16th Parliament · 1st Session
The President ( Senator the Hon. J.B. Hayes.) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
Senator ALLAN MacDONALD.Will the Minister, for Supply and Development inform the Senate whether there is ‘ any truth in the allegation that the present shortage of knitting wool in Australia is occasioned by the decision of the mills, particularly the Victorian mills, to restrict the supply of that commodity to the people of Australia, possibly on account of the urgency of certain defence contracts or commitments? If so, will he take immediate steps to see that an adequate supply of knitting wool is made available to the public, seeing that the wool is originally grown in this country?
– In consequence of the decisions of the New Delhi Conference, Australia undertook to supply certain commodities for the use of its own troops, both in Australia and overseas, and ‘ also for British troops. The Government has been asked recently to provide 400,000 lb. of yarn a month to enable mills in India to continue the production of defence requirements. The Government has made a survey of the capacity of Australia to produce this yarn, in. order to ascertain whether yarn of the quality required could be made available, but- it is not intended to restrict the supply of that yam to the knitting mills in Australia. We believe that our first duty is to the Australian and. British forces, wherever theym ay be, and we have asked the mills to concentrate on the provision of yarn for overseas, but we believe that, when they are in full production, they will be able, not only to meet overseas commitments, but also to make supplies of yarn available for. use in Australia.
Diplomatic Relations - Radio broadcasts.
– Will, the Leader of the Senate state whether the Commonwealth Government is considering entering into diplomaticrelationswith Russia?
– It is not the practice to state matters of government policy in answer to questions;.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral request’ the technical experts of his department to. take into. consideration the rebroadcasting in English of news from radio stations in Russia, so that the people of Australia may be informed as to the position in that theatre of war?
– I shall look into that matter. I cannot give a reply offhand.
– Can the
Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs explain why there is new a shortage of cigarettes throughout Australia, and will the Government take further steps to encourage the Australian tobacco industry ?
– Honorable senators will realize that, owing to dollar exchange difficulties, imports of tobacco from the United States of America into Australia have been severely restricted, and that Australia produces only about one-fifth of the quantity of tobacco required in this country. Efforts are now being made to import tobacco from Southern Rhodesia and other countries, and I do not anticipate that the present shortage will long continue.
– Yesterday I addressed a question to the Minister for Supply and Development regarding the shale oil works at Glen Davis, and I shall now repeat a portion of the question. Can he assure the Senate that National Oil Proprietary Limited has actually produced petrol at Glen Davis, as claimed by the Minister for External Affairs at the opening ceremony of that company’s works ?
– I do not know what the claim made by the Minister for External Affairs was, but I can inform the honorable senator that National Oil Proprietary Limited has produced petrol from shale during the last six months.
– Was it being produced at the time claimed by the Minister?
– I do not know.
asked the Minister forthe Interior, upon notice -
– The replies to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works considered the proposal to spend £80,000 on two temporary buildings in Canberra, but recommended that the proposal be not proceeded with.
Lloyd’s of London
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
Is it a fact that Lloyd’s of London have no deposit lodged with the Commonwealth Government, as provided in the Commonwealth Insurance Act, for the security of policies issued in Australia and covering risks of millions of pounds?
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answer: -
Lloyd’s Corporation of London is an association of underwriters, but the corporation as such does not subscribe policies of insurance, the risks being accepted by the individual underwriting members of Lloyd’s.
Under section 8 of the Insurance Act the lodgment of a deposit in respect of insurance business in the Commonwealth on behalf of Lloyd’s underwriters is the liability of the Australian broker or agent for Lloyd’s. In compliance with the act, separate deposits have been made by Lloyd’s brokers and agents in Australia.
Payments to Midland Railway Company
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Air, upon notice -
How much has the Commonwealth paid to the Midland Railway Company during the lasttwo years for freight and similar charges, in connexion with defence activities at Ger- aldton and Bullsbrook aerodromes, Western Australia?
– The Minister for Air has supplied the following answers : -
Amounts paid to Midland Railway Company since June.1940 (first payment) are: - Fares and meals, £5835s. 8d. All equipment, stores, &c., are transported to Geraldton and Bulls- brook by the State Government Railways, the use of the Midland railway being confined to transport of personnel from other States who would otherwise necessarily have to stay over- night in Perth.
ConversionCosts in London - Cost of £35,000,000 Loan.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer;uponnotice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister for the
Army, upon notice -
SenatorFOLL. - The Minister far the Army has supplied the following answers : - 1to6. I regret that I am not in a position to furnish this information as it is not in the national interest that it should be disclosed.
asked the Minister representing: the Minister for the Army,. upon notice - 1.Is it a fact thatthe military authorities refuse to grant railway warrants to members of the Garrison Battalion whose homes are in the city, who complied with the law and changed their electoral addresses prior to the last State elections in NewSouth Wales?
– The Minister for the Army has supplied the following answer : -
Railway warrants are not at’ present issued by the Department of the Army to members of garrison battalions when proceeding on recreation leave, but the whole matter is now receiving consideration. The New South Wales Government, however, grants free rail travel once every quarter to these members to enable them to visit their homes. The conditions under which this privilege was granted were determined by theNew South Wales authorities.
Sitting suspended from 11.15 a.m. to 5.20 p.m.
Senator McLEAY (South Australia -
Minister for Supply and Development) [5.21]. - by leave - Following on the assent byHis Excellency the GovernorGeneral to the Ministers of State Bill 1941, the following changes have been made in. the Administration : -
At a meeting of the Federal Executive Council to-day; . approval was given for the creation of five new departments of State, namely -
The Department of Aircraft Produc tion:
The Department ofWar Organization of Industry;
Three additional members have been included in the Cabinet, namely, Messrs. Spooner, Abbott and McDonald.
Senator the Honorable George McLeay has relinquished the offices of PostmasterGeneral and Minister forRepatriation, and in future will administer the Department of Supply and Development, which up to the present time has been in charge of Senator the Honorable P. A. M. McBride.
Senator the Honorable P. A. M. McBride will continue to administer the Department of Munitions.
Senator the Honorable H. B. Collett will administer the Department of Repatriation, includingWar Service Homes. The Honorable T. J. Collins has become Postmaster-General.
The new departments will, be administered as follows: -
Aircraft Production-Senator the Honorable J. W. Leckie;
War Organizationof IndustryHonorable E. S. Spooner;
External Territories- Honorable A. McK. McDonald.
The Ministers were sworn in at Government House to-day and will take up their new duties forthwith.
Other administrative arrangements are-.
The Minister for “External Territories (Mr. McDonald) will also assist the Minister for the Interior (Senator Foll);
The Minister’ for Aircraft Produc- tion (Senator Leckie) will also assist the Minister’ for Munitions (Senator McBride) ;
The Minister for Transport (Mr. Anthony) will also assist the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) and the Minister for Commerce (Sir Earle Page) ;
The Minister for Home Security (Mr. Abbott) will also assist the Minister for Defence Coordination (Mr. Menzies) and the Minister for the Army (Mr. Spender) ; and
The Postmaster-General (Mr. Collins) will also assist the Minister for ‘Supply and Development (Senator McLeay).
In the House of Representatives -
Mr. Spender will represent the Minister for Supply and Development (Senator McLeay), the Minister for Munitions (Senator McBride) and the Minister for Aircraft Production (Senator Leckie) ; and
Mr. Holt will represent the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Collett).
In the Senate -
Senator McLeay will represent the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Collins) ;
Senator McBride will represent the Minister for Commerce. (Sir Earle Page), the Minister for Transport (Mr. Anthony) and the Minister for War Organization of Industry (Mr. Spooner) ;
Senator Foll willrepresent the Minister for Home Security (Mr.” Abbott) ; and
Senator Collett will represent the Minister for External Territories (Mr. McDonald).
Otherwise, the representation of Ministers in the respective Houses will remain as at present.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator McLeay) put -
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders he suspended as would prevent the bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. J. B. Hayes.)
Majority . . .3
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Motion (by SenatorMcLeay) pro posed -
That the billbe now read a first time.
– The Opposition has just’ taken certain action which is an indication of its definite policy on every occasion in the future on which a’ formal motion for the suspension of the Standing and Sessional Orders shall be moved, unless the need for it be desperately urgent. Senators on this side of the chamber see no special reason for undue haste in the” consideration of this bill. We understand that the Treasury requires the measure to be passed at least before noon on the 30th June. The bill will be passed when we have finished with it. We have not had the same opportunities as members of the House of Representatives have had in recent days to discuss certain matters of great national importance which have arisen since we last met. We are here to do our duty, and we propose, as far as we can, to make it impossible for the Government in future to prevent us from doing our job as we think it ought to be done. We shall object to long adjournments, and Ave shall take every available . opportunity to see that the members of the Senate at least carry out honorablythe contract made by them with the members of the community at large to do their share of the work ofthis Parliament;. In the Houseof Representatives there is never such a. bustle in passing bills as is expected in this chamber. I admit that on some occasions measures of such urgency are brought before us that there is good reason for dealing with them with the utmost expedition.I hope that we shall be able to sort bills out for ourselves, and differentiatebetween those which should be fully debated and those which could be passed without lengthy discussion.
On this measure, it would be easy to liberate a flood of criticism in connexion with many matters.Formyself, I do not. propose to be unduly critical of events of recent weeks in connexion with the tremendous struggle that is proceeding on the other side of the world. Some of the matters that I have in mind have been fully debated in the other branch of the legislature. I’ do not intend to indulge merely in destructive criticism which might hamper the Government in speeding up the war effort. Much time could be spent in discussing, occurrences in Greece and. Crete, and many other happenings within our own borders in connexion with the administration of the various war services, but I shall not lay undue emphasis upon them. Nevertheless, I invite the Leader of the Senate (Senator McLeay.) to accept a. little advice from me as Leader of the Opposition, and I tender it in a friendly spirit, desiring not only to make our democratic institutions what they ought to be, but also to prove that in a democratic country parliament can be made workable even under the present difficult circumstances. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has returned from a remarkable tour. He has made many speeches both abroad and at home. By means of an address broadcast over the air; he has spoken to the people of Australia, and he has addressed! many sectional organizations whose members have assembled to hear him. Hehas also add ressed public meetings, and hasspoken freely to members of this Parliament, both in open sessions and at secret meeting of senatorsandmembers. I shall not discuss those speeches except in certain details. I shall adopt that attitude, not because the Prime Minister’s remarks do not leave the way open to effective criticism by the Opposition, but because he is the Prime Minister of Australia and the leader of a Government elected under a democratic constitution. The time has long since passed for making speeches, and the people have the right to demand action. Members of the Opposition and also, I think, honorable senators opposite are anxious to cease talking and to get on with the work that is waiting to be done.
I shall make a brief allusion to the address broadcast by the Prime Minister in what I understand was the greatest nation-wide hook-up that has ever been made in this country. In. that speech, he outlined the future policy of the Government and made many promises and statements as to his intentions, many of which could with fairness be critically examined. I shall content myself by saying that one remarkable and, I believe, regrettable feature of his latest broadcast was both sinister and prophetic. It was the only definite promise that he made. He suggested that certain action was necessary, and that he would bring down certain proposals, but, before he had made his speech, one of his proposals had been implemented by action and became opera- tive next morning. I refer to his threats against the liberty and freedom of organizations of the workers of Australia.
– Hedid not say that.
– I am not quoting his exact words, but that is the only definite thing he did say. The morning after his speech, the machinery was in operation, and was ready to. restrict the liberties of the industrial organizations. But I tell the Government now that it lias not a, fighting chance of “getting away” with this action.
– Is the honorable senator in favour of allowing subversive activities to continue?
– All that the Prime Minister said was that they should not be allowed to continue.
SenatorCOLLINGS-I intend to make my speechin my own way, and shall accept full responsibility for it. If a debate is to be indulged in about alleged subversive activities, I am ready for it.
For example, I might ask when is there to be one decent case of a prosecution of a profiteer in this country ?
– Has the honorable senator not read of one?
– I referred to a “decent case” of a prosecutionof the profiteer. I do not desire the Government to deal only with the small men, but I do suggest that it should deal firmly with the greater scoundrels who profiteer on every war effort.
– The honorable senator wishes to classify the profiteers?
– Yes. I am aware that a man at Jervis Bay was recently fined £110 for mentioning the movements of a certain vessel, but when I read that the case of the Abbco Bread Company Proprietary Limited would not be heard until afterthe winter law vacation, I thought that it was a reflection on this Parliament that certain persons had not been placel under lock and key long ago. That is where they should be, together with the heads of certain boot companies and others. When I began my speech, I did not intend to travel along these lines.
I do not wish to see trouble in this country. I do not want Labour members to have to plead with industrial organizations not to do things which should not be done. I do not want statements made by the Prime Minister, or any other responsible member of the Government, which, instead of creating a calm atmosphere in which the people would desire to do the things that the Prime Minister has in mind, would create an unfavorable atmosphere. I hope that the Prime Minister will remember that Australia’s war effort cannot be carried out in that way, because the protection of this country depends entirely on what is done by the men whom he is threatening.
– We are not threatening those men.
– Is not the Government of New South Wales being provocative?
– The Labour Government in that State has speeded up, the war effort, particularly in regard to the protection of the community by means of air-raid precautions.Since its advent topower a few weeks ago, the war effort in New South Wales has been speeded up immensely.- If the Menzies Government would make way for a Labour government, it could beat the present Government out of sight in regard to the war effort. I do not want the Prime Minister and his colleagues to misunderstand the psychology of the Australian people. This nation did not come into existence by accident; it has been developed over a century and a half and as time went on our national characteristics improved, increased and intensified. Tens of thousands of people left the older countries of the world because of the tyranny and oppression practised in the land of their birth and came here imbued with the spirit of greater liberty and freedom, because there had bren developed in this country a standard of liberty and a conception of justice, that made life worth living. If the Prime Minister and his colleagues misunderstand the psychology of tire Australian people, great harm may be done. Let the right honorable gentleman and his M in is te rs realise .at’ once that Australians will npt be driven. The whole -history of. .their organizations amply demonstrates, that. fact. I thought that wisdom would: ‘suggest [to- the Prime Minister that while it .may be necessary to curtail the’ liberties of. the’ people.- iri certain respects, it should not be. done in a -provocative. ;way. -There- is always another - way to. achieve, the -same ‘end. That is all I am -pleading for. As the days go by, and this .bill, Ls.-giving .effect to what. the.. Prime- -Minister proposes to. do, he -will - be carefully watched. If regulations are conceived in a wrong, temperament,! -the Opposition- -will fight them to- the bitter- end, and take .the consequences. At “this, juncture I propose to make -a few ‘suggestions which, I think, would be helpful, to the Government. I trust that l ara, not being led into destructive criticism by. the provocative interjections of honorable senators opposite. That is farthest, from my mind. During the course of my speech I desire to offer nothing but constructive criticism. Every now and again proposals are made to induce the party to which I belong to abandon its attitude in respect to certain things. I tell the- Prime Minister, hi.s Government and the press, that it is hopeless for him to persist with these proposals, so I hope that we may hoar no more about them. I propose now to detail what they are. I tell the Leader of the Senate, in the hope that he will pass the information on to the Prime Minister, that there are certain things which the Australian Labour party, to which the Opposition in this chamber and the Opposition in the House of Representatives owe allegiance, has definitely and finally thrown into the discard. The first of these is a national government. Let us hear no more about it. The next is executive powers for the Australian Advisory War Council. That, also, is in the discard as long as Labour members continue to sit on the council. When the Government wants to get rid of the Labour members of the council it has merely to clothe it with executive powers.
– The Opposition .does not want responsibility.
– It does not want to be made responsible for the sins of the Government. The third item we have thrown into the discard is any suggestion of conscription for military service abroad. Now I come to the fourth item which- is definitely out,- and - which no legislative, proposals will bring in. I refer to’ it -now; because ‘ af ter next Tuesday we shall almost have control of this’ chamber/ and if the Government is notvery careful; we shall control it absolutely.
– Is this a series of threats? ‘ ‘ .
– I do not care how the Minister takes my remarks, though- 1 hope that he will take them as representing . the advice of a responsible Opposition anxious to see the best thing done for Australia and trying its utmost to advise the Government in the right direction. At present we are considering a Supply Bill. Before long the budget will be before us and I do not want to anticipate what it will contain. I know what was in the last budget and how it affected my account, at the Commonwealth Bank at Brisbane. Not one honorable senator in this chamber has “ squealed “ about it because every one knew that it offered a solution of some of our difficulties. I come back to my fourth point. I tell the Government and honorable senators opposite that in. no circumstances can it swing on to the workers of this country, if we can prevent it. any foreign, schemes of: compulsory savings. The Government may quote Mr. Keynes and other expounders of. theories for raising, money, and tell us that their, schemes must be implemented in order to save the country, but we will not have a word of it. That, also, is in the discard. Finally, no member of the Opposition, either here orin the House of Representatives, will be induced to take a political trip to London merely because the Government thinksthat it is desirable that a. member of the Opposition should see the old country in the turmoil of war.
– Has the honorable senator a list of the thingswhich the Opposition will do?
- Senator Leckie makes a very proper interjection, except, Mr. President, that all interjections are disorderly. The honorable senator wants to know if I will tell him the things that we will do. I have told him about them so often in this chamber that it should not be necessary to repeat them. One of thethingswe shall do, and what we Have done from the moment war was declared, is to continue to honour our promise to give to the Government every pound of the money it says is necessary and every power it needs to enable it to prosecute the war. Another thingwe shall do is to review carefully every piece of legislation which the Government brings down in this chamber. There will be no repetition of the past practice of endeavouring to hustle legislation through’ this chamber in a few hours. I do not blame the Leader of the Senate for what has taken place in the past. I feel sure that had his wishes been consulted this chamber would not be treated in such a cavalier fashion.Members of the Government in this chamber have said to me,If you can get your boys in the House of Representatives to stop talking, we shall get the bill, without delay and youwill have plenty of time to consider it.We have nothing to do with what is done in the House of Representatives. The Government should be able so to arrange its business that the members of this chamber get an equal opportunity to examine critically every legislative proposal passed to us for consideration. As far as it. is humanly and numerically possible for the Opposition to do so, we shall try to eliminate the tactics of the dictator from all that is being done in the war effort, in this country. I say that because some of the things with which we are threatened are not new. The Governmenthas not created a precedent in that regard. We have seen them all in operation in the dictatorship countries, and many others much worse than anything, ever attempted here.In the dictatorship countries unionists are gaoled, union funds are confiscated, and the Union leaders are shot. Nobody hasyetsuggested that, anyunionist in this country is to be shot; but it cannot be denied that the Government is gradually adopting the methods of the dictators. I am not personally afraid of any penalty that may be inflicted on any one in this country for doing certain things. I may not agree with the penalty imposed, but I am not afraid of it because I know that the desired resul t cannot be achieved by those means. If the people are told the truth about what the Government, wants,and why it is wanted, they will respond to the appeal. We cannot afford to go too far. along the wrong path; we have to ho careful. It, is very popular these times to talk about a new order. I, too, want to see a. new order. The Prime Minister has- told us more than once that he does not believe there will ever be a return to the old order. What the right honorable gentleman envisages as a possiblenew order, I cannot say.
SenatorHerbertHays. - What does the honorable senator mean by a. new order ?
– I am afraid that my forecast of the “ new order “ will not be satisfactory to SenatorHerbert Hays. The remarks that I shall now proceed to make cannot be interpreted asbeing subversive ; every honorable senator will agree with them. I hate . war. I hate everything that war brings in its train. ButI know that war is only an effect.. For that reasonI hate the causeswhich make war. I am hopeful thatwhen the “new order” arrives, it will be of the nature, that Senator Abbott described inthischamber last evening! In passing, I desire to compliment tlie honorable senator upon the admirable spirit and enthusiasm with which he has ventilated his ideas upon world peace. Because I know that war is only an effect, 1 analyse the causes that breed war. In the “ new order “ these causes must be eliminated. For that reason I am optimistic enough to believe that the democracies will win this struggle. I fervently believe the Biblical statement: “ Out of evil cometh good “. Ultimately, right will triumph even though we may have to pass through many years of trial and tribulation. But when the democracies emerge successfully from the struggle, the war will give way to a “ new order “, the like of which the world has never seen. Nevertheless, we are at war, which was not of Australia’s seeking, or of Great Britain’s seeking. It was forced upon us by a dictator who has dragged others in his train. The war has effectively divided tlie people of the world into two camps. One camp believes in liberty, freedom of speech and democratic principles; the other is willing and anxious to destroy those things. I quote the following paragraph from a newspaper which expresses my feelings most appropriately : -
Hitler ling a new order - one based on bloodshed, military dictatorship, and the subjugation of small nations. Mussolini has one too, the essentials of his new order being his own personal glorification and the construction of an Italian Empire, existing at Hitler’s pleasure. Nearer home, Japan fondly contemplates a new order for Asia, in which the Japanese would dominate nil the Eastern races . . Tt is to be hoped that we are not fighting merely to preserve the present order, but that we will join in the fashion, and evolve yet another brand new order, quite the antithesis of Hitler’s. In it, there must be no poverty, no unemployment, no slums, no social injustice and no starvation wages.
Recently a Sunday newspaper which is published in New South Wales contained an article by a well-known writer who was congratulating a newly-born child. Addressing it by name, he said: “Rose, it is wonderfully brave of you to be born into this world “. That is true. I long for the introduction of a “ new order “ which will require no bravery on the part of people if they wish to fill their dwellings with happy, laughing, loving little children. I wish to see a world made fit not. only for heroes but also, for every one, men and women and above all, little children. Lest my suggestions be regarded as inadequate because they happen to emanate from me, I should like to support them by quoting the opinions of some authorities, at whom honorable senators opposite will not sneer. One of the most hopeful signs at the moment is the fact that the churches of Australia and of other countries, particularly of Great Britain, are declaring that a “ new order “ must be introduced. The Reverend Dr. Ryan, addressing the congregation at High “Mass in St. Mary’3 Cathedral, stated-
The present social order was a ghastly failure in Australia and in every country in the civilized world.
I invite honorable senators to heed that remark. Whatever we-do in the war effort during the .coming months, let us not be so blinded by the present awful tragedy that we do not forsee an even greater tragedy which must occur when war is over, unless we begin now to plan for a better state of society. The Reverend Dr. Ryan continued -
The failure of the social order was not accidental. It was natural and inevitable. Industrial capitalism was and remains essentially unjust. The class war and general social unrest are the Dead Sea fruit of injustice. Social justice demands just distribution of goods among the people to whom those goods naturally belong. To fail in that distribution, as industrial capitalism has failed, is a crime.
A lady addressing herself to the same subject, said -
While we plan for the destructive tasks of war we should also plan for the creative tasksof peace, and she referred to malnutrition amongst children while food is destroyed, aged people who live on a meagre pension, sick who lack medical attention, and families growing up in overcrowded slums, bag huts and unemployed camps. Our watchwords, therefore, must be co-operation, not competition; public service, not private profit. Yet to achieve our new order, we must realize that after the war “the monopolists who own the machinery of production- and distribution, who control our monetary system, who even shape our thoughts, as they also own the press and tlie radio”, will not become converted overnight to tlie principles they now refuse to accept. They will give up their power only if they are forced to do so by the force of public opinion, but, as public opinion oan be swayed, it is the task of the leaders in all working-class organizations to bring unity amongst the masses, to educate them to think and act alike so that when they speak, they speak with one voice.
I have read those quotations only because they epitomize successfully my thoughts upon these subjects. The words recall to my mind: speech after: speech which has been delivered in this chamber by the Opposition.How often havewe said that private profit must give way to public benefit;, that there mustbe no “haves” and “have nots “ in. the one community ; and that we should work for the abolition, of slums, unemployment and poverty?Repeatedly, we have directed attention to the destruction of those things which the people need for health, comfort and satisfactory physical development’. To our representations the reply is invariably, given thatsuch conditions mustcontinue. But, they continue for only one reason, namely, that the present social order is based on injustice and class exploitation. The Government must plan for victory not only in war but also in the peace that will follow the conclusion of hostilities.
I shall now referto several items which come within the scope of: practical politics at the moment. On the noticepaper in my name . stands a question which, I presume, will be answered some day. The, question relates to the admission into the Royal Australian Air Force and other services of women who are paid a proportion of the wages which a man would receive for doing similar work. Honorable senators will be interested to learn that the Westminster City Council has agreed tha.t women employed as war-time motor-drivers and street-sweepers shall, during a probationary period of four months, be paid 75 per cent, of the male wage and thereafter the full rate. It is unnecessary to wait for the introduction of the “ new order “ before adopting a similar practice in Australia. If women are pressed into service - and some of them are doing wonderful work- they should receive the full rate of pay after serving a probationary period. At most jobs to which women turn their hands, they are as efficient as men.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 till 8 p.m.
– Reverting to the subject with which I was dealing before the suspension of the sitting, namely, the employment of women in various brunches of defence work, I have here a picture which appeared in one Australian newspaper thisweek, showing women, employees of the Islington City Council at work in London clearing up bricks of a demolished building.For this work these women receive three-quarters of the male rate of pay. for similar Avork, but if the scheme proves successful: they will receive the full male rate. I emphasize that, in the opinion of the Labour party, womenshould not be employed in any capacity in connexion withour war effort unless they be paid the same rate of wages aswas paid to men previously employed on similarwork. In other words,we stand for equal pay forthe sexes.
The Supply Bill now under consideration calls for little comment.Iam hopeful that Senator Darcey will have an opportunity to enlarge upon the point which I now propose to raise. As Ihave already said, the Oppositionwill agree to the passage of the measure. We know that it is necessary togive the Government Supply for the nexttwo months. However, I shall stress a few facts which have an indirect, but none the less important, bearing on the financing of our war effort. The public debt of Australia at present is £1,402;000,000: That is a stupendous figure, but, of course, it will increase still further.. It represents roughly an average of £237 per capita of our population. There must come a breaking point beyond. Avhich. it will be impossible for us to go. I do not propose to discuss in detail the method by which the Governmen t is financing thewar.I t is using, to some degree, each of three methods,twoofwhich are orthodox and the third unorthodox. In my opinion, it is not using the third, namely, the utilization of national credit for national needs, so much as it should. However, the point I stress is that, so far as I can see, only one section, of the community willcome out of thewar showing a profit. That section can he simply classified under the heading profiteers. I wish to know whether the Government is prepared to consider a drastic reduction of the rate of interest being paid for loans floated forwar purposes. The Government of Great Britain has just floated a loan of £500,000.000 at 2 per cent. When is this
Government going to wake up, and follow’ Great Britain’s example in that respect 9
Under the bill -we are asked to appropriate £15,141,000. , That amount is one-sixth of the sum which has already been voted by Parliament for the financial year 1940-41. The Treasurer, in his second-reading speech, indicated that, except for a small increase of expenditure on defence and war services, no new expenditure is contemplated, and that the Government does not intend to depart from its present policy.
I congratulate the Minister for the Interior (Senator Poll) and, of course, the Government, upon the fact that, at last, action is being taken, although somewhat belatedly, to clear away the slum dwellings at Molonglo, and also to improve the dwellings at Causeway. As I have repeatedly raised these matters in this chamber, I am glad to see that a great improvement is now being effected. However, I cannot congratulate the Government upon its continued expenditure in respect of rentals of buildings to bouse various departments and officials of this Parliament in each of the capital cities, including Canberra. The amount expended annually in rentals of such premises would provide the interest on the capital cost of erecting buildings in ‘Canberra to overcome the Government’s difficulty in providing not only its own accommodation, but, also adequate housing for the people of Canberra.
– All ‘Commonwealth officials now employed in the various capital cities would not, of course, be coming to Canberra.
– I am. aware of that fact. In certain departments, such as the Electoral Branch and the Pensions Department, the Commonwealth must maintain substantial staffs in the capital cities. However, the proportion of the money new- being paid for rent of leased premises which could be saved would be sufficient to pay the interest on the capital cost of new buildings in Canberra. In this matter, I object not only to the payment of rent to profiteering landlords but also the Government’s breach of faith with lessees who have taken up holdings in Canberra. The Government made a very definite promise to those people when they took up leases in the Aus tralian Capital Territory that it would do all in its power to make Canberra the capital of the Commonwealth in fact as well as in name. But it has failed to keep that promise. Every member of the Opposition in this Parliament keenly regents the removal of the head-quarters of the Pensions Department to Sydney. That is one of the most unsatisfactory decisions yet taken by this Government. Members of this Parliament generally found the existence of the head-quarters of that department in Canberra to be most convenient. Very frequently the Deputy Commissioners in the different States cannot finally decide many matters which we bring under their notice. We found that Ave could conveniently take up such matters with the head-quarters of the department during our stay here. That procedure will 11OW be no longer possible and it will be most unfair to have members of Parliament obliged to refer such matters to the head office in the capital city of any one State. Very strong representations were made by the Opposition in an endeavour to dissuade the Government from transferring the head-quarters of the Pensions Department to Sydney. I suppose, of course, that the Minister has to obey the Government in a matter of that kind, and so we have been told that the transfer was unavoidable. However, Ave still hold the opinion that the old arrangement should be’ continued, and I have no doubt that the time will come when we shall be able, as a government, to revert to that arrangement.
I also protest very strongly against the holding of Cabinet meetings in any other city but the National Capital. Canberra was built as the National Capital, and it should bc used for that purpose.
– ‘Cabinet has met in Perth ; and we found it- to be a good arrangement.
– What did Western Australia get out of it?
– That is the point. Let me state briefly what happened in Brisbane when the Cabinet met there. On arrival in that city, publicity officers surrounded Ministers with a halo of glory. However, Cabinet met for only a few hours, and then announced that certain things would be done to tlie direct nd vantage of Queensland. But those decisions had ‘been decided upon before Cabinet went to Brisbane. The practice of holding Cabinet meetings in the various capital cities is entirely wrong. Pt amounts to sabotaging the National Capital, and is also an insult to the intelligence- of the electors of the State in whose capital city the Cabinet meeting, is held.
On every side in Canberra one notices congestion. Ever since I have been a member of the Senate, there has been a waiting list of 400 applicants for homes. Certainly, the Government is building houses, but the fact remains that the waiting list is never reduced j simply because this job is not being done efficiently. Whenever, this matter was raised in the past, the Government excused its failure to deal effectively with it by saying that sufficient money was not available. That fallacy, however, cannot be exploited io-day ; we know now that the Government can get sufficient money for that purpose.
I also protest very definitely against the continued encroachment upon the accommodation provided for honorable members in Parliament House. It is an insult to every member of Parliament, and particularly to senators, that Parliament House is increasingly becoming a. secretariat. I again remind, the Government that, as from the 1st July next, it will not be able to ignore our protest in matters of this kind. When the numerical strength of the Opposition in this chamber is increased as from that date, we .shall .bo able to ;insist that Parliament House be preserved for the use and: work of members of Parliament, which is the specific object for which it was built.
I ask the Leader of the Senate to make available to each honorable senator a copy of the statement which he made to-night dealing. with the new ministerial appointments and ministerial representation in this chamber.
I revert to the thought to which I was giving expression before the suspension of -the sitting. At the moment we have to be properly realistic and have to bend our efforts to the Avar with the hope and. prayer that it will end in our victory, but I stress again that the Avar will have been entirely futile if out of the ruins Ave are not able to build a better world. The working class, of which we on this side of the chamber are members and representatives, has more to lose than -any other section of tha community if this war does not, end in our victory. ‘For the last i>0 years, at least, the working class has been developing in this country a standard of living which is. probably bettor than that in any other country, but Ave have not come Avi.th.in .measurable distance of what Ave believe to be our just rights as members of a civilized community. Not only have Ave standards to preserve, but also Ave hops that, as the years pass, Ave shall be able to improve those standards and bring, a better life to everybody. If the Avar be lost by us, we shall have lost that opportunity. Regardless of nationality, political views and religious beliefs,
Ave must band together to seize the opportunity that to-day presents to institute a new social order. To-day is the only time; yesterday »has passed, and. tomorrow may never come. The truly great is he who -works each day to make a better to-morrow. That is not something said merely, for effect; it is a statement which I should like to make with the same fervour as I am using now if it were the last speech I had the opportunity to make. I enjoin all honorable senators, especially those opposite, to bear in mind AA-hat I have said and to remember that it is the duty of everybody each day to contribute towards the establishment, after this world tragedy has passed, of a new order in which there will be no unemployment, no poverty, no slums, and none of those things which disgrace our civilization to-day. The new order will come, not by chance, but as the result of the active participation in its establishment of every one of goodwill in the community.
.- It is in no spirit” of carping, criticism . tha t I refer to some matters connected with Australia’s Avar effort. In. these anxious times criticism is only permissible if an improvement be sought. Many employees at the munition factories near Melbourne are concerned at the slowness- of output from these factories. I do not know whether the cause is the inclination of some employees to ease down, the lack of machine tools or a temporary shortage of essential raw material; it, perhaps, is a combination of all three. It would he ungenerous not to give credit to the responsible Minister, the Director-General of Munitions and his associates for the progress made in the herculean task set them shortly after the outbreak of war. Australia has cause to be proud of them and the “overall” army, but the time has arrived when we should cease patting ourselves on the back for what has been accomplished in the production of war equipment, and cone :n tra te on a “flatout “ effort, brushing aside all obstacles to that end. The. Government has the power and should use it ruthlessly.
Many times in this chamber I have advocated a fully equipped army of 400,000 men plus a powerful air force for Australia’s defence. The war has now been in progress for 21 months, and the objective has not yet, been reached. Setting aside the protection of the Navy, which has a specific role to fill, I liken the defence of this country to the letter Y. one fork being in the Middle East, the other in the Near East, and the stem, thicker and sturdier, in Australia. I. include in the general term “ army “ the air force, as it was included in the last war. The air force is as much a part of the land forces as are tanks, armoured cars_ and artillery. Apparently no difficulty exists in the recruiting of personnel for the Royal Australian Air Force. whereas the Army, both at home and overseas, is scarching for men. The reason is not an insufficiency of man-power, because thousands are looking on when a man’s job awaits them. The Government must accept share of the blame for the stalemate. In his broadcast speech, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) forecast an improvement. From time to time Government, spokesmen give the impression that men do not matter, and that equipment and more equipment are paramount. None but a fool would minimize the importance of adequate equipment, but the provision and development of both equipment and men must take place side by side. We were driven from Crete not only because we lacked equipment, but also because of lack of men and air co-operation. In the circumstances, air co-operation was impossible, and before this war is won there will be more occa- 910ns when air protection will not be forthcoming. Superiority of fighting equipment did not drive our splendid troops to the evacuation beaches, it was the constant stream of airborne enemy troops which overwhelmed General Freyberg’s men. Numbers of trained and well-equipped men are essential when an important, objective has to be attained or a vital locality held. Brigadier Inglis, who was General Freyberg’s right-hand man in the defence of Crete, is now in London hammering that home to the authorities. But are we never to learn the lesson? Amidst all the clamour for war equipment, no emphasis is placed on the necessity to maintain the Australian Imperial Force abroad at full strength. Of what good, is equipment if battalions are so reduced in numbers and so exhausted by doing, double duty that they cannot effectively use that equipment?” Australia must back up the Australian Imperial Force with men as well as with equipment. The diggers of 1941 must not be put in the same position as the diggers of 1918 of looking over a. shoulder and saying, “ When will they come, where are they?” The men who brought the German panzer divisions in Greece to a standstill, who sank the Italian cruiser Bartolomeo Collconi, who are bringing the Nazi airmen down to earth, and who are defying the Germans to take Tobruk, arc the real defenders of our democracy. Some people in this country who have an anti-British outlook read of the Crete campaign and immediately claimed that it was another Gallipoli in which the British had given the Anzacs the brunt of the work. To such people I point out that during the eight months of the Gallipoli campaign the Australian Imperial Force lost 26,094 men killed and wounded, whilst the British lost 119,696. Those are official figures and may be found on page 4.04, Vol. II. of Dr. C. E. W. Bean’s Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-18. They should silence some of those croakers whose whisperings are having a prejudicial effect on Australian Imperial Force recruiting. If I were asked for some of the reasons for the stalemate in recruiting for the Australian
Imperial Force, I should say, first, that the constant placing on a pedestal of the “ 6ver-a.ll army” whose job, important though it may be, is a sinecure compared with that of the sailors, soldiers, airmen. and merchant seamen overseas, is having an adverse effect. Secondly, crowds of men of military age are employed in the Defence Department and in the Public .Service generally. A ruthless combing out must be undertaken sooner or later. With the situation overseas so desperate, the feelings of no one can be spared. Prospective recruits ask themselves, “ Why should I risk my life when these eligible men are in cushy jobs for the duration?” Thirdly, there has been delay on the part of the Government in amending the Commonwealth Public Service Act to extend to returned soldiers preference to cover the present war. The men now serving in the forces are not concerned so much with the rate of pay which they are receiving as with. obtaining an assurance that when they return some permanent occupation will bc open to them. I was pleased to hear from the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Collett), who, incidentally, we are all pleased to hear has been given full ministerial rank, that the Repatriation Department has been able to place in employment the majority of soldiers now returning from overseas. ‘ I should like to know, however, whether those positions are permanent. I am inclined to doubt it. Provision should be made in the Commonwealth Public Service Act to make it obligatory for the Commonwealth Public Service Board to give priority in permanent status to the young men who are now making such heavy sacrifices. No more permanent appointments should be made until the termination of the war, and young men who are now consolidating their positions in Government departments should be told that their appointments are only temporary. Lastly, there is the rate of pay of men in the lower ranks of the services. The men now overseas are serving not so much for the pay as the cause, but eligible recruits are hanging back because the Australian Imperial Force rate of pay has not risen equivalently with the wages in Australia. The soldiers have no unions to plead and fight their cases for them. It is up to the Government to revise the Australian Imperial Force rates of pay. I am the treasurer of a fund known as the Returned Soldiers League War Service Fund and occasionally we have to pay; out £3 or £4 - in one case it was £10 - to the mother or wife of a man who is overseas, in order to make sure that the rent is paid. We should not have to do that. It is no use shutting our eyes to the fact that recruiting has not been satisfactory during the past few months. Perhaps the Prime Minister’s broadcast dealing with the desperate situation overseas and the statement of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) that operations in the Middle East are of vital importance to Australia’s safety, might induce some eligible young men to realize their responsibilities. I should like the Minister representing the Minister for the Army to tell me who is the officer at Army head-quarters who has advised the Minister that an exAustralian Imperial. Force officer who is a little more than 50 years of age has no place in Australia’s defence scheme. Such an officer might be too old for the Australian Imperial Force or the Militia, but. surely a useful task can be found for him. .Shortly after the outbreak of war, many middle-aged officers and non-commissioned officers were called up ostensibly for the duration of the war. They sold their businesses or arranged for them to bo carried on in their absence, but about a month ago, they were sent polite letters stating that their services were no longer required. They wanted younger men. That ‘ is a waste of good man-power, and I suggest to the Minister that the capabilities of every applicant should be fully considered. I am not talking now of the misfits or square pegs in round holes. I am talking of capable men whose services should be used to the limit.
I am glad to see that the Minister has called for a report on the conditions of certain garrison units which are scattered all over Australia. Some of them comprise only 10, 20 or perhaps 30 men. They are living under conditions which can hardly be regarded as satisfactory. An unlined hut with a small brazier or oil stove might have been all right on the western front during the last war when nothing could be done about it, but here in Australia, thesemiddle-aged men who are doing a good job and will’ be doing it for the duration, of the war, are entitled to the same accommodation as is provided for the Militia or Australian Imperial Force in the bigger camps. I hope that the Ministerwilllookinto that matter and. “tick off” whoever has been responsible for failing to provide better conditions for these men.
There is a rising tide of public opinion in favour of the appointment of a commander-in-chief of Australia’s home defence army - a man with the Monash drive and imagination, who could gather together the more orlessisolated commands and divisions, complete their training, and so make them readytotakethe field. He should be provided with a staff thoroughly acquainted with their duties. Divisions and commands are at present under the control of the Military Board. I know the multitudinous nature ofthe duties which fall upon that body. So far, they have done splendid work; but they have not the personal touch so necessary in welding an army into an efficient fighting force. I should say, too, that the Royal Australian Air Force should be brought under the control of this commander-in-chief. We should then be assured of co-operation between the two services should trouble come nearer to our shores. We do not want a repetition of the lack of co-operation’ demonstrated in the Middle East. I suggest that the Government recall LieutenantGeneral Sir Thomas Blarney to take up this duty. Hehas first-hand knowledge of modern war technique. His duties as General Officer Commanding the Australian Imperial Force in the Middle East could easily be taken over by either General Mackay or General Lavarack. He has a command which I regard as superfluous at the present time, that of. Deputy CommanderinChief of the forces inthe Middle East. He could be far better employed in gathering together the different sections of a home defence army. The Government should not leave the matter in abeyance until trouble is upon us. There are no declarations of war in these days, and the Government should not. be caught napping. I hope that the Minister for the Army (Mr. Spender) will be disposed to take some little notice of these observations.
– I listened with interest to Senator Brand and I am confident that he at least understands the position. That is understandable in view of the worthy part that he played in the last war. The honorable senator who wanted to know what is wrong with recruiting, suggested as a solution the application of economic conscription to Commonwealth public servants. Apparently the idea is that employees- of the Commonwealth Public Service should be informed that their jobs are only temporary, regardless of the good service they have rendered and are still rendering to the Commonwealth. In other words they are to be marked down for slaughter or their jobs will be taken away from them. Apparently Senator Brand and the Government do not appreciate fully the real cause of the decline in recruiting. If there has been a lag in recruiting the Government is entirely responsible for it. Some years ago in New South Wales there was formed what was known as the New Guard. That body set itself up in the form of a Fascist orNazi organization. Its members believed that Hitler was the only man who could do any good for the world. The head man of the New Guard - the man who made all the bullets fired by Eric Campbell - is now the Director-General of Recruiting, Major-General H. W. Lloyd. The fanatic who wanted to upset constitutional government inNew South Wales ; the man who created a sensation by cutting the ribbon at the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and was placed in an asylum for his stupidity,De Groote, is now advising the Government in regard to itsmilitary transport system. The workers of Australia remember these people and always will remember them. Theybelieve; as I do, that should Hitler win this war, he would not send Germansheretorun the country, but would- establish a. puppet government consisting of the Lloyds, De Grootes and Campbells in this country. As I said some time ago, the right place for these people is in an internment camp, and not in our military system. Until tlie Government is prepared to remedytlie present state of a iia i rs, the working people cannot be expected to offer their services. We on this side of the chamber arc well aware that there is a lag in recruiting; the Government has admitted it. What else could be expected in view of the fact that our troops in Greece and Crete were not fully equipped? ‘We know that they had no equipment for the first six months of their stay in Palestine. They fought the campaign right through Libya to Benghazi with equipment supplied by the British Government, but, in the face of a swift thrust by the Italian and German forces, that territory was lost. Then our forces went to Greece without full equipment. Every man on the . Government side of the chamber knows that.
– What foundation has the honorable senator for that statement ?
– The Minister for the Army (Mr. Spender) said so, and the newspapers have said so. The point I wish to make is that despite the fact that our soldiers have been fighting with inferior equipment, there has been a hold-up of the supply of material for the manufacture of arms and munitions. There has been a shortage of aluminium for the building of aeroplanes, yet those in charge of our war effort are apparently prepared to allow the Main Roads” Board of New South Wales to pack the edges of its bitumen roads with bauxite, the Ore from which aluminium is produced. No attempt was made by the Government to increase the rate of production of war equipment until pressure was brought to bear upon it. by the Advisory War Council and members of the Labour party in the House of Representatives. It had not built, or even planned to build, a single tank, although the tank is one of the most important items of military equipment required in this war. The Government has fallen down on its job and has failed to direct the war effort in a proper manner, lt, has depended upon Mr. Essington Lewis, Mr. Thorpe and others of their kind to carry on, and they have not done a very good job. I trust, that the newly appointed. Ministers will make prompt decisions and put them into effect so that the welfare of the diggers will be promoted as Senator Brand has requested. In the interests of recruiting the Government should change its attitude towards members of our armed forces. I have here the case of a. man named Dunstan who served in the war of 1914-18. It was brought to my notice by Lieutenant-Colonel F. S. McClean, who was an artillery officer in the last war. The Repatriation Commissioner refused Dunstan’s application for a military pension, whereupon he wrote to the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Collett). Some time later the Attorney-General (Mr. Hughes) forwarded to him a letter from Senator Collett, dated the 12th June, 1941, which stated, inter alia -
The tribunal acts quite independently of the commission and was appointed by the Government at the request of returned men themselves for the purpose of finally deciding appeals relating to rejected claims. It is not subject to Ministerial direction, and consequently I cannot interfere with the decision arrived at in the case of Mr. Dunstan.
When Dunstan returned from the war of 1914-18 he was operated upon by Sir Herbert Maitland. Dr. Burton Bradley wrote about Dunstan’s case as follows : - lie Dunstan. My contention is that the operation done in 1U19 was performed as a military act; therefore all consequences thereto are bound up with that initial action and the department must admit liability.
Dr. Poate, who has performed major surgical operations on many returned soldiers, made the following statement to Dunstan :-
You should soc the claims officer at the Repatriation Department, explain the circumstances as regards the operation in lilli) and present the copies of X-ray report, also say you have seen mc. They will ask me for a report; then I can substantiate your claim.
Dr. Stormon issued the following certificate: ;
This is to certify that I operated on Mr. E. A. Dunstan on 2nd August, 1940, and found that his illness is due to adhesions resulting from his operation done in 1D19 by Sir Herbert ‘Maitland.
At that time Dunstan had returned from abroad, and the operation was performed at the Prince of Wales Military Hospital at Randwick. Because the Repatriation Commission has determined that Dunstan is not entitled to a pension the AttorneyGeneral states that the case is outside of ministerial jurisdiction. The decision should be reviewed because, as LieutenantColonel F. S. McCleanhas said, that sort of treatment, which has been meted out to hundreds of returned soldiers, is detrimental to the Australian Imperial Force recruiting campaign.
SenatorCollett. - Has not the case been reviewed?
– Has not the man appealed ?
SenatorCollett. - He has the right to appeal.
– He was informed that his case was outside of ministerial jurisdiction, and that nothing could be clone for him. Thousands of men who returned from, the war of 1914-18 received a very raw deal.
– That is pure exaggeration.
– It is not exaggeration: I myself can produce hundreds of such cases, and the number for the whole Commonwealth must total thousands.
– That statement is like the rest of the honorable senator’s statements.
– TheGovernment’s promises to the returned soldiers have not been kept. I have told the honorable gentleman before what the returned soldiers thinks of this Government. I have before me details of the treatment meted out to Sapper James Clarke, No. NX9187, of the 2/1 Field Company, Engineers’. Clarke left Australia as an expert tradesman, in a railway unit. He served abroad for a considerable time and then became sick-. When he entered hospital he was informed that he was no longer an expert, but an ordinary private, and consequently his pay was reduced from 7s. 9d. a day to 5s. 9d. a day, and the Government claimed from him the sum of £14 for amounts overpaid. According to his fieldcard he was then suffering from dyspepsia. When he returned from abroad he was told that he might apply to the Repatriation Department for a war pension. He lodged an application but received’ the following reply from the Repatriation Commission : -
With reference to your claim forpayment of awar pension, you are informed thatthe Repatriation Board has fully considered the application but is unable to accept your condition of Gastritis as being, due to or materially aggravated by your war service. You are therefore ineligible to receive medical or pension benefits in respect thereof, but’ if you so desire you may appeal against this decision.
That letter was d ated the 4th April, 1941. He considers that the commission has tricked him, because he was physically fit when he enlisted, as he passed all of the searching medical tests-. He went back to the Railways Department in order to secure his former civil position, but theRailways Commissioner said that because he had enlisted without official permission his job was no longer available to him.. Then he went to the Repatriation. Commission, and claimed thatashe had no job he was entitled to receive sustenance for his wife and three children. He was told that he was not entitled to sustenance because he was receiving a pension of £1 a week for his service in the war of 1914.-18. I feel sick when I hear all this prattle about what the Government is doing for returned soldiers. I have here another case relating to A. Middleton, who served with the Army for eight months. He attended an officers’ training school, where the study preyed upon his mind to such a degree that he became mentally deranged. The military authorities sent him to Broughton Hall, but they dischargedhim from the Army before they did so. On the 20th, January of this year, Colonel M. W. Logan, commanding officer of the Details Discharge Depot, wrote to his father inthe following terms: -
With reference to your telephone conversation of to-day, it is regretted that it was found necessary to send Private Middleton to the Reception House. Apparently he is suffering from a, nervous breakdown and is not exactly responsible for what ho says according to the Regimental Medical Officer. He is very worried as to what is going to happen to his wife and children and although he asks that his wife be notified, it would probably be better if you could see her and explain the position. The sum of£116s. is due to him for final pay and this will be held by the Paymaster until ‘such time as Private Middleton is lit to receive it.
Middleton had submitted himself to all of the medical tests and had been passed as physically fit. He did not become mentally deranged until after he had entered the officers training school. When this occurred our so-called kindly military system discharged him and disclaimed any further responsibility for him. I ask the Minister to review this case. I understand that shortly after he was admitted to the mental hospital Middleton’s promotion to the rank of lieutenant was approved. When he was taken to the hospital at Lewisham he mct Dr. Bond, who was one of the three medical- officers who discharged him. Dr. Bond said : “ I am sorry, old man. We thought you were malingering. You are a very sick man. I am sorry that action was taken regarding you.” Morally, Middleton still belongs to the military system, and his care should be the responsibility of the Government. I trust that his case will be reconsidered and that his wife, who is receiving only__a food allowance from the State Government, will be provided with the compensation to which she is entitled. Sapper Clarke, to. whom I referred earlier, told me that he could bring twenty cases similar to his own to my attention. I said that one case should be sufficient. I assure the Minister that if justice is not given to these men I shall bring many more cases before the attention of this chamber at an early date.
Another injustice affecting members of the Australian Imperial Force was brought to my notice in a letter which I received from a soldier now serving in Palestine. He complains that the Egyptian Government charges ls. each as postage for letters sent by air mail by members of the Australian Imperial Force. The ordinary charge levied on a field post card is 3d., whereas during the war of 1914-18 soldiers were not required to put stamps on field cards. I ask the Government to rectify this position, and I shall be pleased to hear of the steps that it. proposes to take. I shall not deal further with the deficiencies of our war effort at the present time. I shall wait in order to see what actions are taken by the newly appointed Ministers.
I wish to bring to the notice of the Government once again the case of Cap tain Conway, for nothing has yet been done about it. Honorable senators will remember that a select committee of the Senate recommended that an ex gratia payment of £100 should be made to Captain Conway. When the war broke out Captain Conway offered his services at the Victoria Barracks, but he felt, from the treatment that he received, that he was not wanted. He thereupon wrote to the then Minister for the Army (Mr. Street), who replied to the effect that there was no bias against him and that as soon as a suitable position could be found for him he would be appointed to it. No position has been found. Captain Conway has written to each new Minister for the Army, but, so far, without any success. On one occasion Captain Conway and I interviewed the Minister for the Army (Mr. Spender), and he said that he considered that Conway ought to receive the £100 which the Senate select committee recommended should be paid to him. We know that later Mr. Spender denied that he had made any such statement. Subsequently, Captain Conway wrote to the Acting Prime Minister and requested that the money should be paid to him. He was told to apply to Mr. Spender for payment and he did so, but without result. Seven Ministers have examined Captain Conway’s submissions and always the same story has been told. Captain Conway has been treated in a despicable fashion. Certain charges against him, which appeared in his file, were ordered by General Bruche to be erased, but instead of that being done, four copies of a certain letter were put in different places in his file. Only a thin red line was drawn through the blue printing of the parts of the letter to which objection had been taken. Conway was undoubtedly the subject of a gross libel and, in my opinion, is fully entitled to the ex gratia payment recommended to be made to him. When it assumes office the Labour party will see that justice 13 done in this case.
On the 6th June, 1941, Captain Conway wrote the following letter to the Minister for the Army (Mr. Spender) : -
At tlie suggestion of the Treasurer, the Hon. A. W. Fadden, the following is forwarded for your information and consideration.
In your recent letters to the Treasurer and the Hon. J. A. Beasley, you attempt to explain with incredible inconsistency and flagrant falsehood, what the Hon. Allan MacDonald described as the contemptible conduct of the Government which refused to accept a verdict of the Senate in my favour, when, as a Minister, a lieutenant-colonel, and a King’s. Counsel, you are expected to respect truth and justice.
You informed Senator S. K. Amour, in my presence, that the Government should comply with the decision of the Senate. Youconveyed the impression to the Hon. Allan MacDonald. that it was the Government and not you that refused’ to honour the verdict of the Senate; and you tried to convince the Treasurer and Mr. Beasley. that. I had not suffered any injustice by falsely stating, that my grievance was imaginary.
When Minister, for Defence, the Hon.. J. B. Chifley, investigated my complaint) he found that I had been slandered, and directed that the slanderous statements be expunged from the records, and yet you. falsely say that. I did not suffer any injustice. It would be interesting to know what you call injustice?
Later, the Senate investigated the matter,decided that my services had always been very satisfactory, discovered that the slanderous statements had not been expunged, but had been multiplied, illuminated and distributed in the records, and unanimously agreed that I should receive an appeasement of £100, which the Government declined to pay.
In the face of these facts you sabotage truth and justice in order to defeat the Senate, but truth and justice are not so easily defeated) and I draw your attention to. a statement madein the Senate last August by the Leader of the Opposition, the Hon. J. S. Col lings, who said, inter alia, “ Conway has provedhis case time after time, and at the first opportunity Labour will see that the verdict of the Senate is fully confirmed”.
Copies of this letter are being forwarded to the Hon. J. S: Ceilings, J. A. Beasley, A. W. Fadden, S. K. Amour and to Mr. M.Falstein, M.H.R.
It is clear from that letter than Conway feels that he has been treated most unjustly and that he is very incensed thereby. Surely it should be possible to find a position for this man who did meritorious service for the country during the lastwar but was denied the opportunity of going abroad when he was willing to do so. We are now told that he is too old for a job in the Army.
Senator Brand has also complained on behalf of ex-officers of the Australian Imperial Force who consider that they are being unjustifiably discarded. Because of the attitude that has been adopted by the Department of the Army towards former officers of the Australian ImperialForce, the military camps of New South Wales are to-day seething with discontent. I know of men in those
Gamps who in the last Avar enlisted’ as. privates and won their commissionson the field of battle. They are still anxious to go overseas to fight but they are being: told that they are too old for that purpose. They arekeptincampsin Australia. to trainmen.who enlist here.. They havetogowiththe men on route marchesandintobivouacs,with the sky as their roof; for four days and four nights ata times Theysufferall the rigours of the hard training that the men have to undergo, only to find that young “ fops “’ whohave spent a short period of training: in a military schoolaresent along to take their placesas officers of the forceswhich go overseas.. These young. “ fops “ flash, along so rapidly that it is hard to see them. I have had many exAustralianImperial Force officers complain to me about the treatment they have received. They have told me : “ We pray every night, for the diggers - not for the officers, but the boys who have to goaway under, such officers “. Many of these exAustralian Imperial Force officers are only 42: or 43 years of age, and the experience that they had in the lastwar, would be invaluable to the boyswho are now goingaway, yet they are told that theyaretooold.
I had experience in the lastwar in the 18th Battalion, inwhich there were some old and some young officers, and it. was notvery happy: The colonel, our battalion major and another major, the adjutantandseven of: our lieutenants wore cashiered for cowardice. Such a situation is not desirable. It is unfortunate that some flunkey in the Army should be permitted to make a decision that has- the effect of preventing old soldiers; some ofwhom are majors and sonic captains, from taking the part that they desire to take in the present Avar. I should like toknow the name of the officerwho made this decision.
Itwouldbefarbetter to accept the services of former Australian Imperial Force officers whowanttogoabroad, than to apply economic conscription to theboys of the Public Service,as Senator Brandwould like to do. The exAustralian Imperial Force menwould make good soldiers and they are filled, with the spirit of adventure. Theywould be an acquisition to the Army. I cannot believe that young men who are forced into the Army by a process of economic conscription will ever make good soldiers.
I wish also to make reference to the Home Guard to which Senator Brand referred. The Home Guard is required to look after internees. The internees at the Hay internment camp receive about £1000 a week to which Australia has to contribute £250. These internees are permitted to post letters and parcels of up to 3 lb. free, but the diggers who guard them, for which they receive only a “ dollar “ a day, are obliged to put stamps on the letters and parcels that they post. Surely the Government could treat the diggers at least as well as it treats the internees.
Some time ago, on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate, I referred to the supply of blue metal under an Army contract. The Minister for the Army subsequently made a statement to the press to the effect that everything was in order and that there was no need for drastic action. The Minister said that only about 30s. was involved in my complaint. Honorable senators will recollect thatI stated that the orders and the receipts for blue metal were invariably signedby officers on behalf of a Ma jor Sinden. It is significant.thatalthoughtheMinister. said thatthere was nothing.in my complaints, Major Sinden wasremovedfrom his positionshortlyafter the Minister made his press statement. Ifthere was. nothing in my complaints, why was Major Sinden relieved of his responsibilities? Apparently, at some quiet moment, on a dark -night, he was just pushed out of the way. Naturally, he feels that aninjustice has been done tohim. He was a director of three companies and considers that he had the requisite ability to do the job that was entrusted to him. I contend that all the circumstances of this case show that he was not given a fair deal. If only a sum of 30s. was involved, as stated by the Minister, I do not think Major Sinden should have been “sacked”.
Senator Collings (The Leader of the Opposition) sought to learn when the Government intends to prosecute the “ big fish “, for profiteering. I believe that something will have to be done in respect of Australian Consolidated Indus tries Limited. The Sydney Morning Herald, of the 16th June, published the following : -
The net profit of Australian Consolidated Industries Limited for the year ended31st March was a record, amounting to £403.595, compared with the previous record, of £351,039 for 1939-40. The ordinary dividend was raised from 7 per cent. to 8 per cent.
I understand that the Government proposes’ to take action in connexion with this matter.
I remind the Senate that some time ago I asked a question regarding the Abbco Bread Company Proprietary Limited. The Minister for the Army did not reply for some considerable time, and when he did so he was evasive and made no admissions. He told the Senate that everything was in order. A censure motion was moved in the Parliament of New South Wales, and a royal commission was appointed to vindicate and whitewash the Minister of Justice, Mr. Treatt, who had reduced from £1,400 to £500 the fine imposed on. the Abbco Bread Company Proprietary Limited. The Federal Government then appointed a second royal commission. Yet. when I first raised the matter : the Minister forthe Army saidthateverything was in order. He made the samestatement in regard to the supply of metal. The Government further announced that itintended to arraign the boot manufacturers before the court; but they have not yet been brought before the court. I wonder when action will be taken against those people! Such persons should be arrested and put in gaol like common thieves, and tried immediately. They should be put where they’ would not be able to make further profits for the duration of this war. That is what would be done to a man who stole a loaf of bread in order to feed his hungry children. All the racketeers’ who are” making a’ fortune out of this war are left unmolested, and for that reason the public has no confidence in the Menzies Government, and thereis a lag in recruiting. Senator Brand should make sure of what is the cause of the slackening of munition production in Melbourne, and not leave the inference to be drawn that the employees are responsible. I have evidence which proves that men who are working in munition establishments are just about atthe end of their physical resources. They have very little time off, and in many instances work twelve hours a day. Admittedly, the employees in some industries have not much to do. In fact, most of the munition annexes have had to put. men off, because they have not been able to obtain necessary supplies of raw materials.
It is said that theRoyal Australian Air Force can obtain plenty of recruits. It would obtain a much larger number if those who offered their services and were prepared to proceed overseas in any capacity could be trained as pilots, air observers, air gunners or wireless operators. Many of the men who have enlisted, if without a social background, have been detailed to perform the duties of a messman, or have been ordered’ to clean up the huts or do the work of a wharf labourer. They havecertainly been, given a uniform. The ordinary civilian should be allowed todo the work of a wharf labourer at a wharf labourer’srate of wage, and applications should be invited for messmen to dothe work of messmen. There are many men who cannot pass the medical test of physical fitness which would enable them to enterthe Air Force, but have the necessary qualifications for this class ofwork. Boys should not be misled into offering their services. I had occasion to make an appeal to the Government in connexion with the messmen at the Richmond aerodrome, and’ I understand that’ action was- taken in the matter. It is nauseating to men who are in the Air, Force to have to do this class of work. The Minister for Air (Mr. McEwen) should take cognizance of the position, and. effect an alteration at the earliest possible moment. There are plenty ofmen who are- unable, because of physical unfitness, to obtain employment in a war industry, but would be prepared to engage in this occupation. The work should be carried out according to the provisions of the hotel and catering employees award or the miscellaneous workers award. Men who obtain entry into the Air Force are proud of the fact, but they soon lose their pride when they are asked to scrub floors or to do other work of flunkeys in offices. This is wrong. I ask the Minister for
Air to give to those lads who are now required to do this work, an opportunity to show their ability in other directions. I believe that attention to matters of this sort would lead to a better flow of recruits than there has been up to the moment.
– The best advice thatI can give to the Government is that the necessary credits for the prosecution of the war be obtainedthrough, our great Commonwealth Bank. I am induced to this belief by the answer which was given to a question that I asked in connexion with the matter. My question was -
Is it a fact that the findings of theRoyal Commission on Banking. show that the Commonwealth Bank can lend interest-free money to the Government?
The reply that I received from the Minister representing the Treasurer was that the Commonwealth Bank was so empowered. Therefore, the Commonwealth, should not continue to raise money from private banking institutions to aninsupportable amount, and thus burdenthe people with a tremendous interest bill.
My friend Senator Herbert Hays asked my leader (Senator Collings) this afternoon- what the “new order” was to be. I shall quote words uttered in New. York by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), in order to enlighten the honorable senator. Mr. Menzies said; -
There will never he in our lifetime extreme riches and poverty. Whatever the outcomeof the war the world, as we know it, has gone for ever, and the new world will be very unlike . the last..
Some two years ago, before the war commenced, I. read in this chamber a statement under the caption “Warning! Europe.” It was a complete statement of the European situation. I believe that warcould have been averted at that time, had the people known, who were to be the greatest beneficiaries from it. I quote the Prime Minister of Great Britain in the following terms-: -
Our aims will he to build a society in which, there will be wealth and culture, but one in. which wealth shall not prey upon the common weal, nor culture degenerate into class and pride.
Mr. Bevin is reported to have made the following statement : -
Unemployment has been, the devil which has driven the masses in large areas of the world to turn to dictators. The greatest social implications rising out of this war, to achieve which every one must he willing to place their all on the altars, is the efforts to get rid of that horrible queue line-up outside the labour exchanges.I am afraid that unless at the endofthis war we solve this problem we may well slip into the most revolutionary action - though I do not mind revolutions if they are well directed. What I am horrified at is a blind revolution of starving men that isundirected and that ends in disaster for the whole community.
Hermann Bergmann, one of the most noted of German writers, has said that, had it notbeen for the deliberate debasement of the German mark - not- inflation, assome persons say: - which reduced’ the German people to poverty and despair, there would have been no room for a man like Hitler to attain to power, and this dreadful war would have been ‘averted. I said two years ago that the existing monetary system had brought the world to poverty and chaos, and was rapidly heading us into a war which would destroy our civilization. Unfortunately, that proved to be quite true. I was induced to make that remark by the following prophecy, which I read in 1929-
There will probably come well withinthe lives of the present generation a period at which the blind forces of destruction will appear to be in the ascendant . . . but it is difficult to believe that the whole, world is so bereft of sanity that a pause for reflection is too much to hope for, pending a final resignation to utter catastrophe!
While I was in Sydney, two years ago, I saw a wreath placed on the Cenotaph in Martin-place. It bore a large card with the inscription “Because you would not think, we had to die “. Those words are taken from a poem written during the lastwar. Because there has been no constructive thinking since, millions more will have to die. There is no doubt whatever in my mind , that there is a power which can sway governments to its will. I believe that there is no such thing as democracy. We were told by the great Abraham Lincoln that “Democracy is government of the people, by the people, for the people “. It is not logical to contend that the people,’ who are said to govern, get whattheywant. Do the people want wars?’ They do not; yet we have them. Dothey want poverty, malnutrition, slums? No; yet we have all of those dreadful things, proving conclusively that. we have not democracy as we visualizeit, and that, the people are not governing: George Bernard Shaw was once asked to define political economy, or the art of government; and he said: “Political economy is the art of spendingthe national income in such a way as will bring happiness and prosperity to the greatest number of people.” No State in theCommonwealth much less the Commonwealth itself is working, on the true lines of political economy,. because undoubtedly the greatest good goes to the smallest number; and that is what all the trouble is about today. The LondonTimes published the. following : -
Much harm has been done to our cause, both in Europe andoverseas, by the insinuation that we stand for the old order, and that our only aimisto restore the status quo in Europe and to maintain it at’ home.
The liberals in the Church of England in GreatBritain, led by the Archbishop of York, with 23 supporting bishops - including top-ranking-. London and Durham - 14 deans, and some 2.00 churchmen, made history at a notable conference. They gave a lead to the British Government to plan for the new order, and without a dissenting voice adopted a resolution presented by the Archbishop himself, one of the chief planks of which read -
Christian doctrine must insist that production exists for consumption . . .
Many years ago, it was stated that the only thing,which justified production was consumption. That is axiomatic, but we find that, while we have the greatest production system ever known, we have poverty inthe midst of plenty. Anything which is physically possible is financially possible, but out efforts are stultified by the foolish monetary system: which afflicts the world. The statement continues -
The monetary system must be so administered that what the community can produce is made available tothe members of the community, the satisfaction of human needs being accepted as the only true end of production.
Recently a committee was appointed to consider social questions, but there is no chance of improving the social conditions of anybody so long as the present monetary system obtains. That is the system which is responsible for all our economic difficulties, for poverty and for the existence of slums, and this is so because the banks can say at, any time how much money there shall be in existence. They have had this power for a long time, ever since 1694. That is the cause of all our economic distress to-day. We are told that if certain things are done they will lead to inflation. That is a meaningless expression. The word should never be used except in conjunction with two other words, “ of prices “. We have a Prices Commissioner at the present time. I do not say that his efforts are wholly successful, but he is making some attempt to fix prices. When money is brought into existence by the banks it tends to increase prices; when the banks withdraw money from circulation prices decline. The banks can restrict credit and call up overdrafts, and thus reduce the Volume of money in circulation. So longastheyareabletoexercisethis power, there is no hope of improvement. His HolinessthelatePopePiusXI., statedinoneofhisencyclicals: -
Inourdaysnotwealthaloneisaccumulated,butimmensepoweranddespotic economicdominationareconcentratedinthe handsoffewwho,forthemostpart,are nottheowners,butonlythetrusteesand directorsofinvestedfunds,whichtheyad- ministerattheirowngoodpleasure.This dominationismostpowerfullyexercisedby thosewho,becausetheyholdthecontrolof moneyalsogovernthecreditanddetermine itsallotment,forthatreasonsupplying,so tospeakthelifebloodtotheentireeconomic bodyandgraspingintheirhands,asitwere, theverysoulofproduction,sothatnoone can breathe against their will.
Lastyear, our war budget was £100.000,000 ; this yearwe have been told thatitwill be £250,000,000. The taxationimposedinthat £100,000,000 budget was’ three times’ asgreat as in any previous year. How areweever going to pay the taxation onthe £250,000,000. budget if the Government continues to raise money through the private- banks ? When the first £20,000,000 loan bill was before Parliament, we were told that the money was to be raised through the agency of the Commonwealth Bank, assisted by the private banks, but it has now been made clear that the whole amount was raised through the private banks. When I asked in this chamber how much had been raised through the
Commonwealth Bank, the Treasurer refused to tell me. Honorable senators were given to understand that they were not entitled to this information, but the manager of the Bank of New South Wales, Mr. Gillespie, in telling his shareholders of the patriotic efforts of that institution, said that the whole of the £20,000,000 for the first war loan had been subscribed through private banks. It is well known to those who take the trouble to find out that when the loan was subscribed no money was transferred from the banks to the Commonwealth Treasury. All the Government got was the right to draw cheques on the private banks for the various rams which they subscribed. The banks do not lend money. It is fundamental that banks are instituted for the purpose of creating credit. When the war savings certificates scheme was first introduced, the banks were confronted with a difficulty, because it was laid down that no one person could own certificates to a greater value than £250. Then the banks went into the matter and persuaded their employees to become, patriotic, and subscribe’ for the purchase of warsavings certificates: It might be more accurate to say that theydemanded that their employeesshoulddoso.Thebanks stopped the cashout of their em- ployees’ wages, : and atthe end of a certainperiod sent,a cheque to the Treasury for that amount. I know a woman in Hobart whose two children only recently started work. This boy and girl had for a considerable time been walking1½ miles to their work and back again sothat they could subscribethe amount representedby their tram fares for the purchase of warsavings certificates. When the banks sell war savings certificates over the counter, the notes or cheques tendered in payment do not reach the Commonwealth Treasury. Not on your life! That money goes into the bank’s cash reserves, and a cheque for the total amount received weekly or monthly, as the case may be, is sent to the Commonwealth Treasury. A bank which sells £100,000 of certificates in this way can then lend the Government £1,000,000, because the bank is authorized to lend up to ten times the amount of its cash reserve. I honour the people who are lending their money to the Government by subscribing for war savings certificates-, but that is what happens to it: As a- matter of fact, wars . are not fought on cash, but on- credits. The difference between taxation and credit is this: Taxes must be paid in cash out of earnings or savings, whereas; credits are created. The last war is not paid- for yet. It would- have been, much better if the Government had: devoted the energy which was- expended, upon the raising ofthe last war. loan, upon the production of essential war equipment. Recently, I heard a professor of- economics, a most conservative man, state that the first ‘task of the . Government is notto. raise money to fight’ the war ; it should be to- get machines- and war materials. Until’, the Government grasps that fact, it willcontinue to waste time. Several days ago I received a note from the Treasurer stating that it was- intended to withdraw permis- . sion. to erect buildings of a smaller value than £5,000, except in special circumstances. That will affect thousands of workers, and inflict great hardship. What sort of a mad system is this under which the Government goes on taxing the -people when it can get the money it needs in the form of credit from the Commonwealth Bank? Many years ago, Abraham Lincoln, the great liberator, said -
The monetary needs- of an increasing number of people advancing toward higher standards of living can and should be met by the government.
Such needs canbe- served by the issue of national currency and credit- through the operation of a national banking system - government has the power . to regulate . the. currency and credit of the nation.
The government should create, issue and circulate all the currency and credit needed to satisfy the spendingpower of the government and the buying-powerof consumers.
The taxpayer will be saved immense sums in interest, discounts and exchanges.
The financing of all public enterprises.- the maintenance of stable government and ordered progress, and the conduct of the Treasury will become matters of practical administration.
Money will cease to be master and become the servant of humanity.. Democracy will rise superior to the money -power.
Lincoln’s work was not in vain, and the knowledge of’ money, and what it should do and could do, is growing at a great pace, and there is hope for humanity, notwithstanding the chaos. In the House of Representatives- of the United States of America- on the 6th January. 1941, Mr. Voorhis, of California, introduced, a bill dealing with the money question the first clause of which reads -
A bill to provide for national defence without incurring public debt’: to reduce the federal -deficit; to lighten the burden of debt-; and to improve the domestic economy. &c., &c.
The measure was referred to the Committee on Ways- and Means-. It is evident’, therefore, that I am not standing alone; In the last few years,, the people havebeen educated. The first State inAustralia to grasp the significance of this was South Australia, in which there is a United Australia party Government. By eighteen votes to thirteen, the Parliament of South Australia- passed- a- resolution to petition the ‘Governor-General- that the Commonwealth Bank be used to issue interest-free credit for the prosecution of the war, and to assist primary-productions. At my request, the Treasurer of Tasmania, Mr. Dwyer Gray, placed, a similar motion on. the notice-paper, of- the Tasmanian Parliament, and it- was duly carried. Similar’ action was taken later, in Western Australia; and: then, in Queens? land, and recently the Premier of Victoria, Mr. Dunstan, was told by the Victorian Country party, -which keeps him in office, that he should have a similar resolution passed, through, the Parliament of that State. Ihave an appointment- with Mr; McKell; the Premier of New South Wales, and I believe that I- shall be able to persuade him to put a similar measure through the Parliament of New South Wales. Then all the States- will be unanimous in demanding this reform. Public meetings are being held all over the country to discuss it, and the matter has been taken up by some of the most important newspapers. Recently, Mr. H. J. Kelleher, a director of the Bank- of New Zealand, said -
If the British Empire was to escape the burden of crushing interest payments after the war, it must immediately replace its privately-created finance by State issues. State-created money would be interest-free. To fight a war with privately-created money is to light two enemies, one outside our country and one within. The second is the enemy of perpetual national debt which we have never defeated:
What is the secret of Hitler’s, “ financial miracle “ ? Here further’ shocks await us. We find a reversal of our customary rules’ and practices. We are buying our financial ammunition from our enemy. . The enemies of this country, and indeed . of every country, are the private banks. They have never created any wealth, but- according to an official report, which was issued a few years ago the.)’: held mortgages over the wheat lands of Australia amounting to £161.000,000. Before the war, the’ wool-growers’ of Australia were so burdened with overdraft and interest costs ‘ that’ they were about to ask the Commonwealth Government for a grant of Id. per lb. on wool. At that time, they owed £175,000,000. How can any country make progress under such a financial system? We must get down to fundamentals. It is axiomatic that there is no effect without a cause. In other words, there is a cause for every effect. How can a nation of a little over 7,000,000 people meet an indebtedness of £1,400,000,000? That is. the position confronting Australia to-day. We are told that, before long Australia’s war expenditure will amount to £20,000,000 a month. Does the Government” think that that amount can be obtained from the people by means of taxes? The only three ways by which money can be provided ,are first, by means of taxes; secondly, by borrowing from the private banks, and thirdly, by using the credit of the nation through the medium of. the Commonwealth Bank. I advocate the third, method. When a bill to provide for the acquisition of the apple and pear crop involving a possible expenditure of £750.000 was before this chamber I asked the then Treasurer if the Commonwealth Bank charged interest to the Government. The Treasurer did not reply to me at the time, .but, later, he said that the banks charged the Government interest at the rate of 3¾ per cent. I then asked whether that money did not go back to the Government in the form of hank profit? Of course, it did; and therefore I ark “why charge yourself interest on your own investment”? If I borrow £1 from myself on Mon,lav. what is the use of paying back 22s. 6d. on the following pay day? Yet that is what the Government is doing, and. will continue to do so long as it is dominated by the private banks.
In the orthodox way of raising credits for. war purposes or public works, the Commonwealth Government sets out to raise a loan. Who subscribed to that loan? When Mr. Casey was Commonwealth Treasurer, the Commonwealth attempted to float a loan of £9,000,000, but only £4,850,000 had been subscribed when the loan was closed. Subsequently, I asked how much money was subscribed through the Commonwealth Bank, and how much through the private banks, and I was informed that £3,750,000 had been subscribed through the private banks. We are paying interest on that money to-day. I have mentioned in this chamber before that the annual interest bill on the first war loan of £20,000,000 amounts to over £600,000 per annum. Why do we pay that money? It is inexplicable that the Government should continue to plunge the nation into debt year after year, thereby necessitating the imposition of heavy taxes which the people find difficulty in providing. In order to meet demands made on them to provide interest, on borrowed money, the people are forced to deny themselves food, clothing and shelter. I emphasize that that is done in order to meet the exorbitant demands of the banks which do not lend money. That is a fundamental of banking - that they do not lend money. I have had experience of that in my own business. Mr. W. G. Hawtrey, exsecretary of the British Treasury, writing in the Encyclopaedia Britannica said that banks are institutions for the creation of credit, which they create out of nothing. No man can have his views printed in the Encyclopaedia Britannica unless he is an acknowledged authority on the subject of which he writes. I suggest that the Government should do the sensible and honourable thing in carrying out its war effort, and not allow that effort to be hampered by want of money, or credit. ‘We have become accustomed to speaking of money, whereas the fact is that, except in a limited way, we do not use money at all. The latest, statement issued by the Commonwealth Bank in connexion with the note issue states that the private banks together hold notes to the value of only £15,000,030. The rest of their money consists of silver and copper. It does not follow that that money belongs to the banks- because the money, in every account in credit belongs to a customer, not to the bank. Yet the banks have been able to buy, by means- of cheques, war bonds and treasury-bills to the value of £67,000,000. Although I have said these things over and. over again, and notwithstanding the high standing of authorities- whom I have cited my words must have fallen on deaf ears, because no changehas taken place. I shall, conclude by reminding the Leader of the Senate that I am still willing to show the Government how to fight the war with interest-free money. [Quorum formed.]
– During, the last twelve months we have listened, to speeches by various’ Ministers in this Parliament; broadcasts by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and others as well as statements in newspapers advocating an all-in war effort: I take it that this Supply Bill’ has been introduced in order to finance, for- a. time, what the Government would like to have us believe is an all-in war effort. I believe that honorable senators- on both sides of’ the chamber really desire’ an all-in war effort in this country, but if that is to be obtained’, the Government itself must give a lead to the people. It may be that the Government is-doing its- best tobring about that result; if so, I hope to show that its effort to that end can be improved: An all-in war effort would- involve the marshalling of the whole of our resources of man-power- and materials. It would embrace every resource at our. disposal and leave no one out. In order, to bring about that state of- affairs,, sacrifices will have to- be made; and therefore it is essential that action- be- taken to make those sacrifices as-nearly- equalas possible. Senator Brand’ gave some reasons- why more recruits arc not coming forward. I shall give other reasons.One reason is that’ the sacrifices demanded of the people are not equal. The Royal-‘ Australian Air Force is- urgently in- need of recruits, and therefore I submit that every encouragement should be given to men to enlist in that branch of our fighting forces. . A- young man who desires to join the Royal Australian Air Force is told that all of- his- expenses incurred in travelling to the nearest examination centre will be paid. It is true that he is provided with a railway pass, and expenses to cover one meal, but should he have to travel any considerable distance in. order to be examined, it may be necessary for him to be absent from home overnight, in which event he must pay for his own accommodation and meet other expenses which are necessarily incurred. His expenses are not paid until he has- been accepted. If rejected, he would ofcourse, have his return railway ticket.
In my opinion, boys who are keen to serve their country are not treated fairly. It has been the policy of’ the Government to send books to every young fellow who enlists- in the Royal Australian Air Force, in order to fit him to pass certain examinations- before he is accepted; Many of’ these boys are working; in fairly heavy jobs which impose a heavy strain- upon them both physically and mentally. After a hard day’s work, the- strain of studying, in order to pass these examinations- may have a- detrimentaleffect upon their health, especially their eyesight. I know of some young fellows- who, because of their keenness, have strained their eyesight studying at night, whilst others have suffered nervous breakdowns.
– Has that happened after their enlistment?
– Yes, after they have passed the preliminary examination. Should they suffer a nervous breakdown, they would be discharged after several months of hard work- and study. It would be far better to accept these boys on their enlistment and give to them a couple of months’ additional training on full pay, rather than run the risk of injuringtheir health:.
I come now to the Army. In the Militia Forces we already have conscription of man-power. Although the young men who- are compelled to enter military camps have (constant employment up to the time they go into training; many of them have no jobs when they come out of camp. Ihave in mind the case of a young man who enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force: After he had been passed in Hobart he returned to his employment in his- home town for a week or two, but when his employer discovered that he would probably be losing the services of this man within six months he engaged another man. Every week eases of this kind come under notice. When complaints about the loss of job3 through absence in camp are made to officers in the Defence Forces, one of the first questions asked is. “Have you tried to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force?” If the men have done that, and have been rejected, their officers may endeavour to have them reinstated in their former employment, but I do not know whether they would try to help lads who had not offered themselves for service overseas. Unfair treatment of this kind does not encourage young men to enlist. I support remarks by honorable senators who have said that the members of some of the recruiting staffs are not quite fitted for that work. We are told that about 1,500 men are lined up in a militia training camp, and an officer invites those who desire to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force to step forward. When recruits were not as numerous as one officer would like, he was heard to say: “ Those of you who are not prepared to step out and join the Australian Imperial- Force to defend this country are nothing but curs, and your fathers and other relatives before you were nothing but curs “. That is the kind of statement made by recruiting officers in front of militiamen.
– There is a remedy for that.
– The remedy sought by one lad was to ask what authority the officer had for that statement, but he received fourteen days’ detention and lost a couple of stripes. Very few recruits were obtained as the result of that particular line-up.
When adjustments of the basic wage are made, in consequence of increases of the cost of living, the increase should be passed on to members of the fighting forces as well as to employees. in industry. The dependants of a soldier cannot live any more cheaply than the family of a man employed in a munition factory. If the members of the Militia were called upon to fight they would do so, and, if necessary, they would sacrifice their lives on the field of battle. Since we compel mcn to serve in the defence of Australia, and, if necessary, to pay the supreme sacrifice, it would be equally fair to apply compulsion. to the wealthy, and call upon them to provide the money required to enable the soldiers to be paid and equipped with the necessary armaments and munitions. There is no equality of sacrifice if one man has to go into the firing line, and perhaps give his life, whilst another is permitted to enjoy great wealth and luxury, and is not required by law to make any sacrifice. Therefore, the wealthy should lend their money to the Government free of interest for the duration of the war, in order to finance the war effort. If they are not prepared to do that voluntarily, compulsion should be applied. It would be quite as fair to do that as to compel the wage-earners to fight or go into the munition factories. That would be far more equitable than pleading to children to give their pennies for the purchase of war savings certificates. I do not object to compulsion, provided that it is applied to all sections of the community without fear or favour, with the object of obtaining a maximum war effort. The whole of the resources of the nation should be pooled. If the Government sincerely desires an all-in war effort it will have to marshal the national resources of money, materials and manpower.
I shall agree to the elimination of nonessential industries if the Government will start at the top. Finance is needed to enable us to utilize our materials and manpower, and I claim that, in pursuance of the policy of eliminating non-essential activities, the Government should reduce the number of trading banks. In most country towns there are six to eight banks, where one would be sufficient. The number in the capital cities is much greater. I shall wholeheartedly support the Government’s proposal to restrict nonessential industries if it will undertake to deal with the banks first. Most of the employees of the private banks could be more profitably employed in other directions. If the whole of the wealth of the private banks were concentrated in one bank, the Government would be in a far better position to assess the amount of credit it could issue. At present, it is absolutely impossible to get an accurate estimate of the total credit resources of the hanks. An all-in -war effort affects practically- every industry in Australia, including the primary industries. Recently, a threatening circularwas distributed amongst the farmers of Tasmania by the Deputy Prices- Commissioner, Mr. Johnson, regarding- the fixation of. the price- of- hay. As honorable senators know, primary producers do not always get good- years-; but this- year, owing to- adverse seasonal conditions; the hay crop- has been very poor. In the circular, the Deputy Prices. Commissioner states- that-he has been advised- that- many farmers in Tasmania are holding big stacks’ of hay on their farms waiting for the price to rise. His advisers supplied him with a list of names of farmers who, they said, were withholding their hay from the- market. Two or three of those whose names appear in’ the list as holding 20: tons of. hay are, in fact; not holding even- a ton of hay on their farms. That proves that the information supplied to the Deputy Prices Commissioner was inaccurate. What right has the Deputy Prices Commissioner to fix in only one State the price of a rural commodity which is produced in practically every State in the Commonwealth?
– Is the honorable senator referring to the State Prices Commissioner-?
– I am referring to the Commonwealth Deputy Prices Commissioner in. Tasmania, Mr. Johnson. If he has no authority to fix the price of a rural commodity- in only one State, why has he issued a threatening circular?
– Mclachlan. - What is the threat?
– That if farmers persist in holding their hay, he will fix the price of hay in Tasmania at a maximum.of £5 a- ton and -will not permit this year’s crop to be sold at more than £5 a ton. He contends that £5 a- ton is . far above the cost of production and that the fixed price may be considerably less. In stating that hay can be produced this year: for- £3 a ton, the Deputy’ Prices Commissioner shows that he does not know the -first thing about his job. As the result, of- adverse weather conditions this year,. many- farmers have cut as little as a half, a ton of hay an acre, and- if the price of hay be fixed even at £5 a ton, they will- not make anything out of it. For a number of’ years, hay- has brought a remarkably low price. During the lasttwo years- there has-been a heavy fall of the prices of primary products; Victorian farmers- have been selling hay for as low as £1 a ton. - In view of the fact that the crop in Tasmania- this- year is- exceedingly poor, I am at a loss to- understand why the Deputy Prices Commissioner should threaten the farmers- in this way.
– The honorable senator is obviously referring to’ a circular issued by the State Prices Commissioner, who- ad ministers a -State -law.
– The circular was issued by Mr.Johnson, the Deputy Prices Commissioner of Tasmania, who is responsible to’ the Minister for Trade and Customs- (Mr. Harrison).
– Mr. Johnson is a Commonwealth officer acting for Professor Copland.-
– That is so. and he is- administering regulations that come under the control of this Parliament.
– With certain limitations.
– He received his directions from the Prices Commissioner, Professor Copland. Although I . have made a. number of representations to that official regarding- the fixation of the price of various commodities, I have never appealedto State. Ministers because Price Commissioners are controlled by a Commonwealth Minister. The explanation may be that, the Prices Commissioner obtains advice from a committee which is approved’ by a State government; but that is merely co-ordinating- assistance. ‘ In the opinion of Professor Copland and the Deputy Commissioner, Mr: Johnson, those bodies function in a. small advisory capacity for the purpose of helping the Prices Commissioner, who is authorized to’ accept: or reject their proposals, according to his own judgment.
To obtain an all-in war effort, the Government must not discriminate against any particular section of the community. It. must not permit the Prices Commissioner to use his power in order to fix prices which discriminate against a State. Tasmanian farmers would not object to the fixation of a reasonable maximum price for hay, provided the
Prices Commissioner also fixed a minimum price to cover the cost of production, and allow a fair margin of profit. In my opinion, maximum and minimum prices should be fixed for all commodities. Although the Commissioner fixed a maximum price for potatoes last season, he declared no minimum price, with the result that farmers received no protection when values fell to a level below the cost of production. A similar experience is almost bound to occur with hay. I protest against the fixation of a price of a commodity, unless the Commissioner is not prepared to be fair in all respects; and I strongly object to this circular, which threatens farmers if they do not comply with the order.
Yesterday, the Senate passed legislation to increase the number of Ministers of State. I wholeheartedly supported the measure in the hope that the increased numbers would relieve senior Ministers of some of their heavy duties, enabling them to pay more attention to the activities of the numerous boards and committees under their control. Whenever a new project is undertaken, the Government creates a board to administer it. More administrative responsibility should be given to the elected representatives of the people in this Parliament. Whilst I do not contend that every board and committee could be abolished, many of them could be dispensed with if members of Parliament did their job. They could carry on much of the work that is now performed by boards and committees. The services of private members on the government side of the chamber could be availed of to a much greater extent than is now the practice in’ order to assist in administration. They were not elected to. Parliament simply for the purpose of selecting men who wear the old school tie to do the job for them. But it has occurred in many instances in the selection of members for boards and for fighting services. If my suggestion were adopted, private members could examine the activities of various boards, and their inquiries would obviate the necessity to appoint select committees. Many of the private members on the government side, of the chamber possess- the ability to perform such a task. Their investigations would be not only of real service to the country but also save a good deal of wasteful expenditure. If Ministers had been given the advantage of .such assistance from private members, the appointment of a committee to inquire into the operations of the Apple and Pear Board would have been unnecessary, and I should not have been obliged to appeal to the Senate to appoint a committee to examine matters concerning the growing and processing of flax. If a private member were clothed with sufficient authority, he would have no difficulty in ascertaining whether a board was performing its functions properly and he could report to the responsible Minister any flaws in its administration. That such appointments are urgently required can be demonstrated by one illustration. Although hundreds of tons of apples have been destroyed, supplies of this fruit are scarce in Sydney, and apples are selling at 6d. each. If a private member had been empowered to inquire into the distribution and sale of apples and of pears, this anomalous position might never have arisen.
– Thousands of tons of apples have been destroyed.
– That makes the position even worse. We also find that shortages of supplies of apples occur in the different capital cities from time to time. I again appeal to the Government to make greater use of the assistance which private members can give in checking up the activities of these various boards along the lines I have indicated. That is one means by which it can convince the people that it is genuinely desirous of an all-in war effort.
Senator fraser (Western Australia) [10.31]. - I listened attentively to the remarks of Senator Brand. The explanation of the lag in recruiting which that honorable senator failed to provide, was, 1 think, given by Senator Amour; and the latter’s remarks should be seriously considered by the Government. When the recruiting campaign was recently intensified in Western Australia, I heard several people speak unfavorably of the officer who is in charge of that campaign throughout the Commonwealth. I cannot understand why the Government retains the services of such a man in that capacity. ,
– General Lloyd.
– A very gallant soldier.
– I agree with the honorable senator; but many of the present leaders of the German army also were very gallant soldiers in the last war. 1 believe in the old saying that a leopard cannot change its spots: Despite- the fact that- General Lloyd is a gallant’ soldier, as’ stated -.by. the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Collett), I am -of opinion that a more suitable officer can be found to direct recruiting activities.
I am pleased that Senator Brand raised the subject of soldiers’ pay. He remarked that the soldiers had no union. I remind him’ that but for the’ action- taken by the Labour party in this Parliament the soldiers’ rate of pay would not have been increased. Not-only in Victoria but also in the other States; public appeals are being- made on behalf of the destitute wivesand families of men who are fighting overseas. That state of affairs must be remedied immediately, if only to remove one of the greatest obstacles to the success ‘ of ‘ the present recruiting campa ign. _
I was very surprised to hear another honorable senator opposite criticize the poor response of Commonwealth public servants who are eligible to enlist in any of the services. This Government has given an undertaking that conscription will not be introduced ; and I hope that it will never apply conscription by backdoor methods. The Government must not. take action along the lines suggested by the honorable senator. I do not know whether the Minister for the Army (Mr. Spender) is aware of many of the practices being . indulged in in this respect. We Have not yet reached the stage when we must get recruits by fair means or by foul. Instances have occurred, however, in which youths, who are under compulsory military age, have been more or less coerced into enlisting into the Australian Imperial Forces. When such, instances were brought to the notice of the Minister for the Army, he gave an assurance thathe would investigate the position and take, steps to put a stop to such practices. On that point I am rather surprised -that action has not’ been taken to curtail the activities of some recruiting officers who have become notorious for the tone of their public addresses from the recruiting platform. I take thefollowing extract from the report ofa speech of a recruiting officer publishedin the Adelaide News of the 23rd June, last : -
Young men eligible for activeservice should not be offered employment in non-essential services, the deputy director of recruiting (Lieut-Col. Waite). said to-day; “ It is ridiculous that men over 40 should be unemployed while young fellows who refuse to go to the assistance of their countrymen overseas are engaged in work that could easily be done by these older men “, he added.
Col. Waite said that he planned to extend the State recruiting committee to incorporate representatives of the Chamber of Commerce, Chamber of Manufactures, and store proprietors in an effort, to get the maximum cooperation for his recruiting drive.
Not only would this help in maintaining continual’ publicity displays,he explained, but it would assist in getting the full cooperation of employers in releasing young men for service.
He would like employers torefuse, and make . public their refusal, to take on new men eligible for service. -Col. Waite, referring to -the rate of recruiting.’ said that it was difficult to make a comparison offhand with last-war figures, because the other services - air force and navy - were making a big drain on eligible manpower.
Asked whether any action were being taken regarding men of military age being engaged in the various defence headquarters for clerical work that could . be done by women, Col. Waite refused to comment; but he said that if it were in his power every man in any walk of life who could bereleased for service would be.
If the use of employers to refuse employment to men of military age is not military conscription, I do not know what is. Recruiting is being retarded for several reasons, one of which is the fact that men who enlist to fight find themselves required to do things so far removed from fighting as house-cleaning for officers’ wives. The refusal of some young men. in” the Air Force in Western Australia to be menials led to their court-martial and. subsequent punishment. An error of the last war that must not be repeated in this war was the-sending to the trenches of men old enough to be the fathers of other men who had used influence in order to have themselves, classified as indispensable. The Government ought to ascertain whether men in the services are being used to the best advantage.
Muchhas been said about the Greekand Crete campaigns.. I do not profess to’ be a military expert, but perhaps the Minister. will remember that, before the evacuation of. Greece, I expressed the hope that the,. campaign in Greece would not culminater in a repetition of the evacuation of Dunkirk. Our forces went into action- in . ‘Greece and Crete with equipment inferior to that of their opponents.
– They did not have sufficient mechanized vehicles or support from the air.
– I admit the insufficiency of air support.
– In spite of all explanations of and apologies for our failure in Greece and Crete, I contend that . everything that ought to have been done to assist our troops was not- done. That fact is apparent from the statements made by the British officer who returned from Crete to Britain in order to give to’ the British Government a review of the campaign. It is all right to say that the mistakes that marred our operations in Greece and Crete will not be repeated, but other mistakes may be made. Iam sorry to learn that Australian troops are sent intobattle merely to fill a gap.
This Government is not. doing all that ought to be done in . order to prosecute- the war efficiently. After nearly two years of warfare only now has a site been selected for the building of a small arms factory in Western Australia. If it takes as long to build that factory as it did to build the military hospital in Western Australia, the war will, be over before it is finished. Whatever the outcome of the war may be, it isessential that the factory fee built with all haste. The construction of the hospital was delayed:, because unnecessary time was occupied in drawing plans and in the selection of the site. In fact, there was a battle over the. hospital site, and I was victorious.
– The trouble was that the site selected was not the site the honorable senator selected.
– I did not select a site, but I- did object to . the site originally chosen by the Government, because it was surrounded by the Karra- katta cemetery, the Claremont asylum, a sewage farm- and a dogs’ home. That would- have been the site of, the hospital to-day had the ‘Commonwealth had its way,, because, when I took a hand in the mattery the land had been purchased, and all that was required, was an agreement with the State Government. The Minister and’ I battled the matter out in the press for a couple of days.
– And we agreed.
– Yes, after the Government ‘ had decided that the site chosen was not the best available. I pay tribute to the Minister for the Interior (Senator Foll)’ who had the whole matter reviewed’, and,, but for whose intervention, a hospital, costing, only £40,000 or £50,000 as against the £150,000 structure now in existence, would have been erected.
– - The honorable senator is not justified in ignoring my part in the- transaction.
– I do not ignore what the Minister did, but I do’ say that had it not been for the Minister for the Interior taking notice of my representations, the military hospital in Western Australia would have ‘ been incapable of rendering the service which is expected of a military hospital. After consulting with a number of medical practitioners of high standing inWestern Australia,. I decided to make representations to the ‘Government with the object of having a small swimming pool provided in the hospital grounds. As the Government proposes to placebefore us in the near future a bill dealing with physical fitness, it might have been expected that these representations would have received favorable consideration, but that wasnot the case. I made my representations to Senator Foll, as Minister for the’ Interior; thinking that he would be able- to give a decision on the subject; but I found that the matter had to be referred to the Minister for the Army (Mr: Spender). My letter to the Minister, for- the Interior read as follows - 30th May, 1941.
My dear Minister,
I understand that the Military Hospital inWestern Australia will be completed at an early date and in view of that I desire to place before you a request for some additional facilities for the patients who may ‘be inmates of the hospital for long or short periods.
After consultation. with. -prominent medical authorities,in Western Australia,I have come totheconclusion that an indoor -swimming pool would be of . great advantage to the patients- and’ would greatly facilitate ‘their recovery. In’ addition, to the’ medical- opinion offered, I am informed that many of the latest types of public hospitals have installed small indoor pools which are used for treatment in certain cases. ‘ . “-… - It is not necessary formeto go into the benefits that . would be derived fromthis innovation. I would, rather, leave that to a more competent authority than myself,’ . but . the representations that I am making are founded on the best and highest -medical authorities I have consulted . with, and on their opinion.I am makingthese representations.
I hope thereforethat this will receive the f avorable consideration and decision ‘ of the Government.
On the 21st JuneI received the -following communication from the Minister for the Army : -
Dear Senator, Fraser,
With reference- to your letter dated 30th May, . 1941,-‘ addressed to Senator’ the Hon. H. S. Foll, and referred by him to this Department, regarding additional, facilities at the new MilitaryHospital, Perth, I desire to inform you that the matterhas been discussed with , the . Medical Directorate, Army Headquarters. There is among medical authorities generally, some doubt as. to the necessity of a swimming pool, and recent, investigations abroad by officers of my department definitely indicate that, where hydrotherapy . is deemed essential, excellent results for. adults are being obtained by a specially designed single bath unit. Accordingly in the Physiotherapy De- partments of all new Military Hospitals in Australia’ the single unit method is ‘being installed.
In view of this information it has hot been considered desirable to install an indoor swimming pool in the new hospital.
Seeing that the military authorities who selected’ the original site for the military hospital in Western Australia found it necessary subsequently to alter their minds, I hope that they will also be prevailed upon to alter their views in connexion with the proposal for a swimming pool at the hospital. I am quite certain that honorable senators, generally, will agree that . the men who return to Australia from the war -should be provided with every possible comfort, in order to facilitate their recovery. I am also certain that a swimming pool would contribute to that end. I hope that the last word has not been said on that subject. The physical condition of many of the men who will come back to Australia will prevent them frombathing on our surfing beaches: For that reason also I trust that however ‘ satisfactory the single-bath unitmay be in general hospitals, we shall at least have- a swimming pool in our ‘military hospital. I request that this proposal be reconsidered.
I wish now to- refer to’ petrol ‘rationing, although the direct issue, in this instance, ‘is price control. I have received from the secretary of a country . roads board in Western Australia- a letter,- dated the 29th May, which reads as follows:-
I enclose herewith copy of a letter which I am forwarding to the Price Fixing Commissioner by instruction, of my board, and would appreciate any assistance you may be able to give with regard to theprice of the petrol consumed by this board.
To my board it seems difficult tounderstand what relationship the semi-Government rates and the amount of petrol allowed under the consumers’ licenses- when fixing theprice has to dowith the petrol restrictions.’
Any assistance you may be able to give to have the concessions in price renewed will be appreciated by my board.
The letter for warded by the roads board to the Prices Commissioner read as follows : -
Re Price of Petrol.
My board is in receipt of a communication from the Shell Company of Australia Limited advising as follows: - “ In the past you have enjoyed semigovernment rates when purchasing motor spirit, this rate being l1/2d. per gallon off list rate including pump rebate.
We now regret to inform you that we cannot continue to allow this special rate, and from the 21st March, 1341, the price of motor spirit to you, delivered in the metropolitan free delivery area, will be 2s. 3d. per gallon in drums or bulk, or 2s. 2d. per gallon bulk provided you hold a consumer’s licence from the Liquid Fuel Control Board for 250 gallons per month or more.
The adjustment has been made necessary by a recent ruling given by the Price Fixing Commissioner at ‘Canberra. Simultaneously with the increase in price of motor spirit by 1d. per gallon on the 2.1st March the Commissioner instructed that . all special rebates being allowed must be discontinued.”
And I am instructed to make a strong protest against the said action, firstlybecause my board in common with other local authorities have conscientiously curtailed their petrol consumption in accordance, with the wish of the Commonwealth Government, . which action does not appear to offer any justification for removing local governing authorities from the semi-government rates and further the placing of the smaller authorities whose consumer’s licence from the Liquid Fuel Control Board is less than’ 250 gallons per month’ on a higher rate than those authorities having consumers’ licences for over 250 . gallons per month. ‘
Thepricetothisboard at present is not as may be supposed 2s. 3d. per gallon but 2s. 61/2d. per gallon being an impost for freight, which is of course out of proportion to the actual cost of conveyance 107 miles from Perth- to Moora byrail.
My board trust -that you may review your decision to remove them from the benefits of semi-government rates and also . remove the special disability due to our lower consumer’s allowance.
The responsibilities of country local authorities are just as great if not greater than the more favourably situated local authorities and my board are unable to appreciate the reason for differential treatment.
I ask leave- to continue my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned;
Motion (by Senator McLeay) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising,- adjourn till tomorrowat10a.m.
Personnel of Standing and Parliamentary Committees - Internees - Camp Sites - Price, of Hay - Western Australian Munition Factory - Wireless Broadcasting’ Services in Tasmania - Petrol Rationing - Commander-in-Chief, Home Defence Army.
– I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
I take this opportunity to inform honorable senators of the personnel of the several newly appointed standing committees of the Parliament: The details are as follows: -
Earlier to-day Senator Cunningham asked the Minister for Munitions, upon notice - 1-. Has the site of the proposed munition factory in the State of Western Australia been decided upon?
The- Minister for Munitions, has now furnished the following information: -
-day asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice-
The Minister for Munitions- has now furnished ‘the’ following information
To-day Senator. E. B. Johnston asked the Minister for Supply and Development, upon notice -
Ihavebeenfurnishedwiththefollow- ing - answers -
. -The Leader of the Senate (Senator McLeay) has stated that the Government has appointed certain standing and parliamentary committees’. Indoing so, it has not acted in an entirely democratic way, in that it has assumed the right to appoint the chairmen of these committees. “Would it not have been wiserto. have allowed the committees’ to elect their own chairmen? I. say nothing against those who have been appointed, as chairmen, but I believe that the mak ingoftheappointmentbyeachcom- mitteewouldhavebeenmoreinhar- monywiththespiritofco-operation betweentheGovernmentandtheLabour party.Idonotconsiderthatthechair- manship of everycommitteeshouldbe occupied, . by either- aGovernment - or a Labour member; but there shouldbe no suspicion -that theGovernment, desires to havethe -principal voice on all the committees”, -and- that, itdiscountsthecooperation of the. Labour party.Itrust thattheLeaderoftheSenatewillseefit to ask the Prime Minister to -reconsider this matter.
– I have asked in the Senate a- question dealing with internees, for the purpose of combating rumours which I regard as highly injurious and prejudicial to the best interests of this country, particularly with respect- to its war effort. Recently I asked this . question -
How many internees have been released by the Internee Courts of Appeal appointed for that -purpose in Australia?
I received the following reply: -
I regret that I am not in a position to furnish this information, as it is not in the national interest that it should be disclosed.
It is rumoured that quite a number of internees are being releasedby the appeal tribunals. I am not in the position to -say whether ‘or not those rumours are true, but I fail toseehowitcouldadversely affectthenationalinteresttodisclosethe information ‘ sought. If -the -rumours are not denied by. the Government,’ they will’ gainin strength-,- particularly since- the’ . matterhasreceivedsomepublicity.The impressionwillgetabroadthatthose internees: who are possessed of funds, and: who are therefore able to brief counsel’ to: ‘ assist them’,, are able ‘to obtain- their release, while’ others less ‘fortunately situated . remainin internment. The Government is asking the. people to make even, greater efforts to assist in the prosecution of the war, but the circulation of rumoursof this kind will not encourage the people to respond. The Government has nothing to lose by being perfectly frank. The public knowthat these tribunals have been established, and that appeals are being heard every day. They believe that some of the internees are being released, so there is no reason why they should not be told how many. The Government is, by its silence, doing much to injure its own cause,. especially when the impression gets abroad that persons of enemy origin, who areunfriendly to Australia, are’ being permitted- to go ‘free.
Senator,ARMSTRONG (New South Wales) [11.15].- I support the remarks of Senator Amour regarding the chairmen of the recently, appointed parliamentary standing committees. It seems to me that the Government . is trying to placate certain members of the House of Representatives. What qualifications does the honorable member’ for Henty (Mr. Coles) possess for the position of chairman of the Man-power, and Resources Survey Committee ? Possibly the Government is trying to induce him to take the first,, or second or third step towards becoming a member of the United Australia party. The Opposition is seeking to co-operate with the Government as far as possible, and it regards the Man-power, and Resources Survey Committee as one of the most, important of all, but the appointment of the honorable member for Henty as chairman, when he has had no previous experience of the work, and is not even a member of an accredited . party in the. Parliament, willlead to fraction. I may mention alsothe appointment of the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Stacey) as chairman of one of the committees. It was common knowledge that he was disappointed because he’ was not- made the Government Whip- in the House of Representatives, sothe Government is possibly seeking’ to placate him by giving- him this appointment. I am. sure that the work of the committees will suffer as a result of the action taken by the Government. I hope, that it is not too late for the: Government to reconsider its decision. It should allow the: members of the. committee’s’ to meet and’ appoint their own chairmen.
I draw the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for the Army (Mr. Spender) to the method used by the military authorities in selecting camp sites in New South Wales. The; citizens of many towns, which possess’ local advantages and prior claims, cannot understand why those towns have been passed over. One such town from, which complaints have been many and. con tinuous- is Young, represented: in this Parliament by the Postmaster-General’ (Mr. Collins). Military officers visited the town, and” afterwards stated’ that it did. not. possess the. necessary facilities- to justify placing a camp in that vicinity.’ They did not introduce1 themselves to- the local authorities; they visited the town, and nobody knew how long they stayed. or what they- did. Afterwards they made their report. They did’ not state in what’ way the town- was unsuitable, and the. people of Young regard ‘ the action taken as very unsatisfactory, particularly as at Cowra, only 27 milesaway, a military camp, to which a mechanized section is attached, has been established, besides an internees’ camp for the accommodation of many thousands of persons. Naturally, there is much jealousy between towns when one is given an abundance of Government favours, whilst others starve. Those townswhich are neglected are losing- their population, and enlistments are falling off. ‘Some towns are given toomuch, while others, such as Young, although possessing many natural, advantages, receive nothing. I should like the Minister for Supply and Development to bring my remarks before the Minister for the Army, with the request that the military authorities should again visit Young and consult with the Mayor, Aldermen and Councillors on this, matter. Their neglect to do so in the first instance has causedmuch local indignation, with the result that many protest meetings have been held. I am confident that if’ the course which I advocate were adopted, ‘ much of this dissatisfaction would disappear.
SenatorLECKIE (Victoria- Minister for Aircraft Production) [11.21].- This morning Senator Aylett asked the following question of the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs : -
I now inform the honorable senator that the Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following answers : -
– AmI to understand from the reply of the Minister (Senator Leckie) that the Deputy Prices Commissioners in the various States have intervened simultaneously to fix the price of hay throughout Australia, or is this an isolated case applying only to Tasmania? The Minister’s reply indicates that these commissioners are under the control of this Parliament: ‘ I” take it that
Professor Copland was appointed under theNational Security Act as Prices Commissioner for Australia, and that he has delegated certain powers to deputy com- missioners in the several States. If that be not correct, I desire to know under whose control are Professor Copland and his deputy commissioners. - Senator LECKIE (Victoria- Minister for Aircraft Production-) [11.22). - by leave - If thehonorable senator will look again’ at the answer to his first question, he will sec that it states that hay is not a declared commodity. Therefore, the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner has no legal authority to enforce any price in respect of hay. His intervention is an indication to’ the people concerned that should the price of this commoditybe raised beyond what is considered reasonable, hay may become a declared commodity, in’ which event the Prices Commissioner would have full power to fix its price.
.-I shall see that- Senator Armstrong’s remarks are brought to the notice of the Minister for the -Army (Mr. Spender).
– in reply - I shall bring the remarks of other honorable senators to the notice of the appropriate Ministers.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.25 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 26 June 1941, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1941/19410626_senate_16_167/>.