16th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. J. Cunningham) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Effect on Tasmania - Appointment of Survey Committee.
– by leave - I desire to inform the Senate that the Commonwealth Government has approved a request made by the Premier of Tasmania that an investigation similar to that recently conducted in Western Australia be made into the effect of the war on the economic position of Tasmania. A committee will be appointed to make a survey of the economic position of that State as affected by, and in relation to, Australia’s war problems and its war effort, and to report to the Commonwealth Government. Details regarding the constitution of the committee will be the subject of consultation between the Governments of the Commonwealth and of Tasmania.
– ‘Can the Minister representing the Minister for the Army inform the Senate as to whether Australian troops are engaged in the present battle on the Libyan front?
– I shall have inquiries made regarding the matter, and a reply to the honorable senator’s question will be furnished.
– Recently I directed the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce to a press paragraph stating that there was an acute shortage of apples in Australia. The Minister promised to make a statement regarding the matter. When is a statement likely to be made?
– The decision of the Government with regard to the apple and pear acquisition scheme has not yet been reached.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research ask the Minister to have inquiries made regarding the depredations in New Zealand of the piebald butterfly which is now in the southern portions of Australia, in view of the fact that last year this pest turned its attention to the pasture lands of New Zealand with somewhat devastating results? I understand that a body in New Zealand similar to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has introduced a parasite to combat the pest?
– I shall be glad to comply with the honorable senator’s request.
– I lay on the table the following paper: -
Use of certain public moneys - Report by the Honorable Sir Percival Halse Rogers, K.B.E., Royal Commissioner.
Motion (by Senator Collings) put -
That Standing Order No. 68 be suspended, up to and including Friday, the 5th December next, to enable new business to be taken after 10.30 p.m.
– There being an absolute majority of the whole number of senators present and no dissentient voice, I declare the question resolved in the affirmative.
– by leave - On the motion for the adjournment of the Senate last Thursday, Senator Foll referred to a report published in the Brisbane Courier-Mail, and also to the alteration of the system of censorship with regard to speeches delivered in this Parliament. In the course of his remarks, he said that the censor had been brought to Canberra for the purpose not so much of censoring members’ speeches, but in order to obviate any delay regarding their publication, and that I had altered that arrangement. That is not entirely correct, because any alteration brought about in the procedure with regard to the censorship of speeches in this Parliament was due to a unfortunate blunder that occurred some months ago. A voluntary censorship was then in operation, and precisely similar conditions obtain to-day. During the first eighteen months of the war it was not necessary to have at Canberra an official in receipt of £1,500 a year merely to listen to what was said in this Parliament. I saw no reason to bring the ChiefCensor here for the purpose of censoring the speeches of members of either House.
Reference was also made on Friday to the political atmosphere associated with the censorship. In my opinion, the bringing of the Chief Censor to Canberra during the sittings of this Parliament was a political act. He was brought here because the Minister for the Army (Mr. Spender) issued instructions to that effect to an officer of the Department of Information. At the time, the then Minister for Information (Senator Foll) was engaged in this chamber, and could not leave it. The honorable senator rightly resented such interference by a colleague. The outcome of that action was that the Chief Censor was brought here to censor speeches made in this Parliament. Since the change of government there has been no alteration of the system of censorship ; the position to-day is the same as that which existed prior to the unfortunate blunder in connexion with the discussion in the other chamber on the campaigns in Greece and Crete. Senator Foll also said that I was unfair to the Acting Director of Information, Mr. Williams. The newspaper in which Mr. Williams is particularly interested is the only one to my knowledge which has made any comment in regard to the altered position.
– The Minister just said that the position had not been altered.
– Mr. Williams commented adversely on me in a section of the press.
– He does not control the editorial section.
– He is a member of the executive in control of the CourierMail, and I have no doubt that he has a good deal of influence over what appears in its editorials. When I saw the comment on the subject in the Courier-Mail I issued the following statement to the press : -
As far as I know this is the only metropolitan daily newspaper in Australia which has thought fit to criticize this commonsense procedure, and it is significant that the Courier-Mail is a paper with which Mr. J. Williams, former Acting Director of my department is associated in a prominent executive capacity.
I also appreciate that I may have had the benefit of this gentleman’s advice officially, if he had not decided to resign the position of Acting Director immediately after touring the Netherlands East Indies with the former Minister for Information, Senator Foll.
The position as regards censorship of parliamentary debates is not correctly presented by theCourier-Mail this week because newspapers and broadcasting stations are still obliged to observe censorship instructions the same as they did prior to the outstanding blunders of censorship in regard to certain news emanating from Canberra a few mouths ago, after which the then Government deemed it necessary that a representative of the Censorship Department should attend all sessions of Parliament in Canberra.
Subsequently Mr. Bonney wrote to me and I replied in the following terms: -
The position with respect to censorship of statements made in the House by members is no different to-day from what it always has been, i.e. -
The obligation still rests with the press and broadcasting stations to submit to censorship any matter the publication of which it is considered would be a breach of security;
The Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate will further assist censorship by drawing the attention of the Chief Censor through the Minister to any breach of security committed by members in the course of their speeches, so that the attention of the press might be specially invited to it.
There has been no alteration of the censorship in respect of the proceedings in Parliament. The action taken by me is in keeping with that taken by my predecessor, Senator Foll, when he took exception to another Minister interfering with the administration of a department under his control. I do not hold Senator Foll responsible for the unfortunate blunder which occurred in connexion with the campaigns in Crete and Greece. I am confident that when the position is understood, and particularly when it is known that the Courier-Mail is the only newspaper which has complained, there will be no further criticism.
– by leave - I was glad to hear the explanation of the Minister for Information (Senator Ashley) and I assure him that I recognize his right to administer his department as he thinks fit. I was anxious that no injustice should be done to Mr. Williams by the suggestion that he stayed with the department until he had had a trip to the Netherlands East Indies and then immediately left it in order to take up other work. I wish to make it clear that it was due entirely to me that Mr. Williams remained in the department as long as he did. He came originally for three months, but I was glad to have his services during the time that the Director of Information was absent owing to illness. I am confident that my successor would also have been glad to have had his services.
The reason why Mr. Bonney, or some other official of the Censorship Department, was brought to Canberra whenI was Minister for Information was not that speeches made in this Parliament should be specially censored, but in order that there might be greater uniformity in regard to the methods of censorship. The present Minister for Information will find that one of his greatest difficulties will be that of obtaining uniformity in the various States. The unfortunate happenings in connexion with the reports of the campaigns in Crete and Greece arose out of different interpretations in the several States. Some newspaper proprietors fulfilled their obligations because, not being sure whether certain information should or should not be published, they referred it to the censor, whilst others went ahead and. published it on their own responsibility. The Chief Censor was brought to Canberra to ensure that when some doubt arose as to whether certain statements should be supplied to the public, the information should appear in a uniform manner throughout the Commonwealth. I repeat that that was the main reason why the censorship was represented here, and not because the speeches of members of the Parliament should be subjected to censorship. It was done to help the press.
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senators questions are as follows : -
Contract with Australian Consolidated Industries Limited.
asked the Leader of the Senate, upon notice -
Regarding the contract or agreement entered into by the Government with Australian Consolidated Industries Limited for the making of motor car engines -
Is that contract or agreement transferable?
Will the Government make available the contract or agreement for the perusal of senators ?
– The Motor Vehicles Agreement Act of 1940 authorizes the Government to enter into an agreement with the Australian Consolidated Industries Limited regarding the manufacture of motor car engines. So far no agreement has been entered into.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for Supply and Development has supplied the following answers.: -
In dealing with the question of the production of power alcohol arising out of the report of the Power Alcohol Committee, the Standing Committee on Liquid Fuels, then under the chairmanship of Sir David Rivett, recommended that as a first objective 7,000,000 gallons per annum be produced from cane products and 10,000,000 gallons per annum from wheat. In submitting these recommendations the Standing Committee drew attention, amongst other matters, to the plant position resulting from the munitions programme and to the desirability of developing other sources of liquid fuels such as shale petrol and benzole.
The Power Alcohol Committee recommended that 72 per cent, of production of power alcohol be obtained from wheat and 28 per cent, from cane products, thereby emphasizing the desirability of maintaining an equitable balance as between the wheat and sugar industries in connexion with supplies of raw materials. Under the programme for the production of 12,000,000 gallons per annum from wheat and 7,000,000 gallons from cane products63 per cent, will be obtained from wheat as compared with 37 per cent, from cane products.
It will be seen that the programme of production of power alcohol is governed by several factors, one of which is supplies of petrol sufficient to provide an optimum mixture. The present Government does not, however, regard this programme as static, but rather one which will be developed to meet changing conditions and circumstances, and the claims of Queensland will receivethe fullest consideration in connexion with any expansion which may be decided upon.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The Minister for Commerce has supplied the following answers : -
Effect of Budget Proposals
asked the Minister respresenting the Treasurer, upon notice -
Is it a fact that by reason of the Labour Government’s decision to eliminate the exemption of £50 for children after the first child in arriving at the taxable income of a married man with three children, such a taxpayer with an income of - (a) £350 would now have to pay federal tax of £6 13s. 4d. per year: (b) £400 would now have to pay federal tax of £136s. 8d. ; on income earned in the financial year 30th June, 1941, whereas under existing legislation federal tax is not payable on such incomes?
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answer: -
Yes, but the taxpayer would receive during this year £26 in child endowment benefit, not payable in the previous year.
Volunteers from Permanent Personnel for Service Overseas.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Air, upon notice -
How many of the permanent members of the Royal Australian Air Force have volunteered for service overseas during the year 1940 and the year 1941?
– The Minister for Air has furnished the following reply:-
All members of the Royal Australian Air Force are liable, under the terms of their enlistment, for service both at home and overseas. Service overseas by members of the Permanent Air Force is not, therefore, dependent upon their having volunteered for such service. Members of the Permanent AirForce have, since the outbreak of war, as a matter of necessity, been utilized to a large extent as instructors and in other key positions. Notwithstanding this necessity, over 400 of them are giving and have given active service abroad. It should be understood thatthe possibility of overseas service for members of the Permanent Air Force is somewhat restricted, inasmuch as it is only possible to post them for service with Royal Australian Air Force units abroad as distinct from Empire Air Training Scheme units.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Development, upon notice -
SenatorFRASER. - The Minister for Supply and Development has supplied the following answers : -
– On the 21st November, Senator Allan MacDonald asked -
Will the Minister representing the Treasurer obtain for the information of honorable senators the exact total amounts which the private banks and insurance companies reconverted and contributed in newmoney towards the recent war loan?
The Treasurer has furnishedthe following reply: -
Cash subscriptions to the recent £100,000.000 war and conversion loan by trading banks and life insurance companies amounted to £6,411,000.
– On the 19th November, Senator Foll asked if the Minister representing the Minister for the Army was aware that considerable inconvenience was being caused by, and complaints made regarding, the insufficient quantity of equipment supplied to those who have volunteered to serve in the Home Defence Force. The honorable senator’s statement was brought to the notice of the Minister for the Army, who advises that it has not yet been possible to make an adequate issue of arms and training equipment to the Volunteer Defence Corps, as the first necessity is to maintain the equipment of the Australian Imperial Force and to equip the Australian Military Forces. Some service rifles have been made available to the Volunteer Defence Corps and further issues will be made as opportunity offers. The situation with respect to equipment will now permit an issue of 3-in. mortars and sub-machine guns being made, and the issue of other weapons and equipment will follow as soon as earlier priority requirements can be met. In the meantime, every assistance is being given to the training of the Volunteer DefenceCorps wherever possible by close affilia tion with the battalions of the Australian Military Forces and by making available the drill halls and unit training equipment of those forces.
Debate resumed from the 20th November (vide page 627), on. motion by Senator Keane -
That the following papers be printed: - “Estimates of Receipts and Expenditure (Revised) and Estimates of Expenditure for Additions, New Works, Buildings, &c. (Revised), for the year ending the 30th June, 1942” and “Budget 1941.-42 (Revised) Papers presented by the Honorable J. B. Chifley. M.P., in connexion with the revision of the Budget 1941-42.”
– When the debate on this motion was adjourned, I was pointing out that the Government’s taxation proposals are based on the principle of placing the burden on the shoulders of those best able to bear it. I have not been able to grasp too clearly the objections which honorable senators opposite have raised to the budget. Some of them complained that too great a tax is to be placed on large incomes, whilst others contended that too great a burden will be placed on the lower incomes. Consequently, I find it difficult to determine exactly what is the attitude of the Opposition to the budget proposals. I believe that actually they Lave no real objection to them, but are convinced that they are wise and necessary in the existing circumstances. Honorable senators opposite have been silent regarding the proposal to increase soldiers’ pay. I take it that in this instance silence implies consent. However, they expressed general opposition to the proposal to increase the rate of invalid and old-age pensions, contending that the present is not an opportune time to improve that social service. On that point, I can only remark that that objection was invariably advanced by their political predecessors whenever a similar proposal was made in the past.
– That is why, with one exception, our predecessors were responsible for all increases of the rate of pension.
– Can I take it then that the Opposition supports the Government’s proposal?
– That has been made quite clear.
– And, perhaps. I can take it that honorable senators opposite agree that theGovernment’s plans for meeting its huge future expenditure is on the whole, very reasonable.
– Obviously, the honorable senator has not listened to the debate.
– I have listened to it with great interest. In respect of invalid and old-age pensions, Icould not help but recall the position which existed in this country in. my very early days. All non-Labour parties strongly opposed the institution of invalidand old-age pensions. Before the advent of the Labour Government in Queensland, when we were fighting for this reform, the system in vogue in that State was disgraceful. When old people could no longer work, they were placed in an institution at Dunwich, a very pretty island adjacent to Brisbane. Husbands and wives were segregated, and obliged to spend the evening of their lives apart fi om each other simply because they were no longer able to earn their living. The Labour party abolished that most undesirable system. In fact, the establishment and improvement of our system of invalid and old<-age pensions have been due almost exclusively to the efforts of the Labour party.
– Members of that party gave lip-service to the idea, but non-Labour governments acted.
– Honorable senators opposite will remember, no doubt, the late Mr. J. 0. Watson who died only recently. Because of the concessions which he won as leader of the Labour party in this Parliament from the Deakin Government, the press throughout Australia declared that whenever Mr. Watson asked Mr. Deakin for anything. Mr. Deakin invariably replied, “ Yes, Mr. Watson “. That saying became proverbial in the political life of the rime.
– All honorable senators agree to the Government’s proposal to increase the rate of invalid and old-age pensions. None of us has opposed it.
– I am pleased to hear the honorable senator say that, but I remind him that Senator James McLachlan devoted a good deal of time to an attack on the Government in that respect. He stated that we could not afford this expenditure in the present circumstances. He also stated that the Government, whilst handing this increase to the pensioners, would take it from them through indirect taxes. Honorable senators opposite cannot have it both ways. They have objected to the Government’s plans in respect of taxation, extension of credit and borrowing. I can only conclude that they are putting up a sham-fight and arc not offering any real resistance to the Government’s proposals. An objection raised to this budget, more particularly by certain interests outside of this Parliament, is that the Government has not taxed lower incomes sufficiently. Only a short while ago the Fadden Government imposed increased taxes on incomes up to £1,500. Thi3 Government has decided to allow those rates to stand.
– But it has not adopted the Fadden Government’s compulsory loan proposals.
– They were too objectionable. In order to offset the unequal taxation imposed in the various States the Fadden Government proposed to introduce a system of compulsory loans under which taxpayers in all States would make a similar contribution to the national revenue either by way of direct taxes or by compulsory loans. That was an objectionable proposal because, whereas taxpayers in, say, Victoria, would be contributing a substantial proportion by way of loans which would be repaid with interest at the end of the war, taxpayers in Queensland would be paying only in the form of taxes, and would not get, anything returned.
– Does the honorable senator believe in compulsory loans?
– I believe that in the present circumstances, it would be unwise to reduce the purchasing power of the people to too great a degree. The average working family living in modest circumstances can be relied upon to spend its income in a reasonable manner.
– That is not what the honorable senator’s leader has said.
– It is. The Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) said he was satisfied that the people had sufficient good sense to spend their money wisely and not to squander it on non-essentials.
– What did the Prime Minister mean by non-essentials?
– That is some- thing which has to be determined by this Government and by the people of Australia. Luxuries should not be imported into this country.
– What are luxuries?
– If the honorable senator visits Sydney or Melbourne lie will see in any of the large emporiums frocks costing £13 13s. or £14 14s. each. I believe that the young ladies of this country are sufficiently attractive without having to rely on expensive clothing to improve their appearance. Such expenditure should cease. In any case, working families to-day have very little opportunity to spend money on non-essentials. The average worker on the basic wage has difficulty in making ends meet. One of the most unfortunate effects of war conditions is that large incomes are being made by big businesses in the cities, at the expense of country districts. I was disappointed at the lack of any direct reference in the speeches of honorable senators opposite to our primary industries. In addition to pegging the prices of primary products, all costs associated with primary production should also be pegged. Some big concerns are becoming wealthy at the expense of the people, and it is this Government’s policy that individuals in receipt of high incomes shall be compelled to contribute a larger share to our war effort. I regret that the Government has not been able to restore concessional income tax deductions in respect of children on whose behalf payments are made under the child endowment scheme. One of the best accomplishments of the Labour party was to secure an exemption of £50 in respect of dependants. The present system is unjust and bears very heavily on a man in receipt of a small income. As I have already mentioned, working-class families pay a considerable amount in indirect taxes by way of the sales tax, and in other ways. Usually anything that they are able to save is paid either to assurance companies or the savings banks, the funds of which are available to the Government for the prosecution of the war. Honorable senators opposite have lauded these wealthy institutions for their substantial contributions to war funds, but those big concerns depend for their existence upon the contributions of the people.
Some individuals with a one-track mind imagine that the war can be won only by sending large numbers of troops overseas, but I remind them that the time will very soon arrive when there will have to be a re-organization of our internal economy. Until now, there has been serious neglect of our internal economy, and little consideration has been given to the adverse effects on the production of essential commodities caused bythedespatchoftroopsoverseas.
– Does the honorable senator think that we can win the war in this country?
SenatorCOURTICE.- No ; but I think that we can achieve a better war effort if we concentrate on the production in this country of foodstuffs required by our allies. I should like our surplus wheat to be shipped to Russia. It is claimed that shipping space is not available, and I am quite sure that none would have been available in the future had honorable senators opposite continued in office. For years, I have been urging the Government to undertake the building of wooden ships in Queensland. In that State, I know a man engaged in building pleasure yachts who is anxious to undertake the construction of wooden ships for use in the present national emergency, but he has not received any encouragement from previous governments. I have not a great knowledge of the technicalities of shipbuilding, but I should think that Queensland timbers are eminently suitable for the purpose. In that State also, there is an adequate supply of tradesmen to do the work. Wooden ships should have been built in Queensland long ago. They could be of great service to us in our war effort.
I repeat that it would be far better to concentrate to a greater degree upon producing foodstuffs and their despatch overseas, thus bringing about a more balanced internal economy. That will have to be done if this war lasts much longer. At present, recruiting drives are being carried out in country centres which have already been depleted of their man-power, and in which crops cannot he harvested owing to the shortage of labour. In addition, there has been a rapid gravitation of labour from the north to the southern States, where big munitions industries have been established. That is an aspect of our war effort which the Government cannot ignore, and I urge that a policy of decentralization be adopted. Our activities should not be confined to Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide to the detriment of Queensland and the country districts generally. This chamber is supposed to represent State interests, and it is our duty to direct attention to the effect which the war effort is having upon rural districts and country people generally. Because of the heavy expenditure in the capital cities, the big firms and retail business houses are making excessive profits. I look to the Government to take every penny of those excess profits, because Australia cannot afford to allow any section to make money out of the war. Persons engaged in the primary industries have had the prices of their products pegged, and, in many cases, they are unable to find markets for their commodities. The wool-growers should receive a somewhat better price for their product, and the price of sugar should also be higher than it is. Honorable senators opposite smile, but some men are walking off their sugar-cane farms in Queensland because they are unable to make a living there.
SenatorFoll. - Their costs of production have increased out of sight.
– Their production costs have not increased a great deal. Wages have increased, but that is due entirely to the increased cost of living. The sugar industry does not greatly cavil at the cost of wages.
– As long as the producers get a good price for sugar, they do not cavil at anything.
– The honorable senator suggests that the growers are not concerned about the high costs of production, but I advise him to visit Queensland and obtain first-hand information about the primary industries of that State, where many of the producers can market only about one-half the quantity of the goods they produce. At present many thousands of men and women are engaged in the production of munitions, and, if we neglect the primary industries, we shall find the post-war rehabilitation of industry generally much more difficult than it would be if we fostered our primary industries.
I plead for greater consideration of the claims of Queensland with regard to war expenditure. Air training schools could be established throughout that State. Large supplies of coal and timber are available throughout Queensland, and I feel sure that the present Government will leave no stone unturned in exploring the possibilities in that direction. In reply to a question to-day it was suggested that any motor spirit containing more than 15 per cent, of power alcohol would be unsuitable for use in motor vehicles, but I believe that even a mixture containing 20 per cent, of power alcohol would be acceptable to those persons in the outback parts of Queensland who have been partially deprived of the use of their motor vehicles as the result of petrol rationing. Lavish expenditure by the military authorities in times like these is to be deprecated, and I believe that considerable economy could be effected. I do not suggest that Defence Department trucks are used in order to convey letters to post offices, but every effort should be made to eliminate extravagance and waste, particularly where petrol could thereby be conserved. The public is under the impression that a great deal of waste now occurs. I see no reason why the military authorities should not make full use of producer-gas units. The Government has not done a great deal to encourage the use of these units. Had it tackled the problem thoroughly, greater economy than has been exercised in the use of petrol could have been obtained. For instance, the manufacture of a standard type of producer-gas unit would have proved beneficial.
Those engaged in primary industries throughout Australia are experiencing most difficult times and many of them are in financial trouble owing to the high interest bills that they are compelled to meet.For a limited period, at least, the interest rates of those engaged in primary industries should be reduced by one-half. That would enable a considerable proportion of those who cannot carry on their properties under present difficult conditions to retain them. The primary producers are carrying heavier burdens to-day than any other section of the community, and they are entitled to a reduction of interest rates. I do not consider that the establishment of a mortgage bank will cause the financial worries of the man on the land to vanish, but, if such a bank were wisely and sympathetically administered, always having as its goal the reduction of interest rates, I am sure that its operations would react to the advantage of the Commonwealth. Senator McBride apparently imagines that primary producers in Queensland are getting a high price for their sugar, but I point out that whilst in many industries increasing costs can be passed on, the primary producer is unable to do so. Having regard to the quantity of sugar that has to be exported from Australia, and the difficulties experienced by the cane-growers, I suggest that Senator McBride is entirely mistaken if he imagines that the growers receive too high a price for their product-
– Since I had the pleasure and privilege three or four years ago to administer to Senator Courtice the oath of allegiance on his assumption of his present position in this chamber, I wish that I could compliment him on the speech that he has just completed, but, frankly, I must say that he disappointed me. I should imagine, Mr.’ President, that after having listened to so many speeches on the financial statement issued by the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) you have become somewhat weary. I have read the budget speech several times, and it contains some extraordinary statements. Whilst the ideas expressed may be sound, the Government has not suggested methods by which they can be satisfactorily implemented. The Treasurer stated at the beginning of his speech that -
To-day we are in the throes of the most deadly and devastating war that has ever been waged between nations, and the skies are dark with clouds of evil portent. The Government has a full realization of the responsibility that rests upon it to carry out its duty to the country with determination, and all of the capacity at its command.
The budget shows very little sign of a realization of the gravity of the situation. This Labour Government has apparently failed to realize that an all-in effort by the whole of the nation, and not by parts of it, is vital to our very existence. The budget is framed with deliberate calculation to appeal to the selfish, the unthinking and the ignorant; that is, to “ the crowd “. At a time like this, to relieve 70 per cent, of income-earning electors from all but indirect taxes and to slug the remainder ruthlessly, does not appeal to me as an all-in war effort. This is purely a political bugget. It puts social security above national security, lt is true that, there are increases of indirect taxation, but. a higher direct tax on that 70 per cent, of the people would be a more honest way in which to obtain the money required. As I have said, the budget may be popular, but it is not equitable. A successful all-in war effort demands the diversion of production from the masses of the people, and not solely from those in receipt of the higher incomes. It is grossly unfair to rely on voluntary contributions from 70 per cent, of the people. In his budget, the Treasurer says that the Government will appeal for less spending on luxuries. Ever since the war began, there have been all sorts of appeals. The system has been overdone; the appeals huw become tiresome. Our very existence as a nation is at stake. The Treasurer says that there is to be a voluntary appeal for national saving, but I remind him that a national savings compaign was launched nearly two years ago. The Government will appeal to the masses of the electors, but, it will apply compulsion to the few who exercise only a comparatively few vote3. The economic foundation of th>.’ budget is unsound. The alleged wealthy sections of the community are to be called upon to pay for the war out of their capital and their savings. The budget appeals to the class consciousness of the masses, and is unworthy of a political party which boasts of its fairness to all Australians. I predict that it is foredoomed to failure. Notwithstanding all the advertising, the beating of drums, and Commonwealth-wide organization to raise enthusiasm for war savings by voluntary means, the campaign met with indifferent, success.
– Does the honorable senator know the facts?
– I do. I was actively connected with that campaign for eighteen months in Victoria. I spent my Saturdays and Sundays on the job.
– It was a complete success, and a vindication of the policy of the Labour party.
– Notwithstanding the poor response to that campaign for war savings, the Treasurer now asks the people for many millions of pound? more than have been raised in the past. He asks them to lend the money voluntarily. On this out-of-date system, the success of the budget depends. The Government, like Micawber, is waiting for something to turn up. It has no chance of success, not even Buckley’s.
– Is that wishful think ing?
– No. I am fating the facts. It is noticeable that the Treasurer and, I suppose, the caucus also, either ignored or were blind to the mad orgy of reckless spending which characterizes our national life to-day - horse racing, dog racing, lotteries, pictureshows, dancing, and the purchase of finery. The Treasurer implores these “ wasters “ in the community, most of whom he has exempted from income tax, to “co-operate willingly in a voluntary reduction of consumption and voluntarily to lend the amount so saved to the Government “. Why ask them ? Why not take from them? Why not compel them to save? I believe in compulsion; the voluntary system only means that the willing few carry the burden which should be shared by the unwilling many. The Treasurer’s budget statement is excellent in parts, but throughout it there is a reiteration of theGovernment’s dependence on the worn-out voluntary system. We hear a good deal about an all-in war effort, but we must dobetter than the Government proposes. This budget will not sufficeus in our dire need. The voluntary system is dead, and only awaits burial by compulsion, which is the only just, and indeed the only honest way. Labour appeals to the electors to give voluntarily what the Government has a right to take. This country is in the direst peril it has known in its one hundred and fifty years of existence. It is not right that a few should have to bear the whole burden. TheFadden Government was superseded because, among other reasons, it proposed to introduce a system of compulsory war loans. The Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) said that he objected to that system because it introduced an element of compulsion into the Australian life. The honorable gentleman conveniently forgot the other elements of compulsion in our national life - compulsory unionism, compulsory education, compulsory voting, compulsory taxation, and so on.
Our democracy could not continue without some forms of compulsion.
There has been a lot of loose talk in this chamber about bank credit and the control of banks and companies. We have repeatedly heard the parrot cry “ Look at their profits “. Such cries are laughable when we reflect on the fact that those profits are distributed among large numbers of shareholders.
– Poor widows!
– There may be a few poor widows among the shareholders, but the point is that these vast accumulations of profits of which some honorable senators speak arc shared by all sorts and conditions of men and women. Honorable senators opposite speak as if the vaults or strong rooms of the various financial institutions of this country contain hundreds of millions of pounds. That is a fallacy. There are only three ways by which the war can be paid for : The Government may resort to heavy taxation, to compulsory loans, or to compulsory rationing.
Then; have been numerous references to the subject of the pay of soldiers. As a soldier who has fought in two wars, I say that the deferred pay system is one of the greatest blessings that a soldier can have conferred upon him. I know that during my service in Mashonaland and Matabeleland under the South Africa Company many years ago, our pay was 5s. a day actual and 2s. a day deferred. A man who completed the full term of two years had about £70 to his credit when he received his discharge. That was a great asset to him in a black man’s country. It is a deplorable thing for a white man to be penniless in such a place. Speaking for myself, I should have been in a bad way when I returned from the Great War after nearly five years’ service had it not been for the deferred pay due to me. Although a man may have the best intentions in the world, he never saves much of his pay when on active service. But if a certain proportion of his pay were put away for him, it, like compulsory payments to a life assurance company, creates an asset whichhe will find useful later. Speaking as a soldier,I should prefer to know that a sum was accumulating to my credit rather than that the whole amount should be paid as active pay, for I know how easily money can disappear.
Since it relies chiefly on the voluntary system, the budget is doomed to failure. There is some consolation in the knowledge that a supplementary budget will be introduced later. The present budget will not meet the situation that confronts this country. We are engaged in a fight for survival ; if we are to survive, we must abandon once and for all the undemocratic system which places the whole of the burden on the willing few. This country will have to be mobilized on a war footing. So far, the actual situation has not been brought home to the bulk of the Australian people, or, indeed, to its governments of public men. I have no misgivings about the task that confronts the Government. I wish it well. When the present Prime Minister accepted office, I offered to him my good wishes and my sincere sympathy also, knowing the terrific task that awaited him. I pray that he will have good health and strength to stand up to the task. The weight of his responsibilities alone will impose a great strain on his strength; but in running away from an all-in compulsory war effort the Government has fallen down on its job.
– What about the previous Government?
– I am not concerned with the previous Government.
– The honorable senator supported it.
– I shall support any government that has the best interests of Australia at heart. I did not agree with the policies of the last Government, the Government which preceded it or the Lyons Government. I am an out and out conscriptionist ; I believe in compulsion. My old friends, the Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings) and the Chairman of Committees (Senator Brown), know only too well that ten or twelve years ago and all through the intervening years I advocated compulsory military training and preparedness for war. I said from my place in this chamber as long ago as 1935 that the sands were running out and that, in a matter of a few years, we would be faced with total war.
– Would the honorable senator conscript capitals
– I would conscript everything. I believe in an all-in war effort. I believe in compulsion of every kind to wage the war to a successful conclusion. In these days we should take everything and say to every man, woman and child in the community, “ This is your job “.
– Would the honorable senator pay interest on war loans?
– I am not worried about interest on war loans, but I am concerned about the survival of this country, and this country will not survive unless we wake up from our slumbers. During the course of his speech Senator Courtice referred to the subject of man-power.
– I said that the man-power .position should .be surveyed.
– I agree that we need an accurate and complete survey of the man-power of this country. A vast reservoir of man-power is at present, untouched and, indeed. is difficult to touch. Many able-bodied young men are sheltering in government departments, both Commonwealth and State. I speak with knowledge of the State Public Services of Victoria and Tasmania and of the Commonwealth Public Service. I know that some public servants who want to go away and do a man’s job find it difficult to get leave because they are regarded as indispensable. The list of reserved occupations is an absolute disgrace. But what of the men who are overseas now? Is it possible to send to them the trained reinforcements they so , badly need when the training camps in this country are practically empty and the daily number of enlistments is down to a pathetic little dribble? The whole position of recruiting in Australia for the Australian Imperial Force since May of this year has been deplorable. Letters that have come to me from kinsmen who have been through the campaigns of Greece and Crete .and have fought in the gallant defence of Tobruk, reveal that they have had a grim time. In a letter which I received only last Friday a young man writing to me from abroad said, “We do not care a tinker’s curse what you politicians do in Australia; we are not interested in you. We have a job to do and we shall do it; but, by God, we can do with some trained reinforcements since the withdrawal from Greece. We are a vanishing race “. In 1918 we were in a similar position on the western front in France. The whole of the five infantry divisions of the Australian Imperial Force were then wasting away through lack of reinforcements, and in order to meet the difficulty created by the lack of reinforcements no fewer than eleven battalions, one from each of the eleven brigades, had to be smashed up and their members utilized to build up the strength of the three remaining battalions in each brigade. Although the members of the Australian Imperial Force abroad were dying in their tens of thousands, many of their fellow-countrymen in Australia gave them no thought. I am afraid that history may repeat itself. It will be impossible to secure a sufficient number of recruits for the present Australian Imperial Force if, as has happened during the last two years, able-bodied young men are paid such high wages that they are induced to remain in Australia. When the Allies had their backs to the wall in 1918, when the success of their arms looked hopeless, when the Hun had been able to release 142 divisions from the eastern front following the collapse of Russia, what was happening in Australia? Figures compiled by the late Professor Ernest Scott and published in a section of the Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-18 disprove the honorable senator’s statement. It is what happened in Australia at that time that causes me to doubt the efficiency of the policy of the present Government and its ability to stand up to its obligations. In 1918, at a time when we had our backs to the wall, the Brisbane Labour Council, on the 16th May, adopted the following resolution unanimously : -
That we declare our sincere belief that any member of the Labour movement in this State, whether attached to the parliamentary, political or industrial wing of the movement, who appears upon a recruiting platform, or in anyway does any other act involving any further participation in the war by Australia, fails to correctly interpret the views of the workers upon this question and displays lamentable ignorance of the fundamental principles of tho working-class movement.
But worse was to follow. In June of the same year, the Triennial Interstate Conference of the Australian Labour party, the “peace at any price “ conference, was held at Perth. It was held during the week commencing the 17th June, 1918, when our overworked and numerically weak battalions had to carry on. My own unit at that time averaged about 400 bayonets; its normal strength was 1,080. That was common to all battalions. The Perth conference was attended by the following delegates : -
New South Wales- T. D. Mutch, M.L.A.; J. M. Power; J. H. Catts, M.P.; A. Rae; A. C. Willis; and G. Sutherland.
Victoria - Senator John Barnes; E. J. Holloway; A. Stewart; J. H. Scullin; M. Blackburn; and Mr. Bennett.
Queensland - T. J. Ryan (Premier) ; J. A. Fihelly; W. McCormack; C. Collins, M.L.A.; L. McDonald, M.L.C.; and Senator Ferricks.
South Australia - T. W. Grealey; N. J. O. Makin; and S. R. Whitford.
Western Australia - P. L. O’Loghlin, M.L.A. ; W. D. Johnson; D. Cameron; C. Callanan: F. A. Baglin; and W. Roche.
Tasmania - Senator J. J. Long; Senator D. 0’Keefe; W. E. Shoobridge; John Curtin; and A. McCallum.
The proceedings were held in secret. No representatives of newspapers were allowed to be present, and publication of the resolutions passed was postponed for several days. Boiled down, the main resolution which appeared in the West Australian of the 21st June, 1918, meant peace at any price. The resolution published in the West Australian read -
We arc of opinion that a complete military victory by the Allies over the Central Powers, if possible, can only be accomplished by thu further sacrifice of millions of human lives.
It was urged that negotiations be immediately initiated for the holding of an international conference for the purpose of arranging equitable terms of peace. The resolution was adopted unanimously.
– What is wrong with it?
– Everything. The Labour party would invite the Hun, who was then on top, to attend an international conference at which the terms of peace could be decided. At that time, we had our backs to the wall; our men were staying in the front line for three or four weeks on end until they were so exhausted physically that they looked’ like scarecrows. Although their overworked and exhausted bodies tortured them, their indomitable spirit remained unbroken.
– What has all this to do with the present war?
– I mention the experiences of the last war because I am afraid that history may repeat itself and that once again there may be talk of the holding of an international conference to discuss the terms of peace. The resolution passed at the “ peace at any price “ conference in Perth was diametrically opposed to all that Labour had said when war broke out in 1914. At that time Labour’s avowed policy was to see the war through to the bitter end, even to the last man and the last shilling. How can I have any confidence in our present war effort when I read of the things that happened on that, occasion when we were up against it? I pray God that history will not repeat itself on this occasion. The provision of reinforcements for the Australian Imperial Force is being avoided. I do not know the present cost of getting a recruit; but when I retired from my job as Deputy Director of Recruiting in June last, it was very high, and the results were very meagre. What will happen now if we cannot get reinforcements by the voluntary system? What is the Government going to do about the matter? Will it let those fellows face the same old bitterness and the same task that we did ? Is it going to turn them down? I hope not. It is not a matter of asking for men. The Government ought to take them. I know quite a lot of things which honorable senators opposite do not know regarding this subject. They have no background when it comes to military matters. But there are some things which shake a man. On the 29th November, 1939, after the outbreak of war, the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin), when he was Leader of the Opposition, proposed the following motion in the House of Representatives : -
That this House is of the opinion that Australian man-power is required for the defence of the Co in mon weal th and is opposed to the despatch of expeditionary forces.
– That was a legitimate opinion at that time.
– It may be an opinion again; and it may be that our fellows overseas can stop there without reinforcement, help or encouragement. One finds further illuminating records in Hansard. The Leader of the Senate declared that he believed in negotiation, reasonable discussion, conferences, and pious resolutions of the kind that I have just read. When I read the resolution passed at the Perth Conference he asked what was wrong with it. I repeat that everything is wrong with it. On the 1st December, 1939, he declared in this chamber -
I would not negotiate with that scoundrel Churchill. I regard Mr. Churchill as a mad dog let loose for the purpose of spreading hatred where previously none existed.
Speaking in the House of Representatives, the present Minister for Social Services (Mr. Holloway) said - l’ shall oppose even to the point of stretching thi- law to breaking point any proposal to send Australians to fight on foreign battlefields.
The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) declared -
I declare emphatically against any expeditionary force proceeding overseas to wage war in Europe.
The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) said -
If the Australian Labour party must choose between supporting the raising of forces for overseas service and an immediate negotiated’ peace, I know which I would choose.
Usually when one talks about negotiating a peace, the other fellow is prepared to negotiate and talk with you. But faced with what we are faced with to-day, and knowing what we do, besides remembering the things we have read - not in the press, but in the writings of Hitler, Ludendorf, Goering and others - what hope would we have of making a satisfactory negotiated peace? This young nation can get through this business in one way only, and that is by fighting. Even since the outbreak of war, the press generally throughout the Empire has fed us on pap. First, we were told that Poland had the most wonderful army in the world, and would put up effective resistance. So it has gone on right through the piece. Prance, we were told, had the most magnificent army, which was perfect, down to the last tank. Always, somebody else is going to save us. Then the German went for the Russian bear; and he is still at him. People remark to rae how well the Russians are doing. They are well done by Fritz. Notwithstanding Senator Courtice’s notion that we should send wheat to the Russians so that they will fight our battle, while we keep our own young men at home, Russia will not save us. We must save ourselves. When Russia is crumpled up, the story will be that the United States of America will save us. No one can fight: the battle for Australia but Australia itself.
– Anywhere in the world. If the honorable senator will read volume 9 of the Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-18 he will learn that the Royal Australian Navy fought in the seven seas of the world. That is where we must fight to-day instead of sitting round our funk hole like frightened rabbits ready to scurry into our burrow when the ferret comes at us. We must stand up and fight the enemy. After the experiences I have mentioned, how oan one have any confidence at all in the poor, worn out and unjust system of voluntaryism? We need only plead that when our country is in dire peril it is our right and duty to take money, labour and men. The terrible pity of it is that our young Australian manhood since 1929 has not been trained in arms. Our men have not been taught the calling into which they must now be pushed and hurried away untrained. Armies cannot be made by stamping a foot; they cannot be organized and trained by any old method. Honorable senators who have been in this chamber since 1930-31 onwards know that this is one subject on which I can say, perhaps, that I have been consistent. It is one reason why I was not held in favour by any of the governments of the past. I advocated a policy which they did not have the courage to implement. Those are the things that we must tackle, particularly the problem of exemptions. That problem is evaded in State and Commonwealth departments.
I know that in this matter the Government will be up against the heads of departments. The same opposition will be advanced in banks. The plea is made that men are indispensable, although they are doing work which older men, or women, could do.
According to Senator Courtice, the establishment of a mortgage bank will save this country. I do not like the idea of mortgages. I laboured under one for more years than I care to remember, and when I freed myself from it I made up my mind that only very dire circumstances indeed would compel me to enter into another. The idea behind a mortgage bank is all right; but many other problems require more urgent attention. A mortgage bank will not help our distressed primary producers out of their troubles. In fact, it may in some instances aggravate their troubles. At all events, many other more urgent matters should first be attended to. One of the greatest disadvantages under which we labour - and I do not know whether we shall live to see it overcome - is that, unlike New Zealand, we have seven parliaments whereas our sister dominion has only one parliament. The existence of so many parliaments in this country is one of the greatest hindrances to our war effort. I know, of course, that we cannot alter the position at present, but it is the cause of much waste of time, money and energy.
I do not suppose that any honorable senator will dispute the fact that reinforcements for the Australian Imperial Force are vitally necessary. I take it that all of us are agreed upon that point. To-day, however, those reinforcements are not being obtained. I again ask what the Government is doing about the matter. I know that the immediate answer which I shall receive to that question from the Leader of the Senate is that it is a matter of Government policy. That is true; but it is a matter which enters into my mind every day and every night and it worries me. It is a matter for the nation; and it is up to Australians to see that our men overseas are not let down. We should not ask for recruits ; we should take them.
– Honorable senators opposite have endeavoured to discredit the budget, and, had we been in opposition possibly we would have acted similarly. This budget is similar to that introduced by the Fadden Government, with some improvements, notably that prominence has been given to the need for a recognition of the principle of equality of sacrifice. Why should the burden of providing revenue to carry on Australia’s war effort be borne unduly by those in receipt of small incomes? Any honorable senator who has lived on the basic wage knows the hardship imposed by a reduction by 2s. or 3s. of his weekly income. I know what it means, because I have had the experience of living on the basic wage. I direct the attention of honorable senators to the following report which appeared in the Melbourne Age of the 30th October last : -
There need be no pretence that the budget’s taxation provisions are not very severe. In many directions their repercussions will be keenly felt, but they are the measuring rod of what is required of us as a people at war.
– Other opinions expressed in various newspapers are similar. The report continues -
It is part payment for our national security, and for the equipment and maintenance of those who are risking and giving their lives in our defence.
When anything of importance occurs in this chamber or in the House of Representatives, reference is usually made to it in the leading articles of the principal Australian newspapers. I remind honorable senators that on the morning after the presentation of this Government’s budget to Parliament, it was favorably commented upon by Australia’s leading newspapers.
– How many people read leading articles?
– Every man who professes to take an interest in important current events should read them. The article in the Melbourne Age continued -
In any detailed assessment of the budget proposals, these basic factors must be kept in sight. Compared with the September budget, the Government is increasing the war and civil expenditure to the extent of £5.059,000.
With the aid of economies to be effected, the increased revenue is to be disbursed in increasing old-age and invalid pensions, increasing and extending service pensions, increasing active soldiers’ pay and the allowances to wives and children and other dependants of members of the Forces. And who will say, even in time of war, that the nation’s duty, not generosity, to such groups should be neglected.
Those words should prove that the budget is based on sound principles. I believe that although honorable senators opposite have criticized the budget, they know that it meet3 the requirements of a majority of the Australian people. In recent months I have had an opportunity to visit various munitions establishments, aircraft factories and other similar undertakings, and what I saw is a credit to Australia, to those who established them, and to the workers. The development of industries engaged on war work has been remarkable, but many people are not aware of the excellent work that is being performed. They hear that thousands of employees are engaged in certain factories, but they do not know the extent of their output. Lack of steel is hampering production in our defence industries to-day, yet we have thousands and thousands of tons of iron ore lying in undeveloped deposits at such places as Yampi Sound in Western Australia. I am not criticizing our existing steel industries; what we require is additional plants. Steel is the basis of our heavy industries and in this category I include shipbuilding. There is too much wrangling. While Hitler’s submarines are busy torpedoing our ships our iron ore deposits at Yampi Sound are lying idle. Those deposits and others should be developed, and vested interests which are at present hampering development should be ignored. It should be a case of “ all in to win “. Water power could be utilized to develop the steel industry in Western Australia. A hydro-electric scheme could be established at a very small cost, or the power generated by the rise and fall of the tide, which in the vicinity of Yampi is from 28 feet to 38 feet, could be harnessed. Steel is produced in Norway and Sweden with the assistance of such power. Iron ore is the raw material, which, when converted, is used in the construction of ships, armaments and in many other ways.
– The West Australian Government has a proposal before it now with regard to Yampi.
– I am pleased to hear from Senator Collett, who was chairman of the Western Australian War Industries Committee, that the first goal has been kicked. In view of the honorable senator’s statement, I shall refrain from making further reference to the subject at this juncture.
Western Australia suffered rather a severe setback as a result of the imposition of the gold tax. I suggest that the gold-mining industry be reviewed, with the object of removing that unfair levy. It is quite reasonable to tax profits, but it is not fair to tax the value of the product. Production costs were not considered when the tax was imposed. The production of gold is vital to our war effort. During the last war miners were encouraged to produce as much gold as possible ; but to-day the gold tax is crippling the industry, and many small shows have been unable to carry on.
An increased tax on incomes exceeding £1,500 a year is not unreasonable, as persons in receipt of incomes above that amount are quite able to pay a higher rate. A person who has ample means should do his best to assist his country. What would be the use of money should we lose the war?
– Most of the persons to whom the honorable senator is referring have already made their money available to the Government for war purposes.
– But not all of them. The people of Australia generally have done magnificently in our war effort.
– Including the previous Government.
– Yes, and this Government is rendering a splendid service to the people.
We are all proud of those who have enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force, the Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force. Australia has made a remarkable effort in that respect; but nothing has been said of the splendid service being rendered by the nurses who are serving overseas.
– Will the honorable senator support preference to returned soldiers after the war?
– I shall deal with that point later. At present there are about 1,000 Australian nurses overseas who deserve just as much praise and support as those engaged’ in our fighting services. Nurses are performing valuable work under most difficult conditions, and should be given credit for the selfsacrificing service that they are rendering to their country. I believe that one volunteer is as good as twenty conscripts. In the Melbourne Herald of the 22nd November, the following paragraph appeared : -
Individually, the Ministers vary in ability, and some are disappointing, but collectively it is a hard working, loyal cabinet that is giving a crisis-weary Australia the first real approach to stability of government it has known since the early days of the Menzies’ ministry.
If given an opportunity, this Government will serve Australia well. I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 5.1 to 8 p.m.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. J. Cunningham) . - Pursuant to Standing Order 28a, I lay on the table my warrant nominating Senator B. Courtice to act as a temporary chairman of committees, when requested so to do by the Chairman of Committees, or when the Chairman of Committees is absent.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Cameron) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill is designed to amend the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act, mainly in three directions, namely : -
The more important of these are, of course, the first and second. Both relate to service pensions, the new type of pension instituted in January, 1936. Service pensions are really a form of invalid or old-age pensions for members of the forces, and are granted on the grounds of age, of being permanently unemployable, or because the ex-soldier is suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis. The present rate for members eligible on the ground of age, and for unmarried members eligible on either of the grounds, is £11s. a week. It is provided in clause 3 of the bill that the rate shall be increased by 2s. 6d. a week to give a maximum rate of £1 3s. 6d. a week. In the bill, the rates are expressed in fortnightly amounts. Provision is made in it for the granting of pensions to both husband and wife where a member is eligible on the ground that he is permanently unemployable or is suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis. In such cases the aggregate maximum rate is £1 16s. a week, being 18s. for the member and18s. for his wife. Clause 4 provides that the rate for the member shall be increased by 5s. a week to a maximum rate of £1 3s. a week. The present rate of 18s. a week for the wife of a service pensioner is already equal to that payable to the wife of a member receiving a war pension for total incapacity attributable to war service. Clause 5 omits sub-section 2 of section 45 ah of the act and provides a common basis as regards deduction from pension on account of accumulated property. Under the section as amended, deduction from pension will apply only in respect of property valued in excess of £50. The existing exemption in respect of an individual pensioner is £50, but in the case of a husband and wife, it is £25 for each. In future, the exemption will be £50 for each.Clause 6 effects three amendments in respect of the section of the act relating to the rate of pension payable whilst a service pensioner is in an institution. The first amendment makes it, clear that the provision applies only where the pensioner is maintained at the public expense, and removes the necessity for reducing the pension to the lower rate where the pensioner enters, say, a private hospital or an intermediate hospital. In future, when a service pensioner is admitted to a public institution, reduction of pension will not operate until the twenty-ninth day after admission. This will place service pensions on the same footing as invalid or old-age pensions where the pensioner is admitted to hospital. It is desirable that the hospital rate of pension should agree in respect of both service pension and invalidor oldage pension. At the inception of service pensions, they did agree, but, through certain differences in the legislation affecting the two departments, and in other provisions which the departments had necessarily to observe, the institutional rate for service pensioners has, since September, 1936, been higher than that paid to invalid pensioners. For most of the period, the advantage was1s. a week. The present rates are : Invalid or old-age pension, 6s. 9d. a week; service pension, 7s.6d. a week. The proposed new rate for invalid pension is 7s. 9d. a week and the amendment will bring the rates into uniformity and keep them so for the future. Clause 7 inserts a new section in the act, whereby the provisions of service pensions are extended to veterans of the South AfricanWar. This had been decided upon by the previous Government. The present Government concurs in the decision, and is pleased to give effect to it. In this connexion, credit is due to Senators Brand, Collett - who was the former Minister for Repatriation - Ashley, Sampson and Cooper, and to the honorable members for Darwin (Sir
George Bell), Brisbane (Mr. Lawson), Bourke (Mr. Blackburn), Melbourne (Mr. Calwell)., Moreton (Mr. Francis), Hume (Mr. Collins) and Lang (Mr. Mulcahy), who have been staunch advocates of the claims of these veterans. The extension will operate from the 1st November, 1941, and will, no doubt, be the means of affording comfort to those veterans in need of such a pension. It will be noted that Australians who served in South Africa with the forces of Great Britain or of a dominion other than Australia are also eligible. Medical treatment for members of the forces suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis, even though not due to the member’s service, is a concomitant of the service pension scheme, and this benefit will be available for the veterans who should beso unfortunate as to be afflicted with that disability. The benefit will be available irrespective of whether or not the member is to receive a service pension. The provision is covered by one of the amendments to section 60 of the act, affected by clause8 of the bill. The other amendments to section 60 do not confer any new benefit; they are designed merely to give statutory authority for concessions already in force. They may be regarded as machinery amendments to facilitate administrative accounting for the expenditure.
– I commendthe Government for the introduction of this bill. Although the Minister readily admits that the amendments proposed in the measure were under consideration by the previous Government before it relinquished office, I am grateful to this Government for having facilitated their introduction. The granting of the service pension and the raising of the rate to 23s. 6d. a week places the ex-soldier who is unable to work on a very favorable footing as compared with other members of the community in distress. The service pensioner’s wife is also in a favorable position in that she receives a pension of 18s. a week merely because she is the wife of an ex-soldier and not because she herself is an invalid. Provision for the payment of service pensions to veterans of the South African War should have been made in the original legislation.
During the South African War in 1899-1902 men enlisted in the armed forces to serve the Empire with just as much enthusiasm as they display to-day, and they rendered first-class service to their country. Over 16,000 Australians went to South Africa, and whilst they did not have to face the rigours of modern war they had other disabilities to overcome, such as disease, undernourishment and fatigue, which are not encountered to the same degree in these more enlightened days. In fact, I might describe the South African campaign in the words used by the present Leader of the Senate as “ something in the nature of a gentleman’s war “. It is not yet too late to pay this little tribute to those who served their country on that occasion. Not many of them are still alive, though we are proud to include among their number no fewer than four members of the Senate. Every consideration should be displayed towards these men. This measure will be very much appreciated by them, and I trust that it will receive the unanimous support of honorable senators. In his second-reading speech the Minister departed from customary practice when he mentioned the names of those who are said to have had some part in the introduction of this measure. I am not sure whether that is a compliment or whether there is something behind it.
-I have merely desired to give credit where credit is due.
– I accept the Minister’s assurance. I may be permitted to mention, however, that his own name is omitted from the list of those to whom he has paid this tribute, yet, as every honorable senator knows, he has for a long time advocated consideration of the claims of the South African War veterans for service pensions. The Opposition, I feel sure, will support the bill.
.- The Fadden Government is to be commended for approving the principle of a service pension for burnt-out South African war veterans. The Curtin Government also is to be congratulated upon the action it is now taking to implement that decision. The number likely to qualify for this pension is estimated to be under 300. The majority are about 60 years of age and are thus not old enough to qualify for the old-age pension, whilst they hardly comply with the conditions required for an invalid pension. Time and again with other honorable senators, I have pleaded for a pension for these old veterans, who cannot earn a constant livelihood, because of advanced age, or mental and physical incapacity due to the rigours of active service. Most of them have been living on charity and whatever help their more fortunate comrades can give them. The pension will enable them to obtain some of the necessaries of life in the eventide of their days, and will create the right psychological effect on those young men who are being asked to don the King’s uniform in the present world struggle. These old veterans realize that no obligation rests upon the nation to give them this assistance and, therefore, they feel very grateful for it. On the other hand, the Commonwealth owes them something for the part they played in that campaign 40 years ago, a campaign which, ending with magnanimous peace terms, created a new dominion within the British Commonwealth of Nations. It forestalled any attempt by Germany, through the two Boer republics, to extend its influence in the South as it had already done in West and East Africa. Despite the diehard Afrikander anti-British elements, the campaign brought peace between the two white races and peace between them and the coloured population numbering millions. It strengthened the Empire’s strategical position during the Great War. Had the territories in South Africa not been unified under the British Crown, Germany would have taken advantage of racial discord, an advantage which, in the present war, as in the Great War, would have caused Australia serious concern.
In this chamber are four South African war veterans, namely, Senator Ashley, Senator Cameron, Senator Sampson and myself. Though the kind of warfare in South Africa was different from that of the Great War, it was just as exacting. We remember the ceaseless night marches month after month, the constant vigilance night and day, the courage and initiative necessary to beat our opponents under guerilla warfare conditions, of which they were recognized as the world’s greatest exponents. We know that many of our comrades carried on, though enteric germs within their system weakened their constitution. This service pension will assist those men in their declining years.
On behalf of the South African veterans of Australia, I thank the former Minister for Repatriation (Senator Collett) for his sustained interest in this matter. He convinced his colleagues in Cabinet of the justice of the claims. This bill will place South African war service pensioners on the same footing as service pensioners of the Great War. Four years ago a similar measure was passed by the New Zealand Parliament.
– Sub-clause 1 of clause 7 requires an applicant for a South African war service pension to prove that he was resident in Australia within a period of twelve months immediately prior to his enlistment. I bring to the notice of the Minister (Senator Cameron) the case of a Tasmanian, who fought with the Australians in the South African war, but, owing to the conditions under which he enlisted, will not qualify for a service pension. He spent three years in South America and on his return journey he stopped at Capetown and enlisted for service with the Australian troops. At the conclusion of hostilities, he returned to his native State, Tasmania. Because he was not a resident in Australia within the period of twelve months immediately prior to his enlistment, he is not entitled under this measure to a service pension as a South African war veteran. Very probably there may be a number of similar cases.
– Is he in need of a service pension?
– Yes ; he has written to me in regard to the matter, and when I passed his letter on to the Minister, my attention was drawn to this provision.
– The honorable senator is not in order at this stage in dealing specifically with a clause of the bill. He must reserve specific references to individual clauses until the committee stage. On the second reading, he may refer to the provisions of the bill generally.
, - On behalf of many old Tasmanian South African war veterans I congratulate the Government on the introduction of the bill, thus giving very prompt effect to the intentions of the previous Government. The measure will be welcomed by many South African war veterans resident in Tasmania, who have fallen upon evil times, and are now in need. On their behalf I thank the Government for introducing the measure.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 6 agreed to.
Clause 7 (Service pensions for South African veterans).
– Perhaps the Minister (Senator Cameron) would clarify a point which arises under this clause. I have been asked why a distinction is made between South African war veterans and veterans of the last war in respect of medical treatment. The Minister might explain the responsibility of the Imperial Government in respect of injuries received in the South African war.
– This clause provides for the payment of a service pension, not a war pension.
– The Imperial Government is responsible for the payment of pension in respect of wounds, or sickness, sustained as the result of service in the South African war.
– I have already cited a case which arises in connexion with this provision. I ask whether some provision can be made to cover such cases, particularly if there should be a considerable number of them.
– The provision referred to by Senator Herbert Hays conforms to the principle of pensions payable in respect ofthewarof1914-18andthepresentwar.
Members of the forces of Great Britain and other dominions are admitted to benefit under the Australian Soldiers Repatriation Act. provided that they can establish that they were resident in Australia for twelve months prior to enlistment. It would appear that, at the moment, the Government cannot go fur ther.
.- I should like the Minister for Aircraft Production to clear up the point raised by Senator Collett with respect to South African war veterans. I took this matter up with Senator Collett some time ago because it appeared to me that ex-soldiers . of the South African War were entitled to medical attention only when suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis. Senator Collett explained that pensions for war injury and sickness were paid by the Imperial Government, but not pensions for tuberculosis, which had developed since the war. I shall be satisfied if the Minister will assure me that that is the position. It seems to me to savour of cheese-paring to provide that when ill veterans of the South African war may benefit only when suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis.
– I shall reply to the honorable senator later.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 8 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
.-I move -
That the bill be now read a third time.
In answer to the point raised by Senator Leckie on clause 7, I should like to state that the ordinary service pension is payable in respect of disabilities due to war service. Medical treatment is afforded only in respect of pulmonary tuberculosis.
.- That is a very unsatisfactory answer to the point I raised. The Minister has only repeated what is in the bill. I want to know why these South
African Warveteransareentitled to medical treatment for only one complaint, namely, pulmonary tuberculosis. Apparently, if one of these ex-soldiers has certain war injuries, which, although not apparent at the time of his discharge, result in illness at a later stage, is he not entitled to medical attention ? I am afraid that the Minister misled me when he said that he would answer later the point I raised. In the meantime the bill has reached the third-reading stage, and the Minister has only repeated what he said in his second-reading speech. Unless 1 receive a satisfactory answer I shall not feel disposed to assist the passage of the measure without protest. I do not suggest that the Minister deliberately- misled me in order to get the bill through, but that was the effect of his action. I ask again if South African war veterans are entitled to treatment for complaints other than pulmonary tuberculosis, and, if not, why not?
.- I take it that the object of providing only for the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis is to bring the practice in respect of South African War veterans into line with that applying to ex-soldiers of the Great War. Should that principle be departed from difficulties would arise.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
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 rend a second time.
I submit this bill with the utmost confidence, believing that, having regard to this nation’s present circumstances, true Australians will accept it as just in its incidence, and essential in its purpose, namely, the prosecution of the war. Upon the result of this conflict depends the future of the individual, and that is our greatest consideration. I say that because, taken collectively, individuals constitute this great Australian democracy. In this extremity, with which we are now faced, the consideration of personal gain must pass into the background where it rightly belongs. Personal interests, and those of companies and enterprises which have flourished under a charter which the community alone could give, and which the community now simply demands that they should defend, must be sunk in the face of grave danger to the community. Surely it would not be too much to ask the prosperous companies of Australia to give their all to preserve the conditions under which they have flourished for so many years. Had the Government asked the shareholders in companies to forgo all their dividends to protect the grand heritage that they are building up, I am sure that the patriots among them would not have hesitated. In times of peace companies are often vehicles upon which subscribers are carried to permanent comfort and frequently to wealth ; in this emergency they must realize that the continuance of that assured source of income depends upon the sacrifices they are prepared to make now. We have been told so frequently that this is an all-in war effort, that perhaps the significance of the term now fails to make an impression; but honorable senators who served in the last Ministry can well appreciate the meaning of “ a total war effort “. In fact, many companies owe added prosperity to the increasing self-sufficiency of the Commonwealth due to the extra responsibility that has been placed upon us by the war. Indeed, these companies have a double obligation to Australia, and I feel sure that, in its hour of need, they will not fail this great country. The burden is heavy, but it has to be borne. In the House of Representatives the Government accepted an amendment which lifts the statutory percentage of profit from 4 per cent, to 5 per cent. Minute as that may seem, it has already involved a difference of £800,000 in the estimated revenue from this source. I hope that honorable senators will approach this problem as big Australians, realizing at all times that every minute lost and every penny lost, inevitably must detract from our chance of ultimate victory. When we were in Opposition there was never a voice raised on the Labour side of the chamber against what we considered to be legislation directed towards the proper and effective prosecution of the war. Now that the responsibility has fallen on the new Ministry I sincerely trust that we shall enjoy similar co-operation.
This bill is designed to amend the Wartime (‘Company) Tax Assessment Act in certain particulars; mainly to give effect to the Government’s proposal to reduce the statutory percentage of profit from 8 per cent to 5 per cent. It is desirable that a. brief reference be made to the manner in which the War-time (Company) Tax operates under the present law. The tax applies only to public companies. A public company, the taxable profit of which does not exceed 8 per cent, of the capital employed, is exempt from the tax. The tax is graduated, and the rate increases according to the percentage which the taxable profit in excess of 8 per cent bears to the capital employed. The rate commences at 4 per cent, on the first 1 per cent, of the capital employed by which the taxable profit exceeds 8 per cent., and increases by steps of 4 per cent, for each additional 1 per cent., until the maximum rate of 60 per cent, is reached at the point where the taxable profit is more than 22 per cent, of the capital employed. The Government has very carefully surveyed this field of taxation, and has considered different methods of taxing profits of companies, not only from the point of view of increased revenue, but also with the object of preventing profiteering during war-time. As a result of this survey, it is considered that many companies which are not liable for War-time (Company) Tax because their profits are less than S per cent, of the capital employed, or which pay a negligible amount of tax, should be required to make a greater contribution to the war effort. It is felt, also, that those companies, whose taxable profits represent a high percentage on the capital employed, are not making that sacrifice which the present world situation demands. The reduction of the statutory percentage from 8 per cent, to 5 per cent. does not represent a departure from the principle of ability to pay. As previously mentioned, the tax is graduated, and, therefore, falls less severely on those companies whose profits represent a comparatively smaller return on the capital invested, than on those companies which enjoy a higher percentage return on capital. This tax, unlike the war-profits tax which operated during the last war, does not apply only to companies whose war-time profits exceed those of pre-war years, but also affects companies which made high profits prior to the war and continue to make them during the war period. Consequent upon the reduction of the statutory percentage from 8 per cent, to 5 per cent, is the proposal to increase the amount allowed as the minimum capital employed, from £12,500 to £20,000. The object of providing for a minimum capital employed was to ensure a minimum percentage standard for companies with small capital, and for those companies which failed to furnish information to enable the capital employed to he ascertained. Thus a capital of £12,500 ensured a percentage standard of £1,000, i.e., 8 per cent, of £12,500. It is the desire of the Government to retain the principle of the minimum percentage standard of £1,000, and, in order to do this, it is necessary to increase the minimum capital employed to £20,000.
Honorable senators are, no doubt, aware that the Board of Referees appointed under the War-time (Company) Tax Assessment Act is required to inquire into and report to the Minister, upon any claim referred to it by the commissioner, that some unavoidable condition, associated with a particular class of business, makes it just that a greater statutory percentage than that specified in section 20 of the act should be prescribed in respect of that class of business. If the board is satisfied that unavoidable conditions exist, it is required to make a recommendation as to the greater statutory percentage which it considers just. Where a greater statutory percentage is granted in accordance with the board’s recommendation, such percentage is prescribed by regulation.
The act does not contain any provision which, would enable the board to review any claim which, it has inquired into and reported upon. The board has inquired into and reported upon several claims. lt is essential that these claims be reviewed. They were considered when the statutory percentage was 8 per cent., but it is probable that had the statutory percentage been 5 per cent., different conclusions would have been reached by the board. Provision is contained in the bill requiring the board to review those claims which have already been inquired into and reported upon, but any recommendation made as a result of the revision will not apply to assessments for the period during which the statutory percentage of 8 per cent, operated.
The necessity has arisen to amend the definition of “income tax”. In the present law “ income tax “ is defined as the income tax imposed’ as such by any act. Income tax payable in respect of the taxable income as assessed for income tax purposes is allowed as a deduction in arriving at the taxable profit for war-time company tax purposes. It was not intended that income tax deducted from the taxable income should include super tax, because that tax is alternative to war-time company tax, and is deducted from the war-time company tax itself. However, the Taxation Board of Review recently held that super tax was an income tax imposed as such, and that a company was entitled to have the super tax deducted from the taxable income in arriving at the taxable profit, notwithstanding the provision in the law for deduction of the super tax from the war-time company tax assessed. The decision of the board would entitle a company to a deduction of an amount which, in effect, it does not pay, because the amount of war-time company tax payable is reduced by the amount of super tax assessed. It is important that the law he amended to prevent the double deduction of super tax. It is proposed to make the amendment retrospective, but it will not deprive a company, in whose favour the decision of the board was given, of the benefit of the decision.
I commend the bill to honorable senators. Owing to the amendment made in the House of Representatives to increase the proposed statutory percentage of profit from 4 per cent, to 5 per cent., the revenue that the Government will derive under the budget has been reduced by £800,000. I regard that action as wrong. No Government derives pleasure from submitting taxation proposals, whether they provide for direct or indirect taxation. We all know that a state of emergency exists. Members of the Advisory War Council are well aware of the gravity of the position, and I repeat that it was distinctly wrong to reduce the revenue available to the Government. If the Senate does the right thing, it will realize that the revenue budgeted for is essential. Had the matter been left to this chamber I believe that the reduction of the proposed statutory percentage would not have been made. The shareholders in big companies are the people who have most to gain by the winning of the war, and the amendment of the Government’s proposal is one of. the most distressing incidents that I have witnessed in this Parliament. To me it seems deplorable that in a time when the war position was never graver than it is now, the Government is to be handicapped by a loss of revenue to the amount of £800,000, because some people do not approve of this tax. In times of danger, heavy taxes must be imposed’, unpopular as they may be. I trust that the bill will have a speedy passage through this chamber.
.- It is interesting to hear the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) uttering words of censure regarding the action of the Government in the House of Representatives in accepting an amendment to this bill. A bill of which we knew nothing comes before us. and before members of the Opposition have expressed any opinion at all regarding it, the Minister upbraids them for depriving the Government of revenue. Surely it is a new departure in this chamber for the Minister in charge of a measure to censure his own leader, and the Ministry of which he is a member, because it has accepted an amendment moved by the Opposition in the House of Representatives. If the Government regarded it as vital that the amendment should not be made, it has a majority in the other branch of the legislature, and it could have stuck to its guns. This measure was to have received a smooth passage through the Senate. The Opposition had not intended to oppose it, except in one small particular. We do not approve the method by which the revenue required is to be raised; we consider that it is a thoroughly bad bill, with many injustices and anomalies. There is a general feeling that those who drew up the measure had no clear conception as to how companies conduct their businesses. If the Opposition is assured that the only means that the Government could devise for obtaining the extra revenue required was that provided for in this bill, the passage of the measure will not be obstructed.
Companies are aggregations of individuals, and the formation of companies has become necessary to enable capital to be obtained to carry on business economically, and in the best interests of the community. The days of the one-man company have almost gone. The capita] used by companies is provided by both large and small shareholders, and the great majority of them are fairly small shareholders. The present Government, in order to “ sock “ the “ big man is obsessed with the idea that companies are all composed of rich men. Many people have invested their savings in companies in order to provide themselves with the means of livelihood in their declining years. Actually the bill provides that the small shareholders shall pay a portion of the wartime profits tax of the large shareholders. Being taxed at a rate in accordance with the profit of the company, the small shareholders pay more than they would be required to pay if the full dividend wore paid out to them; therefore the Government is “ socking “, not the rich man, but the comparatively poor shareholder. A statutory amount of dividend has to be paid to preference shareholders before any ordinary dividends are paid, but under this bill a company must also pay tax on the difference between 5 per cent, and the 7 per cent, or 8 per cent, to which preference shareholders are entitled, and that amount must come out of the dividend of the ordinary shareholders. I am surprised that no provision has been made so that the preference shareholders would be called upon to give some assistance in that regard, but they are to be left untouched. The bill contains a number of anomalies the effect of which will be bad, in that they will prevent small and recently established companies from setting aside any considerable reserves. Large and well-established companies which have built up reserves will not be in so bad a position. When the war ie over these small companies, which will be hit hard by this legislation, may have no reserves at all and may even be forced out of existence, thereby increasing unemployment.
– There will be no reserves at all should Hitler win the war.
– Should this country be defeated in the present conflict there will be nothing left for anyone. Every man in the country, whether he possesses little or much, has everything at stake.
The title of the bill is War-time (Company) Tax Bill 1941, and, therefore, I presume that it is a war-time measure, although there is no clause in it which restricts its operation to the period of wai-. In committee I propose to move an amendment to ensure that this legislation shall remain in operation only for the duration of the war and for six months after the end of the financial year in which tlie war terminates.
– The honorable senator wishes to be sure that the profit will remain at 5 per cent, during that period.
– I do not understand the interjection. There is nothing in this bill to ensure a profit of 5 pex cent, for any period. Indeed, the Government may at any time introduce another bill to restrict profits to 2 per cent., or even to 1 per cent.
– Some companies are not making anything like 5 per cent, profit.
– I merely want to be sure that this legislation will not continue indefinitely. If the Government intends that it shall remain on the statutebook after the war is over, the opposition to it will be stronger. Should it be found, say, six months after the war terminates that the money which it will provide is still wanted, the legislation could be re-enacted in the light of the necessities of the time. I appeal to the Minister in charge of the bill to move the suggested amendment himself, in which event honorable senators on this side, while nor necessarily refraining from criticism of certain-portions of the measure, will agree to give it a speedy passage.
– If, as the honorablesenator says, the bill could be re-enacted later, what is the meaning of the word” “and no longer” in his proposed amendment?
– Should it be found at the expiration of the term of the measure, that it would be desirable to continue it for a little longer, a bill to that effect could be introduced. If the Minister will agree to my proposed amendment, the Opposition will not raise any strong objection to the passing of the bill.
.- -I endorse what Senator Leckie has said in regard to certain remarks of the Minister in charge of the bill (Senator Keane). Had the bill been introduced without such comments, a better atmosphere would have existed, in regard to it. In the Hoti.se of Representatives, the Opposition moved an amendment, and the Government accepted it, although in that chamber the Government has a clear majority of three. Apparently, Ministers in another place saw the justice of the amendment, and accepted it. It ill becomes the Minister in charge of the bill in this chamber to criticize his colleagues in another place.
– Does the honorable senator think ‘that the amendment was right?
– Yes. It was moved in the interests of justice. Have we reached such a stage that a man who takes .up a few shares in a company is committing a siu?
– No one has said that.
– There have been strong references to profiteers, but I point out that there are many companies in Australia which have never paid what could be called a “profiteer’s dividend”. T draw attention to the following paragraph in the opening speech of the Minister : -
Had the Government asked the shareholders in companies to forgo all their dividends to protect the grand heritage that they are building up, I am sure that the patriots among them would not hesitate.
Is there any particular reason why people who have exercised thrift, and have invested some of their savings in Australian companies, should be asked to forgo all of their dividends because there is a war on. when people in other walks of life are not asked to make a similar sacrifice? A few days ago, Senator MeI;ride pointed out that among the shareholders of such large companies as the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited there are many people with incomes not greater than the basic wage.
– Can the honorable senator mention one shareholder in that company whose income is less than the basic wage?
– An examination of the list of shareholders of many large companies would reveal that many of them hold only a few hundred shares, which they have purchased out of their savings. The return from such shares, although small, is in many instances their only income. I have yet to loam that it is a sin against society to be thrifty, and to invest one’s savings in a well organized and properly controlled Australian company. Honorable senators know that many Australian companies have done much for the development of our primary and secondary industries. It was unnecessary for the Minister in charge of the bill to “ point the bone “ at these people and say that had the Government asked them to forgo all of their dividends it would have been a reasonable request.
– I did not say that.
– There is no more reason why the Government should say that a thrifty person who has invested a few hundred pounds in a company should forgo his dividends because the country is at war than that an old-age pensioner should forgo his pension during the war. The Government would be acting wrongly if in its taxation measures it set out to attack only the thrifty section of the community. Yet that is what it is doing in bill after bill that comes before us. Successive governments have advocated thrift. Indeed, the present Prime Minister is asking the people to discontinue certain forms of expenditure in order that the money may bc invested in war loans and war savings certificates. The only purpose of the Opposition in the other House in moving the amendment was to see that justice was done to the thrifty section of the community.
.– I strongly resent the suggestion that members of the Opposition in the House of Representatives acted improperly in supporting an amendment to alter the basis of the war-time company tax. Such a suggestion comes ill from a member of the party which voted to throw the Fadden Government out of office because the party was opposed to the means by which that government sought to obtain revenue. Although members of the present Ministry objected to the taxation proposal of the previous Government, which was intended to bring in £25,000,000, they have the audacity to say that we should meekly accept a measure of this kind which we may believe to be unsound. The fact of the matter is that the bill, as it was introduced into the House of Representatives, was a very bad one. It was improved a little by tlie amendments made in the House of Representatives. If the amendment foreshadowed by Senator Leckie be incorporated in the measure I shall support the second reading although I frankly confess that I shall do so with a great deal of misgiving. It is proper therefore that I should say that I regard the measure as thoroughly unsound. Some levity was created when Senator Leckie suggested that, in some instances, this bill would tax the poor to the benefit of the rich. That proposition is perfectly sound. Let us have a look at it. This bill imposes a tax on companies and in that respect it is tlie kind of measure which is attractive to this Government because it does not propose to take money directly out of the pockets of the voter.
– It proposes to use a back-door method.
– That is so. The tax imposed on a company is supposed to be a little less painful, and because it is less painful it is regarded as less objectionable to those who cast votes.
– But more equitable.
– Not at all. My objection to the bill is that it is thoroughly inequitable. Let us consider the case of a woman whose sole income of £100 per annum is derived from dividends from a company. The Government proposes to tax that woman through the company in which she holds shares at the rates provided in this bill.
– Can the honorable senator state the difference between taxing the individual and taxing the company?
-lt would be practically impossible to compute it. The difference would depend entirely on the nature of the company, its rate of profit, and the amount of tax it will be required to pay under this bill. For the purposes of my argument, however, the amount of the difference is entirely irrelevant. If the Government confined its taxation proposals to equitable methods, that is, if it imposed the tax on the individual taxpayer, under the present law the woman to whom I have referred would not pay any tax at all. But the Government is not courageous enough to tax such a woman directly ; that might affect her vote; and therefore it imposes the tax on the company. Out of money which would otherwise be available for dividends, it proposes to impose in some instances a very high rate of tax which must reduce the amount available for distribution by way of dividend, and to the same degree must reduce the amount which would be received by the woman to whom I have referred.
– The poor widow !
– The Leader of the Senate appears to have no sympathy for the poor widow.
– Ever since I was a boy, she has been dragged into every budget debate.
– I have established my point that this tax will operate to reduce the incomes of people who would not otherwise be taxed. Let us look at the other side of the picture. How do the rich fare under this bill? Let us consider the position of a man whose dividends from a company amount to £5,000 or £10,000 per annum. If he receives the dividends into his hands without their being taxed on their way through the company, he will, under present rates of taxation, pay 18s. in the £1; but under the method proposed in this bill, the Government intends to tax the profit in the hands of the company. It does not, however, intend to impose a tax on that profit of 18s. in the £1; in most cases it will be from 5s. to 9s. in the £1. It is true that the dividend of such a taxpayer is reduced, but it is not reduced by the rate of tax that he would pay as an individual, namely, 18s. in the £1. If the Government allowed the whole of the profit earned by a company to pass to the shareholders untouched, they would pay tax on their dividends at the rate appropriate to their incomes; but if the profit is stopped in transit, and is taxed in the hands of the company before it reaches the taxpayer,, the wealthy shareholder gets some benefit. The arguments that I use against legislation of this kind are much the same as those I used several days ago when we were dealing with the revised Estimates and budget papers. Those forms of taxation which impose taxes on companies are intrinsically unsound.
– Did the honorable senator regard them as unsound when they were imposed by the Government which he supported?
– Yes. I am willing to face that position.
– “What does the honorable senator suggest ?
– When taxes were first imposed on companies the provision which was made for rebates operated to the advantage of the shareholder. However that provision was wiped out owing to the necessity for obtaining the maximum revenue with which to prosecute the war. Possibly that was an unfortunate step, but at any rate it did not operate in relation to rates of taxation anything like those which the Government now proposes to impose. It becomes a very different proposition when an ordinary tax of 3s. in the £1 is extracted from a company and in some cases a super tax and, in addition, a war-time profits tax which can reach very high levels indeed. It becomes of great importance to see that we do not create real injustices in this community by failing to follow the reasonable and equitable course of trying to tax everybody according to their ability to pay.
– That is exactly what the honorable senator opposes.
– Not at all. However plainly I speak, the honorable senator cannot understand me.
– I do not permit myself to be misled by specious pleadings.
– I am a little puzzled by some figures that appeared in the budget speech when compared with other figures which have been supplied by officials of the Taxation Department. The Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) in his budget speech stated that the return from this tax at the old rate for the current financial year would amount to £1,000,000. That is quite contrary to sworn evidence given before the Joint Committee on Profits. If the Minister will look at the report of that committee, paragraph 42, he will see that it stated that war-time company tax, in its first year of operation, was estimated to yield £2,333,000, and that the return from super tax would amount to £2,800,000. These figures were supplied to the committee by officers of the Taxation Department, and were carefully checked before they were inserted in the report. I have no reason to disbelieve them; but I would like to be informed which set of figures is correct. I have a suspicion that there may have been some miscalculation of the real benefits which are expected to be derived from this tax. There may also be some miscalculation in connexion with the £800,000 to which the Minister has referred. The Government cannot treat the whole of the proceeds of this tax as gross additional revenue. This tax serves to absorb some of the fund which is available for dividends. If it were not imposed, dividends at a greater rate would pass to the shareholder, and the Government would thus be enabled to collect more income tax from individual taxpayers. I do not know whether that factor has been taken into account in calculating the net proceeds of the tax. Such information would be interesting. We must remember that there is only one fund, and that whether the money be taken from the shareholders themselves or the company, the fund is precisely the same. If it be taken, first, from the company the amount available to shareholders is reduced and, therefore, the contributions which they will make in the form of income tax will be reduced. I have already said that I regard the bill as bad, although it has been improved a little by the amendment moved in the House of Representatives, and wisely accepted by the Government. E hope that as the result of the alteration in respect of rates, the Board of Review provided for under this legislation will not be inundated with applications for special treatment. However, I fear that that will bo so. This class of tax originated as an attempt to deal with high profits in war-time. On that basis it has some psychological justification.
– No real merit?
– For the reasons I have already given, I do not regard it as having any real merit as a producer of revenue; but, psychologically, some justification exists for putting a curb on the declaration of high dividends by .companies in war-time. That was the reason for the imposition of this tax last year. However, it is nonsense for the Government to suggest that it is really taxing high dividends when it commences to tax them at 5 per cent. Not sufficient regard is paid to the risk involved in industrial enterprises. In one class of business a rate of profit of 5 per cent, may be regarded as high, but in another class, having regard to the risks entailed, it. may be very low. In these days it is important that we should encourage the greatest possible degree of initiative and enterprise in industry. It is not wise to destroy all initiative and to make it impossible for people to earn rewards as the result of their keenness and genius in industry. I commend the Government for paying some attention to the reports that have been presented by the various joint committees, including the Joint Committee on Profits, of which I am chairman. The Government adopted one of that committee’s recommendations in its income tax assessment legislation; but I do not believe that it would have indulged in this particular piece of legislation had it paid full regard to what the committee had said concerning legis lation of this kind. I emphasize that all members of the committee agreed upon those recommendations. They said -
While the revenue from this source is not great, we think this problem should be considered, not merely from a revenue-producing point of view. There is strong and justifiable objection to the exploitation of the community in war-time, and this tax does place some curb upon the accumulation of excessive profits. On the other hand, we would emphasize the dangers of imposing a rate of tax which is so high as to discourage initiative and enterprise at a time when the exercise of these qualities is itself a valuable contribution to a total war effort.
That paragraph expresses my views. Once we impose a vicious tax of this kind on so low a rate of profit as, say, 5 per cent, we run a real risk of seriously interfering with the very kind of initiative and enterprise which is essential to the success of the tremendous undertaking in which we are engaged.
– That is a reflection upon the people engaged in the war effort.
– I am not reflecting upon anybody. When anyone suggests, in respect of company profits, that it is desirable to encourage enterprise, he is met with the accusation just made by the honorable senator. I have never heard any honorable senator opposite suggest that people who work in these industries should work, say, twelve hours a day for the amount of pay which they would receive for an eight-hour day. No one has ever suggested that a worker who asks for twelve hours’ pay for twelve hours’ work is unpatriotic. So it is with industrial enterprises as a whole. If we expect them to speed up and display initiative and enterprise we shall obtain the best results in that direction by offering them some inducement. It need not be a great inducement. But they will respond, provided they know that their efforts will bring some slight reward. I commend to the Government the paragraph which I have quoted from the report of the Joint Committee on Profits. I repeat that if the Government had digested that recommendation it would not have introduced this measure in the form in which it has been introduced in the House of Representatives or in this chamber.
-What would the honorable senator put in its place?
SenatorSPICER. - As I explainedbefore, I should impose an income tax on members of this community sufficient to provide the revenue which the Government needs. If the Government required £28,000,000 to-morrow, I should vote in support of a proposal to impose a tax of1s. in the £1 upon the income of every person in this community, rich or poor. Out of the total income of £560,000,000 of all persons earning under £400 a year, the sum of £28,000,000 can be secured in that way, and I believe that every honorable senator on this side would supports such a proposal. Consequently it is nonsense for any member to accuse the Opposition in the House of Representatives of anything improper in moving an amendment to this measure, because the amendment will result in reducing the revenue estimated to be secured under the bill by £800,000. At the same time honorable senators opposite refused to adopt the compulsory loan proposals of the Fadden Government, and thus scorned a means of raising £25,000,000. Yet they accuse us of doing something improper because we support an amendment which involves a reduction of £800,000 of the revenue to be obtained under this measure. We support the amendment because the Government has not followed sound lines in its taxation proposals. The Government and the people as a whole will come to regret this kind of taxation. Ultimately we shall be obliged to face up to the real issue, and say to every adult individual in the community that he or she must pay a little more out of his or her pocket.
.- Honorable senators opposite have adopted an extraordinary attitude on this measure. They look at the bulk sums of company incomes, but they never pay regard to the amount that is paid to individual shareholders. When they notice that a big company makes a profit of, say, £1,000,000, they fail to realize that that sum represents the income of thousands of people. They look upon such organizations with suspicion, and allege that they are run by monopolists for thebenefit of monopolists. That is not the case. They are run by the general community.
SenatorCameron. - Some of them are very well off.
– They are well off as the result of their own efforts and enterprise in establishing industries. In his second-reading speech the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) said that the bill would place this burden on the shoulders of those best able to bear it. As Senator Spicer and Senator Leckie have pointed out, that is not so. Let us consider the case cited by Senator Leckie in regard to preference shares. The purchase of preference shares is not a speculation but a safe investment, and for that reason tens of thousands of people have invested sums of £100, or £200, in that way. However, whilst those people are receiving less than the basic wage, they are to he taxed under this measure. The Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings) asked honorable senators on this side to name a few persons coming within this class. On behalf of several women I have invested amounts of money in preference shares which return to them £50 a year. It was a little of their spare money. Trustees generally invest in preference shares. The Government proposes to take from these people the small income which such investments yield, and, as Senator Spicer has said, it is attempting, by taxing them through the companies, to blind them to the fact that they are being taxed. That is entirely wrong. Many of the companies which have been established during the last year are speculative. But will anyone invest money in new industries which may cease to exist when the war is over? Surely companies of this kind are entitled to a little greater rate of profit than 5 per cent, without additional impositions. Most of their plant will become obsolete when the war is over. Yet thousands of people who have invested their money in this way at great risk are to be taxed at an unfair rate under this measure. I agree with Senator Spicer that the Government proposes to exempt an income tax field of £560,000,000, which represents the aggregate incomes of taxpayers in receipt of between £400 and £1,500 a year.
SenatorFraser. - They are not exempt.
– They are escaping the payment of any additional income tax, and I ask why? Hundreds of people who have invested money in industrial undertakings during the past two years will suffer because of this legislation. What chance have the companies which are to be penalized by this measure to place money in reserve as a set-off against obsolescent plant? They will be called upon to pay taxes upon practically the whole of the money that they put into reserve for obsolescent plant. Many people would not have established new businesses had they known that this difficulty would arise. The Government is doing wrong. The money could he raised in other ways. Consider the position of some of the big pastoral companies in Queensland. Usually these companies experience one good season and then three or four bad seasons. What will he their position if they are unable to put money into reserve to offset losses during bad seasons? This Government will have a rude awakening very soon. I shall support the bill because it must be supported, but I do so with a bad grace.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Motion (by Senator McLeay) put -
That itbe an instruction to the committee of the whole on the bill to consider the insertion of a new section in the principal act.
Question resolved in the affirmative there being more than fifteen Senators present and no dissentient voice.
Clauses 1 to 5 agreed to.
New clause 5a.
.- I move -
That after clause 5, the following new clause be inserted: - “ 5a. After sectionthirty-seven of the principal act the following section is inserted: -
This act shall continue in force until six months after the end of the Financial year during which the present war between His Majesty the King and Germany terminates, and no longer.’”
The effect of this amendment if agreed to will be that the act will remain in force until six months after the end of the financial year in which thewar ter minates. The Government will have time to collect the tax during that year. The revenue will not be suddenly cut off. That provision is in accordance with a provision in the National Security Act, and I cannot see why the Government should not accept the proposal. If, when the time comes for the act to cease to operate, the Government desires to continue collecting the tax, the legislation can be re-enacted, but to pass this bill now and leave it on our statute-book for all time is a different matter altogether. It is conceivable that there might be some difficulty in repealing legislation of this kind, but, if the amendment be carried, this legislation would automatically cease to operate. I cannot see how objection can be raised to what is obviously a fair provision. This is a war-time profits measure, aimed at the control of profits in time of war, and at no other time. To make this legislation permanent because of the necessity to raise money in these exceptional circumstances is an unfair procedure.
, - The committee would be unwise to accept Senator Leckie’s amendment. When the war is over Parliament will be in a better position to determine what is required. It is unwise for us to attempt to foresee what will be the circumstances at the end of the war. It might be necessary to amend this legislation in a most drastic manner even before the end of the war. I see no reason for the amendment and I cannot subscribe to Senator Leckie’s argument. Surely we can trust Parliament, whatever may be its composition at the end of the war, to determine this matter in the best way possible.
.- There is nothing novel in the amendment. A similar provision already exists in the National Security Act.
– That is a different thing altogether.
– No. This also is war-time legislation. Parliament has seen fit to provide that the powers which the Government may exercise under the National Security Act shall be exercised only for a specified period. The title of this bill indicates that it is a tax upon the pro-fits of companies during war-time.
– What about super tax? The honorable senator would not suggest putting a limit on that?
– I do not propose to do that. I suggest that we shall get along much better if the Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings) does not seek to draw a red herring across the trail. The point which he has raised has nothing whatever to do with this tax. This bill is being introduced as a waT-time measure and in that way it is similar to the National Security Act. The principal act does not expressly provide that it shall cease to operate at the end of the war, and we have an opportunity mow to insert a provision to that effect. We are not prejudicing anything or trammelling any one’s discretion when the war is over.
– We should be binding the hand of another government.
– No; I have not heard anything so ridiculous in my life. We are not trammelling another Government by merely providing that this legislation will come to an end automatically when the war is over.
– How do we know what the circumstances will be then?
– As a matter of fact, that is a good argument in favour of the point which I am making. Because we do not know what the circumstances will be at the end of the war, it seems to me that it would be a good idea to ensure that the government of the day will consider this matter in the light of conditions operating at the end of the war.
– There is nothing about that in the amendment.
– That as the whole point. If this amendment be carried, then whatever government may be in office at the end of .the war cannot escape the responsibility ,of considering whether or not it is desirable that this legislation be continued. In other words, Parliament will have to consider this problem in the light of the circumstances which exist at that time. Surely it is very desirable that, by means of a provision such as this, we should ensure that this matter will be considered by the government of the day, and by the Parliament of the day, in the light of existing circumstances.
.- The Government cannot accept the amendment. As Senator Leckie is aware, a similar amendment was suggested by a member of the Opposition, but the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) took the view that it would not be fair to bind a future government to such an undertaking. I remind honorable senators that this amendment actually has nothing to do with the bill before the Senate. It is an amendment of .an act passed by the Menzies Government. Therefore Senator Leckie is actually asking this Government to do something which his own Government failed to do. I suggest to the honorable senator that as this matter has been raised only in this chamber, it be molt pressed. The amendment appears to me to be unnecessary. We should not tie the hands of the government that happens to be in power after the war.
[10.1L - Company taxation has been increased by 50 per cent., and the “vital amendment made by the bill is to levy a war-time profits tax on companies when their profits exceed 5 per cent., whereas under the present act the statutory rate of profit is 8 per cent. This very drastic alteration submits ‘.companies to vicious taxation, although it is desirable to encourage people here .and overseas who may be interested in investing their capital in companies in Australia to believe that there is some hope for the future. It is desirable to be assured that this iniquitous rate of tax will apply only for the period indicated in the amendment submitted ‘by Senator Leckie. I appeal to the Ministry and to the committee to accept the , amendment.
– I do not know the reason that has actuated the Opposition in submitting the amendment. The Opposition might well wait until after the war before submitting such an extraordinary proposal. Whatever government happens to he in power at the ‘conclusion of the -war, -will have ‘heavy financial obligations in providing for the returned members <of our fighting, forces, andi it may be necessary to retain taxes, at the present rates for more than- six. months after the conclusion of the war.. An endeavour is being made by the Opposition by. pressure to place a tag on this bill, so that, like the National Security. Act, it will cease to operate six months after the termination of the war ;. but I see no reason why such a: provision should be made with regard’ to a. taxation bill’. Any honorable senator who imagines that the financial difficulties of the government of the day will cease- at the conclusion of the war is making a serious mistake. I am. glad that, the: Minister (Senator Keane) has definitely declared that the Government will not accept tlie amendment.
Senator ARTHUR (New South Wales) p0..7’:. - There are 1718 public: companies in New South Wales, andi they have an enormous- amount, of paid-up- capital. Mien associated with those companies control: practically the1 whole of the economic structure o£ the- State, and, if the- amendment submitted by Senator Leckie were carried, we should tie the hands; of this Parliament for the duration of the war, unless this legislation were amended at a later date. The- companies im New. South- Wales, that., will be- affected by this measure- number- 127, and if they were permitted to- make a profit- of 5 per cent, on watered capital-
– The amendment has no bearing upon the percentage of profit allowed to companies.
– The honorable senator nrma*, show that his remarks are directly connected with the amendment. He would not be in order in making, a second-reading speech at this stage;
– If the amendment were accepted’ the Government that happened to be in power at. the conclusion of the war would find its hands tied unless this legislation were amended. We should do nothing to impede the financial operations of the government of the day at the conclusion of the war. The time may come when it will be thought desirable to allow companies to make a profit of 15 per cent, on their watered capital, or the rate of profit may be fixed as. low as 14 per cent.
. -One good reason- why the amendment should be accepted; by the committee was provided by the Minister for External Territories (Senator Fraser) who pointed out. that at the- end of the war it might be necessary for the Government to continue the form, of tax provided for by this bill. If that position should arise,, the Government of the day should go into the question as. to whether the war-time company tax should be. retained; but, if that be the view of the present Government the title o£ the bill should be altered. It. was- brought down as a wartime meas.ur.e- and provides for heavy imposts to meet war-time needs. Senator Leckie is to< be commended for having proposed this amendment. Heavy taxes hara been, imposed on. the community in the past., and the people have been assured tha-t they have been, imposed only as- emergency measures-,, bat those taxes ha-v.e never been, withdrawn, nor has further legislative- sanction- been obtained for their continuance. During a time of depression- and difficulty a special tax was- imposed by a State government to deal with unemployment, but, even when, unemployment ceased, that tas was not withdrawn-; it was merely given another name.. Many taxes that, have been expressly imposed to. meet emergency conditions, have- remained in operation.. I remind the Minister that the insertion of such a provision in a bill is nothing, new. The same thing has been done in connexion with the gold tax. On account of the abnormal price of gold, due principally to war conditions, a percentage of the premium over and above a certain rate is regarded as a war tax. When conditions- return fo normal,, the price of gold will probably fall, in which event the tax will no longer operate. As the Minister for External Territories has suggested that the Government may Be inclined to retain this form of taxation after the war, I can only say that his argument is an additional reason for carrying the amendment.
,. - I heartily support the amendment moved by Senator Leckie, and cannot, understand the heat which the proposal has engendered on the Government benches. The amendment casts no reflection on the present Government. If it be a reflection at all, it is a reflection on the Government which introduced the original measure. I have no hesitation in saying that the Government of the day overlooked an important point when it set no limit to that legislation. I agree with Senator Foll that far too many measures have been continued long after the reasons for their introduction have passed. When the sales tax was first introduced by a Labour Government, it was described as an emergency measure, but it has been continued ever since.
– At the request of all parties.
– The taxpayers were told that the sales tax was justified only in the peculiar circumstances which then existed. In fairness to the taxpayers, we should ensure that this class of legislation will cease to operate when the need for it no longer exists. Should the amendment be carried and the government of the day find that this measure should be continued when its term expires, legislation to re-enact it canbe introduced. I hope that the Government will accept the amendment in the spirit in which it is proposed.
– There is no ground for Senator McBride’s statement that we on this side have become heated during this debate.
– Government supporters do not seem to understand the amendment.
– I admit that I do not understand it, but as honorable senators opposite are so unanimous in their support of it, I naturally look for the “ nigger in the woodpile “.
I should not have risen had it not been for Senator Foil’s remarks concerning certain legislation passed, I think that he said, by the Parliament of Queensland. The honorable senator was inaccurate when he said that that legislation was continued without any review. He referred to unemployment insurance legislation which was introduced during a period of depression. The tax imposed by that measure was abandoned, and to-day, the worker on the basic wage does not pay it. There is a development tax in Queensland, but there is no unemployment insurance tax. I cannot see any reason for the amendment of Senator Leckie, but I am not greatly concerned whether or not it is accepted.
.- I thought that the Government, if it intended to oppose the amendment, would give some reasons for its opposition, but the only reason advanced on its behalf so far is that the Government should have an opportunity to review this legislation at the end of the war. That is precisely the object of the amendment. Government supporters have suggested that to set; a time limit on legislation is something new, but that is not so. There is a time limit on the National Security Act, and on various measures providing for the payment of bounties. I admit that no such limitation was suggested by the Government that, introduced the original bill. At the time, no honorable senator then in opposition drew attention to the matter, but that cannot be said of this bill. As this is a war-time measure, theGovernment should accept the amendment, and allow the bill to pass.
Question put -
That the proposed new clause be agreed to (Senator Leckie’s amendment).
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator Brown.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
New clause agreed to.
Clauses 6 and 7 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
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.
This measure provides for the amendment of the rates of war-time company tax in accordance with the Government’s proposal to obtain from public companies a greater contribution to the revenue. I desire to explain very briefly the existing scale of rates of war-time company tax. The tax is imposed on the amount by which the taxable profit of a company exceeds the percentage standard. The percentage standard is an amount equal to 8 per cent, of the capital employed. The first 1 per cent, of capital employed by which the taxable profit exceeds the percentage standard is taxed at 4 per cent and the tax increases by 4 per cent, for each additional 1 per cent., until a maximum rate of 60 per cent is reached. The maximum rate applies at the stage where the taxable profit exceeds 22 per cent, of the capital employed. It is now proposed to increase the commencing rate and steps from 4 per cent, to 6 per cent, and to increase the maximum rate from 60 per cent, to 78 per cent, Under the proposed scale of rates the maximum rate will be reached at the point where the taxable profit exceeds 17 per cent, of the capital employed. The attention of honorable senators is invited to the schedule to the bill in which the proposed amended scale of rates appears. The scale is arranged in the same manner as the present scale. The schedule shows the rates of tax applicable to companies whose excess of taxable profit over the percentage standard is greater than 1 per cent, of the capital employed. The third column shows the average rate of tax applicable to the portion of the excess which is equal to the percentage on capital specified in the second column. In order to illustrate how the average rate is ascertained, let it be assumed that the excess of taxable profit over the percentage standard is more than 3 per cent, but not more than 4 per cent, of the capita] employed. If the various steps of tax were set out in detailed form the position would be: -
The rate shown in the third column for that portion of the excess equal to 3 per cent, of the capital employed is 12 per cent., that is, the average of 6 per cent, for the first 1 per cent., 12 per cent, for the second and 18 per cent, for the third. The form in which the rate is expressed is short and comparatively simple. It is anticipated that the increase of the rates of tax together with the reduction of the statutory percentage from8 per cent, to 5 per cent., will yield an additional £3,800,000 for a full year, and that of this amount £3,100,000 will be collected during the current financial year. This means that the total amount estimated to be collected is £4,100,000 as compared with £1,000,000 which the previous Government expected to collect.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Exempted Occupations : Utilization of Woman-Power - Conscription Refer- endums - Loan Contributions by Private Banks and Insurance Companies - War Effort : Effect on Tasmania ; Appointment of Survey Committee - Post-war Problems.
Motion (by Senator Collings) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– A fortnight ago I placed the following questions on the notice-paper: -
Surely sufficient time has elapsed to enable the Department of Defence Coordination to supply the answers to those two simple questions.
, - I desire to refer to a statement attributed to the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Makin) in Adelaide last Sunday. According to a newspaper report the Minister said that those who were bringing forward the vexed question of conscription should, be reminded that the members of the Australian Imperial Force in the last war had pronounced against it. No doubt the Minister made that statement in good faith, but it is amazing that that lie has persisted for so long.
– Order ! The honorable senator is not in order in referring to a statement made by a Minister as a lie.
– I am not doing so. I said that the Minister no doubt believed the truth of what he said. The statement that the members of the Australian Imperial Force overseas voted against conscription during the last war, which has been repeated from time to time for many years and which has been published in the press and uttered on public platforms on innumerable occasions, is utterly untrue. Referendums were taken on the conscription issue in October, 1916, and in December, 1917, and on each occasion the fighting men overseas voted in favour of conscription. I admit that the vote was very close on both occasions. The figures in the 1916 referendum were: “Yes” 72,399, “No” 58,894, a majority for “Yes” of 13,505. In the 1917 referendum 103,789 officers and men of the Australian Imperial Force overseas said “ Yes “, and 93,910 of them said “ No “, a majority for “ Yes “ of 9,879. Those figures are contained in the Official His tory of Australia in the War of 191^-18 ; they are embodied in our parliamentary handbooks which are published every time a new Parliament comes into being, and they are also to be found in Australian Soldier’s Handbook, and in publications produced by the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia. The lie that our soldiers in the last war voted against conscription persists merely because those who know the facts have distorted them for their own ends. One extraordinary feature about the 1917 referendum was that a majority of the members of the forces from each State of the Commonwealth voted in favour of conscription. I quote the figures so that they may be placed on record in Hansard. They are as follows: -
The total majority of the men of the Australian Imperial Force overseas in 1917 who favoured conscription was 9,879.
– De those figures include those members of the Australian Imperial Force who were still in Australia awaiting embarkation?
– No, they include only those members of the Australian Imperial Force who were then overseas. I bring this matter forward in order to correct the inaccurate statements which have been repeated so often in regard to the voting of the men of the Australian Imperial Force on the conscription issue during the last war.
– This afternoon the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) replied to a question which I asked dealing with the amount of subscriptions by private banks and insurance companies to the recent war loan. I have a distinct recollection that I also asked for the amount reconverted as well as the cash contributions of those institutions. However, the cash subscriptions only were provided in the answer supplied to me. I now ask the Minister if he will also supply the amounts reconverted by the private banks and the insurance companies in the recent loan.
– I am very glad to learn that the Government of Tasmania has asked the Commonwealth to appoint a committee to inquire into the economic position of that State as the result of war conditions. In this respect, I wish to bring certain immigration figures to the notice of honorable senators. Between the end of December, 1939, and the 30th June, 1941, the population of Victoria increased by 51,000, New South Wales by 26,000, Queensland by 20,000, Western Australia by 3,000 and’ South Australia by 2,000, whereas the population of Tasmania decreased by 3,000. This loss is due to the fact that no war industries have been established in Tasmania. I realize that Tasmania was not industrialized to the same degree as the mainland when the war broke out two years ago. However, there has been ample time since then to commence war industries. Tasmania is richly endowed with mineral wealth, and has the distinction of possessing a greater variety of minerals than any other country in the world. With the largest and cheapest hydroelectric power in Australia, it is particularly fitted to fill any waT demands. It is said that war undertakings in South Australis will require 60,000 employees when they are in full production. Tasmania, unfortunately, will be expected to supply many of these employees. With our small population of only a little over 200,000, a loss of 3,000 persons a year is very serious. This can be obviated only by the immediate establishment of factories for war work. Recently, I visited Orange and inspected a munitions factory in course of erection which is estimated to cost £400,000, and to give employment to 1,200 people. The defence of Tasmania has also been neglected. It has been pointed out that a hostile force could use Tasmania as a base of operations against the mainland. This matter also calls for inquiry. Tasmania is send ing its quota of men overseas, and its own defence should not be overlooked by our military authorities.
I also draw the attention of honorable senators to the statement which I have made in this chamber from time to time that there can be no new order, and no improvement, under the present monetary system. In that respect I bring to the notice of honorable senators the following warning which comes from Canada: -
POLICE CHIEF’S WARNING.
The following Canadian press news item should be pondered by every thinking person - and by some politicians who do not appear to come in this category : -
Winnipeg, 18th September. - (CP.)-
Marcel Gaboury, of Montreal, director of the Quebec provincial police, to-day urged police forces in Canada to be ready for possible post-war unrest that may come from social and economic changes. “ Social and economic unrest is merely dormant”, he told delegates at the annual convention of the Chief Constables Association of Canada. “ After the war many men overseas do not propose to lay down their arms and march the streets in search of work “, he said, “ Labour leaders have told me that if the Government can spend- millions on war it can do so during peace “.
.- The Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings) has intimated to me that be will inquire into the reason for the delay in forwarding replies to questions asked by Senator Foll. I recollect that Senator Allan MacDonald also asked for the information which he mentioned. Unfortunately, I overlooked it, but I shall obtain the additional figures he asks for and supply them to him as soon as possible. The appointment of the committee to inquire into the economic position of Tasmania as the result of war conditions, to which Senator Darcey has referred, was the subject of a statement made by the Leader of the Senate to-day.
Question resolved in the affirmative. ‘
The following papers were presented . -
Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act - Report of the Repatriation Commission, for vear 1Q40-41
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired at - Darwin, Northern Territory - For Administrative purposes.
Nhill, Victoria - For Defence purposes.
National Security Act -
National Security ( Internment Camps) Regulations - Orders -
Classificationof Overseas Internees (No. 1).
Internment Camp (No. 4).
National Security (Prisoners of War) Regulations - Order -
Prisoners of War Camp (No. 2).
National Security (General) Regulations By-laws - Controlled Areas (2). Orders -
Control of lights and traffic (2).
Navigation and Anchor Lights.
Navigation (Darkening Ship).
Navigation (Sailing and Routing Instructions).
Protection of Shipping (Defensive Armament).
Taking possession of land, &c. (36).
Use of land (5).
Papua Act - Ordinances of 1941 -
No. 8 - Customs Tariff (No. 2).
No.9 - Port Moresby Water Supply.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Ordinance No. 17 of 1941 - Nurses Registration.
War Service Homes Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1941, No. 264.
Senate adjourned at 10.50 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 25 November 1941, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1941/19411125_senate_16_169/>.