16th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon.J. Cunningham) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I present two reports of the special committee of senators and members appointed to report upon amendments to the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act. A bill will be introduced during this period of the session along the lines of the report.
– In view of the decision of the Government to impose income tax on the deferred pay of soldiers serving overseas, will the Minister representing the Treasurer state whether favorable consideration will be given to the payment of interest on such deferred pay?
– I shall bring the honorable senator’s suggestion to the notice of the Treasurer.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Air inform the Senate whether there are any glider clubs in Australia and whether they are being assisted and encouraged by the Government?
– The matter of establishing glider clubs is now under consideration.
Price of Sturmers; Processing - Appleconcentrate and Treacle
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
Will the Government make immediate inquiries into the process used by the research station at Long Ashton, Bristol, Department of Agriculture and Horticulture, for the manufacture of apple concentrate and treacle so as to make use of the surplus apple crop in Australia this year?
– The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has supplied the following answer: -
The process for the manufacture of apple concentrate and treacle is already known in Australia. At the request of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, working in collaboration with commercial processors, has already produced experimentally apple treacle, calcium malate, pectin and concentrated apple pulp. Pectin is now being manufactured commercially, but at present there is no demand for apple concentrate and treacle.
Itisnot anticipated that there will be any surplus apples this season in any of the mainland States other than Western Australia. In the surplus States of Tasmania and Western Australia processors will be fully engaged in the manufacture of apple products for which there are heavy demands, such asdried apples, canned pie pack apples, and apple jelly.
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
In regard to the proposal that the States should refer to the Commonwealth certain additional powers -
Is it a fact that three draft bills were, in succession, before the convention which sat at Canberra from the 24th November, to the 2nd December, 1942, inclusive?
If so, will the Attorney-General make public the full texts of the opinions of the law officers of the Crown, and other counsel consulted by the Government, in respect to each of these bills?
What was the cost of printing and distribution of handbooks, memoranda, press articles, broadcasts, and circulars issued or made by the authority of the Attorney-General in connexion with the first draft bill submitted?
To what vote was this expenditure charged ?
– The Attorney. General has supplied the following answer : - 1 to 4. It is a fact that before the opening of the convention, a bill to provide for the alteration of the Constitution by conferring on the Parliament power to legislate regarding certain matters had been introduced into the House of Representatives. In consequence of public discussion on this measure the convention was asked to consider a measure containing powers somewhat differently expressed. The convention dealt with this latter measure and made certain amendments to it. If the amendment of a- bill by a deliberative body can be regarded as creating another bill, it may be said that there were three draft bills before the convention. The full text of the opinions of the law officers of the Crown and other counsel consulted by the Government will be laid on the table shortly, together with opinions which have been given on the bill by certain other counsel. Information is being obtained as to the cost of printing and distribution of handbooks, &c, and will be supplied as soon as it is complete. The expenditure will be charged to the appropriate items of the votes of the Attorney-General’s Depart ment.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
SenatorFRASER. - The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has supplied the following answer: -
asked the Minis ter representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
Will the Government, through the responsible Minister, lay on the table of the Senate the full text of the official opinions on the Commonwealth Powers Bill as received from the Crown law officers?
– The AttorneyGeneral has supplied the following answer : -
It is proposed at an early date to lay on the table of the Senate, for the information of honorable senators, not only copies of the opinions above referred to out also of the opinions which have been given in relation to this matter.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
SenatorFRASER.- The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has supplied the following answer: -
Home Leave for New Guinea Troops
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Army has supplied the following answer : -
While certain troops may have been stationedin New Guinea Territory for a period of two years without home leave, the number actually involved would be comparatively small. Early last year a leave scheme was introducedembracing all troops who had served in New Guinea for eighteen months or longer. Unfortunately, owing to operational requirements, this arrangement had to be suspended in July last. New Guinea is an operational area to which no leave can be applied in full, but recreationleave will accrue to all personnel serving in this area on the basis of two days a month, and such leave will be granted as soon as relief can be provided. Leave arrangements in New Guinea are entirely dependent on operational requirements, and in consequence no definite commitment can be made as to when relief will be effected. The Minister for the Army advises, however, that the Conunander-in-Chief is most careful to ensure that his troops receive the maximum of rest and recreation possible in the circumstances.
Debate resumed from the 27th January (vide page 7)on motion by Senator Collings -
That the Senate, at this its first meeting in the year1943, in the fourth year of war with Germany and Italy, and in the second year of war with Japan, declares -
1 ) Australia’s indissoluble unity with the British Commonwealth of Nations, its unswerving loyalty to the cause of the United Nations and its admiration for the heroic efforts of the Allied forces ;
Its pride in the bravery and achievements of the Australian forces, in all theatres, and its intention to make provision for their re-instatement and advancement and for the dependants of those who have died or been disabled as a consequence of the war.
Its determination to use the whole of the man-power and material resources of the nation in order to ensure the maximum war effort necessary to bring about victory, and arising therefrom to provide the requisite measures to promote the national welfare of the whole of the Australian people.
– I was astonished at the attitude adopted by the Government at the reassembling of the Senate yesterday. When the history of this Parliament is written, the speech delivered yesterday by the Leader of the Senate (SenatorCollings) will be known, not as the Governor-General’s opening speech, but as Senator Collings’s windowdressing speech for the next general elections. The Minister delivered that speech because the Government was not prepared to proceed with urgent legislation which had been agreed upon by it, but had not yet received the approval of the Labour party caucus or the Australian Labour party executive.
The motion submitted by the Leader of the Senate yesterday was divided into three parts, in the first of which reference is made to “ Australia’s indissoluble unity with the British Commonwealth of Nations “. I should have preferred the term “ British Empire “, and I should like to have seen in the motion some reference to loyalty to the Throne, although I assume that that is implied in the reference to the British Commonwealth of Nations. In viewof the attitude towards the present war adopted by Eire, I am not so favourable as I otherwise might be to the use of the term “ British Commonwealth of Nations “. Perhaps the Leader of the Senate will tell us whether Eire is still regarded as a memberof that Commonwealth, since that country adopted a policy under which it has tried to legislate itself outside the British Empire. The position of Eire should be clearly defined, especially when such a declaration as contained in the motion is under consideration.I think that we all regret the attitude adopted by that country to the present war, particularly as many good IrishAustralians have lost their lives because of it. Surely it is unnecessary for this
Parliament to declare its loyalty to the British Commonwealth of Nations.
– Flag-waving and flag-wagging !
– I am not ashamed to wave the oldflag of the British Empire. So far as this Parliament is concerned, I should say that it is unnecessary for us to pass a resolution declaring our loyalty, but so far as this country is concerned there are in high places some people whose loyalty to the British Empire I doubt. As regards the second paragraph of the motion, I am sure that we are all in agreement in declaring our pride in the brave achievements of the Australian forces in all theatres of war, and our intention to make provision for their reinstatement and advancement, and for the dependants of those who have died or been disabled as a consequence of the war. We all subscribe to that declaration. We all noticed with regret in this morning’s newspapers the number of good Australians that had paid the supreme sacrifice in this great conflict. When I think of the seriousness of the situation that confronts us, I appreciate what the Australian forces have done for the good name of this country, because I have no doubt that it was the deeds of the Australian Imperial Force that, in effect, put Australia on the map, and made its name stand so high in other parts of the world. But I begin to wonder at this critical stage, when we check over what is occurring in the National Parliament of Australia, whether the Parliament or the Government of the day is not going to spoil the good name made by the fighting forces of this country. I have repealed, and it has been repeated in other places, that during this national crisis every section of this Parliament should be playing the national and not the party game. We know that so far as the soldiers are concerned they have played the national game. We assure the Government that when its specific post-war proposals come before this chamber they will receive all the support that can possibly be given to them in order to do what is adequate and fitting for the men who have done this work. But I do not think that this is an occasion upon which to try to make political capital out of what should be done, or to put this country in the position of making promises that can never be fulfilled. As regards the third part of the motion, I wish to devote particular attention to the delay that has taken place in connexion with the passing through this Parliament of important measures to bring about what is there declared. I repeat portion of the words in order to refresh the memory of honorable senators. The declaration is of Parliament’s determination to use the whole of the man-power and material resources of the nation in order to ensure the maximum war effort necessary to bring about victory. The Senate, I believe, agrees with that declaration, but I wish to prove this afternoon that the Government has fallen down on its job in many respects in connexion with the maximum war effort of this country. It is deeds and not words that count. Deeds and not words made the British Empire. The people of this country are looking for deeds, not words. When we study the reports of propagandists or spokesmen of Ministers for the last twelve or fifteen months, we can say that if words could have produced a maximum effort for Australia, such an effort would have been produced. When, however, we compare what has been promised with what has been accomplished, I direct the attention of the Senate to where the Government and the Parliament have fallen short. I make no secret of the fact that so far as I am concerned the immediate objective, the No. 1 priority at this stage, is the winning of the war. We have noticed in the press the statement delivered yesterdayby the Prime Minister calling attention to the dangerous position that threatens Australia owing to the concentration of the enemy in the adjacent islands. We have read also the statements made by the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) and the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt), and the frantic appeals made by the Government of Australia to the United States of America and Great Britain, as our allies, to send more conscripts to this area to defend Australia. The time is long overdue when we should examine our war effort. Are we doing all that we should be doing to pull our weight in this titanic struggle? The people of Australia appre ciate the fact that the delay that has taken place in amending the Defence Act in order that the Militia may serve outside Australian territories is unpardonable. We know the wastage of manpower that has taken place through our having two armies, and the seriousness of the man-power problem. Let us quietly and without any heat examine the facts. In December, 1941, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden) wrote to the Prime Minister (Mr.Curtin) stating that the whole of the Opposition were united behind him in amending the Defence Act in order that the Militia should be able to fight wherever needed. On the 17 th November, 1942. the Prime Minister, after consultation with General Douglas MacArthur and other of his military advisers, said that it was of the utmost importance that the Defence Act should be amended in order that the Militia could be sent to Timor and other parts of the South-west Pacific area. They appreciated the urgency of such an amendment. Then we understand from reports that the Prime Minister found that it was necessary to refer this matter to the Australian Labour party executive, which consisted of 36 members representing a section of the people of Australia. I have no objection to unionism, or to men belonging to unions, but I have a very great objection to the Prime Minister going to a section of unionists for authority to amend the Defence Act in order to take such an important step in a time of national crisis. We know also that after the first conference it was necessary to refer the matter back to the various States, and that the Australian Labour party met again on the 4th January ofthis year. The decision then made was that the Prime Minister be authorized to proceed with his proposal. If ever I felt it difficult to find words to express my indignation, I did so when I read the resolution moved by the Prime Minister at that conference. Part of the resolution stated: “ We authorize the Government to amend the Defence Act.” Is that not subordination of responsible parliamentary government to a section of the community, an outside organization? Then we had a sorry spectacle when, in spite of the fact that Parliament was called together on the 11th and the 12th December, no business was placed before us. We reassembled yesterday, to find now that because the Labour caucus has not made a decision, the Government is not ready to proceed with legislation to amend the Defence Act. I regard the proposed legislation as the most important with which we shall be asked to deal this session, andI protest emphatically against this delay. Until we see thebill, we shall not be in a position to offer any criticism of the Government’s proposal in respect of the restrictions which it is intended to apply to the area in which our troops may serve outside Australia. We must remember that, although we may pass this motion this afternoon, the Australian Labour party, and not Parliament, is determining the Government’s policy. In spite of the frantic appeals which the Prime Minister has made to the United States of America to send more conscripts to defend Australia, he, himself, in return, is not prepared to take full action in that respect. That is regrettable. The press reports dealing with this matter are an insult to members of this Parliament. We shall have much to say in that respect. I protest emphatically against the action of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Senate in disclosing confidential information to representatives of trade unions regarding matters of high policy which the Government is not prepared to give to members of this Parliament. The following paragraph appeared in the Sunday Mail, Brisbane, of the 20th December last, concerning a meeting of the Queensland Trade Union Congress held in Brisbane two days earlier: -
When Mr. O’Brien said that the South-West Pacific Area should be definitely defined, Mr. Harvey said that this had been done. Before the Queensland Central Executive, the Minister for the Interior (Senator Collings) had produced a map showing the area defined.
The people of Australia have every right to know the boundaries of the area to which the Government proposes to restrict service by our troops outside Australia. The Government should take members of this Parliament into its confidence and give us that information. If it is not prepared to do so in open session, it can do so at a secret meeting of members of both Houses. I again urge the Government to expedite its amendment of the Defence Act, and, in view of the motion now under consideration, declaring that we shall make a maximum war effort, I hope that it will he prepared, like the British Government and the Government of the United States of America, together with our other allies, to allow our troops to serve wherever they are required. The expression “for the defence of Australia” in the resolution passed by the Australian Labour party conference exhibits a petty approach to the waging of a war of the magnitude of the present conflict, and is a poor response to the co-operation which all of our allies have shown towards us.
Yesterday, I mentioned another very important matter with reference to our war effort. The Government has fallen down very badly in this respect. Certain Ministers have set up political tribunals. They have sabotaged our system of industrial arbitration with the result that law and order has given place to mob rule. Because a general election is to be held later this year, the Government is anxious not to offend any of its political supporters. For this reason the law of the land in many instances has not been implemented. Strikes have constantly occurred on the coal-fields in spite of statements to the miners by the Prime Minister during the last fifteen months, setting out the action which the Government proposed to take in order to discipline strikers. Following a visit to the coal-fields by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward) a record number of miners went on strike. Recently, the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) visited the coal-fields, but a week later eleven mines were idle because of strikes. On New Year’s Day, when many of our young men were paying the supreme sacrifice on the battlefield, a large section of trade unionists refused to work in war factories.
– Were they heavily fined?
– They were bound over. Recently, a strike of female employees occurred in a factory in South Australia engaged in the manufacture of military boots. Although those employees agreed to abide by the decision of the Arbitration Court, they declined to return to work when Judge O’Mara announced his decision. Because the Minister for Labour and National Service, who has been styled by some of his former supporters as a “cheer chaser does not wish to offend his supporters he is content to allow that strike to continue. On Australia Day and on New Year’s Day, the Prime Minister made a pronouncement in which he told the American people what Australians are prepared to do in the .prosecution of the war. Surely, if the Government is sincere in talking about a maximum war effort it will ensure that strikes do not continue. The Government, and not a section of militant unionists, should govern the country.
Many other matters come within the scope of this debate; but it will be more appropriate to deal with them when the relevant legislation comes before us. The reckless financial policy of the Government which is designed to implement the Government’s promises to its supporters, will throw the country on the rocks. I hope that when the bills forecast come before the Senate, in spite of what the Prime Minister has said in regard to taxation and wage increases, the Government will be prepared to reverse its decision, as it has done many times in the last few years, and thus enable this country to stand up to its financial obligations. If those obligations are to be met, Parliament must be prepared to do things which may be unpopular, for only in that way shall we be able to keep Australia on an even keel, financially and economically, when the war is won.
Senator DARCEY (Tasmania) [3.41 j. - I am sure that there is not a man in this chamber who was not impressed with the earnestness which characterized the speech of the Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings) yesterday. After an interview with certain children who are well known to all radio audiences as the “ Quiz Kids “, the Minister said that he was anxious that the young people of to-day would not become the cannon fodder of the next generation. If this or any other Government were the final arbiter of peace and war, such a happy’ state of affairs might be quite possible, but as I have pointed out in this chamber on many occasions, the final decision on such matters does not lie with governments, and it is beyond the power of any government to ensure -that a tragedy such as we are witnessing at present will not occur again. There is a power above all governments which can bring about war or peace, as it desires. I refer to the big international financial interests, including the armament manufacturers, who control governments and, through the radio and daily press, influence completely the minds of the people. We know for certain that the re-armament of Nazi Germany was carried out primarily with the assistance of the Bank of England. I have here portion of an article published in a Chicago journal in 1938 giving the following interesting information: -
In the spring of 1934, a select group of international financiers gathered around Montagu Norman. Governor of the Bank of England, in the Bank of England, in Threadneedlestreet.
Among those present were Sir Allen Anderson, partner in Anderson, Green and Company ; Lord (then Sir Josiah) Stamp, chairman of the London, Midland and Scottish railway system; Edward Shaw, chairman of the Peninsula and Oriental steamship lines; Sir Robert Kindersley, a partner in Lazard Brothers; Charles Hambros, partner in Hambros Brothers; and C. Ti arks, head of J. Schroeder Company.
It will be noticed that not many of the names are British.
But now a new power was established on Europe’s political horizon, namely, Nazi Germany.
Hitler had disappointed his critics. His regime was no temporary nightmare, but a system with a good future, and Mr. Norman advised his directors to include Hitler in their plans.
There was no opposition, and it was decided that Hitler should get covert help from London’s financial section until Norman would have succeeding in putting sufficient pressure on the Government to make it abandon its pro-French policy for a more promising pro- German policy.
Immediately the directors went into action. Their first move was to sponsor Hitler’s secret rearmament, just about to begin. Using their controlling interests in both Vickers and Imperial Chemical Industries, .they instructed these two huge armament concerns to help the German programme by all the means at their disposal … Tn the same year English armament firms placed huge advertisements in the Militaerischer Wochenblatt, offering for sale tanks and guns, prohibited by the Versailles Treaty. A statement made by General
Sir Herbert Lawrence, chairman of Vickers, furnished the necessary evidence tha.t the British Government knew about and approved these advertisements. When, at his company’s annual meeting, he was asked to give an assurance that Vickers arms and munitions were not being used lor secret rearming in Germany, he replied, “ I cannot give you an assurance in definite terms, but I can tell you that nothing is done without the complete sanction and approval of our Government”.
Any one who has studied high finance will know perfectly well that such an assurance could not be given because the British Government, owing to its huge indebtedness, was completely under the thumb of financial interests. It will be recalled that a member of the famous Rothschild family said on one occasion, “ Give me control of a nation’s credit and I care not who makes its laws “. That statement holds good to-day. The armament manufacturers and war mongers still are at large when they should be hanging from lamp posts, and Mr. Montagu Norman still controls the Bank of England.
Recently I read - I think it was in the Army magazine Salt - that a certain general had complained that his plans had been upset over and over again by the refusal of the Treasury to take notice of the statements that be made.
– Why blame the Bank of England for that?
– The honorable senator is new in this chamber and I am confident that he will make a decided acquisition to its conservatism. It was he who, on his first day in the Senate, told us, notwithstanding the appalling plight of the wheat-growers in Western Australia, that he had opposed the bill which was brought before the Parliament of Western Australia with the object of affording relief to the wheat-growers of that State through the Commonwealth Bank.
– I said nothing of the sort. I did not say anything about the Commonwealth Bank.
– The honorable senator said that he had opposed the measure which had been designed to give relief to the wheat-growers through the Commonwealth Bank. That can be found in Hansard.
It will be recalled that in Great Britain after the last war, the great
Jarrow shipbuilding yards were closed down. Similarly, the huge shipbuilding industry on the Clyde ceased operations. Everything was done to sabotage industry. Mr. Lloyd George had told the people that Great Britain was to be made a land fit for heroes to live in, but he found that governments were powerless to oppose the will of high finance. I am afraid that there will be a repetition of that state of affairs if the much heralded Atlantic Charter conies into operation after this war. Whilst in many ways it is a very laudable document, at the dictates of Wall-street, it provides for a return to the gold standard, and what nation will hold the bulk of the world’s gold supply when the war is over? America, of course. Hundreds of tons of gold are being placed for safety at Fort Knox.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. J. Cunningham) . - Order ! I ask the honorable senator to confine his remarks to the motion before the chair.
– In conclusion, I emphasize that wars are not caused by governments, but by those powerful interests which control governments, and that applies in Australia as much as anywhere else.
.- The Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings), in enlarging ‘upon the Government’s three-pointed declaration in the motion under discussion, referred to Australia’s splendid war effort. We have every reason to be proud of that effort, particularly on the industrial side, but the honorable senator needs to be reminded that this country’s actual fighting strength, comparatively speaking, is below that of 3 914-1S. Some people have the idea that our maximum effort has been reached, because many thousands of our people are in uniform. What good is that, if the majority are not destined for active operations in co-operation with our allies? The present population of Australia is 2,250,000 greater than during the last war. Allowing for the large air force, local battle stations to be manned, lines of communications to be guarded and thousands employed in munitions production, the actual fighting strength is below that of the Australian Imperial Force in the first World War. The casual ties in the five Australian Imperial Force divisions during the third battle of Ypres were 38,093 killed and wounded., or an average of just over 7,000 in each division, as against 52,148 in all services, including prisoners, since the commencement of the present war up to the 31st December, 1942. British divisions lost 448,614 men, or nearly 9,000 in each division. Ludendorf, in his memoirs, records that 86 German di visions were ‘used to stem the series of advances over that sea-of-mud battlefield. The German losses were not given, but he said that these divisions in turn were so badly battered that they were never the same again. That battle, known as the Passchendale offensive, was fought in the last three and a half months of 1917 to keep the German armies from attacking the French armies then undergoing reconstruction, to give the United States armies time to complete their training on the other side of the Atlantic, to capture the nest of U-boat bases on the Belgian coast, and to increase the growing disaffection among the halfstarved German people as the result of the Allies’ blockade. The battle called for super-human efforts on the part of the British and Dominion divisions. Their efforts stabilized the western front, and paved the way for victory in 1918.
I mention these facts because they have a bearing upon the Government’s declaration of unity, co-operation and loyalty to the cause of the United Nations. I wish to show what will happen to the present Australian Imperial Force divisions if they are not relieved by fresh Militia divisions in carrying out the Government’s declared policy of full co-operation with the United Nations, particularly the United States, in or outside Australian territories. The five war-weary Australian Imperial Force divisions, like the other divisions, were called upon to do a tremendous, yet necessary, task at the latter end of 1917. Though veterans, they’ were not up to full strength. A considerable number were Anzacs. They fought through knee-deep mud, with no dry spots to rest their weary bodies, and with no shelter from the mustard gas and blue cross gas, or from the enemy’s artillery, “ drum fire “ more accurate and terrifying than that of the present-day dive bombers, according to officers who have had experience of both. Yet they carried on. A short respite in a reserve area WaS not sufficient time for recuperation. This is one of the reasons why our war pensions bill is so high, and why old “diggers” are being re-admitted to repatriation hospitals.
The troops in New Guinea are fighting under somewhat similar conditions. Though gas has not been used, malaria is sending men to hospitals. Before Japan is defeated, the Australian Imperial Force divisions will be called upon for a superhuman effort, in conjunction with our Allies - a final effort for Australia’s safety. Must they be in action continuously without a reasonable period for recuperation? For every one division actively engaged, another should be ready to take its place. If the vote-catching politician has his way, relief Militia divisions will not be available to play their part in the defence of Australia. It has been argued that because Britain is retaining the majority of its divisions in home camps and battle stations, Australia should do likewise. Those divisions are kept there in readiness for a final effort whenever that effort is adjudged to be most likely to succeed. History will repeat itself. During the months of May. June and July, 1918, divisions stationed in Britain for as long as three war years were .either transferred to the western front or sent to relieve veteran divisions in Palestine, Egypt and Salonica. The latter were despatched hot-haste to France for the great allied offensive, which was launched on the 8th August, 1918, and which ended with the armistice three months afterwards. There was no political party conference to settle whether those home-stationed British divisions should or should not cross to France. Marshal Foch, the Allied CommanderinChief, wanted them. There was no further argument. Those divisions all consisted of compulsorily called-up personnel. There was a practical example of unity, loyalty and co-operation between the Allies.
The Leader of the Senate paid a mild tribute to Britain’s war effort. I desire to place on record some facts that are likely to he overlooked by many people in their admiration for the splendid part now being played by Soviet Russia.
While Britain was taking as fierce a strafe as any nation was called upon to suffer, no country came to its assistance. Britain then would have welcomed a second front to draw off some of the Nazi bombers. During those 21 months when its cities were bombed, its shipping destroyed, its industries damaged and its people put on starvation subsistence, Britain saved Soviet Russia by giving it time to complete its war preparations, which began long before Hitler was heard of. Britain could have made peace terms with Nazi Germany on reasonably good terms, but it stood firm for 21 months of the most amazing self-sacrifice and courage in human history. I do not desire to belittle Soviet Russia’s splendid efforts; but, in giving praise to that great ally, let us not lose sight of what Britain has clone. I am an Australian, and, like tens of thousands of working men, wish to hear governmental pronouncements now and again showing Australia’s appreciation of our kith and kin in the Homeland.
– That has been done over and over again.
– No. But, to get nearer home, there is a considered opinion that if a stocktaking were made of the Allied gains and losses in the South-west Pacific area, the result would be more favorable to the Japanese. True, the air arm, in co-operation with the Navy, has dealt staggering blows on enemy convoys. What if a few transports laden with fighting troops are sunk? Japan has an almost inexhaustible reserve of trained fighting man-power. Australia has not, neither has the United States of America, when it is remembered that its armies- are dispersed all over the world, and must be reinforced from time to time. The Japanese soldier’s fatalistic outlook on warfare, the time that has been allowed Japan to strengthen the hold on the many islands in the South-west Pacific area, and the stubborn resistance the enemy puts up, will make the island-by-island conquest a long and costly business. May he that is exactly what our wily foe wants us to do. We must not play into his hands knowingly. A wise commander always has an alternative plan. I have no inside information, but I can, with a background of experience, make what is termed in military parlance “ an appreciation of the situation”. That is part of a general’s training.
I repeat that I have no confidential information, but that does not prevent me stating a cardinal military principle that, if operations against a foe are not making satisfactory progress, and are likely to become a stalemate, a holding policy should be pursued and a thrust made with a maximum striking force in some other area. Japan is our enemy. lt can and must be beaten, if the right area and right time are chosen. Whereever that area, may be, the defence of Australia is involved. The strategical location of Japan’s widely dispersed armies is .unique in military history. Isolated and step-by-step attacks upon separate localities as distinct from a major allied offensive, in which the three fighting services can co-operate, will only prolong the war. No doubt the allied commands operating against Japan have some such offensive in mind. I make these observations because I believe the time will come when the allied Southwest Pacific command, as partners responsible for the defeat of the enemy which threatened Australia, will ask for our maximum co-operation. If the Government is really in earnest about “ indissoluble unity with the British Commonwealth of Nations and unswerving, loyalty to the cause of the United Nations “, it must place no academic or artificial restrictions upon the use of our fighting forces. The defence of Australia is bound up in any United Nations’ scheme to beat the Japanese.
The Government’s second point in its declared policy indicates that it had its ear to the ground, and had heard rumblings of a storm brewing if the fighting services are not given complete and adequate recognition for the part that they are playing in this war. I looked in vain for any straight-out pronouncement that preference to returned soldiers is foremost in the Government’s mind. I reserve any remarks on ‘the Government’s repatriation policy until the bill to amend the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act has been introduced.
As regards the third point in the declaration, the thinking public and the members of the fighting services will want something more than words to show determination to use the whole of the nation’s man-power and material resources in order to ensure the maximum effort necessary to bring about victory. They will look for action in rooting out eligible fit men of military age who are sheltering in government departments and so-called essential industries. The permanent status of government servants should not be the sole reason for exemption. The actual fighting services, particularly the Army, must have more and more trained men if the first point of the Government’s declaration for 1943 means something more than window-dressing for the forthcoming general elections.
– I endorse the remark of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) that the speech delivered by the Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings) yesterday was merely a time-filling device, and that this Parliament was entitled to better treatment than it received at the hands of the Government after a fairly long recess. If the Government was not ready to proceed with its legislative programme, it could easily have waited another week before calling the Parliament together. That would have been better than bringing members here to hear a statement which was merely a reiteration of statements made from time to time previously, and to discuss a motion expressing views which are accepted by the people of Australia generally. The only virtue in the procedure adopted is that it does provide honorable senators with an opportunity for a general discussion ; but we have reached the stage at which academic discussions should be discarded, so that we may get down to the real business of the Parliament and give to the Government the additional powers necessary to carry out effectively its war programme. No one can quarrel with the terms of the motion before the Senate. Every one of us appreciates the extraordinarily good effort put forward during recent months by members of the Australian Imperial Force, the Royal Australian Air Force and the Royal Australian Navy, as well as by our Allies, in connexion with the campaign in Papua, where matters have been brought to a satisfactory conclusion. Those of us who have some knowledge of the type of country in which these operations were carried out can have nothing but praise for our fighting men, because it is generally admitted that it would be difficult to find country where the conditions are more unpleasant, and the obstacles more real or severe, than in the area which has recently been cleared of Japanese. I endorse the remarks of Senator Brand that the .recent fighting, valuable though it has been, has been costly. We look forward to the time when our Forces and those of our Allies will strike at the heart of the enemy - not merely nibble at his fingertips- so that before long he will be forced to cry “ enough “. Foi- that reason, the sooner legislation to provide for a more extensive use of the Militia is passed through the Parliament, so that our fighting men may be employed wherever they are required by the Commander-in-Chief, the better it will be. I cannot allow this opportunity to pass without referring to the deplorable delay that has taken place in bringing the necessary legislation before the Parliament. In saying that, I do not underestimate the difficulties confronting the Prime Minister because of the constitution of his own party; I know that he has had enormous difficulties to overcome, both inside and outside the. Parliament.
– The honorable senator is quite wrong.
– I have read of some heated discussions that have taken place in the party. The Leader of the Senate knows something of the difficulties to which I have referred because he himself had some trouble in convincing members of the Australian Workers Union in Queensland of the need for the Government’s proposals. Unfortunately for Australia, the Minister’s efforts in Queensland were not so successful as they should have been.
– The honorable senator does not know the whole story.
– I do not know what story the honorable senator told to his hearers, but I do know that the majority of them did not accept his views. Some months ago, when the use of the Militia in areas outside Australia was discussed in this chamber-
– I rise to a point of order ! Is the honorable senator in order in discussing a bill which is soon to come before the Senate?
– The honorable senator is not in order. I had not been acquainted with the fact that a bill to extend the area in which the Militia may serve had been introduced into the House of Representatives. I was about to make inquiries. If notice has been given for the introduction of such a measure into the other chamber, the honorable senator will not be in order in referring to such legislation.
– I have no desire to disregard your ruling, Mr. President, but I should like to know under what Standing Order I am debarred from mentioning this matter, in view of the fact that all that the Prime Minister has done is to say that to-morrow he proposes to ask for leave to do certain things.
– The honorable senator will not be out of order in referring to any matter which transpired prior to notice being given of a motion to introduce a bill into the other chamber, but he is not entitled to discuss a measure which is before that chamber.
– I appreciate the position, Mr. President. I shall deal with the problem which faced the Prime Minister when he was asked to provide the means whereby the Militia Forces of this country could be used in areas outside those already prescribed. I remind the Senate that nearly three months have elapsed since the right honorable gentleman stated that, in order to defeat the enemy and enable Australia to put forth its full effort, greater use would have to be made of the Militia Forces. Since then nothing has been done except that to-day notice has been given that something is to take place later this week, or next week, or, perhaps, the week after that. In my opinion the Prime Minister lost a unique opportunity of becoming one of the really great statesmen of this country. If instead of going to a conference of labour unions he had come straight to this Parliament and said : “ I ‘believe that these measures are necessary in order that Australia may play its part to the full with its allies in the war effort, and I do not propose to allow myself to be diverted by any trade union conference or any outside Labour body or by the Opposition in this Parliament. All I want to know is : who is with me for Australia in its hour of need ? “ I venture to say that an overwhelming majority of the members of both Houses of this Parliament would have hailed him as a real statesman, and he would have gone down in history for all time as a man of courage, prepared to place the interests of his country before any other consideration. That was not the case. Unfortunately, on account of the set-up of the Parliamentary Labour party, it is not master of its own destiny, but has always to seek its instructions elsewhere. The Prime Minister, instead of being able to come to this free Parliament in this free country and tell us what was required for the nation in its time of trouble, had to go to a conference in Melbourne and ask for permission to do certain things. If the press reported the proceedings correctly, lie was not even allowed to stay in the room while his request was considered by at least one State branch of the Australian Labour party executive. It has been a most sad and sorrowful picture, yet only yesterday the Prime Minister made a statement that the danger to this country is very real indeed - in fact greater than it has ever been in our history - and that in spite of the victory that our men have secured in driving the enemy from Papua, there are still large enemy forces mobilizing in our near north. The days and the hours go past, and still this measure, which is required to enable our military leaders to do what they have asked the Prime Minister for power to do, has not become law. I hope that when it does come before this Parliament it will be of such a comprehensive nature that the divisions which have existed in our armies owing to the constitution of the various sections will definitely disappear. I hope that all sections will be really merged into one army, and that the difficulties that previously existed will completely disappear. We must have one Australian Army, so that every member of it is a soldier of
Australia, available to go wherever required by the Government of the day and the military commanders. I hope that the measure will bring about a real merger, and not be something that merely toys with the position. Of course we cannot know that until it is introduced.
– Order ! I draw the honorable senator’s attention to Standing Order 416. I must rule the honorable senator out of order if he continues has remarks on the lines which he is now pursuing.
– I regret that I was digressing. I shall conform to your ruling.
I feel that I must make reference to the rumours that we constantly hear about the great difference in pay between men engaged on military works for the Allied Works Council and those in the fighting forces. The Leader of the Senate, who is the Minister in control of the Allied Works Council, can probably set many of these matters right, but there are rumours gaining ground all the time that men engaged on various construction works are receiving enormous rates of pay. We are told that in one case a man who is cook for a gang receives about £4S a fortnight.
– He may work very long hours for that.
– I want the matter investigated and clarified. The honorable senator knows that an impression is getting abroad that unusually large amounts are being paid for this kind of work, comparing most unfavorably with the money received by the fighting soldiers. I hope that the Leader of the Senate will make an explanation of the whole matter when replying to this debate. I have seen figures quoted in the press recently to the effect that men using new trucks have been able in two or three weeks to pay for them. I have seen figures quoted over and over again that men engaged a3 cooks and cooks’ assistants are earning £1,200, £1,400 or £1,500 per annum. These rumours cannot be altogether without foundation in fact. They are far too numerous. It is quite unfair that one section of the community should be drawing pay out of all proportion to what the members of the fighting forces are getting. There is no complaint by the soldiers on the score of their pay. They arc out to do the job and to give their very best for Australia, but fair play is bonny play, and that principle should operate throughout all our activities.
Another matter which has come to notice personally on account of the work in which I am at present engaged is the self-sacrificing work which is being done, and has been done for two or three years past, by the members of the Volunteer Defence Corps. Until it was my privilege to become attached to that corps nearly a year ago, I had little knowledge of what real sacrifices many of its members were making in remaining in the corps. Some of them have for two or three years given up two or three nights a week and the whole of their week-ends to learning drill and the handling of grenades and machine-guns. Their position is becoming rauch more difficult on account of the increasing labour shortage, and the demands being made on all sections of industry through the man-power problem. T appreciate that, there is no more difficult problem that the Government has to face. One of the most unfortunate facts is that our population is not two or three times larger.
Recently I have been in an area that is famous as a dairying district. In days gone by the men who comprise the bulk of the country units have been able to get certain assistance on their farms. Owing to the fact that we experienced a. very dry period for two or three years they were able to give a certain amount of their time to drilling and making themselves proficient as members of the Volunteer Defence Corps. They are still sticking at it with the same patriotism and determination, but their problem is becoming more difficult every day. The shortage of labour on the farms has become most grave. The drought has broken, and, to-day, the production of milk and cream in many districts has risen by from 200 to 300 per “cent. At the same time, sufficient labour is not available. The time is rapidly approaching when we must overhaul our home defence army. Many thousands of able-bodied men, who are now employed in exempted industries, are not receiving any military training whatever. Of course, many men who are exempt from military service because of their employment in protected industries, are undergoing voluntary training. However, our man-power problem is now becoming so serious that if the war be prolonged, as apparently it will, the Government must take steps to give a certain amount of military training to every able-bodied man in this country whether he is or is not engaged in an exempted industry. Such a scheme will prove most beneficial when great numbers of members of the fighting services leave these shores for service in theatres outside Australia. In this way we shall be able to make preparations against raids or invasion because men trained under such a scheme will be able to act as a holding force until the arrival of the main forces. Our country is very large, and we do not know where the enemy may strike.
– The members of the Volunteer Defence Corps are doing a good job.
– Yes. it is an excellent corps. However, whilst members of that force are prepared voluntarily to undergo military training in their spare time many others engaged in exempted industries are not prepared to do so. A great reservoir of military man-power is available in’ exempted industries. When one visits a town to-day he finds that whilst about 50 per cent, of the local exempted mcn who are eligible for war service undergo military training in the Volunteer Defence Corps, almost an equal number decline to do anything to prepare themselves to act in the defence of their country. We are now reaching a stage when we cannot afford to leave to any man the decision as to whether he will undergo military training. As I said earlier, our present man-power problem would cause any government grave concern. I hope that the Government wil adopt the suggestion made by Senator Brand, and make a complete comb-out of government and private employees of military age. In Canberra, for instance, a very large percentage of men of military physique are training in the Volunteer Defence Corps, and most of them are engaged in government offices. However, a great many others are prepared to see their mates go off to their military exercises while they themselves stay at home, or play golf or howls. All men of military age who are now engaged in exempted industries should he given military training. I urge the Government to give these matters serious consideration.
I am disturbed by the press reports regarding absenteeism in industry and industrial strife. How much more must happen to Australia before these people will realize their responsibility to this country? Must the enemy appear in the main streets of our capital cities before they are made to realize their obligations ? Can they not realize that every hour lost in a munitions factory or a coal-mine means an hour gained by our enemy? What else must we do to awaken these people to the danger confronting us? Several days ago I read the report of a speech by the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt) in which he deplored a general tendency to complacency. I agree with his remarks. On a previous occasion in this chamber, I said that one reason for this complacency is that sufficient information concerning our danger is not made available to the public. Our people must be given the news whether it be bad or good. Great Britain did not go under when its army was defeated at Dunkirk. That was the Motherland’s darkest hour; and the Australian people are not less worthy than the British people in that respect. However, it would appear from many press reports that the war is almost over. We know that it cannot be over whilst one of our enemies is occupying areas at our very door. The Government should not he afraid to tell the people every day, night and morning, by every means at its disposal, how serious our position is. We can justly glorify the exploits of our fighting forces; but we should take care to ensure that a minor victory will not lead our people to believe that the war is nearly over. I urge the people of this country not to be complacent, or to imagine that we are out of the wood. We are far from it. Every one of us will have to make far greater sacrifices before the war is won.
.- As I listened yesterday to the Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings) when he was moving this somewhat extraordinary motion I felt that he was a little conscience stricken concerning the task that had been assigned to him. That was so apparent that he felt he had to search for some excuses for presenting to this chamber a motion which, in part, should be quite unnecessary and which in other parts is nothing more than a votecatching election speech. The Leader of the Senate, in endeavouring to see what excuses he could find, told us that this motion was actually a substitute for the usual procedure at the opening of Parliament; that in normal circumstances we would have had a speech by the Governor-General. and in effect, what he was doing was to give to the Senate the substance of what normally would have appeared in a speech of the GovernorGeneral when opening Parliament.
– I did not say anything of the kind.
– I heard quite well what the Minister said. He told us that in normal circumstances Parliament would have been opened by the GovernorGeneral and we would have had a speech by the Governor-General, followed by an Address-in-Reply.
– That is so.
– And that this motion provided honorable senators with an opportunity such as would be afforded if the usual course were taken.
– I did not say that. The honorable senator should know what I said because a copy of my speech was made available to him.
– If the Minister did not say that, then I am afraid I cannot understand plain English.
– I said that my speech would afford an opportunity to honorable senators to say anything which was fit and proper, so long as their remarks were within the ambit of the declaration, and my own remarks upon it.
– I was glad to hear the Minister’s assurance that honorable senators could discuss any matter within the ambit of this motion, but I suppose when he made that statement he knew quite well that a certain measure was to be brought before the House of Representatives to-day, and that such action would prevent the discussion in this chamber of a most important matter within the ambit of this motion.
– Nobody is preventing the honorable senator from discussing my speech now.
– As a result of the Government’s action honorable senators are deprived of an opportunity to discuss the one matter which the Government obviously does not want to be discussed at the present time. Surely the Leader of the Senate will noi; have the temerity to suggest that th”. area within which the Militia is to be e a ployed is not a matter which is within t- e ambit of this motion, or that when he made that statement yesterday, he intended to convey to the Senate that honorable senators, when speaking to this resolution, would be free to discuss that matter. The real fact is that there are many subjects which are beginning to cause this Government considerable concern.
– The proximity of the Japanese forces to our shores is the Government’s main concern at present.
– I shall be happy when the Government, by effecting the necessary amendments to the existing law, indicates that it is prepared to use our forces to throw the enemy hack to his homeland. That will be a fair indication that the Government is prepared to use the armed forces of this country for the purpose of defeating the Japanese.
There are other matters to which one would have expected reference to be made in the speech, which the Leader of the Senate delivered yesterday if it were intended to be a substitute for a speech by the Governor-General. Since Parliament last met in December, 1942, we have heard through that strange and mythical person. “ a Government Spokesman “, that pertain financial measures were to be proceeded with during this session, but we have not heard a word about them from the Leader of the Senate although he concerned himself with a motion affirming our intention to use the whole of the man-power and material resources of the nation in order to ensure a maximum war effort. Surely financial proposals are very relevant to that matter.
– One thing at a time.
– Yes, but this is a programme. “When it comes to telling the people what the Government proposes to do in the distant future, and talking in vague generalities about freedom from fear and freedom from want, speeches by honorable senators opposite are freely made, but the very matters that the Government is not yet prepared to have discussed in this chamber are the real practical questions of to-day which must be determined urgently, namely, the making of our best effort to win the war, and the maintenance of a foundation upon which we can erect a prosperous future for this country. It is a favorite device of politicians who wish to evade a difficult question, to turn away to some other problems which may arise in the future, and upon which, at the best, they can engage only in vague generalities. I have been greatly concerned ever since I have been in this chamber, not only with the policy which the Government has applied in relation to the use of Australian troops overseas, but also at the lack of a sane, sound financial policy by means of which we shall be able to meet the burden of this war in the way in which it should be met. This is the 28th day of January, 1943, and five months of the current financial year remain, during which £200,000,000 still has to be raised, if the programme which the Government placed before Parliament a few months ago is to be completed. On the Government’s own figures it expected to raise, by means other than taxation, £300,000,000 in this financial year. At this late stage honorable senators opposite are congratulating themselves upon the fact that in the course of the last seven months the Government has raised £75,000,000 towards the solution of that problem.
– The honorable senator was doubtful even about the £75,000,000.
– I was doubtful about the capacity of this Government to raise what the Treasurer said he intended to raise, namely, £240,000,000.
– We have achieved everything that we said we would achieve, financially and otherwise, and we shall continue to do so so long as we retain the confidence of the people of this country.
– I am glad to hear that statement from the Minister. Although, in October last, the Treasurer indicated that he proposed to raise £240,000,000 by way of loan, only £75,000,000 has so far been raised. Nothing has so far been done by the Government in this Parliament to see that measures are taken to make up that leeway.
– The honorable senator will hear about that in good time.
– We might have been told something about it yesterday. Are there any reasons why members of this Parliament should not be taken into the confidence of the Government? We have come from all parts of Australiato deal with the governmental problems of this country, and all that we have heard from the Leader of the Senate is a string of platitudes. There has been no indication of what the immediate legislative programme of the Government will be. There was not even a reference by the Minister to an important bill introduced into the House of Representatives to-day. It seems to be regarded by the Government as quite proper for it to go to outside juntas in order to get approval of its proposals.
– To get their permission.
– Yes, even to get their permission. The least one would expect a democratic party to do would be to consult the representatives of the people, but Ministers attend a private party conference in order to get instructions, and this Parliament is merely intended by the Government to give its imprimatur to what the Trades Hall dictates. I have had the temerity to make some remarks upon the financial problem, because I regard as a very serious matter the failure of the Government to tackle the problem in earnest. It should ensure that sufficient money is transferred from the income in the hands of the public to enable the war to be financed. I have referred to this matter in relation to the present motion because we were given some indication yesterday by the Minister of the kind of paradise which he and the Government propose to promise to the people of Australia after the war.
– Does the honorable senator object to that?
– I object to promising things which we cannot afford to provide for our people.
SenatorCollings. - The honorable senator is prepared to pay for war, but is not prepared to pay for peace.
– We are not paying for the war at present; we are failing to pay for it. It is quite useless for the Minister to say that we can pay for wars and thereforew e can pay for amenities in peace-time. My complaint is that, although we are imposing income tax at rates up to18s. in the £1, we are not paying for the war. The Government is passing on the debt all the time to posterity. That is the worst foundation upon which we can hope to establish a satisfactory post-war order. We should keep our financial house in order as far as possible while the war is in progress. If we add to the problems of post-war reconstruction other problems that will arise because of the failure of the Government to pay for the war as the struggle proceeds, our difficulties will be insuperable.
– A government supported by the political party of which the honorable senator is a member, gave us the depression that occurred after the last war, and this Government is anxious to avoid a repetition of those conditions.
– If I remember aright, that depression occurred during the regime of the Scullin Government and of the Lang Labour Government of New South Wales. It was intensified largely by the failure of the Scullin Government, which was forced to do those things which were necessary to rectify the situation that arose. That depression was due in a large measure to failure to deal with the financial problems during the last war in the way in which they should have been dealt with, and, because I do not want to see a repetition of those conditions, I hope that the Government will do more than it has done up to the present to see that the incomes of the community are diverted as much aspossible from civil expenditure, and placed in the hands of the Government for war purposes. Every day this problem is placed aside, the more difficult it will become. I suppose that the Minister accepts with complacency the factthat since the present Government has been in office the cost of living in Australia has increased at a much more rapid rate than during the regime of the United Australia party governments that immediately preceded it.
– Under totally different conditions.
– It is significant that when the presentGovernment took office the cost of living in this country showed an increase of only about 10 per cent.
– And nothing had been done !
SenatorSPICER.- How can the honorable senator say that? Who laid the foundations for the establishment of the aircraft and munitions industries in Australia? Which Government built the factories, provided the necessary machinery, and put men and women to work in the munitions industry? It was the Government that was in office prior to the establishment of the present Labour Government.Which Government, despite the opposition of the Labour party, raised a force to defend Australia overseas? Who provided an opportunity for the Australian Imperial Force, whose deeds the Minister is so pleased to praise to-day, to engage in those operations, and who opposed that policy? We all know that from the commencement of the war the Labour party has opposed the sending of Australian troops overseas.
– You are a dirty liar.
– The honorable senator must withdraw those words.
SenatorLamp. - I have pleasure in withdrawing them. The honorable senatorhas distorted the facts.
– BeforeI came into this Parliament I engaged in election campaigns where the issue was whether or not Australian troops of any kind should be sent overseas. I am pleased that the Labour party has seen the error of its ways, hut it is most unfortunate for this country that it has taken so long to do so. However, bit by bit the Government is being driven by force of circumstances to discard various items of policy which have formed the programme of the Labour party and items which, had they been in operation, would have been detrimental to the defence of Australia. But, despite the recantation of some of its pet theories, I am still not satisfied that members of the Governmentand of this Labour party have a true view of the war situation. In the speech of the Leader of the Senate yesterday there was a great deal of emphasis on the defence of Australia. I. then had the feeling that that emphasis indicated that he had in mind a force which would stand around the shores of Australia to keep out any enemy. That is important, but it is only a small part of the task confronting us. From time to time Ministers refer to the present conflict as a global war, but there is little indication tha t they understand the implications of global strategy. I regard the actions of the Australian Imperial Force in Egypt as of just as much importance to the defence of Australia as activities within Australia or the territories near to Australia. It is necessary that we should keep that fact in mind if we are to make the contribution which weshould make, as a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations and as one of the Allied Nations, to the victory to which we are looking forward. I am disappointed with the performances of the Government.
– That is a clear indication that the Government’s policy is right.
– We come here not to pass resolutions but to pass legislative acts. Although the Government has had two months in which to prepare for these sittings, it still had to resort to a subterfuge for action by presenting to the Parliament the motion now before the Senate. Such a motion is quite unnecessary so far as the Opposition is concerned, for surely the Leader of the Senate does not expect the Opposition to oppose the policy which it has supported ever since the war started. It may be that the motion was necessary to indicate to the public that the Labour party has now adopted fully the policy of the parties in Opposition. The time of the Senate has been occupied in discussing this motion because at this stage the Government is not prepared to proceed with the measures which have been foreshadowed. They are urgently necessary if the defence policy of this country is to be placed on a proper basis.
– I rise with a full sense of responsibility to discuss matters arising out of the motion before the Senate, and with no desire whatever to make political capital out of the discussion. Happenings in the House of Representatives yesterday show that it is possible for members to descend to low depths when attacking their political opponents, or a man of great probity, courage and loyalty, who, as Prime Minister of this country, has rendered wonderful service in the interests of Australia. Although I may be accused of political myopia, I say that the present Labour Government has done splendid work for Australia and the cause of the Allies. Under its direction work associated with the war effort has proceeded apace, every Minister giving of his best out of a sense of loyalty to Australia and the allied cause. I know that several Ministers work night and day, and therefore it ill behoves any member of this Parliament to criticize them in a small-minded way. If members of the Opposition have any constructive ideas to place before the Parliament, they can raise the status of the Parliament if they voice them in a proper manner; but when interjections such as those which characterized the debate in the other chamber yesterday are made we are forced to the conclusion that the time may not be far distant when parliamentswill be set aside and some form of dictatorship take their place.
– That is Labour’s policy.
– This motion affords a splendid opportunity for honorable senators to discuss matters of public importance, particularly those relating to the prosecution of the war. If honorable senators do their duty to the people by making themselves acquainted with all phases of the war, and matters relating ito reconstruction after the war, and if they express those views in a proper way, the status of the Senate can be raised in the eyes of .the people. Admittedly parliamentary ins.titut.ions have degenerated in public estimation during recent years. That view has been fostered by the press of Australia. Discussion on the motion before the Senate is not a waste of time, as some honorable senators have suggested. We are not here merely to discuss legislative measures; we are here as representatives of the people of the several States to do the best that we can for Australia. In the United States of America I understand that senators, having the assistance of secretaries, deliver erudite speeches on matters of public importance. We could do the same here; but wc do not do so. Frequently, we descend to party recrimination when, of course, we get heated, with the result that we say things which should not be said. The motion gives honorable senators the opportunity to speak fully and completely on many matters of vital importance to the nation. We can all agree with the first portion of it. Admittedly, it is a general declaration of Australia’s unswerving loyalty to the cause of the United Nations. Is any honorable senator opposed to that? Is it not possible to show how that unswerving loyalty can be fostered not only in this Parliament, but amongst the people, by the reasonable discussion of the facts of the situation? Surely, honorable senators can do that. It gives them a great opportunity to speak of what loyalty to the Commonwealth of Nations means. We are all loyal to it, because we know that if the United Nations are unsuccessful in this war, Australia as an individual nation will be utterly and completely destroyed. I have no illusions on that subject. I, like other honorable senators, listened to what Sir John Latham had to tell us. We have all read and heard of the great Japanese people and their outlook and what they intend to do with Australia. Therefore, it is essential that we should not only preach unswerving loyalty, but that we should do so in such a way that we can get the people of this country to express themselves economically and militarily so completely that success is assured. The second portion of the motion refers to our pride in the bravery and the achievements of the Australian fighting forces. Some of us have expressed admiration of the work done in Russia. Several days ago I wrote an article in which I expressed the opinion that the work of the Russians in the conditions in which war is waged in that country was almost awe-inspiring. The courage that our men have shown in the fight against the Japanese at Kokoda and Buna, and against the Germans and Italians in Libya and Egypt has not been surpassed. Their deeds stand equal to anything in history. We as a Senate express our admiration and undying gratitude to these nien who have done such splendid work to save Australia for a Christian nation. I go so far as to say that I am quite willing as an individual member of the Senate to have the remainder of my allowance taken away - > one-third of it is already taken - so long as I am fed. I would go to every man who is prepared to sacrifice his life for Australia and say to him, as a grateful senator of Australia : “ When you come back, you shall be paid until your country can find a niche for you in the industrial machine, where you can earn your own living.” That is not being done to-day. We speak of our unswerving loyalty and we express our keen appreciation of the bravery of our soldiers, and yet men who come back are not being treated in the way they should be. A Repatriation Bill will be introduced presently in the House of Representatives and will afterwards come before this chamber for our criticism, and possibly for improvement. I had a striking experience recently. I was standing with Major Howe outside the pay office in Brisbane waiting for the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde). A young man of not more than 19 or 20 years of age came along to us. His head was shaking. He saluted the major and said, “ What is the strength of this bloody army of ours? 1 have had meningitis and double pneumonia “ - and he mentioned some other troubles - “ and to-day I am on the streets without a penny piece “. I am glad to say that Major Howe took him inside, and as the result of his action that man is now receiving £2 2s. a week. It is a burning shame that a lad like that, who was ready to give his life for his country, and had suffered so much for it, should be short of a few pence. I could cite other cases.
One young man who went to New Guinea had never handled a rifle until he went there. He was discharged medically unfit and to-day is in hospital in Sydney. His father, also discharged as medically unfit, has been waiting three months for a pension and the mother cannot get a special grant until the question of pension has been settled. I know that ;the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Frost) and all the members of the Labour party, are anxious to do everything possible for these men. I believe that everything will be done when the measure comes before Parliament, but there were hundreds of cases in the last war, and there are also cases in (this war, calling for immediate attention. I stand for proper treatment for every man who is prepared to lay down his life for has country No man, woman or child should walk the streets of Australia short of food. Let us show our pride in those who are ready to give their lives for their country by being just to them when they return. I believe that the Government, through the amendments to the Repatriation Act, will do justice to these people. If justice is not done there are thousands in this country who will surely see that it is done. I have every confidence that it will be done no matter which government is in power. It does not matter to me whether Senator Collings or Senator McBride leads the Senate. I want to be fair to these men. Do not let us give lip service and pass resolutions and then forget all about them. I believe that the soldiers in this war are more enlightened and will insist on justice being meted out to them and to ‘their wives and children. The third portion of the motion expresses our determination to use the whole of the manpower and material resources of the nation to bring about victory. Is Senator Spicer opposed to that? Is there a man in this Parliament opposed to the utilization of our total man-power to safeguard Australia and save our women and children?
– No, that i3 our policy.
– It is the policy of us all. Surely we can endorse that part of the motion. It gives honorable senators opposite an opportunity to say what in their opinion is the best way touse our man-power and got the best results. There is a divergence of opinion. Some say, “Let us send most of our men into the firing line “. We must be careful to look after the home front. The man who stresses the importance of the home front is not, necessarily a fifth columnist opposed to the successful prosecution of thewar. He is simply fully alive to the need of organizing Australia sothat the Army can be backed to the. full. From that point of view the home front is just as important as the other.
– Judging by the rates of pay, it must be more important.
– Yes. Let me deal with that aspect. Personally, I say that the man who is prepared to go and be sniped at in the mud of Papua, and perhaps be killed, is worth more than an honorable senator who spends a few months each year in this chamber. Honorable senators opposite talk about the industrial worker getting more than he should. Are honorable senators prepared to accept full conscription of wealth, to establish an income ceiling? Mr. Forgan Smith has suggested an income ceiling of £1,000 a year. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward) suggested a ceiling of £500 a year, whilst another member of our party suggested a ceiling of £300 a year. It is all right for some people to criticize the working man who, for the first time in his life, has a few pounds to spare. But what are we, ourselves, prepared to do in this respect? Several days ago I met a gentleman who criticized the absentees in industry. He said to me, “ Brown, if I had my way I would shoot them “. The point I make is that, that man, who is a lawyer, and who was prepared to shoot absentee workers who had worked all the year round for 60 and 70 hours a week, and many of whom were almost nervous wrecks, had just finished a holiday of three weeks at Coolangatta. I told him that if I had my way I would shoot him. I take off my hat to the workers of Australia, because they have done a wonderful job for this country. Many of these men were prepared to enlist in the fighting forces, but, for various reasons, were unable to do so.
After all, who are the men who have gone to the front? Are they not members of the same unions of which men who are still working in these trades are members? Would we not be recreant to our trust if we permitted everything to be thrown overboard, and allowed the employers to take full control? Would we not berecreant to the men now serving in Papua if we now said that there shall be no more trade unions, and placed industry entirely under the control of the employers? With respect to the control of wealth and ownership, one point I should like to make is that one of the greatest elements in destroying morale is the fact that there is no equality of sacrifice. Many of our people are prepared to go to any length in giving service to our country so long as their fellows do the same. But when men who are working hard, year in and year out, and others who are suffering all the conditions and obscenities that obtain on the battlefield, see others living as they lived in peace-time, it gives rise to a feeling that is inimical to the interests of our working people and our troops. On the one hand, some of our men have gone to the battle front, and sons are taken by the Moloch of war. At the same time, we see other people building up their businesses and avoiding payments to the Government by putting new capital into their businesses. They have reserve funds with which to add field to field,and factory to factory. While the sons of some people are dying in the service of their country, others are shrewdly ordering their affairs so that, when the war ends they shall enjoy security. Honorable senators opposite know as well as I do that that is the position, but if the war does nothing else, it will level the conditions of our people, so that those who fight for the country shall own it, or at least a good part of it.
I do not wish to say anything against our Allies ; but I submit that there should be an investigation in Queensland, where there is a good deal of bitterness of feeling in relation to the general economic conditions enjoyed by our Allies. That difference is reflected throughout the community. As there is a difference between the position of the Australian soldier and that of the exploiter who is using the war to improve his economic position, there i.s also a big difference between the treatment meted out to American troops and that meted out to Australian troops. Some of our troops have asked me why the Americans should have the best whilst they themselves arc denied many advantages. I do not detract from the credit due to the Americans. They are worth the best we can give them. Many of them have died in defence of Australia. An American soldier told me that 20 per cent, of his “ cobbers “ had been killed on Guadalcanal. We should certainly look after our American allies; but we should also look after our own troops. If there is a difference between the economic standard of the American troops and that of our own, the Government should quietly investigate the matter. We should not enter into recriminations against the Americans. The Government should quietly find out the reason for this bitterness in order to see whether we cannot eliminate it by sensible means. I do not propose to say anything further on that matter, because. I do not wish to exacerbate the feeling which has arisen with regard to it in the north of Queensland.
I was pleased to hear Senator Foil’s remarks regarding the feeling of complacency which seems to exist in some communities. I was also pleased to see in the press this morning a report of a statement by the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) concerning the danger confronting us. ‘ On previous occasions, I have urged that the Department of Information, should give the fullest information hi the public consonant with the winning of the war. We should give to the people the full facts. However, we have hidden many facts from them. We hid from them what happened at Darwin and Broome.
– Security reasons must he taken into account.
– Yes, but in many instances in which the truth has been withheld from the public that aspect did not arise at all. Our people should know the truth. During the past few months, our boys have fought magnificently in
Papua. They have, recaptured Kokoda, Buna and Sonan and a. However, nine out of every twelve persons whom you might meet in the streets of our capital cities would say that we had taken New Guinea. A false impression is abroad, and the newspapers of this country are to that degree guilty of causing complacency which is utterly dangerous. The fact is that much of New Guinea is controlled by the Japanese. They have just attacked Merauke, which is only a few hundred miles from the coast of Australia, and. not very far distant from Port Moresby. For all practical purposes, they are also in control of Timor. We may have a few Australian commandos still operating on that island, but the Japanese are free to go ahead with the building up of. bases there. .In addition, the Japanese main fleet has not yet been contacted. They have certainly lost many ships. For instance, they have lost two battleships. But those vessels were built 20 or 30 years ago. The people of this country generally do not understand. From what I have read, no naval writer in the world has been able to say with certainty the strength of the Japanese fleet, even in peace-time. The Japanese have always been secretive about such matters, whereas we have been quite open. Japanese visitors came to this country, and no restrictions were placed upon their activities. They were able, if they so desired, to map every bay, river and inlet on our coast-line. Many of them were skilled men, trained for that work, and no doubt the maps and photographs which they compiled furnished the enemy with valuable information. I venture to say that to-day the Japanese know more about Australia than we do ourselves. In pre-war days a visitor to Japan could not get near any of their military undertakings or naval establishments. and, obviously, if one could not obtain the full facts in regard to Japanese strength in peace-time, the task of making an accurate estimate now is virtually impossible. We do not know the strength of the Japanese navy. It is true that we are sinking Japanese ships. It has even been said that we are sinking more Japanese ships than are being built, but how do we know how many they are building?
I draw the attention of the Senate to the following article which appeared in the Brisbane Telegraph recently dealing with the Japanese shipping position -
No doubt Japan has suffered heavy losses in merchant shipping, but it would be unwise to build too much upon her shipping difficulties as a decisive factor in the Pacific struggle. In this connexion a writer in the Christian Science Monitor points to several factors that operate in Japan’s favour.
There are., he reveals, proportionately more middle-sized ships from 1,000 to 4,000 tons under the Japanese registry than in the American and British mercantile marines. For fast, long-distance transportation of bulk commodities Japan has a substantial number of large and modern motor ships of more than 10,000 tons.
While we must take our hats off to the American ship-builders who are producing huge tonnages, and to the Allied submarine commanders who are taking heavy toll of Japanese vessels, we must not “ pull our own legs “. Under the heading of “ Impressive Shipping Reserve “ the article in the Telegraph to which I have referred continues -
Modern units in Japan’s home trade have been replaced by a vast number of small vessels. Recent completion of an undersea railway tunnel between Japan’s two principal islands, Honan and Kyushu, lias been a further boon to Japanese shipping. Several million tons of raw materials and commodities which hitherto were carried by sea between the two islands are now transported under sea by rail. Kyushu produces 04 per cent, of Japan’s coal.
This redistribution of shipping has ‘placed an impressive reserve of merchant tonnage at the disposal of Japan, which is estimated at 3,500,000 tons of fast and modern shipping. Japan’s merchant ship-building capacity is variously estimated at from 0,000 to 1,000,000 tons a year.
We must not be complacent about this matter. We must tell the people -what we are up against. It is true that at present Russia is smashing ‘the German armies, but men who are in a position to know say that we must not assume that morale in Germany is being destroyed.
I draw attention also to the following statement in the Sydney press: -
Sources here having access to the best available information urge caution against seeing in a Germany which is on the defensive a Germany which can be readily cracked.
It is generally agreed that the Axis lias probably reached the limit of its expansion, and from now on cannot find resources with which to launch large-scale offensives, such as those which offered an apparent opportunity of victory in the spring of 1942; but it is feared that the Axis still commands sufficient strength to make the “ European fortress “ the strongest in military history.
I could read many other similar reports, but I shall content myself with appealing to the Government and to all honorable senators not to foster a spirit of complacency in this land. Such a spirit would be of the greatest danger to us. As a matter of fact, it has been the policy of Germany and Japan to foster complacency amongst their enemies. Whilst Japan undoubtedly is losing many ships in waters adjacent to New Guinea and the ‘Solomons, the Japanese strategists are deliberately trying to mislead the allied forces. I am confident that the Japanese war machine is at work in some other direction which will prove of the greatest danger to Australia.
In conclusion, I urge the Senate to accept this opportunity to make clear to the people of Australia just where we stand. Do not let us indulge in political incriminations and school-boy tactics. What has happened matters very little. So far as the Japanese are concerned, all that matters is that we must place Australia in such a sound industrial and military position that its future will be assured.
– I support the motion moved by the Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings), and I heartily endorse the remarks that he made in relation to it. I think that it is essential that an opportunity should be given to members on both sides of this chamber to engage in a discussion of this nature, so that, in the interests of the country, they may voice whatever constructive ideas they have. Unfortunately, so far, we have heard nothing constructive from honorable senators opposite; they have indulged only in destructive criticism. Some of them have doubted the necessity for this motion, but I hold a different view. The first part of the motion reads -
The Senate . . . declares -
1 ) Australia’s indissoluble unity with the British Commonwealth of Nations, and its unswerving loyalty to the cause of the United Nations and its admiration for the heroic efforts of the Allied forces.
Unfortunately, owing to the irresponsible statements that have been made by members of the Opposition and their supporters, some people outside Parliament and in Allied countries may nave been led to believe that all members of this Parliament are not wholeheartedly behind the war effort in the interests of the defence of this country and in the cause of the Allied Nations generally. For that reason 1 suggest that the motion is a timely one, and should serve to dispel whatever doubts or disbeliefs have been forced upon the public of this country or the people of the Allied Nations by misleading statements by the Leader of the Opposition and some of his colleagues. The Leader of the Opposition also declared that the Government had failed to deal satisfactorily with the manpower problem, but he did not give one instance of maladministration’ or of. failure on the part of the Government to make the best use of the man-power of the nation. We all know that the saturation point has been reached in Australia in providing man-power for the fighting services and the essential industries, and it is most difficult to get more men or women for any industry. If there were a surplus of man-power in non-essential industries the Opposition would have cause for complaint, but that is not the position to-day. In those industries which are less essential to the war effort than others, a combing out of available labour is taking place, in order that more men may be transferred to the essential war industries and to the fighting services, according to where they can best serve the country. If the Opposition has any useful suggestions to make in order to increase the efficacy of this work its advice will be gladly accepted. The people are making sacrifices without complaining, and we know that before the war is over many further sacrifices will have to be made. In war-time these hardships would have to be imposed by any government, irrespective of its political colour.
The Leader of the Senate indicated briefly what the Government proposed to do in the matter of post-war reconstruction. He referred to the achievements of the Ministry since the entry of Japan into the war. The Government should be commended for its successful work, but, if the advice of Senators Foll and Brand were accepted, more men than are now being taken from industries would be transferred to the armed forces. We all realize that reinforcements are essential, but we should not lose sight of the fact that as fit men are withdrawn from essential industries others should be provided in their stead. If many more men be taken from the rural industries, without finding labour to replace them, tens of thousands of acres of land will be thrown out of production. A similar position will arise in connexion with our war industries. If men are taken from those industries and transferred to the fighting services without others being sent to replace them, many machines will be left idle. Whilst it is essential to provide reinforcements for the fighting services, it is equally necessary to keep those services supplied with the arms, equipment and other supplies which are needed. The policy of the United Australia party Government was to call up men indiscriminately, regardless of the requirements of the various industries.
– Nonsense !
– It is well known that when the Labour Government took office the man-power position was chaotic. I am able to speak from experience of the position in Tasmania, and I know that the conditions were worse in the other States. The Labour Government, on coming into power, found that no effective organization existed for the distribution of man-power between the essential industries and the armed forces, according to where the labour could be of most service. That matter had been left in the hands of area officers, some of whom had insufficient ability to obtain a job for themselves before their appointment to those positions. In some cases privates were promoted to the rank of captain, hut they had had no experience either in secondary or in rural industries. The present Government appointed the necessary authorities to deal with the man-power problem. In Tasmania the matter, is now being dealt with satisfactorily. Formerly the man-power officer in the State was overloaded with work, but he had had no practical experience of rural or of secondary industries. Tasmania is now fortunate in having an officer, who has a knowledge of the problems of both primary and secondary industries, and also has administrative capacity. Tasmania is now in as good a position to deal with man-power problems as any other State in Australia, and most of the credit for that fact is due to the work of the officer now in charge there. Unless more workers can be found for the rural industries, there will be a considerable reduction of food production next year and in the following year. Many of the men doing essential jobs on the farms to-day are employed there only temporarily, and when their temporary exemption. expires they will be sent into military camps. Unless others are available to take their places, tens of thousands of acres of land will go out of production. Australian farmers have answered the call of their country heroically, and have carried on under great difficulties: but they have now reached the stage ar which they cannot continue to work hard for long hours each day without, being affected by the strain. Consequently, they will be forced to restrict the acreage planted, with the result that the production of foodstuffs will be further reduced. Legislation has been enacted to protect workers in most industries including. I admit, those engaged in primary production, but only ii D to a point in their case. Recently, an award was made covering persons engaged in wheat harvesting, and to the rates which were prescribed I offer no objection. The sooner there is a basic wage for farm labourers the sooner will many of our problems be overcome. But we must avoid putting the cart before the horse. Strongly as I support the fixing of wages for farm labour. I realize i hat, at the same time, the Prices Commissioner should have been asked to fix a payable price for every product, of the farm. In order to stimulate primary production farmers should be given the same encouragement as is given to persons engaged in other industries. Both employees and employers in secondary industries are protected. Indeed, many employers, while engaged on war work, ure building up valuable assets for themselves. I realize that they are being heavily taxed on their profits, and that they are not accumulating riches as quickly as would otherwise be the case, but in many instances the assets of manufacturers will be more than doubled by the time that the war ends. The farmer is as much entitled to protection as is any other producer. He should know exactly where he stands and should have some fairly definite idea of what his returns are likely to be. The only way to do that is to extend the policy of pricefixing which already applies to such primary products as wool, wheat, potatoes, peas, and butter, and to ensure to the farmer a payable price for his products, so that he, in turn, can give reasonable conditions to his employees, knowing that there will still remain a reasonable margin of profit for himself. That, as I understand it, is the policy of the Labour party. I ask the Government to ensure to farmers conditions commensurate with the protection given to manufacturers so that production may be maintained. If that were done, there could be no objection to an award which prescribed even fairly high rates of pay for farm labourers.
In their attempts to save rubber, petrol, machinery and man-power, Ministers should be careful not to defeat their own purposes. They will achieve their objective if they have as administrators, under their direction, men who not only understand their job but also are 100 per cent,, behind the Government in its efforts to save these things. I, however, know departmental officers who are so overloaded with work that they cannot make complete investigations to ensure that their directions are carried out, or what problems are likely to arise. Indeed, some problems have already arisen from this cause. I agree that rubber, petrol, machinery and manpower should be conserved, but that end is not accomplished by discontinuing road services which are of great value to the community and use only small supplies of petrol. I invite honorable senators on both sides of the chamber to indicate to the Government ways in which the administration can be improved. Any constructive proposals placed before the Government will. I know, be given earnest consideration. At the same time, I urge the Government not to reject suggestions without a full investigation. When we remember the chaotic state of affairs which existed when the present Government came into office, we must agree that it has done a magnificent job in difficult circumstances. If the Government could be sure that the present Opposition would co-operate with it as generously as the Labour party, when in’ opposition, cooperated with previous governments-
– The Labour party’s co-operation resulted in turning the previous Government out of office.
– With such a full measure of co-operation, the present Government could be relied upon to continue to do a good job towards winning the war. I cannot be accused of being a party to turning out the late Government, because the party on this side has never at any time had the numbers to defeat a government in this chamber. The members of the late Government went out of office because they got into a chaotic state in their own party through their mal-administration of the war effort. If they had been going forward with a genuine war effort, using the manpower of Australia to build aeroplanes, munitions and defence works, instead of planning to surrender part of Australia in the north and the west without firing a shot, they would still have been on the government bench in this Parliament. But they could not face the barrage that came from the outside public, when they were in a state of chaos themselves and had fallen down on their jobs, so they calmly got out of office. Although the party opposite has a definite majority in this chamber and probably a majority in the other House, it is quite content to leave us in control, because it knows perfectly well that the Government is doing a job that it failed to do. We shall continue to do that job so long as we are here.
Senator LECKIE (Victoria) [5.52’j.- I differ somewhat from my leader and from Senator Spicer on this motion. My leader expressed astonishment at the Government introducing a motion of this kind, and Senator Spicer displayed similar astonishment, or it may have been admiration of the Government for what it had done. I presume that they both took it for granted that in this country there was no necessity for a .motion of this kind. I do not :. gree with that point of view at all. I think that this motion was necessary, and I can sec why the Labour party and the Leader of the Senate are very proud of it, because it represents an entirely new policy for the party, and the Government has to let itsown people know that it now subscribes to the sentiments contained in its three parts. I am very glad that the Government has presented it. I take it as a guarantee that it will stand up to it in the future. I do not think that in the past the Government has supported the sentiments expressed in it,, and I am glad now to find that it has moved a motion of this kind. The Government has at last decided that it expresses the policy of the Labour party. I think that the people at large will rejoice to find that the Labour party now has a new policy. The Leader of the Senate made rather heavy weather of his speech. I gained the impression that he was rather apologizing for the Government. He said first of all that it. had had unpleasant things to do, and he added, sticking out his chest, that it would still keep on doing them. If he had also added “ during the time we have been on the treasury bench we have done very many foolish things and will keep on doing them “, it would have bp.en more like reality, and more like the truth, but the free flow of his oration was quite unruffled by reality. It was quite undisturbed by any ripple on the surface which would seem to bring home to him and to the people that the Government had made terrible bungles of a lot of the unpleasant things that it had dene, and that distress and dissatisfaction was growing every day at the wanton waste of money and man-power, and the callous disregard of the wants of the fighting men at the front. The feeling is growing largely that the- Government in all these things has failed dismally.
– The honorable senator would put men in the front Hue without ammunition or arm?, to be butchered.
– Not at all, but do not think that men who have been fighting for two or three years and lavery hard conditions should be told, “ You can go on fighting for another two or three years, but the other fellow.* who should be helping you will not have to do anything of the sort “. If this is a free democracy then every man and woman in it should shoulder their share of the responsibility. I welcome this motion particularly because of its last paragraph. It expresses a determination to use the whole of the manpower and material resources of the nation in order to ensure the maximum war effort necessary to bring about victory, and, arising therefrom, to provide the necessary measures to promote the national welfare of the whole of the Australian people.
– ‘Does the honorable senator find any fault with that?
– No, that is why I am praising the Government. I am congratulating it on the motion, with which I agree entirely. I congratulate the Government upon having at this late hour enunciated this new policy. The concluding portion of the motion states that the aim of the Government is to promote the national welfare of the whole of the Australian people. That is a little different from what we have had for a considerable portion of the war period. At one time it was said, and I have heard it repeated in this chamber, although not perhaps in these words, that it was right and proper to betray one’s country in the interests of one’s class. That is why I welcome the third paragraph, which states that the Government is going to legislate for the whole of the people of Australia. The Government is calling for unity and cooperation from members on this side of the chamber, but has it the entire cooperation of the honorable senator who has just spoken?
– Of course it has.
– Reading between the lines of the honorable senator’s speech, I gathered that he was expressing considerable criticism of the Government for some of the things that it was either doing or not doing, and advising it to seek the co-operation of private members like himself.
– And the honorable senator.
– And of members on this side, to get it out of the hole that it would soon be getting into.
Has the Government the entire cooperation of all its Ministers? Has it the complete co-operation, for instance, of the Minister for Aircraft Production (Senator Cameron), or of all Labour members in the House of Representatives ? I recall even within the last week a very bitter condemnation of the Government by the Minister for Aircraft Production, which was repeated by certain Labour members of the House of Representatives. How can any Government govern when its Ministers are divided among themselves on the most vital problem that has yet confronted this Parliament? There would be much more force in this motion if the supporters of the Government gave us a sample of unity among themselves. In spite of this motion, for which I have the greatest admiration, I urge the Government to put its own house in order. Is the policy embodied in this motion the policy of all supporters of the Government? The Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings) is silent. I might ask, for instance, whether members of the Government went along, cap in hand, of course, to the Australian Labour party conference, and said : “ Look, we are thinking of bringing in a motion expressing loyalty to the British Commonwealth of Nations. Have we your permission to present the motion in these words to the House of Representatives and the Senate ? “ That procedure would be quite in keeping with some of the Government’s previous actions. Did the Australian Labour party conference say: “ We can give this permission. We do not have to refer the matter to our State executives. We are not obliged to waste two or three months in referring the matter to some outside body.” I should like the Leader of the Senate to say whether it was necessary for the Government to obtain permission from the Australian Labour party conference to bring this motion before Parliament. If such procedure were not necessary, it would appear that the Government is entirely inconsistent. As I said earlier, this motion enunciates a new policy for the Labour party.
– Is it constructive?
– No ; it is not constructive until it is implemented; and we want, to know in what direction it will be implemented. In the meantime, it is only a lot of words. We are told in the motion that the Government intends to promote the welfare of the whole of the Australian people. That is an admirable sentiment. The Leader of the Senate, in one of the bright spots of his oration, declared that the policy embodied in the motion would ensure that the children of to-day would not become the cannon-fodder of the future. Senator Darcey practically repeated that sentiment. In itself, it is admirable; but, unfortunately, the Leader of the Senate did not tell us how Australia, with a population of 7,000,000, could determine now, or in the future, what a Hitler, or a Tojo, might do. How is the Government going to implement this policy? How will it prevent a Hitler or a Tojo from attacking Australia, as Japan is now attacking us? How will it prevent our young men from rushing into camp to defend Australia against on-coining hordes of barbarians? The Government does not explain that point. It does not even say that every man and woman should be prepared for war to the limit of our capacity. Consequently, such language is so much flapdoodle, lt may sound very well on a soap box; but let us be practical in dealing with matters of this kind. With the motion itself, I agree without reservation. My only hope is that the Labour party will live up to the new policy which it embodies.
As the motion refers to our manpower problem, I should like to say something with respect to the attendant problem of absenteeism in industry. In using the national effort for the whole of Australia, what does the Government intend to do about absenteeism?
– Just what would .the honorable senator do?
– First, let us know what we have to face. The man-power authorities started out to make Australia a nation of washers-up. They said ‘that every citizen must do his own chores. In a recent call-up they anticipated getting 6,000 maidservants. They wanted to obtain 50,000 or 60,000 female workers by a. certain date. At, the same time, we read of widespread absenteeism in industry. Is there not a big waste of man-power there? Over 800,000 people are now employed in .the production of war materials. That is excluding coal-miners. Before the war, the percentage of absentees in industry was 3 per cent. It has now reached something like 13 per cent.
-: - Long hours have caused that.
– Whatever the reason may be, the increase from 3 per cent, to 13 per cent, represents 80,000 workers in a total of 800,000. If the cause is long hour3, then why not reduce the hours; tackle the problem at its source. Apparently the Government is not prepared to do that, hut prefers to deal only with side issues such as the calling up of domestic servants, many of whom are not fit for this type of work at all. Let the Government take its courage in its hands and tackle these vital problems of absenteeism, waste of manpower, and overtime payments. A satisfactory solution, of those problems would create a substantial pool of labour which could be applied to the war effort. But what has the Government done? It has permitted the coal-miners to show an utter disregard for discipline and to set a shocking example to other working men. The miners have not been slow to appreciate the Government’s feebleness, and so they laugh, and say, “ These fellows talk a lot but they do not do anything. We can cheerfully ignore anything that they say or do because we know that they are not game to take action “. Honorable senators opposite would have ns believe that the present Administration is the responsible Government of a free country. My impression was that the Government had as one of its primary objects the fullest possible use of available manpower. Some sections of the press would lead us to believe that the Government was entirely without faults, and that it would bring about in effect a “ New Jerusalem.” in Australia, but when the press claims that a government is without faults, I am inclined to have my doubts. I have looked at the Government’s record and tried to find the good things which it claims to have done. I have found many faults and I have endeavoured to overlook them, but I have also found that in regard to the most important tilings of all, finance, man-power, absenteeism, and control of the working population of this country, particularly the coal-miners, the Government has been absolutely helpless, and hasnot been able to do anything.
Debate interrupted under Sessional Order.
Sitting suspended from6.15 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from the 27th January (vide page 19) on motion by Senator Latham -
That in view of the Government’s action in fixing, through the Wheat Harvest Employment Commission, the wages and conditions of harvest employees, the Senate urges and recommends the Government to immediately determine and guarantee a fixed payable price to farmers for their products.
– In submitting the motion yesterday, Senator Latham, in reply to an interjection by me, stated that he could tell the Senate a tale about me. I now point out to him that he will have an opportunity to do so in reply to the debate on this motion. I should like him to indicate whether the tale concerns me personally, because I have no fear of my record as a husband, father or citizen.
– I was not going to say one bad word about the Minister.
– I do not like innuendoes, because a half-truth is worse than a He. I remind the honorable senator that he said that he would withdraw the motion if the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) could prove that the action taken by the Government in this matter had anything to do with the war, implying that the Government had taken advantage of the war situation in order to promulgate certain regulations for party political purposes. I hope to convince even my friend opposite that such was not the case. What was done was done atthe request of the Wheat-growers Federation of Australia. I exonerate the Attorney-General and the Government as a whole from any desire to use its powers to promulgate regulations for the purpose of implementing any industrial or social legislation.
Early in August of this year the New South Wales Harvest Advisory Commit tee, on which the Wheat-growers Union and Farmers and Settlers Association of New South Wales are represented, discussed the prevailing man-power position with particular relation to the wheat harvest. The opinion was expressed by growers’ representatives that it would be unwise to allow farmers to out-bid one another for the small volume of casual labour offering. They argued that during the previous harvest farmers had been compelled to compete against one another for labour with unfortunate results. Let me emphasize before proceeding further that the arguments were advanced by men nominated by the wheat industry and not by any member of the Government orthe industrial section. The Harvest Advisory Committee, after an exhaustive survey of the man-power position, conveyed its findings to the Man Power Authorities in terms which are unmistakable. It unanimously adopted the following resolution, moved by Mr. R. K. Tilson, secretary of the Northwest Division of the Wheat-growers Union of New South Wales: -
That in order to establish a reasonable and uni form wage for harvest employees to be applied to all wheat -growing States of Australia this Harvest Advisory Committee urges the Director-General of Man Power to immediately convene a conference between the Australian Wheat-growers’ Federation, representing the employers, and the Australian Workers’ Union, representing the employees, for the purpose of discussing this important question. It is the desire of this Committee that the matter of discussing wages and conditions for harvesting should not he referred to the Arbitration Court, as it could best be decided at a round-table conference of parties.
It. was further suggested that the New South Wales Director of Man Power might nominate a chairman for the conference. Subsequently, Mr. Tilson, who, it must be repeated, is a wheat-grower, circularized the various organizations affiliated with the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation, giving the reasons which actuated the committee in making its recommendation. Mr. Tilson, in his communication, explained that it was necessary to have the industry protected in order that the Man Power Authorities wouldbe able to divert labour for harvest. The fixing of an award, he believed, was the best means of accomplishing this. He further advised that he had at first advocated a State award, but that Mr.
Wheat-growers’ Union, Farmers and Settlers’ Association and Austral ian Workers’ Union consider it imperative that immediate action lie taken fixation wages Commonwealth wheat harvesting (Stop) Suggest competent authority be appointed under National Security I lobulations (Stop) Competent authority could bc conference of three representatives nf employers and three of employees presided over by an independent chairman appointed by thu Government.
I do not propose to comment on the discussions at the round-table conference, except to say that it was strongly stressed that if there was vigorous competition for the small volume of available labour then the more financial the farmer the greater would be his advantage over fellow producers. Bates of pay were determined when the tribunal met. The announcement of these was an immediate signal for some who had urged the Government to establish the tribunal to launch a campaign against it for having complied with their wishes. The motive was obviously political. There were growers’ representatives, however, who were more honorable, and who were prepared to accept full responsibility for a recommendation which the Government had accepted in good faith. Notable among these is the secretary of the New South Wales Wheat-growers Union, Mr. T. Hazelton, who recently published a statement emphasizing that growers had taken the initiative in advocating the establishment of an award. This gentleman’s letter is illuminating in that it reveals the underlying reasons for the attempts which have been made to misrepresent the position. Following are a few extracts from it. . All wheat-growers’ organizations participated in the election of our two members to join the tribunal, and all knew the conditions under which the tribunal was to be set up. Under such circumstances, every intelligent member participated and every organization implicated was in duty ‘bound to accept and abide by decisions made.
But what happened V Wheat-growers’ representatives, failing to impress the tribunal with their views, hurried off, and, with two or three others claiming to speak for the Australian Wheat-growers’ Federation, hurled abuse at the tribunal and decisions reached. Incidentally, they disclosed the real motive behind their intentions by deciding to capitalize the incident politically.
Protests were made as coming from the Australian Wheat-growers’ Federation. Thu federation was not consulted. All the surrounding circumstance.* reek with insincerity and hypocrisy and the poorest of poor sportsmanship. “Time would not permit the matter being referred to the Arbitration Court. National Security Regulations had to bc invoked, and this was acceptable to all organizations. Nothing was mentioned about the siu of by-passing the Arbitration Court’ or ‘star chamber tactics ‘ when the tribunal was set up. These constituted after-thought inventions to try and discredit both the tribunal and the Federal Government.
This Wheat-growers’ Union agreed to the establishment of the tribunal, and, having done so, were bound to accept whatever rates this body authorized. This appeals to us as the only honorable course open. We aru living in extreme times mid cannot ignore that fact. Greatly increased living costs demand higher wages to maintain a. reasonable living standard. . . .” “. . Since the advent nf the present Government to power, the Australian Wheatgrowers’ Federation, with complete disregard for growers’ interests, lias converted tho federation into an instrument to discredit the Government and an avenue to give outward expression to galling disapproval of appointments given to others for which expectations wore very real within the personnel of the federation.”
Mr. Hazelton’s comments are sufficiently eloquent to indicate, that the Government acted in conformity with the wishes of men elected to speak . for the wheat industry. It would seem, therefore, that the Opposition’s quarrel is more properly with the industry itself than with the Government.
That is a complete reply to the accusations made by Senator Latham yesterday, when he said that the Government had used its powers under the National Security Act for political purposes. That is not in accordance with the facts, because, as I have said, the Wheat Harvest Employment Commission was appointed at the request of the Wheat-growers Federation of Australia. Before I resume my seat I shall read certain statements that have been made regarding this matter, and mention someof the prices paid for wheat during the regime of the last Government. I shall also indicate certain benefits which the primary producers of Western Australia have received from the present Labour Government, but which they did not get from the Government that preceded it. In the course of his speech yesterday, Senator Latham said that a threat had been made that if the wheat-growers would not appoint their own representatives on the commission, the Government would appoint them, as it did in connexion with the Women’s Employment Board. That is all “ hooey “. He also said that one does not object to the payment of fair wages, but it is very difficult for a person carrying on an industry to be compelled to pay a wage higher than that which he himself receives. I was present at the meeting at Lake Grace, to which the honorable senator referred, when a certain promise was made to the farmers by Labour senators, and I stand by that promise to-day. The promise was made on the basis of 4s. a bushel for the first 3,000 bushels of bagged wheat.
– That statement is not correct.
-No statement which corrects a misstatement of the honorable senator can be correct in his judgment! At that time, the Labour party promised that it would pay 4s. a bushel. Let us see what the present Government is doing. It has carried out the promise that it made when its members sat in opposition; it has paid 4s. a bushel at sidings on the quota wheat, payments commencing on the 21st December, 1942. For the extra wheat grown it has advanced 2s. a bushel at sidings. Those payments also commenced on the 21st December, 1942. Moreover, the Government is not charging handling costs or freight; those are the net payments. As freight and handling charges represent about1s. a bushel, the advance really represents about 5s. a bushel for the quota wheat and 3s. a bushel for the excess wheat. What I promised, to try to do when I was in opposition I have endeavoured to carry out now that I am a member of the Government. The present Government has carried out the pledge that it gave to the wheat-growers of Australia when its members were in opposition. Here are some facts in connexion with No. 1 wheat pool. The first payment of 2s. a bushel was made on the 17th October. 1939. On the 9th April, 1940, a second payment of 8d. a bushel was made. A third payment of1¾d. a bushel was made on the 11th September, 1940. On the 7th April, 1941, a fourth payment -1/6d. a bushel - was made. When costs were deducted, the total return to the grower was less than 2s. a bushel. The facts in connexion with the No. 2 pool are that a first payment of 2s. 10½d. a bushel for bagged wheat, and 2s. 8½d. for bulk wheat, was made on the 27th December, 1939. Subsequent payments were - 4d. a bushel on the 1st August, 1940, 3d. a bushel on the 12th December, 1940,1d. on the 3rd July, 1941, and1d. on the 14th October, 1942. The total payment represented approximately 3s. 6¾d. a bushel, less freight, making the return to the grower approximately 3s. a bushel. Almost two years elapsed before the final payment was made.
– Those figures are not correct.
– As I said earlier, no figures are correct unless they suit the Opposition. The figures which I have given are correct. In connexion with the No. 4 pool a first payment of 3s. a bushel for bagged wheat, and 2s. 10½d. a bushel for bulk wheat, was made on the 18th December, 1940. There were four other payments, namely, 4d. a bushel on the 10th July, 1941, 3d. a bushel on the 25th November, 1941, 3d. a bushel on the 17th June, 1942, and1¼d. or¾d. a bushel for bagged wheat and bulk wheat respectively on the 11th November, 1942. The total payment in respect of bulk wheat was 3s.10½d. a bushel, less freight, making the return to the grower approximately 3s. 4d. a bushel. In respect of that pool also, payments were spread over almost two years. The first payment in connexion with wheat of No. 5 pool was 3s. a bushel for bagged wheat and 2s.10d. a bushel for bulk wheat made on the 22nd December, 1941. Those figures show clearly that it is incorrect to say that the present Government has repudiated its promises to the wheat-growers. At an earlier stage I interjected that Senator Latham was never in favour of paying fair wages for labour in the wheat industry. I repeat that charge now. When he was Deputy Premier and Minister for Lands in Western Australia, the Premier of that State suffered defeat in his electorate because of a statement by his deputy that the basic wage should be reduced.
– I rise to a point of order. I never said anything of the kind, and I ask for a withdrawal of the statement.
- Senator Latham has taken exception to a remark made by the Minister and has asked for its withdrawal.
– I ask for your ruling, Mr. President, whether I must withdraw a true statement.
– The Standing Orders provide that when an honorable senator in addressing the chamber uses words that are objected to by another honorable senator on the ground that they are offensive, he shall withdraw such words at the call of the Chair.
SenatorFRASER. - I withdraw the words to which objection has been taken. The Premier of Western Australia at that time was Sir James Mitchell. After representing the district of Northam for 26 years, he was defeated. His defeat was attributed to certain remarks made by his Deputy Leader at that time.
– I rise to a point of order. I ask for a ruling, Mr. President, as to whether the Minister’s remarks have anything to do with the motion before the Senate.
– I understand that the Minister is replying to certain statements made by Senator Latham when addressing himself to the motion before the Senate. The honorable senator who has raised the point of order has not allowed the Minister sufficient time to connect his remarks, and therefore I am unable at this stage to say whether or not he is in order.
– With all respect, Mr. President, I suggest that the Minister is now trying to support his disorderly interjection.
– The objection of Senator Latham to the making of an award for farm labour is because of the low standard of living for farmers. I frankly admit that their standard of living is low; but I also say that if we give to the farmer a reasonable standard of living, we must also allow a similar standard to his employees. We are living in extraordinary times. Not only have women entered many spheres of employment in which they did not previously serve, but also many women are actually doing the same work as men in those spheres. In a debate in the Legislative Assembly of Western Australia, Senator Latham clearly indicated that he did not favour equal pay for men and women doing the same work. I am as keen as is any other honorable senator that the farmers of thiscountry shall enjoy the same standard of living as is enjoyed by other sections of the community, but I want their employees also to share in those conditions. It is the policy of the present Government that they shall do so, and that is why the Government has endeavoured to raise the standard of living for farmers, and, at their request, to improve the conditions applicable to their employees. There is, of course, a political side to this question, and it is being exploited by some to the fullest degree. I shall not weary the Senate by reading from the Western Australian Hansard the remarks of Senator Latham in the House of Assembly of that State.
– Letus have them so that we may know exactly what I did say.
– At the time the House was dealing with the Estimates. The official report is as follows: -
– There does not appear to have been any application of that increase to the expenditure for the current year. It may be that the number of employees has decreased.
The Premier, - That applies to every phase of governmental activity.
– I checked some of the figures and it did not appear that that was so.
The Premier. - Women are doing men’s work.
– But in some instances they are being paid very high wages.
The Premier. - Not more than the men get.
– I should think not. Those people ought to be well paid, but married women on the trams are being paid the same wages as their husbands, who were tramway men, received.
That means that Senator Latham opposed the payment of those rates to women.
– What rot !
SenatorFRASER.- What else can it mean? Why did he make reference to it? What is the inference? It can only be that he favours cheap labour. The report continues -
The Ministerfor Justice. - Because they are doing the same work.
– I am wondering how they will shape when they return to their homes after having had the advantage of all this additional money. Are they going to be satisfied, in the homes’; female teachers are not paid the same rates as male teachers.
Does not that extract from Hansard substantiate my claim that the honorable senator believes in cheap labour? The honorable senator has said that the wife of a tramway man should be paid half the rate paid to men. The report continues -
The Ministerforjustice. - The member for Subiaco is paid the same as any other member.
The member for Subiaco is a woman -
– I do not say that, if we can afford it, women should not be paid the same rateas men are paid, but how are they going to shape when they return to their homes and have to manage on half the money they receive to-day?
Mr. j. Hegney. ; That point has already arisen. Many of them, before they married, received good wages.
– Apart from the member for Subiaco. I know of very few women who receive equal pay with men.
Mr. Hughes. What about the medical profession ?
Mrs. CardellOliver. ; And the legal profession.
Mr. Patrick. ; Women in those professions have to earn it.
Mr. Patrick is a Country party member. Does not the woman who does washing from 6 in the morning until 6 at night earn her money ?
The Minister for. Lands. -i think they will ultimately get back to the normal home life.
– But they will then not have as much money to spend as they have at present. I know what it is like for men to have to do on less money, and I should imagine that it would be much more difficult for women.
The Premier. - I have known of women who had received ?3 or ?4 a week marrying men on the basic wage.
– Yes, and many of them were greatly dissatisfied afterwards.
By that the honorable member meant that because of the lack of money they should be satisfied. The report continues -
Mr. J. Hegney. ; What do you suggest these women should be paid: half of what their husbands received?
Hansard does not always record every word that is said.
– It is pretty cowardly to attack a civil servant who is not present.
SenatorFRASER. - I do not ask the honorable senator to withdraw that remark, but, what I said is not a reflection on the civil servant concerned. It is quite in accord with common practice for members of Parliament to correct their speeches, and the honorable senator made a very good job of it. The quotations I have made are not mine. They are from his own remarks and those of his fellow members of the Legislative Assembly of Western Australia. I wish to deal also with the honorable senator’s insinuation that this Government has been guilty of repudiation. He says -
The only statutory provision in respect of the price of wheat which I can find is that, when the price exceeds 3s.10d. a bushel. 50 per cent, of the excess price shall be paid to the farmer and 50 per cent. shall be paid into a pool. That is the only statutory reference I am able to find with the exception of the legislation passed by the last LabourGovernment, under which a price of 3s. was guaranteed; but that guarantee was never honoured.
The honorable senator will remember that the bill to make provision for that payment had to come before the Senate, and the government of the day, like the present Government, was faced with an Opposition which had a majority in this chamber. The honorable senator’s own Country party members from Western Australia opposed that measure.
– They did not.
– I repeat that the Opposition at that particular time with a majority in the Senate refused to pass the financial measure which was required to authorize the payment of the guarantee of 4s. a bushel. The banks refused to pay it, and the bill was opposed and defeated in the Senate.
– No, it was not; it was passed.
– This Government does not repudiate anything. As regards the statement I have made as to what the Government promised in relation to the 4s. a bushel guarantee, let me tell the honorable senator that if the wheat sold by the Government on behalf of the pool realizes 6s. a bushel, the farmer will get 6s. a bushel.
– Which wheat is the Minister referring to now?
– I am referring to the plan implemented by this Government.
– Does that apply both to the 4s. and the 2s.?
– Yes, and the whole thing is contingent on the cost of wages and everything else. Senator Latham said that the Government repudiated the guarantee of the previous Government with respect to the 140,000,000 bushels and the excess quantity of 13,000,000 bushels. I remind him that his own colleagues from Western Australia, representing the Primary Producers Association, took part in a conference convened by Sir Earle Page and held in Melbourne at his invitation, although Sir Earle, personally, was not present. I do not wish to go over the ground again, because I have stated it here before. It may be necessary, however, to quote it to prove that honorable senators opposite are wrong. They know they are wrong but they think that they can pull the wool over the wheat-growers’ eyes. The conference began on the 1st May, 1941, with
Sir Clive McPherson in the chair. Among those present were Messrs. Murphy, Tonkin, Maycock, Marshman, Watson, Teasdale - the last two mentioned representing Western Australia - Cullen and Kendall, and, in fact, the whole of the representatives of the Wheat-growers Federation. The conference was convened to discuss what was to become of the 13,000,000 bushels excess, because under the plan which Sir Earle Page implemented the Government guaranteed the payment of about £27,000,000 for 140,000,000 bushels. When questions were put to Sir Earle Page in the House of Representatives from time to time to ascertain what would be the price of any excess over 140,000,000 bushels, they were never answered. As a matter of fact on every occasion Sir Earle Page gave an evasive answer, saying, “ Well, it will be cut for fodder “. A motion was put to the meeting on the first day, but they slept on it until the following day. It was as follows : -
That when the marketable crop exceeds the quantity upon which the guaranteed price is payable, and the realization from the sale of that crop does not return to growers the guaranteed price of 3s.10d. a bushel, f.o.b. ports, bagged basis, payment of 3s.10d. a bushel on the guaranteed quantity be averaged for the whole marketable crop for the year.
On Tuesday, the 2nd May, it was carried unanimously, and forwarded to the Minister for adoption. What the Western Australian representatives said at the conference was not in keeping with Senator Latham’s statement that this Government had repudiated the previous Government’s promises. Mr. Teasdale is reported to have said -
It was necessary to be realistic. At present there was no prospect of selling 140,000,000 bushels, and any excess over that figure had no value at all. Under present conditions it was actually a liability, although later with altered conditions it might become an asset. Until the Government had recovered the £20,000.000 involved in the guarantee there would not be anything available for excess production.
By that he meant that the £26,000,000 or £27,000,000 would have to cover the lot, including the excess. The resolution of the conference is a complete explanation of the whole position. There is no ambiguity about it. To suggest that this Government repudiated the decision of a previous government is entirely wrong. One honorable senator asked who was going to pay for it. To-day every grower is receiving at least a little more than he received previously, because this Government has honoured not only promises given by the Government when we were in opposition, but also promises made in distant parts of the wheatgrowing areas of Western Australia -by you, Mr. President, Senator Clothier and myself. We convinced the Government of the necessity of doing something, although I do not say that we had to convince the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully), and the Government has done something. I remind the honorable senator also that in Western Australia at the instigation and request of the wheat-growers of that State, supported by their own organizations, we have paid to the industry for the admitted acreage - the one-third acreage reduction brought about and acquiesced in by the organizations-a compensatory rate of 12s. an acre. In that way the amount of £550,000 has been handed to the present Australian Wheat Board, and will be paid to the growers when they receive their payments on their delivered wheat. Let me get back to the time when the Opposition was in office for a long period. What did it do then for the wheat-grower? At a mass meeting of the Victorian and Riverina wheat-growers held at Bendigo on the 30th October, 1939, during Senator McLeay’s term of office as Minister for Com meroe, the following resolution was carried : -
That the Federal Government recognize the services the wheat-growers were giving the nation on the same basis as the manufacturers of munitions, namely, the cost of production plus a reasonable profit.
Further, that the Prime Minister be informed that his continued disregard of their reasonable demands was driving even the most conservative and moderate of the growers to feel that only through direct action could their grievances be redressed.
Speaking in support of the motion, Mr. F. E. Edwards, of Charlton, a leading Victorian grower, said : -
The Menzies Ministry had made a terrible mouthful over its proposal to vote £2,000,000 to the industry and had explained that more could not he obtained.
Here is further criticism of Senator McLeay’s policy when he was Minister for Commerce -
Crops had been compulsorily acquired, but the Government had disregarded its moral and legal right to announce the prices to be paid to growers, declared Mr. F. H. Cullen, president of the Australian Wheat-growers Federation, at a meeting of Goulburn Valley wheatgrowers held at Numurkah.
In the event of the failure of the Government to immediately guarantee the costs of production, plus a margin of profit and a first allowance of 2s. (id. per bushel at sidings, the meeting pledged itself to support the State Executive in any action it might take.
Never before has a Government handed out such a raw deal to the industry, Mr. Cullen said.
Explaining the financial provisions being made in respect of the No. 1 and No. 2 pools, Senator McLeay said: -
I earnestly say that these financial proposals (2s. 6d. a bushel advance on bagged wheat for No. 2 pool) represent not only a fair but also a generous approach to the problem by the Government. . . . After all, some regard must be paid to maintaining some limit upon the accommodation to be provided by the war. . . . Irresponsible talk of limitless millions, would, if given effect to, produce a grave inflation of costs and prices.
Speaking at a mass meeting of wheatgrowers at Donald on the 4th August, 1939, the same honorable senator said -
The wheat problem was not so much a matter of plans as of cash.
He was not one who believed that money could be obtained other than by loan. It could not be drawn out of a hat.
The Commonwealth Government, he said, was prepared to find half the cash if the six States found the other half between them.
The Commonwealth Government would also require the States to control production so that the interests of existing growers would be protected. It would be realized that if new growers were admitted to the benefits it would lessen the individual amounts that could be paid because of increased production.
Provided that sufficient man-power and fertilizer be available, I believe that we should produce as much wheat as we possibly can. When the war ends, millions of people throughout the world will he starving. It will be our duty to do our part in feeding those millions, and in this respect we should not count the cost. We have a part to play in peace as well as in war. After hearing Senator McLeay, that meeting carried the following resolution: -
This meeting of wheat-growers and traders from all parts of the Victorian wheat area wholeheartedly supports the demands of the Wheat-growers’ Federation for immediate stabilization of the wheat industry and further declares that any move to reduce the funds available for the unemployed in order to assist wheat-growers is contrary to our wishes, and will be strenuously opposed.
I say definitely that all of the promises which honorable senators on this side made to the wheat-growers when they were in opposition have been fulfilled. Mr, T. E. Kendall, the president of the Farmers and Settlers Association of New SouthWales, said on the 1st November, 1940-
It almost seems impossible to make some Federal members realise that wo must receive the cost of production and a margin over to enable us to carry on.
Mr. J. Hazelton, of New South Wales, reporting to the Wheat-growers Federation on the 19th July, 1940, stated -
That a delegation from the federation had interviewed the Minister for Commerce (Mr. Cameron) in an atmosphere reeking of pessimism. The interview had taken place in March and the deputation had been told that growers had been fortunate to secure the money that they had. The Minister, he added, had to do what he was told.
Commenting upon the report, Mr. E. Field, New South Wales, a member of the Farmers and Settlers’ Association, said the name of the Minister had been freely introduced. He wished to stress the point that Mr. Cameron was only one of the Cabinet.
Mr. A. C. Everett, Victoria, a member of the Victorian Wheat and Wool Growers’ Association, declared that the Minister in charge of a particular portfolio must hold himself responsible. Ifthe Government is not doing what he believes it should do, then he should resign and tell the people the reason for his action. The only hope left for growers was political action. By this means they can let Parliamentary members know where they stand.
The statements which I have quoted prove that the promises made by supporters of the present Government when in opposition have been honored. Speaking at a meeting of the Victorian Country party in the Southern Murray district, held on the 21st November, 1939, Mr. A. E. Hocking who criticized Senator McLeay’s comments, said -
Growers were being labelled extremists simply because they demanded a return commensurate with the findings of the Royal Commission.
I have said sufficient to enable honorable senators to compare the attitude of this Government with that of its predecessor towards the wheat industry. It is all very well for some people to ask where the money is coming from. This Government will find the money. Senator Latham must now feel that he has struck a wrong note.
The honorable senator also referred to the wool industry. It is clear that the present Government is endeavouring to give justice to all sections, and is paying as much regard to the claims of the primary producer as to those of the worker. With the object of assisting the primary producer, this Government, despite the fact that the primary producers’ organizations declined to pass any resolution urging a review of the wool agreement with the British Government took up that matter. Up to the time this Government assumed office, no request had been made to the United Kingdom Government to review that agreement, although, as the representative of the previous government, the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) was in London for some time during that period. It remained for the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt) to negotiate a new agreement as the result of which the price payable to the Australian woolgrower was increased by 2d. per lb. Writing in the wool and wheat growers’ journal on the 9th October, 1941, Mr. J. Watson, president of the Wheat and Wool Growers Union, stated -
Mr. Latham’s assertion that the present fixed price of wool is reasonable, considering all the circumstances, is amazing and at variance with the opinion of the members of the Wheat and Wool Growers’ Union. Am I to presume that he (Mr. Latham) is expressing the policy of his party in this regard and that a demand, or, in deference to Mr. Latham, a request for an enhanced price by the growers would not meet with the approval of his party.
The fact that the primary producers are wallowing in insolvency seems to have escaped the notice of Mr. Latham, albeit, members of his party are endeavouring to have remedial legislation placed on record. Mr. Latham is not quite as honest as Mr. Menzies, who said that if the wool-growers were dissatisfied with the price obtained, any loss the growers sustained would be placed to. his account from a patriotic point of view.
I say that men who impugn the integrity of the primary producer should be re-enlisted in the ranks of the damned, from where they should never have been allowed to emerge.
Senator Latham has displayed much sympathy for the primary producers since he was elected to the Senate. In the course of his speech yesterday he declared -
One does not object to the payment of good wages, but it is very difficult for a person carrying on an industry to be compelled by law to pay a rate far in excess of what he himself is getting out of it. No one knowsbetter than you do, Mr. President, that these men and their wives and children work from one year’s end to the other and at the end of the year all that they have done is to build up a deficit. I deeply regret that this very important industry is being carried on under these conditions. When I heard the statement of the Leader of the Senate this afternoon I felt impressed by it. [ Extension of time granted.] I remember what you, Mr. President, did for the farmers in 1930 as Minister for Water Supply in the Government of Western Australia. The farmers have never forgotten that. When I heard the remarks made by Senator Latham last night I thought to myself, “ Who is this that has come among us? Has he come here with the object of emancipating the primary producers? Is he earnest? Is this the same honorable gentleman who was Minister for Lands in Western Australia in 1930-32?” Let me cite one or two of the things that he did then. I refer the Senateto the following extract from a report published in the West Australian of the 21st March, 1932, when the honorable senator who has moved this motion was Minister for Lands and Deputy Premier, and had charge of the Agricultural Bank.
– The bank was not under my charge at that time.
– The report states -
Keen sympathy with the farmers working under the Miners’ Settlement Scheme in the Southern Cross district was expressed by the presiding magistrate (Mr. H. D. Moseley) during the hearing to-day of charges against several of the settlers of misappropriation of wheat under mortgage to the Agricultural Bank. Mr. Moseley declared that the cases revealed many unpleasant aspects, to which he would refer later, and that according to the evidence, accused had been faced with a desperate position.
– That has no application to me at all. I am not ashamed of my past public life.
– The report continues -
Before announcing his decision the magistrate said: “ I can appreciate the attitude put forward by counsel in these cases if they are an example of all that are to follow. This is an unpleasant case and discloses some aspects that are unpleasant to contemplate. However, I have to regard the matter in the cold light of the law and reserve any sympathy I may have in a different aspect of the case. These men are suffering from miners’ disabilities, are ill-equipped for the work, and have taken up farming at a time of especial difficulty. If ever one was sympathetically inclined towards the farmers, one would be towards those working under the Miners’ Settlement Scheme.”
During that period 47 charges of wheat stealing were made against farmers by the Agricultural Bank authorities. All these farmers wereworking under the Minors’ Settlement Scheme in the Southern Cross district. That was during the Mitchell-Latham regime, when Senator Latham was Minister for Lands and Deputy Premier, and had the Agricultural Bank under his control.
– I say that statement is not true. The bank was never under my control after the first month I was Minister.
– The same report continues -
In his summing up of the cases of the convicted persons, the magistrate said : “ It is not necessary that I. should say much more on the merits of the case. I have already explained why these defendants must be convicted of these charges and that I was not able to allow any sympathy that I might feel to deflect me from my only duty,which was to enter a conviction. But in recording conviction I did express my sympathy, and as those cases have gone on I have not seen any reason to modify my feelings. It is not my place to say very much about the scheme under which these men have been working. However, there is no doubt that if some of the stories that have been told to me are accurate descriptions of life on these farms, there is room for considerable comment on the scheme.I know that the Crown Prosecutor has not gone to the trouble to put the bank inspector (Mr. Gatherer) into the witness box to refute or explain some of the statements that have been made by the accused persons. I can only assume, therefore, that some of their statements are in accord with the facts, and I am sure that they have had a most unenviable time.”
The Mitchell-Latham Government refused to carry out the recommendations of the Farmers’ Disabilities Commission of 1931. In this connexion the following extract is taken from a statement made by the chairman and two members of the commission, published in the Went Australian of the 22nd December, 1931 : - tt would appear, therefore, to the public that the Premier treated the report with a certain centempt, and as a matter of fact, in effect if not actually, said ‘’ Damn the Commission “. *a course of masterly inactivity was evidently pursued, as no public statement was made until December 4, during the closing hours of the session, when the Premier made a statement, knowing full well that no discussion would bc allowed on I lis statement.
In view of these statements, there would seem to be a slight ray of hope in the honorable senator’s speech last night. Replying to Senator Clothier, I understood Senator Latham to say that bc agreed that, rates of interest should be reduced. .1. was pleased to hear that statement, because it indicates that since the dark days of 1931-32, the honorable senator has reflected 111)011 his past and has come to this Legislature with a better conception of the conditions of wheat-growers, and their disabilities and liabilities. I shall read for the information of honorable senators a statement which appeared in the Wheat Grower on the 2Sth July, 1932:-
At the union’s request, the leader of the Country party (Minister for Lands and Deputy Premier) has indicated the Government’s attitude regarding the reduction of interest rates. He candidly confesses that his Government has no intention of passing on to the farmer the full benefits accruing from the Financial Emergency Act. The balance of 7 per cent., representing the difference between what the farmer pays to the Government and what the Government pays to the bank for money borrowed on his behalf, is to go into Consolidated Revenue.
In the light of these statements it seems possible that, in Senator Latham wc have a true convert to the interests of the primary producers of this country.
While I have been a member of the Commonwealth Parliament, both on the Opposition side of the chamber and on The treasury bench. I have supported the rights of the fanners equally with those of the industrialists. Whenever I have had the opportunity I have visited wheatgrowing areas and have seen for myself the plight of the unfortunate farmers who are endeavouring under a heavy burden of debt to carry on and make a living and a home for themselves and their wives and families. The first, thing to be clone is to reduce the rates of interest because unless such a reduction be effected, the building up process will continue, and there will be no solution of the difficul cio? of the farmers or of the Government.
– The Government has an opportunity to do that now.
– I shall always life my best endeavours, whether as a member of the Government or in Opposition, to reduce interest rates.
I hope that my remarks on this occasion have at the very least been an effective answer to the eternal question, “ What are you going to do for the primary producers? Although what this Government has accomplished in that direction is still far from adequate. I contend that despite the dreadful conditions prevailing to-day owing to the war, we have managed to place the wheatgrowers in a slightly better position than that in which they wore in under the previous administration.
– I have listened with interest to the speech made by the Minister for External Territories (Senator Fraser), and I very much regret, that he has endeavoured to misrepresent the motion now before the chamber, which reads -
That in view of the Government’s action in fixing, through the Wheat Harvest Employment Commission, the wages and conditions of harvest employees, the Senate urges and recommends the Government to immediately determine and guarantee a fixed payable price to farmers for their products.
I regret, that, the Minister indulged in personalities because at this critical stage the farmers cannot be concerned with trivial arguments. I cannot understand why the Government, refuses to accept the principle contained in this motion. When the Government in its wisdom decided to appoint a tribunal to fix the wages and conditions of those engaged in harvesting wheat sown in 1942, that tribunal promptly fixed a high figure, and made payments retrospective to the 9th November, 1942, but I contend that the prices that have been paid to the farmers for wheat during the two years that the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture(Mr. Scully) has been in office have been below the costs of production. Several different figures have been quoted in the course of this debate, and I challenge the Minister assisting the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture or the Minster himself to prove that the figures which they have quoted correctly represent the position. I issue that challenge in this chamber so that the matter may be cleared up. Let the Government ask the Australian Wheat Board, which was responsible for the sale of the wheat, what the growers received at country sidings in 1939-40 under the Menzies Government in which I had the honour to be Minister for Commerce; what they received at country sidings in 1940- 41 under the same administration; what they received in 1941-42 under the present Minister for Commerce and Agriculture; and what a section of the growers will receive in 1942-43. I challenge the Government to ask the Australian Wheat Board for those figures in order that they may be presented to the Senate. To-night the Minister has referred to No. 1 pool. Honorable senators know that so far as the No. 1 pool is concerned it represented 16,000,000 bushels of old wheat that was in Australia when the war broke out.
– The British Government paid for it.
– Yes, at a price which was considerably higher than the figure ruling at that time. To quote the advances on that price does not represent the true position. I challenge the Minister to prove that the figure he quoted to-night for the 1939-40 crop is correct. I understood him to say that the second pool realized only 3s. a bushel at country sidings for bagged wheat. The Senate is anxious to arrive at facts. I appeal to the Government to consider the facts, and see whether a further advance can be made to the growers for the 1941- 42 wheat, and whether something can be done for a section of the farmers who under the present scheme are not receiving the cost of production. I appreciate the many difficulties confronting the Government, in view of the fact that when Japan came into the war the position with regard to export trade was altered. Yet the farmers must recover the cost of production, in order to carry on their industry.
– They have never done that.
– Perhaps they have not received so good a deal as have the sugar-growers. I shall show what the farmers have received on an average during the last four years at country sidings for bagged wheat, allowing an average freight of 4½d. a bushel. In the first year of the war, the 1939-40 pool returned to the farmers at country sidings 3s. 3½d. net a bushel. In the 1940-41 season, under the Menzies Government, the farmers received 3s. 7d. a bushel net at country sidings. Under the Scully scheme all that the farmer has received for wheat delivered in December, 1941, at country sidings is 2s. 7½d. a bushel. The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) realizes this year that that figure is below the cost of production, and he proposes to pay to the 70 per cent. or 75 per cent. of the farmers who deliver 3,000 bushels 4s. a bushel at country sidings. Yet he paid those farmers only 2s. 7½d. a bushel for last season’s wheat. I urge the Government to consider that fact, and to make an advance of at least 4½d. a bushel on that wheat, in order to bring the price up to 3s. a bushel at country sidings.
As far as this season is concerned, we have no quarrel whatever with the farmer who delivers 1,000 bags and gets 4s. a bushel at country sidings, because the costs of production have gone up considerably in the last two years. The cornsack itself represents a cost of 4d. a bushel, and the cost of superphosphate has gone up considerably. The farmers have been compelled to sow a smaller acreage, but their costs have not fallen. I urge the Government to consider the position of the farmers who deliver over 1,000 bags this year. It is estimated that 25,000 farmers in Australia will do that. Under the Scully scheme, the farmer delivering 2,000 bags will get on an average 3s. a bushel, the man delivering 3,000 bags will get 2s.8d. a bushel, the man delivering 4,000 bags will get 2s. 6d. a bushel, and the man delivering 8,000 bags will get 2s. 3d. a bushel for all of his wheat. Those 25,000 farmers produce 80 per cent. of the whole of the wheat, and 1 suggest that the advances are considerably below cost of production, and are ruinous.
The plea which Senator Latham was making was not that he objects to the rates of pay fixed for the employees, but that he objects to the payment of £1 6s. a day plus keep for men working on the- harvesting of wheat this year, whilst the soldier sons of some farmers are receiving only 6s. 6d. a day and keep on the other side of the world. I toured a district where 70 per cent, of !the farmers are delivering over 1,000 bags of wheat, and I wish to point out the foolishness of this one-eyed Scully wheat plan, which contains all sorts of anomalies, j draw attention to the case of a farmer who has 4,000 bags of wheat this year. This is the second good year the farmers have had in ten. That farmer has one son a prisoner of war in Germany ‘and he has another son in the Australian Imperial Force, but he gets a quota of only 1,000 bags. He is struggling to carry on the farm for his soldier sons when they return from the war. Under the Scully plan he will get 2s. 6d. a bushel for his wheat, and when the soldier sons come back they will find that the mortgage on the property is considerably greater than when they left for the front. Yet the Government talks of what it will do for the repatriation of the soldiers! I now cite, by way of contrast, the” case of another farmer who has five sons who have not gone to the war. The farm has been divided into five small farms, each of which produces 1,000 bags of wheat. Because the property is so divided a quota is allotted to each farm. Those five farmers will get 4s. a bushel at country sidings for all of their wheat, whilst the farmer whose sons are at the war will get only 2s. 6d. a bushel. In another district which I visited there was a farmer engaged in wheat-growing in a large way. The bigger the farm and the greater the production, the more the farmer will get into difficulty with the first advance proposed under the scheme, and the more labour he must employ at a higher rate ranging from £1 6s. a day and keep. In many cases the large farmers have had their debts adjusted by the Commonwealth Government with the aid of the taxpayers’ money. The sum of £15,000,000 was promised for that specific purpose, but up to date all of that money has not been used. I shall cite the case of a man who ha3 had his debts adjusted. This year he has 8,000 bags of wheat, and because the property is all in his own name, since it is mortgaged to a bank, he will get on an average 2s. 3d. a bushel for the whole of his wheat delivered to country sidings. That is considerably below the cost of production. If something is not done to meet that case, that man will go insolvent next year, and the Commonwealth money spent on that debt adjustment will be lost. I ask the Government to accept the motion before the Senate, .because it merely asks for a fair deal -for the farmers. As far as the dairying and other industries are concerned, if the members of the Australian Workers Union demand Australian conditions, do they expect the farmers and their sons to work for wages lower than the coolie standard ?
The Minister has referred to the excess production of 13,000,000 bushels, and has tried to pin the blame in that regard on the Menzies Government. The former Minister for Commerce (Sir Earle Page) said that his Government would guarantee a minimum price of 3s. at country sidings on 140^000,000 bushels, and anything in excess of that would be on realization. If the former Minister for Commerce did not say that, it would be only fair that that should be done. The charges on the first pool worked out at 9£d. a bushel, and on the second pool lOd. a bushel, but the Minister spoke to-night of a charge of ls. a bushel. We worked that price on the basis of lOd. a bushel. The rate of 3s. was to be the minimum guarantee, so that the farmer would know the least that he would get for his crop and also the area that he could sow.
– Were the farmers satisfied?
– The previous Government had placed £2,000,000 on the Estimates to assist the farmers prior to the war, but the realization on the first big pool was so satisfactory that no payment was necessary. The farmers were satisfied that the amount which they received was reasonable.
– Nevertheless, they kept on carrying resolutions that they were not paid enough.
– Some of those resolutions misrepresented the position because they related to periods before the war. A guarantee of 3s. a bushel at hidings for 140,000,000 bushels represented a payment of £21.000,000. Instead of paying ‘3s. a bushel on 140,000.000 bushels, the present Government has paid 2s. f-Jd. a bushel on 153,000,000 bushels. 3u other words, the farmers of Australia delivered an extra .13,000.000 bushels, but were paid about £1,000,000 less than if they had not delivered it. Moreover, they had to pay for the bags used to hold the extra quantity and also pay storage and handling charges on it. That additional 13,000,000 bushels of wheat was produced on areas which were licensed to grow wheat, and thus it was what is known as “legitimate” wheat. Although the farmers have received no payment for that wheat, they have been paid for “ illegitimate “ wheat grown on unlicensed areas in some parts of Australia. That is a point which the Leader of the Senate might well consider because it is obvious that if the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture knew anything at all about these problems he would not make such ridiculous errors. The scheme known as the Scully plan was submitted to the previous Government, but, after consideration, it was rejected. After I had conferred with various wheatgrowers and others, I was convinced that if the matter were tested in the Court it would be proved to be invalid. It is ridiculous to pay 4s. a bushel to a man farming in a small way, and a lower price to another farmer merely because he is farming in a big way, and perhaps farming more efficiently. Such a policy places a premium on inefficiency and penalizes efficiency. About 80 per cent, of the wheat grown in Australia is produced by 25,000 wheat-growers. The Scully plan appears to be attractive, but it is unfair in that it has created all sorts of anomalies. I hope that the Government will agree to what we have suggested for this season having regard to the reduced acreage, increased costs and the position confronting the farmers, and will pay 4s. a bushel at country sidings on all the wheat delivered this season.
– Have not various organizations of wheat-growers made protests ?
– Yes, they have. In order to show how important the scheme was, the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Wilson), in a telegram which he sent to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, said that the Scully plan was a good one. To-day, the honorable member for Wimmera is running up and down his electorate with stage fright. It is interesting to observe that all the members of the Australian Wheat Board, except two, are opposed to the Scully plan.
– The Government has received representations to the contrary.
– That the wheatfarmers of Australia have been given a raw deal is shown clearly by the following letter which I have received from a wheat-grower in an important, farming district in South Australia : -
My greatest alarm is the tremendous rising costs of all our requisites and services, plus all the prohibitions and restrictions which have us manacled like a man in leg-irons. Is it any wonder that the primary producers are bitter and disillusioned? Never have I seen them so utterly dragged down. Many are breaking down in health under the unequal physical and mental strain. Their morale, that fine self-reliant spirit, characteristic of the pioneers of this country, is well nigh broken. A *” raw deal “ yes - raw to the bone.
If the Minister is anxious to have the merits of the scheme proposed by the Menzies Government discussed and compared with the Scully plan, I am prepared to discuss them with him before the wheat-growers of any wheat-growing district within reason.
Members of the Australian Wheat Board who were doing a good job have been shabbily treated by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. The previous Government appointed to that board Mr. Harold Darling, who acted in an honorary capacity. His administration was just as effective and efficient in connexion with the selling and handling of wheat as that of Mr. Essington Lewis in connexion with the production of munitions. The other members of the board were Mr. John Teasdale, of Western Austraia, and Mr. Clark, of South Australia. Those men were dismissed from the board and the first they knew of it was when they heard it over the air. That was poor treatment of men who had rendered good service to this country, and .1 enter an emphatic protest against such tactics. After the Minister had decided to fix the price for wheat, and when the interests of the primary producers in that wheat had ceased, he decided to appoint primary producers to the Wheat Marketing Board which was concerned with the problem of selling the wheat. The men whom he appointed had had no experience in that line, although the nien he dismissed from the hoard had devoted many years of their lives to that aspect, of the wheat industry.
– Did not the primary producers clamour for years to be given representation on the hoard?
– Some of the supporters of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture had been clamouring for many years, and they had been promised that if Mr. Scully became Minister he would place a majority of producers on the board, regardless of the effect on Australia as a whole. But when, acting on instructions from the Australian Labour party, he decided to carry out a plan of socialization in connexion with the meat industry, he reversed the order, and when making appointments to the Australian Meal; Commission he appointed three primary producers to sit with five bureaucrats and the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark).
– Is the honorable member for Darling a meat grower?
– No. It is characteristic of the biased attitude, of the Minister that, with the exception of Mr. Boyer the whole of the representation on that board was from New South Wales. It is strange that the Minister should want to have on one board a majority of primary producers, whereas on another board the primary producers are in a minority. Speaking on behalf of the growers of barley in Victoria and South Australia, I say that they have been treated even worse by the Curtin Government, than the wheat-growers have been treated. I ask the Minister to say whether he thinks that the price paid to the growers of barley is anything like the cost of production.
– The honorable senator knows the reason.
– Yes : it is that no barley worth speaking of is grown in New South Wales. The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture ran true to form when he decided to dispense with the Barley Board and give New South Wales an “ open go “.
– The honorable senator wants New South Wales to “ carry the baby” for South Australia.
– I want to see justice meted out to the growers of barley throughout Australia. Wherever they are situated, they are entitled to fair treatment. Whenever the Minister has been approached with a view to some assistance being given to the growers of barley, no assistance has been forthcoming. At times the representations made have not even been replied to. I know that figures are sometimes wearying but in so serious a matter as this they must, be given. They show that the growers of wheat and barley do not. enjoy a fair standard of living. In the first year of the war first grade barley realized 3s. 0¼d. at country sidings. In the second year of the war, when the Menzies Government was in office, first grade barley brought 3s. ll:Jd. at country sidings,- and other gradings proportionally less. The advance made by the Curtin Government to the barley-growers of Australia for No. 1 grade was ls. 10ii. Out of this they have to pay 4d. a bushel for the new sacks. That is about half the cost of production, and that barley was delivered in December, .1.941. I know that the Government is in difficulty in finding an export, market. It cannot find an export market for apples, hut out of the -general pool it has compensated the apple-growers for the position which has been brought about by the conditions of Avar, and through no fault of the growers. I believe that eventually this barley will be disposed of. For the No. 2 grade in last season’s crop the advance is ls. 4$d. For the No. 3 grade it is ls. 24d. and for the feed grade it is ls. 0½d. Following are the details of the Australian Barley Board’s three pools: -
Season 1939-40 - No. 1 Pool
Final payments to growers of two-row barley in South Australia were as follows: -
Season 1940-41 - No. 2 Pool
Final payments to growers of two-row barley in South Australia were as follows: -
Season 1941-42- No. 3 Pool
Advances to date on two-row barley in South Australia are as follows: -
I quote these figures to substantiate my argument that thousands of growers are suffering very great inconvenience owing to the ridiculously low advances made on barley. ‘ I make this final appeal to the Government, that on the 153,000,000 bushels of wheat previously mentioned it should make a further advance of at least i£d. It should remove the anomalies under the Scully plan, and where fathers are carrying on farms for their soldier sons, and men are placed in an awkward posi- tion owing to the payment of 2s. Lt should reconsider such cases in order that the farmer shall get at least the cost of production. I am quite certain that if we carry on for one or two years as at present, the 25,000 efficient farmers that I have mentioned will be found to be in a precarious position. I do not want that to happen. I do not wish to make invidious comparisons, but what I see as I tour around the country has convinced mc that no section has done a better war job than our friends in the country. It is for the sons who are away that I make a special plea on this occasion. Let us forget what Mr. Menzies or somebody else promised. As the Government has given the workers an Australian standard of living which it claims to.be fair, all we ask it to do now is to give the primary producers a price for their products which will give them the Australian standard also.
– I have heard several debates in this chamber on wheat, and the remarks made to-night have forced me to the conclusion that there are so many bushrangers dealing in Australian wheat that it is time that the Government took complete control of the industry. There are dozens of people living on transactions in wheat who have nothing to do with growing it. When I investigated the weevil pest with the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Wilson), I had to go to Sydney. When I was in the Minister of Agriculture’s office there, not one but seven men came to see the Minister. I asked him who they were, and he said they were all dealing in wheat, some getting l/16th of a penny a. bushel for their work. I do not know who pays them, but the public must pay in the long run. There are so many people dealing in wheat that the position seems to be even worse than in the sugar industry. Yesterday Senator Latham spoke about my going around with Mr. Wilson to inquire into the weevil pest. I was asked by the Commonwealth Government to accompany Mr. Wilson to Western Australia, and I was only too pleased to do so. I was then asked to go to the Eastern States, and I did so. No farmer in this Parliament, or in fact in
Australia, knows more about wheatgrowing than Mr. Wilson. It was stated in the Western Australian Parliament that I knew nothing about wheat, but I had an interest in a farm before the man who spoke about me knew anything about wheat. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research was very pleased with Mr. Wilson’s report, and so was the Government. If there were not so many St. George’s- terrace farmers in Western Australia and so many Sussex-street farmers in Sydney the genuine farmer would get a much fairer deal. Much has been said to-night about the 4s. a bushel guarantee. I believe that Senator Latham said that the money had not been paid for any of that wheat. I can tell him that thousands of pounds have been paid to the farmers on the basis of 4s. a bushel since the 21st December. Those who were not paid were those who produced beyond the stipulated quota, but the Minister gave them 2s. a bushel until their claims were adjusted. When the Lyons-Page Government was in power the Country party knew that £10,000,000 was to be allocated among the farmers of Australia. Has that money been paid?
– Where ? In Western Australia?
– Then I can tell the honorable senator that £750,000 of it has not been paid in Victoria.
– It probably went back to the Treasury.
– I question whether it has all been paid in Western Australia. At that time Senator Latham was travelling around the country telling the distressed farmers that the money was to be paid to them. He was making definite promises which were never redeemed. He himself remarked just now that some of that £10,000,000 was returned to the Treasury. He was a Minister of the Crown in Western Australia when the United Australia party was in power, and that party knew what to do with -money which was unexpended. It was returned to the Treasury, and therefore, the honorable senator cannot blame the present Government if it does the same. When the Collier Government took office it appointed a rural bank hoard because the farmers’ finances were in such a bad sta’te that something had to be done to assist them. The honorable senator knows what really good work that board did. When the Scullin Government introduced a bill to authorize the payment of 4s. a bushel, the Country party, which to my mind is always a hopeless party from the point of view of the farmers, defeated it in this chamber. Then Mr. Scullin submitted a proposal to pay 3s. a bushel. He was told by the Commonwealth Bank Board that that money could not be provided. The evidence in support of that statement came from a firm of solicitors. The opinion it gave was that the money provided for in the bill could not be paid out at 3s. a bushel. Honorable senators opposite then asked Mr. Scullin where the money was to come from. I ask honorable senators opposite where the money is coming from, to-day for war purposes. Money could be raised for the farmers in those days, just the same as it can be raised for war purposes to-day from the general public. The late Government raised money to. help the farmers by imposing a flour tax.
– Which still exists.
– The flour tax is paid for the most part by the man who has three or four children. It was not welcomed by the farmers, because they knew that it would have to be paid by those with large families.
– What increase in the price of a 2-lb. loaf of bread was brought about by the flour tax ?
– I am not a baker, but a bootmaker, so I do not know. The flour tax was imposed, and people with large families have had to pay it. When the honorable senator was Minister for Lands in Western Australia, men were employed at 15s. a week and keep and up to £2 10s. per week and keep at harvest time, yet he grumbles now because harvest hands are paid a little more. “ Arbitration Court cases prove that the higher the wages the higher the price of goods. The farmer is better off when the basic wage increases, because the cost of food goes up quicker than the basic wage. I ask Senator Latham, what he did, when a Minister of the Crown in Western Australia, to relieve the farmers of the enormous debt burden that brought about the bankruptcy of hundreds of genuine settlers, which resulted in the breaking up of their homes. I will answer that question for him. Hundreds of farmers left their homes in Western Australia, and he did nothing to help them.
– How could I do anything, when there has been a Labour Government in Western Australia for many years?
– As I have told Senator Latham before, the Country party is always a hopeless body. The Country party has endeavoured at every opportunity to hamstring the present Government, which is doing all it can for the primary producers. The growers of wheat and wool are not receiving sufficient for their products. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) said that the wheat-grower who is producing 8,000 bags was not getting a fair price. He receives 4s. a bushel for the first 1,000 bags, or 3,000 bushels. That means that this year, for 1,000 bags, he is receiving £220 more than he received last year. This Government is giving that additional benefit to the grower despite its heavy war expenditure. In spite of these facts, honorable senators opposite are squealing. Senator Latham made me smile when he urged that wages in rural industries should he fixed by the Arbitration Court. I well remember the honorable senator opposing arbitration when he was a member of the Legislative Assembly of Western Australia. He then said” that wages should be fixed at round-table conferences.
– I said that, as the Arbitration Court was so congested, it might snit the parties better to settle wages at round-table conferences.
– I am in no doubt as to what the honorable senator’s attitude was at that time. The Minister spoke the truth when he declared that the previous Government did nothing for the wool-grower. Under the wool agreement with the Imperial Government, which was signed in 1941. either party had the right to request a review in May of each year. The previous Government took no action to secure a review of the price fixed under that agreement. On the 2nd October, 1941, the honorable member for New England . (Mr. Abbott), who was then Acting Minister for Commerce, in reply to a question asked by me in the Senate stated that -
The wool-selling arrangements made with the United Kingdom provided that either government could initiate in May of any year a review of the wool agreement, particularly in relation to the price.
In view of the great advantages conferred on Australian wool-growers by the guarantee of purchase of their total wool clip for the turin of the war and one year thereafter, and the heavy financial responsibility which would rest on the United Kingdom in respect of unsold stocks, the Commonwealth Government had not heretofore sought a- review of the price, the Minister added. The right remained, however, to initiate a review in May of any future year.
Mr. Abbott added that it was, of course, possible that at any review the United Kingdom might seek a reduction in price.
It remained for a Labour government to obtain a review of the agreement; and under the new agreement it secured an increase of price to the Australian grower of 2d. per lb. The previous Governmentsold our wool too cheaply to the Bradford people. Further, it turned a deaf ear to all requests by the growers in Western Australia to establish, additional appraisement centres in that State. Thanks to the sympathy of this Government, an appraisement centre has now been established at Albany, whilst I understand that another appraisement centre will be established at Geraldton very soon. Personally, I believe that in order to enable the grower to meet his costs, a price of ls. 6d. per lb. should be guaranteed for wool, and I hope that eventually we shall secure that price. Recently, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) announced his intention of decentralizing the wool industry. One would think that such a proposal would have the unanimous approval of the Country party, of which Senator Latham is a member. However, that party protested against the plan, which, if it had been given effect to, would save the growers considerable amounts in freight, relieve the overloaded transport system of much unnecessary long-distance haulage, and assist in the building up of country towns. The fact that opposition to that plan is being fostered by a section which has exploited the grower in the past means nothing to the honorable senator or his colleages in the Country party. They are also unperturbed by the fact that that campaign is designed to prevent the continuance of orderly marketing in the post-war period. Wool speculators realize that once the industry is decentralized, grower control will remain, and a system of minimum reserve prices for all types will be introduced. This would seriously curtail the activities of speculators, but it would stabilize the return to the grower. The action of the Country party in giving support to that campaign is further evidence that it is more concerned to delude primary producers than to render practical assistance to them. Thus, the woolgrowers have refused to come together in order to discuss a plan whereby they can obtain a better return. No honora’ble senator has more sympathy with the farmers than I have. All of my relatives are engaged in large-scale farming in Queensland, but although conditions arc better for the farmer in that State, they find it difficult to make ends meet. Obviously, therefore, the position of farmers in Western Australia, who are not so favorably situated, is most difficult. Whereas the Queensland farmer can grow two or three crops, the Western Australian farmer must confine himself to wheat. I sincerely trust that the Government will maintain the present guaranteed price of 4s. a bushel for wheat at sidings.
.- I wish to make a few remarks with regard to certain classes of primary producers who may have not yet been mentioned in this debate. Senator Clothier has made some extraordinary statements. He said that many people are dealing in wheat. As a matter of fact, no farmer can sell a bag of wheat, not even to a poultry farmer. Extremely heavy penalties are provided for dealing in wheat. The honorable senator, therefore, does not know too much about this subject. Secondly, he said that once wages rise the price of wheat is bound to rise. That would be an easy solution of the grower’s problem ; but it has not operated in respect of wheat, oats, barley, or any other primary product. The honorable senator should stick to his last. The Minister for External. Territories (Senator Eraser) made a long speech and succeeded in confusing honorable senators with figures. He confined his remarks to wheat, and said very little directly related to the substance of the motion, the effect of which is that the primary producer should get a price for his products that will enable him to pay the wages prescribed for the industry. The Minister endeavoured to brand Senator Latham as a low-wage man. What Senator Latham asks for is that the primary producer be enabled to pay the wages which he is now obliged to pay. No honorable senator opposite should vote against this motion.
– We do not want to vote against it, at least I do not want to do so.
– Why does the Government discriminate between the employer and the employee? It secures high wages for the employee, but does not worry about the claims of the employer. The Minister said that the appointment of the Commission was requested by representative wheat-growers. That is not correct. The only people who asked for the Commission were the representatives of the New South Wales growers. They asked for the appointment of three representatives of the primary producers and three representatives of the employees, with an independent chairman, but that request was not granted. Western Australia did not ask for it, neither did South Australia or Victoria. I say definitely that outside employment regulated the wage that the farmers had to pay, and the farmers could not have got men this year under the prices fixed by this award. I know of one farmer who normally sows 600 acres. This year he has put all his machinery in the shed and will not grow anything. He is not only a wheatgrower; he also grows hay, barley, oats, &c, but he cannot pay the wages prescribed unless the Government comes to the rescue and fulfils its obligations in accordance with this motion. The Minister stated definitely that if the balance of the 2s. wheat brought 6s. a bushel the farmer would get 6s. a bushel for it. I ask the Leader of the Senate or any member of the Government if that is so.
– I said that.
– Then obviously the Government must pay all the freight and handling charges.
– I said that whatever the wheat brought would be paid to the farmers. I made a statement to the Senate in regard to the whole matter.
– “We shall keep the honorable Minister to his statement that the farmer will get the full amount and that the Government will pay the freight and charges.
There is one aspect of the matter which I think is unfair and that is the fact that the 4s. a bushel for bagged wheat is paid at the railway sidings. I am one of those farmers who have bought wheat land at a dear price with freight at 2d. a bushel, whereas actually I have been charged 5d. a bushel.
– That has always been so.
– No. My freights have always been 2d. a bushel.
– There is very little difference.
– There is a difference between 2d. and 5d., which amounts to 9d. on a bag. The position is that the electorates of Gwydir and Wimmera have the highest freight charges in Australia, and I, with my high-priced land, am robbed for the benefit of farmers in those areas. The whole thing is unfair and unjust. As I said before this is not only a matter of wheat. Most of the men in my district are oat-growers. They have to employ men at 3s. 3d. an hour - twice the basic wage - to stook, stack, thresh, and carry the crop to the railway station. How can they make it pay with the price of oats at 2s. a bushel at sidings? How can they possibly pay the men £1 7s. 6d. a day plus keep? There is also a large quantity of hay grown in my district and the same expensive process of cutting, binding, &c, is involved. In addition, the farmers have to pay top prices for twine, superphosphate, &c. I am not objecting to higher wages. I realize that it is impossible to get good’ work without paying good wages, but what has happened now that the commission has made an award. It is impossible to get labour that is any more than 50 per cent, efficient. The farmer has to take the best that he can get. Most of the men who are available are old-age pensioners and such like who are not fit to do war work. That illustrates the conditions under which the farmers are working to-day. All we ask is that the farmers be placed in the same position as the sugar-growers in Queensland. Senator Clothier suggested by interjection that farm hands are required only for a few weeks during harvesting. The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Wilson) who recently went through the wheat-growing districts, told me to-day that many of the crops in the northern Mallee areas are still not stripped, although stripping started in November. That is an indication of how long it is necessary to have the men. I should like to know if the honorable member for Wimmera is supporting the award of the commission.
Another undesirable feature is that this commission was appointed by the Government when Parliament was about to go into recess, so that there was insufficient time in which to disallow the regulations. It was a cunning trick. Then, when the Parliament re-assembled it finds that the body is dissolved, and, as it no longer exists, the disallowance of the regulations cannot be debated. I think that is carrying politics pretty low down.
I should like the Government to tell me whether the award still stands although the commission has been dissolved? I think that I am entitled to an answer to that question because it is a fair one.
– The award still stands for any crops sown in 1942.
– Then the position is that the man who grows hay, stacks it, and sells it two years hence, will still be subject to that award because the hay is part of the 1942-43 crop. In effect the parent will have been murdered, but the child will still live, and will continue to live until the award is rescinded. It is no use saying that the award applies only to the 1942-43 crop, because the crop will be handled for the next twelve months or more, and the award will still operate.
Again I urge that the least the Government can do is to place the farmers of this country in a position similar to that of the Queensland sugargrowers, so that the minimum return they will obtain for their product will be the cost of production. I am confident that the Government realizes that the farmers to-day are in a perilous position. On the notice-paper of the House of Representatives, there is a Commonwealth Bank Bill providing for the establishment of a mortgage bank to assist the farmers. Surely that is an admission that the farmers are unable to carry on under existing conditions ; but what is the Government doing to help them ? It has put this “ blister “ on them and they are unable to get rid of it. I am afraid that there will be such a decline in primary production that before long there will be virtual famine in this country. I have cited the case of a farmer who normally crops 600 acres, but this year will have no crops at all. He is typical of scores of farmers throughout the length and breadth of Victoria, at least. Prices of primary products are so low that farmers cannot be induced to grow them.
– The only fault that I have to find with the motion is that it does not go far enough. Unfortunately, it deals only with one section of the community and no provision whatever is made for other sections. The motion would have sounded far better had it included the words “ and award rates for primary producer employees at not less than the basic wage “.
– They are being paid that now.
– The only qualification in that regard is the harvesting award for certain crops, namely, wheat, barley and rye. It does not cover all crops. It is true that it is not to be enforced for all time, but if it is to operate at all, it should be in respect of all crops. That is only a matter of common sense. Why should the farmers be paid a price based on that award, and then, as soon as the crop is in, be in a position to pay the employees the same old rates of 10s. a day, or even £1 a week, as has been the case in the past? I want to see a fair deal for both the farmer and the farm employee. Senator Latham wanted to know how this award was going to assist the war effort. I point out that one of the most vital necessities in time of war is an adequate supply of foodstuffs. Obviously, all farmers are not in the same position as regards finance and crops, and when labour is scarce, competition is keen. The wealthy man with a good crop and plenty of ready cash is in a position to compete strongly against the small farmer who may perhaps have a poor crop. In that way, some farmers will be able to obtain their labour requirements at the expense of others if no restrictions are imposed. If, on the other hand, labour is equally divided and used economically, there is a possibility that all crops will be harvested. In that way the production of food will be increased, and the war effort considerably assisted. If there is an urgent need to-day, it is for increased production of foodstuffs, and harvesting is closely related to our food requirements. After all, who asked for this award? There has been quite a discussion upon this matter, but it has been mainly in regard to wheat, and I take it that the commission dealt with all primary products. The move was initiated by the wheat-growers themselves. It was the Harvest Advisory Committee which first asked for the commission. The request was made because wheat-growers were perturbed about the man-power position, and they asked that a committee or a commission be set up. Amongst those appointed were two representatives of the Wheat-growers Federation and two representatives of the Australian Workers Union. The representatives of the wheatgrowers were appointed by the wheatfarmers themselves. The representatives met in consultation, and recommended that the rates be determined at a roundtable conference. That is the reason why the matter was not referred tothe Arbitration Court. Therefore it cannot truly be said that the proposal was forced upon the wheat-growers. When the award was announced the wheat-growers could have applied to the Prices Commissioner and placed before him their case for an increase of the price of their commodities. Had the matter been referred to him probably some action would have been taken. I am glad that this motion has been submitted to the Senate because, it may result in action which I have advocated in this chamber onother occasions, and which is in accord with Labour policy. In Great Britain guaranteed prices are provided for foodstuffs and a bounty up to £3 an acre is paid in respect of land prepared for the production of essential foodstuffs. Great Britain has for once adopted a policy in advance of that of Australia for the encouragement of primary production. The prices of such products as wheat, wool and potatoes have been fixed, but a complete overhaul is needed with regard to the prices obtained by the primary producers for commodities such as barley, oats, flax, fruit, eggs, butter, cheese, onions and many other commodities. I hope that some authority will be set up without delay to fix the prices for all farm products, so that the farmers may receive prices for their commodities that will enable them to pay award rates to farm employees. Senator Latham referred to the wages fixed for stack-builders. I point out that a good stack-builder is a highly skilled man. and I contend that just as margins above the basic wage are allowed for skilled workers in industry generally, there should be margins for skill in fixing the wages for farm employees.
– Does the honorable senator favour a prosperity loading?
– Certain industries have awar loading, and ifthat be good for one industry it should be good for another. The precedent in that regard was set by the Government which preceded the present Labour Government. It was applied in one section of industry, and the Government responsible for it knew that it would cause chaos until it was adopted uniformly throughout other industries. I have heard many arguments advanced in opposition to the fixing of prices for primary products. Members of the United Australia party and of the Country party have, in the past, contended that prices should be determined by the law of supply and demand, and I am agreeably surprised to find that at last the Opposition has changed its attitude and will support the Government in its endeavour to do justice to the primary producers.
Debate (on motion bySenator Courtice) adjourned.
Apples : Processing ; Apple Concentrate and Treacle; Prevention of Waste - Caseof Major de Groot.
Motion (by SenatorCollings) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
.- Last year, during the fruit season, I made an extensive tour of Tasmania. In the Tamar Valley I saw hundreds of thousands of cases of apples tipped into the river, and at Lalla huge quantities of apples were left on the ground to rot. Along the Bagdad Valley and at Spreyton and in other fruit-growing districts apples were lying so thickly on the ground under and around the trees that thesurface of the ground was hidden from view. To-day I asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice, the following question -
Will the Government make immediate inquiries into the process used by the research Station at Long Ashton, Bristol, Department of Agriculture and Horticulture, for the manufacture of apple concentrate and treacle so as to make use of the surplus apple crop in Australia this year?
The Minister replied that the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture had supplied the following answer -
The process for the manufacture of apple concentrate and treacle is already known in Australia. At the request of the Department of Commerce and Agriculturethe Council for Scientific and IndustrialResearch, working in collaboration with commercial processors, has already produced experimentally apple treacle, calcium malate, pectin and concentrated apple pulp. Pectin is now being manufactured commercially, but at present there is no demand for apple concentrate and treacle.
It is not anticipated that there willbe any surplus apples this season in any of the mainland States other than Western Australia. In the surplus States of Tasmania and Western Australia processors will be fully engaged in the manufacture of apple products for which there are heavy demands, such as dried apples, canned pie pack apples, and apple jelly.
I do not blame the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture for the fact that the reply did not fully answer my question. No doubt it was preparedby a departmental official. Apple concentrate and treacle have been manufactured in England and have been found most useful. In Tasmania, and probably also in Western Australia, an enormous quantity of apples will no doubt be wasted this year, unless some method of processing them is adopted. The Research Station of the British Department of Agriculture and Horticulture at Long Ashton, Bristol, has made a special study of the utilization of surplus fruit crops, and methods have been evolved which will safeguard apple crops by turning the surplus into apple concentrate and treacle. The apples are washed, milled and pressed,150 gallons of juice being obtained from a ton of apples. The juice is then treated with enzyme, which removes the slimy constituents and after clarification through a centrifuge the juice is concentrated under such a high vacuum that it boils at quite a low temperature. The 150 gallons of juice is reduced to about 16 gallons of a very thick product, which is termed apple treacle. This product was first made in 1939-40, and it is very popular with housewives, who found that they were able to make a wide use of it in the home. In view of the small storage space needed for the concentrated product, and the fact that the concentrate and the treacle are quite stable, whereas the apple juices are liable to decompose very quickly, this method affords a way of utilizing large quantities of fruit which may otherwise he wasted. I understand that the machinery required for this work is available in Australia. Apple pressers are needed, but throughout Australia there are milk pasteurizing and condensing plants that could easily be adapted for this work. I urgently appeal to the Government to seewhat can he done to prevent the enormous wastage of apples that is likely to occur this year.
SenatorFRASER (Western Australia - Minister for External Territories) [10.42]. - Speaking on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate on the 29th September last, Senator Amour made certain statements concerning Major de Groot. I immediately brought the honorable senator’s comments to the notice of my colleague, the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde), and requested him to make inquiries concerning -the matters raised. I am now advised by the Minister that a report from the military authorities in New South. Wales states that nothing is known to support the allegation that de Groot is a Fascist. Allegations against him have been investigated,but have been found to he baseless. The commander of the sub-area where de Groot is employed has reportedthat an undisciplined and dishonest section in the camps required strong measures, which Major de Groot has applied, and from an investigation of the punishments awarded by him, it appears that he has administered his command with firmness and justice. De Groot is evidently a strict disciplinarian, who has earned some degree of unpopularity, not only on account of his forceful instructions, but also because he has rigidly policed the canteen instructions, banned gambling games, and has generally tightened up a somewhat lax control existing before he was posted to the camp concerned. Because of the notoriety he achieved through the Sydney Harbour bridge incident, the Minister states that he, personally, would have been inclined to doubt the advisability of using de Groot’s services in the Army at all.Nevertheless, de Groot has, apparently, been doing a satisfactory job without giving just cause for criticism, so that any action taken against him now would really be based on a ten-year-old incident in which he was a prominent figure. He was an officer in the Service long before the present Government came into power. During his service in the Commonwealth Military Forces, Major de Groot has not committed any offence which would warrant cancellation of his commission as suggested by Senator Amour, and he could not be dealt with in this summary manner without a charge being made against him and a trial conducted in accordance with military law.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
National Security Act -
National Security (General)Regulations - Orders - Inventions and Designs (349).
National Security (Industrial Property) Regulations - Orders - Inventions and Designs (54).
Senate adjourned at 10.44 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 28 January 1943, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1943/19430128_senate_16_173/>.