16th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Cunningham) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– On the 4th June last representatives of certain newspapers were excluded from Parliament House. I have received from the general manager of Consolidated Press Limited, Sydney, a communication in the following terms : -
Further to my telegram asking for the removal of the ban on our representatives, I am directed to inform you that the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph, while always upholding the right of the press to criticize the proceedings and conduct of Parliament, have learned that an article published in the Sunday Telegraph on the 17th May last was interpreted as a personal attack on individual members of the Senate. This was not intended either by Mr. Richard Hughes, the columnist who wrote the article, or by the Sunday Telegraph in which it was published. Nor was the article intended to imply disparagement of parliamentary institutions.
In view of that statement, I have, after consultation with Mr. Speaker, informed the representatives of the newspapers concerned that they may resume their privileges in the Senate.
Cost of Referenda
– -Has the Minister representing the Treasurer obtained for me figures showing the cost to the Commonwealth Government of each of the last three referenda on the subject of alterations of the Common wealth Constitution, as the information was not available to me in Perth?
– The Treasurer has supplied the following reply to the honorable senator’s question : -
The amount of £118,844 includes the cost of the election held concurrently. It is not practicable to separate the cost of the referendum from that of the election.
-I direct the attention of the PostmasterGeneral to a telegram that I have received from Kalgoorlie as follows: -
Reference press report as to possibility of stopping lettergram service please stress necessity retention to Western Australia, as with occasional cancelled air mails, slow and uncertain overland mails, lettergram is the only reliable means of swift communication. Our disabilities from isolation bad enough now.
In view of that telegram, will the Post.masterGeneral give further consideration to the proposed cancellation of the lettergram service, which service is considered essential on the gold-fields of Western Australia ?
– The matter is receiving attention. I have not yet received a report upon it from the officers of my department, but consideration will be given to the representations contained in the telegram read by the honorable senator.
– I lay on the table the following .paper: -
Taxation Proposals - Report of the committee of senators and members appointed to consider the Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 2) 1942, and the War-time (Company) Tax Assessment Bill 1942.
The committee did not reach any decision with regard to amendment No. 13, but all other amendments were approved, and the Government will adopt the committee’s recommendations.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answers: - 1.Yes. As pointed out in a previous reply, however, the prices refer to a specific quality of goods.
SenatorCOLLETT asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
Under what conditions did the Department of the Navy take over the vessels King Bay, NicolBay andUribes?
Is it a fact that, although the first-named vessel was taken over more than two years ago, up to the present time only interim payments for its hire have been made?
What are the causes that prevent the Naval Charter Rates Board from at once fixing a final hiring rate for each vessel?
– The Minister for the Navy has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
How many aliens at present serving as members of the Labour Corps attached to the Army have, at some time or other, been interned ?
– The Minister for the Army has supplied the following answer: - .
No internees have been released from internment for service in a labour unit, except 519 internees who are held in Australia by agreement with the United Kingdom Government and were arrested in either the United Kingdom or the Straits Settlements. This action was taken with the concurrence of the United Kingdom Government.
Certain other persons who have been interned and released at a later stage may have been called up, or have volunteered for service in a labour unit, but the number has not been recorded.
Detailed information could be obtained, but it would involve the searching of a largenumber of individual files, and it is not considered that the time and work required to accomplish this would be in the public interest.
– On the 24th September, Senator Collett asked the Minister representing the Minister for War Organization of Industry the following questions, upon notice : -
In reply I intimated that the information required was being obtained from the Director of Rationing, who is responsible to the Minister for Trade and Customs. The replies to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Keane) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
A black market is an evil which must be destroyed. Unchecked, it will do untold harm, not only directly by its withdrawal of commodities from both soldiers and civilians, but also indirectly, by provoking discontent throughout the community. Such discontent must arise when that which should be distributed among the many is appropriated by the few, and with rising discontent must come a lack of unity and a lowering of morale. The black market is illegal, unsocial, unpatriotic, and its existence cannot be tolerated. When a black market exists for goods of any class, those goods seem to disappear. They are not available for the use of our fighting forces and, as the goods concerned are always those in which a scarcity exists, such limited supplies as should be available for distribution through the usual mercantile channels, are further depleted. Two persons are necessary to constitute a black market - a selfish consumer, and a profiteer. Both are reckless of their country’s needs as well as its welfare, and in this time of national peril both deserve short shrift.
The penalties proposed in the bill are stern, as is only right. They are, I believe, sufficiently severe to deter from illegal practices those whom the more lenient penalties under the National Security Act have failed to hold in check. I emphasize that the acts or transactions against which the bill is directed are acts or transactions which already are illegal under National Security regulations, and that the numerous offences against those regulations show that the maximum penalty prescribed by the National Security Act for a breach of the regulations - a fine of £100, or imprisonment for six months -has not achieved its object. One reason for this failure is the practical impossibility of launching prosecutions in cases in which the total excess profits, although large, arise from great numbers of transactions on each of which in the majority of cases the excess profit is only a few pence. In the notorious case of the Myer Emporium Limited, the excess profits were approximately £250,000, but they arose from more than 40,000,000 sales and represented an average of less than 2d. Honorable senators will realize that even if it were possible to obtain the necessary evidence as to each prosecution - and that is not always the case - the hearing of even 1 per cent. of the 40,000,000 possible charges with the attendance of witnesses in each case, presents an insuperable obstacle. Another reason is that magistrates have taken a lenient view of these offences and, in almost every instance, have imposed trifling pecuniary penalties. That is well illustrated by the case of Hibbert and Company, fuel merchants’, of Alphington, Victoria, which on the 17th April, 1942, was fined £3 on each of six charges. That was a deliberate example of black marketing, because at the time there was an acute shortage of firewood. Despite the prosecution, the firm later actually advertised firewood for sale at prices in excess of the fixed price. As the prosecutions had failed to achieve their object, the firm was declared. In connexion with petrol rationing, too, it was found that prosecutions were, in the case of illicit trading by petrol resellers, ineffective, and further action, by way of suspending the licences of offenders, had to be taken. Some idea of the futility of continuing to depend on prosecutions under the National Security Act will be obtained from the following particulars : Since the outbreak of war, 168 separate firms have been charged under the National Security (Prices) Regulations; there have been 319 separate charges against these firms; one charge was withdrawn, nine were dismissed, whilst convictions were secured in the remaining 309 cases. The offences dealt mainly with sales of goods at excessive prices, but these transactions were often accompanied by other black market manoeuvres. Many devices were used to obtain additional profit in the sale of such goods, and to avoid detection by the price control authorities. Let us see the nature of the penalties imposed by the magistrates. Of the 309 oases in which penalties were imposed, in 249 the penalty was less than £10; in 158 - more than half the total - the penalty was less than £5. In no case did a magistrate exercise his powers to commit a defendant to prison. It might be reasonable to assume that in the early stages of the war traders should have been given a period of warning, in which a fine would be preferred to imprisonment ; but that is not the explanation of the leniency of the magistrates, for cases continue to occur in which they still impose inadequate fines.
– What is the explanation of the leniency?
– I should say that it is because no minimum penalties have been prescribed, and that magistrates have accepted the stories of traders rather than the evidence of our officers.
Having explained the circumstances which have made the bill necessary, I now come to its main features. The first matter calling for attention is the meaning to be given to the term black market. As I indicated earlier, transactions to which it is intended to apply are offences against the National Security Act, and relate to prices, liquid fuel, rationing of goods and services, restriction of stocks, the control of production, and the acquisition of primary products. Power is also taken to declare to , be black marketing other acts which are offences against the National Security regulations.
The next matter to be considered is the scale of punishment which, as I have shown, must be far more drastic than the penalties provided for under the National Security Act. As light fines have proved ineffective, it is proposed, in the case of the conviction of a person on a charge of black marketing by a court of summary jurisdiction, that the penalty be at least three months’ gaol, while if the prosecution is by an indictment, the penalty proposed is imprisonment for not less than twelve months. In the case of an offence by a company, the penalty must necessarily be of a pecuniary nature, and the proposed minimum fines are £1,000 if the conviction is recorded by a court of summary jurisdiction, and £10,000 where the prosecution is by indictment. In addition, every director, officer, or employee of the company actively concerned in the conduct of the company’s business will be deemed guilty of the offence, unless he proves that the offence was committed without his knowledge, and that he took all due care to prevent its commission.
Further deterrents are provisions under which either the goods involved in a black-marketing offence, or their value, become forfeited to the Crown, and that persons convicted of a black-marketing offence shall publicize the fact of their conviction by the exhibition of placards and, if necessary, ‘by advertisement in the newspapers and by broadcasting. In view of the severity of penalties, it is proposed that persons shall be prosecuted only when the responsible Minister has reported to the Attorney-General, and the Attorney-General has given written consent to the prosecution. Another important provision to which I direct the attention of honorable senators is that which gives power to call evidence as to past trading transactions, and so obtain an independent assessment of excess profits. By this means we will obviate the difficulties inherent in cases such as that of the Myer Emporium Limited, where to proceed to convictions on innumerable small transactions was impracticable.
I commend the bill particularly to those honorable senators who so assiduously warn the Government of the dangers of any tendency towards inflation. That danger is one against which the Government is always on guard, and to the prevention of which it is continually directing its energies. One control which was given consideration was the proposal to limit profits to 4 per cent. but the practical difficulties in implementing such a measure caused its abandonment. The only effective protection against inflation is rigorous control of prices; and this bill will, I am confident, have no small part in checking profiteering and maintaining the stability of the financial structure of the Commonwealth.
I shall now explain the penalties imposed under black market legislation in Great Britain. By order in council, on the 23rd March, 1942, new and more severe .penalties for black market operations were introduced. A maximum of twelve months’ imprisonment on summary conviction and of fourteen years’ penal servitude on indictment is prescribed. Persons condemned to imprisonment shall not thereby escape all financial penalty. Convicted persons must pay a fine equal to the profit which they are estimated to have made, and may in addition be made to pay three times the value of the transaction. It will be observed that the last provision required opens the way for a very severe monetary penalty. A weakness in the British system is that imprisonment is still only permissive and discretionary. The London Economist, referring to these new provisions, states -
It is very probable that short and wholly unavoidable terms of imprisonment coupled with fines would be the more effective.
It further adds that imprisonment “ should be made inescapable in all proved cases.”.
This bill prescribes imprisonment for black-marketing offences. ‘It should be remembered, that serious offences only will be taken under the procedure prescribed in. the bill. There are ample provisions to ensure that only such offences will be subjected to the new method of prosecution. The new penalties in Great Britain have been acted upon, and I am able to give honorable senators one or two examples.
In the case of a company supplying poods in excess of its quota to the extent of £21,000, a company on the 9th May was fined £5,000, a director of the company imprisoned for twelve months and fined £2,500, an accountant imprisoned for six months and fined £50, and an assistant imprisoned for three months. On the 16th June, a company was fined £400 for supplying 5 cwt. of sugar without a licence and a director was fined £200 for the same offence. On the 4th June, a gas company was fined £250 for supplying 10 tons of house coal instead of the permitted 1 ton. The consumer was also fined £250 for acquiring the coal. On the 1st May, a warehouse proprietor was fined £207,000, but the maximum penalty would have been very much greater. The magistrate remarked that he thought of sending all of the directors to prison.
I emphasize that, under clause 4, provision is made for an assessment of excess profits if the court is satisfied that a convicted person has made such excess profits. It is only in the event of conviction and on the court being satisfied that action is taken to assess surplus profits. The court may refer the matter to a prescribed authority, who shall be a person with the standing of a judge of a supreme court. The prescribed authority shall have full access to the information available, and shall report to the court on its estimate of profits earned by the convicted person in excess of what is regarded as reasonable. On receiving the report the court may impose as additional penalty a fine up to twice the amount of the excess profits.
I shall now give a few examples of black marketing which were recently discovered in Australia. The most serious offence occurred in Adelaide, where an individual was able to approach brewing, wine and whisky companies and obtain delivery of large quantities of beer, wine and whisky. That man was arrested and convicted. We find to our amaze» ment that, in that case, despite the precautions taken by the Army authorities, the offender was able to obtain these orders allegedly for canteens without being asked to produce vouchers from the Army authorities. He simply produced a notebook and read out his order to the brewing company. He committed offences in this way over a period of three months. He succeeded in obtaining delivery of the following quantities of liquor: 126 18-gallon kegs of beer, 31 10-gallon kegs of beer, 10 5-gallon kegs of beer, 1,527 dozen bottles of beer and 38 dozen bottles of stout. All of these goods were charged to his own account. He simply stated that he was purchasing them for different camp canteens in the hills district. In another case, which occurred in Sydney, an individual was intercepted, giving an order over the telephone, allegedly for the Army authorities, for 8i2 dozen bottles of wine, the lowest price of which was 5s. 6d. a bottle. Those cases are evidence of black marketing which has developed as the result of restrictions on the .production and sale of liquor. Suppression will inevitably be followed, by evils of that kind. Therefore, it is most important that this legislation be implemented at the earliest possible date in order to maintain some semblance of decency among certain members of the community. There are other cases under investigation which I naturally do not want to ‘ mention, but there is> as I say, ample evidence that this abuse is going on. The Prices Commissioner, despite whatever criticism may be levelled against him, has, I suggest, an almost insuperable task to police the prices of commodities in this country. Honorable senators opposite who have held the portfolio that I hold will, I am sure, agree with me in that. He has to use a group method because of the insufficiency of his staff. If he had to police every article in use in this country he would want an army of officers as big as the Australian Imperial Force. which is obviously impossible, but, despite this, the increase of the cost of living has been, I suggest, reasonably held.
– The Minister does not believe that it has increased by only 18 per cent, does he?
– It is somewhere about that figure.
– It is more like 28 per cent.
– I should like the honorable senator to listen to me. Many people write anonymous letters, but when we “ wheel “ others up to it to give the name and the date of the occurrence and to give evidence in court, they decline to do so. With every desire to enforce the law, we meet what Senator Sampson asked me about, that is, magistrates who for some extraordinary reason have not even a sense of the tremendous power that resides in a police magistrate - I am speaking not of honorary justices but of police magistrates - and who let the Prices Commissioner down in a most shocking way in almost every State in Australia, so that offenders know that they will get a “ run “, because of the existence of a magistracy the members of which, for some extraordinary reason, are not awake to one of the most outstanding drags on the war effort. They neglect their duty, which is to check the indiscriminate overcharging that is going on in this country. Under this legislation those magistrates will haveto administer the law strictly. Under the National Security Regulations there is a penalty of £100 fine and six months imprisonment “ or less “, and I suggest that they have applied the “ less “ in every case, in this way handicapping every officer who has to handle this very important job. Since the introduction of rationing, honorable senators will have observed a tremendous number of robberies of clothing throughout Australia. That is clothing taken out of an already inadequate pool. All these things have to be watched a.nd the strict interpretation of this measure will be a help to the rationing system and a check on overcharging.
From the aspect that gaol is the only deterrent, I believe every honorable senator will agree with me that the average man and woman observes the law because he or she is fair, but also probably because breaking the law involves imprisonment. That is the only thing which has any terror for the average malefactor in this community. Fines do not worry him, but prescribing imprisonment for the offences dealt with in this bill will, I hope, be the culmination of the 100 per cent, war effort of this country. We have already pegged some of the rates of profit that may be made by business men, we have “ slugged “ them with very high taxation, and the workers’ wages have been pegged. It is now our task as a Government to complete the job, by controlling what has been going on all our lives, namely, wages going up the staircase and the cost of living going up in. the lift. Wages definitely were and are pegged, but the unfinished cases are still the subject of adjustment by the Arbitration Court. During the war we need some stabilization of wages, and that has been done. The stabilization of prices is more difficult, but profits are reasonably easy to handle. If there is any bill which I believe is imperative it is this one because, after all, the man who is working in factory, field, foundry and mine still has the obsession that the big people of this country are making unfair profits. He says : “ “We are getting £7 or £8 a week, but our cost of living has gone up to such an outrageous extent that the money is not worth what you make it out to be worth “. Remove that impression from him, and we shall have a more contented Australia. This bill will help in that direction. I hope also that the advent of the Meat Commission will result in the man who produces the meat getting a fairer deal than now, and the man who consumes it getting it at a more reasonable price, similar to that which obtains with other primary products. This measure will give to us greater power, and I believe that future governments will bless the memory of the Minister who introduced it.
Debate (on motion by Senator McLeay) adjourned.
Debate resumed from the 25th September (vide page 969), on motion by Senator Keane -
That the bill be now read a first time.
.- I am somewhat surprised at the attitude of the Government towards statements made by honorable senators on this side of the chamber. They are evidently allergic to criticism, and feel that they have thu monopoly of ideas that will bring to fruition the work of the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley). The Treasurer’s job is a big one, but I do not think that he receives much assistance from many of his colleagues. Not one honorable senator on this side has said a word against the amount of money proposed to be raised by this budget, but a good deal has been said on the Government side in regard to how it should . be raised. In fact, some extraordinary statements have been made by honorable senators opposite. I shall -begin with the Minister for Aircraft Production (Senator Cameron), who is probably one of the tail-enders of the Ministry, but sometimes the tail wags the dog, and, in the case of the alligator, the biggest weapon he has is his tail. The Minister stated his view so loudly that he could be heard just as well in the Senate club room as in this chamber. In fact, I heard him a great deal better there. He preached confiscation and political robbery. He insisted on a capital levy, which means taking from the man who has worked hard, money which he has earned. His view is that the nian who has earned something and made provision for his future should be robbed. He says that that man has worked too hard, and the Government must take some of what he has earned from him. As regards the man on the land, he says we must take portion of his land from him. When I asked him how he would do it, he said the Government would take a mortgage over the land. My idea of a mortgage is that the mortgagor gets something, but the mortgagee gets nothing. How the Government can be a mortgagee and take a portion of a person’s land and get something for it, I do not know. I am afraid that the Minister’s views must conflict very strongly with those of the Treasurer, and that his attitude towards the people in advocating a capital levy is not in accordance with that of the Treasurer. I sympathize with the Treasurer, because he is a very modest man, whose picture we do not see in the papers every day of the week. He will not allow it. We do not hear him broadcast every day over the wireless, although other Minister’s names or voices are broadcast eight times a day. I admire his attitude, and think he is perhaps the best Treasurer in the ranks of the Labour party. So much for the Minister for Aircraft Production, whose speech would have led one to believe that the river Yarra ran between the treasury bench and this side of the chamber. The next member of the Ministry to whom I wish to refer is the Minister for War Organization of Industry (Mr. Dedman). What is his attitude towards finance! Undoubtedly he favours social credit, and, worse still, inflation. He believes in Douglas credit and bank credit, and would close down all the private banks, leaving only one banking institution which would give to the people supplies of paper money with which to pay their debts. Then there is the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr.
Ward), who has declared, quite openly, and contrary to the views expressed by the Prime Minister, that he does not believe in loans at all, compulsory or otherwise. He has said that both from the public platform and in this Parliament. How the Ministry can carry on in these circumstances is beyond my comprehension. There is a fourth man to whom some reference should be made. He is the “missing link”, or perhaps I should say the spare part of the Government. I refer to the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Wilson), who is the Government’s majority in the House of Representatives. What did that honorable member say? He said that he did not agree with the Opposition’s proposal for compulsory loans, and that all loans, whether voluntary or compulsory, were evil, because they would never be repaid. Imagine an honorable member who holds the balance of power in the House of Representatives stating throughout the length and breadth of the country that the loans which are now being floated will never be repaid. Unfortunately, has statements have never been denied by one member of the Government. I ask the Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings) now does the Ministry agree with what the honorable member for Wimmera has said?
– The honorable senator knows quite well what the answer is.
– I do not know. If the Government had an answer, obviously it would have been given before now. How can the Government expect people to invest money in loans when such views are expressed by key men? The honorable member for Wimmera is a key man, because should he choose to vote with the Opposition, the Government would not have a majority. I have dealt with only four members of the Government. I could name half a dozen more men on the back benches who hold similar views, and I imagine that the Treasurer has a most difficult time when discussing the Government’s financial proposals in caucus. This budget leaves a gap of £300,000,000 in our finances, but makes no suggestion as to how it will be filled’. The Opposition has indicated a way in which this could be done. Senator A. J. McLachlan referred to the gap as a great abyss, and apparently honorable senators opposite intend to walk down one side of it and climb up the other. The Opposition contends that the gap can be bridged, and must be bridged, bytaxing that vast reservoir of spending power which is in the hands of people earning £8 a week or less. There is no reason why individuals in the lower income groups should not be called upon to pay their fair share of this war; but, for political reasons, this Government will not tax them. It says, in effect, “Let the rich man pay for the war “. The fact is that rich men do not exist to-day in sufficient numbers to enable them to bear the full weight of this country’s financial obligations. The Government claims that it is not in favour of compulsion, and therefore is not prepared to compel the people to invest money in war loans; but what is being done with our soldiers? Every soldier is compelled to contribute £36 10s. each year to what is virtually a forced loan. If such a system be just for the soldiers then surely it is also just for the munitions workers. If that were done the gap would, .be bridged, but this great reservoir of £560,000,000 is virtually untouched. Whilst the Government declares that it is not in favour of compulsion with respect to loans itis resorting, to compulsion in other directions. All kinds of essential commodities are being compulsorily rationed, and there oan be no doubt about the Government’s attitude towards compulsory unionism. Apparently, honorable senators opposite believe in compulsion in many directions but not in regard to loans. They believe, for instance, in confiscation. Obviously, the lower incomes are not being encroached upon for taxation purposes to any great degree solely for political reasons. What will happen if the voluntary loans fail? There can be only one result, and that is inflation. Honorable senators opposite say that inflation will be controlled, but I contend that it cannot be controlled. I was in Berlin in 1924 and with three others sat down to a dinner in one of the leading hotels. The cost of the dinner was 18s. I put down a £1 note to pay for it and I received 5,000,000 marks in change, the face value being approximately £250,000. Yet that £250,000 would, not pay for my dinner at Hamburg and I had to produce another £1 note. Subsequently I bought one note of every mark denomination which then existed in Germany, and the whole bundle cost me only 2s. 6d. That is an example of controlled inflation. The German Government’s I’OUs for £250,000 would not pay for my dinner.
– That was done deliberately.
– .Does the honorable senator suggest that that could not occur here? Exactly the same thing would happen. ‘Generally speaking, I do not believe in economists with their long hair, wild ideas and one-track minds, but I shall quote to the Senate a statement by an economist of the short-haired variety, who mixes practical knowledge with theoretical views, and puts the acid test of science on them, giving what I consider to be an accurate picture. I refer to Professor Copland, who has made the following statement: -
In short, whether we have inflation or not depends entirely upon ourselves. The seeds of inflation are here. . . .
I assure honorable senators that if the soil is fertile it will be a case of “ Jack and the Beanstalk”. The seeds will grow like wildfire, and we will be powerless to interfere. Professor Copland said further -
The essence of our war effort is to reduce the supply of civilian goods (only a very limited and ineffective war effort could be built up if we did not) without reducing incomes. In fact you must increase incomes.
To avoid inflation there are .two ways of adjusting spending-power to the reduced supply of goods. Number one is by taxation, borrowings - deliberately appropriating surplus incomes.
That is what members of the Opposition stand for, but the Government will not appropriate them. It says to the people : “Please put your money into the war loan.” But how many of them will do it ? The statement continues -
Number two is by direct control of the people’s right to spend their money, by limiting their spending to what they need. This is done by rationing, restricting production, banning non-essentials, controlling imports, exports and also capital issues.
Rationing spreads the available goods according to needs, but taxation will always leave the higher incomes with more money to spend than the lower incomes. So prices nave to be pegged to stop them shooting up under competitive bidding.
The other necessary peg is on wages, which were pegged last February. When prices and wages rise together, the dizzy spiral of inflation really sets in.
I am reminded of a high-jumping contest, at a country festival. As soon as a competitor scales 5 ft. 6 in., the bar is raised to 5 ft. 7 in., and later to 5 ft. 8 in. and 5 ft. 9 in. The cost of living has already risen. It is necessary, therefore, to appropriate surplus income, and use it as a loan to the Government. There is more money in the hands of the people to-day than ever before. T,wo years ago, the total amount of currency in Australia was £7 a head of the population. That was sufficient for the purposes of the people then, but to-day the amount is £16 a head.
The Government has rationed the necessaries of life, but not the luxuries. I notice that the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) is wearing a victory suit, hut the cardigan beneath his coat probably cost twice as much as any waistcoat. Would it not be better if the people were not paid more than they require, and if the balance of their income were treated’ as deferred pay? But the Government has not sufficient courage to do that. It is afraid that it may lose the votes of many of its supporters. People are spending money in luxuries to-day, such as carpets, furniture and other goods which are not rationed.
– What harm is there in purchasing commodities that are not rationed?
– Better use would be made of the money if it were put into war loans.
The Minister for War Organization of Industry (Mr. Dedman) and the Minister for Commerce (Mr. Scully) recently suggested the rationalization of the pastoral industry, but they soon came to a halt when the pastoralists and woolgrowers said, “We have never been consulted on the matter. The least the Government could do would be to ask for our opinion “. The Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) then remarked, “Very well, we shall seek your opinion first “. Then his two colleagues bad to back down. The ridiculous proposal was made by the Minister forWar Organization of Industry, that flocks and herds should be reduced, and that wool production should be curtailed. Then another extraordinary announcement was made. The people are to be fed on grass! Imagine the Axis powers publishing in all their newspapers that Australia is short of food and that its people are to be fed on grass.
Senatorcourtice - Ministers have not said that.
– Every newspaper one reads contains the announcement that lucerne is to be fed to the members of the fighting services. Even if lucerne is useful as a vegetable, the Government is unwise in making a statement of that kind. The Minister for Trade and Customs now talks of two beefless days a week, but there is no shortage of beef. There are as many cattle in Australia to-day as ever, and there are millions more sheep than there have ever been in this country. I admit that there are fewer pigs. If the Government prevented the killing of pigs under 100 lb. in weight, their weight might be increased by 140 or 150 lb. and there would be twice as much pork. The price of bullocks has fallen £4 a head in the Melbourne market in the last fortnight. I suppose that some one will say, “ Werribee beef ! “ But the explanation is that 170 tons of Queensland beef recently arrived in Melbourne. The shortage in certain places is due entirely to transport problems. There is plenty of beef in Australia, so why should a song be made of the necessity forbeefless days?
The Government has not taken action with regard to non-essential industries. Why it has overlooked them, I do not know. One big company has £400,000 worth more stock this year than last year. According to its balance-sheet which was published a fortnight ago it made almost £1,000,000 last year. Is it surprising that small shops in Melbourne have had to close down? I maintain that nonessential goods should be frozen for the period of the war, and that hundreds of people engaged in non-essential industries should be placed in some war work. Why the Government does not tackle these industries is beyond my comprehension.
– It would lose its majority.
– That is one of its fears. The Government has failed dismally in the production of power alcohol. Twelve months ago, preparations were made for the choice of sites for the production of power alcohol, but not one gallon of spirit has been produced. The Government has admittedly chosen one site.
SenatorFraser. - That is all the honorable senator knows.
– Thousands of gallons of power alcohol are being made in Queensland.
– I am referring to its manufacture from wheat. Many wine distilleries in Australia are idle, and they could have been engaged in the manufacture of power alcohol from wheat. Similarly, whisky distilleries could have been engaged in this work, but the Government would not touch the liquor industry. It regards that as sacrosanct, because it has a big influence on votes.
The Government has introduced a scheme for the control of the wheat industry under which provision is made for the payment of 4s. a bushel at sidings for the first 3,000 bushels delivered by each farmer. Am I right in assuming that the pool will bear all charges for freight and handling?
– I should like the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce to answer that question.
– I shall answer it in due course.
– The Minister does not know.
– I am prepared to make a statement on the subject.
– For the first 3,000 bushels of wheat delivered by a farmer at a siding, 4s. a bushel cash will be paid. A farmer who sows 250 acres with wheat will, on a basis of the average yield for Australia, receive cash for the whole of the wheat that he delivers. There are 40,000 farmers in that category. Each of the remaining 21,000 farmers in Australia will receive 4s. a bushel for the first 3,000 bushels delivered by him, but only 2s. a bushel for the balance. If the statement of Senator Arthur that the pool will meet the handling charges be correct, it means that many farmers will receive as their first and last payment only 2s. a bushel as the handling charges on the whole crop are ls. per bushel, but if half the wheat is paid for in cash handling charges amounting to 2s. will be charged on the balance. In this connexion I am astonished at the attitude of the Minister for Commerce (Mr. Scully). “When the Menzies Government proposed to reStrict the acreage sown with wheat, he opposed the regulations strenuously, as I myself did. On that occasion the present Minister said -
The principle is most dangerous … I wonder whether the farmer will be supplied with a collar, and ordered to wear it round hie neck . . . These regulations should not be tolerated. When the growers realize their import, a revolt will occur throughout the wheat-growing areas . . No regulation more soul-destroying or more destructive of individual effort than the regulations now before us was ever issued even in Soviet Russia.
I agree with those remarks; but now the Minister has agreed to the opposite. I am opposed entirely to the registration of farms and also the restriction of production. If, however, production must be restricted, the farmer should be given a permit to sow the same acreage as his average sowing during the last three years. That is to say, if his average sowing was 200 acres, he should be given a permit to sow 200 acres with wheat, wherever he likes to sow it. He should not be restricted to certain areas. The Government stipulates that the wheat must be grown on the same land as in previous years. Obviously, the regulations were framed by some one who knows nothing at all about wheat-growing. It would have been much better to grant permits in respect of a certain acreage, instead of licensing a certain farm.
– If the same acreage of new land were sown, the yield would be greater.
– In some instances, farmers are forced to grow wheat on land which makes their insolvency almost inevitable. Canada’s wheat crop this year totals 600,000,000 bushels. As the quantity of wheat required bv Great Britain each year is 200,000,000 bushels, one-half of which is grown in that country, and
Canada’s’ requirements, including seed wheat, do not exceed 120,000.000 bushels a year, it is clear that there is now stored in Canada sufficient wheat to supply Canada and Great Britain for three years.
Many problems will confront this country when the war is over. When that time comes, there may be 150,000 people in Australia who will find the doors of the factories in which they now work closed against them, because those factories are manufacturing goods which will not then be required. What does the Government propose to do to meet that situation? In the budget speech I notice only one statement on the subject; the Treasurer stated that a committee of Ministers, consisting of the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley), the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt), and the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward), will consider this matter in order to see what can be done.
– The first thing to do is to win the war.
– We must also make preparation for the post-war period. I do not suggest that a lot of money be expended in those preparations, but 1 do suggest that the machinery be set up, so that when the war is over, it will be possible to find employment for all the persons whose war-time jobs will end.
– That is exactly what the Government is doing; it ‘s making plans now.
– I suggest that two committees should be established, and that, although working separately, their work should be co-ordinated. The first committee should be representative of manufacturing and industrial interests and its duty would be to see that artisans and workers generally in industry will have an opportunity to carry on when the war is over. I believe that, after the war Australian manufacturers will have to produce goods on an export basis. W« shall nol then have the doors closed against the entry of goods from other countries as in the past. That committee should be set up immediately. The second committee should represent rural industries and its duty would be to purchase land and settle people thereon. That committee .should consist, not of theorists, but of practical men. We all know what happened after the last war ; land was bought on the basis of 2s. 6d. per lb. for butter fat, 25s. a head for lambs, and fis. a bushel for wheat. The result was that thousands of men went off the land altogether, because the land was purchased at excessive prices. It is the Government’s duty to avoid a repetition of what happened then.
– There was considerable profiteering in land.
– That was the fault of the governments of the day. Unless practical men deal with matters of this kind there will be a repetition of those happenings. With those two bodies working in harmony, we should be able to prepare well for the post-war period. I believe that after the war our rural industries will have an outlet for their products, but I do not think that the outlook for our manufacturing industries is so bright.
In my opinion the flax industry is one which, if properly directed, will continue after the war; but the way the Government is handling this industry is heartbreaking. The greatest waste that I have ever seen is taking place. The processes in operation in the flax industry remind me of the methods in operation in the wheat industry when I was a boy. In those days, the sheaves of wheat were stacked and then carted to a threshing machine, where each sheaf was threshed separately. To-day a man with a modern harvester can reap and thresh 200 bags a day. There is no reason why the same efficiency as exists in the wheat industry should not be found in the flax industry; but those engaged in the production of flax are employing methods which were in operation 50 years ago. Flax is cut by the farmer and carted to a mill where the Government takes charge of it. It is then stacked, a procedure which is ridiculous. Then it is carted to a fixed threshing machine. The de-seeder is the most obsolete machine that I have ever seen. Every sheaf is handled separately, whereas if the sheaves were placed on a conveyor belt they could pass right through the machine. I have never seen such waste of effort. After the sheaves have been threshed they are again stacked, and are then carted into the field for retting. After retting, the fibre is tied by girls into bundles. It is then stacked for the third time. Then it has to be taken to the scutching machine. Oan one imagine anything more wasteful? Practical men in my district say that there is no difficulty in stripping with an ordinary harvester. Unfortunately, a binder is left-handed, whilst a harvester is right-handed. But difficulties in that respect could be overcome by reversing the process. In that way one man could strip the flax, cut and bind it into small sheaves, and ret it on the ground on which it. is grown. That has been done. Manufacturers, of agricultural machinery have produced a machine that will cut the flax, thresh it and prepare the seed, as a harvester would prepare it, hind it into small sheaves, and ret it in the same locality without any necessity to touch it by hand at all. That is a one-man job; but I have seen 50 girls and 30 men employed on the same work. We shall have to follow that process if we are to develop the flax industry sufficiently to enable it to play a substantial part in our post-war reconstruction. There is not the slightest doubt that we can grow flax.
– Does the honorable senator say that machines capable of doing this work exist?
– Yes. In Tasmania, where the areas are too small to permit of the flax being retted on the ground on which it is grown, the process should .be to take the threshing machine to the stack, and to put ihe flax through the portable threshing machine which would clean the seed. To-day, however, the seed is sent 100 miles to Melbourne, although every farmer has a machine which is suitable for cleaning it In Tasmania, the machinery for small farms could be on the basis of threshing with a portable thresher, and the flax could be spread for retting by a machine hooked to the rear of a lorry loaded with straw. It could then he put down through canvas as a binder takes it up. In that way one feeder would do the work of 50 girls. That system could be applied on the small farms in Victoria and Tasmania. Generally speaking, the big farmers could ret the flax on the ground on which it is grown. In order to emphasize the waste which is occurring in the flax industry, I give the following figures: In 1941-42 the Government’s expenditure was £584,000, and its estimated expenditure for this year is £1,350,000, making a total expenditure for two years of £1,934,000. In 1941-42 receipts for the sale of flax amounted to £202,000 whilst the estimated value of stocks now on hand - and I think the estimate is 25 per cent, over real value- is £1,150,000. That represents a loss of £581,989 in two years, or a loss of £5 an acre to the Government. In addition, the Government has expended £328,164 on mills ; and on plant, most of which I say is obsolete, it has expended £269,708. That is a total expenditure of £597,872 on mills and plant. The whole’ of that loss at the rate of £5 an acre could very easily be saved. The farmers are prepared to do their share provided that the Government does its share.
The Government has brought down a bill to establish a mortgage bank. That measure has been introduced in order to satisfy the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Wilson) who said definitely that he opposed the Fadden Government because it refused to bring down such a measure.
– The establishment of a mortgage bank has been a platform of the Labour party for years.
– I am giving facts. The Government has given the honorable member for Wimmera a gilt brick. If he is satisfied with that measure, the Lord only knows what he wants. Only a rich man -will be able to obtain loans through the institution it is proposed to establish. It is proposed that a man must have an equity of 40 per cent, in his property before he can receive an advance. Any wheat-farmer who has that percentage of equity in his property is a rich man. Let us compare the proposed bank with the Credit Foncier system which has been operating successf ully in Victoria. Under the latter system, a man is required to have only 20 per cent, equity in his property in order to qualify for an advance. The rate of interest charged to him is 4 per cent., the loan being for a period of up to 30 years. In addition, he pays at the rate of 2 per cent, in respect of sinking fund. That scheme is infinitely superior to that which the Government proposes to establish under a mortgage bank bill. I repeat that, in normal circumstances, any farmer who has an equity of 40 per cent, in his property can obtain money from any financial institution.
– The Government is establishing a black market.
– Yes. I again urge the Government to bridge the gap in the budget by establishing a system of compulsory loans. The amount raised in that way, together with investments in war loans, will be sufficient to make good the present deficiency.
– ‘Honorable senators opposite are constantly harassing the Government. The Government is doing a very good job. I compliment Ministers in this chamber on the work they are doing. I believe in giving credit where credit is due. I have not the slightest doubt that when a member of the present Government dies, honorable senators will join in the panegyric which it is customary to associate with the motion of condolence carried in each House on the death of a member. They will then pay tribute to the wonderful work performed by the deceased. What is their objection to telling Ministers of the wonderful work that they are doing and so encouraging them to continue. Honorable senators opposite have promised to assist the Government. They are not doing so. They are taking advantage of every opportunity to harass the Government. I take the following quotation from a newspaper report of a speech delivered recently by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden) : -
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 January 1, after which it would take whatever action was deemed in the best interests of Australia.
That was a nice thing for the right honorable member to say. I, myself, heard him say that he would “ out “ the Government in every possible way he could. Is that an all-in war effort? Honorable senators opposite cannot agree among themselves, so how can they agree with us? Following is a newspaper report of what the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) said: -
There was a general feeling that Australia was not pulling her weight in the Pacific war, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senator McLeay, said to-day. He said that the gravity of the war situation was so obvious that the time had passed when the Government could sit back and wait.
The Prime Minister had made too many statements of an all-in war effort. After ten months of this talk it was evident that there was too much talk and not enough action.
– I still believe that.
– If the honorable senator inspected some of the great factories that the Government is now controlling he would be astounded. I regard the Prime Minister as the finest statesman that Australia has ever had. In support of that opinion, I refer honorable senators to what he did to bring our soldiers back to Australia. I do not know what would have happened to us had they not returned when they did. They were all anxious to get back, and so were the men who were left overseas. The British Government itself agreed with what was then done, because it made available over 60 vessels in which to bring the men back to Australia. Another instance of his statesmanship is his action in bringing Genera] MacArthur from the Philippines to control the forces in this area. I regard the Prime Minister as the Napoleon of the Pacific. That is a name to which he is entitled. Other Ministers also deserve great commendation. The Minister for Aircraft Production (Senator Cameron) has a colossal job, and his work is proceeding smoothly since he took it. over. The Minister for External Territories (Senator Fraser) also is doing a good job, but is afraid to do too much for Western Australia lest he be accused of favouring his own State. When the South Australians now in Opposition held portfolios, they did a lot for South Australia, but we, in Western Australia, got some respect from the present Government. The following verse will well express my views of the members of the present Government: -
God give us men! A time like this demands
Strong wills, clear heads, true hearts, and ready hands;
Men whom the lust of office does not kill;
Men whom the spoils of office cannot buy;
Men who possess opinions, and a will ;
Men who have honour; men who will not lie.
For while the rabble, with their narrow creeds,
Their large professions, and their little deeds,
Wrangle in selfish strife, lo! Freedom sleeps,
Wrong rules the land, and waiting Justice weeps.
I should like to bring to the notice of the Minister representing the Minister for the Army a number of cases in Western Australia of young men learning trades being called into camp whose services are not being properly utilized. One young electrician, who had fifteen months to complete his apprenticeship, was called up. I applied on his behalf to the Defence Department in Western Australia, and was given a favorable answer by the man in charge of the drill hall in Francis-street. He told me that men of that type were required to do work in their trades for the Army and that he would do his utmost to get this young fellow placed where he could carry on the work for which he was being trained. But when an approach was made to the branch of the Army to which he had been assigned, the man in charge would not release him, with the result that the young fellow was kept there for a year or so digging trenches. It is a crying shame that that should occur, especially when the Army is advertising for electricians. I have written to the Minister asking that immediate attention be given to the matter. We must look to these young men who are learning skilled trades. The young man in question has done a good deal of high-class electrical work in Perth, and could, if given the jab, install a complete electric lighting system in abuilding such as this. Yet he is kept digging trenches and prevented from following his trade. Petrol rationing has raised many difficulties in Western, Australia, particularly in regard to taxi-cabs.
Under some regulation, additional taxicabs were not allowed to be licensed after 1940, and even if a man is prepared to install a gas-producer, be cannot get a licence. The only way he can get on to the rank is to take over a car licensed in the country. I had a distressing case recently, where a neighbour of mine was advised by the police that her brother was dying in the Perth Hospital. She came to my place and we rang practically every taxi company in Perth. All the vehicles were engaged, but finally one arrived in about an hour, and took her to the hospital. By the time she got there her brother had passed away, She stayed at the hospital for a while making the necessary arrangements, and then had to walk 3 miles back to Maylands, because a car could not be procured on the ranks. I should like the Minister to take notice of that matter also.
I was told when the last Government was in power that the prices of wool were altered from May to May. Wool prices were never altered very much during the regime of the last Government, but when the present Government came into power, growers got 15d. a lb. for their wool. That is an increase of only 2d. a lb., but it means a good deal of money to the growers. I should like the price to be raised to ls. fid. a lb. to cover the working expenses of the wool industry. The following is a report of a meeting of the Primary Producers Association of Western Australia, of which Mr. J. H. Prowse was chairman : -
Although a growing number of woolproducers were becoming convinced that the price was insufficient, little organized effort was made in any other direction to rectify the position. Finally, a promise was made to seek a review of the contract. If the increase of IS per cent. - about 2d. a lb. - was not all that was asked- or all that they thought they were entitled to - it was nevertheless a material help. Mr. Waters, a delegate., considered that the organization had “ let producers down “. The Menzies Government had given wool away to the British Government at 10¾d. a lb., and the Country party members never raised a voice of protest. It was left to a member of the Labour party to do so. Costs of production had not been taken into consideration.
It is claimed that the Labour party is not interested in primary producers. While I was in the Western Australian Parliament, the only party that granted any benefits to the primary producers was the Labour party, and the same thing applies in this Parliament.
Several days ago I asked a question in this chamber relating to the building of ships in Western Australia, and I was pleased to be informed that consideration was being given to the establishment of the shipbuilding industry in .that State and in Tasmania. I asked that question on the 13th September, 1940, when the Menzies Government was in office. I pointed out that Western Australia possessed wonderful timber, and, if given the opportunity, could build ships of 2,000 or 3,000 tons, or even up to 10,000 tons, which would be large enough for interstate trade and would release larger vessels which were so urgently needed for war purposes. I am thankful that this Government has seen its way clear to give favorable consideration to this matter. I hope that consideration will be given also to the con,struction of barges for transporting troops.
Reference has been made to the task that lies ahead of this country when the war is over. There can be no doubt that, whatever government is in office it will be confronted with a very difficult job. A reconstruction board should be appointed, including a representative from each State who knows the potentialities of the State which he represents. We want mcn with ideas and vision; men who know the problems of production and the strength and weakness of our industries; men who can give advice and help based on their own personal experience. There must be no more depressions, and there must be no delay in planning for post-war reconstruction. Let us plan ahead. It is imperative that the secondary industries of Western Australia be fully developed. I hope that when the war is over soldiers will not be discharged from the Army until they have a job to go to. If employment be waiting for a soldier he should be permitted to leave the Army immediately, but if he has not a job to go to he should be retained in the Army so that his wife and dependants would continue to receive their usual allowances. That is the point I wish to stress. There must be no recurrence of what happened after the last war. Jobs will have to be found also for many civilian workers now employed in war industries. It is true that many will continue in their present employment, because where tanks are now -being made, it should be possible to make motor cars. Similarly, factories now engaged in aircraft production will be required to make planes for civilian use, and boot and clothing factories will remain in operation to make stocks of footwear, and clothing to meet civil requirements. The day of the cry “ No work and no money “ is gone.
The policy of the Labour party in regard to wheat is outstanding. It is, in effect, a real wheat policy. It provides for the payment of 4s. a bushel for the first 3,000 bushels produced by each grower, and 2s. a bushel for wheat in excess of that quantity. Provision is also made to compensate growers in Western Australia in respect of restriction of acreage, at the rate of 12s. an acre. The plan will ensure an income of £600 a year for any farmer who can grow 3,000 bushels, and this remuneration is considerably more than many wheat-growers have received in recent years for much larger quantities of wheat. In 1928-29, the price of wheat was 4s. lid. a bushel, and in 1929-30, ls: 9d. a bushel.
The Leader of the Opposition referred to the 13,000,000 bushels of excess wheat produced last season. I point out that that excess was the result of good seasons, particularly -a Western Australia and Victoria, and arrangements had to be made to deal with it. Those arrangements were fairly well known to wheat-growers, and had received publicity at various meetings of wheat-growers. The Leader of the Opposition referred also to complaints concerning the spreading of the guarantee over the whole crop, but a number of the wheat-growers’ representatives who attended various meetings, and who approved of the resolutions that were passed, are not joining in these protests. The point is, of course, that these resolutions provided a common-sense method of dealing with excess wheat. The growers have been promised that they will get the whole of the proceeds of their crop, and there is no reasonable ground for complaint. The honorable senator compared the returns to growers from the present pool with the returns in years when governments of which he was a supporter were in office, and when prosperity prevailed, although it was visible only to his prejudiced eye. There were two notable features in his speech. First, he avoided making a comparison with the first wheat taken over by the Commonwealth. That wheat was portion of the 1938-39 crop, and the return for bagged wheat was 2s. 9d. a bushel at ports. Obviously, he carefully selected the crops which showed a comparatively higher return, and avoided the pool which showed a low return. Secondly, he compared Nos. 2 and No. 4 pools, in which the wheat has all been sold, with No. 5 pool, in which three-quarters of the wheat has yet to be sold. He, therefore, compared the completed returns from two pools with the incomplete return from another pool. Nobody knows how much growers will get from No. 5 pool, and a lot of wheat will have to be sold before any estimate can be made. In any case the growers will get the full market realization. Meanwhile, it is useless trying to compare previous pools with the present pool, the wheat in which may be difficult to sell.
The Leader of the Opposition spoke also of the quota plan which the growers favour, although the honorable senator may not do so. It benefits the majority of wheat-growers, and opposition to it comes only from a few big growers. The idea of imposing a quota is to protect the small wheat-grower. That is a sound foundation for any scheme. However, even the big grower will get a reasonable advance. He has his quota, and on the rest of his wheat he will get an advance of 2s. a bushel at sidings. That is a reasonable advance for wheat which will take a long time to sell. In any case, 2s. a bushel does not represent the full return for the wheat, because when it is sold, the grower will receive its full value.
The quota proposals are devised to meet a difficult situation. The world’s surplus of wheat is still mounting; huge wheat supplies are now held in all the wheat exporting countries - enough wheat to supply the international market for three years. Meanwhile, there are storage problems the extent of which will be realized by any one who has seen the huge storage depots in Western Australia, which hold millions of bushels. Considering the market position, and the problems associated with the industry, the Government’s proposals are more generous than those of any previous government, and provide a reasonable advance to wheat-growers. They ensure that the small growers and his family can carry on. Senator Collett, in the course of his speech, remarked that a committee had visited Western Australia to investigate the weevil pest in that State, and that one of the members of the committee did not know a weevil from a grasshopper. I assume that he referred to me; but I point out that I have had interests in fanning, that my parents have had farming experience, and. that I know quite a lot about wheat.
It seems remarkable that, on every occasion on which a member of the Opposition discusses the position of the wheat industry, he tries to score at the expense of members of the Labour party. Why do not members of the Opposition say that for ten years, when they were in office, they allowed the industry to drift from a reasonably sound position into a wholly deplorable one? Now they have the audacity to tell the Minister for Commerce what he ought to do in the interests of the industry. When members of the Opposition had a majority in both branches of the legislature, they were not confronted by insuperable war and shipping difficulties. They had every opportunity to assist the industry, but they lacked the will to do so. Now they are shedding crocodile tears during the greatest crisis in the history of the nation. For three successive seasons wheat has been piled up in Western Australia for weevils to eat; hut the Government formed by the present Opposition would not make such wheat available to human beings. Honorable senators opposite ought to admit that the present state of the industry has been brought about by the action of the members of the Country party in the Senate. When the Labour party was pre pared to guarantee to the growers the payment of 4s. a bushel, the proposal had to be approved by the Senate; but, unfortunately for the growers, the Labour party did not have the necessary majority in this chamber, and the proposal was defeated.
Members of the Opposition have the “hide” to tell the present Government what it ought to do for the wheatfarmers although during ten years they did nothing to place the wheat industry on a sound footing. What a government could not do in ten years it could not accomplish in 100 years if it had not the will to do it. The present Ministry has been in office only a few months, yet during that period it has given to the growers an opportunity to have their own representatives on the Australian Wheat Board. Instead of the previous Government doing this, it told the growers that they must be content to produce the wheat, allowing others to do the marketing and get the rake-off. That is why the wheat industry is in the deplorable position in which it finds itself to-day. It has never had a fair deal. The farmers are the backbone of the country; but they did not receive from the last Government the assistance to which they were entitled. No better scheme than that propounded by the present Government has been offered to the wheat-farmers by the Opposition.
Certain statements have been made that the workers are not putting their shoulders to the wheel in this war; but it must be generally recognized that the workers of Australia are playing an invaluable part in the war effort. The attitude of the workers towards the war effort has been defined by the inspiring decision reached at a recent meeting in Melbourne of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions. That meeting recorded the workers’ uncompromising determination to continue the struggle against the aggressor powers which are endeavouring to destroy personal liberty and freedom. Without the wholehearted support of the workers in all allied countries, this war cannot be won. The workers are playing no small part in this conflict. They are providing the trained and skilled labour which alone can enable the nation’s effort, both at home and abroad, to continue and to expand. They work long hours. They have agreed to shift work where shift work never previously obtained. They manufacture the munitions of war. They sow and till the fields. They hew the coal, fell the timber, feed the machines, and produce the means of life. They control transport, sweat in smelters, man the ships, shear the sheep, and weave the cloth. They do all of these things willingly and cheerfully, and with extra effort, so as to enable the life of the community to run smoothly as well as provide the commodities needed by Britain and the three arms of the fighting forces. They do these things because they have much at stake. The work in the factories is as important as the work of the front-line men. Their front-line work on the machines of industry makes possible an effective victorious front-line effort by the fighting forces. We have the will to win, and. we are fighting nazi-ism, because, unless it is fought and conquered, the workers will perish. Therefore, I appeal to every employer and to every worker to do everything possible to keep industry in continuous production. I have no time for those croakers who. both inside and outside Parliament, continually condemn Australia’s war effort. No part of the British Empire has made a greater contribution to the war effort per capita of the population than Australia has in the manufacture of munitions.
I have drawn up three questions regarding the war and its effect on Australia, and I have imagined what the answers of the opponents of the Government would be. First, I ask, “What does it, matter if we come out of this war bankrupt?” No doubt, the opponents of the Government would say, “ That does not matter provided that we come out as free men “. Secondly, I ask, “ What does it matter if we come out of the war with lower standards of living? “ The monopolists would reply, “ A good thing for Australia. Living standards have always been too high.” My third question is, “ What, does it matter if, after the war, the rich are not so rich?” Those controlling financial institutions would answer, “ There is no cause for alarm, as their interests are being well safeguarded “. Honorable senators opposite should do all in their power to assist the Government, particularly those members of the Ministry who have not had long ministerial experience. I have recently visited every part of the Commonwealth, except Tasmania, and every body with whom I have come in contact is satisfied that the Curtin Government is doing good work and should receive the support of all parties in Parliament. Even the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) stated in the House of Representatives that, if a national government could not be formed, he hoped that the Labour Government would remain in office till the end of the war. He must be convinced that the present. Government is doing a good job. It has done nothing of which it need be ashamed. Had the Opposition been, in power, it could not have speeded up the Avar effort of this country to a greater degree than the present Government has done. That is the reason why, instead of the word “inflation”, which has so frequently .been expressed during this debate, I prefer the word “ consolidated “. The £300,000,000 loan which is now on the market is being floated in order to consolidate the nation for the benefit of its people. If I were a Minister and had the power, I would take all the profits of every business. That was done by Germany in the last war. What is the good of money or property if our enemies win the war? Whatever money is in the country should be expended to safeguard our wives and children.
– I regret that no provision has been made in this legislation for the standardization of the railway gauges of Australia. When the Senate reassembled after the last recess, I asked the Minister for the Interior (Senator Collings), as the Minister directing the Allied Works Council, whether the Government, proposed to grant any priority to this essential work, and he gave an emphatic “ No “ as his answer. I was sorry to hear that reply, because the different railway gauges of this country constitute a major problem in connexion with the transportation of essential goods, equipment and troops from State to State, which an invasion of our territory would demand. I should have thought that the Government, which has now been in office for twelve months, would have given more thought to this problem, because I greatly fear that in the near future it will constitute a problem which can no longer be ignored.
– Previous governments ignored it for many years.
Senator ALLAN MacDONALD.That is true; but they were not faced with the possibility of an immediate invasion of Australian territory as is the present Government. Not even the Fadden Government or the Menzies Government had to face the problems which confront, the Government now in office.
– Where does the honorable senator think the necessary labour to alter the gauges could be obtained ?
Senator ALLAN MacDONALD.This is a problem which must be tackled soon.
– It will not be tackled while the war lasts.
– The chaos caused by a variety of railway gauges in Australia has been adversely commented on in other countries. The ludicrous position of having such an obstacle to the speedy transport of troop.-: and equipment is one of the first things to strike visitors from other countries, particularly those connected with military affairs. In this connexion, I desire to read an extract from the Christian Science Monitor of the 24th March last, in which Mr. Joseph C. Harsch, under the heading “ A New Era for Australia Opened by MacArthur “, said -
Here is a single example of what the American Commander might do. Each Australian State has an individual railroad system. Three different gauges are used over these systems. At breaks of the gauge communities have developed whose prosperity depends on shifting freight. Almost every one agrees that there should be a unified gauge permitting through and unimpeded traffic. No one has been able to overcome the inertia of this system, which suddenly has become a serious war liability. General Douglas MacArthur might do much to bring about a change there if he insisted upon it.
One cannot but think that General Douglas MacArthur has already made representations to the Government for the standardization of our railway gauges, but so far there is no evidence of any action having been taken. In a newspaper report received from the United States of America, there is a report of an address by General Brett to the graduates’ class at the Army Air Force Technical Training Command at Miami, in Florida, in which General Brettsaid -
In Australia., for example, you will find four different gauge railroads, greatly impeding rapid transportation.
Supply difficulties arise from the fact that the source is6,000 miles away, and the average shipment takes four to six weeks. Therefore, you will be compelled to utilize motor, air and water transportation to the utmost.
The dangers associated with sea transport around our coasts make all the more essential a free and rapid flow of goods along our inland transport systems. There cannot be that free and rapid flow whilst break-of-gauge bottle-necks remain. It is true that such places as Albury, Port Pirie, and Kalgoorlie depend largely on the breaks of railway gauge to provide work for many of their citizens ; but those towns benefit at the expense of Australia as a whole. With the nation facing the prospect of invasion, I should have thought that one of the first things the Government would have done was to ensure that nothing which impeded the transport, of troops and materials would be permitted. The improvement of our transport system should be given high priority in our defence programme. The Minister for the Interior has asked where we shall obtain sufficient man-power to undertake work on the standardization of railway gauges. All ofus realize our present man-power difficulties. Certainly, they are felt severely in Western Australia. At the same time, however, I contend that if the Government had the courage to take drastic action in the matter, we could solve the problem. Senator Brand has drawn attention to disturbances which have occurred in prisoner-of-war camps. He attributed them to the fact that -the occupants of the camps have nothing to do. These men would benefit from hard work. Already, a number of prisoners of war are working as labourers on the transcontinental railway. Gangs of such labourers do not require a very large guard. Prisoners of war, instead of being left to loaf in concentration camps, should be put to work of this kind. In our present emergency we could also employ native labour, and in that way release Australian workmen for more important work. Shortly after this Government assumed office, it had practically committed itself to introduce coolie labour, but, owing to the fall of Singapore, that plan was not implemented.
– What is the honorable senator’s authority for that statement?
– Somebody has been misleading the honorable senator.
– That may be so; but my informant stands high in the councils of the Labour party. Whether we like it or not, we must solve the man-power problem. Previous Governments did much to alleviate it. The Lyons Government, for instance, built the railway from Port Augusta to Port Pirie. The need for improved railway facilities between Perth and Kalgoorlie is most urgent. That work should be given high priority in our defence programme.
A parliamentary committee has been dealing with the subject of repatriation. With other members of Parliament, I was requested to place suggestions before the committee, and I submitted a number of proposals to it. It is time that the Government made a pronouncement of policy on repatriation. Many people are eagerly awaiting such a statement. Already, many men have been discharged from the Australian Imperial Force during this war. Certainly they are being treated very well; but the absence of a definite repatriation policy in respect of soldiers serving iri this war is deplorable. I realize that many problems remain with respect to the repatriation of soldiers who served in the last war. Now, we have, fc r instance, the problem of what are known as new wives and children. No compensation is payable to wives and children of soldiers who married after 1938. The benefit of the Repatriation Act should be extended to those persons.
Last year I suggested that steps be taken immediately to set up an organization to plan a programme for the construction of war service homes, with the object of providing such homes for soldiers who serve in this war, and also to deal effectively with the wider problem that will arise in this respect upon the cessation of hostilities. We are still confronted with many problems in respect of soldiers who served in the last war.
– Many of them were evicted from war service homes by previous governments.
Senator ALLAN MacDONALD.Usually. good reasons exist for the eviction of people in such circumstances. However, in view of a recent incident in Canberra, I think that the least honorable senators opposite s’ay about evictions the better it will be for themselves. From conversations with soldiers who have returned from the Middle East, I know that many intend to settle on the land after the war. At the same time, it is obvious from our experience after the last war that great numbers will settle in the cities. Undoubtedly, those men will apply for war service homes. In addition, many of the men now in the forces have been obliged to leave their dependants in rented properties. Two years ago I suggested that immediate provision should be made to enable these people to purchase their own homes. I urge the Government to appoint qualified technicians in each State to plan the organization to handle the construction of war service homes upon the cessation of hostilities. Further, it should, immediately, resume sufficient and suitable lands for the erection of these homes, and also take long term options for the purpose of ensuring supplies of timber, bricks, tiles, lime and cement for this programme. We know that serious difficulties were caused following the last war because of the high cost of these materials. We can guard _ against a recurrence of those difficulties by planning immediately in the way I have suggested. The provision of suitable housing concerns not only the members of armed forces but also the general community. It is a. problem that should be tackled, at once. There is good reason why the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) should review the interest rates which the Government is still charging to the soldiers of the last war, who are paying off their war service homes. Many of the loans raised by the governments of 1918, 1919 and 1920 were at approximately 5 per cent., but have matured and been renewed at a much lower rate. To-day the Government, generally speaking, is obtaining money at about 3J per cent, and less. The benefit in the reduction of the rate of interest should be passed on to the Government’s clients, especially those who have been paying off their war service homes. The majority of them have still a fairly substantial sum of money to pay on their homes and I fail to see the equity of the Government charging them approximately 4 per cent, interest on the balance, when it is borrowing money at 3£ per cent, and sometimes at as low as 2J per cent. The benefit should be passed on to the men who volunteered during the last war to serve their country, as well as to those who have volunteered in this war. That is a matter which the Government should take up, and I urge it to give it that consideration which the acuteness of the position warrants. There are other repatriation matters too numerous to mention. I hope that the Government will deal with the report of the Repatriation Committee, and make an early announcement as to its intentions.
I should also like the Government to state its policy regarding the employment of returned soldiers. As a matter of fact I do not think that the Labour party has given a pronouncement of policy on the subject since 1914. It is afraid and, as in the case of many other matters, it is timid of making an announcement of policy. It will not make any statement, for the simple reason that it never has, and I do not think it ever will, favour preference to returned soldiers. It has never been its policy.
– The honorable senator knows very definitely that that is a lie.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Brown). - Order!
– I dispute that statement. The Labour party has one preference and one preference only. Of two returned soldiers, one a unionist and the other a non-unionist, the man who is a unionist will have the job, irrespective of what the other may be, or how he has served his country. If he is a nonunionist he is out. That has always been the policy of the Labour party. I tackled Labour members on the subject as far back as 1920, and their answer was invariably the same, that they believed in preference to unionists. They contended that it was the Labour party which put them in power, that that was its policy, and they were going to stick to it. That is certain to be the policy of the Labour party, and I shall be one of the happiest men if I am proved wrong. Our government, if one could say it was our government, after the last war made - a declaration in no uncertain language that it favoured preference to returned soldiers. What is more, it provided accordingly on the statute-book of the Commonwealth, but none of the State Labour governments in power at the time did so, although they were urged to by the various returned soldiers’ organizations. The policy of “ preference to returned soldiers “ has always been honoured by the Government or party of which I have been a member, but has always been ignored by the Trades Hall junta, or the Fascists of the Trades Hall, as they are known in many quarters.
With regard to the budget position, Senator Brown gave a very interesting dissertation on the Russian system of finance. He said that finance in that country is the servant and not the master of the people. That is excellent ideology, but it is also true of Australia. Finance is never the master of a business man unless he happens to be inefficient. The success of Australian industries, such as the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited and many other efficient organizations, has been due to the fact that finance has been their servant and never their master. We do not need to go so far away as Russia, because we can find all these problems in Australia. Finance will continue to be the servant of the efficient business man, provided of course that this Government does not interfere with him, as it proposed to do by the proposal to limit profits to 4 per cent. That was a very stupid action, and I was glad that the Treasurer had the courage to abandon it. I am sure that many of the trade unions had quite a lot to do with the Treasurer altering his opinion in that matter. Quite a number of trade unions with large funds and credit balances, and very effective assets became alarmed, at the Treasurer’s proposal. I remember receiving a communication from the Melbourne Gas Employees Union which I thought was like a straw giving some indication of the way in which the wind was blowing. That union informed me that 35 years ago ten of its members started to create a fund for future use. That is a very laudable object, and I am sorry that more unionists do not use their funds in that way instead of squandering them on political campaigns in the way they do. That union starting with a very modest contribution of 6d. a week from its members now has a capital value of shareholdings in the Gas Company of approximately £162,000. Naturally they were alarmed at the proposal to limit profits to 4 per cent., and emphatically demanded that it should be abandoned. I daresay other unions took similar action, so that the Treasurer’s courage was probably helped a little by the threat of action by certain important unions hanging over his head. However, on that occasion, they gave him very good advice. The finances of Australia will remain the servant of the efficient business man so long as the Government chooses not to do foolish things such as imposing a 4 per cent. limitation on profits.
While listening to Senator Gibson, several features of this budget struck me very forcibly. The first, a complete lack of the low intrigue which characterized the defeat of the Fadden budget, commencing with the despicable traffic indulged in by a gentleman named Winkler, and continuing until the then Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) moved the amendment, the carrying of which resulted in the defeat of the Fadden Government. In the course of this debate, honorable senators opposite have adopted the attitude that they are in occupation of the treasury bench as a result of the wishes of the people. Actually, the opposite is the case. The parties now in opposition were elected by the people to govern this country, and they would still be doing so had it not been for the low intrigue to which I have referred. In the old days, the Trades Hall Fascists of the Labour party were very fond of the term “ rats “ and “ scabs “, but I have not heard these expressions used for a long time. Obviously, honorable senators opposite do not wish to use them whilst they are occupying the treasury bench, and Cabinet Ministers are drawing an additional £1,250 a year, all because of the action of “ rats “ and “ scabs “. Although there are no such feelings in regard to this budget, I am sorry to think that at any time in the history of this Parliament, low intrigue should have caused the defeat of a government which was doing its best on behalf of the people of Australia. The financial proposals of the Fadden Government were excellent, and I still adhere to my belief in them. I am still of the opinion that this famous gap of which we have heard so much, and which undoubtedly constitutes a major problem, can be bridged provided the Government is willing to take its courage in its hands. However, the Government has shown itself rather timid on this question, especially in regard to the proposals to tax lower incomes and to introduce a system of deferred pay for the people generally. The problem can be solved, but the correct solution is not set out in the budget. In his budget speech the Treasurer made the rather grandiloquent claim that the Government did not believe in what is known as the bank credit system. That statement was cabled to London and was greeted by cheers and tears of gratitude. Obviously, it must not be known in London that despite the Treasurer’s assurance, the bank credit system has been applied in this country with both hands. When the Government thinks that Senator Darcey and his supporters are not looking, it stretches the credit of the Commonwealth Bank and the nation to the fullest possible degree, despite the fact that our financial and economic advisers have said that the seeds of initiation are already germinating. Those seeds have been here for a long time, and many of them are growing at an alarming rate. The Treasurer’s budget speech was a prepared document - prepared in many ways - and financial circles in London should have examined it as thoroughly as it has been examined in the course of this debate, before approving it. The Government’s timidity covers not only its financial proposals, but also its policy relating to our armed forces. It should consider seriously the problems that it is building up for itself by having two armies - the Australian Imperial Force and the Australian Military Forces - serving outside the mainland of Australia. I realize that the Government is hoping that the problem will solve itself, and in fact it is solving itself day by day by the transfer of militiamen to the Australian Imperial Force. Apparently, the Government believes that if it leaves the problem long enough, the transfer of our Militia Forces to the Australian Imperial Force will occur of its own accord without any action being taken. I am convinced that many militiamen are keen to join the Australian Imperial Force and to share in the traditions for which it is admired not only in Australia but also in many other countries.
– Had the honorable senator any objection to the men joining voluntarily?
– Not at all. They are doing it now. I did it in the last war, as many others did, but in those days there was no threat of invasion and the problem was not so serious. The problem is so serious now that it should be grappled with ; the nettle has to be seized firmly and determinedly. It is useless to vacillate in regard to this matter. The Government should take steps immediately to amalgamate the two forces. If that were done, the men and those in command of the various units would be happier, and there would be more effective co-operation on our battle fronts in New Guinea and elsewhere. The example in regard to morale must come from the top. Whilst this dubiety exists, it will be impossible to get the efficiency which is so necessary in an army wishing to conquer. In my remarks on man-power I said that no State had more occasion to appreciate the scarcity of workmen than Western Australia. Conditions in that State, so far as the impact of Commonwealth policy is concerned, are worse now than they have been since the inception of federation. I realize that in time of war many things have to be done in face of such a vital emergency, but economic conditions in Western Australia are at their lowest ebb in the history of the Commonwealth. That State has never been more generous to the Commonwealth than in the last three years in giving of its sons and of its wealth, but where it might have expected some small financial and economic advantage it has received no benefit whatever. The erection of a munitions factory in Western Australia was promised. The building has been erected, but I understand that it is not, yet producing munitions.
– The Government which the honorable senator supported may be blamed for the delay in that regard.
– The Menzies Government did its best to speed up the munitions organization, but as far as Western Australia is concerned we have the sorry commentary that this has not been done. That is only one phase of the matter. The other pitiable phase is the condition of the people in the outback gold-mining districts. Those communities are entirely dependent on a continuity of work in the mines. At Cue, the Big Bel] mining organization involves the life of the whole community, and any interference with its operation affects the economic life of every man, woman and child in that locality. Month after month, fewer men are employed and various mines are closed down. Most of the eligible men in Western Australia are in the fighting services, but the economic welfare of the older men and the women and children in the mining centres hinges on the continuity of work in the mines. Among the mines closed down are the Beryl mine at Kundip, the Two Boys mine at Higginsville, and the Triton mine at Reedy. Mines which will be closing down soon are the Metropolitan at Mount Magnet, the Gladiator at Laverton, the Yellowdine at Mount Palmer, the Broken Hill Proprietary mine at Kalgoorlie. Other mines which are still working have had to close two or more of their working shafts. The North Kalgurli has closed two shafts and the treatment plant. The Lake View and Star mines have closed down three shafts. This will have a very detrimental effect on the women and children in those localities.
-What about the grants made to keep the mines open?
– There is a man-power problem to contend with, and we must not shut our eyes to what is happening in the mining districts upon which Western Australia depends as economic factors in the prosperity of the State. The equipment being used in those mines was constructed for gold-mining, and could not be used for the recovery of copper, tantalite, scheelite or other minerals. The industry should be preserved so that the men of the fighting services, on their return from the present war, will not say to us, “ What have you done, as public men. with the gold-mining industry? We have fought for this country and we want jobs in this country “. There is no industry in Australia which absorbs labour more quickly than gold-mining, and we should see that the industry does not vanish.
As an example of the deterioration of the position in Western Australia I draw the attention of honorable senators to some figures in the ninth report - for 1942 - of the Commonwealth Grants Commission, which, at page 84, gives a table showing the number of factory employees per 1,000 of the population in the various States from 1907-09 to 1940-41. The average number of factory employees per 1,000 of the population in Australia in 1907-09 was 61. Victoria was highest with 76 ; South Australia second, 64 ; New South Wales third, 57 ; Queensland fourth, 52; Western Australia fifth, 49; and Tasmania sixth, 47. The report gives the comparable figures each year until 1940-41, when the position had altered. The average number of employees per thousand for the whole of Australia had increased from 61 to 93. Victoria was still first with 125, but New South Wales was second with 96; South Australia third, 98 ; Tasmania fourth, 67 ; Queensland fifth, 56; and Western Australia sixth, 49. Actually, Western Australia was in the same position in 1941, from the point of view of secondary industries, as it was in 1907, whilst all the other States have improved their positions. Last year’s figures will show a decrease in Western Australia. War industries should be established in Western Australia so that it may be able to solve the problem of declining factory employment.
I wish now to refer to the timorous attitude of the Government in regard to the defence of Australia. Honorable senators know how strenuously the Labour party has opposed any suggestion that Australian soldiers should leave these shores. That party has always been opposed to conscription for overseas service. I cannot forget that in the early months of the war, when the people of Poland, including women and children, were being slaughtered and their churches and monuments destroyed, the then Leader of the Opposition, who is now the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin), told a meeting of the Wheat Growers Union in Perth that Poland’s plight was not worth the life of one Australian soldier. That is not the outlook of a statesman. A man who has any claim to the title of statesman must have a background on which to draw, and of which he can be proud. An expression such as I have quoted does not inspire faith in this Labour Government’s capacity to defend Australia or to do what is best for the Army or anything connected with the Defence Forces of the Commonwealth. The Government is too timid to decide on a policy of conscription, or to amalgamate the Australian Imperial Force and the Australian Military Forces ; but it is not too timid to conscript its own supporters by forcing them to join trade unions. Perhaps the Government was too timid to reinforce our men at Singapore. We know, on the authority of Lieutenant-General Bennett, that more men were required in order to defend Singapore. The matter was referred to by Lieutenant-General Bennett when he was in Western Australia. His remarks are reported thus in the West Australian -
Lieutenant-General Percival asked me what was the answer to this problem of holding Singapore Island, and my reply was, “More soldiers. There is no other answer.”
That is the evidence of the man on the spot. It makes one wonder why he said it.
– He forgot about the need for equipment.
– It was a question, not of equipment, but of men. He did not get the men. One cannot but wonder what our future will be with such timid men controlling the destinies of Australia. At such a critical time we need in control of this country men who have some claim to statesmanship, and whose minds are not bounded by the district in which some parochial newspaper circulates. We need men of vision and courage, who will have regard for the plight of other nations situated as were the people of Poland in the early days of the war. We want men, moreover, who will have regard for men who, like those on the Somme in 1917, dropped through fatigue because of lack of reinforcements. It will be remembered that in that year the Labour party held a conference in Perth, and favoured a “ peace-at-any-price “ policy. What an encouragement to those who, from various recruiting platforms, were trying to induce men to enlist and go to the help of their comrades! We cannot forget these things.
– They never happened.
– The thought that a similar conference of those “peace at any price” negotiators may be held in the future does not give me any cause for hilarity. The idea of the present Government being in charge of the defences of Australia is not consoling. I would prefer to see in charge of the destinies of Australia a Government with more qualifications for the job, and with a sterner regard for the practical side of the war. Such pettifogging trivialities as discarding vests and substituting woollen cardigans are causing ridicule to be poured on Australia’s war effort. We are not making a 100 per cent. effort. Instead of intro ducing legislation to deal with black markets, the Government should introduce a bill to deal with racketeering and to make the coal-miners in New South Wales subject to the same penalties as will be imposed on profiteers. In conclusion, I urge the Government to be practical, to treat all alike, to have courage in which even Australia will win.
– Some of the matters which have been mentioned during the debate call for a reply. The debate generally has developed into a criticism of the Government’s war effort and of the activities of Ministers who are not members of the War Cabinet. There has been some criticism of the attempt to control prices. Whenever attention is drawn to the action of wealthy monopolists who exploit the people, we find honorable senators opposite defending and protecting them. When it was proposed that profits should be limited to 4 per cent., at a time when wages were pegged, there was an outcry by the Opposition. Let us for a moment consider the prices charged for meat in Sydney. Lamb may be purchased in some shops at 1s. 8d. per lb., but retailers in other districts charge1s. 9d. or1s. 5d. per lb. for meat from the same source. Another commodity, the price of which is not properly controlled, is potatoes. The prices vary in different districts; in one shop potatoes cost 5d. per lb., in other shops they may be bought for 4d. per lb. Senator Allan MacDonald said that the Government should not have introduced legislation to deal with black markets. If he will accompany me next Saturday I shall take him to places where potatoes are being sold for £2 a bag. That is a black market. Shirts which are retailed in Sydney at 12s. 6d. in some stores are sold in other stores in that city at18s.6d. I was able to purchase a shirt of the same class and manufacture in WerrisCreek for 12s. 6d. Special inspectors should be appointed to police the prices of clothes. To-day, the shortage of fruit is felt severely in every home. At the same time, growers are not receiving a payable price. Best quality apples for which Tasmanian growers receive 3s. a bushel case, and which cost the Apple and Pear Marketing Board 6s., are being retailed in Sydney at 3d. or 3?d. each. When I was dealing with this subject last year I emphasized the number of growers who had been driven off their orchards through debt. I also pointed out that large quantities of first-class fruit were being fed to pigs. On one occasion I saw a lorry loaded with Kentucky South apples driven through the streets of Uralla to the property of the wealthy Dangar family, where it was fed to pigs. The growers were charged 2s. a case for the removal of that fruit from their orchards. Who is receiving the difference between the 6=. a case paid by the board and the 20s. a case charged on the Sydney market? Incidentally, 80 per cent, of the retail shops which charge these high prices for fruit are conducted by aliens.
– That is an indictment against the Government.
– I am giving facts. Alien fruiterers in Sydney are selling apples at 2d. and 3d. each. Not so long ago, parents gave their children, on their way to school, Id. to buy- a couple of apples. To-day, they refuse to be exploited by foreigners at the prevailing high prices.
I urge, the Government to adopt the scheme which I submitted last year to its predecessor for the extraction and mixing of juices from several fruits. From information supplied to me by Dr. Sinclair, I pointed out that these mixtures contained as much as six times more vitamin “iC” than lemon juice. To-day. foods containing that vitamin are unprocurable by our troops who are serving in tropical areas. I again urge the Government to treat fruits in that way. In concentrated form, only onetenth of the space required for natural fruit would bc necessary for the transport of these juices. We could thus ensure prosperity to fruit-growers in Tasmania, who are now digging their fruit into the ground, and, at the same time, supply a vital need to members of our fighting forces.
I shall now deal with the price of bread. In 1920-21 the Storey Government in New South Wales guaranteed a price of. 7s. 6d. a bushel for wheat, which was made available to bakers at 9s. a bushel.
Those prices were based on the findings of a royal commission appointed by the State government to inquire into the price of bread. On the basis of a guaranteed price of 7s. 6d. a bushel for wheat to the grower, a formula for the price of bread was fixed at 6Jd. for a 2-lb loaf booked and delivered. To-day, although wheat is bought by the miller at less than 3s. a bushel, bread is being sold at a little under the price charged when the wheat-grower was guaranteed 7s. Gd. a bushel. At the same time, co-operative bakeries are selling bread at less than od. a 2-lb. loaf delivered. These are facts which should engage the attention of the Prices Commissioner.
I also complain about the laxity in the control of rents. In spite of the rent regulations, I was informed of a caseonly last week which shows the need for stricter supervision in this regard. The Hi rings Administration of the Army commandeered a home a few miles west of Sydney. The home consisted of three rooms and a kitchen, with a garage and other outbuildings. When the owner looked around for another place, agents could make available only houses at rentals of 30s. and 3Ss. a week. Only a little while ago rentals of the same houses were 25s. and 30s. a week, respectively. Agents told this man that if he paid a substantial deposit they could secure a home for him. The regulations should be tightened in order to prevent such activities on the part of agents.
Senator Gibson said today that conditions in the pig markets could be improved if the killing of pigs were restricted to those of a certain weight. I have had this matter under consideration for some time. Our great allies, the Americans, are extensive pork-eaters, and when we were short of pork to supply them I looked into the matter. Some friends of mine in the pig purchasing and selling industry, on the 25th August last year, made a presentation of fifteen pigs to a camp near Sydney, where there were only a few soldiers. The pigs cost the donors only 16s. each. The soldiers kept the animals at the camp and fattened them up, and on the 14th April this year brought them in a lorry to the market for the same men to sell them. Three of the pigs were dead on arrival. Three others sold at £5 16s. each, three more at £6 6s. each, and four at £7 8s. each. All the pigs were kept at an Army camp, fed on the refuse of the camp, and fattened up to become what are called back-fatters. Where we have had camps in New South Wales, certain people have commenced piggeries, and obtained the refuse from the camps to fatten the pigs. The way they procure those pigs is important because a sum is provided in the budget for pork for the soldiers. The price fixed for the contractors is, and has been, for some time, 9d. 9¾d., and lOd. per lb. for pig meat supplied to the Army. The men who contract to supply that meat go- to the sales to get pigs weighing from 45 to 70 lb. The price in New South Wales is from 50s. to 58s. a pig, and they must purchase them in order to be able to supply pig meat to the nearby camps for which they have the contract. But what they are up against is that at the sale they find another man prepared to pay 65s. or 70s. a pig. He takes the pigs to the piggery near the camp from which he gets the refuse, and only a little while ago, particularly when the previous Government was in office, he could get five or six 40-gallon drums every Monday morning filled with cooked legs of mutton, which had not been consumed by the soldiers, for ls. 6d. to ls. 7d. a 40-gallon drum. That good food, which had been wasted, has been used to keep the pigs in the piggeries until they became back-fatters weighing from 190 to 200 lb. and over. Those back-fatters are then sold, not for Army consumption or public consumption through the butchers, but to people such as Sylvesters and other makers of small goods, or to a man like Anderson, who makes sausages - the Anderson who proposes at the next elections to start a new political party, called the “ One Australian Parliament Party “. When the pigs are sold to these small goods- people they are minced and made into small goods, which are purchased by the general public. The position in regard to pig meat to-day, therefore, is that, people who are getting the refuse from the camps are able to purchase pigs and fatten them up to the detriment of the trade of the genuine men, who have contracts to supply pig meat to the Army for 9d. and lOd. a lb. What 1 suggest should be done is not to limit the killing of pigs to those of 100 lb. weight and over, but that there should be a prohibition throughout Australia on the killing of any pig under 130 lb. weight. If that were done, it would double the production of pig meat in Australia by means of one regulation alone. To-day, 70 per cent, of the pigs killed in New South Wales are between 45 and 70 lb. weight. Those supplied to the Army run from 90 to 130 lb., but they are only small in number. If we had the initiative, we could take a camp which was fairly static and set up a piggery at very little cost where the refuse could be consumed. A pig weighing from 45 to 70 lb. will consume about 81b. of food per day. If kept in the camp, its average increase in weight would be about 6 lb. a week. Seeing that the contract price is from 9d. to 10d. per lb. for pork supplied to the Army and to our allies, an increase of 6 lb. a week at 9d.” per lb. means an increase of 4s. 6d. a week, until the pig’s weight increases to 130 lb. The area required to run 50 pigs is half an acre of ground. A shed 30 feet by 15 feet is also necessary for protection, and one man can look after them. If the refuse were available to feed them, two men could be put on and could look after 150 to 200 pigs. A few coils of barbed wire would be needed to be put around the area to keep them in. This could be done in every State of the Commonwealth to increase the production of pig meat. We must first have the prohibition on the killing of any pig under 130 lb. People in the business tell me that if that were done they could double the quantity of pig meat at once. The refuse would be available to feed the pigs, and we could buy them much cheaper. If we started that system, we would not have those men in the industry making back-fatters and competing with the contractors. A very prominent member of Parliament is associated with procuring those pigs to fatten up to be back-fatters and sold to makers of small goods for consumption by the public.
The Minister for Information (Senator Ashley) and Senator Poll referred to what I consider to be Australia’s most important war requirement, namely, flow- oil. Senator Foll asked what the Government was doing in connexion with the production of oil at Lakes Entrance, but I should like to ask Senator Foll what he did in this connexion when he was Minister for the Interior. He deliberately sent out of Australia a man who knew all about the production of flow oil, and who has located more flow oil-fields than any one else in the United States of America. Since he left Australia he has found another field which he has sold for $1,700,000. He has written, offering to bring that money to Australia and bring plant to carry on his work here, but his offer has not been accepted. When he was in this country on a previous occasion, the Government had as its advisers Dr. Woolnough, Dr. Wade and Mr. Ward, who prided themselves upon their accomplishments as oil technologists. One of them was sent to America by the Commonwealth Government when Mr. Blakeley was Minister for Home Affairs. He was away from this country for six months, during which time he drove over a couple of oilfields in the United States of America. When he came hack the major oil companies had charge of the situation, and although a royal commission upon the petrol industry was held, nothing was done. The advocate before that commission for the major oil companies was the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies), a former Prime Minister of this country, and it was he who announced that the Shell Company of Australasia Limited would not produce its books. The bores which are being sunk at the Lakes Entrance field in Victoria are yielding oil but it is only seepage. Oil is migratory and can travel 30 or 40 miles. That means that the centre of the oil deposits in that area may be some distance from where the drilling is now taking place. Some time ago, two so-called oil experts, Ranney and Fairbank, were brought to this country. They made certain investigations hut still no definite results were achieved. I have seen the part of the Lakes Entrance field where small quantities of oil are being produced, and have been produced for years. The oil is refined in Melbourne. As I have said, it is merely seepage.
The petroleum content mentioned by the Minister may he correct in that locality but elsewhere it may be 10 per cent, or 15 per cent, higher. I understand from the information given by the Minister that it is intended to sink a shaft, 8 feet in diameter, 1,200 feet, and to line it with 2 or 3 inches of cement. Apparently, £15,000 has been set aside for preliminary work.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– It is proposed to protect the shaft with a 2-in. or 3-in. cement casing, and £15,000 has been set aside for preparatory work in connexion with that work. The most serious matter for the Government to consider is what provision is to ib made to shut the water off when the shaft has been sunk 200 feet, at which depth water is expected to ibc found. I do not know whether any man would be prepared to take the risk of sinking another 1,000 feet in such circumstances. In the Lakes Entrance district there is from 25 feet to 36 feet of oil sands. These are the honeycomb sands through which oil percolates. According to the statement by the Postmaster-General it is then proposed to construct a chamber 25 feet in diameter, from which an American driller will do horizontal boring. To that proposal I have a decided objection. I consider that the whole of the money expended on the undertaking will be wasted. I said earlier that the oil deposited in that locality was a seepage. The oil takes a winding course, like the bed of a river, and it is necessary to discover where the pool is. Every bore made from that chamber would strike country that would not provide a flow of oil. I suggest that a drive should be made similar to that in a metalliferous mine. It might be necessary to drive a quarter of a mile. Then a chamber could be constructed and horizontal boring could be carried out.
Increased attention should be paid to the discovery of oil in Australia. Recently the Commonwealth Government and the Government of Victoria amalgamated capital and plant for the purpose of boring for oil at Nelson near the mouth of the Glenelg River. I understand that each Government will pay half of the cost, and that Commonwealth plant is being used. The site was selected by officers of the Victorian Department of Mines in conjunction with ‘Commonwealth officials. The site is within 200 or 300 feet of another bore which was put down to a depth of 1,600 feet by a man who was not allowed to remain in this country. The cost of sinking the bore to be put down in Gippsland was estimated at about £150,000, hut that is tertiary country, in which it is possible to bore as much as 36 feet in 24 hours. Whoever was responsible for that estimate of cost knows very little about sinking a shaft. In my opinion, the shaft in Gippsland could be put down for about £15,000 or £16,000. The driving would cost about £2 a foot, plus timber. I direct the attention of honorable senators to the following report concerning the bore at Nelson which was published in the Melbourne Argus of the 10th September : -
A report issued last night by Mr. George Brown, Secretary for Mines, in relation to the boring being carried out by State and Commonwealth Governments at Nelson, near the mouth of the Glenelg River, shows that a depth has now been reached of 4,138 feet, a record for this State. The greatest depth previously attained was 4,004 feet at the government oil bore at Pelican Point, Gippsland.
The report from the drilling foreman stated that at 4,045 feet there was a slight showing of gas carrying a few globules of oil, Mr. Brown _ said. The drill at present was in a formation of consolidated sand.
I have ascertained more recently that the bore has been sunk a further 100 feet, and that most of the borings show considerable globules of oil. Whether that would be sufficient to induce the major oil companies to sabotage the work 13 a matter which the Government should watch carefully. It may be necessary to place an armed guard at the site of the bore, as was done in South Australia in 1923. A concrete block was placed over a bore in that State, and a house was erected nearby to enable a permanent guard to be maintained.
– If the honorable senator’s story be true, why is that deposit not being developed to-day?
– Because of the work of interests which do not desire oil to be produced in this country.
– That is mere supposition.
– What I say can be proved. In Gippsland certain interests placed dynamite in one ‘bore, and sabotage was also practised at Roma. Senator Toll omitted to say a word about the 136,000 square miles or 87,000,000 acres of country over which the Queensland Government gave to the Shell Company of Australasia Limited the right to prospect for oil a couple of years ago. The company was to expend a certain sum during the first year, and a further amount during the second year, until it had expended £750,000. The consumption of petrol in this country was so great that an increase of Id. a gallon in the price of petrol meant an increased payment of over £1,000,000 a year to the major oil companies. Mention should also be made of the 134,000 square miles of country which the Government of Western Australia made available to another company for oil prospecting purposes. I maintain that the oil deposit at Roma is merely a seepage, and that if the Government would allow an expert to visit the locality oil might be produced. I am not satisfied with the constitution and operations of Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited. The Commonwealth Government has been associated with the major oil companies in many ways, and I trust that, after the next balance-sheet of Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited is issued, the position will be discussed in this Parliament. Is it possible to induce the Government to lay on the table the report of the royal commission that inquired into the operations of the oil companies? That report was shelved, as was the report of the Royal Commission on Monetary and Banking Systems.
The conditions obtaining in the liquor trade in Victoria and New South Wales, and I think also in some of the other States, are highly unsatisfactory. The Government should appoint a controller of the whole of the liquor interests or should nationalize the industry. In New South Wales two breweries have a monopoly. Tooth and Company Limited has extensive interests and makes large profits. It not only brews beer, but also distributes it, and owns and leases hotels. It also finances publicans. In some hotels which do a good trade, Tooth and Company Limited has managers who receive more than their proper quotas of liquor, according to the rationing regulations. Some hotels in Sydney have managers appointed by brewing companies, and after the front door has been closed customers are invited to the saloon bar where they have to pay more for liquor than in the front bar. Subsequently, customers are admitted to the lounge bar, where, prior to’ the recent increase of liquor prices, ls. was charged for a glass of beer, ordinarily sold for 7d. Prior to the increase of prices many hotels in Victoria were charging more than the fixed price. For instance, for a 4-oz. glass of beer some of them were passing on the excise plus over 200 per cent., for a glass containing 7 oz. they were passing on the excise plus 22^ per cent., and for an 11-oz. glass of beer they were passing on the excise plus 2-) per cent. That went on for five or six months, when it was decided to change the size of the glasses. That change was to the advantage of Mr. Smith of race-horse float fame, who is also associated with the production of munitions. We have a. Prices Commissioner who has under him a number of inspectors; we also have inspectors under our industrial laws, as well as inspectors of spirits such as whisky and rum. There is, however, no inspector of beer. An inspector should be appointed forthwith to control beer, because many hotels, particularly those which are controlled and managed by brewing companies, are selling adulterated beer. In the cellar, there may be one or more 36-gallon kegs of beer. When the rush period of the day arrives, the manager is generally missing. The best place to seek him would be in the cellar. After a keg has had 8 or 10 gallons of beer drawn from it, a similar volume of water is added. Adulterated beer is being sold in Sydney and Melbourne. If inspectors were to examine some hotel cellars they would find that, in some instances more than 10 gallons of water is added to 36 gallons of beer. After the water is added, the keg is rolled over, in order to mix the contents. After leaving the keg, the liquid is passed through a gas chamber, which gives to it the froth so characteristic of beer. Some hotels controlled by managers appointed by the brewing companies at times claim to have run out of beer at 6 o’clock, but in two such hotels which I could name it is possible to buy a bottle of beer in the back yard for 2s. 6d. after 6 o’clock. At another hotel, which is under similar management, the manager may charge 26s. for a bottle of whisky which ordinarily costs 18s. or 19s. He does not himself make contact with the customer; that job is left to an attendant who may charge as much as 30s. or £2 for it. That practice is rife in Sydney and Melbourne. Spirits also are adulterated, spirit which has not matured being added. That is done frequently with schnapps, gin, whisky, rum and wine. .Some time ago, in company with an analytical chemist, T went into a grocer’s shop in a Melbourne suburb,’ where I purchased a bottle of wine. I then went to an hotel where I knew I could rely on getting a bottle of genuine Australian wine. Three days later the analyst told me that the firstbottle purchased contained 15 per cent, of adulterated spirit. Many hotels are owned and financed by brewing companies which not only dispose of beer, but also sell other products, such as cordials and tobacco. If ever there was a racket, it is in connexion with the conduct of hotels controlled by breweries. Even those hotels which during recent months have suffered from a reduction of trade due to shortage of supplies have not had their rent reduced. I know of some instances in which hotelkeepers who have asked for a reduction of rent from Tooth and Company Limited have had supplies delayed from Friday until Saturday afternoon, and then they have been short-supplied. In order to meet, die situation caused by the Government’s action in restricting the supplies of beer the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) increased supplies in industrial areas by 20 per cent, and in some other areas by 15 per cent. In the vicinity of Sussex-street, Sydney, where there are many wharf labourers and other workers, there has been no increase. It- is essential that the Government should lose no time either in appointing a controller of this trade, or in nationalizing breweries. It should also forbidany brewing company to either own or finance a hotel.
– Would the honorable senator also nationalize the hotels?
– That is a matter to whichI have not given the same thought as to the breweries. I should require further consideration before expressing a definite view on the subject. The following table shows the progressive deterioration of the quality of Sydney beer : -
In 1920-21, the quantity of ale, beer and stout brewed in New South Wales totalled 25,470,000 gallons; in 1939-40, the quantity brewed was 36,611,000 gallons, an increase of 44 per cent. In other words, although in 193940 the production of ale, beer and stout was 44 per cent. more than in 1920-21, only 35 per cent. more malt, 37 per cent. more sugar, and 16 per cent. more hops was used. If we take a later period - 1928-29 - and compare it with 1939-40, we get the following result: -
The production of ale, beer and stout in 1928-29 was 29,421,000 gallons; in 1939-40 it was 36,611,000 gallons. That represents an increase of 24 per cent. over 1928-29. It will be seen that although 24 per cent. more beer was produced in 1939-40 than in 1928-29, only 3 per cent. more hops and 13 per cent. more malt was used. The change in the constituents during this period consists of increasing the quantity of sugar and including less of the other elements.
– What is wrong with that? The additional sugar only makes the drinks sweeter.
– According to the Melbourne Argus and Age the Carlton Brewery and its associated breweries have made a profit of 262/3 per cent., yet the public is charged more for beer. In 1939, the net profit of Carlton and United Breweries Limited was £528,892. The company paid a dividend of1 21/2 per cent., and it total assets were valued at £5,650,335. In the same year, Tooth and Company Limited made a net profit of £855,709, and paid a dividend of 12 per cent. The assets of the company were valued at £9,134,288. Last year, that company’s balance-sheet showed a record profit of over £900,000. The balance-sheet has lumped together five or six different items, including such matters as depreciation in a way which no honest chartered accountant would pass. Neither the value of the hotel properties nor the depreciation thereon was stated. In 1940, Tooheys Limited made a net profit of £163,014, and declared a dividend at the rate of 9 per cent. That company’s assets are valued at £4,117,615. The South Australian Brewing Company Limited, whose total assets are valued at £1,225,455, made a profit of £98,134, and declared a dividend at the rate of 10 per cent. In the same year, the Swan Brewery Company Limited, made a net profit of £119,971. Its dividend was at the rate of 25 per cent., and its total assets are valued at £1,611,332. I submit these figures in support of my contention that the Government should nationalize the liquor trade and place it under the supervision of a controller. The price of beer should be fixed at a fair level, and inspectors should be appointed to police sales. The Government should also conduct a thorough investigation into present stocks of spirits manufactured in Australia, and devise a scheme for the rationing of that spirit for the benefit of members of the Allied and Australian fighting forces. If we are ever to assume control of the gigantic liquor monopoly, now is the time to do it.
. -Senator Arthur has made numerous charges of laxity of control on the part of the price fixing authorities, with respect to the prices of bread, fruit, meat and clothes.I take it that he has already referred these matters to the
Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) who is the appropriate Minister. The latter, apparently, has failed to take appropriate action. Consequently, the honorable senator has felt obliged to ventilate his complaints in this chamber in order to draw public attention to the failure of the Minister in this respect. So far as I can see, that could be his only object in raising these matters in the Senate. The honorable senator cannot lay any charge in this respect against previous administrations. He has cast serious reflections upon the present Administration. He has also referred to the search for oil in Australia. That is a subject which he has dealt with on previous occasions. Every honorable senator must be astounded that Senator Arthur to-night now repeats statements which he has made on so many previous occasions, and which have been refuted over and over again. The honorable senator must be aware of the fact that petrol has been rationed in this country in order to conserve supplies for the armed forces. Does he really believe the things he has told us to-night?
-Certainly, I do.
– The honorable senator speaks disparagingly of the authorities which are cited to refute his statements. He relies solely upon the authority of a man, who he said was deported from this country. I find it difficult to understand how the honorable senator can believe that only that individual is anxious or competent to advise in respect of the search for oil. The honorable senator attributes our failure to find oil in Australia to the opposition of the major oil companies. He said that those companies were sabotaging that search. How can he substantiate those charges when we know that those companies and the Commonwealth Government have expended millions of their own capital in searching for oil in Australia, New Guinea and Papua. In addition, previous governments have subsidized the search for oil, and the honorable senator himself can qualify for that subsidy should he decide to engage in that search, and observe certain conditions. It is about time the honorable senator, in justice to himself, took stock of his attitude on this subject. He made certain charges against Senator Foll. That honorable senator is not present at the moment; but on previous occasions he has successfully refuted similar charges by Senator Arthur. The honorable senator should be ashamed of himself for repeating charges which have been answered over and over again. To say the least, it is not cricket.
The honorable senator had much to say about price fixing. No one will say that the present system of price control is perfect. However, the honorable senator has given several instances in which excessive prices have been charged for various commodities. I remind him that a responsibility rests upon him, not only as a member of this chamber, but also as an ordinary citizen, to place such facte before the proper authority in order to enable it to make an investigation into his charges. I do not say that his allegations are unfounded. Why has not the appropriate Minister dealt with these complaints? The honorable senator told us about the excessive price of fruit. I do not contend that the present apple and pear acquisition scheme is perfect. It has many defects. It is a fact that thousands of bushels of apples were allowed to rot in the orchards last year. The reason for that is obvious. With a population of 7,000,000, our home market cannot consume the entire apple crop. Last year we had a record apple crop of 13,000,000 bushels. In normal times 60 per cent. of that crop would be exported. Due to war conditions, however, not one case of apples was sent overseas last season. At the same time, distribution costs have risen so greatly that it was impossible to market the fruit on the mainland at anything like reasonable prices. The honorable senator’s real complaint is that fruit-growers within the vicinity of Melbourne and Sydney have not been given an open market in those cities so that they can market fruit in any quantity and of any quality amongst their own people, to the exclusion of growers in Tasmania and elsewhere who have had great overseas markets. Apple and pear growing in Tasmania, is a very big industry of enormous value, not only to the State, but also to the Com- monwealth itself. When the fruit season was in full swing in normal times about 40 overseas ships used to come to Tasmania, bringing tourists and taking them up the coast of Australia. But for the fruit trade many of the ships would never have come to Australia. The industry was a great asset to the Commonwealth, yet the honorable senator thinks that it does not concern any other place except districts close to Sydney and Melbourne, which consume their own fruit which is sold in their own markets. It is easy to suggest that it would be just as cheap to give the apple-growers £2,000,000 to divide among themselves. That is an easy way out of it, but it would not provide much for the people of Tasmania, who would not have any opportunity of selling their fruit. We can admire Senator Arthur for his enthusiasm regarding the importance of oil, but why does he not get busy with the Minister for Supply and Development (Mr. Beasley) ? Under the National Security Act the Government can have an absolutely clear run. It can commandeer plant and equipment, and have at its command conscripted labour, which it can put to work, if the industry is as valuable as it says it is. Instead of leaving it to private enterprise, let the Commonwealth Government, now that it has full powers, produce oil within the borders of the Commonwealth. We shall all be glad to see Australia with an adequate oil supply of its own.
It is to be deplored that at a time like this we should be arrayed in two parties, one on each side of the chamber, provoking each other to say things which our better judgment would advise us to leave unsaid. No one is more guilty of provocative remarks of that kind than the Minister for Aircraft Production (Senator Cameron). Outside this chamber we talk about unity, urging the people to work together for a full war effort for the protection of Australia. The population of this great Commonwealth represents only a few people in comparison with other nations. The Government and the Prime Minister have urged the people to co-operate for the common good, and yet when we come here we must carry on the old fight of party politics. Apparently no good can come from this side of the chamber according to honorable senators opposite. All our suggestions are viewed with suspicion, and any criticism that we offer is resented, although there have been occasions when the Government has, on reflection, had cause to thank us for pointing out pitfalls. There is nothing left far this side of the chamber to do but criticize, yet , whatever we say here is regarded as hindering the Government’s war effort. That is a wrong attitude. When the Menzies Government and the Fadden Government were in office, honorable senators opposite were invited to join the Government in making common cause against the enemy, but our appeals were greeted with jeers. Honorable senators opposite refused to co-operate with us, or to join in a national government. We were told that by making the offer we were admitting our incapacity to carry on the Government. The supporters of the present Government said, “ Make room for us and we will show you the way this country should be run “. Now that they are in power I am surprised at them carrying on the party fight in the way they do. Willy-nilly the time will come when the country will demand that the Parliament shall stop bickering and squabbling over things that do not matter, and shall deal unitedly with the great problems confronting us. The people outside are not concerned with which party is in office. It is. not our fault that the party system is still carried on. Our hands are clean in the matter, because we then made repeated overtures to the Opposition to join us in the government of the country. They were offered the Prime Ministership, and a majority of portfolios, but refused, preferring that the party fight should go on. I forecast that when we have to go to the country the people will say, “ A plague on both your parties “, and properly so. The people outside, whether Labour, Nationalist, or Conservative, are working unitedly together. That is particularly true of the women in great organizations such as the Bed Cross and the Australian Comforts Funds. The men fighting in New Guinea and Africa and others who are prisoners of war in Singapore, do not ask one another whether they are unionists, or belong to the Labour party, or the Nationalist party. This Parliament is the place where people seem to be interested and concerned about party politics. Reduced to the final analysis, I say without fear of contradiction that the people do not want this country to be governed by parties at this critical stage. No Labour man outside has ever said to me, “I am glad that you are out and Mr. Curtin is in “, and I am sure that our people have never said the opposite to our opponents. They want a united effort to save this country, not from its own people, but from, the common enemy.
– Disallow the women’s employment regulations again, give us an opportunity of a double dissolution, and let the people determine the issue.
– That is the old story of misrepresentation of the motives of those on this side. Quite recently we had an example of it on a subject which I need not mention. It was blazoned all over the country that a great injustice had been done to thousands of our people. One Minister went so far as to say that over 60,000 women had suffered as the result of our action. They should be ashamed of such an attempt to exploit politically what had happened, because the Minister well knew that there was no thought or intention on this side of doing any thing of the kind. The Opposition has never placed any obstacle in the way of the formation of a government which would be truly representative of the people of this country It has been the political good fortune of senators opposite to become the occupants of the treasury bench, hut knowing that at the last elections they were returned to this Parliament with a minority, they should make every endeavour to give the fullest consideration to the views expressed by the majority. Where would the Government be if we on this side of the chamber decided to play the game of politics as honorable senators opposite played it when they were in opposition? We could prevent, them from passing any measure through this chamber if we desired to do so. But we have no desire to hold up the work of the Government. I venture to say that not one honorable senator on the other side of the chamber could go to the country to-day and say that the Opposition had done anything that was not in the best interests of this country, and in the best interests of our war effort. At the last general elections a feature of the policy supported by the parties which are now in Opposition, was a desire for the fullest co-operation between all parties in regard to the prosecution of the war. We realized that nothing mattered but the winning of the war. We have said over and over again that we shall do nothing to hinder the passage of legislation which has for its object the improvement of our war effort?
– What about the disallowance of regulations relating to the employment of women?
Senator HERBERT HAYS.Legislation on that subject will be brought before Parliament shortly, and I have no wish to be drawn into a discussion on that matter now. All we ask is that whatever measures are passed by Parliament shall give equal opportunity to all sections of the community. That is in accordance with the policy which we have always advocated. I defy any honorable senator to find on our statute-book any legislation passed by governments supported by the present Opposition parties which is not in the best interests of the workers of this country. In office and out of office we have stood firmly for a fair deal for every one in the community. We have not given the workers of this country merely lip service; it is deeds that count and not words, and our deeds are reflected in the measures on the statute-book. With few exceptions we have passed every important piece of social and industrial legislation which has had for its object the betterment of conditions of the “ under dog “. To-day the working people are enjoying the full benefits of that legislation. Proof of that statement is to be found in the fact that, no attempt has been made by Labour governments to repeal or alter these measures in any way. They remain as a monument and a beacon light. We have never been exploiters of labour or supporters of monopolies and combines which the Labour party say from time to time sap the very vitality out of the working people. It is time that we heard less of these accusations, particularly, when the enemy is at our gates. I do not say these things for the sake of saying them; I mean them. We have always shown a spirit of co-operation, and no one knows better than members of the present Government. I am quite sure that Ministers appreciate the assistance which we have endeavoured to give to them. We can still find room for real criticism ; but we are not singular in that respect because speakers on the opposite side of the chamber have said some very hard tilings about the Government which they support.
There is very little that one can say about this budget that has not been said already, but there are just a few points which I consider should be emphasized. We ure asked to sanction an expenditure of £550,000,000 for the cim-rent financial year. The raising of that money is a gigantic task. Its magnitude is emphasized by the fact that the first budget introduced into this Parliament has provided for the raising and expenditure of about, £10,000,000 annually. It is true that the population has increased considerably since the Commonwealth was formed, but the task which confronts us to-day is none the less great. In fairness, I admit that had the previous Administration remained in office, it would have been confronted with the same problem. The question of the extravagance or otherwise of this budget, has never been raised. In effect the Government has been given a blank cheque; but the money has to be raised. At the end of each financial year our finances must be so arranged flint whatever deficiencies exist will be accounted for and satisfactorily arranged in some way or other. We all appreciate the difficulties associated with raising huge sums of money by taxation. In our population of 7,000,000 to-day there are few people who, judged by the standards of some other countries, can be counted amongst, the extremely rich. In my opinion the Government cannot go much further than it has done in the taxing of high incomes, unless it decides to confiscate capital as well. To-day a man in. receipt of an income of £20,000 a year pays approximately £17,000 in taxes. I venture to say that in no other country in the world is the incidence of income tax so high on large incomes. Before this financial year has concluded the estimated expenditure of £550,000,000 may have risen to £600,000,000. Where will it come from? Every one knows that whatever reservoir of funds now exists among high income-earners will soon be empty. What can be done about it? There is a tremendous gap to be bridged, and whether we like it or not it will have to be partly bridged by that great body of wage-earners who form 90 per cent, of the taxpayers of this country. They will have to make a more substantial contribution. Is it unreasonable to ask them to contribute something to this country’s war effort when our safety is threatened? I believe that few people in this country would not regard it is as a personal obligation to contribute something to our war effort, if they were asked to do so in the proper way. It is not necessary to obtain the money by means of taxes alone. We should follow the example that has been set by other countries, and introduce a system of compulsory loans. What is the position in Australia to-day? There has been a substantial increase of wages throughout, the community, and unemployment virtually has ceased to exist. Husbands, wives, sons and daughters can all get jobs at present. There was never a. time in the history of this country when so much ready cash was flowing into the homes of the wage-earners as today. In addition to increased wages, the rates of pay include, in some cases, a war loading. Tens of thousands of young people are receiving higher wages than they have ever had previously, and I venture to say that if they were given the slightest encouragement by the Government, they would gladly contribute substantially towards the cost of carrying on the war. No injustice would be inflicted on them, if they were permitted to retain a sum equivalent to their former rates of pay, the balance to be withheld from them and made available to the Government in the form of post-war credits for the purpose of financing the war effort. Wages at normal rates would be more than sufficient to enable the homes of the people to be maintained. The excess money is now frequently spent on luxuries. A system of deferred pay for civilians would actually do them a great service. If any honorable senator had a single son earning £3 or £4 a week, he would naturally advise him to pay a portion of the money into a savings bank account, in order to provide for a “ rainy day “. A portion of the earnings of the members of the fighting services are withheld from them as deferred pay, and, on their discharge, the money that has accumulated in their name will prove most useful to thorn. The Government is prejudiced against the adoption of a system of deferred pay for civilians, because it has been proposed by the Opposition; but, if the Government adopted that system, the gap in the budget could be bridged without resort to such a large measure of central bank credit as is contemplated.
If the people of this country emerge from the present war with their freedom, they will have much to be thankful for. We all agree that no price is too high to pay for the preservation of our liberty. Therefore, I believe that we should pay to the maximum of our capacity, and as far as possible pay for the war as we go. Let every body give of his best in work, and give to the utmost of his financial resources. Even then, we shall not be making so great a sacrifice as the members of the fighting services. The gap in the budget should not be bridged by means of an overdraft until the people have contributed to the war loans to the maximum of their capacity, retaining for themselves only sufficient’ money to enable them to enjoy a reasonable standard of comfort. It was said that the last war had been fought to end all wars, and that posterity should contribute towards its cost. Those who will follow us will have their own obligations to meet, and we should do all we can to finance the present war from our own resources, and by our own sacrifices. Great Britain, New Zealand and the United States of America will not think highly of Australia if our people are divided on this question, and show a desire to escape from an obligation which they should rightly shoulder. What would be our attitude as private citizens if we were called upon to meet heavy and unforeseen expenditure, such as might be caused by ill health ? We should so order our affairs as to reduce personal expenditure to a minimum ; and we should probably mortgage our assets. In order to finance the present war, the nation should practise similar economy.
Senator Gibson made an alarming statement with regard to flax production. He gave figures in support of his contention, and I have no reason to doubt their accuracy. The official report on the industry is not such as to give hope that flax production in Australia will be continued as a post-war industry. The Government of the United Kingdom appealed to Australia to supply as much flax fibre as could be produced, because, irrespective of price, that commodity is essential. In establishing the industry, difficulty was experienced in obtaining the services of men who were skilled in the production and processing of flax ; but, if the success of the venture were measured by the losses sustained, it would not suffer seriously by reason of comparison with other war-time industries. The honorable senator made suggestions for the purpose of reducing the cost of producing and processing flax, so that the industry might have a better chance of survival after the war. The honorable senator referred to the machinery used in processing the flax. That matter has not been overlooked ; the Flax Production Committee has it in hand, and the H. V. McKayMassey Harris Proprietary Limited has practically perfected a machine which will go a long way towards meeting the position set out by [Senator Gibson. At a time when primary production should be increasing there is every likelihood of a definite lag in production throughout the Commonwealth. There should be greater co-ordination between the Departments of Commerce and Supply and Development; at present there is considerable overlapping and a lack of co-operation. Statistics show a great falling off of production. I cannot see how that falling off can be arrested, but the facts must be faced. We may deceive others, but we shall be foolish if we deceive ourselves in this matter. Only a few years ago there was an urgent appeal to the wheatgrowers of Australia to grow more wheat. They responded to the appeal, only to find themselves embarrassed with a crop for which there was no sale at prices which covered production costs. The producers will not stand for that sort of thing. If they were engaged in secondary industries producing shells or other war equipment, they would be paid on a cost-plus profits basis; the greater the cost, the more money they would receive. Moreover, any losses would be borne by thu Government. The primary producers are not in that happy position. Honorable senators know how badly they have been treated in connexion with the production of pig meats. First, they were asked to produce porkers, but later they were told that baconers, not porkers were needed. When they had the baconers ready for the market, they were told that they, too, were not needed. Such things should not occur. Why should the primary producers of this country ,be treated as mere hewers of wood and drawers of water, whilst other sections of the community are paid at high rates for their services, although they work shorter periods each day? There is no justification for such differential treatment of primary and secondary industries. Every citizen of this country is entitled to a just reward for his labour; those engaged in secondary industries should not receive special favours. The position of the dairymen is similar to that of the producers of pig meats. Some time ago the dairymen were asked to produce cheese, and, in response to that appeal, probably £250,000 was expended in installing the plant and equipment necessary for the manufacture of cheese. Now, the dairying industry ‘has been asked to switch over from cheese to butter. In reply to a question, the Minister said that there was no serious falling off of dairy production. Although I believe that he made the statement in good faith, I challenge it. Those who supplied him with the answer misinformed him. In Queensland - that wonderful State which was Australia’s chief supplier of butter - thousands of milking cows and young stock have been sent to the canneries. Unless steps be taken to meet the situation which has arisen, we shall find ourselves in the same position in regard to butter as faces us in connexion with potatoes. There is, indeed, great danger of a shortage of sufficient foods to meet the requirements of our fighting forces and the civilian population, and to fulfil our undertaking to supply these commodities to Great Britain. Why should dairymen work twelve hours a day to produce butter for ls. 3d. per lb.? If they received for their services the wages which are paid in secondary industries, butter could not be sold for less than 2s. 6d. or 3s. per lb. If conditions in the industry are made sufficiently attractive, dairymen will remain on their farms; otherwise many of them will be attracted to more remunerative occupations away from the land.
– Does the honorable senator believe in fixed prices for primary products ?
– Yes. Dairying is an important industry ant1 those engaged in it should not be treated in this way. The producers of pig meats have alao been treated badly. The explanation of the present shortage of pig meats is to be found in the treatment to which those in the industry were subjected some time ago, coupled with the injury done to the dairying industry. Dairying and pig-raising go hand in hand; one cannot succeed without the other. The only remedy for the present unsatisfactory state of affairs is to raise the prices of these products. Whether that be done by increasing the cost to the consumer, or by the payment of bounties to the producer, is a matter for the Government.
– If something is not done soon, all the dairymen in the country will be engaged in making munitions.
– Many of them are already so engaged. In addition, the dairying industry has lost large numbers of men through enlistments. The percentage of enlistments to the population is always greatest in rural districts. Before the call-up of men by the military authorities there were many who offered their “services to fight for their country. Under the callup many key-men, such as tractor-drivers and men acquainted with agricultural machinery, were taken into camp.
– Not since the present Government came into office.
– The call-up of men for the fighting services has been a contributing factor to the great decline of primary production. Il would be better to keep these key-men in their jobs. The Minister for Supply and Development says that the position of the primary industries is not alarming, and that any one who says that it is alarming is doing a disservice to his country, but I know what I am talking about in this matter.
What is the reason for the present potato famine? The explanation is not that there is not an acute shortage of potatoes, but that supplies are being unequally distributed among the people. This year the Government has set out to increase by 50 per cent. the. area under potatoes last year. I am afraid that when we look into this matter thoroughly we shall experience a rude awakening. The answer which I received in reply to a question on the subject yesterday encouraged the belief that the production of potatoes would be substantially increased. However, I have been informed through the post to-day that the acreage for plan! ing this season has been reduced by 34,000 acres. On an average crop, this represents a reduction of 1,2-50,000 sacks. That estimate is in respect of production throughout the Commonwealth. The best way to increase agricultural production is to ensure that payable prices are paid and that those directing our primary production policy know something about the subject. When the Government asked for an increased production of potatoes, why did it not simply guarantee a minimum price of, say, £7 or £8 a ton, with a maximum of £15, which is equivalent to £1 a bag, the price now charged to the public? It should simply guarantee producers a minimum price. No restrictions whatever should be applied. Let us marshal our man-power on a simpler but more effective basis. We can say that we require so many for the Army, so many for the Navy, and so many for the factories and primary production. What is the use of an army unless the people are fed? Let every man work where he can render the best service to the country in the prosecution of the war effort, whether it be in the fighting line, the factories, or on the farms. In the allocation of man-power to various theatres of activity, we might to some degree observe the adage that the cobbler should stick to his last. People with agricultural experience should be made available for primary production. This Government has followed the example set by its predecessor of relying upon the advice and guidance of our captains of industry in respect of secondary production. It should adopt a similar policy in respect of primary production, and be guided by those whose experience as primary producers recommends them as advisers. Above all, we should ensure to the primary producers, in return for the service they render to our war effort, a reward which is at least equal to that given to people who are contributing to the war effort in other spheres. The primary producers can do a job of equal importance to that being done by the gallant men in our fighting services. We can rest assured that they will give of their best, if they are satisfied that they are getting a fair deal.
– I take this opportunity to raise a matter which, as I shall occupy the Chair, I shall not have an opportunity to deal with at the committee stage. I ask the Postmaster-General (Senator Ashley) why the vote for the Department of Information has been so greatly reduced. The vote for publicity services has been reduced bo £10,750, whereas last year £31,381 was expended on those services. In respect of cinema and photographic services, the vote this year is £4,800 compared with £19,000 expended on those services last year. No provision is made this year in respect of the national publicity campaign, although last year the vote for that purpose was £15,000, and the actual expenditure amounted to £32,12S. . I pay a meed of praise to the Postmaster-General for the manner in which he has conducted the Department of Information. I also have reason to speak highly of many members of the staff of that department. Much mud has been thrown at that department, and the members of its staff have been criticized unduly. It is only fair to say that those officers are just as anxious as we are to obtain the best return for expenditure incurred by the department. They know what publicity means. They understand the purposes which a department of information should serve. I understand that, in many instances, members of the staff of the department have not been allowed to do what they consider should be done in order to serve the best interests of the community. After all, they are specialists in this work, and their views should be respected accordingly. They should bo consulted with regard to the principles upon which the department is based. I ask the Postmaster-General why the vote for this department has been reduced by £100,000? I should also like to know the real policy of the department? Has it mapped out any real policy with respect to propaganda? Has it considered such a policy from a scientific point of view, or has it simply adopted the practice of issuing information which makes no attempt to apply the principles of scientific propaganda? I urge the Postmaster-General to consider these aspects, because they are of vital importance in the prosecution of the war. We can do more to bring about peace in industry and unity among our people by a proper application of the principles of propaganda, than by any other means. I should like to know whether any suggestions have been made by members of the staff along these lines, and, if so, whether those suggestions have been considered? I know that many members of the staff of the department have a thorough knowledge of the principles on which effective publicity and propaganda are based. If it has not already been done, the PostmasterGeneral should call members of the staff together for a heart-to-heart talk in relation to these matters.
I pay special tribute to Mr. Damien Parer who was the department’s official photographer in New Guinea. He has done a splendid job. A few days ago we had the privilege of witnessing the results of his work in that theatre of war. Any one who has seen his film dealing with the operations of our forces in New Guinea must have been struck by the sincerity of his introductory remarks to that film. That film will be shown throughout Australia ; and it will do more to promote the prosecution of the war, to establish unity among our people, and to disseminatea proper understanding of the struggle we are engaged in, than all the talk that might take place in this Parliament. I recommend every honorable senator to see that film, and to listen carefully to Mr. Parer’s introductory words. Productions of that kind will assist considerably in moulding public opinion. 1 have inquired whether it would be possible to have stills made from that film with a view to exhibiting them in King’s Hall, where they would be a reminder to us whenever we are inclined to descend to mere blather of the great fight our men are making in New Guinea.
The Department of Information should be a department of propaganda. All of us realize how vilely but effectively the totalitarian powers have employed propaganda. In Mein Kampf, Hitler states -
By clever persistent propaganda even Heaven can be represented to a people as hell, and the most wretched life as Paradise.
A lie is believed because of the unconditional and insolent inflexibility with which it is propagated, and because it takes advantage of the sentimental and extreme sympathies of the masses.
Goebbels has based his propaganda on that principle. He knows that if he lies long enough, and strong enough, he will be believed ; and he has been believed by the people of Germany. We should not base our propaganda on lies. The point I make is that we cannot afford to ignore the psychology of propaganda. It is all very well to condemn Goebbels, Mussolini and Hitler. The fact remains that they are powerful propagandists, and have swayed the minds of millions of people against the democracies. Some democrats take the view that no democracy should lower itself to the level of the propaganda of Mussolini and Hitler. They say that our culture should be above that sort of thing. Nevertheless, we are living in a world in which force is paramount. When Hitler unloaded his war machine upon the world in order to dominate it, we were compelled, although we were very slow in making a start, to adopt similar measures to meet that force. We must do the same as Hitler to the degree that we must understand the psychology of the masses, and employ propaganda in order to destroy all that is inimical to the prosecution of the war. In order to do so we need not descend to the level of a Goebbels j but we must understand the mass mind, and the forces which play upon the mass mind. (Emotion is a powerful factor, which we should be very stupid to ignore, because we cannot meet force by mere words, or combat the power of Hitler and Goebbels’ propaganda merely by saying that we refuse to descend to their level. We must use our knowledge of mass psychology and the mass mind in order to succeed. The Department of Information is the machine whereby we reach the people, and I make this plea in the Senate for more money to be spent on that department. Much more good work like that being done by men like Parer should be undertaken. We should employ specialists to use their brains in order to exercise the fullest powers over the minds of the people to get the best out of Australia. I say definitely, and in all seriousness that in Australia there is not that idealistic force that has been conjured up in Japan, Germany and Russia. Honorable senators opposite speak as if that were due to some political machination on this side of the chamber, and sometimes honorable senators on this side think it is due to the fact that honorable senators opposite cannot forget party politics. It is something much more than that. In Germany there is a force and power that has welded the nation so strongly into a common whole that the German people have sunk to the lowest depth that mankind can reach. We have only to read of what has happened in Poland, Czechoslovakia and Greece, where thousands are starving, to realize that the ordinary men and women of Germany have been so affected by the powerful propaganda of their Fuhrer, Goebbels and others that they really believe that by the slaughter of those innocent people they are exercising their right, as a God-guided nation, to dominate the whole of the continent of Europe. These results were achieved because Hitler and his associates understood the mass mind, and used all their powers of propaganda, and all their understanding of psychology, to weld the nation into a whole to achieve their purposes. Petty political bickering, such as has been going on in this chamber, leaves me cold. What does it matter, ‘as Senator Herbert Hays has said, what we say here about party politics? We are up against a mightier force than some of those now listening to me have ever dreamt of. .1 do not believe that Australia yet realizes that within a few hundred miles, the forces of Japan may exert such crushing might against us as to sweep aside those gallant men who are defending the shores of Australia in New Guinea. I hope that it will not be so, but there is that definite possibility. At Stalingrad the Russians are ‘fighting against a similar tremendous force. What will happen if they fail? Instead of realizing that we are up against a mighty proposition, we sit here talking stupidities and futilities. We should make the Department of Information a powerful institution, and introduce by its means thorough and complete methods to weld Australia into a united whole for the prosecution of the war. It can be done, and we in Australia can conjure up in the minds of all our people that idealism which is such a potent factor in the prosecution of war, strengthening, as it does, the morale of the people. Even if our forces were weaker than those of our enemies, we should stand a better chance of defeating them in the long run if our morale were higher. In order to build up that important morale, we must have a thorough and complete understanding of the mass mind. I do not think that that task is much more than begun, but I do not blame the Minister. I commend him and the officers of the department for all the good work that has been done, but much more remains to be done. If it is done properly, Australia will stand in the forefront of the nations as a united community, idealistically inclined, and powerful in the fight against Nazi-ism and Fascism. I hope that, before the debate concludes, the Minister will bring forward some reasons why the vote has been reduced, and also give me some satisfaction by proving to me that he and his officers understand what I am driving at. If they do, and put it into practice, we shall be in a better position to fight those who are such bitter enemies of democracy.
– The papers which were previously before us, relating to the budget, were really a synopsis or summary of the budget figures, with a preamble setting out the ideals of the Government. One honorable senator said this afternoon that probably those ideals were set out so that they would be circulated on the other side of the world. The figures we have before us now have no preamble and no ideals are mentioned. They are simply the stark figures, and perhaps portray to us more than anything else, in all their nakedness, the great task that faces this country. Unfortunately honorable senators on the Government bench have simply labelled all suggestions from this side of the Senate as criticism. The PostmasterGeneral (Senator Ashley) called them carping criticism, but at the same time admitted that, when he and his supporters were on the Opposition benches, they indulged in the same methods. I do not agree with him, because no carping criticism has come from this side. According to a dictionary, to indulge in carping criticism means to find fault unreasonably in a sharp, biting unpleasant manner. Honorable senators on this side have never done that, but if the Postmaster-General thinks that, when honorable senators opposite were on this side, they did, I am prepared to let him have his own opinion. The Prime Minister made quite a memorable speech in Brisbane a few weeks ago, and was very disturbed at that juncture by the criticism then being levelled against this Government. Perhaps that speech will go down on record as one of the most remarkable ever delivered by an Australian Prime Minister. It can be divided under three headings. He began in a vein of self pity, saying that he was working for the benefit of this country, and that no one was helping him. He then spent some time on abusing the previous Government. Then, like the boy who whistled going through the churchyard, he kept up his spirits and finished with an air of bravado, saying that if we did not like him we could turn him out, and that he was prepared to fight all comers. I wonder if honorable senators opposite have forgotten the policy they enunciated time after time on this side of the chamber, that the duty of an Opposition is to oppose. I can safely say that the criticism which has come from this side of the chamber has been fair, and has been offered to the Government, not in any way to harass it, but, if possible, to assist it.
– Would the honorable senator say that about the Vote disallowing the regulations relating to the Womens Employment Board?
– Yes, and I think we showed conclusively that our contention in that matter was absolutely right. The budget figures now before us are very alarming. The gap of £300,000,000 stands out more prominently in the bill than in the papers we previously discussed. The Government in its last budget asked for £200,000,000 but fell short of that sum by about £80,000,000. The only way in which the Prime Minister and the Treasurer propose to raise £300,000,000 this year is by saying: “We raised £120,000,000 in loan money last year, and if we double that sum this year, we shall go a long way on the road “. The two Ministers I have mentioned must realize that more than going a long way on the road is necessary. We have to go all the way. It may be long and bitter, but we must go right to the end. It is useless planning to travel only a part of the way. If preparing for an ordinary journey, we should make arrangements to complete it, and not to stop half-way. The Prime Minister and Treasurer appear to be quite satisfied that they will not get the whole of that £300,000,000. They have both expressed themselves very plainly to that effect, which means that we must use national credit, probably to the extent of from £100,000,000 to £150,000,000.
– What is wrong with that?
– A good deal, because the amount to which our national credit has been drawn upon up to the present is about £158,000,000, and the liability of Australiaat present, at home and abroad, is £1,629,000,000. If we add to that immense sum another £300,000,000 of national credit, the total should be awarning tous that we are going in the wrong direction. It has been said several times during this debate that Australia is at war; that we need money and that therefore it is quite justifiable to use our national credit. That, is an unsound argument. This is the wrong time for us to use national credit. If it were peace time, or if we were facing a post-war problem and had thousands of men ready to go to work, it would he permissible to use the national credit to buy raw materials, put the men to work, and produce manufactured articles to be sold either here or in foreign markets.
– The honorable senator’s party did not. think about that during the depression ?
– It would be far more sensible to talk about it during a depression than at present.
– The honorable senator did not think so then.
– I did, ‘because national credit can be best used when there is a possibility of manufacturing goods which will show a return oh our money. To-day there is talk of using national credit for war material, 90 per cent. of which will be destroyed once the trigger is pulled.
In his contribution to this debate a few days ago, Senator Brown delivered an interesting speech on the monetary systems of Germany and Russia. We can take a lesson from other countries in regard to finance, but the honorable senator overlooked the difference between a country like Australia which has a small population and isimmense in area, and European countries which have very large populations, large home consumption markets, and a lower standard of living. Prior to the war, vast quantities of manufactured goods labelled “made in Japan” or “made in Germany”, were brought into this country. But in those countries conditions were such that they could afford to employ a monetary system which might be entirely out of place in a country like Australia.
We have heard a great deal about compulsory unionism during the past few months. We are told that union is strength. We on this side of the chamber believe in unionism. History provides many examples of the inestimable value of unionism in the Mother Country and, to a lesser degree, in this country. Unfortunately, the sponsors of unionism in Australia have become intoxicated with their success, and to-day unionism bids fair to destroy itself by wrecking its foundation, which, of course, is industry. It is clear that at least certain members of the present Government are determined to bring about compulsory unionism. It is obvious that the object of compulsory unionism is not merely to confer benefits upon members of unions, but also to swell the union funds, so that there will be a substantial fund to draw upon for the purpose of political propaganda. It is hoped by means of compulsory unionism to getsufficient funds to establish a party pledged to socialism and the nationalization of industry. Union is strength, but strength is of no use unless it is controlled. Hitler’s onslaught on civilization is perhaps one of the best examples of strength that this world has seen for many years. He has succeeded because he. has had the whole-hearted support of his people, but his strength has been misdirected. I maintain that the duty of any government is to govern in the interest of all sections of the people. A government which governs only one section of the people is deplorable, but a government which is controlled by an outside authority is even more deplorable, and must lead to disaster. If the campaign for compulsory unionism reaches the objective aimed at by some of its sponsors, there would be created a machine which would be stronger than its creators. I do not think that the good sense of the people will allow such a thing to happen. There have been many illustrations during the past two or three years of what unionism means to Australia. Those illustrations are still too fresh in the minds of the people for them to allow unionism to predominate. Compulsory unionism means control by unionists. I could give innumerable instances of what would happen if we had compulsory unionism but I shall confine myself to a few recent occurrences. I am afraid that many people have gained a wrong idea of unionism because of certain events. Probably the general public does not realize that union leaders are usually responsible. If that fact were more widely known the people generally would have more sympathy for the rank and file of the unionists. Senator Leckie stated that unless a man could produce his union ticket he was not given equal treatment with other men when applying for a job.
– Does the honorable senator believe that?
Senator JAMES McLACHLAN.Yes, and I am more than ever convinced that that is the case by a statement which was made in this chamber by the Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings) a few days ago. His statement was a remarkable one. He said that he knew of two union secretaries who were sabotaging the work of the Allied Works Council. I have here a cutting from the Sydney Daily Telegraph which contains the following statement: -
Officials of the Building Trade Unions group yesterday declined to accept a.u explanation by the Interior Minister (Senator Collings) of his alleged attack on union officials.
Yesterday’s conference which rejected Senator Collings’ explanation was convened by the New South Wales Trades and Labour Council.
Senator Collings was reported as having said in the Senate on September 19: “These critics of the Allied Works Council are liars impairing Australia’s war effort”.
He was alleged to have said also that the Builders Labourers Union secretary (Mr. F. Thomas) “was paid to discover and magnify flaws “.
Last week Senator Collings told a meeting of the Building Trades Unions in Sydney that his remarks about liars were not aimed at union officials.
That is a clear indication of what union leaders are endeavouring to do with a large organization like the Allied Works Council.
South Australia to-day is in a dangerous position owing to its low reserves of coal. Whilst South Australia may be very “ small fry “ to representatives of New South Wales. Victoria, and Queensland, I have, no hesitation in say that it has played a 100 per cent, part in our war effort. It has led the way in liquor control, which has been a burning question, and also in control of sport. There are two vital raw materials in war-time, namely, coal and iron ; New South Wales supplies the coal and South Australia supplies the iron ore. Without either one of those commodities, many of our munitions establishments could not operate. I appreciate the fact that at present there is a shortage of transport, but it is most peculiar that that shortage of transport was never mentioned until the supplies of coal in South Australia had fallen to a six weeks instead of a 3ix months’ supply. Had coal been available when transport was available, supplies of coal would be adequate in South Australia to-day.
– Previous governments, of which the honorable senator was a supporter, failed to take advantage of the shipping when it was available to build up coal reserves in South Australia.
– Coal was not available regardless of shipping tonnage. Here again we have an example of the advantages of private enterprise as against government control. The achievements of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited in this war are remarkable. It has hardly had an industrial stoppage 3ince the war began. It seems to be able to control its men, whereas even industries under government control, such as the New South Wales Government mine at Lithgow, cannot do so. The shortage of coal in South Australia may lead to a cessation of certain war industries. That State has played its part by supplying iron ore, and all we ask is that South Australia ‘be given coal in return. Recently, the Prime Minister promulgated a regulation giving the South Australian Premier the right to do what he liked in regard to this matter.
– Dors the honorable senator object to that?
Senator JAMES McLACHLAN.No, but we want something besides regulations; we want coal. South Australia, has contributed its fair quota to the fighting forces, and .that is one of the reasons why it is now experiencing a shortage of man-power. The works of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited at Whyalla, not only produces iron ore, but al.=o build ships. I understand that the vessels constructed there are the largest being built in Australia. In view of the fact that the provision of new ships is essential, that industry should not be hindered. Even the Minister for Munitions (Mr. Makin) is now of the opinion that ships are worth a great deal to this country. At a large public meeting held in Adelaide a few weeks ago the Minister, in the course of an impassioned speech, referred to the loss of H.M.A.S. Canberra, and declared, “ For every ship they take from us wo shall build two “. There was loud applause. Then the Minister thumped the table and added, “ We shall build three”. I cast my mind back to 19241 when money was being appropriated in this national Parliament for the construction of the H.M.A.S. Canberra. What did the Minister say on that occasion? He opposed the expenditure. The then honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey), who was Deputy Leader of the Labour party, declared that Australia could not be invaded as it was too remote from its potential enemies. He thought that it would never be invaded by Japan. The present Minister for Home Security (Mr. Lazzarini) said that the two cruisers proposed to be built would be useless, and that the money might as well be thrown into the sea. I am glad that the Minister for Munitions now agrees that the shipbuilding industry is essential.
– For many months the Joint Committee on Social Security has drawn, attention to the urgent necessity for the setting up of a planning authority to arrange a national housing scheme. The need for a close study of the housing position and of other problems associated with it must be obvious. It has been stated authoritatively that «t present Australia is short of over 250,000 houses. It is estimated that, owing to the present prohibition of building, should the war last only another year, and 1,000 new homes were built weekly, about ten years would elapse before the demand for houses could be satisfied. Such a vast programme could not be carried out without careful planning. Apart from the types of houses to be erected, there are the problems of deciding where they should he built. the quantity of materials available, and the best means of supplying the labour required. It is believed that the planning of a rehousing programme will play an important part in our economic post-war reconstruction. This programme must also be considered from the social aspect. The presence of slums has been largely responsible for the large number of delinquent children, and for much of the crime in Australia. It has been proved that a child reared in a good suburb has four or five times as good a chance of survival as a child brought up in a slum area. We should consider this problem, so that in the postwar years slums amd inadequate housing may be eliminated. I draw the attention of honorable senators to an article published in the Melbourne Age on the 28th September, which shows that the problem is receiving attention, but not only private citizens, but also people associated with industries. The article refers to 50 years of progress by the Hume Pipe Company (Australasia) Limited and states -
The directors of the Hume industries, fulfilling a plan cherished by Mr. Hume for more than 25 years, intend to gather together the numerous workshops and administrative offices at this one centre, with houses and amenities for employees and their families, on the same 050 acres block of land.
The housing scheme will be developed to combine the advantages of town and country life, so that while the city will be within convenient reach there will still be ample room to provide farms and gardens. The houses and land will be provided under practically rentfree conditions, giving security to the employees, and providing ideal conditions for the healthy development of their children.
Addressing business associates and employees present at the ceremony, Mr. Hume said that the scheme was not intended to create a philanthropic Utopia. It was merely an application of ordinary common sense. By means of such a plan industry could safeguard employees from the bogies of unemployment and old-age. It bad times came employees would be able to live on in their houses, sustaining themselves and their families on reduced time pay, supplemented or not by temporary outside work, while men growing old could give up work and live happily under rent-free conditions, perhaps being made n helpful allowance.
With houses situated in proximity to their work, time, energy and money wasted by men in travelling many miles each day could be used to better purpose on their own plots of land.
The housing scheme would also foster, healthy participation in sport. While sport and recreation were important factors in the happiness of people, unfortunately city life did not give much scope for them, and too often men must be content to sit and watch others playing When they would rather play themselves. Provision would be made in the scheme for a recreation centre, tennis court, swimming pool and golf links, as well as a children’s playground adjoining a school.
That company is prepared to carry out a plan to enable its employees to enjoy the amenities of life. The Government should set up a planning authority as recommended by the Joint Committee on Social Security so that when the war is over preparations will have been made for the introduction of an adequate housing scheme for the Commonwealth.
– Comments made by the Minister for External Territories (Senator Fraser) regarding the wheat industry have prompted me to refer to the attitude of the Government with regard to last season’s wheat crop. I confirm again what a former Minister for Commerce (Sir Earle Page) said on the 29th November, 1940, as to whether growers of more than a certain quantity of wheat would participate in the Government guarantee. Senator Uppill drew attention to a statement by the Minister for Commerce (Mr. Scully), who quoted remarks of Sir Earle Page up to a certain point but did not quote what I consider vital in the discussion. It will be remembered that under Sir Earle Page’s scheme it was proposed that, if there were a good harvest, a quantity of wheat would be cut for hay. A new government came into power, and the new Minister for Commerce did not act as was intended by Sir Earle Page. The latter, in speaking on the Wheat Industry (Wartime Control) Bill 1940, said-
The average production figure will be maintained by certain safeguards, of which the first is the system of acreage control through the registration of wheat farms and the licensing of wheat-farmers . . .
An additional safeguard is to provision for the cutting of crops for hay as directed by the Government. Directions to cut hay will be given in years when a heavy crop is in prospect, and arrangements will be made for some finance to be made available against such hay. . . .
It must be realized that any wheat grown in excess of the 140,000,000 bushels basis will not participate in the guarantee. The same must, of course, apply to surplus hay, but facilities for its disposal will be provided.
On that point, a difference of opinion exists between Sir Earle Page and the present Minister for Commerce. I also take this” opportunity to inform the Senate that representatives of the Australian Wheat-growers Federation told rae that they did not agree that the price should be reduced from 3s. lOd. to 3s. 6d. a bushel.
– The facts are shown in the minutes of the conference.
– When it was suggested that a first advance of 3s. a bushel should be paid, they said that it should be paid for the whole crop. They did not agree that they should not be paid for the additional 13,000,000 bushels.
– They cannot get away from the records.
– I appeal to the Government to view this problem from another angle. When the scheme was introduced, it was anticipated that 3s. lOd. a bushel f.o.b. would be the minimum price guaranteed to the farmer in, order to recoup the cost of production. Since then, Japan has entered the war, and the whole position has been altered. I suggest, therefore, that this matter be reviewed in the light of those altered circumstances. It has been suggested that the farmers will be paid realization price when the wheat is sold, but our export trade in wheat has almost ceased; it is so small that even should the war continue for another three or four years, some of that wheat will still he in Australia.
– There has been an advance of 3s. a bushel on 153,000,000 bushels, and there is a possibility of the realization being 4s. a bushel for the whole crop.
– The 1939-40 crop realized- approximately 3s. 3½d. a bushel at country sidings; the 1940-41 crop, which is known as the No. 4 pool, is estimated to realize 3s. 7d. a bushel at country sidings; for last year’s crop of 153,000,000 bushels, the Government has, so far, paid at the rate of 3s. a bushel, less freight. That means that, for bagged wheat, farmers have received only 2s. 7£d. a bushel at country sidings for last year’s crop. Wheat cannot be produced at that price. In view of the war situation, I suggest that the charges on the wheat should not he debited against that pool indefinitely. If we compare what was paid for last season’s crop with what is proposed to be paid for this season’s crop, we find the amounts are out of proportion. The Government itself has introduced a proposal to pay 4s. a bushel at country sidings for the first 3,000 bushels of this year’s crop delivered by any farmer. That means that 70 per cent. of the farmers of Australia will be paid for the whole of the wheat that they deliver. Seeing that the Government recognizes that 4s. a bushel at country sidings is a fair price, having regard to increased costs, it cannot justify paying only 2s. 71/2d. a bushel for the 153,000,000 bushels delivered to the pool last year. I urge the. Government to reconsider the matter in the light of the facts - Japan’s entry into the war, the difficulties of shipping, the losses due to weevils, &c. I appeal to the Government to give an assurance to the farmers that more than 2s. 71/2d. a bushel will be paid for the 153,000,000 bushels delivered last year. I am at a loss to understand why the Government has agreed to pay 2s. a bushel for the wheat produced on unregistered farms - wheat which is frequently referred to as “ illegal “ wheat. If an advance of 2s. a bushel has been paid on “ illegal “ wheat, it is proper that something he paid on the 13,000,000 bushels of wheat which was grown legally, because the farmers were authorized to sow that acreage. I shall not say more because this matter has been debated from time to time in this chamber; but I wanted to place those facts before the Minister.
– They are not all facts.
– It is a fact that, for the 1939-40 crop, the realization price was 3s. 31/2d. at country sidings; that for the 1940-41 crop it was 3s. 7d. a bushel; and that for the 1941-42 crop of 153,000,000 bushels, so far only 2s. 71/2d. a bushel has been paid. It is also a fact that the Government’s proposal for the next crop is 4s. a bushel at country sidings on the first 3,000 bushels delivered by a grower. I repeat that wheat cannot be produced for 2s. 71/2d. a bushel. Cornsacks alone cost 12s. 7d. a dozen, which represents 4d. a bushel.
– The Government does not say that the payment will be limited to 2s. 71/2d.
– I ask the Government to pay a fair price for the wheat, having regard to the altered conditions.
– I cannot understand the mentality of honorable senators opposite who have spoken of the bridging of the enormous gap between the amount to be raised from taxes and the estimated expenditure for the year - a difference of about £240,000,000. It is time that they realized that wars are not fought with money at all. If all the money in the banks and in the pockets of the people were put into a heap, it would not pay the expenses of the war for three months; so what is the use of talking about raising money to pay for the war? The sole issue before this country is whether we shall allow the private hanks to create the hundreds of millions of pounds of credit necessary to fight the war and charge the people of this country interest at, say, 3 per cent. on that amount, or whether we shall use the credit of the nation through the medium of the Commonwealth Bank. Professor Copland has been cited as an authority who says that we must not do this, or that, or the other thing. His colleague, Professor Black, said that if £20,000,000 in sovereigns were pro- duced, they would not help to fight the war. He is an eminent economist, and is the economic adviser of the Bank of New South Wales, as well as a professor of economics at the Sydney University. In the light of his statement, what is the use of talking about finding money to fight the war? I have said these things many times in this chamber, and I do not wish to reiterate them too frequently; but after all the authorities I have cited in support of my arguments, I cannot understand why honorable senators still regard money as a necessity, and continue to advocate the imposition of taxes in order to raise money. Apparently, they are afraid that the credit of the nation will be used. If they have any doubt that the national credit will be used later as the only means of carrying on the war, I direct their attention to a statement by the Prime
Minister (Mr. Curtin) on the subject. The right honorable gentleman said in 1939-
Everything in war mustbe paid for; not by reducing wage standard*;, but by the use of the national credit.
Because of a Labour government in the Federal Parliament, there is a Commonwealth Bank. It was created as a means for releasing national credit. But because Labour lost office the national bankhas been transformed by our opponents into a mere puppet of the private banks.
As a requisite to national defence the Commonwealth Bank must have restored to it its original charter. When we are in power, we shall proceed to redeem the national bank from its slavery. The cost of war can be met without piling up huge debts, and without interest payments sucking our national lifeblood. The Commonwealth Bank must, with a Labour government, work out a freer and fuller life for our people.
I do not know of any credit that has been raised in that way. There must come a time when the Opposition will realize the dreadful character of this war. Under the bankers’ debt system no public debt is ever paid off; it is always renewed, or converted. I agree with those who say that the Great War has not yet been paid for. Indeed, the same is true of the Napoleonic wars and the Crimean War; they have not been paid for. If previous wars have been paid for, can honorable senators say how we accumulated debts amounting to £1,200,000,000 before the present war started ? Sufficient money to pay for those wars has never existed, and, therefore, it was impossible to pay the debts. Professor Black said that in Britain the people are advised to put their money into war savings certificates or leave it in the banks. In Great Britain the banks are paying dividends of from 14 to 18 per cent. That is because they are lending hundreds of millions of pounds to the Government. Many people say that the banks are earning only a small amount by way of interest, but they are wrong. The earnings of the banks are not disclosed. I cannot understand why every Opposition senator who has participated in the budget debate has talked about money, notwithstanding that it does not really count in the prosecution of the war. Even if no more money were raised by means of loans, the war effort would not be affected.
– During this debate, as in other debates, reference has been made to the way in which industry is being conducted. The workers have been criticized and condemned for holding up industry and causing disputes, but no constructive suggestion has been put forward with a view to meeting the situation. I therefore propose to submit two proposals for the consideration of the Senate. I do so, in the hope that in the light of conditions that have arisen, and in view of the present desperate situation, a different view may be taken of the circumstances that now operate, as has been the case in Great Britain. With that object in mind, I refer to an agreement which has been forwarded to me from Great Britain, under which workers are to participate in the management of industry. Evidently, the scheme has been found to be very workable. This document is as follows -
Ministry of Supply Industrial Council.
MEMORANDUM OF AGREEMENT REACHED AT A SPECIAL MEETING HELD ON THURSDAY, 26th FEBRUARY, 1942.
Joint Production Consultative and Advisory Committees for Royal Ordnance Factories.
Limitation of Functions.
Number on Each Side of the Committee.
Meetings of Management Side of the Committee.
Meetings of the Workers’ Side of the Committee.
Meetings of the Committee.
Agenda for Meetings of the Committee.
Signed on behalf of the Official Side -
Ralph Assherton, Chairman. C. N. McLaren, Director-General of Ordnance Factories.
Signed on behalf of the Trade Unions Side -
Harry N. Harrison, Vice-Chairman, National Union of General and Municipal Workers.
Robert Prain, Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Union.
Bernard Sullivan, National Union of Tailors and Garment Workers.
I sincerely commend that document to every honorable senator.
The second matter with which I wish to deal is compulsory unionism. Senator James McLachlan has had much to say upon the subject. I submit that, for all practical purposes, ratepayers are compulsory unionists. Immediately one builds, or purchases, a house in any locality, he is obliged to pay his quota towards the improvements which have been effected in that locality with other people’s money. Should he attempt to repudiate his obligations in that respect he is dealt with very severely. In some instances, he is gaoled. If he feels that the rates are excessive, or that the services provided are not up to the standard, or, if he has any complaint at all, he must make it through the medium of the ratepayers’ union which is, virtually, the local authority. Should he still feel aggrieved, he has the right to stand for election to the local authority. At all times, he has the right to challenge what has been done by the local authority. He has the right to challenge the rates that are charged for different services. Very few people who are opposed to compulsory unionism in industry are opposed to compulsory unionism so far as ratepayers are concerned. So soon as any citizen purchases, or builds, a house in any locality, he is obliged to meet the payment of certain rates. The position is similar with a worker in industry. When entering a workshop, he finds conditions of work which, if he is a nonunionist, are not of his making, and towards which he has not contributed one penny. He has not contributed towards the cost of obtaining industrial awards, or improved conditions of work generally, or towards providing better facilities in the form of various conveniences. If he is opposed to unionism, he might decide to repudiate his obligations in that respect. If it is fit and proper that a person honour his obligations as a ratepayer in any locality in which he takes up residence, it is equally right that a non-unionist honour the obligations which I have described when he enters industry as a worker. Unless these obligations are honoured, we shall never have peace in industry. Men who spend their time and money in trying to improve conditions of work in industry, shall not be satisfied’ if others can come along as mere camp followers and participate in all those benefits without contributing a penny towards their cost. I am at a loss to understand how honorable senators who are opposed to compulsory unionism can refuse to maintain that attitude in respect of ratepayers. In effect, they say that a ratepayer must honour his obligations, but a worker should not honour his obligations to his fellow workers.
Senator James McLachlan. Compulsion to pay rates, and compulsion to join an industrial union are not analogous.
– I ask the honorable senator whether anybody in a workshop, or anywhere else, is entitled to participate in benefits and services with- not being asked to contribute towards the expense of those benefits and services. Such an attitude would not be tolerated among ratepayers. “Why should the workers be asked to tolerate it among themselves? We know that thousands of workers in Australia, and other countries, have been penalized and black-listed, and, in many cases, gaoled, because they demanded improved conditions of employment, which to-day are commonplace in our industrial life. That demand went through three stages. First, there was intense hostility by employers towards such demands. As the agitator made an impression on the public mind, we reached the second stage of respectable toleration; and that was followed by the third stage of unanimous approval. We must increase production; and, in order to do so, we must have the least degree of friction in industry. Without attempting to pose, as I have been accused of doing, as a mere critic, I tell honorable senators opposite that we shall not obtain smooth working in industry, or increased production, unless we establish two things. The first is balanced management. The day has gone when industry is to be managed on the principle that the employer can do no wrong. We now recognize that the workers at the benches shall participate in the management. If that is not done, friction will continue, whether we like it or not, in the form of disputes and stoppages. We have senators opposite who deprecate the hold-ups and disputes which have occurred in industry. What is the alternative? The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) declared that we should discipline the workers. How can we discipline them? We cannot dig coal with bayonets; we cannot work lathes with bayonets. Is that what the honorable senator means by disciplining the workers? We can achieve discipline by making a genuine and sincere approach to them. We should say to them, “ If we give you the right to participate in the management, we expect that you will help to establish better discipline among employees, to increase production, and to assist the management generally in keeping the wheels going “. Only in that way shall we obtain the results we desire.
– We are not. getting those results yet.
– In Great Britain, the position was even worse during the first year of the war than it was in Australia. As recently as May last, approximately 70 strikes occurred in the coal-mining industry in Great Britain. There were hold-ups in all directions. The agreement, which I have just submitted, is the outcome of conferences on those disputes. Is not the principle of that agreement worth a trial in Australia? Do honorable senators opposite propose to allow the ideas of a lifetime in this direction to stand in the way? Are they prepared to give that principle a trial? In doing so, we have nothing to lose, but everything to gain. The men in the mines, the fields and the workshops will be told that it is as much their responsibility as that of the management to ensure smooth working in industry in order to increase production. The workers will not accept that responsibility if they are denied the right to actconstructively. The employers cannot have it both ways. They cannot say to the workers, “ We are the people in control. You are there to do what you are told.
It does not matter whether it is right or wrong. And if you do not do what you are told, we will put you out “. To-day, we cannot afford to put the workers out. We want all of them in industry.
– Does the honorable senator mean that the workers should be allowed to take advantage of war conditions in that respect?
– No ; I am simply pointing out that in peace, when the supply of labour exceeds the demand, the employer can safely dispense with labour and discharge, on the spot, any men who question the right of the management to issue certain instructions, or to lay down certain policies for the control of industry. That, has. happened in the past; but it can only happen when the supply of labour exceeds the demand. Even in those circumstances the workers have challenged that attitude on the part of the employers. However, when the country is at war, the employers should not be allowed to take up an attitude of that kind. Senator James McLachlan said that unity and co-operation are wanted. I ask him quite frankly where is the unity and co-operation when thousands of men in the workshops are denied the right to act constructively or to participate in the management of industry. What the honorable senator means is that the employers shall be a law unto themselves.
– What about the Arbitration Court?
– The Arbitration Court deals with a dispute when it has arisen. I suggest that we should deal with the position before disputes actually arise, that advisory boards be created, as is done in England, and that the workers have the right to elect their representatives. The limitations on their operations are laid down in the document I have put before the Senate, and will prevent anything likely to cause a major upheaval where other unions are concerned. In a word, where improvements are desired, if the workers can show that production can be increased, they should be allowed to do so, and should not be saddled with the responsibility of absenteeism or anything else without having the right to discipline their fellow workers if necessary. I visited the New
South Wales annexe at Chullora, near Sydney. There they have a workshops committee which so far has met regularly with the manager in attendance. They have discussed from time to time what improvements shall be made and I have in mind one man in particular who had, as the result of his own experiments, perfecteda cutting tool attached to a machine and hardened it by a process which he had himself discovered. I asked the manager, “ What do you think of that?” and he replied, “We have tried it. It. is good, and we are going to adopt it.” That sort of thing should he encouraged, but it is not encouraged at present in most of our mines or workshops. The proposition has everything to commend it. As regards compulsory unionism, non-unionists definitely and positively are under an obligation to unionists. If it had not been for the activities of unionists, their capacity for sustained effort, and the way in which they constantly hammered at their objec- tives, many of the improvements in industry which honorable senators opposite accept to-day would not have been possible. We are in this war now and the smooth working of industry and the increase of production are vital. That is more so in the aircraft and munitions departments than anywhere else, because there is a tragic shortage of trained labour. We have to increase production and train men and women to do the work at the same time. If that task is to be carried out. more effectively than it has been in the past there must be constant consultations with the management, and ways and means will have to be worked out and discussed for the purpose of a better balancing or placing of the manpower at the disposal of the management. If the workers are to be told that it is no business of theirs, that, they are there simply to do as they are told, then the valuable suggestions or contributions they could make towards increasing production and speeding up the tuition of those who are lacking in skill will be lost. If we are wise in our day and generation we will take cognizance of the latent constructive power which is in the workers and give to them every opportunity humanly possible to express it without hindrance or friction. I am not saying this in any spirit of hostility, because it is just as much the responsibility of honorable senators opposite as it is mine that something better should be done than has obtained in the past. It is quite reasonable to ask that consideration should be given to, and trial made of, the system which I have submitted to the Senate, especially if it can work successfully up to a point at Chullora and other places. I remember a conference being called early this year of representatives of the employers and organized workers at which Mr. Eady, of McPherson’s Proprietary Limited, Melbourne, spoke. He said that for years they had worked upon that principle in their workshops, with very satisfactory results indeed. I think his words were that in nine cases out of ten the suggestions made by the workshops committee had been agreed to. I was shown there a constitution similar to the document to which I have already made reference. The management paid the representatives of the workers for attending fifteen meetings a year at which they met representatives of the management and discussed such questions as ventilation, the better placing of machinery, and so on. If there were more than fifteen meetings, then the workers’ representatives had to pay their own expenses. According to Mr. Eady, who is very well and favorably known in the engineering industry, the workshops committee at McPherson’s Proprietary Limited works splendidly and every body is benefited by it. I was very sorry indeed that the committee set up by the Government was abandoned as I believe good results would have come from it. However, for reasons best known to themselves, the employers decided to have nothing to do with it, on the question of preference to unionists or something of that kind. It should be quite obvious to honorable senators opposite that, whatever has happened in the past to which they have taken strong exception, wo are faced to-day with a position which is practically unprecedented in Australia’s history, and it is reasonable that, faced with that position, honorable senators opposite, or the Employers Federation, or any organization of employers, should be prepared at least to give the proposi tion I have mentioned a trial. If it is found tobe a good thing in Britain, I suggest that it will be found a good thing in Australia, because the average worker knows just as well as any honorable senator in this chamber does, that he has everything to gain and nothing to lose by doing his best to help to win this war. Give him that opportunity to express himself more constructively in the future than has been the case in the past, and I will undertake to say that we shall see a very great general improvement and many of the complaints which have been made about hold-ups and strikes in industry will be obviated. I conclude by emphasizing again that, in order to obtain increased production, particularly in our war-time industries, with the least amount of friction, there are two essentials, namely, the workers’ participation in management, and compulsory unionism.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
Bill (on motion by Senator Keane) read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
First schedule agreed to.
– I should like an explanation of the item reading - “Motor vehicles - purchase, upkeep and hire including the use of private vehicles for departmental purposes “, in the Administrative Vote for the Department of the Interior - for which £31,200 is provided as compared with an expenditure of £18,500 last year.
.- This item covers payments for the use of hired cars, including motor cars attached to the Transport Depot in Canberra, and payments to officers for the use of private cars on official business. Provision is also included for the purchase of oil, petrol, &c, for, and repairs to, official motor cars attached to theWorks and Services Branches in the various States, but not the wages of the chaffeurs. Expenditure of this nature totalled £24,969 in 1941-42, due to the purchase of additional motor vehicles required to ensure the proper supervision of defence works. The additional amount sought for the year 1942-43 is to cover the higher cost of fuel, lubricants, tyres and spare parts, and the replacement of a number of vehicles which have reached the end of their economic life, and the purchase of producer-gas units, for departmental vehicles. Those producer-gas units were ordered in 1941-42, but delivery has not yet been made.
.- The sum of £2,000 is to be voted to the Committee on Civilian Morale. What are the functions of that committee, and how is it proposed to expend the money?
.- The following recommendations made by a Committee on Civilian Morale under the chairmanship of Major A. A. Conlon, of the Sydney University, were generally approved by the Government : -
An advisory committee has been set up consisting of Major A. A. Conlon, chairman; Professor J. Stone, vice-chairman; Dr. K. Barry; Mr. R. M. Crawford; Mr. S. Deamer; Dr. I.H. Hogbin; Dr. W. E. H. Stanner; Mr. R. D. Wright; Professor A. K. Stout, and Mr. Justice Roper. Expenses involve salary of secretaries in Melbourne and Sydney, fares and travelling expenses of members and persons assisting the committee, postage, stationery, office requisites, &c., with small provision for further development of the committee.
– I ask the Minister to explain why no amount is shown this year in relation to the Economic Survey Committee of Western Australia? I assure him that the economic position of that State has deteriorated seriously. That makes it all the more surprising that no amount has been allocated for the work of the committee.
.- The work of the committee has been completed ; therefore, no vote is necessary.
– I refer the Minister to the item “Salvage Board - Expenses, £200,000”. That is a substantial sum, and an explanation of the purpose for which the expenditure is being incurred is desirable.
– Pursuant to the National Security (Salvage Board) Regulations, a Salvage Board has been constituted and staff appointed. The board has been appointed to organize in advance, the facilities for the salvage of ships on and in the vicinity of the Australian coast, to set up an authority for the purpose of making plans in advance for the use of salvage facilities, for the co-operation of salvage companies, underwriters and others possessing salvage equipment, and for the purpose of giving directions, subject to naval control, in matters of salvage demanding immediate determination, and to control and carry out salvage operations. The board has been in existence only since March, 1942, and the expenditure during the period of its formation will be heavy. The sum of £200,000 provided this year will cover such items as -
– I refer to the item, “Dehydration of foodstuffs, £200,000”. Will the Minister explain what is involved in this item ?
.- Under war conditions, the demand for dehydrated foodstuffs grew steadily for some time, but recently a greatly increased demand has become evident. The urgent need for conserving tinned-plate, and the increasingly heavy demands on coastal and inland transport, were the two most pressing considerations which influenced the Government to provide for the large scale dehydration of fruit and vegetables for supply to our own forces and the allied forces in Australia. The Department of Commerce, in collaboration with the Department of Supply and Development, is directing the dehydration programme. Dehydration plant and machinery is expensive, and the drying of fruit and vegetables is a doubtful commercial undertaking. Certain fruit processing establishments have evinced some interest in the subject, but it became apparent that to achieve worth-while results within a reasonable period, it would be necessary for the Commonwealth Government to contribute to the cost of the undertaking. A programme providing for the installation of dehydrators in selected localities has been prepared, in connexion with which the Cabinet has approved of an expenditure of £200,000. Another project is the dehydration of mutton.
. An amount of £30,000 is provided for the evacuation of live-stock. Will the Minister explain to me where the stock are being evacuated from and where they are being sent?
.- As the result of the closing of the Wyndham Meat Works and the shortage of shipping on the north-west coast of Australia, the normal outlet for about 30,000 head of cattle previously treated at the meatworks, or shipped to Perth, has been closed, and unless the surplus cattle in the Kimberleys and adjacent areas were removed, it appeared that, with natural increases, the fodder position would have become impossible, with disastrous results to the industry. To preserve the cattle for consumption purposes, the production executive proposed to -
Arrangements were made with the Western Australian Government and Vesteys Limited to remove the cattle. The Commonwealth Government undertook to provide the funds necessary to finance the venture, including advance payments to owners and also droving costs. The total Commonwealth expenditure will depend, of course, upon realizations, and cannot be definitely determined at this stage, but the possibility of financial loss must be recognized. For this reason, an amount of £26,000 has been included in this year’s Estimates. Under the National Security (Stock Dispersal) Regulations, Commonwealth and State dispersal committees have been established to plan the evacuation of stock to Queensland, New South Wales, and the Australian Capital Territory in an emergency. A sum of £4,000 has been provided to meet the administrative expenses of these committees.
.- I should like to know exactly where the stock have been taken from and where they have been sent. Will they remain the property of the owners? What will happen when they are marketed? What will be done with the money received when the stock are marketed ?
– I have already given the answers to some of the honorable senator’s questions. As to the financial results of the transactions, very little can be said until realizations have been effected.
.- Can the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) furnish any information regarding the proposed vote of £216,780 for the granting of relief to primary producers by giving assistance to stock-feeders?
– As from the 20th April, 1942, the price of wheat sold to stock-feeders was reduced by 6d. a bushel. This decision followed a discussion between the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) and the Minister for Commerce (Mr. Scully) when it was agreed that revenue lost to the Australian Wheat Board by the reduction of price would be made good by the Commonwealth. Following a reduction of the price of wheat to stock-feeders, it is expected that the quantity of wheat sold for that purpose will be considerably increased, and in that way the Commonwealth will reap a compensating advantage because of the immediate increase of sales of acquired wheat. The Treasurer has provided £250,000, of which £33,220 was spent during the financial year 1941-42, leaving a balance of £216,7S0 available for 1942-43.
– Will the Australian Potato Committee handle any produce except potatoes?
.- No. The committee was constituted in pursuance of National Security (Potatoes) Regulations, the purpose of. which was to secure as far as possible that adequate supplies of potatoes are available to meet the needs of the defence forces and of the civil population during the war. Staff appointments have been made in the various States to assist the committee in carrying out its functions, and it is estimated that the expenses of administration will amount to between £10,000 and £11.000 per annum.
Senator ARNOLD (Now South Wales) U.54. - Why has not provision been made for a. subsidy for the interstate carriage of coal ?
– No provision has been made this year. The arrangement was considered to be necessary only last .year, when abnormal conditions operated. The subsidy was found necessary in order to obtain an equalization arrangement in the haulage of coal between the various States.
Senator ALLAN MacDONALD (Western Australia) [11.56 . - Will the Minister for Trade and Customs explain the proposed vote of £12,000 for the Department of Transport for “ improvement of State railway transport facilities for military purposes”?
.- That is an item for the improvement of the railway goods siding at Albury in order to facilitate military movements, lt is necessary on account, of the existence of two railway gauges at that centre.
– I notice that last year the vote for “ Travelling and subsistence for the Department of Labour and National Service was £11,100, and the expenditure £13,509, whereas this year the proposed vote is £20,000. I oppose in principle the practice that has been adopted by some members of the Government in appointing members of Parliament to represent them in various- electoral divisions. Recently, it was stated, in reply to a question, that certain honorable senators :ind honorable members had been appointed by Ministers to aSSist them in the administration of their departments and in carrying out investigations on their behalf. As far as T am aware, this practice has not been previously adopted, and I think that it is being abused. The Cabinet consists of nineteen Ministers, and the practice of paying to certain honorable senators and honorable members £2 2s. a day under the guise of travelling expenses, at a time when the Government is preaching austerity, can only be regarded as political racketeering. I am told that one honorable senator representing Tasmania, who was a well-known’ Labour organizer, has been appointed to one of the new positions, and he makes it his business to use a motor car and organize political meetings for the Labour party. I enter an emphatic protest against this state of affairs.
– That is incorrect, and the honorable senator knows Lt.
– Up to date, no fewer than twelve members of the Labour party have been appointed to various jobs in order to organize political meetings, and while doing work for particular Ministers, they are drawing £2 2s. a day under the guise of travelling expenses.
– I rise to a point of order. I object to being accused of misappropriating money for the purpose of organizing political meetings.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Brown).I did not hear the Leader of the Opposition accuse Senator Aylett of misappropriating funds. If the honorable senator objects to the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition he may state his objections when the Leader of the Opposition has concluded his speech.
– Part of the ministerial reply to a question asked on Thursday last by Senator James McLachlan was that car and special travelling facilities, as necessary, are made available to members assisting Ministers, and payment is made of any out of pocket expenses unavoidably incurred by members in their home town In July and August last the amount expended was £500. I suggest that this Government has departed from the usual practice. When honorary Ministers are appointed they are sworn in, and they attend meetings of the Executive Council and take the oath of secrecy. I am at a loss to understand why it is necessary for one Minister to have no fewer than four members of Parliament organizing for him in various districts and drawing £2 2s. a day. Why are twelve members of the Parliament, who are evidently not able to get positions in the Cabinet, specially selected for the work? Then we have an independent member - the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Wilson) - who has the right to draw £14 14s. a week under the guise of travelling expenses. I understand that he was sent for a joy-ride’ to Western Australia. Even though he were absent for a month, he would be able to draw £14 14s. a week free from taxation. Mr. Teasdale, the Minister for External Territories (Senator Eraser), and other members of this Parliament, have a wider knowledge of the problem that had arisen in that State than has the honorable member for
Wimmera. I voice an emphatic protest against what is being done in this connexion. I object to Ministers having this power. Any such appointments should have the authority of Parliament. This policy is opening the door that leads to political bribery and corruption. It can only be regarded as a sop to disgruntled members who have missed appointment to the Cabinet. This Parliament has a duty to the taxpayers. The practice should be discontinued. I protest against the increase of the appropriation from £13,000 to £20,000.
Wednesday30, September 1942.
– The explanation of the item hardly covers the matter raised by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay). It provides for travelling by administrative officers, ministerial staff, the staff of the National Employment Officers, the chairman and members of the Coal Reference Board, the War Workers Housing Trust, and the Womens Employment Board. The additional requirements estimated are due largely to (a) the War Workers Housing Trust having functioned for only a part of the last financial year; (5) the establishment of the Womens Employment Board; (c) general expansion of the activities of the department, resulting in more travelling; and (d) considerable increase of the activities of the Industrial Welfare Division, particularly the Food Services Section.
Whilst I realize that the Leader of the Opposition has every right to make any relevant observations he chooses to make, his remarks are not applicable to this item. I cannot understand why members of the Senate or the House of Representatives place on the notice-paper questions which, I suggest, are not in the interests of the Parliament, the members themselves, or the war effort. It is a stupid policy, and is destructive of good feeling.
.- The Leader of the Opposition cannot understand why the members of the Government have sought the assistance of many members in both Houses who do not hold Cabinet rank.
He stated that this is a new procedure. I take the opportunity to explain to the honorable gentleman why it is new.
– Order ! The Minister has explained that this item does not cover the matter raised by the Leader of the Opposition.
– The proposed expenditure is justified. I do not accept the denunciations of the Leader of the Opposition. I remind him that every honor able senator has an opportunity to debate any item of the Estimates. The Government of which he was a member had a secret fund which did not appear in the Estimates. It was used for political purposes.
– Order !
– ‘Can the Minister give to the Leader of the Opposition details showing what amount the honorable senator referred to by him, whom he paid the compliment of describing as an outstanding organizer, received from this vote for assisting the Minister for Labour and National Service in Tasmania, and how much is outstanding?
, - The information is not available at the moment, but I shall see that the honorable senator receives it.
– I resent the Minister’s assertion that honorable senators have no right to ask questions of the sort referred to by the Leader of the Opposition.
– I did not say that.
– The proposed vote for the Commonwealth Grants Commission, No. 188, is £7,000. The expenditure last year amounted to £5,026. The proposed vote for the Western Australian Industry Expansion Commission is £3,000, and the expenditure last year amounted to £1,261. Can the Minister give reasons for the additional appropriation on account of the Commonwealth Grants Commission? Have its duties been extended? Can the honorable gentleman also state to what purpose the appropria tion for the Western Australian Industry Expansion Commission is to be devoted ?
– Additional funds are needed this year because of the extra work that may be required of the Commonwealth Grants Commission under the State Grants (Income Tax Reimbursement) Act. The establishment of the Western Australian Industry Expansion Commission was recommended in the report of the Western Australian Industries Committee. The commission was set up in November, 1941, to advise the Commonwealth Government so as to ensure the fullest use of the industrial resources of Western Australia for war and other national purposes. It has submitted to the Commonwealth Government specific proposals for such industrial development as is necessary for those purposes. It is estimated that the expenditure during the current year will be approximately £3,000, made up of fees to members £630 ; special allowance to members £300; salaries of staff £600; general expenses, including rent of office, reporting of evidence, experts’ fees, travelling expenses, fees and contingencies £1,470.
.- Will the Minister explain the reduction by £500 of the appropriation for the Commonwealth Literary Fund, for payment to the credit of that fund’s trust account.
– There is sufficient money in the fund to cover the expenditure that will be needed.
.- Last year, £22,500 was voted for the Commonwealth Council for National Fitness, but of that sum only £18,6i33 was expended. This year the estimated expenditure is set down as £72,500. I should be glad of some explanation of that large increase.
– The approval of Cabinet for an additional £50,000 covered a number of items, including the following: Training of State school teachers, staffing of colleges and appointment of specialist teachers ; a further grant to State Education Departments for school equipment, books, &c. ; extension of equipment of teachers’ colleges; subsidy to State councils and grants to municipalities on a £1 for £1 basis: and intensive training of leaders in Canberra.
Senator ALLANMacDONALD (Western Australia) [12.12 a.m.]. - Can the Minister say what the sum of £250 for “licensing of alien doctors” covers?
– It is for administrative expenses.
– In spite of reduced services, there is an increase of about £1,400,000 in respect of salaries and payments in lieu of salary to employees in the Postmaster-General’s Department. Can the Minister say how that amount is made up?
.- The increases include the following: Costofliving allowance, £217,137; increments, £1 45,51 4; new staff. £42,941; arbitration awards, £6,888 ; higher duties allowance, £18,959; non-official postmasters, £302,068. That sum includes £160,000 for arbitration award increases. Extra duty payments represent £13,486 and wages £416,081.
Schedule agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without requests; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Senator Collings) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn to 2.30p.m. this day.
Ministerial Duties : Assistance by Private Members - Major de Groot - Department of Information.
Motion (by Senator Collings) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I desire to clear up some matters which appear to be troubling the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay). During the previous sittings of the Senate, some questions in relation to myself were asked because a certain gentleman, who may or may not be a member of the House of Representatives, circulated a rumour in a Tasmanian electorate that I was receiving £15 a week, in addition to my parliamentary allowance, as an assistant to the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward). That was a contemptible lie, and any one who made the statement is a contemptible liar. Now the Leader of the Opposition wants to know the reason for appointing assistants to the Minister for Labour and National Service. I shall tell the honorable senator. These assistants were appointed to assist the Minister in dealing with matters affecting his department in the various States. Their appointment saves the Minister a considerable amount of travelling, and a lot of worry. I have assisted the Minister and his department considerably. In fact, officers of the department in Tasmania have asked me to do work for them, and I have done it freely and without cost to the Government. The Leader of the Opposition wishes to know what payment I have received for this work. I shall tell him. When I was first asked by the Minister to undertake an investigation for him, I received expenses at the rate of £2 2s. a day. the total amount received for that job being about £25. Payment was at the rate usually paid to Commonwealth members for special work performed by them. This was also paid to members of parliamentary committees, of which the chairman received £2 10s. a day. Since then, . 1. have paid £12 out of my own pocket for typists’ wages when I was snowed up with work, and £15 for the repair of my private car. I have never used a Government car in Tasmania for the purpose mentioned. 1. also bought all the petrol out of my own pocket. I attended meetings in Tasmania at the special request of Labour organizations and of groups of primary producers who convened the. meetings, and asked me to explain the Government’s policy in regard to man-power, &c. Those who heard the explanations went home satisfied, in spite of the filthy propaganda circulated by members of the Opposition. Apart from the particular job to which I have referred, I have done all that work in Tasmania in an honorary capacity, which is more than the Leader of the Opposition can say in regard to his work. He draws an extra allowance as Leader of the Opposition, and he has a paid staff around him whose travelling expenses cost the country a good deal. “When he was a Minister, his expenses were very high. I asked a question on the subject, but was told that, I was out of order. To say that I have been touring Tasmania organizing political meetings at the expense of the Department of Labour and National Service is a contemptible lie.
– For some time past, I have been complaining of the action of the Army in employing men who have demonstrated their Fascist sympathies. I refer in’ particular to Major de Groot, the man who severed the ribbon when the Sydney Harbour Bridge was being declared open by the then Premier of New South Wales, the Honorable J. T. Lang. For this action he was placed in an asylum. When this war broke out, he was employed by the Army as Transport Director. He used to drive in a motor car from Sydney to country camps some miles from country towns to tell officers that if they desired to go into town they must walk. Afterwards, he would get into his car and drive off somewhere else, burning up a good deal of petrol. T complained about him and Lloyd, that other Fascist, who is also employed in the Army, and 1 mentioned how they had urged thugs and bashers to go into the suburbs of Sydney to beat up people. On Saturday last, I was interviewed by several men from Singleton who complained to rae that de Groot waa in charge of the Minimbah and Greta camps. At a meeting of Labour organizations in Newcastle on Sunday, the action of the authorities in appointing him to thai; position had been severely criticized. I ask by what right this man is employed by the Army, in view of his action as a Fascist in leading the supporters of Hitler to bash innocent citizens. Who was responsible for his appointment? It should be cancelled immediately. After I had complained, he was removed from his job as transport director, and placed in charge of a camp at Parramatta. Nobody took rauch notice of that as the job was an unimportant one, but to-day he is in charge of two large camps, and that cannot be tolerated. He is a dangerous man, and should be interned. Unless something is done about it, there will be grave discontent in the Maitland, Cessnock, Singleton and Newcastle districts. 1 know good officers who have been told to step down because, it is said, they are too old, but they are better soldiers than ever de Groot could be. He used to be a furniture manufacturer, and the only thing he ever demonstrated himself capable of doing was to lead Fascist gangs in their attacks on citizens. I hope that the Government will not tolerate him in his present position for another day. Inquiries should be made as to who appointed him. Their background should be examined, and they should be got rid of also.
– Earlier in the evening, Senator Brown asked for certain particulars regarding the Department of Information. When I took over the department, I found that the previous Minister, Senator Foll, had asked for £283,000 to meet the expenses of the department. The present Government reduced the estimate to £119,000. The actual amount expended was £138,000, the increase of expenditure over the estimate being due largely to the inauguration of a national publicity campaign, which cost £17,000, for the Department of Labour and National. Service. Since the present Government took over, publicity censorship, which had an appropriation of approximately £20,000 was transferred to the Prime Minister’s Department. The reason for this was that I, as the Postmaster-General, was also in charge of broadcasting, which itself was necessarily subject to publicity censorship.
Short-wave broadcasting, for which approximately £30,000 was provided, was placed under the control of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I think that the Senate will agree that the national broadcasting instrumentality is the appropriate authority to control this activity with proper collaboration with the Government on propaganda by radio.
The advertising section of the department; was transferred to the Treasury because it was considered that all departments should meet the expenses of their own campaigns for advertising, and the Treasury was the proper department to handle the financial aspect of this arrangement. The Department of Information, however, acts for each department in handling the campaigns.
In the re-organization of the Department of Information, branches consisting of a small staff in each State, an experienced journalist and a typist, were established. The duties of these offices in each State of the Commonwealth are to control war publicity in the respective States. Prior to this arrangement, the only national war publicity outside Sydney and Melbourne, was that of the Army Branches of the department are now established in each capital. Their function is to convey to editors of metropolitan newspapers, background information, which is transmitted to them by code. This service has been established within the last six months. Senator Brown also asked what was the policy of the department. Its policy is to continue to provide speedy and authentic background information to, not only the metropolitan, but also the provincial press, in order to enable all newspapers to present well-informed news to the public.Recently,I received letters from metropolitan newspapers expressing keen appreciation of that service.
I was pleased to hear Senator Brown’s complimentary remarks about Mr. Parer’s work as a newsreel photographer within the department. That officer’s recent film is only one example of the good work which the Film Division has been carrying out in, not only New Guinea, but also other theatres of war. That film has been acclaimed in all parts of the Commonwealth. It has reached the United States of America for distribution through all newsreel organizations there. British Newsreel Distributers are also eagerly awaiting it. I endorse Senator Brown’s praise of the film, and the man who made it. The department also has another newsreel expert at present in New Guinea, and his film of activities at Milne Bay will be released in Australia in the near future. In addition, film are arriving frequently from Captain Hurley in the Middle East. I assure honorable senators that there is a steady demand for newsreels from the battlefields which are handled by the Department of Information.
The department has been subject to considerable criticism, much of which is not justified. It is rendering a service to, not only the people, but also the press of Australia. The vote has been reduced this year as the result of the transfer of the branches which I have mentioned to to other departments. I assure the Senate that the efficiency of the department will not be impaired.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired at - Bendigo, Victoria - For Defence purposes. Fremantle, Western Australia - For Defence purposes (2).
Crawler, South Australia - For Defence purposes.
Sale, Victoria - For Defence purposes.
National Security Act -
National Security (General) Regulations - Orders -
Control of -
Prohibited Places (2).
Prohibiting work on land (3).
Restriction of Celery Planting (South
Taking possession of land, &c. (201).
Use of land (36).
National Security (Land Transport) . Regulations - Order - Western Australia No. 3.
National Security (Liquid Fuel) Regulations - Order - Liquid Fuel (Substitute Fuels ) .
National Security (Supplementary) Regulations - Order - Provision of First Aid Facilities.
Seat of Government Acceptance Actand Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Regulation No. 9 of 1942 (Building and Services ) .
The Senate adjourned at 12.34 a.m. (Wednesday) .
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 29 September 1942, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1942/19420929_senate_16_172/>.