16th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. J. B. Hayes) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Assent to the following bills reported : -
Commonwealth Electoral (War-Time) Bill 1940.
Raw Cotton. Bounty Bill 1940.
Judiciary Bill 1940.
Supply Bill (No. 2) 1940-1041.
High Commissioner Bill 1940.
Customs Tariff Validation Bill 1940.
Customs Tariff (Exchange Adjustment) Validation Bill 1940.
Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) Validation Bill 1940.
Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Validation Bill 1940.
Customs Tariff (-Special War Duty) Validation Bill 1940.
Excise Tariff Validation Bill 1940.
Australian Broadcasting Commission Bill 1940.
Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Bill 1940.
– Pursuant to Standing Order No. 28a I lay on the table my warrant, nominating Senators M. Abbott, S. K. Amour, W. J. Cooper, Herbert Hays and R. V. Eeane, a panel to act as Temporary Chairmen of Commiftees when requested so to do by : he Chairman of Committees, or when the Chairman of Committees is absent.
– Pursuant to Standing Order 38, I hereby appoint the following senators to be the Committee of Disputed Returns and Qualifications: - Senators M. Abbott, J. I. Armstrong, J. S. Collings, B. Courtice, T. W. Crawford, W. G. Gibson andO. Uppill.
– I have to inform the Senate that I have received from Mrs. G. A. Street, Lady Gullett, and Mrs. J. V. Fairbairn letters of thanks and appreciation for the resolutions of sympathy and condolence passed by the Senate on the occasion of the deaths of the Hon. G. A. Street, the Hon. Sir Henry Gullett and the Hon. J. V. Fairbairn.
Senator McLEAY (South Australia -
Postmaster-General). - by leave - I have to notify the Senate that on the 28th October, 1940, the Ministry was reconstructed, and is now constituted as follows : -
The Right Honorable Robert Gordon Menzies, K.C. - Prime Minister, Minister for Defence Co-ordination, and Minister for Information.
The Right HonorableWilliam Morris Hughes, K.C. - AttorneyGeneral, and Minister for the Navy.
The Honorable Percy Claude Spender, K.C. - Minister for the Army.
The Honorable John McEwen. - Minister for Air, and Minister for Civil Aviation.
TheHonorable Harold Edward Holt. - Minister for Labour and National Service, and Minister in Charge of Scientific and Industrial Research.
Senator the Honorable Herbert Brayley Collett, C.M.G., D.S.O., Y.D. - Minister administering War Service Homes, and Minister assisting the Minister for Repatriation.
The Honorable Thomas Joseph Collins. - Minister assisting the Prime Minister, Minister dealing with External Territories, and Minister assisting the Minister for the Interior.
The Honorable Hubert Lawrence Anthony. - Minister assisting the Treasurer and Minister assisting the Minister for Commerce.
I have to announce that in future I shall represent the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General in this chamber; Senator Foll will represent the Minister for the Army) the Minister for the Navy, theMinister for Defence Co-ordination, the Minister for Air and Civil Aviation and the Minister for Social Services and Health; Senator McBride will represent the Treasurer and the Minister for Commerce; Senator Collett will represent the Minister for Information, the Minister for ExternalAffairs, the Minister dealing with External Territories, and the Minister in Charge of Scientific and Industrial Research; and Senator Leckie will represent the Minister for Labour and National Service and the Minister for Trade and Customs.
– by leave - read a statement made in the House of Representatives by the Minister for the Navy relating to the accidental sinking of H.M.A.S. Goorangai(vide page 64).
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce say whether an agreement has been entered into between the Commonwealth and the States for the acquisition of the apple and pear crop for the season 1941? If such an agreement has been made, will the Minister give particulars to the Senate; if not, can he say when a settlement is likely to be reached?
– Several conferences have been held, and at the latest one held in Canberra on Monday last, representatives of the States conferred with the Minister for Commerce in regard to the apple and pear acquisition scheme for the coming year. Certain recommendations were agreed upon at that conference, and they are now being con sidered by the Government, which hopes to be able to make an announcement on this matter within a few days.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce state when the final payment under the apple and pear acquisition scheme will be made, and will he institute inquiries as to whether or not the New Zealand Government is buying the whole of the surplus apple and pear crop in the Dominions for the season 1940-41?
– It is not yet known when the winding up of thepresent apple and pear acquisition scheme will take place, and obviously final payments cannot be made until that is done. With regard to the second part of the question, I shall have inquiries made.
Dismissal of Dance Band
– Is the PostmasterGeneral aware of the decision made by the Australian Broadcasting Commission to dispense with the services of Jim Davidson’s dance band? Are we justified in assuming that the economy drive against Mr. Davidson is to offset the loss of £37,000 incurred by the A.B.C. Weekly in the first seven months of its publication? Will the Minister see that the Australian Broadcasting Commission dance band is retained at full strength, in view of its great popular appeal?
– The matter will receive consideration.
– In view of the danger of Tasmania being cut off from the mainland owing to interruption of the shipping service, what provision, if any, has the Government made for the storage of the foodstuffs, arms and munitions that would be necessary for the subsistence and protection of the Tasmanian people in the event of a local offensive?
– I assure the honorable senator that that matter has received and is still receiving the consideration of the Government, and following a conference with representatives of Tasmania appropriate steps have been taken.
– Can the Leader of theSenate give an assurance that adequate steps are being taken to maintain continuity of seaborne traffic between Tasmania and the mainland of Australia?
– In view of the possibility of further stoppages of the shipping service between Victoria and Tasmania by the laying of mines in Bass Strait, will the Postmaster-General give consideration to the inauguration of a continuous air mail service between Tasmania and the mainland in order to obviate a recurrence of recent conditions under which mails piled up in the Tas- manian post offices?
– The matter will receive consideration.
– Will the Minister for Supply and Development consider the desirability of inserting a clause in all Government contracts providing that successful tenderers must use the Commonwealth Bank to finance their undertakings, andso facilitate a reciprocity which, in view of the fact that all profits from the Commonwealth Bank go back to the nation,would bring in a considerable revenue ?
– I shall give consideration to the suggestion made by the honorable senator.
– In view of the barley harvest for the present season, is the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce in a position to say when the final payments will be made for the crop which has been put into the pool for the season. 1940?
– The Barley Board has done exceedingly good work in the disposal of last year’s crop, and it is expected that the pool will be wound up within a reasonably short period. Until that be done, of course, final payments cannot bemade available to the growers.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce tell the Senate exactly what is the position with regard to flax-growers? How much per ton will they receive for their flax, to what points will they deliver, and will the farmers he paid-in full when their crops are harvested?
– The brief details of the scheme under which certain growers in Australia planted flax were agreed to. Farmers will receive £5 a ton for flax straw, properly headed, and for that payment they are asked’ to deliver the flax to the mill in the district where the flax is grown, hut any cartage beyond 20 miles will be paid for at extra rates. Also, to farmers who have planted flax, the Commonwealth has undertaken to make a minimum payment of the cost of production, which is considered to be £4 10s. an acre.
– Does the Minister mean unthrashed flax?
– Yes, unthrashed flax straw.
– I should like to ask you, Mr. President, whether or not you have seen a press paragraph appearing under the caption “Film ‘Shot’ in Parliament “ and reading as follows : -
Later inthe Senate, a special scene was enacted for Mr. Jurgens.
Senator McLeay had to go throughan act of reading a bill. Other senators were to encourage him with comment and suitable gestures.
Senator McLeay announced, “I have abill here to reduce taxation “.
There was loud laughter and the scenehad to be re-filmed.
I should like to know, Mr. President; whether this farce was enacted with your consent, and whether there will be a preview of the pictureby yourself when it is finished. In the event of this scene being found to have been poorly acted, will you have the power to censor it.?
– After the Senate adjourned yesterday, certain photographs, as reported in the press, were taken. This was done with the concurrence of Ministers and myself, and I should be very pleased to extend the same courtesy to any other honorable senator who wishes to be photographed in similar circumstances.
– I ask the Assistant Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs why serious differentiation between the various States was allowed to occur in the administration of customs regulations regarding the release of spirits, ales and other dutiable goods, in anticipation of the presentation of the budget.
– Differentia tion such as is suggested by the honorable senator would be entirely wrong, but I am unaware that any such differentiation was made. I shall have inquiries made into the matter.
Engagement in Egypt.
– by leave - read a statement made in the House of Representatives by the Minister for Air (Mr. McEwen) regarding an engagement in Egypt between the Royal Australian Air Force and the Italian Air Force(vide page 65).
– Amongst the papers laid on the table of the Senate are the second annual report of the Australian Apple and Pear Board for the year 1939-40, and the 12th annual report of the Australian Wine Board for the year 1939-40, together with statements by the Minister regarding the operation of the acts; also the annual report for the year 1939-40 of the Australian Imperial Force Canteen Trust Fund and the 7th report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission.
With the concurrence of the Senate, I suggest that, in order to conserve stocks of paper, those reports be not printed as parliamentary papers.
– Does that mean that those reports will not be available to honorable senators?
– They will be available to honorable senators, but they will not be circulated in many quarters to which parliamentary papers are usually despatched.
– Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General inquire into the broadcasting activities over South Australian stations of Dr.Grenfell Price, with a view to ascertaining over what stations Dr. Price speaks, whether these include national stations, and whether his typescript is subject to the customary preliminary scrutiny of the censor or the management of the station?
- Dr. Grenfell Price speaks over a commercial station. His speeches are censored. I have had the pleasure of listening to a number of them, and I regard them as excellent.
.- I move -
That the following Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General’s Speech be agreed to: -
To His Excellency the Governor-General -
May It Please Your Excellency :
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 am deeply conscious of the honour which has been conferred upon me in being asked to move theAddressinReply. The motion includes an expression of loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign. Such a motion would at any time commend itself to all sections of this community, but at this period in our history the expression of our loyalty to His Majesty has special significance. I think that I can associate with that portion of the motion sentiments of goodwill towards all the peoples of this great Commonwealth of Nations, particularly the men and women of Great Britain, who, since the Commonwealth Parliament last assembled, have, in facing one of the greatest tragedies in history, displayed all those characteristics, including doggedness and courage, which have made the members of the British race famous. In the tragic circumstances which prevail, we cannot forget the dangers being faced by all the people of Great Britain from His Majesty the King down to the humblest citizen working in the mine- or in the fields. Within the last three months the people of Britain have written history before our eyes, and I venture to predict that when, the whole story is told it will be a record of courage and devotion such as has never been excelled in the history of the British race. During this period we in Australia have had the good fortune to continue our activities free from interruption or danger, to conduct a. general election, and in that way exercise to the full the rights which our democratic system provides. The general election may not have been quite as satisfactory as honorable senators on this side of the chamber desired, but it resulted in the return of the Menzies Government. I congratulate the Government upon the success it achieved. I also extend my personal congratulations to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), who, in his own electorate’ received an overwhelming majority from the people who know. him best. The result of the election was a recognition by the people of Australia of the excellent work which this Government has performed since the outbreak of war, and indicates the people’s approval of the policy which was placed before them. The Government has received a mandate to continue to give effect to its policy directed to attaining victory in the great . conflict which is now being waged.
Recently some of us were privileged to inspect some of the excellent work which is being performed in Australia in new industrial undertakings, particularly those concerned with aeroplane construction and’ the manufacture of munitions-. The success which ha3 been achieved in this direction is due largelyto the solid foundations which have been laid. We must also pay tribute to the executives controlling the undertakings, and to the men and women who are giving of their best to ensure that our forces shall be supplied with the machines arid munitions which they need.
I experienced some disappointment when I learned that a national ministry, representative of all political parties in this Parliament, was not to be formed. I do .not intend to “throw bricks” or cast reflections upon any particular section; but I think that I am justified in saying that no blame can be attached to the party to which I belong. It is true that an .Australian Advisory War Council has been established, which, possibly, is the best alternative. It is better that we should have that than there should bo no machinery by which the representatives of all of the parties in this Parliament can assist in a co-operative movement towards the winning of the war.’ The new body that has been created provides a. means whereby the representatives of the parties who meet in it may, at least, by the goodwill which I am sure they will all- display, reduce the number of the subjects upon which we are divided, and reach agreement more and more upon those things which are essential for the full attainment of the purpose that we have in view.
I congratulate the Ministry upon one new departure which has been made in the course of the last few weeks. I. refer to the appointment of a Minister for Labour. It is apparent that continuous production in our factories, fields’ and workshops is essential if we are to carry on the war effort at the full momentum which is required. I regret, and I am sure that many other members of this chamber also regret, that these activities have been interfered with in. some ]nea- sure by the occurrence of a few unfortunate strikes. For many years we have had a system of arbitration for the con: trol of conditions of labour, in order to ensure that, in the long run, the working men and women of this community, shall get a fair deal. “It is true that the system which has operated up to the present time is not free from imperfections. The Commonwealth arbitration system- is, unfortunately, limited in its operation by reason of the provisions of the Common^ wealth Constitution. In addition, we have had the difficulty of. conflicting dercisions by Commonwealth and State tribunals. Now, in this period of war, a great opportunity is presented to mould the H’O systems into a comprehensive whole, so that the Australian community may have a method of control of wages and working conditions which will be efficient and free from technicalities, and which will avoid the conflict that has hitherto occurred between the awards of State and Federal tribunals. I am sure that we all desire to. avoid unnecessary stoppages of. work, whether .by strikes or lock-outs. If we .desire,, for .the sake of the national war. effort, to avoid these things, I believe that the community should provide the workers with a system of arbitration, and –control of industrial disputes as efficient . as it can be made, so that there will be” no excuse for men to go on strike. . I have no doubt that the Minister for Labour and National Services, .in his consideration of’ these matters, will here and there come across opportunities for improving and strengthening, the present- system, and I hope that- he will enable us to prevent the strikes- which, unfortunately, have been a feature -of the news during the last few weeks. By resort to arbitration we can do a great deal towards the ultimate’ settlement of disputes, but we should also prevent their occurrence by a constant process of conciliation. The oversight, by departments such as the Department of Labour, of industrial activities and conditions, should go far towards preventing workmen from being tempted to leave their workshops and go on strike.
I shall refer to one other matter which, I think, is worthy of the commendation of all of us - .the policy that has been pursued by the Government since the war began in protecting the community from undue increases of the prices of commodities. This is a subject near to the heart of the general mass of the community. I believe that the maintenance of stability in prices under conditions such as those now prevailing is a contributing factor to the maintenance of industrial peace. It is well known that the people who suffer most in a period of rising prices are those working on wages and salaries, for wages and salaries never catch up with the increased cost of living. This Government has, since the commencement of the war, followed such an intelligent financial and economic policy that we have been able to avoid the worst features of the evil of rising prices which manifested itself in the course of the last war. The Department of Commerce has recently published a most interesting booklet concerning the whole machinery of the control of prices, and the record which has been obtained i3 a matter of great satisfaction, I am sure, to the Minister in charge of that department, and also to the commissioner and other officers who have worked efficiently under him. For the first eleven months of this war, retail priceshave risen by only 1.9 per cent., as compared with 40 -per cent, in the first elevenmonths of the last war. That may be said to be not- a fair comparison, because the circumstances are different. It is true, of course, that we have had the advantage during this war of the knowledge and experience gained by the mistakes of the war of 1914-18; but similarly favorable figures are obtained when we compare prices in this country with those in the United Kingdom. Wholesale prices of food and groceries in Australia rose during the first eleven months of the war by 14 per cent., whilst in the United Kingdom they increased by 42 per cent. Retail prices in Australia during the same period’ rose, as I have said, by only 1.9 per cent,., but in the United Kingdom they increased by 1S.S per cent., or nearly onefifth.
I express my commendation of the Government upon the appointment to the important office of Minister Plenipotentiary to Japan of one well known to all members of this Parliament - Sir John Latham. I believe that the Commonwealth has to-day, and in the years to come, a most important part to play in the affairs of the Pacific because of its position in that ocean. The Government is to be congratulated, not only upon the creation of this new diplomatic post, but also upon having been able to secure the services of one so able and so well fitted as Sir John Latham is to perform such an important task. In the last few months, some of the effects of the appointment of Mr. Casey as the representative of Australia at Washington have become evident. I have no doubt that he has played an important part in the growth in the United States of America of the friendly sentiment that is so manifest there to-day towards British people, and which is of vital importance to us in regard to the successful prosecution of the war.
Thi3 Parliament now meets during the most momentous period in the history of not only this Commonwealth, hut also our Empire. We are at the moment, perhaps, in the valley of the shadow, and we feel we have a long and thorny path to fol.low; but I think that we are all conscious of the fact that, although darkness may surround us, we can see ahead the first glimmering of dawn. We are confident that we shall pass beyond the valley of the shadow into the brilliant sunshine, before the sun i3 at its zenith, and that there we shall enjoy the green pastures of victory and the still waters of peace. My fervent hope is that the members of this Parliament- may still be here when that happy day dawns, and that, in addition to dealing with the problems of war, we shall have a hand in the establishment of a just- and lasting peace.
– I have pleasure in seconding the motion for the adoption of the excellent Speech delivered by the Governor-General, setting -out the legislative proposals and policy of the United Australia party-United Country party Government led by Mr. Menzies for the present short parliamentary session. In passing, I’ congratulate Senator Spicer upon his maiden speech in this Parliament; it showed that he is a valuable addition to the fighting and debating forces behind the Government. Every member of the Senate joins in. the expression of loyalty to the Throne contained in the motion, and, like Senator Spicer, sympathizes with the people of Great Britain, and of London in particular, in the terrible ordeal through which they are passing. It is well to remember that unless victory, attends British arms, it will be only a matter of time before we in Australia will be subjected to somewhat similar treatment.
Whilst admitting that the war position is grave, the Speech states that recent events strengthen the confidence of the Government in ultimate victory. Although the difficulties and dangers con fronting the British Empire are greater than at any other time in its history, the Speech indicates that the German plans for the invasion of Britain have, for the time being at least, been foiled. The Speech makes it clear that the Avar position is such that- the whole Empire must pull its- full weight if victory .is to be achieved. Australia’s maximum effort can be obtained only by the full use of all of our resources - men, material and ]non CV - in one united effort; the support of the whole of the people and of every poli tical party is necessary. I commend “ the Menzies Government for its attempts to secure the co-operation of all political parties in Australia’s war effort. Those endeavours have been only partly successful, but I prefer to speak of the measure of success that has been achieved rather than of the degree to which the Government’s efforts have failed.
I am glad that since the election .an Advisory War Council, representative of all political parties in this Parliament, has been set up under the authority of the National Security Act. The functions of the council are to advise the Government regarding Australia’s war effort and the problems relating thereto. The forma-: tion of this advisory council and Labour’s participation in it is a step - if only a short one - in the right direction. It is interesting to’ note that the War Council, one half of whose members represent the two Labour parties in this Parlia-ment, has- given grave consideration, to industrial stoppages- in. war-time. If the frequent stoppages, or: strikes, from which Australia has suffered with alarming frequency during the war, can. bc prevented by the establishment, 0L the Advisory War Council and the setting ups of a Ministry, of Labour, these innovations will have more than justified themselves. The Speech sets out that’ industrial disturbances, constitute a. real blow- at our. national security. All honorable- senators will admit that Australia is provided5 with adequate and easily accessible1 machinery for the settlement of disputes1 and the adjustment of’ grievances by arbitration. Consequently, there can be’ no justification for direct- action, and Ihope that we shall’ have no recurrences of ill-advised- strikes while the war lasts I hope that Labour’s participation in ti-
War Council is a step towards a much closer co-operation with the Government in the conduct of the war. Both before and during the recent election I advocated the formation of a real national government, in which Labour would accept its fullshare of responsibility for the administration of activities associated with the war effort. I do not wish to say anything which may render such co-operaation more difficult, but I am sorry that Labour did not accept the generous offer of eight portfolios in a government of sixteen members which Mr.Menzies made since the election.
– Labour wants policy, not portfolios.
– So far asI am aware, the offer of Mr. Menzies is still open, and if that be so, I hope that wiser counsels will prevail and that the offer will be accepted by the parties opposite. The best brains in this Parliament should be in a national ministry to guide Australia’s war-time effort in these dangerous times. Only by such full cooperation can Australia play its part. Should Labour decide to join in a national government, it will follow the magnificent example set by the Labour party in Great Britain, where Messrs. Bevin, Attlee, Morrison and others, hold important portfolios in the War Cabinet with the full approval of the trade union movement of Great Britain. Labour’s participation in a national government had the support of 23,000,000 trade unionists, whilst only a few tens of thousands of them opposed the proposal on a card vote. I believe that the trade unionists of Australia would record a similarly overwhelming vote in favour of a. national government if they were consulted.
– They were consulted at the recent general election and the Government was returned with reduced numbers.
– The trade unionists of Australia have never been consulted as were their fellow unionists in Great Britain by the calling of a convention to consider the formation of a national government. In Great Britain the rank and file of the Labour movement in the United Kingdom authorized the acceptance of portfolios by their leaders. I hone that their example will yet be followed in Australia.
I heartily congratulate the Government on its return to power as the result of the recent general election, and particularly on the signal’ moral victory that it achieved, as is evidenced by the result of the Senate election. The Senate is the more democratic of the two branches of the legislature, for it springs direct from the people who record their opinions
Onbroad principles of policy. In five of the six States their opinion was recorded decisively in favour of the present Government, which advocated the formation of a national ministry. If honorable senators wish to draw any conclusion from the election figures, I direct their attention to the fact that those candidates who advocated a national ministry and held the gate open for Labour to enter it, were returned in five of the six States. I regard the vote for Senate candidates as a truer reflection of the will of the people than the votes cast for the House of Representatives, because the Senate vote is not so influenced by parochial considerations. I can quote no better authority for that statement than the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition in this chamber on the 1st December, 1937. The Government should be gratified that it still retains a majority in the House of Representatives. It is true that that majority is small, but it is likely to be increased in the near future. There is no doubt that the Government will he able to retain the reins of office unless and until a national government is formed.
The Speech points out that the principal business of the present sittings of the Parliament will be the making of financial provision for the carrying on of our share of the war, and for the ordinary public services. So far as I am concerned, the paramount question for our consideration is how best we can organize Australia’s war effortfor the successful prosecution of the war. We all hope that victory will soon be achieved ; but until that is done every other issue must be subservient to the vigorous prosecution of the war.
The Speech tells us that, within a few days, the Treasurer will introduce a budget which will place on the Australian people burdens heavier than they have ever before been called upon to bear.
The courteous action of the Opposition in the House of Representatives in agreeing to the suspension of the Standing Orders will enable the budget to be introduced into that chamber to-day. The Speech does not disclose any details of the heavy taxation which it foreshadows, but we know that this year’s budget will be a record, for it will provide for tlie raising of no less than £277,000,000, of which £1S6,000,000 is to be set aside for :war and defence purposes. That is an enormous sum for a little over 7,000,000 people to contemplate raising. Of course, expenditure on- this tremendous scale must involve heavy increases of “both direct and indirect taxation. The imposition of heavier burdens’ on the people is never popular, but this is an occasion on which an increase of taxes in order to provide a more substantial contribution towards the cost of the war cannot -‘be questioned by any responsible person. Most Australians realize that, in this war, our national existence -is at stake. They realize that no sacrifice is too heavy and no price too high to ensure the safety of our land and the freedom of our people. They only ask, and ask vigorously, that the taxes shall be levied on the basis of ability to pay. The burden must be distributed in accordance with , the capacity of the various classes of the community to meet additional imposts. That, I believe, is the policy of the Government.
– It is not the policy of the Government.
– AH I have to guide me is the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, and that does not give any details. However, I confidently expect that the increased , taxes will be levied according to the capacity of the various classes of the community to pay-
– Nothing of the kind !
– At any rate that is what I expect. I think we can reasonably believe that those who can afford to pay the most will be required to pay the most.
– And so they will.
– Of course they will, and if the budget is framed on those equitable lines, there should be no complaint whatsoever from any responsible citizen. I believe that the people generally are in the right frame of mind to make sacrifices provided that, so far as possible, the principle of equality of sacrifice be observed.
– I am afraid that the honorable senator will be disappointed when the budget is brought down.
– I do not think so. There are some people, of course, who will insist upon trying to find complaints among sections of the community which, if approached in another way, would make no complaint at all. As the Government rightly points out, “If we are called upon to pay a great price for victory, we must’ still remember that the price is great because the liberties which we have at stake are even greater “.
The taxpayers will willingly meet the Government’s demands, provided the assurances to which they are entitled are given. They are entitled to an assurance that the huge sums which they will be called upon to pay will ‘be wisely spent, that all waste will be eliminated, and that extravagances which would not be permitted in time of- peace shall not ‘be practised in this time of war.
I should like to say a few words - under other circumstances I should probably have quite a lot to say - about the- wheat industry. A conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers met in Canberra last Monday, and a Commonwealthwide wheat stabilization scheme extending over a- long period was adopted. I have been assured that the State Premiers have accepted the scheme.
– It is a part of the Labour party’s plan.
– If the Labour party claims credit for the plan no doubt it will support it. I only hope that Labour Premiers will stand behind the scheme wholeheartedly in their own States. At any rate, at the conference the plan was unanimously accepted by the State Premiers and Federal Ministers. Sir Earle Page, as Minister for Commerce, is to be congratulated upon having secured unanimity between the Commonwealth and States with regard to an industry which has been a highly controversial subject during the last decade.
He is also to be commended for having secured the increased price of 3s.10d. a bushel f.o.b. at ports for bagged wheat, which represents a considerable increase on what was proposed by his predecessor. The approved plan is as follows: -
Wheat-growers will make application for registration of their properties and for licences for themselves; the application for a licence will contain an undertaking to adhere to conditions, of which the following will be the principal.: -
The plan, which will commence to operate in respect of the 1941-42 . harvest, will be authorized under theNational Security Regulations at the earliest possible moment: It was discussed fully with the State Premiers, who have assured the Government, through Sir Earle Page, that they will assist to the fullest degree with their administrative organizations in the implementing of the plan. Commonwealth and State officials will immediately collaborate in working out the details of the scheme:
The State governments have undertaken that during the operation of the stabilization plan they will not increase rail freights on wheat.
Many important conditions are incorporated in that plan. I have not seen all of them published, but I feel sure that the scheme will be of great interest to the people concerned.
– The conditions have been published.
– I did not see published in the press the statement that the State governments would not increase rail freights on wheat.
– It was published.
– That is a very important matter. At any rate, those who read copies of my speech, which I shall distribute, will know exactly what is the position.
I am glad that some finality is in view in connexion with the wheat industry. I admit that I would have much preferred a payment of 3s.10d. a bushel f.o.r. ports instead of f.o.b. ports, and. even at this late stage I urge the Government, as a generous . gesture to the industry, to make the price- 3s.10d. a bushel f.o.r. I see no. reason, why the farmers should have to gamble on the cost of storage should shipping transport be difficult during a period of months or even years after the wheat has been acquired by theCommonwealth Government. I submit that the wheat is the property of the Commonwealth Government as soon as it is handed over by the wheat-growers, and the farmersshould not be asked to take a chance on whether it will take a few months or a few years to ship their wheat overseas. However, the Premiers, including the Premier of the wheat-growing State of Western Australia, have agreed on the arrangement which, I take it,will be regarded by both the Commonwealth and State Governments as final.
– What are the fanners going to get this year?
– I am comingto that. I am glad that a permanently stabilized price seems to be assured to the Australian wheat industry; starting with the 1941-42 harvest. So far as last year’s harvest and pool are concerned, I urge the Government to make another payment of 6d. a bushel without delay. The serious condition of the wheatgrowing industry, combined with this year’s drought, leaves growers in urgent need of an additional payment. When one visits the wheat-growing districts, particularly those areas in which there will be only small crops in the coining harvest, one is met with the same request, “ When are we going to get a final payment of, we hope, an additional 6d. a bushel, on last year’s crop?” I urge the Government to give attention to this matter.
With regard to the coming harvest, which is not included in this scheme, it appears that owing to widespread drought there will be a considerably reduced crop, estimated at 75,000,000 bushels for the whole of the Commonwealth.
– It will probably be half that quantity.
-The official estimate is 75,000,000 bushels. Not more than 40,000,000 bushels will be available for export. Of course, from the Government’s point of view, the smaller the crop the easier it will be with a homeconsumption price of 5s. 2d. a bushel to pay a good price for the coming harvest. Approximately 32,000,000 bushels’ are required for home consumption in Australia. With the operation of a home-consumption price of 5s. 2d. a bushel, which is a fixed item of Country party policy, the Government should have no difficulty whatever in paying to the growers at least 4s. a bushel f.o.r. ports, particularly when we realize that the volume of the coming harvest will be so small. I hope that we shall soon have a pronouncement by the Government on this point. It is officially estimated that the marketable crop . this year will not exceed 75,000,000 bushels, whilst prominent growers go so far as to suggest that it will not be half that quantity. In any case, we should be unduly optimistic to expect a harvest in excess of 75,000,000 bushels. In his speech, His Excellency pointed out that interruptions to shipping, disturbance and loss of foreign markets, and, in recent months, the occurrence of a disastrous drought, have seriously aggravated the difficulties confronting our primary industries. However, the Government is giving sympathetic consideration to these problems, and is dis cussing them with representatives of the industries concerned. Only last week the representatives of the wheat-growers attended a conference in Canberra, whilst at the moment representatives of the apple and pear growers are here conferring with the Government. I commend the Government upon the efforts which it is making to solve theseproblems. I am particularly pleased to note the re-appointment of Sir Earle Page as Minister for Commerce. In that capacity, his wisdom, experience and sympathy with ourprimary producers will again be exerted for the benefit of our primary producers as a whole. Without labouring the point, I take this opportunity to bring to his notice the need for establishing a wool appraisement centre at Albany. I feel sure that now that Sir Earle Page is at the helm he will quickly take steps to see that the Government’s decision on this matter is carried out. I believe that when the Government decided to establish a wool appraisement centre at Albany, every member of it, as a matter of common justice to wool-growers in that district, desired to see effect given to that decision as expeditiously as possible.
– And how about Geraldton ?
– I also commend to the Government the claims of Geraldton as a wool appraisement centre.
In conclusion, I congratulate Ministers on the Government’s return at the recent election, and each Minister on his retention of a portfolio.
– How did the Government come to overlook the honorable senator?
– Every member of the Country party who has ever sat in the Senate has been left out of everything that has been going in that respect, and consequently, on that point I have no complaint, which has not been common to all members of my party. Every man in an army cannot be a general. In the circumstances, I am very pleased to have the opportunity to give every assistance I can to the Government by taking my place at an humble oar in the ship of state. Reverting to the subject of ministerial appointments, I am pleased to note .that -the Government has recognized the importance of the Senate by appointing a fifth Minister in this chamber. I have always considered that the Senate should play a more important role in the administration of Government affairs as well as in the framing of Government policy. The more portfolios allocated to members of this chamber, the stronger the Senate will become, and the better it will be for Australian democracy. In selecting Senator Leckie for ministerial appointment, the Government made a. wise choice.
I do not wish to confine my congratulations1 to honorable senators on this side of the chamber. I’ congratulate Senator Collings on his re-election as Leader of the Opposition, a position which he has filled for several years with energy, ability, great versatility and fairness. He has done his work so capably that I hope lie will remain Leader of the Opposition in this’ chamber for at least the next three years, or until his party, in its wisdom,, should decide to participate in the formation of a national, government. I hope that this session will be fruitful, and that we shall accomplish much good and useful work in the interests of the people of Australia.
– In view of the eulogy of myself just voiced by Senator Johnston, I almost feel too modest to say anything at all Upon this occasion. I congratulate Senator .Spicer -on’ his speech: He gave evidence of debating ability of which the Government parties in this, chamber are sorely in. need. By Senator Spicer’s advent, the Government’s serious deficiency in that respect is- partly relieved. ‘ I regret that the Government senators did hot show, due appreciation- of- the fact that a new colleague of theirs in this chamber was making his maiden speech. While Senator Spicer was speaking, only six Government senators were present in the chamber, although, I ani proud to say, thirteen honorable senators on this side remained to hear what he had to say. In the course of his remarks, Senator Spicer said that he had no desire to throw bricks. I remind him that throwing bricks . is a dangerous practice; along that road there is two- way traffic. Senator Johnston’s speech, of course, was characteristic of whatthe honorable senator does whenever a by-election is pending in Western Australia. . Nevertheless, I commend him on. the speech he made, just as I commend the Government on its decision in respect of the wheat industry. Obviously, the Government did only what it is wise politically for it to do on the eve of a by-election. I could not follow the mover and seconder of the motion in their repeated congratulations of the Government upon certain decisions the value of which seems- to me to be more apparent than real. Before replying specifically to - those honorable senators, however, I propose to deal with the Governor-General’s Speech.
All of us know; of. course, that the Speech was not prepared by the GovernorGeneral himself. If that were the case, I should feel much more inclined to let it pass without comment, because I should not like to be severe in my criticism of a gentleman of the calibre of His Excellency. The Speech was, of course, prepared by the Government, and simply delivered by the Governor-General on its behalf. It contains a serious flaw; I . should say, indeed, a positive -blot which should never have been allowed to appearin such a document. Members of thisOpposition, of course, do not need, evenon an occasion such as this, to reiterate, their loyalty to the Throne, or their desire to see the war brought to a successful conclusion. The people of Australia know just exactly where the Opposition stands in this matter. And that is equally true of honorable senators opposite. No. real necessity exists for continual repetition of our loyalty to the Throne, although, perhaps, it is wise that we express such loyalty upon, certain- occasions. A portion of the Speechis’ highly provocative to, not only the Opposition, but also a huge percentage of the workers of this country, upon whom alone the success of our war effort must’ depend, be it - in the ‘ fighting forces abroad or at home, on land or sea, in the air, in the fields, factories, mines or workshops of Australia. That statement refers to the attitude of our industrial workers. Without one word in mitigation of it, or apology for it, the Speech contained the implication that the workers of this country are prepared to he disloyal and to- withhold their maximum support of Australia’s war effort. That charge is a slander on that class which the Opposition represents in this chamber. It -is a slander on the class of men who alone, so far as Australia’s effort is concerned, can bring this war to a successful conclusion for the Empire Forces. -The particular statement to which I refer is : -
Already several meetings of this council-have taken p.ace with useful results- -. In particular, tlie council has given consideration to the question of industrial stoppages during war-time, and has been able to make recommendations which my advisers hope will-: lead to a perfecting of. the machinery of industrial peace, and at the same time to a maintenance of full and uninterrupted labour and production.
The Government feels strongly that, in a country in which there is adequate and- accessible machinery for the settlement of disputes and the adjustment of grievances, there can Lie no justification for direct action.
That statement is untrue. There does not exist, and there has not existed for years, any adequate and easily accessible machinery for the settlement of industrial disputes, which would entitle the Governor-General to say that the workers of Australia can have no justification for direct action. The statement continued -
This is particularly true in time of -war, when any cessation of work in a war industry, or in any industry which is related to the war effort, constitutes a real blow at the national security. A fortnight’s work in some munitions factory, once Lost, can never be recovered. It means inevitably at least a fortnight’s delayin the production of some gun, some piece of ammunition or some equipment urgently, and in some cases desperately, needed by Australians serving in a theatre of war.
That statement is entirely unnecessary and unwarranted. It is a discredit to the Government that framed it’’ and put it into the innocent mouth of - the Governor-General. Men do not go on strike for’ fun. At the moment, no machinery is available in Australia for the immediate and easy settlement of industrial disputes. Whilst I am not suggesting that the existing machinery is not valuable, it is devised only to serve our peace-time needs. No machinery is available to cope with the altered conditions that prevail in industry in time of- war. May I say, with pardonable pride,-‘ that the Australian Advisory- War Council is the creation of the rank and file of the Labour party, sitting in conference first in Canberra and later in Melbourne. The delegates who attended those assemblies decided that Labour would co-operate with the Government in the establishment of such a council. I am willing, however, to give to the Government credit for,the intention to make the council operate, satisfactorily.
This afternoon, Senator1 Johnston referred to what he described as the magnanimous offer made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to the Labour: party of eight out of sixteen seats in the Cabinet, if it would agree to join with the United Australia party and the United Country party in -forming a national government. I want it to go on record that the Prime Minister never made any such offer to the Labour party until a few weeks ago. Time after time, conferences of tlie Labour movement and members of the Opposition in this Parliament declared that they would not participate in a. national government. Consequently, the Prime Minister knew that he was perfectly safe in making such an offer to the Labour party. In his first proposal for the formation of a national government, he suggested that the Labour party should have four or five seats in a cabinet of sixteen. .
– The Prime Minister offered five or six -seats !
– I know what I am talking about. The Prime Minister offered four or five seats. When the right honorable gentleman found that “ thatcock would not fight “, he increased his offer to five or six seats. I emphasize, however, that he never offered the Labour party eight seats in the Cabinet until he had ample evidence that the offer would not be accepted. In those circumstances, he would have been perfectly secure in offering the Labour party ten of the sixteen seats. We were not to be bought by the offer of ministerial salaries.
– But the Labour party has accepted seats on the Advisory War Council !
– Yes, in an honorary capacity, in order that the Government might not be continually ignorant about those phases of war problems -which affect the people whom we on this side of the chamber represent. I am very pleased to read in the press that a sane attitude towards industrial troubles is now being adopted by the council. “While speaking upon this subject, I propose to read a statement by the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Curtin) dealing with this very matter. He said - :
In the question of war-time industry and machinery to ensure production and regulation of conditions is involved the- very core of our economic capacity to wage war. Should abuses develop and not be checked they will impair the maximum effort of industry. It is unrealistic to expect that the burdens will be borne on a basis of inequality. Justice in industry must be the watchword.. Speed must be the characteristic in the consideration, of claims and complaints; decisions must be prompt and - not put off- by eternal circumlocution and even evasion.
May l interpolate, in reply to what has been said by honorable senators opposite on this subject, that some unions filed plaints before industrial tribunals two years ago and the cases have not yet been heard. The statement made by the Leader of the Opposition continued -
The council has declared unanimously the principles whereby the machinery in this connexion will be shaped to meet war-time problems. I have no doubt that the requisite steps will he taken and stoppages to production will not take- place. Our safety cannot afford these dislocations. The sustaining of an expanding programme of more equipment, ordnance, munitions, aeroplanes, ships and supplies is essential if we are to hold all that we have. To lose one hour of production is to make a gift of that hour and what could have been produced in it to the enemy.
Therefore, the Australian War Council, on a basis of complete political cohesion, has taken the initiative. ‘ It is demonstrative of thewisdom associated with the establishment of the council that on this question complete agreement was’ reached.
Let us have no more talk about the efficiency of the machinery which is already in existence -for dealing with industrial disputes. I deeply regret that statements have been made to the effect that workers go on strike and do serious things in this period of national emergency merely for the sake of doing them, or holding up the war effort. The Government must realize that the war has created new conditions in industry. By way of illustration, I point out that factories to undertake the manufacture of materials required in the war effort have been erected or are in operation in districts where no such establishments stood or were in operation a year ago. Many of the men employed in these industrial undertakings are obliged to travel long distances daily to and from their homes, and their fares amount in some cases to as much as 12s 6d. a week. As the Government desired them to work in those industries,” they do not intend to run the risk of being compelled to pay the 12s. 6d. a week out of their own pockets. Furthermore, they do notpropose to wait until all the circumlocutory processes associated with the filing and hearing of a plaint before the. Arbitration Court have been completed. Before they start work, or so soon as they discover the true situation, they demand a guarantee that they will not be called upon personally to take from the family breakfast table the means with which to defray these heavy transport charges. Admittedly, such situations are new, and Ministers could not have been expected. to anticipate them; but what the Govern-r ment can be expected to do, and what the Advisory War Council has agreed to do, is’ to establish machinery for dealing more expeditiously with workers’ complaints. When that is done, members of the Opposition will be prepared, as Mr. Curtin has done, to ask the men not to strike but to avail themselves of that machinery and go on with the job, confident that their difficulties will be adequately dealt with. That i3 all that the Labour party asks. But if I were to read to thousands of workers engaged in war industries that portion of the Governor-General’s Speech relating to industrial disturbances and- told them that that was the language which- the Government put into His Excellency’s, mouth, I should be merely, trailing the Government’s coat, and inflaming the passions of my people. Mr. Ernest Bevin, Minister for Labour in the British Government, stated that he was asking his people to make sacrifices and to do thingswhich they had never previously been called upon to undertake. He added that the workers in Britain were responding, nobly to the call. Incidentally, no one can say that Australians have not’ responded nobly to the call to arms and to work. But Mr.- Bevin contended that because the workers of Great Britain had so nobly answered his appeal for cooperation he had to be sure that no person in the community would make a profit out of their sacrifices. The Commonwealth Government has to meet a similar position, and it will not succeed in doing soif it places in His Excellency’s mouth such provocative statements as the one which I have quoted.
Senator Spicer, when referring tothe cost of living, made- certain remarks of which the Opposition entirely approves. For example, he declared that wages never catch up with rising prices. I hope that he will remember that assertion, because we shall confront him with it . later if legislation which will not assist wages to overtake prices should be introduced. Whereas prices go up in the lift, wages walk very slowly and tediously up the stairway. But so soon as a slump occurs, the wages of the toilers, not prices, fall quickly. I ask Senator Spicer not to allow the booklet issued by Professor Copland, or any statements which emerge from the office of the Prices Commissioner, to deceive him. On such matters he should keep an open mind. In some quarters, it has been stated that the prices of food and clothing, compared with the inflated prices of similar commodities in other countries, have risen by only 1.9 per cent. Such comparisons mean nothing. Nobody knows better than the housewives of Australia, particularly the wives of the workers, that to talk about a rise of only 1.9 per cent. in the cost of living since the outbreak of war is to insult their intelligence and their knowledge of facts that daily come painfully under their notice. It is all very well to take a selected few commodities and rig figures in order to make them look convincing.
– Such figures are not rigged.
– Every day of the week, in every newspaper, we read this kind of bed-time story. We know that it is not true.
– The Commonwealth Statistician’s figures are not rigged.
– I remind the honorable senator of the somewhat hackneyed aphorism: “ Figures cannotlie, but liars can figure.” There are some persons who are paid to manipulate figures and who can lie very convincingly.
– - The Commonwealth Statistician is not paid to do anything of the kind.
– I do not suggest that he is. But if honorable senators accept the statement that the cost of living to the working class has risen by only 1.9 per cent. since the outbreak of war, they will believe anything. Such a statement is demonstrably untrue. The price of every commodity that the ordinary household consumes has increased.
– The Leader of the Opposition said that the figures are rigged. I contend that they are not.
– I am under no compulsion to endeavour to achieve the impossible, namely to convince Senator Herbert Hays of the correctness of my remarks; but only yesterday a thick volume issued by the Prices Commissioner was placed upon my table. In this booklet, which will require a considerable amount of reading, the claim is made that the cost of living has not appreciably risen since the outbreak of war. I contend that the price of every commodity consumed by the average household has increased considerably during the last twelve months.
– What about the price of sugar ?
– Doubtless by that interjection, the Minister thinks that he has led me up the garden path. I shall give him a concrete example. In to-day’s press appears a report that the price of lollies has risen considerably.
– The Leader of the Opposition is side-stepping now.
– Does the Minister contend that lollies are not an article of consumption? If the Minister gave his children½d. to spend at the school tuck-shop at lunch time, he would quickly learn how they came crying to their mother that they received only two peppermint lollies for the money whereas previously they obtained four. The Minister interjected “ What about the price of sugar?” The fact that the price of sugar, unlike that of other commodities, has not been increased, is because the price is fixed by the Queensland Government. The Commonwealth Government, to its credit,has supported that control by renewing the sugar agreement. In that way the Commonwealth Government has assisted the Queensland sugar industry, and for that we who come from Queensland are grateful. Although the retail price of sugar has not been increased, it would be difficult to find an Australian housewife who could say that the price of almost every other household commodity has not increased. Before Senator Johnston indulged in a peroration which was a eulogy of myself he congratulated the Government upon the establishment of the Australian Advisory War Council.
– I also congratulated the Labour party upon joining it.
SenatorCOLLINGS. - Yes, as a second thought. The honorable senator went on to say that he hoped that the action of the Labour party in that respect was indicative of greater co-operation by that party in Australia’s war effort. There cannot be any greater co-operation in Australia’s war effort by the members of the Labour party in this chamber, or in the House of Representatives, or in fact by all sections of the Australian people than has already been manifested. The Prime Minister has made that admission, and honorable senators opposite know that my statement is true. There is no disunity in Australia’s war effort. In every direction there has been complete co-operation, and since the declaration of war the representatives of the people in this Parliament, and the workers of Australia, from whose ranks the fighting men and those who are working in our factories and in our mines are drawn, have shown a strong desire to assist in every way. The Prime Minister has said that the support received from the workers has been wonderful. The members of the Opposition in both branches of this legislature have honoured the promise made at the outbreak of hostilities that they would not impede the passage of war legislation or oppose the appropriation of money essential for the prosecution of the war. That statement by the representatives of the Opposition, is one with which the Australian people are well acquainted.
On behalf of the Opposition in this chamber and in the House of Representatives, I repeat that there will be no lack of co-operation so far as we are concerned, but we expect from the Government the same degree of co-operation, that we have extended to it.
Debate (on motion by Senator McLeay) adjourned.
– I lay on the table-
Estimates of receipts and expenditure, and estimates of expenditure, additions, new works, buildings,&c., for the year ending the 30th June, 1941; The Budget 1940-1941.- Papers presented by the Honorable A. W. Fadden, M.P., on the occasion of the Budget 1940-1941.
Motion (by Senator McLeay) proposed -
That Standing OrderNo. 14 be suspended to permit the moving of a motion for the printing of the Papers before the Address-in-Reply is proceeded with.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. J. B. Hayes). - There being an absolute majority of honorable senators present, and no dissentient voicebeing raised, I declare the motion agreed to.
– I move -
That the papers be printed.
In introducing the budget for 1940-41 in the House of Representatives to-day, the Treasurer (Mr.Fadden) said that it was his unfortunate task to introduce a revenue budget of £150,000,000. The financing of a war-time budget of this magnitude necessitates taxation proposals which represent the heaviest financial impost ever placed upon the people of Australia. An economic review of the year shows that a somewhat adverse position following the outbreak of war resulted in some increase of unemployment and a decline of normal business activity. This situation was effectively dealt with by the Government’s policy in refraining from increased taxation and. in stimulating economic activity in conjunction with the diversion of our resources from civil to war purposes. Civil employment has increased since the outbreak of war by80,000 or by about 4 per cent., despite large enlistments in the various forces. Increased prices for our primary products and the improved position of employment has contributed to the increase of om- national income by more than 9 per cent., from £788,000,000 in 1938-39 to £863,000,000 in 1939-40. The Government’s policy of low interest rates has been followed by a decrease averaging 1 per cent, of the yield »on Government securities, combined with a reduction of rates on treasury-bills, bank deposits and overdrafts. Price control, in which the business world has co-operated, continues to operate successfully in preventing profiteering, and has restricted the increase in the “ all-items “ index of retail prices to less than 5 per cent.
Honorable senators will remember that the tentative budget of September, 1939, was followed by revised estimates in November, 1939. It was not surprising that actual results for- 1939-40 differed in some important respects from the revised estimates. On the revenue side, customs and excise realized £53,825,000, an increase of £8,465,000 over the November estimate. This result was mainly caused by the unexpected restoration of overseas trade, by importers placing heavy orders in anticipation of future difficulties of supply, and the fact that import restrictions did not become effective for several months. Other, items, excluding the self-balancing flour tax, resulted in. a net improvement of £2,620,000, mainly income tax £1,530,000 and sales tax £776,000.
Defence and war expenditure from revenue was estimated at £13,780,000 and, in addition, Parliament appropriated for this purpose an’ additional £9,000,000 later in the year. The actual charge on the budget was £24,283,000, which, with £28,S14,000 from Loan Fund and £2,017,000 from Trust Fund, brought the total, expenditure- on defence and war services to £55,114,000. Of this amount, £45,229,000 was expended in Australia and £9,885,000 overseas. The year closed with excess receipts of £2,92S,000, which Parliament will be asked shortly to appropriate for war expenditure this year. During 1939-40, two public loans were floated on the- Australian market, both of which: were fully subscribed. The first, for £18,000,000,’ was issued in March, 1940, at par, with interest at 3$ per cent, for five years or 3 per cent, for ten to sixteen years. Of this sum, about £S,000,000 was for defence purposes aud the balance for public works of the Commonwealth and the States. The second, in May, 1940, of £20,000,000 issued at par, with interest at 2-J per cent, for five years or 3^ per cent, for 10-16 years, was solely, for war purposes. The Commonwealth. Bank in conjunction with the trading banks also provided a special loan- in December, 1939, of £12,000,000, of which £2,000,000 was for defence works of low priority and the balance for works and other purposes “of the Commonwealth and States. There has been, a valuable response by the public to the war savings certificate campaign, resulting in the purchase by the 30th June, 1940, of war savings certificates to the face value of- £7,636,000. This figure has since been raised to over £15,000,000. Interest-free loans by the citizens of Australia for war purposes, had reached £3,864,000 by the 30th June, 1940, and the- total’ has since reached’ £5,100,000. In addition, gifts for war purposes now total £585,000, and these patriotic efforts by the people of Australia are greatly appreciated by the Government. During the year, £11,041,000 was provided by the National Debt Sinking Fund for debt redemption, of which- £4,934,000 was on account of the Commonwealth and £6,107,000 on account of the States. For the current year, a total of £13,000,000- will be available. The aggregate Australian public debt increased by £46,031,000 during 1939-40. The increase of £38,076,000 on account of the Commonwealth was practically all for war purposes, and the balance of £7,955,000 was on account of the States.
Turning to the year 1940-41, we find that the estimated total revenue based on rates of taxation in force prior to May, 1940, is about £105,000,000. The increased taxes imposed in May last should produce additional revenue of approximately £14,000,000, making the estimated total for 1940-41 on rates now in force £1.19,000,000. Customs and excise revenue is estimated at £48,800,000 against receipts last year of £53,800,000. This allows for a. substantial fall compared with last year’s abnormal results and for the full effect of the restrictions on imports from n’on-sterling countries. On the other hand, ‘allowance has been made for the increased, duties imposed in May last. Income tax is expected to produce £20,750,000, an increase’ of £4,000j000, whilst sales tax is estimated at £17,00.0,000, an- increase of £5,000,000. For land tax, £l-,500,000 of additional receipts is- expected.- . - These increases reflect the increased’ rates imposed last May.- ; The restrictions on- imports imposed up to the’ 1st’ October resulted in the prohibition of imports “valued iii 1938-39 at £11,000,000. Rationing of certain goods and’ restrictions on imports not specifically prohibited have assisted in the decided reduction of the drain on nonsterling exchange. Notwithstanding the savings in dollars already effected, the pressure’ on the ‘ Empire’s resources may well need further relief.
In reviewing the estimated expenditure for 1940-41, apart from defence and war, it should be noted that improved conditions during the past year are reflected in the- smaller increase of £641,000 in invalid and old-age pensions, which are expected to cost £17,100,000. An additional £90,000 is provided for the valuable work of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, whilst £29,200 is included for the establishment of the new legation in Japan. There has not been sufficient time to provide for expenditure of the new Department of Labour and National Service, which will be included later in Supplementary Estimates.
For public works of a civil character provision is made for. £5,596,000, against £4,976,000 expended in . 1939-40. These amounts include £2,000,000 and £1,883,000 respectively . for Post Office works from loan fund. Civil aviation works are expected to cost £763,000, including £175,000; from trust account.
Defence ‘ works estimated to cost’ £21,000,000,’ which are included in thewar programme, are being carried out in co-operation with- the States, in accordance with the plan instituted by the Loan Council. -
In addition to’ the total works expenditure, for 1940-41, which is estimated at £30,000,000, other works have been approved, mainly connected with internal transport services which would be essential in the event of serious disturbance of our coastal trade. These works, es’timated to cost £6,600,000 during the next two years, will be shared by the Commonwealth and the States. “ The Government has’ adopted the recommendation of “ the Commonwealth Grants Commission, under which “the special grant’ to South Australia will be £1,000,000, to” Western Australia, £650,000 and to tasmania, £400,000. The total is £30,000 more than last year, representing an increase of ,£5,000- to South Australia and £55.000 to Western Australia, with a reduction of £30,000 in the case of Tasmania.
It should be borne in mind that the grant to Western Australia for 1939-40 is a net figure after deducting an advance of £136,000 in 1937-3S for drought relief. The normal figure for 1939-40 was, therefore, £731,000, in comparison with which the grant this year shows a reduction of £81,000. .
The budget includes the payment of £150,000 to the States for encouragement of the gold-mining industry, and provision is also made for the estimated loss of £750,000- on the Apple and Pear Acquisition Scheme, which was guaranteed by the Government.
The total civil expenditure from revenue is estimated at £84,853,000, which, deducted from an estimated revenue of £13 9,000,000 based on existing rates of taxation, leaves approximately £34,000,000 available for defence and war purposes.
Following on the establishment of the Australian Wheat Board and the conferences between’ Commonwealth and State Ministers, the Government has now adopted a war-time plan, which will be authorized under National Security Regulations, for the stabilization of the wheat industry. Commencing with the 1941-42 harvest, the guarantee provides for 3s. lOd. a bushel f.o.h. for bagged wheat, on a marketed crop not exceeding 140,000,000 bushels. Although no provision is necessary in this year’s budget, there will be considerable financial responsibility in future years.
Relief to rural producers for drought relief in the mainland States has been approved by the Commonwealth Government by way of special loans to farmers for sustenance and operation advances. The States will share as follows: - New South Wales, £750,000; Victoria, £600,000; Queensland, £250,000.; South Australia, £600,000; and Western Australia, £570,000; a total of £2,770,000. Repayments by the States will he by four annual instalments commencing after three years. The Commonwealth will meet the full interest for the first year and half the interest for the next six. years. I turn now to the task of financing the enormous increase of ourwar obligations, which are estimated at £143,000,000 in Australia and £43,000,000 overseas, making a total of £186,000,000. The Government has decided to increase from1s. to1s. 6d. a day) the allowance for dependent children of members of the military and air forces on “special force “ rates of pay, and of naval ratings. This -involves £1,000,000 per annum, and £600,000 is provided for the balance of this financial year.
Towards our war expenditure overseas up to December, 1940, the Government of the United Kingdom has agreed to make available loans up to £15,000,000. The improvement in respect of our London funds and the control of imports should enable us to make substantial contributions from our own resources before next June.
Towards meeting our estimated war expenditure of £143,000,000 in Australia, the Government strongly adheres to its announced policy of a balanced programme of taxation, borrowing from the public; and borrowing from the banking system.
Credit expansion must be used to the. full limits of safety, but there are already a number of factors tending to expand credit at the present time. It would be unwise, therefore, for the Government to rely on expansion of credit in its plans for war finance. To do so would result in a serious increase of prices which would bear heavily on the wage and salary earner, whose earnings- would lag behind the rising cost of living.
An optimistic view of loan prospects gives an estimate of total public borrowing of £80,000,000, of which the sums of £2,000,000 and £15,000,000 arc required for Commonwealth and State public works respectively, £8,000,000 for semigovernmental and local government bodies, and £5,000,000 for drought relief and strategic transport works, leaving a balance of £50,000,000 for war purposes.
The proposals for war finance in Australia may, therefore, be summarized as follows : -
The Government proposes to obtain the additional £31,000,000 over the remainder of this year from -
The new scale of income tax on individuals is expected to yield £33,000,000 in a full year, distributed as follows : -
For the remaining months of this financial year, the yield is estimated at £26,000,000, or £16,000,000 morethan the yield from the scale of taxation imposed last May. The statutory exemption is reduced from £250 to £150, but the deductions for a wife and dependent children are retained. Arrangements are being made for the contributions of salary and wage earnersto be deducted at the source.
As a war-time measure it is proposed to abolish the rebate previously allowed on dividends on which company tax has already been paid. This will add £1,700,000 to the collections -of individual income tax.’
A special war-time levy will be made on the profits ofcompanies, generally on the lines of the measure introducedlast session. This proposal is estimated to produce £4,250,000 this year and £5,300,000 over a full year.
The tax of1s. in the £1 imposed last May on undistributed company profits is to be increasedto 2s. in the £1 and the exemption of 25 per. cent, withdrawn in the case of public companies. The proposals are estimated to yield £2,000,000 this year, an increase of £1,550,000.
Extensions of sales tax are estimated to produce in this year £20,400,000, or an additional £3,400,000 compared with the yield from present rates. The additional amount will be obtained in the following manner : -
The estimate for a full year on the amended basis is £23,800,000, as compared with £17,000,000 on present rates.
On luxury items, appropriate resolutions will- be tabled imposing additional duties of customs . and excise; estimated to yield £4,200,000 for the remainder of the year.
All these new proposals are estimated to produce additional revenue this year amounting- to£31,100,000, which, with increases approved last May of £14,000,000, will make a total war taxation for 1940-41 of £45,100,000. Of this total, direct taxation accounts for £28,450,000 and indirect taxation for £16,650,000. After allowance, is made for substantial decreases in respect of other items, the total taxation yield is- estimated at £126,325,000, an increase of £36,314,000- over the 1939-40 total of £90,011,000. The budget may now be summarized as follows: -
In conclusion, the Government is confident that the Australianpeople will respond willingly to the demands made on them by way of increased taxation, and give unstinted support to the large loans which will be issued to meet the costs of war.
Debate (on motion by Senator Collings) adjourned.
Motion (by . Senator McLeay) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till Wednesday next, at 3 p.m.
Motion (by Senator McLeay) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I direct the attention of the Minister concerned to recent happenings on the wharves at Brisbane. Numbers of men have interviewed me and stated that, following the adoption of gestapo methods, they have been dismissed from the wharves at Brisbane: They- and others have been dismissed on information supplied to the authorities by spies. I recognize that in war time essential industries on our wharves and elsewhere must be safeguarded against the subversive activities of disloyal persons, but I am convinced that numbers of innocent men have been deprived, of their livelihood. Unfortunately, these victims of the existing system have no redress, and although in many instances the action taken may be justified, in other cases jealousy and other unworthy motives are the underlying causes of information being laid against them. Honorable senators will understand that a man who is thrown out of his employment in this way cannot possibly obtain further work on the wharves, and, in consequence, he may be unemployed for several months. Innocent men should not be called upon to suffer in this way; methods should be devised to safeguard them. Under existing conditions the dismissed man does-not know who has laid the information against him, and I understand that he has no right of appeal.
– There is a’ right of appeal.
– I am glad to know that a right of appeal exists. Men whom I know personally and believe to be loyal citizens are among those who have been dismissed, and I have been impelled to take up their cases. Others, who are not known to me personally, have approached me to intervene on their behalf, but in such instances I have not felt that I could support their applications for reinstatement in their previous employment.- One such person saw me. recently, and although I believe that the story which he told me was true I could hot be certain that the facts were as he stated because I did not know him personally. I know however that he had been out of work, for over two months. If he was guilty of the charge that was laid against him he deserved dismissal, but if he was innocent, justice should be done to him. Some of the dismissed men have been reinstated in their employment on the wharves following, representations by men, like myself, who have known them for a number of years and have testified to their loyalty. I believe that thereshould be some means under our law whereby men against whom informationsare laid should have an opportunity to meet their accusers face- to face. I hope that the Minister will be able to tell me that means have been devised to obtain justice for these men.
– The treatment of men employed on the. wharves throughout Australia has been under consideration by the Government recently. In the early days of the war it was consideredadvisable that any person who was likely to engage in subversive activities should be prevented from working on the waterfront, or be in any way associated with work which would allow him to engage ‘in acts of sabotage. Honorable senators will agree that in the interests of public safety such action was necessary. The Government therefore decided to institute a system of permits in connexion with employment on the water front, or in, connexion with shipping in any way. The rule was that, in the event of a charge being made by a reputable person against any man working on the wharves, the Deputy Director of Navigation in. the State should be advised, in which case the man’s permit to work would be withdrawn. In order however that no injustice should be done, dismissed men have been given the right to appeal to the Minister for the Interior. As Minister,. I have dealt with a number of these appeals; some have been upheld; somehave been, dismissed on the evidence submitted; others are -still outstanding. In a few cases I.have sought further evidence before coming to a decision. In addition, I have been interviewed on a number of occasions by the federal secretary of the Waterside Workers Union and members of the executive of that union, who have expressed dissatisfaction with the present methods of handling wharf permits. I frankly admit that they made out a good case. Accordingly, I have submitted their, representations to cabinet with a view to a more satisfactory method of dealing with these permits, being evolved. The Government recognizes that” the withdrawal of a man’s permit to work on the wharf may deprive him not only of his usual employment but also of any other means of obtaining a livelihood. Ithas no desire to treat unjustly any innocent person who is legitimately employed on the water front.At this stage, I can only say that the matter is under consideration by the Government, and that a new ‘scheme has been drawn up’ which I believe will be satisfactory to the men engaged onthe water front. Honorable senators will agree that action must be taken to Safeguard the nation against the subversive activities of disloyal persons.
SenatorBrown.- I am not defending them.
–The honorable senatoraskedthat men whose permits had been withdrawn should be brought face to face with their accusers, but I point out that, in respect of some foreigners, that would perhapsendanger the life of the informer. The Government obtains information from as many sources as possible. In the interests of loyal informers the sources of information must be kept secret. Every care is taken to ensure that the person laying the charge is reputable and that the charges laid are substantiated before a permit is withdrawn.
-i want to safeguard the innocent worker as well as the informer.
SenatorFOLL. - Under the new arrangement, an individual who is deprived of his permit will be told why it has been taken from him and given an opportunity toanswer the charge. It may not be wise to confront him with the person laying thecharge, but apart from that, he will have every opportunity to prove his innocence.
– To whom may he appeal ?
– The matter is now under consideration but until the new regulations are ready, I prefer not to give any further details. Honorable senators may, however, rest assured that I believe that the new arrangements will be acceptable to the men engaged on the waterfront. The Government is concerned only with safeguarding the interests of the nation and is taking steps to see that no injustice is done.
Question resolvedin the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
National Security Act - National Security (Prices) Regulations - Declarations Nos. 36 to 46.
Air Force Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules1940-, Nos. 165, 220, 241. Apple and Pear Organization Act - Second Annual Report of the Australian Apple and Pear Board, for year 1939-40, together with statement by the Minister for Commerce regarding the operation of the Act.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. -
No. 23 of 1940—Australian Journalists’ Association. No. 24 of1940—AmalgamatedPostal Workers’ Union of Australia. No. 25 of 1940 - Commonwealth Tempornry Clerks’ Association. No. 26 of1940 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia.
No. 27 of 1940- Professional Officers’
Association, . Commonwealth Public Service.
Australian Imperial Force Canteens Funds Act - Twentieth Annual Report, for year
Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act - Report of the Repatriation Commission, for year 1939-40.
Bankruptcy Act - Rules - Statutory Rules 1940, No. 212. Canned Fruits Export Control Act - Fourteenth Annual Report of the Australian Canned Fruits Board, for year 1939-40, together with statement by the Minister of Commerce regarding the operation of the Act.
Census and Statistics Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1940, No. 179.
Commonwealth Bank Act - Treasurer’s Statement of Combined Accounts of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Commonwealth Savings Bank at 30th June, 1940, certified to by the Auditor-General.
Commonwealth Electoral Act and Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1940, No. 163.
Commonwealth Electoral (War-time) ActRegulations - Statutory Rules 1940, No. 178.
Commonwealth Grants Commission Act - Seventh Report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission, dated 18th September, 1940 , on the applications made by the States of South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania, for financial assistance in 1940-41 from the Commonwealth under Section 90 of the Constitution.
Commonwealth Public Service Act -
Appointments - Department of the Interior -G. N. Carey, C. L. Hancock and T. B. Payne. Regulations - Statutory Rules 1940, No. 247.
Commonwealth Shipping Act - Australian Commonwealth Shipping Board - Balancesheet, as at 29th February, 1940, and
Liquidation Accountforthe year ended 29th February,1940, of the Cockatoo IslandDockyard;certified to by the Auditor-General.
Customs Act -
Proclamations prohibiting the exportation (except under certain conditions) of - Bran and Pollard (dated 31st October, 1940).
Chronometers, and Chronometer watches (dated 23rd October, 1940).
Cut Rabbit Fur (dated 20th September, 1940).
Flax and Flax Products, viz.: - Fibre, Tow, Yarn, Thread, and manufactures either wholly or partly of Flax (dated 10th September, 1940).
Matches and Vestas (dated 20th September, 1940).
Wireless Transmitting Apparatus and parts thereof (dated 23rd October, 1940.) .
Regulations - Statutory . Rules 1940, Nos. 168, 203, 210.
Customs Act. and Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1940, Nos. 216; 226.
Dairy Produce Export- Charges Act - RegulationsStatutory Rules 1940, No. 180.
Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1940, Nos. 183, 184, 185, 186, 199, 204, 211, 237.
Defence Act and Naval Defence Act - Regu-. lations - Statutory Rules 1940, Nos. 200, 225.
Dried Fruits Export Control Act - Sixteenth Annual Report of the Commonwealth Dried Fruits’ Control Board, for year 1939-40, together with statement by the Minister for Commerce regarding the operation of the Act:
Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act - Statement re Pensions for the year 1939-40.
Judiciary- Act - Rule of Court - Dated 28th October, 1940.
Lands Acquisition Act - -Land acquired at - Albany, Western Australia - For Defence purposes.
Carlton, Victoria - For Postal purposes.
Caulfield East, Victoria - For Postal purposes.
Cheltenham, South Australia - For Defence purposes.
Clyde, Victoria- For Postal purposes.
Coburg, Victoria - For Postal purposes.
Darwin,- Northern Territory - For Administrative purposes.
Darwin, Northern Territory - For Defencepurposes.
Dysart, Victoria - For Defence purposes.
Elizabeth Bay, New- South Wales- For Defence purposes.
Geelong; Victoria - For Postal purposes..
Granville, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
Konong Wootong, Victoria - For Postal - purposes.
Leongatha, Victoria - For Defence purposes.
Longreach, Queensland - For Defence purposes.
Mitcham, Victoria - For Postal purposes.
Mount Martha, Victoria - For Defence purposes.
North Fremantle, Western Australia - For Defence purposes-.
Point Cook, Victoria- For Defence purposes.
Port Kembla, New South Wales- For Postal purposes.
Puckapunyal, Victoria- For Defence purposes.
Red Hill South, -Victoria- For Postal purposes.
Richmond, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.
Rosemount, -Queensland - For Defence purposes.
Salisbury, South Australia - For Defence purposes.’
Seymour, Victoria - For Defence purposes (2).
Swan Marsh, Victoria - For Postal pur- poses.
Unley, South Australia - For Postal purposes.
Victoria Park, Western Australia- For Defence purposes.
Watson’s Bay, New- South. Wales - For Postal purposes.-
Willoughby, New- South- Wales - For Postal purposes.
Meat Export Control Act - RegulationsStatutory Rules 1940 No. 205.
National Security Act -
National Security (Aliens Control) Regulations - Orders -
Enemy- Aliens’ Communications.
National Security - ( Capital Issues ) Regulations - Orders -
Declared Pastoral Companies.
National Security (General) Regulations - Orders–
Control of Overseas Postal Communications (No. 1).
Control of Overseas Postal Communications (Prisoners of War).
Control of- Wireless Receiving Apparatus.
Post and Telegraph Censorship.
Prohibited Places (2).
Taking possession of land, Ac. (43).
Use of Land (15).
National Security (Prices) Rcgulations–
Orders Nos. 140 to 267.
National Security (War Service Moratorium ) Regulations - Order - Form of Notice requiring information’.
Regulations - Statutory Rules’ 1940, Nos. 166, 169, 170, 171, 172, 173, 174, 175, 176, 177, 187, 188; 191, 192, 193, 194, . 200, 201, 202, 206, 207, 208, 213, 214, 215, 218, 219, 221, 222, 223, 227; 228, 233, 234, 235, 236, 239, 242, 243, 244, 245, 246.
Naval ‘Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1940, Nos. 182, 195, 196, 197, 217, 240.
Navigation Act - . Regulations - Statutory Rules 1940, No. 238.
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern . Territory. (Administration) Act -
Ordinances of 1940 -
No. 12 - Licensing.
No. 13 - Lottery and Gaming.
No. 14 - Native Administration.
No. 15 - Mining.
No. 16 - Darwin Administration.
No.17 - Slaughtering.
No. 18 - Darwin Bates (No. 2).
No. 19 - Criminal Law Amendment.
No. 20 - Interpretation.
Regulations - 1940 -
No. 9 (Mining Ordinance).
No. 10 (Health Ordinance).
No! 11 (Aboriginals Ordinance).
No. 12 (Aboriginals Ordinance),
Northern Territory Representation Act and
Commonwealth Electoral Act - RegulationsStatutory Rules 1940, No. 107.
Papua Act -
Ordinances of 1940 -
No. 5 - Papuan Antiquities.
No.6 - Postal Rates (Defence Forces) (No. 2)..
No. ‘7- Supplementary Appropriation 1939-1940. ‘
No. 8 - Royal Papuan Constabulary.
No. 9- Port Moresby Water Supply (Preliminary Works).
No. 1 0–Liquor..
No 11- Appropriation 1940-1941.
No. 12–Ordinance Interpretation.
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1940, No. 231.
Patents Act - Regulations - Statutory- Rules 1940, No. 198.- ‘
Post and’ Telegraph Act- Regulations -
Statutory Rules’ 1940,’ Nos. 230, ‘232. .
Science and Industry Endowment Act - Auditor-General’s Report on the Science and Industry Endowment Fund, for year 1939-40.
Science and Industry -Research - Act - Regulations- Statutory Rules 1940, No. 224.
Seat of Government (Administration) Act -Notice of variation of plan of lay-out of City of Canberra and its ‘environs, dated 9thSeptember, 1940.
Transport Workers Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1940. Nos. 189, 190.
Wine OverseasMarketing Act- Twelfth Annual Report of the Australian Wine Board, for year 1939-40, together with Statement by. the Minister for Commerce- regarding the operation of the Act.
Wireless Telegraphy Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1940, No. 181.
Senate adjourned at 5.48 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 21 November 1940, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1940/19401121_senate_16_165/>.