16th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. J. Cunningham) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
-Will the Leader of the Senate state whether the report in to-day’s press that seven coal mines are idle, and that the Prime Minister proposes to make a statement on the matter to-day in the House of Representatives, is correct? If the report be correct, does the Leader of the Senate intend to make a statement in this chamber with regard to the coal-mining industry?
– I have not read the report to which the Leader of the Opposition has referred, and I have no intention to make a statement on the matter at this stage.
– by leave - Last week a formal adjournment motion relating to the coal-mining industry was moved by Senator McBride, who alleged that coal was being transported from northern coal mines to the south coast of New South Wales in order to keep war industries in operation in that locality. The honorable senator’s remarks were as follows : -
Apparently, the public, and indeed the miners, do not realize what continual stoppages mean to our war production. Owing to the frequent stoppages on the south coast not enough coal is being produced at one place to keep important war industries in full production. In order to meet this need about 5,000 tons of coal per week is being railed from Newcastle to the south coast - a distance of about 150 miles. This is an intolerable position. At present, one of the real bottle-necks in our industrial and service organizations is transport, and because of the irresponsibility of certain miners, this huge volume of railway space is taken from other essential uses in order to carry coal from Newcastle, as it were, to Newcastle.
I questioned the honorable senator’s statement at the time, and I told him that I would obtain further information on the matter. Since then, I have been in touch with the Coal Commissioner, Mr. Mighell, who has supplied me with the following statement: -
Early in 1941 the Australian Iron and Steel Company Limited commenced purchasing coal from Newcastle mines. This company uses about 18,000 tons per week and its reserve stock position was then very bad - about 44,000 tons. For some time 7,000 tons weekly was railed from Newcastle to Port Kembla, and at the present time about 4,500 tons are sent by rail per week. Collier tonnage is not available to transport the coal by sea, and the coal is mainly used at the steel works for steamraising purposes, thus relieving larger quantities of southern coal to be used for coke making.
Senator McBride implied that the state of affairs to which he referred was due to industrial disputes in the south coast district.
– The honorable gentleman implied that, owing to industrial disputes on the south coast, certain war industries were unable to maintain production, and that, in consequence, 5,000 tons of coal had to be transported weekly from the north to the south coast. While I am referring to this matter, I point out to the honorable senator that a coal mine at Lithgow, which is producing S40 tons of coal weekly, sends 740 tons of that quantity to the south coast. Until recently the entire production of the mine was sent to the south coast, but, as the result of a request made by the chairman of the Coal Commission, a daily quota of 100 tons was allotted to the Railways Department for use in the western part of the State. I repeat that Senator McBride’s statement was entirely wrong. I do not believe that the honorable gentleman knew that it was incorrect; in fact, T am sure that he was misled. I further direct the attention of the Senate to the fact that Senator McBride used exactly the same figures in his speech on the coal-mining industry last week that were used on another occasion by Mr. T. Armstrong, a member of the New South Wales Legislative Council. Senator McBride said that £5,324,290 had been invested in the coal-mining industry, and that, had that money been invested in war bonds, it would have produced a greater return to the shareholders.
– He said that the return would have been £2,000,000 greater.
– That is so. The same statement wa3 made by Mr. Armstrong in the New South Wales Parliament in August last.
– What is wrong with that?
– This is part of a campaign that is continually being waged. Mr. Armstrong’s statement is reported on page 505 of the New South Wales Parliamentary Debates of the second session, 1941. He said that, from 1931 to 1940 inclusive, a period of ten years, twelve collieries mentioned in the list operating in New South Wales had a combined capital of £5,324,290. Senator McBride quoted the same authority and used the same figures.
– Does not the honorable senator like to hear the truth?
– There is a great discrepancy between the figures, and I want to show where it occurs. Last week Senator McBride referred to the disabilities under which the coal-mine proprietors laboured. In effect, he said that their industry was a wasting industry. I agree with that, but the figures which he used were inaccurate. He said that 100,000,000 tons-
– I said approximately.
– No. Mr. Armstrong, M.L.C., who has been engaged in the coal-mining industry for many years and who represents certain colliery proprietors of the northern mining district, said that it would be reasonable to say that the asset value of the twelve companies mentioned had been reduced by at least 35,000,000 to 40,000,000 tons. Senator McBride said that the reduction had been 100,000,000 tons. That is 60,000,000 to 65,000,000 tons greater that the estimate given by Mr. Armstrong. That proves that the honorable senator’s statement, which I challenged at the time, was made on behalf of the Colliery Proprietors Association. I make this statement now in order to clear the position. It is not fair that such charges should be published, because a great deal of credence is given by the public to the statements of members of Parliament, who, at all times, should endeavour to be accurate. Senator McBride’s statement was published in most of the newspapers of Australia, because, at present, the position of the coal industry is very much in the public eye. Misstatements such as be made do not help the Government, or anybody else, to bring about peace in the coal-mining industry. I hope that in future when members of the Opposition make statements, they will, in the national interest, ensure that they are correct.
– I ask you, Mr. Predent, for guidance. To-day three honorable senators obtained leave to make statements, and two of them at least made speeches on controversial subjects. Other honorable senators have no opportunity, unless they be granted leave by the Senate, to reply to those statements. I am aware that any honorable senator can object-
– Order ! I remind the honorable senator that leave was granted by the Senate to enable those honorable senators to make the statements to which he refers.
– Is it not a fact that if one honorable senator objects leave is refused ?
– After this afternoon’s exhibition, honorable senators will have to refuse to permit such statements to be made.
– Will the Assistant
Minister for Commerce make arrangements with the Apple and Pear Boardfor Army and Air Force lorries to pick up apples at the packing sheds in Tasmania for free distribution to the fighting services.
– I shall give consideration to the request of the honorable senator, but I point out to him that any action I might take wouldbe confined to the Army.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Defence enlighten the Senate regarding the meaning of Statutory Rule No. 216, promulgated under the National Security Act, with regard to the shearing of sheep? It provides that the shearing period shall be from the 28th December to the 28th November next following. Does the regulation mean that the period shall be between the 28th December of this year and the 28th November of last year, or from the 28th November of last year to the 28th December of this year?
– The honorable senator may assume that the period is from the 28th December of last year to the 28th November of this year. I agree that the meaning of the regulation is not quite clear.
Clothes and Textiles - Tea
– Is the Leader of the Senate aware that as the result of very bad bungling on the part of the Minister for War Organization of Industry in respect of the rationing of clothing and textiles, a wild orgy of buying, according to press reports, has set in, and, in order to be able to purchase clothes immediately, many people have been selling their war savings certificates at a time when it is most desirable that they should not do so? Will the Minister bring to the notice of the Prime Minister this error of judgment on the part of his colleague? Will he also impress upon the Minister for War Organization of Industry, that the latter when contemplating taking action of this kind in the future, should consult with people who know something about the matter and are able to put him on the right track?
– The honorable senator should know that questions should not contain expressions of opinion. The honorable senator has asked me if I am aware of bad bungling on the part of a colleague. I am not aware of anything of the kind. Therefore, the remainder of the honorable senator’s question is immaterial.
Senator ALLAN MacDONALD When the Minister for Trade and Customs is making his next statement in regard to the rationing of tea, will he consider what steps have been taken by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research or any other body in Australia to inquire into the possibilities of growing tea in Australia or in territory under the control of the Commonwealth?
– The honorable senator’s suggestion will be given consideration.
– Will the Minister for the Interior make a statement setting out the exact position with regard to the dimming of motor car headlights in the city of Canberra during the brownout?
– Difficulty has arisen in that matter because some people do not appear to be aware of the fact that there is a war on. I am quite aware that some motor cars are being driven at night in Canberra without their headlights being properly dimmed, and I am taking action to see that offenders in that respect are dealt with.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Army whether it is a fact that the evacuation of several hundred American troops who- have been camped on the Randwick race-course, Sydney, for some time past, has been ordered to permit a race meeting being held on that race-course on the 23rd instant? In the interests of the war effort will the Government give instructions that these troops are not to be removed for the inadequate reason mentioned, and that the races set down for that course for the 23rd instant be held elsewhere?
– I have no knowledge of the matter raised by the honorable senator, but I shall bring it to the notice of the Minister for the Army.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Army whether his colleague has seen press reports to the effect that American war correspondents in Australia are debarred from transmitting news to American newspapers dealing with amendments of the Commonwealth Defence Act? Is the censor acting in this matter under Government instructions? If so, why ?
– I have not seen the reports referred to by the honorable senator. However, I have no doubt that all communications between American war correspondents and newspapers in the United States of America are subject to censorship.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Development indicate when supplies of wood fuel for domestic purposes in Melbourne will be forthcoming?
-The matter of wood fuel supplies generally in each of the States is now receiving the attention of the Government.
– As chairman, I present the fourth progress report of the Joint Committee on War Expenditure.
Ordered to be printed.
Man-Power in Western Australia.
– by leave - I thank honorable senators for giving me this opportunity to refer briefly to the difficulties arising in respect of manpower in the gold-mining industry in Western Australia. Recently when ] moved the adjournment of the Senate on this important matter I outlined many facts which I do not propose to repeat at this juncture. However, exception has been taken in certain quarters to some remarks which I made on that occasion. I make no apology for any action I have taken, or for any remarks which I have made, with regard to this matter. All honorable senators will agree that the Senate, as the States’ House, is the proper place for any honorable senator to raise any matter in respect of which he is of opinion that injustice, or harm, is likely to be done to the interests of the State of which he is a representative. That was my principal justification for moving the adjournment of the Senate on this matter some time ago, and of the attitude which I have adopted throughout on this matter. I believe that every action I have taken has been amply justified ; and I do not think that any honorable senator will take exception to the manner in which I raised this matter in this chamber. Last week I heard the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Johnson) make a statement on this subject in the House of Representatives. I should not waste the time of the Senate replying to that honorable gentleman’s remarks were it not for the fact that they have been given a certain measure of publicity in Western Australia. I wish to deal with the report of the honorable gentleman’s speech as published in the Kalgoorlie Miner of the 8th May. The first statement reads -
Later, Mr. Johnson (Labour, Western Australia) complained that endeavours had been made by Senator MacDonald to upset the agreements made between the Chamber of Mines and the miners union, Kalgoorlie, regarding co-operation with the Government in the restriction of man-power. Mr. Johnson said that after he had received confidential information from the Prime Minister, he had called conferences of the chamber and the miners union. The chamber had agreed to acquiesce in the release of as many men as possible from the mines for labour corps work. The union had also promised full support.
I shall not deal at length with that statement but I wish to read a copy of a letter which the general secretary of the Chamber of Mines, Kalgoorlie, sent to the Kalgoorlie Miner, and I submit that what he wrote is an ample refutation of Mr. Johnson’s statements. The letter reads -
In a report from Canberra, published in your issue of 8th May, Mr. H. V. Johnson, M.H.R. for Kalgoorlie, is reported as saying - “ That endeavours had been made by Senator MacDonald to upset the agreements made between the Chamber of Mines and the miners union, Kalgoorlie, regarding co-operation with the Government in the restriction of man-power “.
The facts are that as regards the Chamber of Mines no agreement existed and far from Senator MacDonald interfering in this matter he was invited by the Chamber of Mines to break his journey in Kalgoorlie in order that that body might have an opportunity of finding out from him what information he had regarding the latest developments in Canberra in respect to the gold-mining industry.
The next statement to which I wish to reply reads -
Later Senator MacDonald had told mining men in Kalgoorlie that the attitude of the Government would ruin the industry and that the Government should be fought on the withdrawal of men from the mines.
What I actually told the mining people in Kalgoorlie and elsewhere was that until the Government had properly organized man-power in all industries its attitude in singling out mining for sacrifice was unfair and would mean the suspension of an industry that was responsible for keeping the population of the gold-fields together as a settled community. The next item in the report reads -
Mr. Johnson said that Senator MacDonald had invited the District Council of the Australian Labor party, Kalgoorlie, to co-operate in his suggestion of opposition, but the council had refused.
I would not know the members of the district council of the Australian Labour party of Kalgoorlie if I met them in this chamber, and I have never given them an invitation in writing or verbally. Therefore, I am unable to say where Mr. Johnson obtained his information, and J give his statement a flat denial. The final statement is -
He believed that Senator MacDonald had taken his action for political motives.
The reason why I took action is that. I happen to be one of six senators representing Western Australia, and it was my plain duty to act. The last thing I should wish to do would be to introduce party politics into a matter of such importance to my State. I agree with the State Premier of Western Australia that the industry represents one-fourth of the internal economy of that State. I acted as a constitutional representative of Western Australia. Even in the few years that I have been in this Parliament, I have noticed on more than one occasion that members of the House of Representatives have expressed resentment when honorable senators have gone into some electorates and undertaken certain work. Why they should so resent the work done by honorable senators, I do not know, but I have known of instances of the kind in Western Australia and other States. The resentment seems to be due sometimes to the success achieved by a member of this chamber as against the non-success of the efforts of a member of the House of Representatives. That is the only reason I can advance for the resentment displayed towards my work on the Kalgoorlie gold-fields.
I have every right to go there and to do what I think is in the interests of my State, and of the gold-mining industry in particular. I shall continue to do so. I refuse to take a reprimand from any one in that regard. Honorable senators know that had the Menzies or the Fadd en Government acted as the present Government has done I should have taken the same stand, and should have used exactly the same language as I am now criticized for using. That is so because I, with many others, feel that a great injustice is being done to Western Australia.No other industry in Western Australia can take the place of the gold-mining industry. If the mines be closed, and even if key men be left to guard the machinery and keep it in order, many of the mines will not be re-opened after the war. In that event a heavy blow will be dealt at Western Australia. We have all heard of the complaints directed at the eastern portion of Australia since the inception of federation by the people in the west. I am opposed to any proposal for the secession of Western Australia from the Commonwealth, but, if the present policy is to continue, the Government responsible will not be able to escape the charge that, by ignoring the claims of the State in matters of importance to its industries, both primary and secondary, it is doing something to re-open the old sores and to revive the old hostility. Western Australia is overlooked too often.
Another matter to which I wish to refer relates to a complaint one often hears on behalf of the workers. I have received a communication stating that although Mr. Johnson claimed that he had spoken to representatives of the workers, no meeting of the mining section- of the Australian Workers Union was called at Kalgoorlie to hear the proposals of the Government. I am also informed that such a meeting was not called for the very good reason that many members of it are opposed to the Government’s proposal. Only some members of the executive of the section met, and they were not unanimous in supporting the Government. Such a procedure is wrong. When major changes affecting a union are being proposed, the members of the union should be consulted in open meeting instead of alleged leaders being allowed to speak on behalf of the whole industry.
– Those men are leaders. They are appointed by the workers.
– The Leader of the Senate may term them leaders, but I have doubts about their capacity to lead anything. They are alleged to be leaders, but they are not competent to give an opinion on what the union thinks or does not think of this important matter. I have received many communications from people in Kalgoorlie, and they are opposed to the proposal. Had the proposal been made at an open meeting of the Australian Workers Union in Kalgoorlie, it would have been rejected emphatically.
– What does the honorable senator know about the Australian Workers Union?
– 1 do not know much, and I do not think that the Minister for External Territories (Senator Fraser) knows any more about it than1 I do. It is an important union, and any proposal of the character of that under discussion should have been submitted to a full meeting of members. There are other avenues which the Government could explore before attacking an industry of such major importance to Western Australia. There are dozens of other industries from which men could be obtained. In fact, the Government need go no further than the rabbit warrens surrounding the various trades halls in all large cities which are infested with satellites and hangers-on who prey upon the real workers. Surely, a few hundred men at least could be combed out of these places.
– I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable senator in order, under cover of leave, to make a statement in relation to the gold-mining industry in Western Australia, in indulging in a dissertation on the structure of certain trade Unions, and making insulting references to what he terms the alleged leaders of these unions?
– The honorable senator is not in order in proceeding along those lines. He must connect his remarks with the subject-matter of the motion.
– 1 am dealing with an industry which is of great importance to Western Australia, and also with a very important trade union. I was merely pointing out that the union was not consulted properly about the action taken, either by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Johnson), or the Government, affecting the future organization of man-power on the goldfields in Western Australia. In doing that, I contend that I am at liberty to draw attention to the fact that there are many other avenues which the Government has not yet explored in its hunt for man-power. It seems that the Government is taking the easy way out. It is well known that the gold-mining industry in Western Australia is not subject to strikes such as those which occur frequently in other mining industries; the gold-miners are intensely loyal, and as I have said before they hold the record for the highest percentage of enlistments in the Australian Imperial Force. That, no doubt, is one reason why the Government has selected this industry as an easy mark. If these alleged leaders of the trade union concerned are so anxious to make a better contribution to the war effort, there is nothing to stop the young ones, at least, from joining the Australian Imperial Force. The same thing applies to other working miners who have expressed similar views. I contend that any honorable senator who believes that the interests of the State which he represents are being prejudiced in any way has a right to bring the matter up in this chamber. In this instance, Western Australia is being very badly treated.
– by leave - This matter was raised by Senator Allan MacDonald on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate on Wednesday last. On that occasion, I informed the honorable senator that his remarks would be noted, and his representations conveyed to the appropriate Minister. I undertook to see that the Minister’s reply was brought to the notice of the honorable senator. I always keep my promises, and I have that reply before me. I have very much pleasure in giving it to the honorable senator, although I regret that I did not have an opportunity to save him the tears which he shed in his utterances this afternoon.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
SenatorFRASER.- The Minister for Commerce has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Army states that inquiries are being made, and a reply will be furnished to the honorable senator as early as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following answers: -
Branch at Port Hedland.
– On the 30th
April last Senator Johnston asked the Minister representing the Minister for War Organization of Industry, upon notice -
The Minister for War Organization of Industry has now supplied the following answers : -
Branches at Mingenew and Kondinin.
– On the 30th April last, Senator Johnston asked the Minister representing the Minister for War Organization of Industry, upon notice -
The Minister for War Organization of Industry has now supplied the following answers : -
On the 30th April last, Senator Johnston asked the Minister representing the Minister for War Organization of Industry, upon notice -
The Minister for War Organization of Industry has now supplied the following answers : -
– On the 30th April last, Senator Herbert Hays asked the Minister assisting the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
The Minister for Commerce has now supplied the following answer : -
Potatoes and other vegetables are being treated as separate problems. Arrangements are made with individual growers for the production of vegetables at firm prices for the specific needs of the fighting services. Special provision is not made for civilian requirements, but the effect of catering specifically for the services is to leave considerable proportions of normal vegetable production for civil consumption. The vegetable scheme is carried out by the Commonwealth Departments of Supply and Development and Commerce with the active supportof the State Departments of Acriculture the Ministers of which are chairmen of the Defence Food Advisory Committees in their respective States. Control of the potato industry is now being undertaken by the Australian Potato Committee, which was recently established under National Security Regulations. Contracts will be made with growers and a guaranteed minimum price will operate to ensure a reasonable return to the producers. Departments of Agriculture are co-operating and Agricultural Department officers are chairmen of the State committees dealing with the detailed administration. The committee will arrange through the States for increased production sufficient to meet all demands, both civil and defence.
– Recently Senator Herbert Hays asked the Minister assisting the Minister for Commerce the following questions : -
The Minister for Commerce has supplied the following answers : -
– I move -
That the National Security (Employment of Women) Regulations under the National Security Act 1930.1940. made by Statutory Rules 1942, No. 140, be disallowed.
These regulations govern the setting up of a board to fix rate3 of pay and conditions of employment for women in industry. Upon a careful examination of the regulations, and having regard to the attitude of the Minister administering the regulations, particularly in respect of the selection of the personnel of the board, one can fairly say that there is ample evidence of partisanship, political bias and party politics of the lowest order. Of all the regulations that I have had an opportunity to peruse since the present Government came into power, there is none in which the Minister concerned has behaved so unsatisfactorily as he has in connexion with these regulations. Regulation 2 states -
These regulations shall be administered by the Minister of State for Labour and National Service.
Having had an opportunity to watch the actions of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward) I can say with confidence that political bias has been displayed by him on many occasions, and that on no previous occasion has the bias been more apparent than in this instance. I draw the attention of honorable senators to the D0S1 t10n to which we shall be led by the establishment of this board. Regulation 4 gives the following definition of “ Industrial authority “ : -
In these regulations, unless the contrary intention appears - “ Industrial authority “ means any tribunal or person constituted by or under any law of the Commonwealth for the purpose of hearing and determining industrial disputes and making awards, orders or determinations in settlement thereof and any tribunal which is a State industrial authority within the meaning of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904-1934, and also includes the Public Service Arbitrator;
Under regulation 10, the following powers are to be given to the board : -
During the currency of any decision of the board no provision of any award, order or determination made by an industrial authority dealing with the subject-matter dealt with by the decision or any variation thereof and inconsistent with the decision or variation, and no decision or determination of any authority of the Commonwealth or a State with respect to female employees of the Commonwealth or State inconsistent with the decision of the board or any variation thereof, shall be effective.
Honorable senators will realize that the powers of the tribunal which is to be set up by the Minister for Labour and National Service are to exceed those of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, the State arbitration courts, and the Public Service Arbitrator. Upon examination of the personnel of the’ board, the only conclusion to which one can come is that this is a political set-up to satisfy the trades and labour councils of Australia. The number of permanent members of the board is three; and it is provided that when the board is dealing with claims affecting a particular industry, one representative of the employers and one representative of the employees in that industry may sit on the board, and adjudicate upon specific matters. An attendance of three members constitutes a quorum, and the decision of the majority of the members is binding. The chairman and permanent members of the board have been selected by the Minister for Labour and National Service. The chairman is Judge Poster, who, in 1917, unsuccessfully contested a parliamentary election as a Labour party candidate. One member of the board is Mr. A. R. Wallis, who is the secretary of the Clothing Trades Union.
– I rise to a point of order. Is the Leader of the Opposition in order in discussing the personnel of the board on a motion for the disallowance of this statutory rule?
– I understand that the Leader of the Opposition is discussing the personnel of the board appointed under the statutory rule. That subject is relevant.
– Is the honorable senator in order in reflecting upon the appointees to the board ?
– Order ! The honorable senator would not be in order in reflecting upon the members of the board; but I have not yet heard him do so. When the Postmaster-General (Senator Ashley) rose to a point of order, the Leader of the Opposition had just said that Judge Foster had contested an election as a Labour candidate some years ago. That remark cannot be regarded as a reflection upon the gentleman mentioned.
– The third member of the board is Miss Cashman, who, for eighteen years, was organizer of the Printing Trades Union, and since relinquishing that post was a government industrial inspector. Miss Cashman is supposed to represent the employers on this board. I ask honorable senators to note carefully the provisions of the first five sub-regulations of regulation 5 - (1.) The Minister may appoint a Women’s Employment Board. (2.) The board shall consist of a chairman, one special representative of employers and one special representative of employees and, in addition, two other members to be appointed from time to time (according to the subjectmatter to be dealt with by the board), one of whom shall represent an employers’ organization, and the other an employees’ organization. (3.) Before appointing the special representative of employers or any member representative of any employers’ organization, the Minister shall consult with the appropriate employers’ organizations, and before appointing the special representative of employees or any member representative of any employees’ organization, he shall consult with the Australasian Council of Trades Unions. (4.) In the absence of any special representative the Minister shall appoint a substitute for the absent special representative, but, in the event of the substitute failing to attend a meeting of the board to which he has been summoned by the chairman, the board may validly proceed in his absence. (5.) The chairman and half the other members of the board, as constituted for the time being in accordance with the provisions of this regulation, shall form a quorum, and when a quorum is present the board may validly func-tion, notwithstanding that the representatives of one party have failed to attend.
With the set-up of the board I strongly disagree. I also strongly protest against the attitude of the Minister for Labour and National Service when selecting the representatives of the employers. The Government has repeatedly appealed to us to do all we can to create harmony in industry. However, so long as a majority of the Cabinet tolerates action of this kind by any Minister, we shall never establish peace in industry. Recently we witnessed the sorry spectacle of the Minister for Labour and National Service openly defying the Prime Minister in connexion with disputes in the coal industry. Does any honorable senator think that it is fair to set up in this way a tribunal of this kind whose powers exceed those of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court? Is it fair to select as the members of that board two representatives of the employees and to appoint as chairman a judge who has been closely associated with the Labour party?
– Does not the honorable senator believe that the judge is impartial 1
– If he were impartial, the other two members of the board could outvote him. I draw the attention of the Senate to the proceedings which led up to the selection of the representative of the employers. These regulations were promulgated on the 25th March last, and a letter dealing with the constitution of the board was forwarded by the Minister on that date to employers’ organizations throughout the Commonwealth. The letter was received by the central council of the employers’ organizations on the 27th March. As it was obviously impossible for a communication posted at Canberra on the 25th March to reach employers’ organizations throughout the Commonwealth in time to enable them to reply to it forthwith, the federal secretary of the central council of the employers’ organizations sent a telegram to the Secretary of the Department of Labour and National Service requesting a short postponement of the appointment of the employers’ representative to this board. It was also pointed out that in the event of the Minister deeming the matter to be of very great urgency a hurried nomination would be made. No answer was received to that letter. The employers’ organizations then submitted the name of Mr. D. G. Johnstone as their nominee, and in doing so, protested against the set-up of the board. The nomination was forwarded to the Department on the 11th April, that is, within a fortnight of the receipt of the Minister’s letter asking the central council of the employers’ organizations to make a nomination.
– Did not the letter call for urgency?
– The employers certainly treated it as urgent; but four weeks elapsed following the promulgation of these regulations before the board held its first meeting. On the 13th April, the central council of employers’ organizations forwarded a letter to the Prime Minister objecting to the set-up of the board. No reply was received to that communication. The employers first learnt of the appointment of the personnel of the board from reports published in the press on the 16th April. Although the Minister had been informed of the employers’ nomination on the 11th April, Miss Cashman was selected as the employers’ representative. I submit that every member of the Cabinet must share responsibility for the action taken by the Minister for Labour and National Service in this matter. Such political interference with the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, particularly in a time of stress, is unwarranted. The Government must abandon its policy of appeasement towards extremists in the Labour movement, because that policy is doing more damage to our war effort than anything else. So long as a majority of members of the Cabinet are prepared to stand by and allow the Minister for Labour and National Service to do things of this sort, we can expect trouble in our major industries. The Opposition in this Parliament has no objection to women employees being enabled to submit their claims and grievances to the properlyconstituted industrial arbitration authorities. We object to a political board consisting of three inexperienced persons, to do this important work. While such a board continues to operate, the employer cannot expect to receive a fair deal, and there will not be harmony in the industry. The Commonwealth Arbitration Court has given more than 100 decisions affecting women in industry, and the State Court of New South Wales has given approximately 149 such decisions. Honorable senators must admit that the adjudicators in such courts are free from party interests and political bias, and that they have had vast experience in trying to understand the intricacies of the problems that confront them from day to day in their courts. They are better qualified by the experience than the persons who will comprise this political tribunal. I object to political interference with the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, which is the proper authority for settling industrial disputes.
In conclusion,my objections can be summarized briefly. A careful examination of the regulations provides further evidence of the Government’s attacks on the Australian system of conciliation and arbitration. The board is totally unnecessary, and cannot be compared with the long-established and widely experienced arbitration courts. The introduction of the board will possibly defeat the Government’s object to promote peace in industry. It is, in fact, more likely to create dissatisfaction among the huge army of women workers. In one of the regulations the Government has fixed the minimum and the maximum rates. The minimum rate is 60 per cent. of the rate fixed for males, and, I understand, is higher than the rates ruling in certain industries to-day. With that I have no quarrel, except to say that the Government has interfered with decisions of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. The Government has also laid it down that where the rate is higher than 60 per cent., that rate cannot be varied. 1 mention this as an example of government interference, which will not create harmony in industry. The object is deliberately to introduce working conditions and rates of wages that will be in conformity with the wishes of the Labour Government, and therefore impartiality cannot be expected. That is fair criticism. The appointment of Miss Cashman is a deliberate slight to the employers of Australia, and is further evidence of the high-handed attitude of the Minister for Labour and National Service, and of his disregard for interests beyond those of his own personal followers. Finally, while the regulations remain in force, the Prime Minister and every member of the Government stand condemned for political interference with Commonwealth and State arbitration courts.
– It is appropriate that I should say a few words in reply to one or two arguments advanced by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay). The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward) has, it is alleged, rendered a disservice to the country by the appointment of the board to which objection has been taken; but a better selection has never been made in the his tory of conciliation and arbitration in this country. A particularly good choice is that of MissCashman. I have had a little experience in this field, when I was a rural commissioner on the Board of Trade in New South Wales, from 1919 to 1922. I sat under several judges, including Judge Beeby and Mr. Justice Edwards, who complimented the woman in question whenever she appeared to give evidence.
– For whom did she appear ?
– For the employees. She was appointed by the Board of Trade to inquire with two other women into certain matters relating to wages. These regulations set out what the board has to do. If there is a shortage of man-power, and women have to be employed, it is obligatory on the employer to set out the conditions. Miss Cashman was operating under section 79 of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration. Act, which provides that the Board of Trade shall, after public inquiry into the average cost of living, declare the living wage to be paid to adult male and female employees. I wish members of the Opposition would bear in mind that the greatest employer of female labour in Australia is the Commonwealth Government.
– Are there figures to prove that?
– Absolutely, but Senator McBride is not very good at figures. Without quoting figures, let me ask the honorable senator, who is supplying money for the employment of female labour? I am sure that the woman member objected to is impartial, and has a wider knowledge of the subject than any other woman in Australia. We must face the fact that female labour will be increasingly employed in the near future. It must come soon, and our desire is to see that the fair thing is done. But what did the Arbitration Court do? It fixed a basic wage for males and then prescribed 50 per cent. of that wage as the basic wage for females. Fortunately, that figure has been raised to nearly 60 per cent. Under these regulations, the board can investigate the work being done by women and fix a wage accordingly. The time is long overdue when all women who are engaged on work normally done by men should be paid the full male basic wage.Recently, I was informed that women engaged on certain precision work connected with our war effort, and formerly done by men, had actually increased production. Now that an attempt is being made to see that justice is done to women, the Leader of the Opposition wishes to disallow the regulations because the employers’ representative on the board is the most capable woman for that class of work in Australia.
– I support the motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay). Here, again, we have an outstanding example of the repeated attempts that have been made by this Government to introduce its own party policy under the cloak of a war emergency. Ever since this Government assumed office, despite frequent appeals by the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) to the people of Australia for unity, it has engaged on a purely political campaign to introduce the Labour party’s platform. In this case, the Government has not had the courage to come out in the open, but has attempted to achieve its object by setting up a special board. The position has been outlined fully by the Leader of the Opposition. The policy of this Government is dictated to it by the Australasian Council of Trade Unions. I would have had some admiration for the Government if it had had the courage to tell the people of Australia that it was the policy of the Government that women engaged in war industries, and in fact in all industries - because that is what it will mean - should receive the same wages as men. But it has not done that; it has resorted to subterfuge. I should like to make itquite clear that I am not now discussing the wages that women engaged on war work are entitled to receive ; I am discussing the method by which the Government has attempted to achieve its object. Apparently, the Government has heard rumblings throughout the community indicating discontent with the practice of introducing the policy of the Labour party under the cloak of essential war measures, and has become more cautious. Instead of deciding this matter by straight-forward regulations, as it has the power to do under the National Security Act, it has put out a smokescreen to hide its intentions, and so to save it from the fury of the public. I have no intention of reflecting in any degree on the chairman of the board, nor on the real representative of the employees, Mr. Wallis, but the purpose of that board is clear beyond all doubt when we see the representative who has been appointed by the Government, allegedly to look after the interests of the employers.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that the woman in question does not represent the employers?
– I say definitely that she does not represent the employers of Australia. The employers nominated a representative when they were asked to do so, but their wishes were ignored by the Government. This board is obviously weighted in such a way that its decisions will conform to the wishes of the Government, and, of course, of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions, which dictates government policy. However, the Government will not escape the opprobium of the people of Australia by retiring behind this smoke-screen; it cannot disguise its designs or deflect the criticism which will be encountered. At such a critical stage in our history, when the Prime Minister is pleading for unity and a 100 per cent. war effort, it is pathetic that the Government’s actions, time after time, should be motivated entirely by political bias. There is no question of justice in this matter at all; it is merely a question of party aims. If justice did actuate this Government in taking such action, then it is a reflection upon the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, and an insinuation that justice cannot be obtained through that tribunal. Government supporters cannot have it both ways. If they consider that the Arbitration Court is a competent and impartial tribunal, this matter should be referred to that court.
– We cannot wait twelve months for a decision.
– The honorable senator’s interjection is beside thepoint. Until a reference is made to the Court, and until the court shows that it is unable to give reasonably prompt decisions, no board such as has been constituted under this statutory rule is necessary. The Government’s action has proved, what many of us have believed over a period of years, that the Labour party is prepared to support the Arbitration Court only when it gives verdicts favorable to the Labour movement. As soon as there was any doubt about the Arbitration Court’s attitude, the Government used its emergency powers to take time by the forelock and appoint a hoard to act in place of the court. The board will be completely biased and weighted against the employers. If I am a reliable judge, its decisions will not be just, but will be influenced by party political considerations. I hope that the Senate will agree to the motion of the Leader of the Opposition, and disallow this statutory mie.
– This is another instance in which a motion to disallow a statutory rule has been submitted by the Opposition without any attempt being made to produce one atom of evidence to prove that the rule is working to the detriment of the nation. The board about which complaint is made has sat, and no exception has been taken to any of it3 actions. What does that indicate? It indicates that the opposition to the board arises not from sound political reasons, but from personal bias against its members. The evidence to that effect is overwhelming, because not one unfair action can rightly be attributed to any member of the board. No attempt has been made by the Opposition to give the board a trial, as one would reasonably expect. If a trial had proved that the board was not acting in the interests of the nation, the Opposition would have a sound basis for its objection; but, up to date, its arguments are based on mere supposition. We are told that the board will do this, that, or something else detrimental to the nation. If honorable senators on this side of the chamber were equally as biased as the Opposition, they would probably behave in a similar fashion, and promise that the board would do all sorts of things which it has not the slightest intention of doing. Honorable senators opposite have accused the board of having ulterior motives, and of having a tendency to do something harmful to the nation. However, they have not adduced one fact in support of their accusations. If they were appearing before a court of law, their case would be ruled out, they would be compelled to pay costs, and they would be warned against bringing vexatious cases before the court. It is fortunate for them that they are not legal practitioners, and that they have more latitude in this chamber than they would be allowed in a court of law. It has been said that the constitution of this board is likely to lead to all kinds of industrial trouble. That statement also is based on mere supposition.
– And there is no industrial trouble.
– None at all. If we find in times of war, as we have done, that our fighting forces should be directly responsible to the Government, through the medium of their appointed officers, then it is reasonable to suppose that, if our working forces were organized on a similar basis, we should not have anything like the industrial trouble which we have had recently. We cannot have divided control in war-time, and, at the same time, expect to organize a maximum war effort. To-day, our working forces are responsible to all sorts of people exercising all sorts of powers. These people may be sincere and wellintentioned in many instances, but they are lacking in that unity, co-operation and efficiency which is necessary to produce the best results. The appointment of the board to which exception has been taken will not remov.e all difficulties immediately, but it will modify them with a view to eliminating them eventually. The Opposition should be the first to welcome such an arrangement, particularly as it has emphasized so frequently its desire for industrial peace. I say emphatically that there cannot be industrial peace while managements are working at cross purposes, and while we have duplicated and multiplied services where one service would be sufficient. The Government was faced with that position, and it appointed the board with the object of overcoming the difficulties arising from that state of affairs.
– The Government has duplication here. It has Federal and State Arbitration Courts, and now it has put another tribunal on top of all that.
– I am grateful for the interjection, because it gives me an opportunity to point out to the honorable senator that, although we have Federal and State courts, they have not worked as efficiently as is necessary. The delays which were mentioned by Senator Arthur could have been avoided. When the court has been put on its defence and asked to give reasons for such delays, it has said, and probably rightly so, that it is overworked. It has asked, in effect, for the appointment of either additional judges or additional tribunals. The judges have not said precisely what they want, but they have pointed out, time after time, that they have more work than they can reasonably be expected to perform. This board was set up with the object of overcoming that position. It has been said by the Leader of the Opposition that the action of the Government amounts to political interference with the courts, but the honorable gentleman is merely playing with words. The Arbitration Court itself is a political creation and acts under political instructions. All such tribunals are interfered with from time to time by governments, [f the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act were amended as I should like to see it amended, for the purpose of securing industrial peace, it could be said by honorable gentlemen opposite: “Here is another example of political interference with the Arbitration Court “. The court is not a law unto itself; it is a tribunal subordinate to the government that created it and to succeeding governments. Therefore, an observation of the kind made by the Leader of the Opposition is of little assistance to us.
It has been said that the Minister for Labour and National Service has no regard for the interests of the people other than his own personal following. That is an obvious exaggeration, because the Minister is a member of the Government, and the policy of the Government is decided after consultation and in agreement with the various members of the Cabinet. Therefore, the statement reflecting on the
Minister for Labour and National Service personally is obviously incorrect. If the Minister were determined to act in the interests of his personal following, he would be prepared to go a good deal farther than he has gone. He would be prepared to lay down that there should be equal pay for the sexes. That would be fully in accordance with the policy of the Labour party, but he has not attempted to go so far as that. I personally have not attempted to go that far, because I realize, as does the Minister for Labour and National Service, that I am in duty bound at least to confer with my colleagues before taking action to give effect to Labour’s policy. The Labour movement is not a one-man movement, and cannot possibly be so.
– Nor is there one voice.
– In the Labour party, as in all other parties, the members hold varying views. Constant intellectual conflict makes possible such institutions as parliaments. We lay down the principle that the will of the majority shall prevail until determined otherwise, and that is the only policy that is workable in the circumstances, having regard to human society as we find it. It should be clear to every person with an impartial judgment that, to say the least, it is incorrect to contend that the Minister for Labour and National Service has no regard for the interests of the people apart from his own personal following. Senator McBride remarked that the regulations under consideration are designed to give effect to a portion of the policy of the Labour party under the guise of a wartime emergency. Here, again, we have an exaggeration. As I have previously pointed out, the Labour party has been departing from its policy all along the line, because it regards the war as of major importance and all other matters as of comparatively minor importance. There are numerous precedents to justify the claim for equal payment for men and women. I could give many instances, in connexion with the manufacture of aircraft and munitions, of women having given results equal to those obtained from men. Precedents were established for equal payment for the sexes before the last war, when musicians, hotel employees and others received equal pay regardless of their sex.
– Why does not the Government submit the matter now under discussion to the Arbitration Court?
– Because the proposed board will operate more expeditiously than the court. Honorable senators opposite have not attempted to justify the statement that the board is “ weighted “. On the other hand, if we desired to be unkind, we could give instances where employers’ representatives have been appointed as judges of the Arbitration Court. We could also point to decisions which were weighted against the employees, and were subsequently repudiated. Many precedents exist for the payment of male rates of wages to females engaged on the same class of work. In this respect I mention women who are now employed as conductors in the tramways service in Melbourne. In that capacity, women give the same measure of service as male employees. The same observation would apply in respect of women who might be employed as drivers in the same service. The Tramways Board agreed to the payment of male rates to women engaged in these duties. It did so on its own responsibility. That board is not the creation of n Labour government; and no exception has been taken to its application of the policy of equal pay for the sexes in respect of similar work. At present, women are also employed in Melbourne as drivers of bakers’ carts, and also as lift attendants. Male rates were granted to the attendants by a wages tribunal. There wa= no necessity to refer such matters to the Arbitration Court. I repeat that no exception whatever has been taken to these decisions. I might also mention female doctors and lawyers, who give similar results and receive the same rates of fees as males. Women are also em p1 oyer! as managers of commercial firms, and, in many cases, they receive higher salaries than are paid to males occupying similar positions. There might be some substance in the contention advanced by honorable senators opposite in their attack upon the Minister for Labour and National Service if the Minister had acted in this matter entirely on his own responsibility, and said, “I am a member of the Labour party, pledged to its policy of equal pay for the sexes. I have power under this regulation to award equal pay to the sexes, and I shall proceed to do so without consulting my colleagues in the Government.” But the so-called evidence submitted by honorable senators opposite in their attack upon the Minister, does not contain one fact to support their statements. Senator McBride had much to say about political bias. As the honorable senator himself has not advanced one actual instance where the board has acted contrary to the procedure generally laid down, he himself must be actuated by political bias in this matter. He declared that justice cannot be done by the board. 1 invite him to take an early opportunity to explain exactly what he means by justice in respect of the relationship which exists between employers and employees. So long as we retain our present basis for the fixation of wages, justice will not be done to the employees in industry. To-day, the wages paid to either men, or women, are not based upon the actual value they create by their labour. It does not matter how efficient they may be, or how hard they may work. Wages are based generally on the cost of living. Thus, all value created by the workers in an industry in excess of their total cost of living is appropriated directly and indirectly by others who are not actually engaged in production. There can be no equity so long as that state of affairs exists. To use a term which Senator McBride has used frequently during this debate, I should say that every act on our statute-book, dealing with the fixation of wages, is weighted against the employees. We have what can be termed a relative wage which is not being increased, but is actually being reduced. Consequently, when the honorable senator speaks about justice to the employees he uses the word merely as a figure of speech. He has not attempted to support his submission by telling us exactly what he means by justice. This statutory rule has been gazetted, and it is being given effect to. Most important of all, nothing has been done by the Government or by the board under these regulations, to which exception can be taken. Thus, the whole of the case submitted by honorable senators opposite is based purely upon personal bias against individuals who in the past have spoken and voted against the political party to which those honorable senators belong.
– These regulations are eminently desirable. I believe that this tribunal is handling a feature of industrial arbitration that is not ordinarily the duty of State or Commonwealth arbitration courts. These regulations are an admission that, with the advent of our big industrial war movement, an enormous number of women are being catapulted into industry. Probably, before the serious part of the war is over, they will have supplanted men in many of our industries. This tribunal will have to decide the terms of employment of these people. The problem of male and female rates of wages is a subject which we could discuss at great length. I have never agreed that women should receive only 54 per cent. of the rate paid to male employees.
– Two hours having elapsed since the meeting of the Senate, Standing Order No. 127 requires that the debate be interrupted.
Motion (by Senator McLeay) agreed to-
That the consideration of the Order of the Day be postponed until after the disposal of Notices of Motion Nos. 1 and 2.
– I was urging that the duty of the board set up under these regulations would be to adjudicate on the employment of women where a rate less than the male rate had not previously been fixed. That is not a job for the already over-congested Commonwealth Arbitration Court, which is the main Commonwealth industrial tribunal. As honorable senators remember, under National Security Regulations, the court was asked to complete the business in hand before the 1st May, and that date has had to be extended to the 1st June of this year. Two of the judges are actively engaged on other work. The Chief Judge is employed on the Stevedoring Commission, which is one of the most urgent undertakings confronting the nation at the present time. I suggest that the commission has already achieved a large measure of success. Another judge is in charge of the coal-mining inquiry, which, of itself, is a man-size job. Thus, the judiciary of five members is already reduced by nearly one half. I am not concerned with who is on the board. What the present Government has done is not in any way different from what previous governments have done.I do not wish to awaken sleeping dogs by reviving what other administrations have done ; but I can say that I do not remember one appointment in the history of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court in which the appointee came from the ranks of my party.
– I hope the Minister is not reflecting on the Arbitration Court judges.
– I have reflected on them to their face, when I was in the Arbitration Court. I do not reflect on them behind their back. When the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) says that there is bias in the making of the appointments to the board my retort is that such a complaint ill becomes him as a member of his party.
– Does the Minister admit that there is bias?
– There has been bias right down the years. The court,I should think we can agree, is not the proper body to handle this matter, which is entirely a new one. It is not a question of whether females should receive 54 per cent. or 60 per cent. of the male rate, but the tribunal has to say what properly is women’s work, and, if they are employed on men’s work, what their rates shall be. It is one of the most awkward problems in the industrial sphere at the present time. Mr. A. R. Wallis is one of the most able men in the Labour movement. No one could throw any doubt on his experience or his capacity. All the papers relating to Miss Cashman have been tabled in the House of Representatives, and I suggest that they ought to be tabled here. There is a dispute as to who the employers’ representative should be. On the information supplied to me, the position seems to be that there is a tribunal of three persons; but when certain industries are under consideration, the employers and the employees will each appoint a representative.
The complaints made here to-day boil down to an allegation that the board will override the Arbitration Court. Many unions in Victoria, as Senator Cameron knows, have approached us about delays in hearing their cases. Arbitration procedure has always been, and is necessarily, tortuous. Claims by unions are almost always resisted by employers. In key industries, agreements are obtained because of the tremendous economic pull of the organizations; but they involve long hearings. The fact that delays have occurred provide a warrant for the Government framing the regulations. No Minister, except perhaps the Prime Minister, has any less or any more power than the Minister for Labour and National Service in determining the policy of the Government. The facts are that that Minister is a capable, courageous man, and that most of the opinions written about him are not correct. In the press of last week, it wa3 alleged that there had been a show-down in the Cabinet between the Prime Minister and the Minister for Labour and National Service, but the suggestion was quite wrong. If there could be control of those who foment industrial troubles in this country - the newspapers - there would be much less of it. The newspapers make men irritated, and they create antipathy between employers and employees, so therefore they should be subject to some measure of control. The board is a necessary part of a big and serious development in the industrial life of the community. I fail to see where the employer will be injured, or how the employee will not be fairly treated. It has been said that at present the greatest employer of female labour is the Commonwealth Government, and I do not think there is any doubt about that.
– I should like figures to support that statement.
– I cannot quote figures, but I know that there are 8,000 to 11,000 females employed at Maribyrnong, and there is a large number at Lithgow. The efforts of the War Organization Committee have beer directed to organizing 12,000 to 30,000 women workers. Is there anything wrong with those figures? We are trying to arrange industry so that there will be as little hardship as possible in the change over, say, from employment of women in retail shops to their employment in munitions factories. There has never been a bigger movement in the industrial history of this country than the movement that is now being made for the employment of female labour, and it is a movement that will necessarily grow in intensity. The calling up of 300,000 men gives some idea of the tremendous importance of the regulations directed at ironing out disputes among female workers. I have never conceded that it is equitable that women should receive only 54 per cent, of the rate paid to males. Figures that I have obtained show that among an equal number of female workers and single male workers in South Australia, the females, who were drawing wages 54 per cent, below those of males, were supporting 23 per cent, more relatives than the male workers. The stupid community has allowed that to continue for years.
– The stupid community !
– Yes, the stupid community that allows the election to this Parliament of individuals who will not take these matters seriously. At times directions may have been given in regard to the procedure of the Arbitration Court, but that was not so in this case. The plain charter of these regulations is clear to the world, and I believe that their effect will be to smooth out this matter in the interests of the country.
.- I have a good deal of sympathy with the various Ministers who have been called upon to defend these regulations in this chamber to-day. Until I heard the last two speakers, I was charitable enough to assume that one member of the Ministry, and not the whole nineteen members, was; responsible for what I regard as one of the worst administrative acts in the history of the Commonwealth. I say quite deliberately that a Minister of the Crown who exercises his vast war-time powers in the manner in which the powers provided for in these regulations have been exercised, is not fit to hold the King’s Commission and perform the very responsible duties of a Minister. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) emphasized the fact that this board is a very important tribunal engaged in the performance of a task of great importance to the community. I accept that statement, and I accept it as one reason why great care should have been exercised in the appointment of the personnel of the tribunal in which these powers are invested. The Minister cannot have it both ways. Truly, it ia a matter of great importance, but it is equally important that the greatest caution should have been exercised in selecting the personnel of the tribunal.
– It was.
– I cannot believe that the Minister who was responsible for the appointment of Miss Cashman as the special representative of the employers had even read the regulations, because either he did not know what the regulations contained, or, alternatively, he promulgated the regulations intending them to be a mere travesty and a piece of window-dressing under cover of which he could carry out some party political project of his own. Let us examine the regulations. I believe that the draftsman who was responsible for them must have had some idea of what was going to happen, and that he was a bit of a humorist. It is provided that the board shall include a special representative of the employers. The Government has certainly chosen a special representative, but never in my life have I heard itsuggested by any one that it was a bona fide exercise of power of this kind to appoint, an employee to represent employers. It is a travesty of justice. I wonder what the Minister for Trade and Customs would have said if a regulation like this were being administered by honorable senators on this side of the chamber and they appointed as a representative of the employees the general manager of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited? No government supported by honorable senators on this side of the chamber has ever done anything to equal the iniquity of this action. There would be as much justification for appointing Mr. Essington Lewis to a wages board as a representative of the employees, as there is for appointing Miss Cashman to represent the employers on this board. It has been argued that, as the Common’wealth Government is an employer and as Miss Cashman has been appointed by the Commonwealth Government, therefore she represents the employers. It may as well be argued, in the case which I have suggested, that Mr. Essington Lewis is an employee of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited and therefore is a proper person to be appointed to a wages board as a representative of employees. There would be as much justification for such an appointment as there is for the appointment as an employers’ representative on this board of some one who obviously is concerned only with the interests of employees. Actually, the position is even worse than that. What are these regulations intended to achieve?
– Peace in industry!
– Then the Government is going a curious way about it. What does the Government mean when it provides in these regulations that the special representative of the employers shall be appointed after the Minister has consulted with the appropriate employers’ organization ?
– Which he did.
– And then disregarded entirely the advice which he received. Is that what is intended by the regulations? Are we to assume that the Government passed these regulations as meaningless words ; that the Minister is directed to go through the travesty of consulting with the employers’ organization and then to take no notice of the representations that are made to him by that organization? Technically, the Minister did comply with the regulations; he consulted the employers’ organization, namely, the Employers Council of Australia, and the council nominated its representative.
– There is nothing in the regulations which says that the Minister must accept the recommendations of the employers’ organization.
– Of course not, but that was intended, unless these regulations are mere waste paper. If they be just a scrap of paper, let the Government say so; personally, I believe that they are a scrap of paper, and were never intended to be anything else. This provision in the regulations is a cover for the Minister to say, “ Yes, I appointed an employers’ representative after consulting with the employers’ organizations; but, of course, I took no notice of what the employers’ organizations had to say “. Did the Minister have any objection on personal grounds to the representative whom the employers themselves nominated?
– Possibly he did, for very good reasons.
– If he did, why did he not say to the employers’ organizations : “ We do not like the man whom you have selected. Select another one “. There was no reason for him to go through this farce of appointing, as an employers’ representative, somebody who obviously represents the interests of employees. I contest the suggestion of the Minister for Trade and Customs that every government has done this sort of thing. I say that no government in Australia, prior to the present one, ever did anything like this.
– One government appointed employee’s representatives to attend the meetings of the International Labour Office at Geneva without consulting the employees.
– I challenge any Minister to inform me of a single case in which any government on our side of politics in any part of Australia has ever appointed an employer to a wages hoard as an employees’ representative. There has never been such a case. The members of the present Government would have been the first to cry out in wrath at any suggestion that an appointment of that kind should be made. The conduct of the Minister in appointing this board is sufficient in itself to justify the disallowance of this statutory rule. But it should be disallowed on a wider ground than that. His conduct and the form of the regulations indicate a deliberate policy on the part of the Government to override the Arbitration Court and the other industrial tribunals which it has always claimed to support. In other words, when the decisions of a tribunal are not likely to be what the Labour party wants, the Government decides to create another tribunal to override the properly constituted authority. That is why this statutory rule has been promulgated. If it be a fact that the Arbitration Court is too busy to deal with this matter, the Government could appoint more judges. 11 is not necessary to destroy the whole system for lack of judges. The Government could also appoint conciliation tribunals within the ambit of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. There is no reason to go outside the arbitration system in order to determine what policy shall bo adopted in relation to this matter, unless it be that what the Government really desires is to give effect to a particular political policy. If the Government wants to make sure that the policy of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions shall be implemented in this matter, then it must appoint a tribunal - I was going to say a tribunal loaded against the employers, but that would not be strictly accurate because the employers are not represented at all on this board. The Government has created a tribunal which is solely representative of employees, and it has vested in that body the power to override the decisions of all the independent tribunals in the country. This is a travesty of justice. No statutory rule has ever been attacked in this Senate with more justification than the rule which we are now discussing.
– I oppose the motion. I was not surprised when it was submitted by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay), because it has become a significant feature of the Opposition’s so-called effort to support the Government’s war activities that it consistently moves for the disallowance of statutory rules. I could not help but notice that the Leader of the Opposition failed to stress the important points of this case and introduced them only as a sort of after-thought when he referred to the dates when nominations for appointments to this ‘board were called and when the receipt of nominations closed. Nominations were called on the 27th March, and the closing date was fixed for the 11th April. The employers saw fit to reply on the 13th April, two days after the closing of nominations, protesting against the establishment of the tribunal. The employers’ representative was appointed on the 16th April. Those facts reflect the manner in which the previous government conducted its war effort. It was always a few days late. To-day, honorable senators opposite are lashing themselves into a fury because the present Government is hastening and doing a reasonably good job. The Leader of the Opposition said in reply to an interjection that two weeks did not allow employers enough time to select a nominee. But we are living in the days of rapid communication; space has been annihilated, and two weeks should have been ample time for the employers to select a representative. In view of their failure to do so, what could be more natural than that a Minister of the Crown, who represents probably more female employees than any other member of Parliament, should himself cause to be appointed to the board a representative of the employees who was temporarily in the position of an employer. Senator McBride said that he did not object to women receiving equal pay for equal work. I do not wish to cast reflections upon the integrity of the honorable gentleman, but his record leaves him open to a very grave suspicion of his sincerity in making that statement. He said that he objected only to the methods by which the employers’ representative was appointed to the board. He and his colleagues are obviously disappointed at the personnel of that body. Has he stopped to consider how disappointed the Labour movement must have been down the ages since arbitration was introduced
– Is the honorable senator in favour of arbitration?
– Personally, I am in favour of conciliation. When one of the first Wages Boards was sitting in 1908, I attended its meetings and tried to study the arbitration system inaugurated by a government of the same political colour as honorable senators opposite. I attended the meetings of that board regularly for two weeks. Afterwards, I told a friend that I was satisfied that the workers would get out of arbitration only what they were strong enough to demand and enforce. There were many legal technicalities. There was a chairman, an employers’ representative and an employees’ representative. A number of witnesses gave evidence honestly as to the reasons why they thought that wages and other industrial conditions should be improved. The matter was investigated laboriously and the court was stacked with briefless barristers. The chairman was chiefly concerned to know whether the trade union in question was fully representative of the industry. If a case were presented by a union representing 90 per cent. of the workers in the industry concerned, the award obtained would probably meet 90 per cent. of the demands of the union, whilst, if the union represented only 40 per cent. of the workers in the industry, a ‘relatively lower rate would be awarded. That was my experience of arbitration in 1908, and I have seen no reason to alter that opinion since. I have witnessed a number of crimes perpetrated against the workers by the appointment to various boards of classbiased chairmen, with the result that the boards were always stacked against the workers. Immediately a change is proposed, a loud squeal comes from the Opposition. That is not surprising. The Opposition is trying to hamper the present Government, and it lashes itself into a condition of pious wrath. This was demonstrated by Senator Spicer, who indulged in legal phrases, but did not deal with the most important features of the matter.
– Answer the charges which the honorable senator made.
– What the honorable senator said was expressed in legal terminology. I have great respect for the law, but I have an intense love of justice, and there is a vast difference between the two. When I was a lad, my father took me through the London suburbs. It was customary for hotels to have signs on them indicating their names. I recall such inns as the Pig and Whistle, and the Elephant and Castle. One hotel in Kilburn was known as The Honest Lawyer, and in that case the sign depicted a lawyer with his head under an arm.
The honorable senator who has just resumed his seat said that Labour senators would have been the first to complain if the Opposition had brought down regulations such as those under consideration; but I contend that anti-Labour parties have been doing something parallel to this ever since arbitration has been in operation in Australia. Until recently, the arbitration courts have been loaded against the Labour party since 1906. Honorable senators opposite have ignored the principal aspects of this matter because they have not sufficiently stressed the dates on which the nominations were called for and closed. The first indication received by the Minister that the dates were not satisfactory to the employers was on the 13th April. If that was not ignoring the Government, I fail to see what could be said to constitute such conduct. The appointment was made five days after nominations were due to close. I make bold to say that the appointment of this board is a very happy one. Honorable senators on the Government side are twitted with having reflected on the integrity of the judges of the arbitration court and of the chairmen of various boards. Is it not conceivable that members of the Labour party are capable of dispensing justice without allowing party political bias to affect their judgment? Any reflection on my class is as harmful to me as a reflection on the integrity of a judge could be. No argument has been advanced that would justify the disallowance of these regulations.
– The setting up of this board is a direct challenge to the present conciliation and arbitration tribunals. Even if it were necessary to have another tribunal, so that disputes might be dealt with more expeditiously than at present, the proposed body would not be sufficiently representative of the various sections of the community. Surely, there should be at least one direct representative of the employers, and not two representatives of the employees. In special circumstances an employers’ representa tive could be called in, but the tribunal would be loaded against the employers.
– Why did not the employers nominate a representative within the prescribed time?
– They did.
– They were two days late.
Senator JAMES McLACHLAN.Nothing of the kind. Nominations were invited on the 27th March, and they closed on the 11th April. But ‘between those dates an application was made to the Minister, pointing out that the period was insufficient to enable a nomination by the employers’ organizations in Australia to be obtained. A request was then made for an extension of time to enable the employers to nominate a representative.
– That was asked for on the 13th April.
– No. A request was made between the 27th March and the 11th April. If the trade unions had asked for a similar consideration, and the Opposition had been in power, I am sure that their request would have been granted. A nomination was made by the employers and it was completely ignored. One would tie correct in saying that practically the only consideration shown to the employers’ organizations throughout Australia was that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward) intimated that he had appointed a woman to represent the employers. To get a parallel to this action, one would have to go back to April, 1917, when Kerensky took charge of affairs in Russia and imprisoned the Czar and members of his family. In the following November, Lenin took the job on and murdered the lot of them. The Minister for Labour and National Service set up this board to do something which he was not prepared to do himself. His idea was that the board should take complete control of the fixation of women’s wages ; but he was not. prepared to come out into the open and say that. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) put up the worst argument I have heard since I entered politics. He made the charge that all of the appointments made by the previous Government were biased.
– He did not say that.
– He said that he could give any number of cases of biased appointments made by previous Governments. That was the basis of his argument. He practically admitted that the appointments to this board were biased in favour of this Government, and were made in retaliation against the policy which he alleged was the policy of previous Governments. His argument was futile and feeble. Even if it be admitted that appointments made by previous Governments were biased - and I certainly do not agree that that was the case - it would be no reason why this Government should make biased appointments. Honorable senators on this side realize that during the war great numbers of women must take the place of men in industry, and we are anxious to see that justice is done to them. We do not agree, however, that women should be barred from the Arbitration Court. That is the effect of these regulations. In future all matters affecting employment of women will be dealt with exclusively by this board, which has power to grant wages to women not only equal to male rates, but also in excess of male rates.
– It is time that women had a “fair go”. They have been exploited for centuries.
– They should be given fair treatment, but they can secure such treatment from the Arbitration Court.
– No; previous governments have always appointed capitalists to the Arbitration Court Bench.
That is another instance of the bias of honorable senators opposite in this matter. However, if they take that view, I can see nothing to prevent them from making new appointments to the Arbitration Court. It is quite unnecessary to set up a new tribunal.
– Is the honorable senator advocating the policy of “ spoils to the victor “ ?
– If I were, I should be doing exactly what the Minister for Trade and Customs did when speaking to this motion. I strongly oppose these regulations. The appointment of this board is totally unnecessary. I fear that the power which has been vested in it will be implemented to the detriment of the nation as a whole.
– I intend to address myself to this motion very briefly, because so much has been said, and well said, in condemnation of the action of the Government. I desire to touch upon only one or two points. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) with a good deal of force, which he usually employs when dealing with matters of this kind, described these regulations as one of the most important steps yet taken in the history of this country for the settlement of industrial problems. He pointed to the contentions which have taken place for many years in respect of the principle of equal pay for the sexes for equal work. However, the Government now seeks to deal with this important matter, not by means of permanent legislation, or by an amendment of the Arbitration Act, but by a statutory rule under our national security legislation. These regulations will disappear immediately we return to normal conditions. They constitute this tribunal as the triumvirate which is supposed to know all about industry and its ramifications and perplexities, and the economic results to the country as a whole of its most important decisions. I should imagine that employees generally, who are anxiously awaiting a permanent settlement of this vexed problem, will say to the Government in respect of these regulations, “ Thank you for nothing “. They know that these regulations will expire when emergency conditions are over. They know that this gigantic problem cannot be satisfactorily handled in this way. Does the Government realize what it is doing when it deals with a problem of this kind in this manner ? Does it realize the importance of the problem? One would think that in passing a temporary measure of this sort to settle the relationship of wages between men and women, the Government was dealing with a tuppenny ha’penny matter. I have always supported the principle of equal pay for the sexes for equal service; but this is not an effective way to give effect to that principle. Let us look at the circumstances. Now that “King Coal” must meet his masters, it appears to me that we are fast drifting into a position where the Government is taking its instructions from outside sources.
– It does not happen to he from Collins-street.
– Previous governments have never bowed their heads to any one. They did not go crawling to any section of the community. I should like to address myself to certain remarks made by the Minister for Trade and Customs. The Government had the appointment of the chairman of this tribunal in its own hands. My colleague, Senator Spicer, has pointed out that the Minister for Labour and National Service was obliged, under the regulations, to consult the appropriate bodies in respect of the appointment of representatives of the employees and employers. He was obliged, therefore, to consult with a federal body of employers, because it is a federal matter. These regulations were promulgated on the 25th March. The Government waited until that date to deal with this momentous subject, although it was aware, from the day it assumed office, that the number of female employees in its own factories and annexes was rapidly increasing. On the 25th, it produced these momentous regulations under which the employers and employees are supposed to nominate their representatives. More than that, the Minister is supposed to consult with them before the nominations are made. One honorable senator complained that the date of nomination was fixed for the 11th April when I am credibly informed that, even if it were, the Federal Council of Employers wrote to the Minister on that date protesting against the nature of the regulations and nominating a representative - Mr. Johnstone - to the board. The Government must have been in a great hurry because on the 16th April a woman member was appointed who, I understand, holds some position in connexion with the trade union movement of this country. I do not know the woman, but she bears an excellent character. To suggest that the tribunal on which that person sits is representative of the Federal Council of Employers in this country, is merely ludicrous. The suggestion makes the Government appear what it is - incapable of doing even justice to the people. There has been excessive zeal to keep the employers’ representative out of the ring. There was time between the 11th and the 16th April, for the Government to say, “ No, we do not like Mr. Johnstone “. If the Minister did not like him he could have suggested an alternative, and then there might have been that peace that Senator Cameron talks about, which is not to be obtained by methods of blandishment towards a section of the people, with the object of cajoling them into an unwilling obedience to something they do not agree with, to something they had no voice in determining whether it was right or wrong, and to something on which they have never expressed their views. The board will be of the nature of a conciliation court, to keep the peace at any price. “We have had experience of a similar body in another connexion in New South Wales, and I predict that it will result not in peace but in industrial war. I share with the Minister for Trade and Customs, the view that our arbitration system works too slowly, but predecessors of the present Government have added various bodies to that system in an endeavour to speed up the court’s work. A function which is as important as the Government admits the one under discussion to be, and which is so full of possible trouble, should have been left to the arbitration court, which consists of a body of trained men accustomed to deal with economic facts. For these reasons, and because of the way in which the matter has been handled, I shall support the motion.
– I should prefer, if possible, a regulation of this kind to be discussed without reference to the bad blunder made by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward), but the two aspects have become inextricably mixed. On the one side, there is the question whether the regulation is bad, and on the other side there is the question whether there is a bad Minister administering it. One would not think that the Minister would be capable of what is termed in the racing world “ringing in”. Supporters of the regulations have camouflaged an employees’ representative so as to make that person appear as an employers’ representative, and they assert, “ This is a genuine horse that has been entered for this race”. Any one that Ls guilty of “ ringing-in “ on the race-course is disqualified for life. In this matter the two aspects should have been taken separately, and, if possible, the Minister responsible for an atrocity such as these regulations should be impeached. I do not see how any reasonablyminded man can say that the regulations constitute a fair administrative act by the Minister, and that they should be condoned by his party and the people of Australia. I am inclined to think that the people do not condone them.
I have not heard one word from the Government explaining why, with a court in existence, the regulations are necessary. Is there any necessity for this new tribunal in war time, for that is the only ground on which action under war-time legislation can be justified 1 No one on the Government side of the chamber has demonstrated any war-time necessity. Any regulation under the National Security Act should deal with a war issue; otherwise, the matter should be dealt with in the ordinary course of legislation.
– The regulations deal with a new situation; they deal with women in war-time industries.
– Women have been working in industries for years, and the number so employed is increasing. Actually, the situation is amusing. These Sir Galahads on the government side of the chamber purport to be champions of the women of Australia, but what is the real object of this tribunal? Its only object is to prevent women from working in industry after the war. Honorable senators opposite do not care what wages are paid to women; their only desire is to ensure that women will not displace men after the war is over. It is only within recent years that women have been allowed to work in certain engineering trades and on other similar work, and the demand that is now being made for the payment to women of wages similar to those paid to male employees is not in the interests of the women themselves, but merely to ensure that when male labour is available, no women “will be employed. In most jobs women are subject to certain disabilities, and- other things being equal, employers will always employ men in preference to women. To argue as honorable senators opposite do that a woman who stitches shirts should be paid as much as a man who drives a steam hammer is ridiculous. This apparent display of gallantry by honorable senators opposite is farcical. Women war workers are well aware that as soon as the present shortage of man-power is over the Labour party will do everything in its power to drive them out of industry. Therefore, it is very amusing to hear honorable senators opposite crying aloud to the skies about the injustices that are being done to women.
– The Japanese will be doing something worse than driving them out of industry if they win this war.
– The Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings) raises the same old cry, “ There is a war on “. When he finds that his Government has left itself open to criticism for which he can find no answer, he resorts to the same defence. I am heartily sick of that sort of thing, and if that is the only answer that the Leader of the Senate can give to honorable senators on this side of the chamber, it i3 time he gave his job to some one else. No valid reason has been given as to why this tribunal will be any fairer to the women of Australia than are existing tribunals, except that the board is “ stacked “ in favour of the employees by the “ ringing in “ of an employee as an employers’ representative. However, as I have said, that is quite apart from the regulations themselves. The regulations have been administered unsatisfactorily and they should be disallowed because they are useless, unnecessary, and constitute a deliberate attack upon the authority of our arbitration system. There is not the slightest necessity for this board, and I repeat that its only object is to prevent women from securing a permanent place in industry. I support the motion.
– I am surprised at the degree to which the Senate has devoted its attention during the last few months to matters entirely unconnected with the war effort.
– But this matter is connected with the war effort.
– The disallowance of these regulations will not help the war effort in any way. So far as I know, there is complete industrial peace in our munitions establishments, where most of our female labour is employed, and will be employed to an even greater degree in the future. With the Japanese at our gates, we find the Australian Senate devoting its time to motions for the disallowance of certain regulations, most of which have been framed by this Government - probably some of them would have been promulgated by the previous Government had it continued in office - to help the people of Australia during the war.
– Does the honorable senator think that the tribunal provided for in these regulations is properly constituted?
– Anything that this Government does to help our war effort I shall not oppose whilst in matters of defence the position is so critical. I had no desire to see this Administration in office, and I did not help to put it there. It was put into office by those individuals on this side of the chamber and in the House of Representatives who by their intrigues displaced their efficient leader, the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies), whom I and others were returned to this Parliament to support. It is not my fault that a Labour government is in power, but now that it is there, I intend to give it a fair deal on all matters affecting the war effort, just as the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Fadden), the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), and the right honorable member for Kooyong are doing. I have here a report which appeared in the Sydney Daily Mirror of the 29th March, 1942, and in other newspapers. It reads -
While ready and willing to give the fullest co-operation in the prosecution of the war,
Opposition members would not forgo the right to offer constructive criticism inside and outside of Parliament, with the design only of assisting the Ministry to achieve a maximum war effort, the Leader of the Federal Opposition (Mr. Fadden) said last night.
He added that the Government was failing to face up to the war situation, which demanded an all-in effort. A large section of the community had not been called upon to make a worthwhile contribution towards winning the war.
Only by compulsion could all citizens be made to shoulder the full responsibilities of the burden resting upon every individual shoulder.
The Opposition was watching every move, and next week would make a comprehensive review of all the regulations gazetted since the 1st January, after which it would take whatever action was deemed in the best interests of Australia.
Neither the Leader of the Opposition nor the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Hughes) in the House of Representatives has moved to disallow one regulation since that statement was made. This “ battle of the regulations “ has been proceeding in this chamber for weeks to the exclusion of all other business.
– There is no government business on the notice-paper.
– I see an item,” International Affairs - Review of the War Situation - Ministerial Statement - Paper “. The Leader of the Opposition in this chamber (Senator McLeay) is the only honorable gentleman on this side of the chamber who has had an opportunity to speak on that subject, and when the debate was adjourned he was granted leave to continue his speech at a later date. Even if there is no government business on the notice-paper, as Senator McBride states, it would be much better to allow Ministers of the Crown to remain in their offices as long as possible in order to look after the urgent business of the country.
– The Leader of the Senate called the Senate together ; we did not.
– We asked that the Senate should be called together some weeks ago, and when we adjourned we insisted that it should reassemble at an early date. During the war it would be much better if Ministers were free to carry on the business of the nation - if we have no better business to bring before the Senate than the proposed disallowance of statutory rules - than to keep them here week after week, as we have done. Although many motions have been submitted for the disallowance of statutory rules, only one has been successful. That was the statutory rule governing conscientious objectors, which was submitted by Senator Sampson. Those were the only regulations germane to the war in respect of which a motion to disallow has been moved since the present Government came into power. I intended to support Senator Sampson on that occasion, but apparently every other honorable senator had the 6ame intention and a division was not necessary. The Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives said that a most comprehensive review of all regulations would take place. It has taken place, and neither he nor the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in that chamber has, so far as I know, moved to disallow any statutory rules.
– But members of the Opposition parties have done so.
– I was returned to the Senate at the last general elections as a supporter of the Australian Country party led by Mr. Fadden, which at that time was represented in the Menzies Government. Since the present Government came into power, Mr. Fadden, as Leader of the Opposition, has willingly presented to it two votes in every division that has taken place in the House of Representatives. Every body knows that he has the support of his party, in this action, because this was made clear by recent disclosures in the press of the party’s affairs which should not have been made.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– I have pointed out that the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives had announced that a comprehensive review would be made by the Opposition of all regulations gazetted since the 1st January last. No doubt, as the result of that review, the major part of the battle of the regulations which has been carried on in the Senate since then was fought. Neither Mr. Fadden nor Mr.
Hughes, the leader and deputy leader respectively of the composite party in the Opposition, has moved the disallowance of any regulation in the House of Representatives, although motions directed against a number of regulations have been submitted by private members of the Opposition.
– Mr. Fadden moved for the disallowance of Statutory Rule No. 77.
– He did not move for its disallowance. I was strongly urged to vote for its disallowance when it was first promulgated, but I refused to do so because I regarded the rule as vital to the war effort. Subsequently, when the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) moved for its disallowance, and when it appeared to me that the Opposition parties could have secured its disallowance, all members of the Opposition except seven voted against the motion, including Mr. Fadden. In the Senate, several motions for the disallowance of regulations have been submitted by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay), and that makes it more difficult for those of us who sit on the Opposition side to vote against our Leader. The fact that he gets most of the votes on the Opposition side, when he moves for the disallowance of regulations, is due more to his personality and prestige through having been Leader of the Senate for a long period, and to his able advocacy, than to the real merits of the cases presented by him. When we consider the position in the House of Representatives - I am only repeating what has appeared in the press, and I am sorry for it, because I believe that the person responsible for it should” be pilloried to the utmost degree - we all know that the Opposition parties voluntarily, by providing the Speaker and the Chairman of Committees for the Government, have caused two votes to be given to the Government on every division that takes place in that chamber. I am not reflecting on the two honorable gentlemen concerned, because they have acted quite rightly in occupying the positions to which they have been elected. It was shown that an overwhelming majority of the combined parties desired that they should retain those positions. That proves conclusively that the Leaders of the Opposition parties in the House of Representatives do not wish to embarrass the Government, and do not try to embarrass it, by repeated attempts to pinprick it. That could be done by snap votes, were it not for the fact that two votes of members of the Opposition go to the Government on every division in that chamber.
– That is a good example which might well be followed in this chamber
– But some of the honorable gentlemen who are anxious to give to the Government those two votes on every division in the House of Representatives have suggested at times that the Government should not at any time receive any vote from the Opposition side in this chamber.
I shall repeat something that I said when voting against the Leader of the Opposition in connexion with the first motion submitted by him this year for the disallowance of regulations. I recall that both the Leader of the Opposition and I, when we were re-elected at the last elections, had a political platform consisting of practically one plank. We had an all-in policy for the winning of the war. I am still anxious to carry out that policy. If the Leader of the Opposition can prove to me - and I claim to have an open mind - that the carrying of this motion will assist the war effort in any way, I shall support it. If he can show that its passage would produce more munitions, more food for the troops, or a higher efficiency in any of the fighting services, I shall support him in any movement in that direction. I pause for a reply, and, if I do not get it now, the honorable gentleman has the right to give it to me later. I contend that the passage of this motion would not produce any of those all important results. On the contrary, I claim that it would cause industrial chaos in our munitions factories or other services, where, under the stress of war and owing to the shortage of male labour, ever increasing numbers of women are being, and will be, employed. It is fortunate that there is no industrial trouble to-day among the large number of women who are working wholeheartedly in the munitions factories and in connexion with other war-time activities. Some motions have been submitted against the Government because there has been trouble in industry, but in this case the motion is directed mainly against women employed in the munitions industry where there is no industrial trouble at all. The largest employer of women in the Commonwealth, whether directly or indirectly, is the Commonwealth Government. When a private employer is a contractor for the Government in the production of munitions, the real employer is the Government itself. As I have previously said, I opposed the advent of this Labour Government, but I do not expect it to make exactly the same appointments as would have been made by an anti-Labour government. Large numbers of women are being transferred, and more will be transferred, to war industries, and many of them are doing work which was previously done almost exclusively by male labour. In the circumstances, quick decisions may often be necessary with regard to their industrial conditions, and those decisions could readily be obtained by this new tribunal. I believe in adequate pay for women, and I favour the principle of equal pay for equal work between the sexes. That principle has been and is being observed in many pre-war decisions of the State Arbitration Court in Western Australia.
– Will that affect the annual balance-sheets of some of the private companies?
– As a director of companies, the honorable senator probably knows more about that than I, who am not in the same fortunate position. I read in the press last week that 3,000 shop girls in Adelaide are to be transferred during the next two or three weeks to munitions factories in the vicinity of Adelaide. What a task, and what a number of different trade unions those women may be joining! Surely it is not unreasonable that some tribunal should be appointed to deal with their cases quickly and comprehensively, whereas, if they were engaged in 40 or 50 different trades and callings, it might be necessary to obtain 40 or 50 alterations of industrial awards, with the result that the delays would be interminable. The arbitration courts are congested with work, and their delays are proverbial. I do not wish to defend any action of the Government unless I think that in so doing I shall be helping the war effort.
– This tribunal has not yet functioned.
– Then why should there be any haste to disallow the regulations? During the last few weeks, regulation after regulation has been attacked. They have not been disallowed and I do not know of any ill effect that has resulted from failure to disallow them. Throughout Australia women are being transferred from shops to munitions factories, and a government particularly concerned about the sectional interests of the workers naturally desires to have a new tribunal to deal with their claims. Had I any doubt whether I should support the Government in this matter, I should look to the right honorable gentleman who led the parties with which I was associated at the last elections. I refer to the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies), one of the most brilliant men in Australian politics. [ shall read what I heard, him say in the House of Representatives regarding the motion for the disallowance of Statutory Rule No. 77, which was attacked in the Senate on much the same lines as in the House of Representatives, although in this chamber the motion was subsequently withdrawn. Regarding the general subject of the disallowance of regulations, the right honorable member for Kooyong stated, on the 30th April last : -
If there is any doubt in the mind of Parliament about whether a certain regulation ought or ought not to be approved, then I am prepared to resolve that doubt always in favour of the executive government, because I believe that it is far better, in a time of war. to err by trying to do too much than to fail by doing too little.
He voted against the disallowance of the statutory rule, and I am prepared to accept the standard he laid down in my action with regard to the regulations now under discussion.
– He has given notice of his intention to move against these regulations.
– If I had any doubt in this matter, I should be prepared to defer to that wise gentleman, whose ability, knowledge and political wisdom mark him as a real national leader, and give the benefit of any doubt to the Government. Owing to reasons well known to all political observers and which I do not desire to recapitulate, it appears to me that the present Government is the only Ministry that could be drawn from this Parliament and that would be able to carry on the government of the Commonwealth at the present time. Whether this be so or not, the Government is charged with the direction of the war which is an immediate threat to the very existence of Australia as a British nation. Last week the enemy’s attack was repulsed a few hundred miles from our eastern shores. We are told that the Japanese are now massing for another attack. To-day, our defence against aggression is the only thing that matters. It is the all-important problem confronting this Parliament. The Government should be free to devote its whole attention to defence, and the prosecution of the war. Academic questions such as the disallowance of these regulations can well be postponed until after victory is attained. I shall vote against the motion.
. -Honorable senators opposite have not advanced one argument to justify the disallowance of these regulations. They have poured forth a volley of abuse against not only the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward), who administers these regulations, but also the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) and the Cabinet as a whole. Every member of the Cabinet agreed to these regulations. It would appear that the real objection of honorable senators opposite to these regulations arises from the appointment of a woman to the board. They do not seem to be really concerned whether she is a representative of the employees or employers. The Opposition could very easily have made representations to the Government stressing their objections to the appointment of Miss Cashman. However, in this debate no honorable senator opposite has questioned Miss Cashman’s capacity or character. What is wrong with Miss Cashman? I am forced to the conclusion that the jealousy of honorable senators opposite has been aroused simply because a woman has been appointed to the board to look after the interests of women in industry. The functions of the board will be to determine the wages and conditions under which women shall be employed. Honorable senate’s opposite say that the board will over-ride the Arbitration Court. They know that many applications to the Arbitration Court have waited for months, and in some instances for years, before being dealt with by the court. Therefore, it is useless to contend that the matters covered by these regulations can be satisfactorily handled by reference to the court. We know that the court is overloaded with work. Consequently, no objection can be taken to the Government’s action in setting up this board for the purpose of giving justice immediately to women in industry. I also suspect that another objection of honorable senators to these regulations is that as they empower the board to deal with all matters affecting the employment of women, they preclude any possibility that employers may exploit these female employees, who, as we know, are not yet organized. These employees cannot file a plaint with the Commonwealth Arbitration Court until they are organized in a body which can claim recognition by the court. Consequently, for some time to come they would be at the mercy of some unscrupulous employers, who, no doubt, would accept the opportunity to sweat them. Honorable senators opposite have also contended that representation on the board is unbalanced. These regulations provide that the board - shall consist of a chairman, one special representative of the employers, one special representative of the employees, and in addition two other members to be appointed from time to time according to the subject-matter to be dealt with by it,
That means that the board will consist, not of three but of five members.
Thus the board, when dealing with special subjects, will consist of two representatives of the employers and two representatives of the employees, whilst its chairman is a member of the judiciary. Evidently, honorable senators opposite are inclined to question the integrity of the gentleman who has been appointed to that position. None of them produced any evidence to substantiate the contention that the board will override decisions of the Arbitration Court and State wages boards. The regulations also set out the functions of the board. They provide, inter alia -
In respect of work for which rates for women employees have already been fixed, no application need be made to the board. It is also provided - (4.) The board, after consideration of the application, shall decide - (a)whether the work specified in the application is work for which a rate of payment for female employees less than the rate for male employees has not been determined by any industrial award, order, determination or agreement;
in respect of the employment of females on work held in pursuance of these Regulations to be work for which a rate of payment for female employees less than the rate for male employees has not been so determined -
Provided that the percentage to be paid to any adult female employee shall not be less than sixty per centum of the rate of payment so determined for adult male employees on that work;
Those are the main functions of the board. All honorable senators are aware that, as great numbers of females will be taking the place of males in industry, matters such as those mentioned in the regulations will crop up daily. These regulations ensure that their consideration will not be held up for three or six months awaiting hearing before the ArbitrationCourt, but will be dealt with immediately. When any application is lodged, it will be dealt with forthwith by the board, the members of which can, if necessary, investigate actual conditions in respect of the employment of any section of females referred to it. Thus, it will not be possible for unscrupulous employers to pay female employees whatever rate of wages they choose. These employees will be fully protected. Some honorable senators opposite have been through many of our munitions factories. They must admit that, in many instances, women are doing some jobs more efficiently than males. In such cases they are surely entitled to male rates of wages. These regulations ensure that female employees in all factories shall obtain justice.
– From the Commonwealth Government?
– The Commonwealth Government alone does not control munitions factories. Does the honorable senator suggest that it should be the Minister’s duty to investigate conditions and determine wages in each factory? I have no doubt that he would say that such powers are too great to be given to any Minister. I agree with that view, apart altogether from the fact that the
Minister could not possibly cope with such a volume of work. I have no doubt that the board will assist the Government in the production of arms and munitions by ensuring the smooth working of industry. It has been established for that purpose. Honorable senators opposite seem to be afraid that the board will award rates of wages for women which are higher than the prevailing male rates. These regulations specifically provide that the wages paid to women shall not exceed the male rates. On the other hand, they provide a minimum of 60 per cent. of the male rates. I have no doubt that that provision will protect employees against unscrupulous employers, many of whom would not hesitate to pay women a maximum of only 25 per cent. of the male rate. However, I believe that the board will prescribe the minimum rate only in respect of probationers, and that it will strike a fair margin in respect of women employees generally, at the same time awarding full male rates to women who are performing male work as efficiently as males. The honorable senator said that the scheme aimed at keeping female wages high, so that women would be thrown out of employment after the war. That is not so. If a woman can do the work, and the employer prefers her to a male worker, she will obtain the job. That, however, will rest with the employer. If she can do the work, and if the employer prefers her, why should she not receive the same wage as a male worker? The employer, however, will not be able to say to women, “ You are worth only 50 per cent. of the basic wage. We would pay a man £5 to do this work, but we can pay you only £2 10s “.
The board will order that females be paid according to their ability, and it will thus prevent the sweating that has taken place in the past. Members of the Opposition are well aware of the sweating of female employees during the years 1929 to 1934. I would not say that after the war the present Government will not be in office - that will rest with the electors - but whether the Government or the Opposition is in office, and there is insufficient work for both males and females, a determination must be reached as to who shall be the breadwinner? If honorable senators opposite would prefer to see women working in industry while men are idle, I cannot agree with them. For my part, if there is not work for all I wish to see the males at work rather than the females. If the females cannot come up to the standard of the males, and there is not work for all, they will automatically go out, and the males will do the work.
– Does the honorable senator believe in progress?
– I certainly do, and if the present Government is in office after the war, there will be jobs for a certain number of females and for all the males who are eligible for work. Should the present Opposition be in office, however, I am afraid that there will be a repetition of the conditions of 1929 to 1934.
– A Labour Government was in office during those years.
– When a Labour Government took office in 1929, it did not control both chambers, and hundreds of thousands of unemployed had been thrown out of work during the regime, extending over a score of years, of the party now in Opposition. In the absence of the regulations we are now discussing employers would have the power to reimpose those conditions. When that Government sought to pass legislation to give protection and work to males and females, the bill was defeated by a hostile Senate. The men who blocked that legislation are now objecting to a policy based on equality of the sexes. If any other members of the Opposition participate in this debate, I hope that they will quote something in the regulations to justify their disallowance,’ instead of attacking a defenceless woman who has been appointed to the board, and the Minister who happens to he responsible for administering the regulations.
– in reply - I shall not delay the Senate unduly in replying to the debate. I would suggest to Senator Aylett that he should look at the report of his speech to-morrow morning, to see whether he still believes that the minimum rate for women should be reduced from 60 per cent, to 40 per cent, of that paid to males. I regret that the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) was bold enough to say that Arbitration Court judges were biased. Such a statement will not help the war situation. By whatever Governments judges in this country have been appointed, the fact stands out that the professional honour of judges in the Arbitration and other courts is a credit to Australia, and is in keeping with the high traditions of the British judiciary. I resent the Minister’s aspersions very much. The Government has tried to sidestep the issue by suggesting that the Opposition is anxious to have the wages of women reduced.
– The honorable senator is anxious to waste time.
– I ask the Leader of the Senate to state what business he has to place before the Senate after the present motion has been dealt with.
Honorable senators interjecting,
– It is utterly impossible for me, because of the interjections of honorable senators, to hear the remarks of the honorable senator who is addressing the Chair. It must also be impossible for the official reporters to record correctly the speech that is being delivered. I ask honorable senators to observe the Standing Orders, and to cease interjecting.
– Members of the
Opposition have said, on numerous occasions that they believe that in wartime the Government should have the widest possible powers. Proof of that is found in the National Security Act passed by Parliament when the previous Government was in office. When that measure was before Parliament a number of members of the present Government voted against their leader, who is now Prime Minister. When those wide powers were given to the Government, Parliament provided that the Senate and the House of Representatives should have the right to review the regulations issued under that act. During the first four months of 1942, more than 200 statutory rules have been issued containing thousands of regulations; hut the Senate and the House of Representatives have not attacked or objected to more than 1 per cent, of them. I remind members of the Government that when regulations providing for economic mobilization were hurriedly promulgated, the economic conditions of this country were in a perfect muddle-
– What about petrol rationing?
– The Minister can say what he likes about petrol rationing, but two wrongs do not make a right. The Opposition, by directing attention to abuses that would exist under the regulations, was instrumental in having a committee appointed. The committee was assisted by a distinguished colleague of mine on this side of the chamber, and as a result of its advice the regulations were modified. Was not that the correct method of approach?
It is not correct to suggest that we are challenging Statutory Rule No. 146 in order to waste the time of the Senate. It is our duty to point out that all the intelligence is not on the Government side of the chamber. It has been suggested by my colleagues that the tribunal will inflict injustice on the employers and prevent industrial harmony, ft will certainly interfere with the rights of the Arbitration Court. Generally speaking, all political parties agree that the Arbitration Court has handled difficult problems exceedingly well, without political interference. Whatever hope we may have of securing the disallowance of these regulations, I believe that the people of the country expect us, when injustices are being perpetrated by the Government, to do what we can in Parliament to prevent them. I regret that Senator Johnston, one of the stalwarts of the Opposition, proposes to support the Government in this instance because, as he said, the disallowance of the regulations would not help the war effort. I remind the Senate that a month ago, when I had the honour to move for the disallowance of certain coal regulations-
– I remind Senator Johnston that after he had supported the Government on that occasion, the Government did not adopt the suggestion of the Opposition without consulting
Senator Johnston. We regarded as ludicrous the suggestion that trade union officials should order the men back to work. Within six weeks that regulation was amended and the authority was placed in the hands of the Coal Commissioner as we suggested. I remind Senator Johnston that the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. ‘ Menzies) has given notice that he proposes to move for the disallowance of these regulations in the House of Representatives. I remind the honorable senator also that an executive consisting of sixteen representatives of the Country party and the United Australia party considered these regulations amongst others, and was satisfied that they should be disallowed because they would tend to create ill feeling and industrial unrest in many of the big industries in which women are being employed in increasing numbers. I suggest to honorable senators opposite that the rights of employers are no less important than the rights of employees. Senator Aylett’s endeavour to add up the number of members of this board was about as accurate as was his estimate of the percentage of the male rate that is paid to females. Another point made by Senator Johnston was that there is no trouble among women who are working in various industries to-day under existing awards. I agree that in this war the women of Australia have done a remarkably fine job, but 90 per cent, of them are working under awards fixed by experienced Commonwealth and State tribunals. This new body has not yet functioned, and the peace which exists throughout industry to-day is due to the fact that women are prepared to work under the present awards. But now the Government proposes to throw this politically inexperienced tribunal into the arena, and to give it power to make decisions which will interfere with rulings of other properly constituted authorities. That is a step in the wrong direction, and the employers have a right to oppose the action of the Government on this occasion. It is obvious that as soon as this board grants an increase of wages to women engaged in one industry, women engaged in other industries will be dissatisfied, because all sorts of anomalies will be created. AH this talk of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court being unable to handle cases expeditiously is incorrect. When the previous Government was in office, steps were taken to ensure that industrial disputes were dealt with promptly, and to that end the number of tribunals was increased. I ask honorable senators to give some thought to the real causes of the various strikes which have occurred in recent months. Take, for instance, the strike at the Millfield colliery. The trouble there is not that the Arbitration Court has not been able to handle the dispute, but that extremists in the industry are not prepared to abide by that court’s awards. That disinclination to observe the rules of properly constituted authorities is causing considerable trouble throughout industry to-day.
In conclusion I appeal to Senator Johnston and others to appreciate the fact that honorable senators on this side of the chamber are just as interested as is the Government in winning this war. I am sure that the honorable senator has that desire at heart and that it is shared by Western Australians generally. I would point out, however, that we on this side of the chamber have a right to oppose actions which we consider to be prejudicial to any section of the community, and to offer constructive criticism. It is our opinion that by disallowing these regulations and so preventing the operation of this board, we shall be assisting Australia industrially, and doing justice to the employers.
Question put -
That the National Security (Employment of Women) Regulations, under the National Security Act 1939-1940, made by Statutory Rules 1942, No. 146, be disallowed.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. J. Cunningham.)
Majority . . 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- I move -
That National Security (Supplementary) Regulation SO under the National Security Act 1939-1940 made by Statutory Rules 1942, No. 161, be disallowed.
I am not moving for the disallowance of this regulation with a desire to embarrass the Government, and I am sure that the Government realizes that. The disallowance of this regulation would have no effect whatever upon our war effort. The regulation, which overrides the Health Act 1935, of the State of Victoria, provides -
The National Security (Supplementary) Regulations are amended by adding at the end thereof the following regulation: - “ 50. Nothing contained in section 19 of the Health Act 1935 of the State of Victoria (being Act No. 4333 of that State) shall -
prevent the removal of any cattle from the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works Farm at Werribee in the State of Victoria, whether for the purposes of human consumption or for any other purposes whatsoever; or
operate to make any authority or person guilty of an offence against, or liable to a penalty under, any law, by reason of that authority or person having permitted or suffered, or having been concerned with, any such removal.”.
When the Health Act of 1935 was before the Victorian Parliament, it was debated at length, and the ban on Werribee beef was carried on the voices, so that the Labour party, as well as the Dunstan Government, favoured such a ban or, at any rate, did not vote against it. In fairness, I should say that an amendment waa moved, limiting the ban to two years, but was defeated. As I have 8 aid, this regulation overrides an act of the Parliament of Victoria, and I believe that it overrides the wishes of the people of Victoria. If all the beef produced at Werribee were put through the usual Wednesday market at Newmarket, it would not supply that day’s market. Therefore, a ban on its use would have no effect upon the war effort. There are not enough bullocks at Werribee to supply the Melbourne market for a week. Pastoralists generally are not opposed to Werribee beef being sold in Melbourne, provided it is sold as Werribee beef, and if the Government will amend this regulation to provide for that restriction, I shall have no objection to it. It would then be possible for a purchaser to know whether the beef which he was purchasing came from the Werribee Sewage Farm. In effect we have a statement by the Government that it will ram down the throats of the troops of this country, beef which they would not eat in their homes.
– The Government has not said anything of the kind.
– I shall prove, definitely, that in effect the Government did say so. It stated that it was buying the beef for the troops. As proof that the graziers have no objection to the meat being sold on the Melbourne market as “ Werribee beef “, I point out that about 40,000 sheep are run on the Werribee farm and that a large number of the3e is sold in Melbourne every week. Has any honorable senator ever heard a complaint from the graziers about that? They have not because the sheep are not hosts of the tape worm. If the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works wishes to produce more food for the community, it could graze another 10,000 sheep, the equivalent of cattle, on its farm at Werribee. There is nothing to prevent it from doing so. It has 11,000 acres of dry country, and it runs about 1,000 horses on that area in addition to cattle and sheep. Under wise management, the farm would carry sheep in place of the cattle that graze there. I have a suspicion that the embargo on Werribee beef was lifted as the result of the influence of the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), who is also a member of the
Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works. At any rate, he was congratulated by the board upon the fact that the ban has been lifted. I hope that the cause for these congratulations will be short-lived, and will end to-night. If the Government wishes to abolish thu States, it should do so constitutionally instead of endeavouring to whittle away their rights as it is doing in this case. When I read to honorable senators the correspondence on the subject of Werribee beef which passed between the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) and the Premier of Victoria, Mr. Dunstan, for whom I do not hold a brief, they will see what a high-handed attitude the Government has adopted towards the Government of Victoria. The Senate is a States House. Tasmania is represented in the Commonwealth Parliament by five members of the House of Representatives and six senators; Western Australia is represented by five members of the House of Representatives and six senators. Therefore, it is the duty of the Senate to guard the rights of the States until such time as the States are abolished. If there were no other grounds, this attack on the rights of the Victorian Government would be sufficient reason for disallowing the regulation. This Government has ridden rough-shod over the Victorian Government. I do not know whether it entertains animosity towards the Premier of Victoria, but the correspondence which passed between that gentleman and the Prime Minister shows that he has been unfairly treated. A Minister stated in the House of Representatives that the ban on Werribee beef was a racket organized by the graziers. It is nothing of the kind. As I have said the graziers are prepared to allow that meat to be marketed, provided that it is marked as Werribee beef. Somebody else has said that the ban regulates the price of stock on the Melbourne market. That is not true. For seven years when Werribee beef was allowed to enter the market the average price of beef was 40s. 7d. a cwt. For five years during which the ban was in force the average price was 31s. 9d. a cwt. That proves that the ban had no restraining effect on the market price.
– Some of those years were depression years.
– I admit that that is so. One of the chief objections to the Government’s action is that our troops will be compelled to eat Werribee beef.
– Does the honorable senator consider that Werribee beef is fit to eat?
– Then why would the honorable senator allow it to go on the market, when branded?
– There are three reasons why this regulation should be disallowed. The first is the constitutional reason. The Commonwealth should not override a State act on a matter that does not directly affect the war effort. The second is that our troops should not be forced to eat this meat against their wishes. I know scores of men in the Army who will not touch tinned or fresh meat whilst Werribee beef is a part of the Army ration. I know that bullocks from the Werribee Sewage Farm bring £19 a head on the Melbourne market. They are fine cattle and probably weigh about 800 lb. when dressed. They produce extraordinarily good meat. I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) whether he would accept from a waiter at his hotel in Melbourne an appetizing piece of beef from the Werribee farm. The honorable senator declines to answer; I have never known him to be at a loss for a word before. Senator Fraser lives at one of Melbourne’s leading hotels when he is in that city, and his name always appears in the social notes of the newspapers.
– The honorable senator has made another mistake. I stay at a private house when I am in Melbourne.
– If the same waiter placed a Werribee steak in front of Senator Fraser, would he eat it? I suggest that he would ask to see the menu again.
Every city in Australia, with the exception of Melbourne, has dealt with sewage in a proper manner. Somebody recently asked the Bishop of Goulburn to pray for rain on the Sydney catchment area. He replied: “No, I will pray for wisdom for the Water Board”. In this case, we ought to pray for wisdom for Melbourne City Councillors. The original scheme for Melbourne sewage was to reticulate it, through Werribee, to the sea at Queenscliff. That plan would have been cheaper to carry out than the Werribee farm scheme. Brisbane’s sewage is carried into the Brisbane River and out to sea. In Hobart, sewage is also run into the sea. Western Australia has an eminently satisfactory scheme, and in this regard I pay a compliment to you, Mr. President. It is to your everlasting credit that, when you were Minister for Works in Western Australia, you refused to permit the establishment in Perth of a sewage farm similar to the one at Werribee. Adelaide had a sewage farm, and in 1925 beef measles broke out on that farm. The State authorities in South Australia very rightly decided that meat from that farm should not be marketed, and for eight years cattle were not grazed there. Then, as an experiment, 22 cattle were turned out on the farm and left there for six months. When they were slaughtered, 40 per cent, of them had developed beef measles, even though the farm had been lying idle for years. It is time that the sewage authorities of Melbourne decided to alter the existing method of disposing of sewage. I say to Senator Brand, who is an ex-Army officer of wide experience, that if the Army were to handle its sanitary arrangements as the city of Melbourne is doing, an epidemic of such magnitude would occur that more men would die of disease than at the hands of the enemy. There is not the slightest doubt about that. I direct the attention of the Senate to the correspondence which passed between the Prime Minister and the Premier of Victoria. On the 20th February, Mr. Dunstan telegraphed the following message to the Prime Minister: -
From press reports, it would appear that Commonwealth Government contemplates taking action under Commonwealth Security Regulations to permit the sale for human consumption of beef from the Werribee Sewerage Farm. This matter has received very serious consideration by Victorian Government, which is opposed in the public health interest to removal of the ban. Before your Government takes any action to lift embargo, would suggest you obtain views of animal health division of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research. Victorian Parliament has discussed this matter on several occasions, but has always emphasized the desirability of prohibiting the sale of this beef for human consumption.
Unfortunately, the Government did not adopt the suggestion. On the 24th February, the Minister for War Organization of Industry (Mr. Dedman), on behalf of the Prime Minister, wrote the following letter to Mr. Dunstan: -
I desire to acknowledge the receipt of your telegram of the 20th February, 1942, in regard to the question of the sale of beef from the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works Farm at Werribee, and to inform you that the further representations made in connexion with the matter will be given consideration.
On the 26th March, the Prime Minister wrote to Mr. Dunstan in the following terms : -
For some time past, my Government has been considering ways and means of meeting the ever- increasing demands of the Australian and Allied services, both in Australia and overseas, for meat, both carcass and canned. In addition, the British Ministry of Food has indicated that it requires as much canned meat a- Australia iB in a position to export.
It has become necessary, therefore, to utilize every source of supply and it is proposed, by notice issued under the National Security Act, to lift the ban on the sale for human consumption of cattle from the Melbourne >-nd Metropolitan Board of Works Farm at Werribee.
That indicates that the meat was to be consumed by our soldiers and the soldiers of our allies. I say that they will not eat it.
– That letter does not stipulate that the meat from the Werribee farm is to be consumed by soldiers.
– Undoubtedly it indicates that Werribee beef is intended for consumption by our soldiers at home and abroad.
– It does not state that Werribee beef is to be so used.
– I say that it does. For what other reason was the ban lifted? On the 27th March, Mr. Dunstan sent the following telegram to the Prime Minister : -
Your letter 26th March to hand re proposed removal of ban on sale of cattle for human consumption from Sewerage Farm, Werribee- 1 previously suggested you should obtain reports from veterinary officers of Commerce Department and Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. Your .government has evidently overlooked this master. As Victorian Government is definitely opposed in interests nf health of community to removal of embargo would appreciate your compliance with above request. The number of cattle which can be supplied from Werribee Fa’-m will be less than 2 per cent, of consumption in Victoria alone.
The Prime Minister did not reply to that telegram, and Mr. Dunstan sent another telegram to him on the 31st March, in these terms -
Victorian Government has given further consideration to your proposal to remove the ban on the sale of beef from Werribee Sewerage Farm. Would again urge that your government obtain report from the chief veterinary officers of the Commerce Department and the Chief of the Division of Animal Health of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. Victorian Government would be glad of an opportunity of perusing these reports when obtained.
I draw special attention to the fact that Mr. Dunstan asked that Commonwealth officials, not State officials, should make the investigation. That is a very important point.
– They did make a report, did they not?
– They did nothing of the kind. The Prime Minister replied to Mr. Dunstan’s telegram of the 31st March in a letter dated the 6th April, as follows : -
It is not considered that any good purpose would be served by obtaining additional reports on the matter.
On the 7th April, the Prime Minister sent this telegram to Mr. Dunstan -
Werribee beef. National Security Supplementary Regulations. Gazetted to-day remove the ban on sale for human consumption of cattle from Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works Farm Werribee. Would appreciate co-operation and assistance your government in connexion with inspections this beef.
Mr. Dunstan telegraphed on the same date in the following terms: -
Referring your letter 6th April would regard as most serious any lifting of ban on Werribee Sewerage Farm beef without first obtaining report from veterinary officers of Commerce Department and Council for Scientific and Industrial Research as these are acknowledged to be the outstanding authorities on the subject.
The Prime Minister did not reply to that message, and on the 23rd April, Mr. Dunstan sent the following telegram to him : -
Melbourne newspapers indicate that your government may by regulation remove the embargo on sale of beef from Werribee Sewerage Farm. Before any action in this regard is taken would very much appreciate if you would furnish me with copies of reports which I understand you have obtained from Council for Scientific, and Industrial Research and Commonwealth veterinary officers. Victorian Government strongly opposed to removal of ban.
– Was there not a reply to that?
– No. Following that the Prime Minister received a report from the Commonwealth DirectorGeneral of Health, dated the 11th March. Dr. Cumpston forwarded with his report a copy of a minute by Mr. R. N. Wardle, director of the Division of Veterinary Hygiene, Canberra, on the subject of beef measles, with which he said that he entirely concurred. He added these words -
As mentioned in this minute, light cooking destroys the cysts in beef in the event of any escaping detection on inspection, therefore any canning process is effective also.
– What did Dr. Dale say on the subject?
– He had nothing to do with it. He is an official of the Victorian Department of Health.
– But he gave an opinion on the subject.
– I shall cite some more opinions later, and I hope that they will not upset the honorable senator’s stomach. Mr. R. N. Wardle is, I understand, a veterinary officer connected with the Victorian Department of Agriculture. I do not know whether he ever examined a beast at the Werribee farm, but he did not say so in his report. He stated -
It has always been my opinion that cysticercosis of cattle is relatively unimportant from the point of view of meat supply which. is adequately controlled. The essential control consists, of course, of efficient meat inspection.
In the case of meat intended for export only one half of a 1bullock is examined, but, when a bullock is examined for human consumption locally, the carcass is cut into eighteen pieces.
– About 40 lb. Mr. Wardle’s report continued -
The Victorian Health Act by its meat supervision regulations provides for the condemnation of the carcass in the event of the presence of cysticercus bovis being present.
Efficient meat inspection, therefore, should be a practical safeguard against cyst-infested meat reaching the public; should a very light infestation escape detection, the chances in Australia of such meat infecting a human being is remote, as light cooking destroys the larvae.
In the United States of America, cysticercosis is a minor problem by this very fact that efficient meat inspection is able to deal with it. Nor does cysticercosis appear to effect export trade providing that the exporting country has an efficient meat inspection system. As mentioned, the disease is present in the United States of America; it is also very common in African territories, many of which are building up export trade in meat with Britain. It is all a question of efficient meat inspection.
One provision is required, in my opinion, in the marketing of beef from the Board of Works farm at Werribee, namely, that the cattle be sold for direct slaughter at abattoirs employing full-time meat inspectors, who, preferably, are under veterinary control such as the meat inspectors of the Commonwealth export branch of the Department of Commerce.
The Werribee farm depastures about 3,000 head of matured cattle, and in 1938 no fewer than 300 head were condemned by the health inspectors on account, of tuberculosis, actinomycosis and malignant tumour. I have 100 head of cattle depastured on my own property, and I have had only one beast condemned in ten years, but at Werribee between 5 and 10 per cent, of the herd were condemned in one year.
– They were not affected by tapeworm.
– No. I shall give to honorable senators a startling statement with regard to tapeworm in cattle. The Werribee farm authorities received £430 12s. by way of compensation. The first ban on the Werribee farm beef waB placed upon it by the late Sir Stanley Argyle. He asked the Werribee farm authorities not to sell their cattle on the market, and they agreed. When the Premier of Victoria, Mr. Dunstan, defeated Sir Stanley Argyle, the Werribee farm authorities were not prepared to obey Mr. Dunstan as they had his predecessor, with the result that Mr. Dunstan had a provision inserted in the Health Act with regard to the Werribee farm. A number of reports were obtained, and the first was from Mr. Hepburn, Sanitary Engineer of the Health Department of Victoria. He did not object to the Werribee beef being placed on the market. He stated in his report -
I have studied all available literature on sewage treatment, as to beef measles and sewage irrigation, and have found only one reference. At a small town in the southwest of the United States of America, sewage was subjected to short-period sedimentation, and then used to irrigate various crops, as at Bendigo, and is to he done at Swan Hill. No trouble occurred when the fodder crops were cut as hay and fed to stock, but when a herd of cattle was allowed to graze on the sewage irrigated crops, a high percentage developed beef measles.
The Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works, being prohibited from selling its cattle for human consumption, sold them for boiling-down purposes. Certain inspectors were authorized to examine the beasts when they were being slaughtered for those purposes. Returns as to cattle from the Werribee farm, slaughtered from the 10th January to the 8th July, 1935, showed that the number slaughtered was 3,460, of which 824 suffered from beef measles. The next report was from Dr. Robertson, Chairman of the Commission of Public Health in Victoria. He explained how the beasts were examined. He said that each carcass was cut into eighteen parts. The report of Dr. Penfold was similar to that of Mr. Wardle. Dr Penfold remarked that he did not object to the meat going on to the market provided that it was examined and well cooked. Referring to beef measles, he said -
Taenia Saginata is found inhabiting the mall intestine of man. It is approximately 20 feet long when fully grown, and consists of a email pigmented head, a narrow neck, and a long white tape-like body, comprising approximately 900 segments. The head, about 1.5 mm. in the widest diameter, is blackish and pear-shaped. On its summit, situated at the four corners of a rectangle, are four hemispherical suckers. By means of these suckers the head is attached to the intestinal wall somewhere in the upper portion of the small intestine below the duodenum. The remainder or segmented portion of the worm increases in width from the narrow neck (1.25th inch) to the middle () inch). From the middle to the posterior end, there is a gradual reduction in width again. The posterior segments are fully mature, or ripe, and usually measure 1 inch x I inch x 1.12 inch. Approximately nine of these segments become detached daily and escape from the infested persons. To replace these nine, a similar number of segments are formed daily in the neck region of the worm. In this way, the worm is con tinually growing, yet once it has reached maturity it always remains about the same length. During the time a segment is growing and being pushed from the anterior to the posterior end of the worm, all the sex organs, both male and female, develop, perform their functions, while later some disappear. A ripe segment, ready to be detached from the one above it, consists mainly of a muscular envelope containing a uterus packed full of eggs. The average number of eggs per segment is 80,000, therefore, each worm usually liberates 720,000 eggs daily. In addition, the longevity of the worm, if not disturbed by treatment, is usually only limited by the death of its host.
Therefore, 262,000,000 eggs are laid in one year by a single worm !
In introducing a health bill in the Victorian Parliament, Mr. Bailey said -
In fairness to the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works, I should say that all the authorities point out that there is no danger to human beings provided that meat is properly cooked. The only danger is from eating raw or under-done meat. That has been proved by investigations in Scotland. Children in a certain place were being given beef juice or blood and it was found after a little while that the children developed tape worm.
Dr. Shields is, I think, the greatest authority in Australia on this matter. He practised his profession in Castlemaine, and was also a member of the Victorian Legislative Assembly. In the course of an excellent and scathing speech he remarked -
I have access to a world-famous text-book on meat inspection written by Professor Ostertag of Germany, who is regarded as the greatest expert on this problem, and Mr. Young, the veterinary inspector of the City of London. In two places in that book, reference is made to the fact that beef measles has been discovered on a sewage farm in Australia . . . Those references appear in the 1934 edition of that text-book, so I think it is safe to assume that the sewage farm referred to is the one located at Werribee.
What hope is there of examining the animal after death and determining whether or not it is clean? To a certain degree that can undoubtedly be done, but I hold that without an examination that is so thorough as to make the meat unfit as a marketable commodity - that is, without a considerable amount of slicing, it is impossible to be sure that the carcass is not harbouring the live cyst. . . .
The text-book to which I have referred definitely lays down that the only way to be sure that a live cyst in meat is killed is by cooking the meat to such an extent that when one cuts it there is no sign of red gravy, but what housewife cooks meat to that extent, and who among us would eat it if she did? I remind honorable members that there is such a thing as raw beef juice. When 1 was actively engaged in practice 1 frequently prescribed raw beef juice for certain ailments. The danger of live cysts existing in raw beef juice cannot be denied. I think 1 have convinced the committee that there is a definite risk of people becoming infected through beef grown on the Metropolitan farm.
Dr. Shields further stated that epileptic fits in children who had been fed on this infected beef were frequent. That, I think, is a very damning statement.
I do not propose to say anything further on the subject. I believe that when the Senate considers this matter carefully from a health point of view, it will come to the conclusion that this statutory rule should never have been issued. I hopethat the Government will at least amend the statutory rule to provide that Werribee beef may be sold in Melbourne, only if it is branded Werribee beef. Another authority who comes to my mind at the moment is the late Lr. Gilruth, who stated that cooking will not kill a tapeworm in the centre of a sausage.
– I have yet to learn that an amendment of this regulation would assist the people of Victoria to ascertain for themselves whether beef displayed for sale in butchers’ shops was Werribee beef. In view of the statements which Senator Gibson has made concerning infestation arising from the consumption of Werribee beef, I was rather surprised that he asked the Senate to amend the regulation in order to enable purchasers to distinguish Werribee beef from other beef. First, I should like to know how such beef could be so marked after delivery to butchers. Secondly, if the beef is so inimical to health as Senator Gibson contends, why should we allow it to be marketed at all? If it is so dangerous, its distribution should be prohibited entirely. However, it appears that the honorable senator, despite his objections, would be satisfied so long as the beef is marked Werribee beef before it has been placed on the market. I cannot follow his logic.
It is not correct to say that the people of Australia have condemned this regu lation. Prior to its promulgation, protests against the ban were received by the Victorian Government from all parts of that State. The State Government did not yield to those protests simply because of the pressure brought to bear on it by the Graziers Association, which opposed the lifting of the ban. Knowing that this matter was to be raised in the Senate, I took the trouble some days ago to acquaint myself with the facts. I find that not only the people of Victoria, but also a large majority of the butchers in Melbourne, desire the ban to be lifted. I have just been handed the following telegram -
The Housewives Association in Victoria wholeheartedly support the lifting of the ban on the sale of Werribee beef.
– Of course they would.
– Because they know nothing about it.
– In spite of Senator Gibson’s condemnations, people who reside in close proximity to the Werribee farm have asked that the ban be lifted. The honorable senator also contended that the disallowance of this regulation would not affect the war effort in any way whatever.
– Neither it would.
– It would affect the war effort to the degree that should we be short of beef, possible action by the enemy might give us the choice of eating Werribee beef or going hungry.
– I would rather go hungry.
– Information which I have received concerning sales of Werribee beef proves the contention that the banning of the sale of this beef would not result in a shortage on the market to be foolish.
– Why not slaughter more sheep?
– I understand that the American troops do not like mutton; they prefer beef. This beef, however, is not being bought entirely for our troops. It is being bought and marketed in the ordinary way.
– Bought by whom?
– By the people.
– By the canners and exporters.
– It is entirely incorrect to say that this meat is being exported. However, the less said about that aspect of the matter, the better, because any discussion along those lines might have a detrimental psychological effect upon our export trade. The agitation against the repeal of the previous restriction upon the use of Werribee beef for human consumption cannot be justified either on health grounds or on economic grounds. It is true that for a number of years Victorian regulations have prohibited the use for human consumption of beef produced on the farm of the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works at Werribee. The reasons for the continuance of this prohibition are partly health and partly economic, but chiefly psychological. There have at times been differences of opinion regarding this beef, and, because of these differences of opinion, the Victorian Government has prohibited its consumption. AH of the foregoing facts, however, were related to peacetime conditions. We come now to the situation under war-time conditions. A combination of circumstances has imposed a considerable strain upon the meat resources of this country. The principal factors are adverse seasonal conditions, the increased demand of the fighting services in Australia for fresh meat, and the greatly expanded canning programme for the fighting services. In these circumstances, the Commonwealth Government is justified in making available to the people of Australia any increased quantities of meat of a wholesome character. When considering the position with respect to Werribee beef in the light of these new circumstances, the Government had regard to favorable reports which indicated that the beef was wholesome and suitable for human consumption. Accordingly, pursuant to the powers conferred upon this Government by the National Security Act, it overrode by regulations under that act the prohibition imposed by the Government of Victoria. The cattle from the Werribee farm have brought high prices in the stock markets. The first consignment of 40 head averaged £18 18s. per head, and the second lot of 60 head, offered a week later, averaged the record price for such a large consignment of £19 16s. 8d. per head. These cattle have elicited very favorable comment, and there has not been any objections by any expert to their consumption in Australia. The Chief Veterinary Officer of the Federal Health Department reported favorably on the proposal to remove the ban, and he was supported by the Director-General of Health. In Victoria, Professor Woodruff and Dr. Dale, both highly-regarded health authorities, have publicly supported the Commonwealth Government in making this beef available for human consumption. The consumers do not appear to be so dismayed as do some of the representatives of grazing interests. The Melbourne City Council, many other councils in the Melbourne suburban area, and the Housewives Association as well, asked the Government to remove the ban. The demand in Australia would be sufficient to absorb, at payable prices, larger quantities of beef than can possibly be made available including that from the Werribee farm. The problem which faced the Government was one of meat supplies and meat consumption in Australia. The question of export does not arise aud should not be cited in relation to the Government’s action in making this extra quantity of beef available to the people of Australia. Senator Gibson declared that Mr. Dunstan asked for certain reports by Commonwealth officers to be investigated. I have in my hand reports of several highly-qualified authorities on this matter. I am open to correction on this point, but I understand that Mr. Dunstan asked that a report be made by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. That was done.
– According to Mr. Dunstan’s letter, that was not done.
– One of those reports was by the late Dr. J. A. Gilruth, Chief Officer of the Division of Animal Health, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.
– That report is ten years old.
– It was issued in 1934. Does the honorable senator suggest that the position at Werribee has altered since that report was made? It has not altered in the slightest degree. The fact remains that, when this ban was imposed, these reports were made available to Mr. Dunstan. However, the Victorian Government, yielding to the demands of the graziers, maintained the ban. I am not sufficiently experienced to say whether this meat should be made available to the public or not, but I can certainly analyse the views of those who are competent to express an opinion. I refer Senator Gibson to a memorandum to the Chief Executive Officer of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research dated the 31st May, 1934. On page 6 of the memorandum he will find the following:
It is obvious, therefore, that if the cattle were removed from the Sewage Farm and retained elsewhere for a period of four months before slaughter all danger of human infestation from that source would be obviated, though as an extra precaution six months might be advisable.
Senator Gibson has said that he made that suggestion, but that does not justify disallowance of the regulation. I believe that the honorable senator is honestly convinced that he is right, but he has not gone far enough in his investigations, and has not looked on the other side of the question. On page 9 these words appear - lt may be confidently asserted that provided meticulous examination, by cutting into thin slices the four sites favoured by the parasites, demonstrates them to be free, it is only in a very exceptional case a cyst may be found elsewhere. Consequently, the carcase might well be passed for human consumption. Further, it may also be taken that, provided the cysts in these situations are all dead, those that may exist elsewhere are also dead and innocuous even if consumed uncooked.
I wish to show Senator Gibson that a complete and exhaustive inquiry was made by experts in 1934.
– I have read the report.
– In that event I am surprised to hear that the Premier of Victoria, Mr. Dunstan, asked that a Commonwealth officer should make further investigations. The memorandum also states that -
The present instructions, as issued by the Health Commission, are more drastic than the regulations in force in other countries where beef measles are common. There tie practice is to permit the use of the carcase when the parasites, on examination of ihe areas specified, are found confined to one situation.
From the information we have gained in our examinations it is evident that if no live cysts are found in any of these situations there will be none in the body save under very exceptional circumstances, and that therefore no danger need be apprehended by the consumer. It is also evident that were live cysts present they could be rendered absolutely innocuous by freezing the carcases for a week.
Still, in view of the virtual limitation so far as is known of the parasites to one herd in Victoria and the general perturbation that has been created in the public mind, it seems reasonable that the source of the beef should be indicated.
On page 11 there is this observation -
Therefore, for all reasonable purposes by a regulation permitting the certification of carcases in which no live cysts can be demonstrated in the favoured situations and in which all cysts in any of these situations are dead or degenerated, without further treatment, the public health would be entirely safeguarded.
It has been observed that the most heavily infested animal has contained but very few cysts, even in the favoured situations. Therefore, if compulsory freezing for a week is to be continued there seems to be no valid reason why all the carcases in which a slight infestation in even more than one area is found (if free from lesions which would otherwise warrant condemnation) should not be so treated and branded. Were this course adopted, the surplus fat cattle at present on tho farm and which must be disposed of soon, could all be slaughtered, those carcasses stored in the frozen condition being gradually sold as opportunity and the market offer.
It is not necessary for me to read all the recommendations made in that memorandum. It is entirely wrong for Mr. Dunstan to suggest that no minute examination by experts has been made.
– He asked that tho report be referred to tie present-day officers of the Commonwealth Government.
– He asked that another examination be made of a matter that was thoroughly investigated in 1934, because the Commonwealth Government intended to issue this regulation. There is very little conflict of opinion among even State officers on this issue. The Melbourne City Health Officer, Dr. Dale, and officers of the State Government have given careful consideration to it, and they see no reason why the ban should not be lifted.
– Why is the Government not willing to refer the issue to its own officers?
– Because the Government is satisfied, and because there has been no change since 1934. There are other reports .substantiating that made in 1934, notably one by Dr. W. J. Penfold in 1933. I believe that Senator Gibson has been misled regarding the effect of the disallowance of this regulation, which would result in a shortage of meat.
– Nonsense. It would affect only a week’s supply. Does the Minister say that the ban on one farm would affect the meat supply of Australia ?
-The supply from that farm augments the supply from other sources. The graziers’ associations have been adamant in their opposition to the lifting of the ban. They have fought tooth and nail in their own interests. Notwithstanding the decision of the Victorian Parliament, we know that the members of the Labour party in that Parliament are opposed to the Government on this issue. It has been stated that the Senate is a States House. That is so, but I do not wish that fact to be used in the present debate. It is true that the Government has overridden a decision of a State parliament, and in future the Senate may have to discuss other proposals to override decisions of State parliaments. We are not living in normal times, and it is the Commonwealth Government, not the State governments, that is responsible for the destinies of this country in time of war.
– Out of this unsavoury subject of beef measles and tapeworms, there would appear to me to arise two or three momentous questions with which this Senate, in particular, should be very much concerned. I must confess that from a very casual knowledge of the subject I had come to the conclusion that I shared in a general way the opinion of the Minister for External Territories (Senator Fraser) that the ban was imposed to support the graziers’ market for fat cattle in Melbourne. I wish to disabuse honorable senators’ minds in that matter. The disallowance of the regulation will restore the conditions to what they were previously, and will leave the export trade of this country untainted by any suggestion that beef ls being sold in the open market. Before we come to that stage, however, there is another aspect of the matter that needs consideration. It should be noted that this Government, under the guise of its war powers under the National Security Act, has proceeded to deal with the health laws of a State - laws with which the State and its authorities should be familiar, and for which they have the entire responsibility under the Constitution. I venture to say that should the Victorian Government decide to test the validity of this regulation, it would be found to be unconstitutional. The Commonwealth Government may rely upon its powers to fix the price of bread, and to do a hundred and one other such things, but I defy it to rely upon its power to interfere with one of the most important duties of a State, namely, to preserve the health of its people. I have no doubt that this regulation, which it would be well for honorable senators to scrutinize closely, is doomed in a place which controls the destinies of this country, so far as constitutional questions are concerned. I was appalled when I considered the implications of this matter. I had no idea that the regulation actually superseded legislation passed by the Victorian Parliament. I was under the impression that
We were dealing with a prohibition imposed by the authorities controlling the sewage farm at Werribee. It may be that exporters will buy Werribee beef, but that is not the question. The duty of the Victorian Parliament is to safeguard the health of the people within its jurisdiction, and to prevent a recurrence of the dismal and horrible things to which Senator Gibson has referred. I wonder that such an action as this could be attempted by any government. It seems to me that there must be some Puck in this place who is actuating the Government in the circumstances to which I referred, and for reasons which I cannot follow at all. Yesterday, realizing the seriousness of this matter, I took the trouble to ascertain what effect the marketing of Werribee beef actually had on the Melbourne meat market. I found out from no less an authority than tho Premier of Victoria, Mr. Dunstan, that, from 1930 to 1934, before the ban was imposed, the quantity of beef obtained from Werribee represented only 1.7 per cent, of the total consumption of Victoria. We have to examine this question first of all from a constitution;!] aspect. Is it right that we, as the representatives of the various States in this States House, should stand by and see a regulation passed which overrides the wishes of the people of a State? The only reason given for the promulgation of this regulation is that it is in the interests of the war effort. It has not been stated that the American Army authorities will accept this beef or, for that matter, that our own army authorities will accept it. If the Government is to act in this way under the powers conferred upon it by the National Security Act, its actions will very soon be challenged. Having regard to what Senator Gibson has said, what will the effect of this regulation be upon the export markets of this country? Just think of it! The Victorian Parliament has banned Werribee beef for human consumption since 1935, and now the Commonwealth Government, in its wisdom or otherwise - I suggest that in this case it is otherwise - has decided to wipe out that ban, and the beef is to be available for sale to Melbourne butchers, canners, sausage-makers, and for the export market. What struck me as serious in the speech made by Senator Gibson was his quotation from that eminent authority, Dr. Shields, who drew attention to the fact that in certain scientific works it had already been pointed out that beef measles existed in Australia.
– What is done with the Werribee beef now?
– I do not know and I do not care, hut I think it would have been a great deal better had the original intention of establishing a Victorian stud farm at Werribee been carried out, because there are some very fine cattle in that district. Werribee beef should not be allowed to damage the meat export industry of this country. That is a point that should be considered by honorable senators from Queensland. What will happen when it is known to the world that we have allowed cattle which were condemned for human consumption by the State of Victoria, to be used in the export trade? We should not be able to say that our meat is clean. I think that Senator Gibson mentioned that meat imported from another country had been condemned here because of certain diseases. We are careful to ensure that lamb carcasses containing cysts do not go out of this country? Yet the Government now proposes to allow meat containing beef measles cysts to go overseas, to the detriment of the beef-exporting States and, if the Victorian authorities be correct, to the detriment of the health of the people who consume the beef. 1 know of two distinguished beef-eaters in this chamber who rejoice in their juicy steaks. If I were to recount to them the history of the tapeworm, I should only be adding to the horrors which Senator Gibson outlined to honorable senators on a previous occasion. I invite Senator Cameron, with all his metaphysics, to answer these arguments. No doubt he will endeavour to do so, but I am sure that he will not succeed. The Commonwealth Government should not make a stand on this regulation. The matter is far too serious to be regarded lightly. We are dealing a blow at a great export industry of this country.
– That is incorrect.
– Is there any way in which the export of Werribee beef can be prevented?
– It is not for export.
– That is a harmless answer. It is impossible to prevent the export of Werribee beef. What would the Minister say if I told him that some of this beef was being prepared to-day for export?
– That is entirely wrong.
Senator A. J. McLACHLAN.Obviously the Minister has no defence at all. The Government cannot prevent the export of Werribee beef. The Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) himself said the beef was for overseas use. Whether it is the intention to feed this beef to the
American soldiers and to contribute to their fighting qualities which, I understand, are great indeed, by giving them a little tapeworm to assist them, I do not know. In support of the regulation, reference has been made to statements made eight years ago by the late Dr. Gilruth, but I point out that the Victorian Government had Dr. Gilruth’s report before it in 1935 when it passed the legislation which this regulation seeks to override. In any case, I think that Dr. Shields is a greater authority than Dr. Gilruth on the human being. Dr. Gilruth was a wonderful authority on animals. I w as in charge of the department that he served for so- long, and one could not help admiring the dexterity with which he dealt with the ailments of animals; but his function ended with animals. He had no knowledge of human physiology; he had not studied that branch of science to which the authorities in Victoria directed their attention when they passed the Health Act of 1935. It would be criminal for us not to take a stand on this regulation. Its disallowance would not interfere with the war effort in any way. No doubt the constitutional question will be raised somewhere else - it is beyond our power to deal with it - but in the interests of preserving this great industry, we should not hesitate for a moment in disallowing this regulation. In so doing, we shall be discharging what I believe to be the primary duty of this chamber, namely, protecting the rights of the States. However concerned we may be with constitutional limitations, the fact remains that the safeguarding of public health is a duty imposed upon the States by the. Constitution, and we. of all people, should be the last to interfere. The reasons that have been advanced in favour of this regulation are of no consequence.
– We have been asked to approach this subject without heat and to view it from a variety of standpoints. Although the motion relates to Werribee beef, State rights and a lot of other problems have been introduced into the discussion. That indicates to me how easy it is to stampede even honorable senators on a very simple subject. We have been told that there is some sinister purpose behind this regulation- that- the Government wants to force the troops to eat beef that is not fit to eat. Apparently, if we assure the honorable senators who support the motion that we shall not allow the troops to eat Werribee beef, that argument will fall to the ground. Furthermore, if we guarantee that we will not interfere with State rights, that argument, also, will collapse.
– -The Government cannot lift the ban without interfering with State rights.
– In these perilous days we are interfering with State rights almost daily, and nine times out of ten we do so to the benefit of the States concerned, and nobody raises a word of protest. Nobody has said anything about the fact that the Government has virtually depopulated northern Queensland and sent the people from that State to South Australia in order to carry on the war effort there. Although it definitely interfered with the rights of Queensland in that case, the people are not complaining, because they want to assist in winning the war.
Senator Gibson has said that this subject has nothing to do with the war effort. Let us give it a little dispassionate consideration for a few moments. The particular disease of which the honorable senator complains can be called, for all practical purposes, beef measles. I do not know’ why the honorable gentleman wants to horrify people by using a lot of scientific terms which sound awful and by talking about tapeworms when the plain, every-day trouble with the meat from Werribee is beef measles. It is not the only complaint to which beef is subject. Down the years there has been intense agitation to ensure that only pure meat finds its way into the homes of the people. In this campaign, we have always met with opposition from the interests which are to-day opposed to the removal of the ban on the sale of Werribee beef. Bight from the beginning, attempts by sane people and sane governments to insist that tubercular cattle should not be slaughtered for human consumption have been obstructed by beef raisers. Senator
Gibson shakes his head at that statement, but I know that what I say is true. I have dealt with all of these matters in Queensland.
– The honorable senator does not live in Victoria.
– I shall refer to Victoria later. In Queensland, we insisted that the bulls which the breeders of cattle were using should not be allowed to remain loose any longer. We insisted that only breeding bulls guaranteed to be in perfect health should be used for stud purposes. Throughout all of our endeavours, we met with complaints that we were interfering with the rights of an individual to run his stud-farm, his dairy-farm or his beef-producing business in the way that he thought fit. We are merely meeting with a repetition of those old arguments to-day, except that apparently a more serious case is made out for the purpose of scaring the people by talking wildly about something of which there is no need to he scared. Anybody who has studied this subject knows that there is no need to be scared of beef measles. In Queensland, we have been unable to get people to deal effectively with the cattle diseases known as contagious abortion and mastitis. Whenever we endeavoured to do so, we were told that we were interfering with the rights of the individual to run his own concern as he wished. But everything worthwhile that we accomplish must interfere with the liberty of somebody who is not entitled to have liberty in that particular direction. To-day, we interfere daily with the rights of people in order to prosecute the war effort to the best advantage. In spite of what Senator Gibson has said, this regulation is directly related to the war effort.
– Not at all.
– I shall explain how it is related to the war effort. Without doubt, there will soon be a very serious shortage of food of various sorts.
– That is a manpower problem.
– The honorable senator seems to suggest that this Government is the only government that has had anything to do with man-power problems. It has been in office for only six months. As a matter of fact, the Labour party does not hold the balance of power in either House of this Parliament, and in that respect it is a political miracle. When honorable senators opposite threaten us with the vengeance of the people, they apparently forget that the Government is allowed to remain in office only because the Opposition does not dare to face the people, knowing that the people approve what we are doing. If Senator Gibson knew all of the facts of this case, he would realize the futility of the stand he has taken. I know something of sewage farms. To say that cattle are eating the filth-
– They are.
– I say that they are not, and the honorable senator knows that they are not actually eating it. That statement was made in the House of Representatives. The honorable senator is merely trying to scare people, and I want to tell the people that there is nothing’ to be scared about. I shall also tell honorable senators opposite of a few things about which they have never been soared, but which nevertheless are true.
When I was aboy, a particular kind of beer was manufactured at BurtononTrent, in England. I believe that it was good for those people who liked it. I do not know exactly where Burton-on-Trent is, but I know that the water from which the beer was manufactured was impounded in tanks on the Thames River. Before it could reach the brewery, it had to pass through a series of straining tanks. The first tank caught the bodies of suicide cases; the second caught the bodies of the dead dogs and cats which abound in the Thames; and, finally, the water went on to the brewery-
– That is why the beer had body.
– It was said to be good beer. That is why Werribee beef is good beef. The beer was not bad, in spite of the contaminated water, and this beef is not bad merely because honorable senators opposite try to work up a scare about it.
– The honorable senator said that the water from which the beer was made came from the river Thames. It came from the river Trent.
– My geography may be inaccurate, but the other statements were true. I learned from my father about the process through which the beer passed, and this confirmed us in our teetotal habits. My father, in the course of his duties as a nuisance inspector, visited many hovels. Sometimes he found the doors to some of these places almost blocked by stacks of stinking eel skins which were used to refine the beer. Nobody was alarmed about that disgusting process. People drank the beer and enjoyed it.
I do not know whether Senator Gibson is aware that in the Old Country there are sewage farms where the effluent passes through such processes of purification that it finally emerges as thepurest drinking water obtainable.
– Why is that process not used at Werribee?
– The honorable senator has no scientific basis for the scare which he is trying to raise about Werribee beef on the ground that the cattle feed on a sewage farm. The best vegetables that can be grown are produced on sewage farms. These remarks which I have made are incidental to showing honorable senators how easy it is to work up a scare amongst people who have not the opportunity to ferret out the truth. All that honorable senators have to do is to say “ tapeworm “-
– And “ measles “.
– They do not say that, because nobody is afraid of measles. When I contracted measles as a child, the seven children in our family were put into the one bed so that we should all contract the malady at the one time and get it over. Honorable senators opposite do not refer to this disease by such an innocuous name as beef measles, because, if they did so, the people would not worry about Werribee beef. They use the more imposing scientific name, cysticercosis.
– The honorable gentleman is making comparisons between human measles and beef measles.
– I am not an authority on either, but I have enough knowledge of the subject to have no fear of beef measles. I exonerate Senator Gibson from blame in this matter because, although I do not like him politically, I like him as a man, and I have a full appreciation of his sterling worth and character. I do not believe that he would advocate a cause in which he did not believe. He is the innocent dupe of vested interests, which are determined that this move of the Government’s shall be quashed if they can quash it.
Senatormcbride. - That is the same old story.
– Senator McBride is the open and acknowledged champion of vested interests whenever it suits him to be so.
– Did the honorable gentleman say that I was the innocent dupe of Vestey’s interests?
– No, I said vested interests; but I should not be at all surprised, if I could get far enough into the murky background, to find the hand of Vestey’s in this, too.
– Vestey’s are buying most of this beef in Melbourne.
– I had better not continue to say nice things about the honorable senator, because it tempts him to spoil his own case. If Vestey’s are taking this beef, what becomes of the suggestion that the Government is trying to force it down the throats of the members of our fighting services? The facts of this matter were not forced into the open until quite recently, and then only because of a sordid scrap between two firms of auctioneers in Victoria, both of which wanted the right to sell Werribee beef. The firm that expected to be defeated in the struggle declared : “ If we cannot have it, we shall see that it will not be of much good to the rival firm, because we shall spoil the public taste for it “. That is merely a matter of history in Victoria. The Opposition is satisfied up to a point that the Commonwealth Government should not interfere with State rights, so long as Victoria gets the rake off. The Government intends to take action in this matter, but it is not true that meat that is harmful will be supplied to soldiers. I have disposed of the argument that Werribee beef is harmful to the consumers, and all the other bogys raised by Senator Gibson have been destroyed. He has heard the case referred to by the Assistant Minister for Commerce (Senator Fraser) and mentioned in a report obtained eight years ago. The Minister’s response to an interjection was that if it were suggested that any alteration had occurred in conditions on the Werribee farm during the last eight years, he would like to know about it.
– The conditions have altered, and for the worse.
– I think that they could not be worse than the terrifying picture which the honorable senator tried to paint. In the Melbourne Herald of the 23rd March last, an interesting letter dealing with this matter was published. It stated, inter alia -
In view of the serious food problems which Australia must shortly face, the time is ripe to review the ban on the sale of meat raised on the Board of Works’ farm at Werribee . . ‘Jhese recommendations of Dr. Penfold were almost identical with those made by Professor Woodruff and Drs. Kellaway and Dale, who, at a request of the Ministry to the British Medical Association, submitted an independent report on the subject (Hansard, June, 1034). This is surely not the time to maintain a prodigally wasteful and scientifically unsound prohibition, but to release good food which is urgently needed.
That letter was signed by Harold A. Woodruff, Professor of Bacteriology and former Professor of Veterinary Medicine, University of Melbourne; John Dale, Medical Officer of Health, City of Melbourne; F. M. Burnett, Acting Director, Walter and Eliza Hall Research Institute, Melbourne; Rupert A. Willis, Pathologist, Alfred Hospital.
Dr. Dale is one of the most highly qualified medical officers in this country. Frequently, he has condemned housing conditions in Melbourne. No word of approval has ever come from the Opposition regarding his reports, and it has remained for the present Government to draw attention to the conditions prevailing in Melbourne to the detriment of the health of children as well as the adult population.
– Dr. Dale laid the foundations of the public health system in Perth.
– Yes. Before this regulation was promulgated, a report was called for from the Commonwealth Department of Health, and I think that it will be agreed that the Director-General of Health, Dr. Cumpston, is a highly reliable authority on health matters. His report was as follows : -
On the subject of beef measles, and their relation to the cattle from the Metropolitan Board of Works Farm at Werribee, Victoria, I attach hereto a copy of a minute by Mr. R. N. Wardle, Director, Division of Veterinary Hygiene, with which I entirely concur. As mentioned in this minute, light cooking destroys the cysts in beef in the event of any escaping detection on inspection, therefore any canning process is effective also.
– I have read that.
– But the people generally have not done so, and the honorable senator should not attempt to frighten them by talking of enormous tapeworms in cattle. No meat can be guaranteed to be fit for human consumption unless the beast has been slaughtered under government supervision, and carefully inspected. As the Government desires to overcome the shortage of meat, provided this can be done without endangering public health, this regulation has been promulgated. Does any honorable senator suggest that a sewage farm, properly controlled and operated, is likely to be a menace to public health?
– Has the Minister visited the Werribee farm on a hot summer day?
– If the danger were as great as honorable senators opposite would have the public believe, they would probably have met their death long ago through eating Werribee beef.
It has been mentioned that the Victorian Housewives Association supports the lifting of the ban on Werribee beef. Is that association in such bad odour that no notice is to be taken of the opinion of its members? A general smile was observed when the name of the association was mentioned, as much as to say : “ What do they know about this matter?” The only object of the members of the association is to protect the interests of the women and children for whom they cater. The association has no axe to grind.
– It knows nothing about the matter.
– Some time ago the word “ Mesopotamia “ was commonly used with great effect, but the honorable senator now attempts to scare the people with the word “ tapeworm “. The Government has asked its veterinary officers for a report as to whether the scare that has been raised is justified, and they say definitely that there is no reason why the people should be alarmed. It is well known that at the cattle sales in Melbourne, the keenest competition occurs between butchers for Werribee beef. I do not want to be accused of harping about the war, and the need for getting on with the urgent business of the country. This Government may be guilty of all the faults of which the Opposition accuses it. It may be perfectly true that the Government is utterly incompetent, and has made a mess of this or that problem. Senator McBride interjected about man-power. The previous government of which he was a member is responsible for everything that has happened in connexion with the muddle in respect of man-power. This Government must now resolve that problem, and it is doing the job very well. I admit that the previous government could not foresee the seriousness of the position which now confronts us, because Japan had not then come into the fight, and the problem of man-power was not then so severe. The fact remains, however, that the previous government did nothing in that matter.
– That is not true.
– I shall say that the previous government did nothing effective in that matter. The honorable senator cannot refute that statement. I say very seriously that whatever charges the Opposition may make against the Government, and however readily honorable senators opposite may be prepared to waste time in proposing and discussing motions for the disallowance of regulations, I think that they ought, at least, be decent enough not to suggest that the Government has come to this decision out of sheer villainy, or out of a sheer desire to filch State rights, to endanger the health of the people, to destroy our beef export trade, or to pass on diseased meat in any form to our fighting forces. Such suggestions are unworthy of any parliamentary opposition.
– Fifth column work.
– Any one who makes those suggestions is doing the work of a fifth columnist. The Government does not make decisions of this kind lightly. It does not out of sheer cussed - ness attempt to upset the Premier of a State.
– The Government does what the Australasian Council of Trade Unions tells it to do.
– I am not sorry that the honorable senator made that interjection, because it exposes to the public gaze his utter ignorance and incompetence. He knows perfectly well that the most serious problem confronting the Government to-day is how to avoid doing things on the instructions of people who do not know all the facts or do not directly share responsibility for carrying on the war effort. He knows that we only get into trouble with the organized unions of this country whenwe refuse to take such instructions. Iask Senator Gibson, who is the mouthpiece of the Opposition in respect of this particular motion, at least to give the Government credit as a government for the fact that it did not come to this decision merely to pique the Premier of Victoria, or to foist on the people of that State meat which is unfit for human consumption. That is a myth. Werribee beef is as good as any obtainable elsewhere. If Werribee cattle were slaughtered alongside other cattle, I challenge any expert to pick out the Werribee beef. I urge the Senate not to disallow this regulation. It would not have been implemented if the Government did not deem it to be necessary. We are going to have a serious shortage of food of various classes. But we do not propose to wait until the shortage is upon us before we take remedial measures. We propose to take such measures immediately, and this is one of them. I ask Senator Gibson, in view of the facts presented to the chamber by the Minister for External Territories to consider the advisability of withdrawing his motion.
.- Honorable senators who do not represent Victoria are at a considerable disadvantage in considering the subject-matter of this motion. This is not a new problem so far as Victoria, and particularly the City of Melbourne, are concerned. We know that for many years a tug-of-war has been going on between persons who desire that Werribee cattle should be marketed, and those who have done their utmost to prevent the marketing of Werribee beef. So far as I am concerned, the people of Melbourne can eat tapeworms, iguanas, or grubs, should they be prepared to do so; that is their business. But I am very concerned about the statements made by Senator Gibson and Senator A. J. McLachlan that the placing of the comparatively small number of Werribee cattle on the market is likely to injure the reputation built up by our export beef trade. That aspect of the matter is of direct concern to honorable senators generally, and particularly Queensland representatives in this chamber. Queensland is the largest exporter of beef of all the States. Therefore, I make the very reasonable request that Senator Gibson refrain from pressing this motion at this juncture, and that the Government immediately refer this matter to the Joint Committee on Rural Industries for investigation. I emphasize that the beef export trade has experienced many vicissitudes and difficulties. It is only because of the extreme precautions taken in the inspection of beef, particularly in regard to nodules, that we have been able to achieve a good overseas’ market for our beef. The Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings) will readily recall that not long ago the price obtained on overseas markets for Australian beef was invariably lower than that for beef from New Zealand and Argentina. This fact was due largely to prejudice on those markets generated mainly by propaganda against Australian beef. Consequently, Australian meat exporting interests, under Government supervision, have been very careful to ensure that no carcass with the slightest defect is exported. Only the be3t quality meat has been exported, with the result that all of our export beef, whether it be canned, frozen or chilled, now enjoys a very high reputation on overseas markets. I say frankly that if the speech made by Senator Gibson to-night were widely read in countries in which we have a market for our beef, considerable damage would be caused to our export trade.
– The position is easily remedied.
– I know that the statement made by the Leader of the Senate in respect of the possible shortage of beef in this country is correct. It is easy for the honorable senator to nod his head. We know that thousands of cattle are now on the roads from the far north, to meet the extraordinary demand for beef throughout Australia. We know also that the presence of large numbers of Allied troops in this country has caused a considerable increase of the total consumption of meat. Beef is the staple diet of our troops. As I said earlier, honorable senators who represent States other than Victoria, have not had an opportunity to weigh fully the pros and cons of this matter. Therefore, I suggest to Senator Gibson that the debate on the motion be adjourned. If this regulation be disallowed at this juncture it might mean that beef which might be urgently required for consumption by our troops and for the general public might not be obtainable. The matter need only be postponed for a week, or ten days, at the outside, in order to enable the Joint Committee on Rural Industries to investigate it. I shall be prepared to abide by the decision of that committee. Should it report, after a full investigation of the matter, that it is of opinion that our beef export trade is likely to be damaged because of the marketing of Werribee beef in Victoria, I shall be prepared to support any motion for the disallowance of this regulation.
– I give the Senate the assurance that no Werribee beef is being exported; and it is not intended to export it.
– I am most concerned with the possibility that injury may be done to our beef export trade. There is no urgent reason why a vote should be taken to-night.
– It is important that the Government should know whether it can implement the regulation.
– I should be prepared to allow the regulation to be implemented in the meantime. I give to the Leader of the Senate an assurance that I am not engaged in any time-wasting device, hut am seriously concerned about the possibility of injury to one of our great export industries. “Whether the people of Melbourne like to eat tapeworms or not is their own business; I am not concerned about that, but about the export industry.
– There has been a lot of talk about Werribee beef, but why? It contains beef measles, which is the cyst of the tapeworm, and it is to be sent to the troops. I have had experience of beef in New South Wales, and I have seen old bulls bought for £5 to be sent to the canning works. If the troops in the last war had not eaten the bully beef handed out to them they would have starved. It would have been much more tender had it been beef from the Werribee farm. If the beef is to be canned for export, the process of canning will eliminate the tapeworm or any disease. I wonder why there has been such a scream about Werribee beef? I have had the opportunity to look over the abattoirs at Homebush, where I have seen carcasses - not merely one, but up to ten of them - ripped to pieces by the inspectors because the beasts had suffered from tuberculosis. That is an abattoir where there are Government inspectors, Commonwealth and <State. But what of the country slaughterhouses, where there is no Commonwealth or State inspection? What of the beef that is sold to the people in the country? A significant suggestion has been made that Werribee cattle should be removed to agistment for four months before slaughtering. The Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works buy store cattle for fattening on the Werribee farm. If animals were taken from there and placed elsewhere on inferior pastures for four months, they would revert to store cattle. The large grazier does not want Werribee beef to compete with his beef, because higher prices would be paid for the better beef. It has been stated that there are 4,000 cattle on the Werribee farm. The facts are that 14,976 cattle were sold for boiling down purposes, for other than human consumption, while the ban was in operation. The gross return was less than £4 per head. There are 10,536 cattle on the farm at the present time.
– How many calves?
– The statement does not give the number. With regard to the cattle, 155 were sold at the last four market days in Melbourne, and all cattle which had been slaughtered in the city abattoirs had been passed by the Melbourne City Council Abattoirs Committee as fit for human consumption. The Commonwealth has set up machinery for meat inspection, and if the meat is to be exported it has to go through a minute inspection after it has left the Melbourne City Council Abattoirs Committee. Therefore, it is senseless to say that this beef will destroy our export trade. No one in Australia can tell me that the meat Australia exports is not of the very first quality, and if the inspectors believed there were any defects in the Werribee beef it would not be passed by them. I have heard men who buy cattle and men who send cattle to the market moan about the way the carcasses are chopped about by Commonwealth inspectors. It has been pointed out by medical authorities, particularly by Dr. Robertson, former Chief Health Officer for Victoria, that beef from the Werribee farm can safely be sold for human consumption. As reported in The Age newspaper of the 14th April, 1934, Dr. Robertson said -
The rules laid down for the examination of carcases adequately protected consumers. If by any chance cysts escaped observation by the inspectors, they would be killed by cooking up to a temperature of 115 degrees Fahrenheit, which actually meant comparatively slight heating of the meat.
Meat fried in fat is subjected to a temperature of 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Dr. Robertson also said that the disease was a very minor one as compared with 51 other diseases that affect cattle. Why worry about this particular beef, which is reported to be good beef? It is incorrect to say that beef produced from the grasses grown on a sewage farm is infested to any considerable degree. There are rivers in Europe into which eleven cities discharge their sewage and from which eleven cities draw their drinking water. This illfounded criticism of Werribee beef is incomprehensible to me. Some honorable senators have complained that consumption of this meat by human beings exposes them to the danger of contracting a dread intestinal disease. To that contention, I reply that some people in northern Queensland suffer from the tapeworm, but they do not obtain beef from the Werribee farm.
– -I never heard of a case in northern Queensland, where I have lived for more than 40 years. It is the healthiest part of Australia.
– This regulation will not affect the meat export trade, because we do not contemplate the export of any of this meat. We propose to make it available for consumption in Australia, and our action has ample support. People who, while condemning the meat, endeavour to force us to export it, would do a great disservice to Australia. If the meat were despatched overseas and certain people in Australia, in order to gain a political advantage, condemned it, our competitors in foreign markets, whether principled or unprincipled, would be given an opportunity to undermine our meat export trade. This disadvantage would arise not from the quality of the meat but from a psychological reaction which, unfortunately, some people in Australia would create in order to get rid of this good meat which competes so effectively in the markets with other meat.
.- I desire to remind honorable senators that, in dealing with this subject, we are not in the same position as the Parliament of Victoria. If I were a member of that Parliament considering this problem I should have no difficulty in reaching the conclusion that the ban on the marketing of Werribee beef should be removed. It has always been my view that the ban was imposed unnecessarily, and sufficiently strong medical evidence has- never been adduced to support the action which was taken by the State Parliament. One medical authority who has expressed his approval of the ban was Dr. Shields who, at the time, was a member of the Victorian Legislature. He spoke not only as a doctor, but also as a member of a political party. In making that remark, I do not desire to reflect upon him in any way, but I point out that the Government of Victoria did not invite him as a medical adviser to express his opinion upon the matter. However, certain persons were approached, and in 1934 Dr. Gilruth reported that the regulations which then existed for the purpose of preventing the sale of meat unfit for human consumption, constituted a sufficient safeguard. Some persons suggested that Dr. Gilruth was not a very satisfactory authority upon the subject because he was a veterinary surgeon, and the matter was then referred to a committee of three doctors, who were nominated by the British Medical Association. They were Professor Woodruff, Dr. Dale and Dr. Kellaway, and after investigations, they supported the opinion of Dr. Gilruth. This year, those three gentlemen, in a letter to which the Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings) referred, expressed the view that the ban should he removed. In those circumstances, I confess that I have had great difficulty in deciding whether I should support the motion.
The conclusion which I have reached is that it is not sufficient for the Government to satisfy me that the ban on the marketing of Werribee beef is unjustified on medical grounds. That is not the problem with which this chamber is concerned. Our problem is that the Commonwealth Government, in the exercise of its war-time powers, has taken drastic action, the effect of which is to override a piece of State legislation. That being so, I consider that a heavy onus rests upon the Government to satisfy me that the regulation is necessary for the proper prosecution of the war. Had the Leader of the Senate submitted to me material which was calculated to satisfy me that this was a bona fide exercise of the Government’s war-time powers, I would vote for the retention of the regulation. However, no such evidence has been adduced.
– That is not correct.
– Let us examine what is suggested as evidence to support that view. A suggestion has been made that a shortage of foodstuffs is likely to occur.
– There is a shortage now.
– I am aware of the shortage, even of beef, hut honorable senators have been informed that the contribution which Werribee beef would make to the solution of the problem represents less than 2 per cent, of the requirements of the Victorian market.
– It is all needed.
– There must be some limit, in order to make the promulgation of the regulation a bona fide exercise of the war-time powers possessed by the Commonwealth. The ultimate result of the conduct of the Government in this respect should be such that it will make a substantial contribution to the war effort.
– It will be some contribution.
– In my judgment it is not a sufficient contribution to warrant the action of the Commonwealth Government in overriding legislation which the Parliament of Victoria saw fit to enact. It is solely on that ground that I am disposed to support the motion. If the Government were able to convince me that its action would make a substantial contribution towards relieving the shortage of foodstuffs, my attitude would be entirely different.
– What does the honorable senator define as “ a substantial contribution”?
– If the contribution which Werribee beef would make to the solution of the problem represented 10 per cent, of the requirements of the Victorian market, there might not he the same difficulty.
One thousand men might be released for military duty if all health safeguards, such as meat inspection, were suspended. Would that justify the removal of those safeguards by federal action? Surely not. The contribution that the lifting of this ban would make to the war effort must be weighed against the fact that this regulation overrides health legislation which the State Legislature has seen fit to enact. The comparatively small addition to the quantity of beef available on the market is insufficient justification for the Government exercising powers granted to it under the National Security Act for the prosecution of the war to override a law which the State Parliament has seen fit to keep on the statute-book for years.
– The 2 per cent, mentioned by Senator Gibson may be an understatement.
- Senator Gibson read a letter from Mr. Dunstan in which the percentage was given as 1.7.
– Four thousand head.
– That represents one week’s supply of beef for the Melbourne market. If the choice lies between the people doing without beef for a week and the maintenance of a State law, I choose the latter, and I shall vote for the disallowance of this regulation.
– I was a member of the Public Works Committee of the Parliament of South Australia which seventeen or eighteen years ago inspected the sewage systems of Australia and I can say without hesitation that the Werribee farm was the filthiest we saw. No man in this chamber has ever seen cattle feeding under similar conditions. That aspect of the matter is, however, transcended in importance by the fact that the Government is using its war-time powers to override State health legislation. I do not wish to repeat what was said on that subject by Senator Spicer, but surely the people of a State have some rights and it was in exercise of those rights that the Victorian Parliament in 1935 decided that beef produced on the Werribee farm was not fit for human consumption and was to be banned from the market. The contribution that will be made by the lifting of that ban is so small that it is not worth consideration. Nobody knows whether we shall he short of beef. The supply depends entirely upon seasonal conditions. Every city of Australia depends for its supplies of ‘beef, not on small herds close by, but on the big herds in the outback country. The Werribee farm is a stud-farm as well as a fattening property and, in order to place 4,000 head of cattle on the market, each year, a heard of from 8,000 to 10,000 head would have to be maintained. The farm, therefore, can make no effective contribution of beef to the Australian market. No one can say whether the beef would be exported or not because once it has been sold it is the property of the buyer to do with as he likes, subject to health requirements. He can sell it as fresh meat, corn it or can it as he likes. It is, therefore, useless to say that it is not to be sent overseas. The Commonwealth is going beyond its province when it interferes with State measures concerning the health of the people, and I agree with Senator A. J. McLachlan that if this regulation be insisted upon by the Government it will probably be the subject of litigation which may reach the Privy Council. I shall support the motion.
SenatorUPPILL (South Australia) [11.29]. - Whatever may be the outcome of this debate, it is evident that there is doubt whether the beef from the Werribee farm is fit for human consumption. I must have heard cited a score of different authorities on the subject of its fitness, and none of them has cleared my mind. The Government claims that the lifting of the ban on the marketing of Werribee beef will alleviate the shortage of meat in this country. It is quite true, as was said by Senator Gibson, that sheep can be raised on the Werribee farm without fear of contamination. It would therefore appear to be desirable that instead of running counter to the legislation and wishes of the Victorian Government, the Commonwealth Government should negotiate with the State with a view to replacing with sheep, the cattle at present bred on the Werribee farm.
– That would not overcome the difficulty.
SenatorUPPILL. - It would solve the problem of whether the soldiers and the people of Victoria should be fed with beef the suitability of which for human consumption is, to say the least, open to doubt. Any one who reads the Hansard report of this debate and then visits Melbourne will not relish eating a beefsteak in that city. The Minister for the Interior should look carefully into the British Import Regulations where he will find that under those regulations Werribee beef is not accepted on the other side of the world.
– Any person who listened carefully to the debate on this subject to-night and became a resident of Victoria would, in view of the medical opinions quoted, probably become a vegetarian. The statements read by Senator Gibson during the debate were impressive, and had I been asked to vote solely on what I heard during that speech I should have voted without hesitation in support of the motion. However, there is an eminent health authority in the city of Melbourne, Dr. John Dale. Dr. Dale was Health Officer for the City of Perth for many years, but like many of the best-brained people in our neglected State of Western Australia he received a better appointment in Melbourne. I knew Dr. Dale personally in Western Australia and with him I visited a certain infectious diseases hospital in that State. There if no man in Australia to whom I would look with greater confidence on health matters than Dr. Dale.
– His opinions were a bit contentious even while he was in Perth.
- His opinions were very pronounced on certain matters and did not always meet with the approval of the class to whom I would refer as the “ slum landlords “. Dr. Dale’s opinions were expressed for the good of the people, and I do not think that he would approve of any beef from the Werribee Farm being sold for human consumption if he thought there was the slightest risk.
– Dr. Dale would be very careful in his choice of a butcher from whom to purchase meat.
– Dr. Dale would be better if he kept out of politics. He opposed the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) at the last general elections.
– I did not approve of that political attempt of Dr. Dale, but I do accept his views on public health matters. Senator Gibson, with that care and thought which he usually uses in a debate such as this, quoted certain authorities which were very old. Dr. Shields is only a name to me, and the opinion he expressed was given in 1935. I have a copy of a letter that has been referred to by the Leader of the Senate and Senator Spicer. It was published in the Melbourne Herald on the 21st March Last and was signed by Harold A. Woodruff, Professor of Bacteriology and former Professor of Veterinary Medicine, University of Melbourne; John Dale, Medical Officer of Health, City of Melbourne; F. M. Burnett, Acting Director, Walter and Eliza Hall Research Institute, Melbourne ; and Rupert A. Willis, Pathologist, Alfred Hospital. I am certain that Dr. Dale would do nothing prejudicial to the health of the citizens of Melbourne. His duty as well as his inclination would be to protect them. I do not know of any other authority that I could quote that would carry greater weight. In the letter the four gentlemen I have named said, inter alia -
In 1933 the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works commissioned the late Dr. W. J. Penfold to investigate the entire problem of beef measles at the Werribee farm.
– The opinion quoted by the honorable senator was given in 1933.
– Less than three months ago that opinion was confirmed.
– The Victorian Parliament did not act on those views.
– I am not concerned with the views or actions of the Victorian Parliament.
– What of the State Government in Western Australia?
– I am not discussing State governments at the moment and, in the words of that great statesman, the late Lord Forrest, L shall take my hurdles as I come to them. Perhaps we shall be asked to face those hurdles later when the uniform taxation proposal is before the Senate for review. The letter continues -
After an exhaustive and convincing research of nearly two years Dr. Penfold submitted his findings, which to any unbiased mind showed conclusively that the risks of tapeworm infection from Werribee beef were negligible; that the amount of infestation at the farm was slight; that the parasites were found, as indeed is characteristic of this organism, predominantly in certain parts of the animal which could be easily examined, and that it these were clear or only slightly affected the carcass was elsewhere clean; that the method of inspection adopted (and which was to have been continued) for the Werribee farm beef was unusually thorough, ensuring discovery of parasites in the sites of election; that tapeworm infestation contracted by human beings in Victoria was very rare, and that such infestation was practically harmless and easily and cheaply treated; and that the usual domestic cooking of beef in Victoria was such that it alone obviated risk of infection.
It then sets out the findings of Dr. Penfold, together with his recommendations to the Victorian Government, and then continues -
These recommendations of Dr. Penfold were almost identical with those made by Professor Woodruff and Drs. Kellaway and Dale, who, at a request of the Ministry to the British Medical Association, submitted an independent report on the subject(Hansard, June, 1934).
I do not propose to read the Hansard report, but the letter concluded as follows : -
This is surely not the time to maintain a prodigally wasteful and scientifically unsound prohibition, but to release good food which is urgently needed.
Harold A. Woodruff, Professor of Bacteriology and former Professor of Veterinary Medicine, University of Melbourne.
John Dale. Medical Officer of Health, City of Melbourne.
That final paragraph, together with the high authority of the signatories, is largely responsible for my decision to oppose the disallowance of the regulations.
Senator Foll made a valuable suggestion that I think the Government should have accepted. It was that this subject, and similar matters involving the examination of technical evidence, should be referred to the Joint Committee on Rural Industries for investigation and report.
– Why should we shirk our duties?
– I have no desire to shirk my duty. A better knowledge and decision could be obtained by referring this subject to that committee. The Government would do wisely to refer all controversial matters of this kind to such a body embracing all parties. As it is, I must determine this issue on the evidence available to me. I knew Dr. Dale years ago. I am well aware of his reputation and his scientific ability. Consequently, I shall be guided in this instance by his report. If I needed any additional justification for opposing this motion, it was provided by Senator Spicer, who said that the ban on Werribee beef was not justified on public health grounds. The honorable senator also observed that, if he were a member of the Victorian Parliament, he would oppose the ban. For the reasons I have given, I shall vote against this motion.
– Senator A. J. McLachlan and Senator Spicer, in the course of their speeches, both raised the important issue whether the Commonwealth or the State authority should prevail in matters of this description, and both argued in favour of the State authority. 1 disagree with that view. The Commonwealth authority represents a far greater number of electors than does any State authority, and, because I believe that the majority should prevail, I consider that the Commonwealth Parliament, and the Commonwealth authority, should be supreme. It would be ridiculous to agree to minority control in a matter like this. To apply that policy would involve a reversal of the political procedure of this country.
– Those honorable senators want the tail to wag the dog.
– Exactly, and T cannot agree with such a proposal. I believe, like the great majority of the people of Australia, that we are grossly over-governed. For this reason, the Commonwealth Parliament should make a stand on matters of vital concern to the people, and not allow State politicians to predominate. Senator A. J. McLachlan would have us believe that the Health Act of Victoria, and the administration of it, are above question. I cannot accept the honorable senator’s specious pleading on that point. If any proof were required that the Victorian Health Act and its administration were defective, it was provided during the depression years, when almost every medical practitioner who had charge of children’s hospitals, clinics or welfare organizations, declared that thousands of children in Victoria were suffering from malnutrition. The Dunstan Government of Victoria has not done much to remedy that state of affairs. I certainly cannot accept Senator A. J. McLachlan’s submission that the Health Act of Victoria is a sufficient safeguard of public health. Dr. Dale on many occasions, during the depression years and since, has pointed out deficiencies in the act. Dr. Williamson, who is now in the Australian Imperial Force, said at a farewell social that was tendered to him some little time ago -
I came here from England a rank conservative, but after my experiences in children’s hospitals I leave this country as revolutionary in my ideas as any socialist or any political party. I have seen hundreds of little children in hospital suffering from the effects of malnutrition.
For this reason, I say that the Dunstan Government has not done what it should have done to improve public health.
– Then why is the Victorian Labour party supporting the Dunstan Government?
– The Labour party is in a minority in the State Parliament. The Argyle Government was even worse than the Dunstan Government, and consequently when the Labour party found that Mr. Dunstan was prepared to form a government,, and provide a little more sustenance for the unemployed and improve certain sections of the Workers Compensation Act, it decided to support him. The Dunstan Government has effected some improvements in social legislation, but it has certainly not gone as far as it might have gone. Acts are based on the economic interests to be served, and the object of placing a ban on Werribee beef was to keep up the price of beef to the detriment of the people, and to establish private monopoly control of the meat industry in Victoria. Senator Gibson said that the prices of meat had fallen in 1935, when the ban was imposed. Of course ; all prices had dropped at that period. The fear was that, if Werribee beef were allowed to go into the market, the prices would fall even lower. As the Leader of the Senate has said, that action was taken to capitalize the fear of the people, and the position of those who had much to gain by the imposition of the ban. I do not approach this matter as an authority in the same category as Dr. Dale and other experts on health matters, but I approach it as a meat-eater. In reply to Senator Gibson, I assure him that I should not have the slightest objection to eating meat from the Werribee farm, provided I could select a good cut and provided it was reasonably well cooked. I should prefer Werribee beef to American canned beef. It was discovered that certain American meat was canned under most revolting conditions, but that it had been cooked so thoroughly that it had become practically innocuous. Cattle fed on pastures other than the Werribee farm pastures eat practically the same kind of grass as the Werribee farm cattle. All grass grows on decomposed matter.
– At Werribee the land is covered with untreated sewage.
– There may be a difference in degree, but the chemical constituents which promote the growth of grass are common to all grass-land. Those persons who eat only fruit and vegetables take food more directly drawn from the soil than do meat-eaters.
We are asked by Senator Gibson to believe that the graziers are beyond suspicion, and that they have no objection to sheep being fed on the Werribee farm, their objection being confined to cattle. If certain graziers were the ultra altruists that the honorable senator would have us believe them to be, and if they had at heart the health of the people to the degree suggested by him, there would be no need for the government inspection of beef, because they would see to it that diseased meat never found its way into human consumption. But, because of their desire to dispose of diseased meat as quickly as possible and at the highest possible price, it becomes necessary to make a careful inspection of meat, in order to protect the health of the public. Much profit arises from the sale of diseased meat; obviously it is more profitable to sell it than to destroy it and receive nothing for it. Owing to the conditions under which meat was formerly sold for human consumption, it became necessary to see that the meat is prepared for market under the strictest possible inspection. No meat is now permitted to be sold unless it has been passed by government inspectors as fit for human consumption. That fact shows that certain graziers are influenced by ulterior motives, and desire to get into consumption as much diseased meat as possible. If such graziers and those who manufacture the various foods required by the people were influenced only by altruistic motives, they would accept the responsibility of seeing that all food was true to name. With the scientific knowledge at their disposal there should be far less preventible sickness throughout Australia than there is to-day; but those gentlemen are not inspired by such motives.
Sitting suspended from 12 midnight to 12.30 a.m. (Thursday).
Thursday14, May 1942.
– I was pointing out what governmental machinery had to be built up over the years in order to protect the people against those who profit by the manufacture or consumption of food. Both State and Federal Governments have had to establish very strict supervision in order to ensure the sale of food thatis reasonably true to label and not injurious to health. There is thus no justification for any concern that may be felt by graziers and others.
I was astonished to hear Senator Gibson say that he had no objection to the sale of Werribee beef, provided it was labelled as such. I wondered if he realized the significance or the logic of that statement. He knows perfectly well that, since 1935, intensified propaganda has been directed against Werribee beef. So soon as it was labelled as such, those persons who are affected by propaganda designed to serve particular economic or financial interests would gain the impression that it was not all that it should be. That would militate against its sale, and it would have to be sold at a lower price than was charged for other beef, with the result that purchasers of it would be confined to the poorer section of the community, consisting of those who are on the basic wage and invalid and old-age pensioners,’ who are forced to buy the cheapest beef they can procure. The honorable senator says in one breath that it is not fit for human consumption, and in the next breath that he has no objection to the poorer section of the people being obliged to eat it. If he really believed, as he asks us to believe, that neither rich nor poor should eat it, he would not make that qualification ; he would be unequivocally opposed to its passing into human consumption under any conditions. But he is willing that it shall go into human consumption provided it is labelled as Werribee beef, although he knows that poor people would have to either eat it or go without.
– The honorable senator does not suggest that I made that statement.
– I trust that I have not misrepresented the honorable senator. I have a distinct recollection of his having said that he was not opposed to Werribee beef being sold, provided it was labelled as such in the markets and the people knew exactly what they were buying. The honorable senator, therefore, has no objection to the very poor people being forced to eat this beef, provided they know what they are eating.
– I did not mention poor people.
– If the honorable senator were as sincere as he would have us believe that he is, he would oppose the sale of this beef under any conditions. When he takes up the opposite stand, he puts himself in the category of graziers who would force diseased meat on to the markets if they could do so.
Speaking of propaganda brings me to the point made by Senators A. J. McLachlan andFoll, who are very much concerned about the possible effect on the export trade if Werribee beef were to be sent overseas. Those gentlemen are not neophytes in the scheme of things commercially and politically. They know perfectly well that, in the world’s markets, where there are conflicting economic interests to be served, those responsible will stop at nothing in order to discredit the commodity of a competitor, so that their own commodity may receive more favorable consideration. They must know that, even if Werribee beef were without fault, the overseas competitors of Australia would not scruple to discredit it in every possible way. I call to mind Australian butter. Some ingenious person overseas noticed the likeness of a kangaroo painted on the outside of the butter box, and immediately made the statement that it was kangaroo butter from Australia. So effective was that propaganda that thousands of persons in London refused to purchase our butter and bought instead Danish, Canadian, or some other butter. When our preserved fruits were first sent abroad, the likeness of a parrot on the tins made some people in India think that they were being offered “ tinned parrot “ instead of “ tinned fruit “, and they refused to buy it. Whatever Australia may do as an exporting country, the overseas interests to which we are opposed will stop at nothing in their attempts to discredit us in order that they may capture the market at our expense. Therefore, I am not at all impressed by the arguments of Senators A. J. McLachlan andFoll with respect to the export trade. Attempts to discredit our commodities are made not only overseas, but also in Australia.
When a case is stated against the Government, it must be met, even though honorable senators have to be kept up all night; rather that, than that we should allow stupid statements to pass unanswered. We hear the specious reasoning of a privileged gentleman like Senator Spicer, who would, if he were a member of a State parliament, vote for the lifting of the ban, but as a member of this chamber, in order to protect some nebulous State right, must vote for the retention of the ban. When such arguments are recorded in Hansard, the people will want to know what we on this side are doing. If we were foolish enough to be influenced by honorable senators who want to get to bed instead of doing their duty in this chamber, we should not be worthy of the esteem and respect we enjoy as representatives of the people. Events in this country, quite apart from those related to our export trade to which I have referred, show that the same misrepresentation is indulged in by persons who are much more concerned about making profits than about the welfare of their own kith aud kin. Take, for instance, the marketing of fish. At one time the public were warned against sharks as food, because, it was said, sharks, and for that matter most fish, were scavengers of the sea. That prejudice has been broken down, not by telling the people that sharks are edible, palatable and nutritious, but by labelling the objectionable fish as lemon fish, flake, or Shetland fillet. These practices are adopted, not only overseas, but also in this country. “What is now being done to discredit Werribee beef in the interest of people who would profit by the destruction of these cattle, has been done generally with respect to other commodities. It is necessary that we should say these things in order to make it known far and wide that we are not so easily imposed upon as honorable senators opposite appear to believe. Indeed, we must repeat them over and over again until the truth of what we say becomes so firmly established in the minds of the people that it becomes impossible for them to retain the erroneous beliefs which they have held in the past. It is essential to persist in our efforts to break down the attitude of mind which is one of the products of the economic system under which we live, that the greatest, grandest and noblest objective in this world is to gain money, and that it does not matter how you gain it, even if it be by poisoning your kith and kin. And the man who gains the most money is looked upon as the ablest and most moral man, who stands head and shoulder above his fellows as an example for all to follow. That is the attitude of mind which is produced by such tactics as are now being adopted to discredit Werribee beef.
– in reply - The Minister for Air craft Production (Senator Cameron) made a most extraordinary speech. He attacked the farmers and graziers of Australia. I hope that his remarks will be broadcast through the length and breadth of the Commonwealth. If that be done, I am sure that he will not be a member of this chamber after the next general election. The graziers of this country do not care a rap whether Werribee meat is sold in Melbourne so long as it be sold as Werribee beef or only in shops controlled by the Metropolitan
Board of Works. Then, should any one be prepared to run the risk of consuming tapeworm, that would be his own concern. The graziers have not said one word against the marketing of 40,000 sheep annually from Werribee farm.
– We know all about the lumpy jaw cattle that are sent to market.
– I know definitely that any beast suffering from lumpy jaw which is sent to the saleyards is put into a special pen and despatched to the boilingdown works. Whereas that beast would ordinarily bring about £12, if healthy, it realizes £2 at the boilingdown works, and the Cattle Compensation Act gives the owner £7, making £9 clear. Consequently, many producers deliberately send beasts afflicted with lumpy jaw to the saleyards because it is more profitable to dispose of them in that way than to kill them on the farm. Producers know that there is no possible chance of such diseased beasts being slaughtered for human consumption. The Minister for Aircraft Production evidently knows nothing about the health regulations in Victoria in respect of the slaughtering of cattle. Every beast in every saleyard in that State is examined most carefully by health inspectors, and every precaution is taken to ensure that only meat fit for human consumption shall be slaughtered for public sale. I repeat that in one year 300 cattle from the Werribee research farm were condemned for tuberculosis, cysticercus bovis, and cancer.
– When was that?
– In 1938. I have no doubt that most of those beasts were bred on the Werribee research farm.
– What was the total number of cattle on the farm?
– The figure mentioned by the honorable senator would be approximately correct. That would give a total annual sale of 4,000 beasts from the farm. The farm was paid for the 300 beasts, which were subsequently condemned. I emphasize that the sale of Werribee beef should be permitted only in shops controlled by the Metropolitan Board of Works. If its sale be permitted generally it should be labelled as Werribee beef. Then, any citizen who wanted to purchase it could do so. He would certainly get fine beef, but whether it would be free from cysts is very doubtful. The Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings) made some extraordinary remarks. It is unusual for him to make such wild statements as he uttered to-night. He declared that this debate was a. sheer waste of time. Surely, the health of this country is worthy of three hours’ consideration by this Senate. He also referred to sewage farms in other countries. Apparently he does not realize that all of those farms have treatment works, whereas in Melbourne the sewagecontains matter from every hospital in the city, and is germ laden. It reaches the farm without any treatment whatever in 24 hours, and within fourteen days the cattle are put on to it. If the sewage were treated at Werribee as at most farms of the kind no harm at all would be done.
– The honorable senator knows that the stock would not eat the grass if conditions were as he describes. The sewage must be treated.
– No treatment is applied except the action of thesun. The water percolates to lower levels, leaving the solids behind. Then, fourteen days later, the stock are turned on to the paddock. Senator Collings also said that the water used in a certain brewery in England was taken from the Thames. That is not so; it is taken from the Trent, and there are no dead cats floating in the Trent. The Government is risking the future of the Australian meat export trade which, in normal times, amounts to 450,000 head of cattle a year. SenatorCollings’s own State of Queensland is likely to be the most seriously affected.
– Beef raised under similar conditions is sent to the United Kingdom from the United States of America and Argentina.
– There are no beef measles of any consequence in the United States of America,, and none in Argentina. At one time a truck load of cattle from, the Werribee farm was sent to Geelong, but the butchers there would not buy them, and they were returned to Melbourne and sold there.
SenatorCollings. - Because the people of Melbourne knew the truth of the matter.
– No, it is the people of Geelong, who live within smell of the farm, who know the truth. Senator Fraser let the cat out of the bag, when he asked why anything was being said about the matter. Let us, he said, send the beef overseas, and let the people over there find out whether there is anything wrong with it.
– He said nothing of the kind. He asked why we should injure our export trade by discussing this matter, when none of the beef in question would, in any case, be exported.
– Senator Collings said that none of the beef would be sent to the forces. Will he guarantee that? Will he find out the names of the butchers who supply meat to the Puckapunyal camp, the Darley camp, and the camp where the American troops are stationed? If he looks into the matter, he may learn that one of them obtains his beef from the source complained of. Senator Fraser said that there was a shortage of meat in Australia. There is nothing of the kind. There are more cattle in Australia than ever before, and there are 5,000,000 more sheep in the country than ever before. The shortageof meat experienced in some places is due to lack of transport. In normal times, Queensland beef was killed atRockhampton and other places in the north, and shipped round the coast to Sydney and Melbourne. Now, because of the shipping shortage, that cannot be done. There is no shortage of cattle, and talk of a shortage is merely an. attempt to scare the public into accepting the lifting of the ban upon the sale of Werribee beef. It has been said that 20,000 cattle are coming from the north-west to make good the shortage of beef. That happens every year. It is a part of the normal trade in cattle, and mention of the matter now is only a form of special pleading.
SenatorCollings. - Thousands of cattle are being brought from the Northern Territory which, in ordinary circumstances, would never have been brought down.
– Senator Fraser said that none of the Werribee beef would be exported. How does he know that? Those who buy this meat can some of it, which is probably sent overseas. I am sorry that the Government has taken up this attitude, and I hope that the motion will be carried.
Question put -
That National Security (Supplementary) Regulation 50, under the National Security Act 1939-1940, made by Statutory Rules 1942, No. 161, be disallowed.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. J. Cunningham.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Child Endowment: Contributions by Parent - Acquisitionof Peas - Coal Reserves - Delivery of Meat.
Motion (by Senator Collings) proposed -
That the Senatedo now adjourn.
– Before the Senate adjourns, I should like to direct the attention of the Minister representing the Treasurer (Senator Keane) to an anomaly, the particulars of which I have just received from Mrs. Cardell-Oliver, M.L.A., the member for Subiacein the
Western Australian Parliament, and a representative of many women’s organizations in that State. The communication deals with the payment of child endowment, especially under the recent amendment of the Child Endowment Act, whereby the parent who contributes the major portion of the sustenance of the children receives the endowment. In the case I am going to cite, I do not think it is the intention of the Government to create such an anomaly. A man deserted his wife and children three years ago. He was not located for six months, when the wife obtained a separation order on the grounds of cruelty and wilful neglect to provide maintenance for his children. A court order was made for £2 a week for the children only, as the wife did not ask for anything on her own behalf. The husband promptly disappeared again until the maintenance order was about £80 in arrears, when he started to make his weekly payments fairly regularly. Acting on advice, the wife decided that regular payments at the time were better than no money and her husband in gaol for arrears. Last year the husband was divorced on the ground of adultery, the wife was given custody of the children, and the £2 a week order stood.
The endowment was granted to the wife in July last. It was 10s. a week for two children. Last month she was advised that the endowment payments had been stopped pending investigations. The department had received all particulars of the case when the application was made. Last week she received notice that, because of an amendment to the Child Endowment Act, the husband would have to be paid the 10s. a week, as he was contributing the largest proportion of the £1 towards the children’s maintenance - £2 weekly for the three children, at 13s. 4d. each. Therefore, it seems to me that because this man has been found guilty by the State law of neglecting to provide for his children, and of committing adultery, the Federal Government intends to help him to evade his obligations, and that the children will be deprived of the extra benefits this 10s. a week would give to them. I draw the attention of the Minister for Trade and
Customs (Senator Keane) to this matter, because I think it constitutes a glaring anomaly and requires immediate adjustment. I appeal to him to consult the Treasurer with a view to having prompt action taken, because the anomaly will affect women throughout Australia and is becoming a burning question among women’s organizations.
– I wish to direct the attention of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) briefly to the situation that has arisen in the marketing of blue peas. Late in March, the Minister for Commerce (Mr. Scully) gave me an assurance that the Government would take the whole of the crop next year, whether it amounted to 6,000 tons or more, and would pay not less than 15s. a bushel. In reply to questions by Senator Herbert Hays, the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce said that the Government would take up to 7,000 tons next year, but he did not state what might happen to the surplus if there should be any. The present position is that if there is a surplus it will be left to the merchants unless the Government is prepared to take the whole crop. The merchants will ‘have two courses open to them. One course will be to pay £1 or £1 5s. - they could pay £1 7s. - a bushel, thus ruining the Pea Board, while blackguarding the Government for robbing the growers. On the other hand, they could say, “ “We will give you no more than 5s. or 10s. a bushel “. in which event the growers would lose proportionately. If the Government is going to buy any of the peas it should take the whole crop, as it has done with wheat, barley, apples, and many other commodities. It cannot take part of the crop and say, “You can do what you like with the rest”.
– “Was it an acquisition, or a pool?
– It was an acquisition this year. Furthermore, I direct attention to the fact that peas imported from New Zealand have been sold in Sydney at 28s. 6d. a bushel. That information has been given by the Minister in reply to questions.
– “Who is buying them ?
– I am concerned not as to who is buying the peas, but as to the price they are bringing. If the Government allows the New Zealand peagrowers to profit by the Australian market conditions to the extent of receiving approximately 25s. a bushel, and cuts down the Tasmanian growers to 15s. a bushel, it will not be acting justly. The anomaly could easily be rectified by putting the New Zealand growers on the same footing as the Tasmanian growers. The Government could .bring the Prices Commissioner into the picture to fix the price at which peas will be sold in Australia. It is not our concern if the merchants choose to gamble, nor is it the concern of the growers.
If the growers had been allowed to continue to complete sales for which they had already contracted, they would have received £220,000 for the 220,000 bushels of crop, but as the Government has acquired the crop for 15s. a bushel, the growers have lost £55,000. Whilst the Tasmanian growers are making that contribution to the war effort, the Government is allowing New Zealand peas to be sold on the Australian market at 28s. 6d. a bushel. I wish to know whether the Government will acquire the entire crop next year at a fixed price, or only a part of the crop, leaving the remainder to the merchants, who will thus be able to break the Pea Board. Also, I wish to know whether the Government will continue to allow New Zealand peas to be sold in this country at 28s. 6d. a bushel. I am not going to remain silent while the Australian growers suffer and the New Zealand growers benefit. To show how tricky the crop is, the Prices Commissioner, with the assistance of the departments of agriculture, estimated that the crop this year would be in the vicinity of 10,000 tons. However, the early estimates have not been realized, and this years crop will total 5,900 tons, or slightly more than half of the crop on which the price was based.
– What has the Prices Commissioner to do with the matter, if the crop has been acquired by the Government?
– The Minister for Supply (Mr. Beasley) acquired the crop, and asked the Prices Commissioner to fix a price for it.
– Then he exceeded his powers.
– The Prices Commissioner fixed the price for Australian peas at 15s. a bushel, but New Zealand peas showed a return of 25s. a bushel to the growers. That discrimination is not just.
– I advise the growers to consult a lawyer.
– This morning, the PostmasterGeneral (Senator Ashley) commented on a statement which I had made in this chamber about the coal position. He cited figures relating to the transport of coal from Newcastle to Port Kembla. In doing so, he mentioned that for some time, coal was being sent from Newcastle to Port Kembla at the rate of 7,000 tons a week and that at the present time the deliveries totalled 4,500 tons a week. I do not question those figures; they simply substantiate my former statement. I had said “ something of the order of 5,000 tons “, and honorable senators will agree that 4,500 tons, which the Postmaster-General mentioned, is “ something of the order of 5,000 tons “.
– Yes, I do not question that.
– The Postmaster- General then proceeded to state that 3,000 tons of coal is being shipped each week from the south coast of New South Wales to Newcastle for coking purposes. I know nothing about that transaction and I did not mention it in my statement. Consequently, it does not affect my contention that coal, which is being carried by rail from Newcastle to a port on the south coast of New South Wales, could be produced by the mines on the south coast. I do not desire to mislead the Senate, but I have obtained authoritative information to the effect that if the miners would work full time and the mines on the south coast were re-organized, the 4,500 tons of coal which is now being brought by rail from Newcastle could be produced in the Port Kembla district. That would obviate the necessity for using rolling stock and manpower which are now engaged in transporting that coal from the northern fields.
The Postmaster-General suggested that I had misled the Senate when I referred to the reduction of coal reserves in New South Wales during the ten-year period 1931-40 inclusive. I have referred to my speech in Hansard and I am not questioning, at this stage, the accuracy of the report; but I find that I said that during the ten-year period coal reserves were reduced by approximately 100,000,000 tons. I have my notes to substantiate my remarks, and I did not refer to any specific twelve coal mines in New South Wales. The Postmaster-General said that Mr. Armstrong had stated that the asset value of the twelve companies - I do not know which ones - had been reduced by 35,000,000 tons of coal and he suggested that my figure of 100,000,000 tons, had reference to those specific mines. 1 point out that my figures did not refer to them. I have endeavoured to ascertain from the Commonwealth Year-Book the quantity of coal hewn in New South Wales during that period, but I have been unable to trace the production for the years 1939 and 1940. However, the values of the production in those years are available, and I find they were greater than the value in 1937, when the production was 10,051,519 tons. On that basis, we are justified in estimating that 10,000,000 tons was excavated in 1939 and 1940. The total tonnage excavated in New South Wales during the period was 85,728,000 tons. I admit the discrepancy between that figure and 100,000,000 tons, but the actual quantity greatly exceeds the 35,000,000 tons which the Minister quoted. I hope that the Senate will accept my assurance that I did not mention the figure of 100,000,000 tons with the deliberate purpose of misleading the chamber. At least, my statement was more accurate than that of the Minister.
– I corrected Senator McBride’s statement because he definitely implied that 5,000 tons of coal had to be sent weekly from Newcastle to the south coast as the result of industrial trouble there.
– I repeat that statement.
– It is incorrect. My denial of that assertion is based on information that I have received from the Chairman of the Commonwealth Coal Commission. The transfer of coal from the northern fields to the South Coast did not begin after the Labour Government took office. -Such deliveries were made early in 1941.
– It has happened also in the western district. It is not uncommon for coal to be transported to the western district even when all the mines in that locality are working; and 840 tons of coal a week has been carried by rail from the Lithgow district to the south coast during the last twenty years.
– What we did in peace-time has no relation to what we should do in war-time in order to conserve rolling-stock and man-power.
– I took exception to the honorable senator’s statement because he was trying to mislead this chamber and the country.
– Nothing of the kind.
– The honorable senator definitely implied that coal had to be railed from Newcastle to Port Kembla because of industrial trouble. That is entirely wrong. The honorable senator knows that his assertion was incorrect. Since Senator McBride apparently was unable to understand the report made to me by the Chairman of the Commonwealth Coal Commission, Mr. Mighell, which I read earlier to-day, I shall read it again for his benefit -
Early in 1941 the Australian Iron and Steel Company Limited commenced purchasing coal from Newcastle mines. This company uses about 13,000 tons a week and its reserve stuck position was then very bad - about 44,000 tons. For some time 7,000 tons weekly was railed from Newcastle to Port Kembla, and at the present time about 4,500 tons are sent by rail per week. Collier tonnage is not available to transport the coal by sea, and the coal is mainly used at the steel works for steamraising purposes, thus relieving larger quantities of southern coal to be used for coke making.
As a consequence of these weekly deliveries stocks at the company’s works at Port Kembla have improved considerably and are now 130,000 tons, or nearly seven weeks’ supplies.
I may say that this commission has purposely encouraged the building up of these stocks at Fort Kembla for two reasons. First because it is essential that an undertaking of this kind should have ample reserves during the war period, and secondly, because th,arrangements made operated to keep many small mines in production in the north who are producing a class of coal which is suitable for steam-raising purposes at Port Kembla but are not suitable for interstate use.
For many years some 7,800 tons of southern coal is freighted to Newcastle by sea from Port Kembla to the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited works. This coal is required by the company to blend with Newcastle coals for the manufacture of special furnace coke.
That statement utterly disproves the honorable senator’s contention that coal had to be sent from Newcastle to Port Kembla because of industrial trouble on the south-coast coal-field. The Australian Iron and Steel Company Limited is a subsidiary of the Broken Hill Proprietary ‘Company Limited and Mr. Mighell’s report shows conclusively that the transfer of coal between the northern and the southern coal-fields is an internal arrangement ‘between branches of the one large concern.
– lt is recorded in Ronsard that the honorable senator attributed the necessity to transport the coal from Newcastle to Port Kembla to the fact that the southern miners were on strike. The very fact that coal has to be sent from Port Kembla to Newcastle shows how incorrect the honorable member’s contention was. The attitude of some honorable senators opposite, especially that of Senator McBride, is not calculated to assist the Government either in settling the trouble in the coal-mining industry, or in prosecuting the war. Members of the Opposition are demanding in the press and in Parliament that action be taken against the coal-miners, but they forget that their former leader, the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) found it necessary to make a special visit to the northern coal-fields, in order -to appeal to 15.000 miners to return to work. What action was taken by the then Government on that occasion? There was no action at all. With his head bowed the right honorable gentleman went to the coalfield and pleaded. The miners still bear the scars of the depression years when the owners would not allow them to work. Now, because they seek to get the conditions to which they are entitled, reflections are cast upon them which are unworthy of any member of Parliament, particula rly a senator who holds so high a position as that of Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
– The matter of child endowment raisedby Senator Allan MacDonald can be debated when the Child Endowment Bill reaches the Senate within a day or two-. Earlier to-day, Senator Aylett asked me, upon notice, as the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, the following questions.: -
The Minister for Transport has supplied the following answers: -
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator,.&c. -
No: 19 of 1942 - Commonwealth Public Service Artisans’ Association.
No.. 20 of 1942- Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of. Australia.
No. 21 of 1942 - Commonwealth Public Service Artisans’ Association.
Customs Act - Proclamation, dated 7th May, 1942, prohibiting the exportation (except under certain conditions) of Frit, enamel; Grease, wool; Seed, rape.
Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1942, No. 211.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired at Albury, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.
National Security Act -
National Security (Capital Issues) Regulations - Order - Exemption.
National Security (General) Regulations - Orders -
Control of Building Materials.
Control of Knitted Goods.
Orders by State Premiers - New South
Wales (14), Queensland (22), South Australia (8), Tasmania (7), Victoria (28), Western Australia (4).
National Security (Man Power) Regulations - Orders - Protected undertakings (16).
National Security (Road Transport) Regulations - Orders - Use of motor vehicles.
National Security (Supplementary) Regulations - Orders by State. Premiers - New South. Wales (.2), Queensland (5), South Australia (5), Victoria (.6)., Western Australia.
National Security (Timber Control) Regulations - Order - Control of Timber.
National Security (War Damage to Property) Regulations - Order - Public Authority.
Regulations - Statutory Rules1942. Nos. 206. 207, 208, 213, 215. 217.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Ordinances of1942 -
No.9- Wills (War Service).
No. 10 - Rationing Control.
Senate adjourned at1.30 a.m. (Thursday).
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 13 May 1942, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1942/19420513_senate_16_170/>.