Opposition when he made that remark. If there were no internal war, there would be no dispute in the coal-mining industry to-day.
We have been charged with being allied with the Communists, and we have been asked why we have not cleared the Communists out of this country. I agree with every word that was uttered by Senator Abbott. I have had conversation with many Communists who have spoken openly to me of what is in their minds and I know what is their objective. They are against anything put forward, whether good, bad, or indifferent. No honorable senator on the Government side should accuse any Labour senator of being allied with the Communists. One Communist has said to me - “The day is not far off - much closer than you think - when we shall deal with the likes of all you chaps. Out you will go. If you don’t go willingly, you will be put out in some other way “. That shows how much love the Communists have for me and my colleagues in the Labour party. We would be more pleased, perhaps, than ministerial supporters if the Government had backbone enough to take action to rid this country of these destructive elements in th>-« community.
I understand that the Government has decided to discontinue the subsidy on fertilizers. This decision has come at a most unfortunate time when more than ever the subsidy should be retained. We all are well aware of what has happened in Denmark which, until the invasion by Germany a fortnight ago, supplied Great Britain with a large volume of dairy products. The seizure of that country has cut off large supplies of products upon which Britain was depending. Ministers must know that since supplies of dairy produce to Great Britain from Denmark have now ceased, Australia will be called upon for a large increase of production for the Mother Country and its allies. It is regrettable, therefore, that when every aid to production is so urgently needed, the Government should decide to discontinue the subsidy on fertilizers, which is so necessary for increased production. The discontinuance of the subsidy of 10s. a ton will make a difference of £1 a ton to the farmers, because of a recent increase of 10s. a ton in the price of artificial manures. I feel sure that the Government’s decision will result in a reduction of the quantity of fertilizers used, with a consequent decline of the volume of production. I appeal to the Government to reconsider its decision and continue the subsidy for another year or more, until we see how the war is going and whether Great Britain and its allies will have an adequate supply of foodstuffs.
A day or two ago I asked the Leader of the Senate if it was a fact that the apple and pear acquisition scheme was working so unsatisfactorily in some districts that apples were being fed to pigs or thrown into the scrub and left to rot, whilst school children in other districts were unable to obtain apples to eat. The reply was to the effect that the position was not as stated by me. I realize that with the additional burden thrown upon Ministers owing to the war, it is not possible for them to attend to all the details of their departments, but if they ar« overloaded with work, additional Ministers should be appointed so that the facts may be ascertained before answers are given to questions. I say this, because the answer given to me was not correct. I am prepared to take the Minister to districts where thousands of cases of apples have been fed to pigs or allowed to rot on the ground. It is true that, as part of a publicity campaign to encourage the greater consumption of apples in Australia, the board has arranged for the free distribution of a certain quantity of apples to school children. But it would be in the interests of the nation and better for the health of school children if, instead of distributing a comparatively small quantity of apples for publicity purposes, arrangements could be made to release much larger quantities instead of allowing this fruit to rot on the ground or be fed to pigs. I also asked the Minister whether it was a fact that some growers who had delivered their crop to the Apple and Pear Board had been unable to get their first advance. I know that up to- the time that I left Tasmania for Canberra there were growers who had not obtained their first advance; yet the Minister, in reply to my question, said that payments had not been withheld. That answer also was not correct. Mr. Taylor informed me that it was possible that the advance had been withheld until it was ascertained whether all production costs had been paid. He said that he would put a telephone call through to Melbourne and let me know. That was about five weeks ago, and I am still waiting for the information. I have not heard from Mr. Taylor, but I had a letter from a grower concerned stating definitely that he had not received any advance, although he had answered all the questions required of him in the return. In former years, this particular grower disposed of his own production locally. This year he would have followed his usual practice for the sale of his fruit, but he was forced to deliver it to the board and if he required fruit for re-sale, he was compelled to pay 2s. 6d. a case for it.
– Under the scheme the fruit does not belong to him.
– I agree that it belongs to the board, but that body should have the decency to make an advance when it takes delivery. A condition of chaos and muddle has arisen through faulty administration by the board. I am in favour of the principle hut I regret that until a week ago, at all events, the administration has been so faulty. For this the former Minister for Commerce (Senator McLeay), must take the blame. The growers of Sew South Wales and the Government of that State have ‘been hostile from the inception of the scheme, yet they have not received any rebuffs from the Leader of the Senate. I am not going to say that he has encouraged them, but he has not done anything to bring about cohesion or uniformity in the working of the scheme.
– I presume the honorable senator thinks that he could do better if he were in charge of it.
– I could not very well bungle it more disastrously.
– A Tasmanian Labour government selected the board in that State.
- Mr. Tonking, the Chief Secretary in the Government of New South Wales, also accused Tasmanian growers of sending their rubbish to Sydney where it was sold at from 3s. to 3s. 6d. a case to the detriment of growers in New South Wales. Mr. Tonking is evidently not competent to judge the quality of apples. I saw the apples to which he referred, and I have no hesitation in saying that they were of good quality. In fact, similar apples brought £1 a case on the London market at a time when the best Jonathans were bringing only 10s. a case. It illbecomes Mr. Tonking to make such an unfair charge against the Tasmanian growers. I have 20 questions on the notice-paper concerning the administration of the apple and pear acquisition scheme, and I am sorry that the Leader of the Senate (Senator McLeay) does not now hold the portfolio of Minister for Commerce, because if he did so it would be his duty to answer them. I do not hold the present Minister for Commerce (Mr. Archie Cameron) responsible, because he has to carry the baby handed to him by the Leader of the Senate.
– .Who selected the marketing board in Tasmania?
– I did not.
– Will the honorable pena.tor deny that that board was selected by the Labour Government in Tasmania ?
– I was not responsible for its selection. If the Minister will study the subject carefully, he will find that the chaos which has arisen and the inconvenience and loss which have occurred are not due to the action of the board to which he refers. The manner in which the scheme has been administered in New South Wales is nothing short of a racket.
– Who selected the Marketing Board in Tasmania?
– The members of that board had to be approved by the Minister, and if any of its members are incapable of carrying out their work why did he not oppose their selection?
– The honorable senator knows that the Tasmanian Marketing Board was nominated by a Labour government. The honorable senator is not fair enough to state the truth.
– I am referring more particularly to the chaos which has occurred in Sydney.
– The Sydney people arc capable of looking after themselves.
– Had the Minister agreed to the appointment to the Sydney board or committee of a Tasmanian representative who has had extensive experience in connexion with the marketing of apples, a good deal of the chaos and confusion may have been avoided. Is the Minister aware that under the old system apples arriving in Sydney were cleared on the day of arrival, or at the latest by midday on the following day; but under this scheme they have been left lying on the wharf for a week or more before being cleared. It has been estimated that on one shipment alone the Tasmanian Apple Board lost over £12,000 in one week. This was due solely to the muddling and bungling which occurred in Sydney, for which mismanagement was largely responsible. According to a paragraph which appeared in the Queensland Producer, the Leader of the Senate, when Minister for Commerce, said that the estimated crop in the apple-producing States this year would be: Victoria 2,800,000 cases, New South Wales 2,800,000 cases, Western Australia. 2,000,000 cases, and Tasmania 6,500,000 cases. I do not know whether the Minister has been correctly reported, but when it is real.ized that in. 1938 New South Wales produced only 1,234,000 cases, it is difficult to understand how the production could increase to 2,800,000 cases. In 1937 New South Wales produced only 1,400,000. Will the Minister explain how New South Wales could double its production in one year? It appears that the New South Wales crop was overestimated for a specific purpose. As New South Wales did not come under the scheme until the 1st March, or some time later than the other States, the producers in that State were able to dispose of a large portion of their crop at whatever price they desired, and thereby obtained benefits which were denied to producers in other States. In order to show bungling and muddling on the part of those controlling the scheme, I cite the following paragraph which appeared in Fruit Culture, published on the 10th April : -
The charge for stamps and stationery which has been in dispute for so long in this State, has assumed additional importance to agents owing to the necessity of returns to the Acquisition Committee being separately recorded on account sales. It has been suggested to the writer that one agent collected more than £4 on just over 1,000 cases owing to their necessitating more than 160 account sales, while another on 35 cases comprising 22 brands and necessitating the use of 22 account sales collected Us. for stamps and stationery. And this is in addition to the usual commission.
In view of the circumstances in which such charges were incurred it would be interesting to know whether the Minister has the capacity to estimate costs, and whether he has any conception of what the scheme will cost the country.
– Does the honorable senator intend to oppose the scheme next year ?
– I have no desire to do so, but I trust that those responsible for its administration will exercise greater care and display more business ability than was shown ‘ by the Leader of the Senate when he was associated with it. If those controlling the scheme do not display more knowledge of the acquisition and marketing of fruit than was displayed by the Minister they had better seek the advice of those who do understand the business. It appears that the New South Wales Government prevented its officers from co-operating with other officers and in that way endeavoured to wreck, the whole undertaking. The Leader of the Senate said that the Leader of the Opposition was spineless and lacked the necessary courage to clear the Communists out of this country. The Leader of the Opposition and the Labour party have not the power at their dis*posal to clean the Communists or any other disruptive elements out of this country; the Leader of the Senate and the Government have the .power but. lack the courage to do so. Had the Leader of the Senate, when Minister for Commerce, not been so spineless and had he had the courage to take a definite stand under the National Security Act to enforce his decisions in regard to the scheme, much of the chaos and bungling which has caused a severe loss to the growers of apples and pears would have been avoided, and the baby would not have been left for the present Minister for Commerce to hold.
. [ have read with considerable interest the Speech of His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, because it was delivered under war conditions. In perusing the Speech I find that some of the statements are misleading. For example that relating to unemployment reads -
Bearing in mind the great importance cif preserving and extending employment, my advisers took steps to accelerate defence works by employing relatively unskilled labour, and pursuing a financial policy calculated to prevent industrial retrogression.
That is true up to -a point; but it is not correct to the degree implied. The fact is that considerable unemployment still exists in every State. In Victoria the number of registered unemployed for April was 16,005. In a. time of war it is essential to utilize our man-power in building-up our material resources for the welfare of both the fighting forces and the civil population, and the Government can offer no valid excuse for the present position. Unemployment figures prove that the Government is either unwilling or unable to use the man-power available. One of the effects of this is that children are starving. At the annual conference of the Victorian Teachers Association, held in Melbourne on the 25th January, it was pointed out that between 74,000 and 75,000 school children in Victoria were not up to the Al physical standard, whilst from 8,000 to 9,000 school children suffered from malnutrition in an extreme form. This matter is not new; it has been referred to repeatedly, and forcibly, by honorable senators on this side, who have urged the Government to relieve the position. It has been pointed out that something can be clone in that direction, but very little lias been done.
– Does the honorable senator say that very little has been done?
– Yes ; I say also that much more could be done, particularly when we take into consideration the resources which are at the disposal of the Government. It possesses dictatorial powers, by the exercise of which it could provide employment for every man in this country who is able and willing to work. It has the resources whereby it could make it possible for every child to be properly fed. However, it has not attempted to use those powers or resources to the degree that is necessary. Consequently, the statement in the GovernorGeneral’s address on this point is misleading, because the inference to be drawn from it is that everything that could be done in this direction has been done by the Government.
– Will the honorable senator give us his war policy?
– I am pointing out that the Government is not doing all it can to relieve unemployment, and that the Governor-General has been misled on this matter. Commenting on the statement made at the conference of the Victorian Teachers Association, the Herald, Melbourne, stated -
It is a very shocking thing that teachers in Victoria should have to report from their experience that there are 8.000 or 0,000 children attending our schools suffering from malnutrition in an extreme form. These are the children who cannot, in their present circumstances, go to their class rooms with a smile, pass through their school years in good health and emerge as efficient citizens. The health of the children whom it has to teach is very much the concern of the Education Department, but there was truth in Sir John Harris’s remark if he meant that the remedy lies deeper than in proposals for the provision nf meals at schools, though that might help to ameliorate the situation.
There may be some cases of malnutrition which are due to the ignorance or criminal carelessness of parents, but these are few compared to the number that are due to economic conditions. Children are ill-fed and ill-clothed mostly because their parents have not the means to feed and clothe them better. An inelastic minimum wage system does not make proportionate allowance for the costs of maintaining children in health and comfort. The real remedy lies in a national plan for child endowment which would cost the community so much less in money than it would repay in health, efficiency and happiness.
The Leader of the Senate (Senator McLeay) asked me to deal with the war. [ point out to him that if the Government is not prepared to feed our children as they should be fed it will not be in a position to build up effective man-power. Such a policy of inaction amounts to an act of sabotage even worse than that of which the Government accuses the Com>munists, because it declines to use the enormous powers and resources it possesses in order to ensure the health of our children. In Victoria, alone, the cost of maintaining the unemployed under conditions of semi-starvation amounts to £1,200,000 annually. Most of this money is derived from wages of the workers. That state of affairs should not be tolerated in a country like Australia.
The Governor-General’s Speech contained the following statement: -
My advisers are resolved to do everything possible to maintain essential production so that the needs of the fighting forces may bc mct with as little interference as possible with the substantial requirements of the civil population.
That statement is not correct. Proof that the Government has not done everything possible in this direction is to be found in the number of our unemployed. When so many of our men are idle it cannot be said that we are building up our material resources. Of course, statements of this kind are put into the mouth of the Governor-General; but they are not fair to His Excellency as they cause him to be regarded with suspicion, lt is not His Excellency; but members of the Government, who are responsible for misleading the people in this way.
Another important matter is referred to in paragraph 6 of the GovernorGeneral’s Speech -
My advisers have given full consideration to the problem of financing the huge costs of war. They axe convinced that, while a liberal and modern approach must be made to it, there is no easy path to be followed. They are resolved to avoid the evils of monetary inflation, since it imposes unjust and inequitable financial burdens, particularly upon the wage and salary earner, destroys public confidence, is destructive of savings and would lead inevitably, if pursued, to financial collapse and post-war depression.
The truth is that the Government is inflating the currency. Inflation occurs when the purchasing power of the £1 note is reduced progressively below that of the sovereign. On that basis it has been reduced by fully 60 per cent. Consequently, the purchasing power of the present basic wage is less than that of 1907 when the basic wage was first fixed by the Arbitration Court. This statement may seem to be an exaggeration, but it is not. The purchasing power of the first basic wage, fixed in 1907, was that of two and one-tenth sovereigns, or £2 2s. To-day, the basic wage is £4 ls. in some States and £4 2s. in others. For two and one-tenth sovereigns to-day, with the price of sovereigns at £2 10s. each, one could purchase 105 loaves of bread at ls. a loaf, but with £4 ls. only 81 loaves can be purchased.
– The honorable senator is basing his comparison on the price of gold.
– No, I am basing it on the price of sovereigns. On the basis of the price of gold, which to-day in the United States of America is £12 12s. an oz., that comparison would be even less favorable to the purchasing power of the basic wage to-day. I have taken the lowest estimate, and I have used figures supplied by the Commonwealth Bank. ‘These show that the purchasing power of the basic wage to-day has been reduced by fully 60 per cent: Yet we are told in the Governor-General’s Speech that there is to be no inflation. Inflation . and . depreciation are synonymous terms. Not only has the value of the basic wage been reduced, but in addition the purchasing power of the old-age pension, which is non-adjustable in accordance with the cost of living figures, and of the wages of those who have not access to price-fixing tribunals, have also been reduced by 60 per. cent. The position in this respect is being deliberately misrepresented by the Government and by the Arbitration Court. Unfortunately people who do not ‘know any better are being made to believe that they are receiving increased wages, when they are paid a basic wage of £4 ls. or £4 2s. The real position is that, as the result of inflation or currency depreciation, in terms of the sovereign, the purchasing power of the basic wage is 60 per cent, ‘below what it was in 1907. That cannot be disputed by any honorable senator, or by any other authority.
– Give the illustration in terms of the £1 note.
– I have given it in terms of the £1 note. The basic wage to-day is £4 ls. or £4 2s. in terms of the £1. note, but in terms of sovereigns the purchasing power of that basic wage is 60 per cent, below what it would be if that wage were paid in sovereigns.
– It is the purchasing power of the £1 note that- counts.
– I have already pointed that out to honorable senators. A sovereign to-day would purchase 50 loaves of bread at ls. a loaf, but the £1 note will purchase only twenty loaves.
– That is not disputed. But the proper comparison is the basic wage of to-day, with that of the other period which is being cited by the honorable senator.
– I have also given that comparison and it proves conclusively - I emphasize the word conclusively - that the statement made by the Governor-General is, to say the very least of it, not correct, and is grossly misleading. Actually, the whole position is being misrepresented to the detriment of the wage-earners, and the people generally, but to the advantage of the private banks and others responsible for the faking manipulating of the currency.
– Misrepresented by whom?
– By this Government. Were the reverse process in operation, the basic wage to-day would be considerably in excess of £4 ls. If the purchasing power of the basic wage in 1907 had been maintained, the purchasing power of the basic wage to-day would be at’ least £5 5s. Compare the state of affairs outlined by the Governor-General with what is actually happening. This policy of depreciating the currency is to a great degree responsible for the impoverishing conditions that the people of Australia have to face, and these conditions are primarily the cause of strikes. Posing as super-patriots, honorable senators on the other side of the chamber condemn the men now engaged in a strike, but the fact is that it is the super-patriots who are primarily responsible for the strike, because they have progressively reduced the purchasing power of the basic wageearner, notwithstanding the fact that as a result of the introduction of machinery, and of improved working conditions generally, the productivity of the workers lias increased. There we have the paradox, the contradiction, the antithesis; on the one hand production is increasing beyond anything that has ever been possible before, and yet on the other hand the purchasing power of the worker is being reduced to the irreducible minimum. Yet honorable senators ask why the men are engaged in a strike. They would have us believe that the miners are traitors to the country, and that Government supporters are the only patriots on whom the nation can rely for assistance in this war. I refuse to accept their n san ranees in that regard, and I repeal that, consciously or unconsciously, they are the ones who are actually sabotaging the coal-mining industry to-day. It has been suggested that these strikers, who have been condemned as Communists, traitors, and saboteurs, should be suppressed, together with their publications. Not only has the suggestion been made, but I understand that action in that direction has been taken. I remand the Government that action and reaction are equals as well as opposites. If that line of action is to be pursued to the degree threatened, then even more drastic reaction will be the result.
– Is the honorable senator making a threat?
– No. I am trying to direct attention to the facts which honorable senators opposite would ignore. Although the Government may succeed in deceiving some people, it cannot deceive honorable senators on this side of the chamber. I have brought under the notice of honorable senators statements made in the name of the Governor-General which I regard as grossly misleading, and I have pointed out that the Government is associated with a process that is corrupt inasmuch as it misrepresents the whole position.
– The honorable senator always says that.
– I say it again, and I trust that as a result of repetition it will have some effect.
– Repetition it not proof.
– It is proof at least to my satisfaction, and, I think, to the satisfaction of all intelligent people who are capable of understanding the position. The facts I have given with respect to currency cannot be denied, and I challenge any honorable senator to say that they are wrong.
– I do not think that Senator Darcey will agree with the honorable senator.
– I am not concerned with whether Senator Darcey agrees .or disagrees with me; at the moment I am stating my own case, and emphasizing a fact which I think should be emphasized, namely, that honorable senators opposite are associated with a process of currency faking which is primarily the cause of the present strike. As the result of a rise in prices, the workers find that they cannot purchase the things they need; they cannot obtain work, and cannot provide bread for themselves and their families. Yet honorable senators opposite wonder why the miners resent what is being done, and why they take up a stand against oppression.
– The savings bank deposits do not prove what the honorable senator is saying.
– If the honorable senator understood what is happening, he would see that the savings bank deposits do prove what I am saying. There, is an old but very true saying, that figures cannot lie but liars can figure. Action is threatened to suppress the Communists, who are the creations, not the creators, of impoverished conditions. As one honorable senator said, were there no impoverished conditions, there would be no Communists, and no response to any appeal that they might make. In my opinion, the Government is just preparing the first step towards the suppression of political opponents. If the action against the Communists is successful the Government will discover that certain leading representatives of the Labour movement are Communists, and together with their publications, should be suppressed. Finally, if there is no serious opposition by the workers, there will be created in Australia precisely the same state of affairs as exists in Germany and is responsible for the war.
– Is the honorable senator in favour of the Communist publications ?
– I am in favour of any political group being allowed to express its views, provided it is reasonably careful in its choice of words, and of terms. The Communists should enjoy the same rights as the political party to which the honorable senator belongs. If the Government has its way, not only will the Communists and their publications be suppressed, but the same action will ‘be taken against Labour publications, and perhaps religious publications, some of which were banned during the last war.
– That is the imagining of a distorted brain.
– Very little imagination is required when the facts are on record. I know from my’ own experience exactly what was done before. I could show to honorable senators bundles of galley proofs which I use as exhibits, when necessary, illustrating how Labour articles were suppressed, and also how articles criticizing or reflecting on the Government in , any way, were “ bluepencilled “ by the censors. If that is not a prelude to fascism, then I do not know the meaning of fascism.
During the Corio by-election, the Melbourne Herald, of the 15th February, contained the following statement: -
Tho position is that a small and bitter section of the people, who are anti-British, have an unduly great influence in the Federal Labour party, and on this occasion are conducting its policy.
Can it he suggested that men like the Leader of the Australian Labour party (Mr. Curtin), or the Leader of the Opposition in this chamber (Senator Collings), are dominated by anti-British influences? There was no suggestion that, because it stated deliberate and malicious untruths, the Melbourne Herald should be censored. There was not a single protest from any section of the community that is opposed to the Labour party. On the contrary, leading representatives of antiLabour parties repeated this statement, and even the Prime Minister himself solemnly assured the electors of Corio that Hitler was waiting to see which way they voted. In fact, he said every vote for Labour would be a vote for Hitler. If the right honorable gentleman were an ignorant person I could make allowance for a statement of that kind; but, during the last war, he expressed opinions to the contrary, and showed that powers had been abused in exactly the same way as he has abused his own powers. If the Government is successful in suppressing Communists, the next step will be to suppress honorable senators on the Opposition side and the newspapers which the Labour party controls, so that the only voice permitted to be heard will be that of the Government. In the leading evening paper of Australia, which is controlled by one of the most powerful- financial groups in this country, a statement was made which the owners of the newspaper knew to be untrue, but it was never subsequently modified or withdrawn. When persons in responsible positions hold my colleagues up to contempt, and appeal to the strongest of all prejudices, that of race, we have an indication of what would follow if appropriate action were not taken by this Parliament. This newspaper did not appeal to reason, or to our conception of right and wrong, but to vicious racial prejudice, in order to discredit a respectable returned soldier Labour candidate and the party which he represented. It made a similar statement on the 2nd February as follows: -
The anti-British complex, which is the dominant factor in the Federal Labour party to-day, is not concealed.
So I return to the point that I made at the outset, that if an attempt to suppress Communists and their publications were successful, a further effort would be made to suppress Labour journals.
– Any other seditious newspaper will be suppressed.
– The Minister would suppress any newspaper holding views in opposition to his own. Any newspaper would be regarded as seditious if it challenged the policy of the Government, and showed that the Government was responsible for the state of affairs that has arisen in the coal-mining industry. It could be shown beyond doubt that the policy to which the Government is committed is that which has reduced the miners to a state of desperation in which they have no alternative to the action that they have taken.
When Judge Drake-Brockman gave his award he had examined the miners’ claims exhaustively in order to satisfy himself as to the conditions under which they were working. On the 29th June, 1939, he decided that the hours of employment for all workers should be 40 a week, these to be worked in five days, Monday to Friday, of eight hours. These hours were to be inclusive of crib time for underground workers, and exclusive of crib time for workers on the surface. The award also provided that the members of the craft unions should receive an increase of the daily rate by 20 per cent, in order to compensate them for loss of earnings occasioned by the reduction of the number of working days. The Miners Federation was invited to claim the same adjustment in respect of the daily rates, and two weeks’ annual leave also was granted. An appeal was made by the employers to the Full Court on the 21st August, 1939, and, without hearing any evidence, that court decided, in a majority judgment delivered on the 4th October, 1939, that the rates of underground workers and of employees engaged on the surface in handling coal from the pit mouth to the wagons should be 40 a week, five days of eight hours each, inclusive of crib time, but that the hours of other workers, including engineers and engine drivers, should be those operating prior to the dispute. Judge DrakeBrockman dissented from the Full Court’s decision. The hours of a large number of members were restored to 43 and 44 a week, and the increase of the daily rate was withdrawn. Some members of the Miners Federation. who had in the past worked only eight hours a day, inclusive of crib time, actually had their daily hours increased by half an hour, hut the daily rate of pay was not altered.
In a statement issued by the general secretary of the combined mining unions on the 12th February, 1940, in reply to the Prime Minister, he said, inter alia -
After the judgment was delivered, Judge Piper admitted that he did not know what the hours of work in the coal-mining industry were, and he and the Chief Judge had to order a correction of the Full Court decision. When the Chief Judge was asked in the court to give an interpretation of the “ face-to-wagon group “, and also who should enjoy the 40 hours, he said he would have to visit the minefields to find out.
The appeal was decided without the hearing of any evidence. Although these cases may be argued by legal men, as we know they are, this is grossly improper, and is not likely to appeal to working men, who at least have some elementary idea of what is known as British justice. Matters of this kind should not be decided ex parte. We cannot expect thousands of miners, who toil in the bowels of the earth for a few paltry shillings a day, to tolerate this kind of thing. Arbitration will never be successful if judges play fast and loose with the powers that they possess.
– Or if the union leaders disobey the awards of the court-
– The leaders play a very small part in the affairs of the unions. As a matter of fact, the advice of union leaders is often rejected. I interviewed hundreds of the coal-miners last week, and many of them, by their education, status and strength of character, are probably just as qualified as, or even more qualified than, honorable senators opposite to hold ministerial positions, [f those honorable senators desire to convince themselves on this matter, I advise them to meet the miners individually.
– The Prime Minister visited the fields to speak to them and they ran away.
– No, they listened to him, and those who would have prevented them from listening were compelled to remain silent. As I have already said, Judge Drake-Brockman examined the miners’ grievances as exhaustively as was humanly possible. But the other judges intervened - one of them admitted that he would not know a coal-pit if he tumbled into one - and gave their decision without hearing evidence. Do Government supporters regard that as justice?
– The unions did not tender any evidence.
– They were not invited to do so An application was made by the owners, and it was heard ex parte.
– The honorable senator is deliberately misrepresenting the position.
– That may be the Minister’s opinion. I am prepared to stand or fall *by what I say. Senator Allan MacDonald suggested this afternoon that under a revision of our arbitration system unionists should become responsible not to their leaders, but to judges of the Arbitration Court. Just imagine a judge like Judge Piper, who has no knowledge whatever of the coalmining industry, sitting in authority and giving judgments in respect of disputes in that industry! It seems to me incredible that any honorable senator should make such a suggestion, and then go on to argue that we cannot have onesided arbitration. That is exactly what we have at the present time. Under existing procedure in the Arbitration Court, an award is based not on the value of the wealth produced by the workers, but on the cost of subsistence, plus a margin for skill. If the average wageworker who appears before the Arbitration Court were prepared to live on less than he is receiving to-day, the award would be based on that lower figure. We know also that immediately an award is made, if it is higher in money terms than an existing award, there is an immediate increase of the cost of commodities which the wage-earner must purchase. Thu3, almost before the ink on an award is dry the resultant increase of wages is nullified. Can any honorable senator say that that is not one-sided arbitration? The employer has power to increase his profits almost to any limit that is possible or consistent with his principles. If he is making a profit of 5 per cent., he can increase it to 10, 15, 30 or even 100 per cent, without interference by any tribunal. The employer is, in fact, a law unto himself.
– Has the honorable senator ever heard of a price-fixing commissioner ?
– I have, and I am glad to have the Minister’s helpful interjection. I repeat, that the employer is practically a law unto himself, and whenever the wage-worker is awarded a higher wage, he immediately finds himself up against higher costs of commodities which offset the increase of wages received.
– That is not correct, but it is near enough for the honorable senator.
– If it were not correct we should not have heard of the appointment of price-fixing commissioners. Is it not a fact that these pricefixing authorities were appointed because employers were raising prices so glaringly and to such an alarming extent that the Government had to do something to curb their activities ?
– The price-fixing commissioners were appointed after war broke out, and before there were any increases of prices.
– I am speaking of things that happened before this war broke out. . If, however, the wage-earners, either individually or collectively, seek to increase the price of their labour power, the only commodity which they have for sale, they are branded almost immediately as traitors to their country. And Senator Allan MacDonald would have us believe that our arbitration system is not one-sided ! It is because it is one-sided that we have these strikes, of which complaint is made in this chamber.
– What would the honorable senator suggest - the abolition of the court?
– No, because I believe that whenever there is a dispute between two or more parties, an arbitrator should be appointed to settle it. I do not think that anything can be said against the principle because it is a rational procedure, and experience has proved that it is a satisfactory means of settling disputes. But when the arbitrators appointed have no knowledge of an industry they cannot be expected to judge impartially or determine an issue on its merits. Judge Piper may be sound in criminal and civil law and procedure. In bis capacity as a judge of the Arbitration Court he may desire to do what he thinks is right and proper; but he lacks experience of the coal-mining industry. Judge DrakeBrockman, on the other hand, is a man of wide experience. Prior to his appointment to the bench he was for many years president of the Employers Federation and was associated with negotiations between the representatives of unions and the employers for the settlement of disputes and the fixing of wages and conditions. He has a knowledge of industrial processes which Judge Piper could not be expected to possess, and I submit that his award for the coal-mining industry is worthy of much greater consideration than is that of Judge Piper.
– The Full Arbitration Court dealt only with the question of hours.
– That does not matter.
– The court did not deal with the hours of the miners.
– The judges of the Arbitration Court, like other persons, are human and are liable to make mistakes. No exception is taken to the procedure of the court, but strong exception can be taken, and on very good grounds, to the appointment as arbitrator of a man who has not the necessary knowledge to enable him to arbitrate in accordance with the facts as they are known. Judge Drake-Brockman went to no end of trouble to ascertain the facts in connexion with the coal-mining industry. The question of hours should have been argued before the court, for the reason that as the hours have not been reduced over the years, there is a very large idle population of miners on the fields. There is a large number of men who would be only too glad to work in the mines if an opportunity offered; but because the hours in the industry have not been reduced, additional labour could not be employed and these men were thrown out of work. The miners take the stand that the hours of work should be reduced, and the wages increased in order to secure an equitable adjustment of conditions in the industry. It was not competent for a judge of the Arbitration Court, without hearing evidence, to make a decision as to the hours.
– Did Judge DrakeBrockman reduce the hours for the miners ?
– Then what authority increased the hours ?
– The Full Arbitration Court.
– The honorable senator is wrong.
– I am referring to the members of the miners’ union working on the surface.
– They are not miners. Some of them merely wheel barrows about.
– Nevertheless, the question of hours should have been argued before the court and that was not done. When I review this position and find that the Government is refusing to use its powers to bring about a settlement of the dispute, I am inclined to believe that for political and profit-making purposes, Ministers would rather -that the dispute continued.
– What does the honorable senator suggest that the Government should do?
– It has authority to order a compulsory conference. It has power to summon the employers and representatives of the miners’ union before the court to go into the matter again.
– Have the miners asked the Government to do that?
– I am suggesting what the Government can do. I refuse to allow Senator Dein to confuse rue,, I have had too much experience to be side-tracked by any honorable senator. The Government, in my opinion, has the power to order a settlement of this dispute in a way that would be satisfactory to all concerned. The Government has the power to arrange for the dispute to come before the court, and for the mines to continue working; but instead of doing so it merely allows the position to drift from bad to worse. This suggests that the Government wishes the dispute to continue so that the desperate situation which develops may be used as a pretext to introduce and enforce greater coercive measures.
– The honorable senator should be fair.
– I am judging the position on its merits. The Government desires the dispute to continue so that when the next general election is held it will be said, as it was said during the Corio by-election by the Melbourne Herald and the Melbourne Argus, that the Labour movement is dominated by Communists who are doing everything possible to disrupt industry in this country. That is the position in which the Government would like to be placed for the purpose of discrediting the Labour party.
– That party has already discredited itself.
– If that were so it would not have won the Corio byelection. When the facts were stated, as I am stating them this evening, a big majority of the electors in Corio supported the Labour candidate. That byelection was won by the Labour party in a wartime’ atmosphere, and when the press was more malicious and more unscrupulous towards the Labour party than it would have been in peacetime. The Corio by-election was won with the whole force of the Government and its candidate arrayed against the Labour party. It is not true that the Labour party has discredited itself as the Assistant Minister has said. Efforts made to discredit .it have failed. Judged by its action and the attitude it has adopted with respect to the coal strike, the Government would rather the dispute continue in order to create tho impression that Communists are responsible. Impoverishment and poverty exist on the coal-fields, owing to the decreased purchasing power of the currency and the refusal of the court to reduce the hours of labour. No one can truthfully say that the Government has not the power to intervene. The Prime Minister stated that he would not interfere with the court. No one has asked him to do so. We only suggest that he should exercise the powers which he possesses.
– Why does not the honorable senator advise the men to approach the court?
– Why does not the Assistant Minister advise the employers to go to the court?
– They have not any complaint.
– The miners distrust the Arbitration Court and have good reason for doing so.
– Why do not they withdraw their registration?
– The miners distrust the present system for reasons which would be adopted by honorable senators opposite if they were miners.
– Why did they approach the court in the first instance?
– To conform to legal procedure; but they have found the dice loaded against them. As Senator Sheehan suggested, the employers should approach the court. The coal-owners who have succeeded in upsetting the DrakeBrockman award do not want to give to the men any more than they can help. The Government, which is supposed to represent the majority of the people, is responsible for throwing thousands of workers out of employment and causing undue hardship to thousands of others because it refuses to exercise the powers which it possesses.
– What powers of intervention does the Government possess.
– It could exercise the powers it has under the National Security Act, and under the Arbitration Act; but it refuses to do so because it represents persons such as honorable senators opposite, who are making profits out of. the coal-mining industry. The Government is influenced more by the economic interests of the coalowners than by the interests of the coalminers. Wages are being reduced by a depreciated currency and increased prices. Fewer men are now employed,, the output is increasing, and thousands of men living in a state of semi-starvation are denied the right to work. Only last week I met some of the men and their representatives and I heard what they had to say. I also read the Prime Minister’s speech, and consequently had an opportunity to form a reliable opinion. I have been associated with industrial disputes throughout practically the whole of my life.
– Has the honorable senator ever been down a mine?
– I have worked in one, and coal-mining is one of the last jobs I would take. But that is not the point. Most of the men are working under duress and now, when the limit has been reached, they have decided to take a stand. This dispute has been capitalized in the interests of the coalowners and the shareholders. I am forced to state the facts.
– The honorable senator is not stating facts.
– I am emphasizing the facts and making these statements with the object of provoking honorable senators opposite to state what they are prepared to do to bring about a settlement of the dispute. According to what was stated in the Governor-General’s Speech, and what has been said by the Prime Minister and other Ministers, additional coercive measures are to be employed ; but I see no effort or inclination on the part of Ministers and those supporting them to face the position fairly and squarely and to deal with these mcn as man to man. The Government proposes to use the bludgeon of the law to compel these employees to accept its will.
– Should not the men obey the law?
– When the law is fair; but for the moment I am more concerned with the would-be law-maker3 than with the law itself. If some of the law-makers were the men they should aspire to be this dispute would not last a day longer.
– If there had not been a war there would not have been a strike.
– That shows the dirty mind of the honorable senator.
– It is not as dirty as that of the honorable senator.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. J. B. Hayes) . - Order ! Interjections must cease.
– Then you. sir, should make that mongrel hold his tongue.
– The honorable senator is a mongrel and a cur.
– I will pull out his dirty throat. The honorable senator is only a German.
– Order ! That remark is disorderly and must’ be withdrawn.
– I withdraw it.
– I ask not only for a withdrawal but also for an apology.
– The honorable senator has withdrawn the statement.
– Have I not the right, when a man accuses me of being a German, to demand an apology ? If not, what rights have I?
– Yes, upon thinking the matter over, I consider that Senator Lamp should apologize for calling another honorable senator a German, the international situation being what it is. Will you apologize, Senator Lamp?
– No. I have withdrawn the statement, and that is as far as I am prepared to go.
– You are a dirty scoundrel !
– We cannot have that sort of thing. You must withdraw that statement, Senator Dein.
– I withdraw it.
– And now, Senator Lamp, you must apologize to the honorable senator.
– All that I can say is that his actions make me think that he must be a German.
– That is not an apology.
– I have no intention of apologizing to him.
– Then I shall have to leave it in the hands of the Senate, but first I want to give Senator Lamp every opportunity to apologize for a statement which he should never have made.
– Very well, in deference to you I offer my apologies to the honorable senator.
- Senator Dein said that if war had not occurred there would be no strike by the coal-miners, but I remind him that there have been strikes, plenty of them, when there was no war. As a matter of fact, there are more strikes in time of peace than in wartime, but there is this difference: In time of war the tempo of the process by which the miners are exploited is accelerated, so that the miners have no alternative but to allow themselves to be exploited until the position becomes utterly impossible, or they must, before things reach that state, make a stand. That is what they have done now. These men do not strike for the sake of striking. Does any honorable senator honestly believe that these men derive satisfaction from seeing their wives and children practically starving? Do they think that the miners crave to be misrepresented and gibed at by those who receive £1,000 a year, although they have never done a day’s work? Miners are honest, decent men who want to live decent lives. They are prepared to do their best, and to perform their part of the bargain. They work hard, and the figures prove that they are producing increasing quantities of coal as the result of the installation of improved machinery. They carry out the terms of the contract, but the owners do not. Just to the degree that the miners have increased production, their share, in. terms of money, or in the commodities which they can purchase with their wages, decreases. Moreover, the owners, through their representatives in Parliament, are able to misrepresent the miners. The figures, however, are indisputable. The miners are on strike because certain judges of the Arbitration Court have refused to live up to their responsibilities. The miners have an unanswerable case. They are entitled, not only to what they are claiming, but to a great deal more as well. The hours could be reduced to 30 a week, the mines could be made as safe as an underground railway, and there need be no dirt, dust or danger. It is well known, however, that the owners, for” the most part, never do anything to improve conditions until forced to do so by the representatives of Labour, who are able to bring pressure to bear in this and other Parliaments. If the Government adopts the coercive measures which it threatens it will be only dealing with effects. The cause will not be touched, and so long as the cause remains, the men will have to continue the fight, and to take an even stronger stand than they are taking to-day. They could extend the dispute without the slightest difficulty, but instead of that they have appealed, through their representatives, for a reasonable deal.
– The secretary, Mr. Orr, said that he would tie up every industry in Australia.
– The secretary is not the union.
– But he said that he would tic up every industry in the country.
– I am pointing out that that could be done if the men were maliciously disposed. It could be done by the associated unions, but they are not so disposed. They are prepared, on the contrary, to appeal to the reason of the court, and to appeal to reason through their representatives on the floor of this House. The Government has the power to act, but not the inclination. The miners have not gone on strike because there is a war.
– I have no complaint against the men.
– The suggestion is, even though it is not stated directly, that the miners are traitors.
– Their leaders are confessed traitors.
– It is suggested that these men are traitors; that they are in the pay of Germany. The same appeal was made by the Prime Minister to the intelligent electors of Corio who repudiated both him and his candidate. I ask honorable senators opposite to try to rise above that attitude. We on this side do not wish to see the mining industry, or any other industry, held up. We wish to see the Government utilize the whole of our resources, man-power, and material, to the very limit in the cause of the British Empire in the present war. The Government is not doing that. It is doing nothing worth while to relieve unemployment, although a great army of latent man-power is waiting to be utilized, either in fighting or in producing wealth. Certainly the Government has not done all that it could do in this respect, and, I emphasize, all that will be done ultimately. If our position should become more desperate, if the war should continue or the Allies be pressed more severely than they are to-day, this Government will be obliged to do what we say it should have done years ago in order to utilize our man-power to the full. When it does move in that direction we on this side shall not he disposed to allow it to proceed on its own terms. That is the attitude we Lave adopted in the present coal-mining dispute. The Government’s policy can bc briefly summed up in this way : “ War and defence plus big profits and big salaries “. On the other hand, the Labour party’s policy is “ War and defence, minus big profits and big salaries “. 1 hope that as the result of what I and my colleagues have said, both in this chamber and in the House of Representatives, the Government will rise to the occasion before the position becomes worse, and settle this dispute as it can quite easily do. [Extension of time granted.]
– Would the honorable senator be prepared to recommend to the coal-miners that they work the mines on a co-operative basis?
– I should be prepared to recommend that they work for the Government. I should not recommend to thom that they work the mines under conditions which enable a lot of people to receive big profits, to which they have no moral claim, and for which they give nothing in return.
I wish now to refer to the Government’s proposal for the dilution of labour in skilled industries. Dilution of labour i3 nothing new in the industrial scheme of things. Ordinarily it takes place just to the degree that the industrial process can be simplified and subdivided, and skilled workers can be replaced by semiskilled workers, or children, at much lower rates of pay. But the difference between the dilution which operates in the ordinary way and that proposed by the Government is that the Government proposes to speed up the process. Honorable senators will recall that last year 1 directed their attention to the fact that many thousands of young men between the ages of eighteen and twenty were not being trained for any skilled work or encouraged to cultivate useful working habits which would qualify them to become useful craftsmen. I said then that if .war came the nation would be obliged to avail itself of the services of these men. War has come, and the Government now requires the services of more trained men. I point out that my criticism of the Government’s scheme is based, not on any information which I have received from the Government, but on the agreement which the Government proposed to the members of the Amalgamated Engineering Union.
– Would not the honorable senator prefer the union’s judgment in this matter to his own? The union is in favour of the Government proposal.
– I have yet to learn that it is, because at a congress held last week in Sydney, Mr. Cranwell, the president of the Federal Council of the Amalgamated Engineering Union of Australia, stated that the union still had the matter tinder consideration, and I understood from his remarks that no agreement had been entered into.
– The honorable senator is doing his best to persuade the men not to accept the Government’s proposals.
– I am doing my best to persuade the union to ask for rates to which they are entitled.
– That is the honorable senator’s contribution to the country’s war effort?
– If the honorable senator were an engineer I should consider it my duty to do the same on his behalf.
– Is the honorable senator an engineer?
– Yes, at the moment, a political engineer, and,, judging by the resentment and interjections of the honorable gentlemen opposite’, I am very successful in that regard. Like Epictetus of Ancient Greece, who always tried to teach his students to think for themselvesinstead of being the mental dependantsof so-called superior persons or authorities, I would feel that I had not said anything worth saying if the honorablegentlemen opposite applauded me, or maintained the sleepy silence for which they are so famous. But when I can provoke them into asking questions and making hostile interjections, to me it is proof that I have succeeded in makingthem think. It is a painful experience for them, I know, but with Epictetus I am perfectly satisfied that stagnant minds must be aroused into activity if they are to do any good for themselves or those whom they would represent. To continue, however, my objection to the proposed agreement is this: It is proposed to reduce not the actual rate but the average rate for skilled work. This would mean a reduction of the actual amount of the relative and the aggregate wage. It is proposed that these men be trained and that they do work classified as skilled work for which men. doing that work receive skilled rates. It is not proposed to pay them the wages for skilled labour. The intention is to reduce the average wage. I cannot see any justification for doing that. One of the outcomes of the war will be an accelerated economic development. A greater number of machines worked by women and semi-skilled workers will replace skilled workers. I shall advise the unions that they should at least demand the average rate paid to skilled workers for skilled work. I believe that that is a perfectly proper request.. When the workers ask for the average rate they do not ask for anything that the Government is not in a position to pay. All of the commodities which they would purchase with those wages are here in abundance. It is for the Government to see that the purchasing power of the people is raised as much as possible. My objection is that the Government’s proposal would reduce the average rate to be paid to skilled workers. Trainees are to be required to sign an agreement providing that, as required by the local committees to be set up under this agreement for the period of the war, they will perform duties for which they are trained. On the surface it would appear to be a perfectly innocuous position, but it means that a trainee is to be deprived of the right to take action in his own interest by leaving his employment or by changing his employers, if he feels that the employer is taking advantage of him. On the other hand, the employers are placed in a more favorable position because^ “ Nothing in this agreement shall be taken to deprive an employer of any right under any existing award, agreement or determination The trainee is to be required to give up his right to demand justice.
– It does not say that at all.
– The employer, however, is to have not only the rights that he now enjoys, but also additional power. He will be able to compel the trainee to observe the terms of the agreement as he would have them. That is the first step towards industrial conscription. If that were not pointed out to the workers, a similar state of affairs would soon exist in other industries, and gradually the workers would bo reduced to the position which existed in England during the last war. The employers could demand that their employees should work overtime without pay, or do more work than they were able to perform. They could make all sorts of demands of their employees, who would have no right of redress. Possibly, benefiting by what happened during the last war, the employers are anxious to establish similar conditions during this war. Those are my two objections to the scheme. Where labour is diluted in the ordinary way, even though the rates are lower and the conditions more arduous, the employee has the right to refuse to work if he thinks that he is not receiving proper treatment. Moreover, he has the right of appeal; but in this agreement there is no such provision. Whether or not this is the actual agreement that would be signed, I do not know. It is a copy of the proposed agreement which the Engineering Union is expected to sign. I submit that those two objections are sound, and I hope that they will be upheld. So far as I am able, I shall not hesitate to explain to the workers what is intended. As I have said, the Government is in a position to give better conditions, and it should do so. If there were a scarcity of commodities1, and the Government could prove that it could not pay the proper rates a different stand would be taken; but where we have abundance - we have more fruit and wheat and other commodities than we can use - the Government’s proposal cannot be justified. It is not a matter of money, for money is simply used as a medium of exchange. There should be no scarcity of money while there is no scarcity of commodities. The Government’s claim is unjust and should not be agreed to.
Debate (on motion by Senator Collett) adjourned.
Motion (.by Senator McLeay) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till 11 a.m. to-morrow.
Motion (by Senator McLeay) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
.- To-day, Senator Aylett asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Development, upon notice -
The Minister has supplied the following answers: -
Tenders were invited to discover all potential suppliers.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Development -
The Minister has supplied the following answers: - 1 and 2. Normal practice is for tenders to be invitedby public advertisement, and with the exception of certain requirements such as supplies and services for camps of training, &c, tenders for which must necessarily be confined to the State or locality concerned, tenders for all large bulk requirements are invited throughout the Commonwealth. However, it has been found necessary to requisition production capacity or to distribute orders in other ways’ to secure the large quantities of cloth, and clothing, boots, hats, &c, urgently needed for the Defence Forces. Allocations and prices are determined after conferences with manufacturers having regard to civil needs, to previous tender and contract rates, and in some cases after investigation by the Prices Commissioner.
– I am sorry that I have not been able to get any answers to the questions I have asked this session regarding the raising of money for war purposes. For that reason 1 placed a question on the notice: paper this morning. There are three ways of raising money for the war: First, by taxation, which really amounts to a confiscation of the people’s money; secondly, by public subscriptions to war loans by way of bonds; and, thirdly, by borrowing in the usual way through the banks. Any money obtained from the people by the purchase of war bonds for cash is worth at least ten times as much as is subscribed by the banks, yet it seems that the Government’s programme provides almost wholly for the raising of money through the hanks. If the public -subscribes £2,000,000 in cash it will be quite competent for the Commonwealth Bank to advance to the Treasurer £20,000,000 on the cash so provided. I therefore suggest to the Government that ‘ it should look more and more to this means of raising the money that it needs. The, purchase of bonds by the people is undoubtedly the best means available to supply funds. It was to direct attention to that fact that I put my question on the notice-paper. I took the action also because the members of the Government appeared to be at sea whenever I ask a question about finance.
– I take this opportunity to make an appeal to the Government to proceed with the erection of the new post office at Inglewood, Perth, in view of the development which is occurring there. A block of land has already been purchased for this purpose, but it is not practicable to send telegrams or purchase stamps on a block of land. A building and some staff are required. Hitherto when I have been asked by the people of Inglewood what is being done to provide them with their promised post office, I have been obliged to reply that the Government needs what money it has available for war purposes; but. as £1,600 has been provided on the Estimates for this post office I urge that the work be put in hand. I have already had reason to complain about the deficiency of the Government’s works programme in Western Australia. I therefore feel fully justified in urging that this particular job be put in hand at once. Non-official post offices do not provide for the requirements of a growing district. We know very well that postage stamps in excess of 10s. cannot be purchased at non-official post offices, nor can certain other business be transacted at such agencies. At present pensioners in that district have to go from a mile to two and a half miles in order to collect their pensions. That also is most unreasonable for aged people. I therefore urge the Government, in the interests of the pensioners, and also of the community in general, to proceed at once with the erection of the new building.
– in reply. - The representations of Senator Clothier will be brought under the . notice of the PostmasterGeneral. Consideration has already been given to the suggestions advanced by Senator Darcey.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented: -
National Security Act -
National Security (Aliens Control) Regulations - Orders - Enemy aliens to report ( 10 ) .
National Security (General) Regulations
By-laws - Controlled areas (5).
Control of highways.
Prohibiting work on land.
Taking possession of land, &c. (49).
Use of land (6).
Apple and Fear Export Charges Act - Regu lations amended - Statutory Rules 1940, No. 67.
Dried Fruits Export Charges Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1940, No. 41.
Gold Tax Collection Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1939, No. 179.
Trade Commissioners - Act- Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1940, No. 42.
Norfolk Island - Report for year 1938-39.
Senate adjourned at 11.34 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 22 April 1940, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1940/19400422_senate_15_163/>.