16th Parliament · 1st Session
The Senate, on the 1st October, 1941, adjourned till a date and hour to be fixed by the President and to be notified to each honorable senator. The Senate met pursuant to such notification.
The President (Senator the Hon. J. Cunningham) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– It is with great regret that I announce to the Senate the death in Brisbane on the 1st October of ex-Senator the Honorable John Mullan. The deceased was elected to the Queensland Legislative Assembly for Charters Towers in February, 1908, and again in October, 1909. He was elected to the Senate as a representative of Queensland at the general elections in 1913 and again in 1914, and sat as a senator till 1917. In 1913, while a senator, he was a member of the select committee on the Fitzroy Dock, and in 1914 he was a member of the select committee on the Teasdale Smith contract. In 1918, he was elected to the Legislative Assembly for Queensland for Flinders. He was a Minister without portfolio in the Queensland State Government from October, 1919, to November, 1920, and was Attorney-General for periods extending over eighteen years, from November, 1920, to May, 1929, and from 1932 to November of last year. He was a life-long personal friend of mine, and I am familiar with his career, both in the Queensland Parliament and in the Commonwealth legislature. He was a remarkable man with regard to the length and the quality of the service he rendered to Australia, and I regret his death not only because I have lost a personal friend, but also because Australia has lost a legislator who served it well. On behalf of the Senate, I extend to the widow and family of the late Mr. Mullan our sincere sympathy. I move -
That the Senate expresses its deep regret at the death of the Honorable John Mullan, former senator and State Minister, places on record its appreciation of his meritorious public service, and extends its sincere sympathy to his widow and family in their bereavement.
– On behalf of the Opposition I join in the expression of regret at the death of the late Mr. Mullan, and extend sincere sympathy to the widow and family in their bereavement.
– The members of the Country party in the Senate desire to be associated with the motion, and offer their deep sympathy to the widow and relatives of the late Mr. Mullan.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their places.
Allotment of Portfolios - War Cabinet - AdvisoryWar Council - Representation of Ministers.
. -by leave - I formally announce to the Senate that on the 3rd October the Honorable A. W.
Fadden submitted the resignation of his Government to His Excellency the Governor-General. Subsequently His Excellency commissioned Mr. Curtin to form a Ministry. The Ministry, which was sworn in by His Excellency on the 7th October, is constituted as follows : -
Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Co-ordination - The Honorable J. Curtin.
Minister for the Army - The Honorable F. M. Forde.
Attorney-General and Minister for External Affairs - The Honorable H. V. Evatt, LL.D., KC.
Minister for the Interior - Senator the Honorable J. S. Collings.
Minister for the Navy and Minister for Munitions - The Honorable N. J.O. Makin.
Minister for Trade and Customs and Vice-President of the Executive Council - Senator the Honorable R. V. Keane.
Postmaster-General and Minister for Information - Senator the Honorable W. P. Ashley.
Minister for Repatriation and Minister in Charge ofWar Service Homes- The Honorable C. W. Frost.
Minister for War Organization of Industry and Minister in Charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research- The Honorable J. J. Dedman.
Minister for Home Security and Minister assisting the Treasurer - The Honorable H. P. Lazzarini.
Minister for External Territories and Minister assisting the Minister for Commerce - Senator the Honorable J. M. Fraser.
Minister for Aircraft Production and Minister assisting the Minister for Munitions - Sena-tor the Honorable D. Cameron.
Minister for Transport and Minister assisting the PostmasterGeneral - The Honorable G. Lawson.
The members of theWar Cabinet are Mr. Curtin, Mr. Forde, Mr. Chifley, Dr. Evatt, Mr. Beasley, Mr. Makin and Mr. Drakeford. The Prime Minister is communicating with the Leader of the Opposition, and with the leader of the second opposition party, requesting that the machinery set up in respect of the Australian AdvisoryWar Council be maintained.
In the Senate, Senator the Honorable J. S. Collings will represent the Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Coordination and the Minister for Home Security: Senator the Honorable R. V. Keane will represent the Minister for the Army, the Treasurer, the Minister for Social Services and Minister for Health, and the Minister for Transport; Senator the HonorableW. P. Ashley will represent the Attorney-General and Minister for External Affairs, the Minister for the Navy and the Minister for Munitions, and the Minister for Labour and National Service ; Senator the Honorable J. M. Fraser will represent the Minister for Supply and Development and the Minister for Commerce; and Senator the Honorable D. Cameron will represent the Minister for Air and Minister for Civil Aviation, the Minister for Repatriation and Minister in Charge ofWar Service Homes, the Minister forWar Organization of Industry and Minister in Charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.
Senate Ministers will be represented in the House of Representatives- as follows : -
The Minister for the Interior, by the Honorable H. P. Lazzarini;
The Minister for Trade and Customs, by the Honorable J. A. Beasley ;
The Postmaster-General and Minister for Information, by the Honorable G. Lawson.
The Minister for External Territories, by the Honorable E. J. Ward ; and
The Minister for Aircraft Production, by the Honorable A. S. Drakeford.
I desire also to inform the Senate that the Prime Minister has to-day sent a cablegram to the Prime Minister of Great Britain in the following terms: -
I take the occasion of the commencement of my work as Prime Minister of Australia to assure you of the desire of my Government to co-operate fully with your Government and with the Governments of the other Dominions in all matters associated with the welfare of the Empire. In particular we will devote our energies to the effective organization of all our resources, so that we may play our part in. bringing victory to the Empire and our Allies.
SenatorMcLEAY (South Australia) - by leave - I desire to inform the Senate that at a meeting of Opposition senators to-day I was appointed Leader of the Opposition and Senator McBride Deputy Leader. Senator Allan MacDonald, whose serious illness prevents his attendance to-day, was appointed Whip.
– Has the attention of the Leader of the Senate been drawn to the fact that at Lithgow 4,500 men are on strike, that 1,400 brick-makers are idle, and that 60 engineers and ironworkers who were repairing overseas vessels have ceased work, as have also the men employed in three collieries in New South Wales? Is he also aware that urgent requests for coal have been received from South Australia and Victoria? Can the Minister give an assurance that the Government will do all in its power to get these men back to work as quickly as possible, and also that arbitration awards will be observed?
– The question asked by the Leader of the Opposition is most ill advised at this moment. Surely he does not imagine that the Prime Minister, or other Ministers who may be called upon to deal with these matters, are ignorant of what is going on? If the honorable senator wishes to fan the flames of industrial unrest he is adopting the correct attitude. I can assure him that the Government is seriously concerned with what is taking place, and will do all in its power to end the difficulties, which have not in every case been caused by the men.
– As I understand that the Senate is to rise to-day, I desire to know from the Leader of the Senate whether it is the intention of the Government to prorogue Parliament, or to adjourn it.
– At the appropriate timeI shall make an anouncement on the subject.
– I desire to direct a question to you, Mr. President, and with the indulgence of the Senate, to refer to the telegrams sent to honorable senators convening to-day’s meeting of the Senate. I direct special attention to the words “for the purpose of granting Supply only “ which appeared in the telegram. I do not think that that was a proper notice to send out to honorable senators. How can you, Mr. President, know what business will be dealt with, as, in view of the present constitution of the Senate, other business could be brought forward? I realize that the intimation was made in all kindness, but telegrams so worded are liable to be misunderstood. It could easily be assumed that the intention was to notify honorable senators that only formal business would be dealt with. I suggest that, in future, notices to honorable senators should not be couched in such terms.
– The honorable senator will recall that the notice convening the Senate was despatched when certain events had occurred in Canberra and the position as to the business to be dealt with when the Senate met was not clear, although it was definitely known that a request for Supply would be presented.
Use of Tasmanian Timbers
– Will the Minister for Aircraft Production institute inquiries as to the suitability of Tasinanian King William pine for aircraft production?
– I shall be pleased to institute inquiries.
– Can the Minister for the Interior supply any information as to the strike at the Darwin wharf in consequence of which certain Army equipment has not been unloaded ? In asking this question, I assure the Minister that I am not attempting to fan the flames of industrial unrest.
– Developments in connexion with the matter referred to by the honorable senator are being carefully watched. At the moment, the Department of the Interior is not directly affected; the Minister for the Army is dealing with the position at Darwin. Should the Department of the Interior become involved, I shall be in a position to say what is being done.
– In view of the strenuous opposition of the Minister for Commerce to any restriction of wheatgrowing, can the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce say whether it is intended to abolish the existing system by which production is being restricted ?
– It is not usual to announce Government policy in reply to questions.
– When will the report of the committee on the apple and pear acquisition scheme be made available to the Senate?
– The report has been completed, and I understand that it will be presented to the Government within the next week or two.
SenatorSPICER, as Chairman, brought up the first report of the Joint Committee on Profits.
Ordered to he printed.
Transfers to Australian Imperial Force
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Air, upon notice -
Will the Minister favorably consider any applications from members of the Royal Australian Air Force for transfer to the Australian Imperial Force, provided such members are not specialists or are not being trained as specialists?
– The Minister for Air has supplied the following a nswer : -
Airmen of the more highly skilled trades cannot be released. Airmen in the lowest trade group, viz., group V., may be released. Applications for release from the Royal Australian Air Force for the purpose of joining the Australian Imperial Force will be considered on their merits, provided they are made through the correct service channels, subject to the following conditions: -
That applicants can be spared from their musterings;
that a replacement by an older man or a woman (Women’s Australian Auxiliary Air Force) in certain cases is available;
it must be clear that the Army will enlist the men concerned immediately upon their release from the Royal Australian Air Force.
Any men who can be released from their ground mustering will first be given an opportunity to offer themselves for air crew before consideration will be given to their release for other military duty.
Sitting suspended from 3.27 to4.10 p.m.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Keane) read a first time.
.- I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Supply Acts Nos. 1 and 2 appropriated revenue for services of the Commonwealth up to the 31st October, 1941. The Government proposes that Parliament shall adjourn for three weeks, and on resumption the financial proposals of the Government will be submitted. In the circumstances, a Supply Bill is now introduced to cover requirements for a further two months, November and December.
The total amount proposed to be appropriated by this bill is £16,221,000 under the following main heads : -
With the exception of the Defence provision, the amounts included in the bill are based on rates of expenditure approved in the appropriation for 1940-41. In a number of isolated cases where the expenditure is heavier in the early part of the year the proportion of half of last year’s appropriation has been exceeded. This is done only in the cases of services which have already been approved in previous years.
The amounts in the bill sought to he appropriated -for defence and war services together with those voted in previous Supply acts, represent the sum which, it is estimated, will be available from revenue receipts for the first half of the year, after making allowance for other commitments. In addition to the Defence expenditure from revenue, there will also be expenditure from loan which will be covered by loan appropriations made and to be made.
The form of the proposed defence votes has been altered in accordance with the change proposed in the published Estimates. All the Defence votes have been consolidated in one group instead of appearing in detail as divided between revenue and loan funds. The amount of £93,487,000 for Defence services shown on page 2 of the bill represents the estimated gross defence expenditure for the six months ended the 3lst December, 1941, less the amounts, approximately £13,000,000, already voted from revenue by Supply Acts Nos. 1 and 2. The figure of £82,604,000 represents the proportion of the gross Defence expenditure which will be charged to loan fund.
Provision is made under the head “ Advance to the Treasurer “ for a further £1,000,000, being the total for the six months of £6,000,000. This amount is necessary to meet services which will be covered in the main by other appropriations not yet made. In particular, the heaviest temporary charges to Treasurer’s advance are in respect of Commonwealth works and payments to the States, all of which will later be covered by the usual appropriation acts. Except in the case of defence and war services, no provision is made in the bill for any new expenditure.
– The Opposition supports the bill, and wishes it a speedy passage.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Keane) read a first time.
.- I move -
That the hill .be now rend a second time.
Following the practice observed since the commencement of the war it is necessary to obtain a further appropriation for war expenditure. The purpose of this bill is to obtain an appropriation of £50,000,000 for war expenditure and for the raising of a corresponding amount of loan moneys to finance that expenditure. At the 30th June, 1941, there was a balance of approximately £72,000,000 of loan appropriation. This will suffice to cover the expenditure of this month and part of November. It is essential that a safe margin of parliamentary approval should be available, and the present bill is designed to cover expenditure after that date for a further period within the present financial year.
It is estimated that the total war expenditure in 1941-42 from loan will be about £150,000,000. At present, expenditure is averaging about £18,000,000 a month on defence and war services from revenue and loan sources. Of this it is possible to charge an average of about £4,000,000 monthly to revenue. Later in the financial year, when taxation collections are being received in much greater volume, it will be possible to charge a greater proportion of war expenditure to Consolidated Revenue. A schedule showing details of gross war expenditure will be found in pages 40 to 58 of the Estimates as presented by the previous Government.
The War Loan Appropriation Acts already passed by Parliament since the outbreak of war are -
I commend the bill to the Senate.
. -Clause 3 of the bill reads -
The Treasurer may, from time to time, borrow, under the provisions of the Commonwealth Inscribed Stock Act 1911-1940, or under the provisions of any act authorizing the issue of treasury-bills, moneys not exceeding in the whole the amount of £50,000,000.
I am glad that we now have a Government which will do away with the selling of inscribed stock ; it is quite unnecessary.
– And the payment of interest ?
– If we sell inscribed stock we must pay interest; but this Government has a scheme whereby we can obtain the money we require without paying interest. Three years ago, when I urged that the Commonwealth Bank should issue interest-free money, I was told that I was a voice crying in the wilderness. We now hope to see that done. Last night I listened to the broadcast of the big meeting held in the Sydney Town Hall, to launch the £100,000,000 loan. The announcer incorrectly stated that the loan was a conversion loan of £100,000,000. The fact is that whilst £70,000,000 will be converted, £30,000,000 of new money is required. The Sydney Morning Herald tells us in its columns this morning how that money is to be raised, that is, how much has been promised already, and that the banks have kindly consented to convert all of their holdings, and are also prepared to supply any new money required. We know how the banks acquire new money. The previous Government allowed the private banks to provide almost the whole of the first war loan of £20,000,000. We were told that that loan would be raised through the agency of the Commonwealth Bank and the private banks, but when I asked the ex-Treasurer how much was put through the private banks I was refused that information. However, Mr. Gillespie has “ spilled the beans “. When he was speaking to the shareholders of the organization he represents and “ cracking up “ the patriotism of his bank he said that the first war loan of £20,000,’000 was supplied by the private banks. Apparently, nothing went through the Commonwealth Bank at all. This Government is going to put the business through the Commonwealth Bank. Unless one knows how it is done it seems extraordinary that the Australian Mutual Provident Society, for instance, after putting over £3,500,000 into the first loan subscribed £2,500,000, and is also offering to convert all of its stock* I do not believe that any honorable senator thinks for one moment that the Australian Mutual Provident Society, big as it is, has £6,000,000 to put into war loans in any one year However, I explained this trick on a previous occasion. All that the general manager of the Australian Mutual Provident Society needs to do is to instruct the society’s banker to apply for £2,500,000 in the loan. The manager of the bank applies for that holding, and sends a cheque for that amount to the Treasurer. On that subscription the bank draws a commission of nearly £4,000. I have explained before that all applications for war loans carry a commission of 5s. per cent. The bank then holds those bonds as security for the overdraft advanced to the Australian Mutual Provident Society. It can hold as many bonds as it likes, and if it holds them long enough, it can easily transfer them. I am amazed at the small sums which some banks are converting, particularly when we have been told that they have done so much for the country. All government stock and debentures are above par. So it is easy to raise £5,000,000 in government bonds. The banks send a cheque to the Treasury, and then put the bonds on the market when they can reap the enhanced value. That explains to some degree why the Commercial Banking Company of Sydney holds only £1,642,000 for conversion. This year the Australian Mutual Provident Society has subscribed £6,075,405 to government loans. All life assurance offices must satisfy the Government that they have the money. They have not only big revenue but also very high expenses in meeting policies as they mature. I am quite sure that this Government will not give the private banks a chance to create this £30,000,000 out of nothing, and loan it to the nation at 3½ per cent. interest. That is what has been done in the past.
– The Sydney Morning Herald did not say that.
– No ; I am just telling the honorable senator what is going to happen. Of course, the bankcontrolled press can only say what it is allowed to say by the banks, and, apparently, that presshas not yet been allowed to say what I am now saying. It is extraordinary that the private banks subscribed huge sums to the £20,000,000 loan, and yet, when I asked how much of that loan went through the Commonwealth Bank and how much through the private banks, I was told that such particulars could not be disclosed without the permission of the private banks. However, as we know now that the Commonwealth Bank has only £6,186,000 to convert, it did not put through very much. Most of that money, obviously, is held by the private banks.
SenatorFoll. - Would it not be better to give this information to the Government in caucus?
– I wish to show that, at last, heed is being paid towhat I have been saying in this chamber for three years. We shall use the credit of the nation. Even in this time of crisis, banks in England are paying dividends of from 14 to 16 per cent. The chairman of directors of one bank in announcing the dividend to the shareholders said that so high a dividend was possible because the bank was lending hundreds of millions of pounds to the Government. When Sir John Simon was asked if he was prepared to alter the charter of the Bank of England, and to say who owned it, and in whose interest it was conducted, he replied “ No “. Sir Kingsley Wood gave a similar reply to the same question. National credit is not being used in England as we shall use it in Australia. The Bank of England rules Great Britain, as, so far, the banks in Australia have ruled this country. The present Government will, however, alter that state of affiairs. In 1939. Mr. Montagu Norman, of the Bank of England, in referring to a loan of £50,000,000 to the German Government, said -
We will have to lend the money to Germany. Although we may never sec it again, it is worth £50,000,000 to sustain Nazi-ism.
The cost of converting loans is tremendous. Less than two years ago, Tasmania wished to convert a loan of £4,500,000. The Treasurer of that State desired that the conversion be arranged through the Commonwealth Bank, in London, but the Loan Council would not allow that course to be followed; instead, it insisted on the transactions being handled through Nivison and Company, the brokers for the Australian Government. That procedure cost Tasmania £137,000; and as the loan was of only two years’ duration, it is probable that a similar amount will have to be paid next January for a further conversion. The cost of conversion works out at about 12s. a head of the population of Tasmania.
– I ask the honorable senator to confine his remarks to the bill before the Senate.
– When the budget comes before us I shall have some further remarks to make on this subject.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Motion (by Senator Collings) agreed to -
That the Senate,at its rising, adjourn till Wednesday, the 29th October next, at 3 p.m.
Australian Imperial Force: Cashiering during 1914-18.
Motion (by Senator Collings) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I rise to refer to a matter which I bring forward with regret. Parliaments have been termed “ coward’s castles “ because in them men may make statements under privilege which they would not dare to make outside the Parliament. On the 26th June, in a rather long and rambling statement on a supply bill, Senator Amour said -
I had experience in the last war in the 18th Battalion, in which there were some old and some young officers, and it was not very happy. The colonel, our battalion major and another major, the adjutant and seven of our lieutenants were cashiered for cowardice. Such a situation is not desirable.
I came across that report of the honorable senator’s remarks before I took my place in the Senate in July last, and
I determined to sift the charge to the bottom. I communicated with an association consisting of members of the 18th Battalion in order to ascertain whether there was any truth in the statement which the honorable senator had made in this chamber. I also put on the notice-paper a question dealing with the matter. As a member of the first Australian Imperial Force, I am jealous of its good name and reputation. I frankly admit that a lot of us were not as brave as were others. Indeed, there were many occasions when, if my legs would have carried me, I would have run away had there been somewhere to run to. It ill becomes any former member of the Australian Imperial Force to make such a statement as that made by Senator Amour. Although I asked my question on the 25th September, I did not receive a reply until last week. The question was as follows: -
The ex-Minister for the Army supplied the following answer : -
No officer of the 18th Battalion was cashiered for cowardice, nor was any officer of that battalion charged with that offence.
– Does the honorable senator believe him ?
– Of course I do. The facts are on record, and there is no record of any inquiry or court-martial. Yet, we have here an honorable senator saying that a colonel, two majors, an adjutant and seven subalterns were cashiered for cowardice.
– Yes, it is absolutely slanderous. Senator Amour mentioned no names in his charge. He has besmirched the whole of the Australian Imperial Force, and I appeal to him to retract a statement which could be made only by some one with an evil mind and who is a malicious liar.
– I ask, Mr. President, that Senator Sampson be compelled to withdraw the statement that I am a malicious liar.
– I ask Senator Sampson to withdraw the words to which exception has been taken.
– I withdraw them.
– I have been attacked by Senator Sampson for something that I said apparently on the 26th June last. Senator Sampson rebuked me for not having mentioned names. I will now name those whom I charged. Colonel Chapman and Major MacDonald were sent back from Gallipoli after thelanding of the 18th Battalion on the 22nd August, 1915. Captain Hinton, the adjutant of the battalion, was sent away from the battalion after we had gone on to the desert of Egypt. I was present when Lieutenant Pritchard was stripped of his epaulets and cashiered by Major Goodsell because he was too cowardly to go out reconnoitring. I was one of the members of the reconnoitring party. Senator Sampson says that he has the records, but I was a witness. The men had to get an officer from another battalion, bring Major Goodsell out of the dug-out, and he was then cashiered for cowardice.
– Is the honorable senator prepared to make those statements outside this Senate?
– I am telling the Senate now. After I returned from the war, I was assured by former members of the 18th Battalion that other officers were also cashiered.
If the records of the Department of the Army show that Colonel Chapman and Major MacDonald were not cashiered for cowardice, they may show that they were charged with, say, murder, which may have been a more appropriate charge. Probably, I was kind to them. How any honorable senator who was not a member of the battalion, had no knowledge of it and none of whose friends died as the result of the action of officers of that battalion, could say that I have lied, passes my comprehension. More men passed through the l8th Battalionthan through any other battalion which left Australia and only one of them was ever charged with any offence involving dereliction of duty. That man was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment. It was one of the greatest miscarriages of justice of which I have ever known. His dereliction of duty consisted of his failing, when on outpost duty, to hear an officer, who had crept upon him, say, “ Are you on your post?” Failure to hear was his defence, but he was sentenced in spite of it. Only one man of the 3,000 men in the 18th Battalion is shown by the records to have been charged with a breach of duty. Their officers, however, let them down badly. I assure Senator Sampson that I shall ask the present Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) to check the accuracy of my statements and, if necessary, to have a complete investigation made of the reasons why those officers were cashiered from the 18th Battalion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. -
No. 26 of 1941- Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
No. 27 of 1941-Postal Electricians Supervisors and Foremen’s Association, Postmaster-General’s Department, Commonwealth of Australia.
No. 28 of 1941- Professional Officers’ Association, Commonwealth Public Service.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired at Mount Gambier, South Australia - For Defence purposes.
National Security Act -
National Security (General) Regulations - Orders -
Control of Timber.
Inventions and Designs (148).
National Security (Internment Camps)
Regulations - CampRules (6).
National Security (Prisoners of War) Regulations - Order - Payment of Officer Prisoners of War ( No.1 ) .
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Administration) Act-
Ordinance No. 14 of 1041 - Inspection of Machinery.
Regulations - No. 11 of 1941 (Medical Benefits and Hospitals Ordinances).
Senate adjourned at 4.46 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 8 October 1941, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1941/19411008_senate_16_168/>.