16th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. J. Cunningham) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator COLLINGS (Queensland -
Minister for the Interior). - Honorable . senators will have received with very sincere regret, the sad news of the death of the only son of Their Excellencies the Governor-General and the Lady Gowrie, Major the Honorable A. H. P. Hore-Ruthven, who died as the result of wounds received in action.
Their Excellencies, by their personal qualities, have endeared themselves to the Australian people, and I am sure that they will be comforted by a knowledge of the sympathy that is felt for them in the loss of their gallant son. I move -
That this Senate records its sincere regret at the death on active service of Major the Honorable Alexander Hardinge Patrick BoreRuthven,Rifle Brigade, only son of Their Excellencies the Governor-General and the Lady Gowrie, and tenders its deep sympathy to Their Excellencies and to the widow and family of the late gallant gentleman.
– The members of the Opposition in the Senate express their deepest sympathy with Their Excellencies and with the widow and family of the late gallant soldier in their bereavement.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their places.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Air ascertain if more suitable quarters can be provided for aeroplane observation posts at Lilydale, Georgetown, and other towns in Tasmania, where the windows in the buildings used face inland instead of towards the sea?
– I shall be glad to comply with the honorable senator’s request.
SenatorFOLL.- Will the Minister for the Interior state whether, as reported in the press during the last few days, a strike of employees of the Allied Works Council has occurred in Queensland? If the reports be correct, will the Minister state the present position with regard to the strike, and say whether it is likely to be terminated in the nea-r future?
– It is true that some employees of the Allied Works Council are on strike in Brisbane. It is also true that the Director-General of Allied Works, the Honorable E. G. Theodore, is on the spot, and is doing everything possible to end the dispute.
– The Leader of the Senate, in reply to Senator Foll, said that the DirectorGeneral of Allied Works was in Brisbane and that everything was being done to end the strike. According to press reports, Mr. Theodore is at Menzies Hotel, Melbourne. Which is correct?
– Fortunately, although I ann Minister for the Interior, and in control of the functions of the Allied Works Council, I am not in control . of the press. Unless Mr. Theodore is able to be in two places at once, the press report is wrong. Within the last two hours I have spoken to him in Brisbane over the telephone system.
Absence without Leave.
– Will the Minister representing the Attorney-General state whether the Government can take any action to enforce National Security Regulation 370, of 1542, which makes it an offence for civilians to harbour members of the fighting forces who are absent without leave?
– I shall bring the matter to the notice of the AttorneyGeneral, and supply the information to the honorable senator.
– by leave - For some years past, the United States of America has been according Australia most-favoured-foreign-nation treatment on Australian goods imported into America, but Australia has not, up to the present, reciprocated. Whilst Australia had only a two-column tariff and the general tariff applied to goods from all foreign countries, it might be fairly claimed by Australia that all foreign countries were receiving mostfavouredforeignnation treatment. But, upon the re-institution of a three-column tariff in the Australian tariff, certain intermediate tariff rates were applied to goods from certain foreign countries, including countries which are now our principal European enemies, whilst goods from America remained on the general tariff, which is higher than the intermediate tariff. In present circumstances, trading with enemy countries or enemyoccupied countries is prohibited. After the Attorney-General and Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) returned from his mission abroad last year, he represented to the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) and the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) that, having regard to the great material assistance ‘received by Australia from the United States of America during a most critical period in our history, it. would be right for the Commonwealth to take the initiative so as to remove the existing anomaly. Therefore, without any formal request from the United States of America, the Commonwealth Government lias decided that the time has now arrived to remove the anomaly. Most-favoured-foreign-nation treatment has been accorded to -most foreign countries, including our European enemies and enemy-occupied countries, and it is wrong that our principal ally should remain on what might fairly be termed the punitive tariff, i.e., the general tariff. The Government has therefore decided to issue proclamations which, in effect, accord to the United States of America most-favoured-foreign-nation treatment. These proclamations will be issued forthwith and thereby place good? coming from our ally, the United States of America, on the most-favoured tariff accorded to foreign goods.
– In reply to a question asked by me on the 28th January last, the Minister representing the Attorney-General undertook to layon the table of the Senate the full text, of the Crown Law officers’ opinions on the draft Commonwealth Powers Bills, and also a return of certain costs in connexion with printing, &c. Has this been done?
– I shall take steps this afternoon to ascertain what progress has been made in the matter.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture give consideration to the making of a further advance in respect of the wheat in No. 5 pool?
– This matter is now under consideration by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, and I hope that an early announcement will be made as to the sum of money to be made available.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture been drawn to a. report in the Advocate a daily newspaper published in the North Coast district of Tasmania, that at a meeting of the Produce Merchants Association in Devonport it was stated that although 45,000 sacks of potatoes, representing over 3,000 tons, had been delivered to the potato control authorities since the 1st January ‘last so far no payment had been made? Has he also seen in the same newspaper a report that a merchant who is not a member of the association had received no payment for potatoes since the 21st December, 1942? Will the Minister see that the old system of payment in cash on delivery of the potatoes is reverted to, and can he advance any reason why the Government should take so long to make payment?
– I have not seen the press statement referred to, but it is not uncommon for a government to be somewhat late in paying for supplies. I shall bring the honorable senator’s question to the notice of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture with a view to expediting payment.
– Will the Minister at an early date make a statement to the Senate setting out the operations of the Potato Control Committee, and stating whether or not potatoes have been acquired, and indicating whether merchants or the Government are responsible for them after delivery?
– I shall endeavour to comply with the wishes of the honorable senator.
Remission of Duty
– ‘Has the Minister for Trade and Customs seen a statement in this morning’s Sydney Daily Telegraph that when he refused to remit the excise duty on cigarettes purchased by the Australian Comforts Fund for soldiers in Australia the Prime Minister refused the request of representatives of the fund that he should receive a deputation on the subject? Is he aware that it is stated that in a period of three months £155,000 was spent by the Australian Comforts Fund in the purchase of tobacco and cigarettes for free issue to Australian fighting men, and that of that sum £115,000 represented excise duty? In view of the fact that the funds of the Australian Comforts Fund are subscribed by the public, and that the cigarettes are issued free to members of the services, will the Minister give further consideration to remitting the excise duty on cigarettes and tobacco issued, free to troops in Australia as is now the case in respect of men serving on overseas fronts.
– I have read the report referred to. It is true that the Prime Minister was asked to receive a. deputation on a matter which had already Deen decided by myself and subsequently by the full Cabinet. When the request was made I again conferred with the Prime Minister, when I pointed out that the matter had been discussed at length by the full Cabinet and that a considerable sum of money was involved. I recom- . mended that the subject should not be reopened. Australian troops serving abroad are given concessions in that cigarettes and tobacco are issued to them free of excise duty on the same basis as applies to American soldiers in Australia. The concession was originally granted to the Australian Comforts Fund in respect of men at the operational station at Darwin. At that time it was suggested that the amount involved would be merely nominal, but before long the Government was inundatedwith applications for a similar concession to be granted to other excellent organizations. The Australian Comforts Fund is not the only organization concerned in this matter. In view of the difficulties of finance and the fact that the same treatment is given to our troops as is given to those of our allies when serving in their own country, the decision was not altered. Should the honorable senator desire it, I shall supply a full statement on the subject.
– Is it a fact that after the 31st March next the Australian Broadcasting Commission will not include in its programmes any reference either on or off the course to horse-racing?
– I have not received any intimation from the Australian Broadcasting Commission, which was appointed under an act of Parliament to control national broadcasting in Australia, that it intends to discontinue to publish in its programmes references to horse-racing.
– Will the Minister have inquiries made?
– I do not think that that is necessary?
– According to press reports the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has stated that supplies of sheep for dehydrating purposes have been held up because of the disallowance of regulations relating to the Australian Meat Industry Commission. Can the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture say how the Government proposed to acquire such sheep ?
– I shall endeavour toobtain an answer to the honorable senator’s question.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has supplied the following answers : -
These figures all provide for the continuance of normal trade practices in regard to interstate trade, i.e., sales by Victorian manufacturers to Riverina. South Australia and Tasmania, and New South Wales sales to Queensland.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
What was the amount ofbulk wheat of the season 1941-42 held in store on account of the Australian Wheat Board by the bulk handling organisations in the States of New South Wales. Victoria and Western Australia on 1st April, 1942, and31st October, 1942, respectively ?
– The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has supplied the following answers: -
New South Wales - 1st April. 1942. 21,000,000 bushels: 31st October. 1942, 9,750,000 bushels. Victoria - 1st April. 1942. 14,750,000 bushels: 31st October. 1942. 5,000,000 bushels. Western Australia - 1st April. 1942. 24,000,000 bushels: 31st October. 1942, 15,500,000 bushels.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
What amount of subsidy per annum, if any, does the Australian National Airways receive from the Government for the carriage of mails and for the continuing air service between Tasmania and the Mainland?
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following answer : -
No subsidy is paid to Australian National Airways for the operation of the air services between Tasmania and the Mainland, but the company is paid for mails actually carried at the rate of fid. per pound.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, upon notice -
– The Minister for Transport has supplied the following answers : -
Debate resumed from the 12th February (vide page 623), on motion by Senator Spicer -
That the National Security (Apple and Fear Acquisition) Regulations, as contained in Statutory Rule No. 14. of . 1943, and made under the National Security Act 1939-1940, be disallowed.
. -Senator Spicer has objected to the restrictive provisions of subregulation 4 of regulation 17 with regard to the time in which claims for compensation may be lodged. I point out that growers have been able to lodge such claims since the commencement of the acquisition scheme in 1940. The subregulation referred to gives the Minister discretionary power to accept a claim, although it may not have been received within the time prescribed.
However, the Government does not desire to exclude any grower who may consider that he has a claim for further payment; and the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) has agreed to amend the regulations in order to extend the period for the submission of claims. It is proposed to withdraw sub-regulation 4 and to insert the following: -
Unless the Minister in special cases otherwise determines, the Commonwealth shall not be bound to pay compensation in respect of any apples or pears acquired under these regulations unless the claim for compensation is made -
This means that in the case of the acquisition seasons of 1940, 1941 and 1942 claims may be made up to the end of June next. As regards the present and future seasons, application should be made before the end of July in each year. In the interests of administration it is very desirable that some time limit be fixed within which applications should be made. At the commencement, of the season growers are aware of the advances which will be made by the Apple and Pear Marketing Board on their fruit, and well before the end of July their crop will have been delivered and they will be in a position to determine whether they propose to claim for any further payments. If they wish to do so a formal claim can, therefore, be lodged without inconvenience before the end of July. In view of the assurance that action is being taken to meet the objections raised by Senator Spicer I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted ; debate adjourned.
Senator COLLINGS (Queensland-
Minister for the Interior) [3.32]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
In doing so, I wish to traverse the whole story, as well as I am able to do so, of the introduction of the bill, the need for it, its scope and intention. Section 4) of the Defence Act 1903-1941 is as follows : -
Members of the Defence Force who are members of the Military Forces shall not be required unless they voluntarily agree to do so to serve beyond the limits of the Commonwealth and those of any territory under the authority of the Commonwealth.
Sub-section (1) of Section 5a provides -
This act shall extend to the territories of the Commonwealth as if each of those territories were part of the Commonwealth.
Section 13a of the National Security Act 1939-1940 includes the following proviso : -
Provided that nothing in this section shall authorize the imposition of any form of compulsory service beyond the limits of Australia.
Clause4 of the bill provides that -
Notwithstanding anything contained in the Defence Act 1903-1941 or in the National Security Act 1939-1940, any member of the Citizen Military Forces maybe required to serve in such area contained in the Southwestern Pacific Zone as is specified by proclamation.
The South-Western Pacific Zone is defined in clause 3 of the bill as “ the area bounded on the west by the one hundred and tenth meridian of east longitude, on the north by the Equator, and on the east by the one hundred and fifty-ninth meridian of east longitude” The boundaries of the zone in the bill have been determined in the light of the following considerations: (1) The strategical set-up in the South-West Pacific Area; (2) objectives of global strategy in their particular relation to the SouthWest Pacific Area; (3) the nature of the forces required for operations in the Pacific areas; (4) the strength of the Australian naval, land and air forces available for commitments and for cooperation not only in the South-West Pacific Area, but also in other theatres as well; (5) Australia’s man-power resources and the maximum forces they are capable of maintaining in the field in tropical warfare. Those are the facts.
– That is a statement of fact. If the honorable senator has not had sufficient leisure during the week-end to make himself acquainted with the phraseology of the acts from which I have just quoted, I am sorry for him.
– The Minister quoted assumptions as to the objective in global strategy. Those words are not in any acts.
– You, sir, will remember a wonderful occasion some months ago when members of both Houses of this Parliament took part in an historical gathering to welcome a splendid man, General Douglas MacArthur. None of us, I think, can ever forget how the Prime Minister, on behalf of Australia, warmly, cordially and eloquently welcomed the General, who, in a most stirring response, gave us the soldier’s pledge. He pledged to the uttermost the blood and treasure of the country that he represents. It is just as well that we should look at the actual facts regarding General Douglas MacArthur’s directive. He was, as the Commander-in-Chief of the South-West Pacific Area, given a directive issued by PresidentRoosevelt and agreed to by the Governments of Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands East Indies and the United States of America. It specifies the objectives which his operations will be designed to accomplish. The first phase of the campaign in the South-West Pacific Area, which ended with the recent destruction of the Japanese army in Papua, was directed to ensuring the security of Australia as a base by removing the immediate threat of invasion to the eastern parts of Australia. The sphere of land operations, with the exception of small Australian military force units in Timor and Dutch New Guinea, has, within the meaning of the Defence Act, been on Australian territory. The defence of Australia is not confined to its territorial limits. Provided that adequate forces are available, that can best be secured by denying to the enemy that outer screen of islands from which attacks can be launched upon the mainland. The occupation of those outposts also provides points of vantage from which offensive action can ultimately he developed. At present, by reason of the holding strategy in the Pacific, the strength of the allied forces, and the superior strategic position of the enemy in the archipelagoes of the Pacific where there are air-fields for land-based aircraft, we are still fighting a defensive war. With the passage of this measure, the whole of the Australian forces, naval, land and air, will be available to the Commander-in-Chief for employment in the South-Western Pacific Zone as defined in the measure.
I should like to deal briefly with the construction of the Australian Army, because in the disposition of our effective fighting strength we should not attempt to do things which are utterly beyond us. It may be just as well to take stock of the forces at our disposal. First, there are four Australian Imperial Force divisions, three of which are in Australia, and the other in the Middle East. In addition, we have a considerable Militia force, the exact strength of which I do not propose to state, for reasons which will be appreciated by every honorable senator. I say without any hesitation that Australia has loyally, completely, and thoroughly played its part in the war effort of the United Nations. There is no need to waste time either reaffirming or disputing that statement. The contract that we undertook - when I say “ we “, I do not mean this Government, but the Australian people - was that we would stand with the British Commonwealth of Nations and our other allies comprising the United Nations, in the face of any eventuality. “When Italy entered the war we sent troops to Great Britain to help meet a possible invasion.
– That was done by the previous Government, not by this Administration.
– Although I have no intention of taking any more than passing notice of interjections by honorable senators opposite, in reply to Senator McBride I may say this : I am of opinion that the measure which we are called upon to debate to-day is of first importance. It involves the question whether we shall be invaded by Japan; whether we shall see our children slaughtered, and our women raped. I ask - not in order that I, personally, may be immune from interruption but in the interests of honorable senators generally - that this chamber be spared the indignity of continuous interjections of the type just made by Senator McBride, as to whether it was this government or that government which did certain things. I repeat that Australia has done its share in this war. When an invasion seemed imminent we sent our sons to Great Britain - that country from which many of us came and of which, so far, nobody has any reason to be ashamed. That portion of our fighting forces became the 9 th Division and was later transferred to the Middle East where it withstood the siege of Tobruk, one of the outstanding epics in the history of Australia’s fighting men abroad, and later acquitted itself brilliantly at El Alamein. There has been considerable criticism of this bill and I propose to traverse some of it in order that we may get an orderly view of the situation. First, we should endeavour to place that criticism into its various categories. I do not say that criticism is not justified. No government and no Minister defending or supporting a measure has a right to object to reasonable criticism, although, on occasions, a Minister may have a right, in fact a duty, to refuse to lend dignity to destructive criticism by replying to it. In my opinion the criticism that has been offered in respect of this measure can he divided into certain definite categories. First, there are those critics who oppose the bill because they have an honest belief in complete and unlimited conscription. Then there are those who criticize the measure because they have a completely honest and sincere antagonism to conscription in any form. That, also, is quite understandable. Lastly, however, there is that utterly dishonest, disreputable and discreditable criticism which arises from no higher motive than a desire to discredit the Labour Government and its administration. Into those categories all critics of this measure may be divided, and honorable senators who follow me in this debate, knowingly and or unknowingly, will sort themselves out into those three classes. Honorable senators must make their choice and, according to the category which they choose, the people of this country, and those who fellow them in the years to come, will decide whether the opponents of this measure were or were not justified in acting as they did.
– They will decide before then.
– I know that Senator McBride will continue to draw his parliamentary allowance whether he believes that posterity will declare his actions to be worthwhile or not, but that is a matter for himself. One criticism that has been offered upon this measure is that the Defence Act should have been amended earlier. That criticism is perfectly justifiable. If honorable senators believe that the Defence Act should have been amended earlier, they have a right to say so, but I point out that section 49 of the Defence Act, which limits overseas service to volunteers, became law in 1903 - exactly 40 years ago - and that, during those 40 years, no government has sought to amend it. In 1940, the then Commonwealth Government passed the National Security bill, and inserted a clause preventing the imposition of any form of compulsory military service beyond the limits of Australia.
The second criticism is that the delay has prejudiced operations. I submit with all respect that there is not the slightest approximation to a vestige of truth in that criticism. If there were, it would imply that we Australians have not carried, out our contract to stand loyally by the United Nations. With the exception of small Australian Imperial Force units in Timor and Dutch New Guinea, all operations have been on Australian soil. Another popular kind of criticism has been that the bill should provide that the members of the Australian Citizen Forces should be required to serve anywhere abroad. That is quite justifiable criticism, if we have taken into consideration what that criticism involves. We must surely ask ourselves, “ What number of troops have we,1 and what have we in the matter of equipment and transport ? “ Australia’s national policy, endorsed by all political parties, has been one of voluntary service, whether in the Navy, the Army, or the Royal Australian Air Force. A similar remark is applicable to South Africa, as far as the African continent is concerned.
– Not now.
– That is understood. Great Britain and the United States of America together plan the high strategy of this global war. The duty of the Dominions is to protect their own territories, as far as they are able, and’ then put forward the best, effort possible elsewhere. Australia has discharged that duty.
Another criticism is that the area defined in the bill is too restricted. That also is justifiable criticism, but let us put the critics into the witness box, and ask them what they would have. What do they mean by an area being too restricted? Without equivocation or reservation, the Government gave the reasons why it considered that the boundaries needed to be extended. It claims that the extension provided for in the bill represents the minimum that this country must have and the maximum of what it is capable of adequately using. I want honorable senators to keep that fact in mind. In a debate on the matter of legislation the use of indefinite terms serves no useful purpose, except that, if they become embodied in an act, they provide endless profit for lawyers. What i.s meant by the term “too restricted”? It would be easy to say that, a distance of 1,000 miles in one direction was not sufficient, or that an extension of even 10,000 miles would make the area too restricted. Such critics cannot be pinned down to anything, except that they believe that any man who can be put into the fighting services should be sent anywhere in the wide world.
– With the sky as the limit.
– Quite so. We should ask ourselves, “ Where does common sense dictate that our Militia troops should go ? “ That is what this Government asks. To those who would oppose the bill, I say, “ Where would you call a halt? Unless you can answer that question you. have no right to oppose the measure.’’
Another form of criticism is that the non-inclusion of Malaya is an abandonment of Australia’s prisoners of war in that region. I have said some wrong things in my life. I have lived long enough to know it, and wisely enough to admit it, but this form of criticism is one of the most cruel and cowardly kinds that. J. have heard. It is easy, in the calm atmosphere of this Senate, to say that the non-inclusion of Malaya in the area implies an abandonment of Australian prisoners of war in that region. We should remember that the sorrowing relatives of the many hundreds of men locked up in Malaya will read that statement, but I hope that they will not believe it. They will understand that those who indulge in that form of criticism have no objective other than to discredit the Government politically, although in the process they wring the heart-strings of the relatives of the prisoners of war. My eye caught some adjectives which I had included in -my notes. I have not employed them, because I believe that honorable senators’ sense of decency will make what I have said sufficient. Another form of criticism has been hurled at the Government. One member of the Opposition interjected, “ Why did the Government go to the Labour Conference?” A more illustrious gentleman than that honorable senator offered that criticism in the House of Representatives. He did it not by way of a disorderly interjection, but, while standing on his feet, he took his courage in both hands and challenged the Government. I can admire a man who acts that way, but I have very little regard for a man who is not prepared to do more than make a disorderly interjection.
Since the Labour Government came into office, we have heard a good deal about the desirability of forming a national government. It appears that it is a crime for a Labour Prime Minister to approach the organization which alone gave him his charter to be in the Parliament at all-
– He was not elected to the Parliament by that organization.
– We have been told that we should have followed the example of the United Kingdom and established a national government in this country. No member of the Labour party in Great Britain joined the National Government there until he had gene to the Trade Union Congress of Great Britain - one of the greatest organizations of its kind in the world - and obtained from it permission to do so.
– Labour Ministers in Great Britain have not done so since then.
– They have gone to each subsequent congress. The ignorance of Senator McBride on this subject is equalled only by his callousness in regard to this bill. Every Labour member of the National Government of Great Britain has gone to the Trade Union Congress from time to time to get permission to remain in the Government and instructions as to how far he may go.
– Ministers in that Government do not get their Cabinet orders from the conference.
– Honorable senators opposite, who know nothing of the Labour party, pose as fountains of knowledge concerning it. No honorable senator on this side would be here except for the fact that the Australian Labour movement gave him its imprimatur and the electors said “go ahead”. Is it any worse that a Labour Prime Minister should attend a conference in Goulburnstreet, Sydney, not as Prime Minister, but as a delegate elected hy his comrades in Western Australia, than that an honorable senator opposite should go to a conference of his party in York-street or some other place in the same city? Do not let us hear any more about this crime of going to a Labour conference.
– A good deal more will be heard of it.
– Japan’s entry into the war necessitated an alteration of the boundaries of the area in which our Militia Forces may be used. That was obvious to the Prime Minister long before he assumed office. Members of the Executive of the Parliamentary Labour party know that the right honorable gentleman seemed to have some foreknowledge of what would happen.
– He took twelve months to make up his mind.
– Some honorable senators have taken almost a lifetime to recognize things that they should have recognized many years ago. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) -said in the House of Representatives that the country expects the Prime Minister to do whatever is demanded by circumstances. The right honorable gentleman is some sort of a leader of honorable senators opposite.
– He has been aptly described.
– The trouble with the Opposition is that it has two or three leaders. The Labour party has only one. All that we ask is that, as members of this National Parliament, honorable senators opposite should realize that, as it is the duty of the Prime Minister to do whatever is demanded by circumstances, he should be accorded every facility for doing it.
– We want to give him. full powers.
– I shall now turn to a more pleasant subject. Over and over again, members of the Opposition in the House of Representatives have paid eloquent tributes to the Prime Minister for his courage in going, first, to the Labour movement, and making sure that he had the backing of that movement.
– That must have been pleasing to his Cabinet colleagues.
– If Senator McBride ever derives any pleasure from his membership of a Cabinet, I am sure that he will never experience as great pleasure as we enjoy as the result of the Prime Minister’s decisions on major matters; and no leader under whom the honorable senator may serve will enjoy the same loyalty and co-operation which our Prime Minister receives from us. Honorable senators opposite, too, through their leader, the right honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Fadden), have complimented the Prime Minister. This is what the right honorable gentleman said -
I am not going to say that I am thoroughly satisfied with the bill, but the Prime Minister, as the leader of a party which has definite political views in regard to military service, took his political life in his hands by going to his party and convincing it of the necessity of using our compulsorily enlisted conscript forces outside Australia. He brought his party to a position where it accepted that as a necessity; and now we have the bill in our hands.
That was what was said by the gentleman who leads honorable senators opposite in this Parliament. He is not “a leader of sorts “. Although honorable senators opposite got their little caves at work during the week-end in an endeavour to depose the right honorable member for Darling Downs, all their bombs were squibs; and the man who complimented the Prime Minister on his courage is still their leader. “We hear another form of criticism which also is very interesting. It is to the effect that the Prime Minister should go to London and “Washington.
– Hear ! hear !
– I knew that I would get that interjection. What a chorus of Hallelujahs would go up from honorable senators opposite if they thought that they could get the Prime Minister out of Australia!
– That is not very Complimentary to the Prime Minister’s colleagues.
– The honorable senator has an idea, that without the Prime Minister we should go to pieces. There might be some truth in his suggestion. We might have a very sordid reason for not wanting the Prime Minister to go either to London or Washington. But the fact is that the Prime Minister told the right honorable member for Kooyong. (Mr. Menzies) when he was Prime Minister that while there was a war on, his place, duty and opportunities were here on Australian soil, and not in gallivanting around the universe.
– What did Churchill do?
– That interjection is perfectly justifiable. I am quite sure that in. the years to come the people of Great Britain and other countries will ask, “ What did Churchill do ? “ ; but I am quite sure that not one person in the days to come will ask, “What did Senator McLeay or Senator McBride do?” They will not even be in the picture; Churchill will always be there. When the right honorable member for Kooyong was Prime Minister he went abroad and had a very wonderful time. He brought back some wonderful films, and for quite a long while we saw his exploits depicted on the silver screen. We were very glad he came back. No one wanted to lose him. I suspect at times that honorable senators opposite want to lose the present Prime Minister. However, when the right honorable member for Kooyong came back to Australia he unburdened his soul. He did not wait until he met the Parliament before doing so. He had something ito say when he arrived at Auckland, later at Sydney, and at Canberra, when, at long last, he arrived here. He said one of the most tragic things that any homing Prime Minister has ever said ‘on his return from a journey of that kind. Speaking in Sydney, he said that he noticed with horror that he had to come back to Australia and play the dirty game of politics. If that is all that Australia got out of that long and expensive trip by the right honorable gentleman, I assure the Senate that we on this side have a very fervent hope that our leader will never go abroad while the war is on. Should he do so, I am quite sure that, when he comes back, he will not make such an undignified remark, because, so far as the Labour party is concerned, we regard politics, not as a game, but as a wonderful opportunity. We have faith in our policy, and in the fact that without us and. the policy we stand for, the postwar Australia will not be worth having. We do not regard politics as a game; we regard it as a high privilege and honour to be part of the machinery of government which, in this democracy at any rate, is worth while being associated with. The right honorable member for Kooyong returned to Australia; but he did not provide for the adequate defence of Australia.
– But he laid a very good foundation for our defence.
– I advise the honorable senator not to say too much about that, or I shall give the unhappy facts. The right honorable gentleman did not come back and ask for one army; that never occurred to him. He did not even call up the available men; that did not occur to him either. It did not occur to him that we should get every available man in the Military Forces. He did, however, indulged the meaningless babble of members of the Opposition about a 100 per cent. war effort. It was easy to talk about a 100 per cent. war effort but to do nothing about it. While he was talking about it - and I say this without reservation - he knew only onehalf of our resources were being used, and that his own slogan “ Business as usual “ was still being followed. It remained for a Labour Prime Minister to tell honorable senators opposite and the nation that we must use the ‘total resources of this country, and that “ Business as usual “ was impossible now, and would never return in spite of the hopes of honorable senators opposite.
– Now we are getting socialism as usual.
– If the honorable senator is working himself into a fever about socialism, I advise him to buy the Dean of Canterbury’s book, Socialist Sixth of the World, and read it. Senator James McLachan interjected just now about foundations. It is with great grief that I recite these facts, but I think the time has come when they should be recited. I expected opposition to the bill, but when the honorable senator interjects that his party laid the foundations, let me say that here in Canberra are great and wonderful foundations, laid years ago, but perfectly useless, because nothing whatever has been erected upon them. That is all the satisfaction that honorable senators opposite can get about laying foundations until they can produce some evidence, either that their Prime Minister of that day put something upon them or that they themselves are now willing to stop obstructing us from building more and more upon them. Here is the story. When Labour came into power, there was not one modem fighter aeroplane in the whole of the Commonwealth. Make a note of it. I am not saying that there were only 100 or 150 when there should have been 500. That would have been something on the foundations. The sordid truth is that there was not one. We had only about fifteen rounds of anti-tank ammunition per gun.
– The Minister is quoting the Minister for the Army.
– Would the honorable senator suggest that I was guilty of some political or rhetorical crime if I quoted from the Gospel according to St. John, or some other Biblical record ? He probably would not believe St. John, and he obviously does not believe me. This is the easiest kind of thing to refute, because it is not argument but a statement of fact. Let us have a look at it again, for I have a long list of crimes to read. There was not one modern fighter aeroplane in the Commonwealth. If there was one, letus hear of it, because if so we have lost it. It is not on the stock sheets of that time. If honorable senators opposite can show that there were two, and that therefore my credibility as a witness is destroyed, let us hear from them. They will have their opportunity to speak. We had only about fifteen rounds of anti-tank ammunition per gun.
– That is an approximation.
– It is open to the honorable senator to show that we had 151/2 rounds, if he can. Let him tell us what we had. I am prepared to review the stock sheets, because this is our stocktaking. Senator Foll and Senator Sampson, as military men, know how
Jong fifteen rounds of anti-tank ammunition would last. I do not. We had less than one week’s supply of field artillery ammunition for fighting on a very moderate scale - and a week means only seven times 24 hours. We had not got into our stride. Not much had been put upon the foundations, for we did not have enough ammunition to keep the field guns going even for a week.
– What had the members of the honorable senator’s party who were on the Advisory War Council been doing?
– We had only about 60 per cent, of the rifles required to equip our forces as they were then, we had only about 20 per cent, of the number of tommy guns required, and there was a very serious shortage of the machine guns we needed, with hopelessly inadequate supplies of spare parts. We had had in this country for many years a large number of .310-calibre cadet rifles which this Government issued to the Volunteer Defence Corps, but when we took office there was no ammunition in all Australia for them.. Mr. Menzies had been abroad, he had returned, and he was annoyed because he had to get back into the dirty game of politics. It never occurred to him to get into the honest and honorable game of making Australia safe from invasion. One of the most urgent problems facing this country was the creation of reserves of petrol and fuel oil. During the whole of the two years that a previous Government was in office, it stood idly by and did nothing while our petrol resources dwindled from week to week until, when this Government took office, they had reached a perilously low level. Every one of these things means that honorable senators opposite were callously indifferent to the need for the protection of the women and children of the Common- . wealth. They do not mean simply that there was no petrol, or not enough, or that there was no ammunition, or not enough. They mean that, charged with the great responsibility of governing the Commonwealth in war-time, the party opposite was indifferent to the fate which awaited its men, women and children.
– When is the Minister going to deal with the bill?
– I suggest that what I have said so far forms some semblance of an intelligent approach to the subject, which I do not expect from the honorable senator when he speaks. Up to date I have been making a calm, cool and collected address, but I now approach a subject which almost tempts me to abandon that senatorial calm, sacrifice a little dignity, and “ tear in “. At the time of which I have been speaking, I was, as the representative of Queensland in this chamber with five other senators, very concerned indeed about the condition of that State, as also was the Prime Minister. The armchair strategists and the fire-side generals on the Opposition benches could not see anything of importance beyond Princes Bridge and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Towns on the coast of Queensland which has a wider divergence of railway communication, and a more decentralized population than any other State, were only: ghost towns. Every body had left. Physically fit males had enlisted, and others had gone south where high wages were being offered. It remained for a Labour Prime Minister to point out the fact that the river Yarra, Sydney Harbour, Tocumwal, and other places in the south of this continent were not threatened ; it took a Labour Prime Minister to see that if an attack did come itwould be on the northern parts of Australia. Recently I made a tour in an American bomber of many of the huge defence works which have been accomplished in our northern areas, including, of course, northern Queensland, and I was overjoyed to see what had been accomplished under the guidance of a Labour Prime Minister who had some conception of what global war meant. I shall not make public just what I did see on that tour, but I assure honorable senators that what has been done in the north of Australia has made it possible for them to live peacefully in Canberra while they are engaged upon their parliamentary duties, and to return safely to their homes in Sydney, Melbourne and other parts of the Commonwealth when Parliament adjourns. We have made the north of this continent an arsenal of immense strength. That has been accomplished by Labour alone; let honorable senators opposite not forget that.
Having related that story to honorable senators opposite 1 advise them not to waste their time during the discussion of the measure by seeking to verify what I have said, because it is all in accordance with fact. I shall now tell the story of what the Labour Government has achieved. . Almost the whole of our manpower has been diverted to the armed forces, to direct war work, or to essential civilian production, which in effect must be regarded as war work. I warn honorable senators opposite to be careful if they seek to contradict anything that I may state, because as Minister for the Interior I have had control of all constructional works for the fighting services, and I may be able to confront them with letters written by themselves asking thai some of these undertakings be not proceeded with because Mr. So-and-so’s farm would suffer, or some one else’s stud stock would not be looked after. I have received such letters day after day. As a result of the efforts of this Government, Australia’s man-power today is almost entirely engaged on works of high priority. The number of Australians under arms in the three services is almost double the total number that served in the last war.
– Let us have the figures.
– The total number to-day exceeds 700,000. It is the equivalent of 4,250,000 men in. Great Britain, 13,500,000 in the United States of America, and 1,100,000 in Canada. The strength of the Australian land forces has been nearly trebled since Japan entered the war.
– So it should be.
– I point out that the Government of which Senator Foll was a member was responsible for the number which has been trebled by this administration. During 1942 the strength of the Royal Australian Air Force was increased greatly. The number of men and women diverted to direct war work of all kinds during last year substantially exceeded the number so diverted in the entire four years of the last war and the first two years of this war. Since February, 1942, between 400,000 and 500,000 ‘mcn and women have been diverted from civil production to the fighting services to direct war work. Since the outbreak of this war, employees in Government munitions factories, including aircraft plants and ship-building yards, have increased by more than SOO per cent. In September, 1939, Government munitions factories employed 13,500 people of whom only 1,300 were women. By the end of 1942, the number of employees had risen to 113,000 of whom 26,000, or nearly 25 per cent., were women. The number of factoryemployees producing goods for the civilian market, has been reduced by 64 per cent, since the war began. Before the war the factory employees in Australia numbered 540,000, practically nil of whom were producing for civilian needs. To-day only 194,000 are producing for the civilian population. Almost as many men and women arc now engaged, in the manufacture of war materials as were required to supply the whole of Australia’s civilian needs before the war. From 540,000 before the war, the overall number of factory employees has risen to 700,000, of whom 513.000, or 72 per cent, are engaged in direct war work. The employment of men and women in direct war work in Australian factories has increased one hundredfold since the war begun.
I say to the Opposition in all sincerity that Australia has nothing to regret regarding the part that it has played in thin war, whether militarily or industrially. I desire the people of the Allied Nations to know that the Commonwealth Government, conscientiously believes that it has nothing whatever to apologize for or regret in its plans for the defence of this country. When Mr. Duff-Cooper visited Australia recently, he declared that. Australia’s contribution to the war effort was remarkable, and lie complimented this country highly on what it was doing. Every important visitor has been impressed by our work in the interests of the common cause. The Government intends to go on doing the job .that must be done, not for political advantage, but for the safety of the nation. It will continue to do it, despite anything that the Opposition may do or say, so long as it is left in control. If the Opposition considers that the Government should be removed from office, it is at liberty to try to bring about that result. In any event, the Government will not say untrue and cowardly things about what has happened. The conditions which will be imposed upon the people will become more difficult as the days pass. The legislation which the Government finds necessary to introduce will operate severely, but, whatever the obstacles may be, the Government is determined to continue the work that has been entrusted to it. It will see the job through in the interests of the nation.
Some honorable senators opposite have shown considerable agitation regarding the bill. I have dealt with every phase of the measure. It merely proposes an extension of the boundaries within which members of the Citizen Military Forces may be required to serve.
– Why fix boundaries?
– They had to be fixed somewhere, because we have not a sufficient number of fighting men to spread them all over the world. Last week I saw a proposal by a gentleman who is obviously very gifted, in which he submitted for the consideration of the Government a post-war reconstruction scheme. One of the proposals that he made was that all lunatics at present confined in asylums should be let out and other persons put in their places. When I hear such inane interjections as we have heard during this debate I am inclined to think that there was something in that suggestion. If the persons now in the asylums were let out, I could nominate a few others to take their places. When honorable senators opposite get the opportunity to do so I am sure that they will talk about the bill, and I hope that they will try to advance some arguments in relation to it. This is not a matter which should be treated lightly; it is one of the most serious proposals that has ever been placed before this Parliament. In this bill, the Government says to the Parliament that Australia cannot be defended as the Government thinks it ought to be defended unless the extra territory indicated in the bill be added to the area in which the Militia may now serve.
– We will give the extra territory asked for, and more.
– The Government says that this bill embodies an eminently sane proposal. Let us imagine that there is before us a map which all honorable senators have seen.
– We have not seen it.
– It is a totally different map.
– Geography is not my strong point, but on one occasion I took a map to Queensland. That map had not been shown to any one except those who had a right to see it.
– Members of the Advisory War Council had not seen it.
– There were probably good reasons for that. When I recall the personnel of the council and reflect that some of its members revealed things that they were pledged to keep secret I am not astonished to know that they had not seen it.
– Mention one of them.
– One member, who is some sort of a leader of honorable senators opposite, went around “blabbing” things which enabled the enemy to gain an idea of what was going to happen.
– Who was he?
– The honorable senator knows all about it.
– To whom is the Minister referring?
– I have some horse-sense left, and-
– Order! Conversations across the chamber are too frequent. The Minister must address the Chair.
– I agree, Mr. President, and I apologize. I was asking honorable senators to imagine that a map of Australia and adjoining territories was before them. If they will do so, they will see that there is a possibility of Australia being invaded if Japan can get sufficient land-based aeroplanes to do the job. Japan can invade Australia successfully only if its fighting forces are allowed to become entrenched in certain portions of the South-West Pacific Area. Those who say that there is no need to draw a line-
– At the equator.
– I do not know where they would draw the line, but I do know that the Prime Minister has said that notwithstanding all the help that we have received from the United States of America, a population of 7,000,000 people cannot prevent certain islands from being occupied and made bases for land aeroplanes unless our operations are extended. The Government believes that if the boundaries in which the Militia may serve are extended in accordance with its proposals, Japan can be fastened clown to the positions in which its forces are now situated, but that otherwise Australia will be unable to prevent a Japanese invasion of this country.
– What about chasing the Japanese out of the territories occupied by them ?
– I ask honorable senators to treat this measure seriously. The Government, which is governing the country at the moment, believes that its proposals are the minimum that must be granted and also the maximum that Australia can do.
– That is not what the Prime Minister said in December.
– The question before the Senate is not merely the passing or the defeating of this bill. It is not a matter of the Opposition securing a victory over the Government. Those are not the things which are at stake. The issues before us involve the future of this wonderful country. All that we have now, and all that we hope for in the future - the preservation of the lives of our people, the safeguarding of their property, the well-being of the men, women and children of to-day and of the future - is at stake. Whichever way the vote, goes, I can say with conviction that in the days to come we shall be judged more by our attitude towards this issue than by any other decision previously made in this Parliament.
– We have listened to a most remarkable speech by the Leader of Senate (Senator Collings). The Minister told us that he had not distributed copies of his speech as is usually done when moving the second reading of a bill, but those of us who have perused Ilansard know that he quoted almost word for word from an abusive speech made in the House of Representatives by the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde). Most of the time taken up by the Leader of the Senate was devoted to abuse of the Menzies Government and praise of the present Government; very little attention was given to the bill- When the history of this period is written, the Right Honorable R. G. Menzies will be given credit for having laid the foundation of Australia’s war. effort. Prior to the outbreak of war Australia was not as well prepared for war as it might have been, but that was true also of Great Britain and other allied countries. It ill becomes the Leader of the Senate to criticize previous governments when he knows that in 1938, when a proposal involving expenditure for defence purposes of about £40,000,000 was before the Parliament, it was severely criticized by the present Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) and other members of the Labour party. The Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) has alleged that when the present Government assumed office there was not one firstclass fighter aeroplane in this country. Aeroplanes are not built in a day. In February, 193S, the Lyons Government ordered 200 Beaufort bombers. However, at that time, all countries were seeking to obtain aeroplane engines; and, thus, many difficulties had to be overcome. Perusal of the correspondence which passed between the Menzies Government and the Governments of Great Britain and the United States of America, in which the first mentioned urged our allies to assist us in that respect, reveals that the Menzies Government did all it possibly could to obtain Australia’s requirements. We have also heard much criticism concerning the alleged failure of the Menzies Government to build up adequate supplies of petrol in this country. We know, of course, that supporters of the present Government, when they were in opposition, were loudest in their protests against the decision of the Menzies Government to introduce petrol rationing. The fact is that when the present Government assumed office, Australia had in store more aviation petrol than had been recommended by our military experts. The reason why we did not have as much ordinary petrol as we might have had was because the British Government had been obliged to draw on our supplies to meet requirements in theatres where fighting was actually taking place. On the 29th January, when this bill was introduced into the House of Representatives, I described it as an “ abomination and an insult to our allies “. Now, almost three weeks later, I marvel at the restraint I exercised in describing the measure. I say most emphatically that I dislike its limitations. Its main purpose is to define a zone for the future operations of the Militia Forces. This zone i 3 to he known as the South-Western Pacific Zone. Whereas, previously, members of the Militia were barred from service in areas beyond the Commonwealth and its territories, they will be permitted, under the bill, to operate right up to the boundaries now prescribed. The Minister, in his secondreading speech, gave the reasons why the Government considers the ‘bill to be necessary. I intend to go a little deeper into the matter, and to show how Australia’s prestige has been trifled with by the Government. during the last three months.
A few days before the outbreak of the Great War “ in 1914, the Leader of the Australian Labour party, the Right Honorable Andrew Fisher, addressing an election audience at, Colac, made the following impressive statement: -
AH, I am guru, will regret the critical position existing at the present time, and pray that a disastrous war may be averted. 13ut should the worst happen after everything has been done that honour will permit, Australians will stand beside our own to help and defend her to our last man and our last shilling.
Two nights later, on the 3rd August, 1914, at Benalla, Mr. Fisher said -
We are strongly opposed to the present Government in our Australian politics; but, as I have frequently stated in Parliament, in a time of emergency there are no parties at all. We stand united against the common foe, and T repeat what I said at Colac: That our last man and our last shilling will be offered and supplied to the Mother Country in maintaining her honour and our honour, if we should happen to come into the conflict.
Then came the declaration of war and Australia’s entry into the struggle. We recall the storming of the gates of hell by the sons of Australia on the 25th April, 1915,’ the glorious exploits of the Light Horse in the Holy Land, the desert campaign, the work of the Camel Corps, the valour and sacrifice of the Anzacs on the bloody battlefields of Flanders and France. Then came the assault of the AustralianCanadian Armies on the 8th August, 191S, which evoked from Ludendorff the cry : “ This is indeed a black day for Germany “. That glorious inscription on the pages of history, written in the blood of our own boys, immortalized the Australian nation. It won nationhood for this young country. These are a few of the many highlights which have established for all time a real Australian tradition comparable with tho highest ideals of other nations. For those traditions we are, and will be eternally, grateful. They mean more to us than mere words. They express national qualities which are entitled to perpetual preservation.
How difficult and depressing is it, therefore, when an attempt is made to correlate the attitude of political Labour of to-d.ay with national sentiment. This bill, by accepting the principle of military conscription for overseas service, cuts across a traditional Labour principle. It is, at least, a step in the right direction.
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that under Standing Order No. 406 the honorable senator is net in order in reading his speech.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Brown). - The honorable senator is not in order in reading his speech ; he may quote extensively from notes.
– I, personally, am a conscriptionist. I have been and always will be a conscriptionist; but statements made by many leaders on the Government side, and their predecessors in the Labour party, show that they will for ever remain anti-conscriptionists. I do not. intend to delve too deeply into history. I shall content myself with a brief reference to the deplorable, short-sighted and selfish attitude of Labour leaders in this country in respect of national military service. Conscription has always been regarded by the Australian Labour party as a monster raising its ugly head, and with its poisonous tongue disturbing the peace and calm of Labour unity. The Labour party has lived in mortal terror of this serpent; but stouter hearts in the movement, who, like St. George, stood up and conquered their fear, have earned the respect and admiration of fellow Australians.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- Order! The honorable senator is not in order in reading his speech, and I ask hi in not to continue to do so.
– In order that I may be better enabled to confine myself to the bill, I shall quote extensively from notes.
I need not go too closely into the details of the conscription split in the Labour party .in 1916, as I am anxious to spare me feelings of honorable senators opposite as rauch as possible. Suffice it to say that men of the calibre of the Right Honorable W. M. Hughes; the Right Honorable Sir George Pearce; the Honorable J. A. Jensen; the Honorable W. Webster; Senator the Honorable E. J. Russell, all members of a Labour Cabinet, and a host of other levelheaded thinkers, felt compelled to dissociate themselves from the narrow attitude of their Labour1 colleagues on this question of national military service. Our present Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin), although not in Parliament at that time, was, as we all know, actively engaged in industrial Labour circles. His attitude on that occasion was definitely one of open hostility to conscription, and, in fact, any service outside Australia. He, together with a. number of other prominent Labour men of to-day - several of them now Cabinet Ministers - helped to formulate the policy of Australian Labour, and that policy they have advocated ever since. To -me there is one salient objective in the make-up of a, Labour politician, and that is the maintenance of unity within the Labour party, even at the expense of national unity, national safety, and national honour. Australia was surprised, in mon? ways than one, at the bombshell dropped by the Prime Minister on ;the 17th November of last year. Every newspaper throughout Australia on the following day published a story which contained as its feature a suggestion made by the Prime Minister to the Australian Labour party conference, that the conference should give its consent to the merging of the Australian Imperial Force and the Citizen Military Forces into one Australian army for service abroad. The Prime Minister has been in constant - in fact, day to day and probably hour to hourconsultation with those in the high command of our fighting services, who are administering the grand strategy of the United Nations, and the leaders of all other allied nations. As the result of information given to him, and no doubt forcibly impressed upon his mind, he became convinced that, for the successful prosecution of the war and Australia’s part therein, one army was a vital necessity for this country. I quote his own words in this matter -
Because of the nature of the continent of Australia, it became in fact a scries of military islands, the movement to and from each involving grievous transport problems, all of them making mobility a matter of difficulty and taking time. The delays in this connexion were a bitter handicap in dealing with thu enemy. That .was why one army under one command for the military operations in the South-West Pacific was now a military necessity.
Within a few weeks of the approach to this outside organization by the Prime Minister, one of his . supporters told members of this Parliament that the Prime Minister at. the Australian Labour party conference, in Melbourne, had said :
Gentlemen, there is no argument against one army “. I know that I am speaking for every one, on this side of the Senate at least, when I say that at the time of the Prime Minister’s approach to the Australian Labour party conference, the people of Australia were clearly led to believe that he was convinced of the necessity for merging all our land fighting forces into one homogeneous unit, in preference to the heterogeneous fighting force provided for under the Defence Act. The majority of the people of Australia really believed that that was the Prime Minister’s objective, and his firm belief in it as a national necessity, yet what do we find? Briefly, when we trace the daytoday recordings of the Labour party conference, and the subsequent meetings of the Labour Cabinet, we find a distinct whittling down of the original proposals to give greater striking power to our Army. I cannot find words which fully and adequately describe my disgust at Che action of the Prime Minister of a country such as ours in going cap in hand and on his bended knees to an organization politically irresponsible to the people, for “ authority “ to amend the Defence Act to give effect to a policy which had obviously been accepted as an urgent military necessity. Seven weeks after his approach to the Labour party caucus meeting, the Prime Minister secured the consent of the trade union secretaries to the amendment of an act of Parliament which affects the lives and safety of all of us.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - I have ruled that, under the Standing Orders, no honorable senator may read his speech. Some years ago, ex-Senator Lynch, when President of the Senate, ruled -
Speeches may not he read, but references may be made to extensive notes.
Ex-Senator Givens, when President, gave the following ruling : -
A senator may not read his speech. He may refresh his memory by looking at notes, but he may not read from a written document.
It is not fair to the Senate for the honorable senator to continue to read his speech.
– The Labour party conference, after inexcusable delay, carried the following resolution’: -
That having regard to the necessity for Australia’s defence as set out in section 5 of the special resolution adopted in June, 1940, by the Federal Conference, the Government be authorized to add to the Defence Act, in the definition of the Commonwealth, which at present defines the territory to which this act extends, the following words: - “Such territories in the South-West Pacific Area as the Governor-General proclaims as being territories associated with the defence of Australia.”
I have mentioned on other occasions that the Prime Minister, by going to the Australian Labour party executive, subordinated responsible parliamentary government to 35 union officials or Labour party supporters. When we read those words which the Prime Minister was forced to move himself, “ . . . the Government be’ authorized to add to the Defence Act”, I am sure that members of Parliament are ashamed to think that that step was necessary. The Bulletin of the 17th December last very clearly depicted the Prime Minister going cap in hand for this authority. That attitude showed very great weakness on his part. It is because the Australian Labour party will not allow the Government to do any more than this bill authorizes that we now have the sorry spectacle of the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth almost appealing to the United States of America to send more of its conscripts to defend Australia, whilst he is not prepared to send the Militia, which is an important part of our Army, to accompany the gallant troops of General Douglas MacArthur to the Solomons or the Philippines.
– The honorable senator is glad that a lot of our men came home.
– What do we find in regard to the Australian Imperial Force? Last week I had the opportunity of meeting some men who had just returned from Kokoda. Previously they had served in Syria, and: were back in Australia only a few weeks before they were sent off to New’ Guinea. Are we going to ask the ‘Australian Imperial Force to do all the fighting?
– The Militia was fighting side by side with them.
– I advise the Postmaster-General (Senator Ashley) to refresh his memory as to how many of the Militia were engaged in actual fighting in that area. I give the members of the Militia every credit for what they have done, but this is the deplorable spectacle with which we are faced : unless we remove all these restrictions, it is impossible to have one army, and we shall have a division in our fighting forces in Australia. That is a very unsatisfactory state of affairs. Great difficulty will be created in the post-war period. The maintenance of two separate armies must involve an enormous waste of man-power. I urge the Government to take its courage in its hands, and in fairness to our Allies, agree that our fighting, men may serve in whatever theatre of war they are required. Some months ago the British Prime Minister, Mr. Churchill, said that when the Germans were defeated Britain would send its conscript soldiers 12,000 miles to help their kith and kin in Australia to defeat the Japanese. That is the spirit that we should display in this country, but while we retain the limited boundaries set out in this measure, we shall not have unity in our armed forces, and we shall not be doing what is expected of us by our Allies. “We are in this war on equal terms with our Allies, and wo believe in equality of sacrifice. I urge the Government to take the necessary action to permit this country to play its full part.
I do not propose to vote against the second reading of the bill. As I said before, this measure establishes the important principle of conscription for overseas service. My objection to it is that it does not go far enough, and when it is in the committee stage, I shall move for the insertion of the following new clause : - 4a. - (I.) If the Governor-General is of opinion that a grave emergency exists in the present war he may make a Proclamation to that effect. ( 2. ) On and from the date of issue of any such Proclamation and until its revocation, the Governor-General may, notwithstanding anything contained in this or in any other Act, make regulations requiring members of the Citizen Military Forces to serve in such area beyond the limits of the South-Western Pacific Zone as is specified in the regulations as being an area in which it is necessary or expedient for the efficient prosecution of the war for them to serve.
I hope that my amendment, will be carried and so remove the stigma on Australia’s good name. I shall reserve further remarks upon this measure until the committee stage is reached.
.- In view of the debate which took place in this chamber last week upon another measure, I do not propose to speak at length upon this bill. I endorse heartily the sentiments expressed by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay), and I regret that in a time of national emergency such as at present, the Government should have seen fit to bring down a bill such as this. Listening to the Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings) this afternoon, my memory carried me back to the last war when violent anti-conscription campaigns were being conducted throughout the length and breadth of this country. At that time, I little dreamed that I would live to see the present Leader of the Senate a conscriptionist. It shows that the world to-day is different from what it was 25 years ago.
– It is the honorable senator who is using the term “ conscriptionist “.
– This bill provides for conscription for overseas service. Does the Leader of the Senate deny that he is a supporter of the principle of conscription for overseas service?
– In the defence of Australia.
– Has it ever been suggested that our men who are fighting overseas are not fighting in the defence of Australia? Did not the men who fought in France during the last war fight in the defence of Australia just as our soldiers in New Guinea are fighting in the defence of Australia to-day? It gives me a certain amount of satisfaction to see the Leader of the Senate supporting a bill of this nature, in view of the hectic campaigns in which he and I participated during the last war. No doubt he will remember some of the clashes that occurred when we visited the same towns at the same time. I never thought then that I would see the day when he would be convinced that conscription for overseas service was necessary. He had a difficult task to perform this afternoon, and in carrying it out, he endeavoured to draw as little attention as possible to the bill by indulging in a tirade of abuse against the previous Government. I was most concerned with the honorable gentleman’s statement - I presume that as Leader of the Senate he was speaking on behalf of the Government - that this measure represented the absolute maximum to which Australia could go. Let us consider for a moment what difficulties might arise in any division composed partly of militiamen and partly of men of the Australian Imperial Force, should if. reach, say, the equator. Apparently the order would be given for the militiamen to fall out and to remain on the southern side of the equator while the Australian Imperial Force, which has been doing all our fighting for the past three and a half years, continues to press the enemy back. What an idiotic proposal! In view of the emergency which exists to-day, a measure such as that demanded by the Opposition, providing for unlimited military service overseas, should be introduced. The men who fought in Greece and Crete, defended Tobruk, and broke Rommel’s army at El Alamein, were fighting in the defence of Australia just as much as are the soldiers stationed in the islands around Australia’s coast. The same thing may be said of our seamen who have fought in the Mediterranean, the Atlantic and the Pacific, and our airmen who have been operating over Germany. Yet now, apparently after being asked by its military advisers to grant them wider powers, the Government has brought in a measure of this kind. The good old Australian Imperial Force will keep on fighting, but the Militia must not go north of the equator !
– That is a stigma on Australia.
– If any stigma has been east upon this country, it is the responsibility of this Government. Since it has become convinced that additional powers are necessary, why has the Government not been courageous enough to introduce a. measure providing for unlimited conscription for overseas service? I cannot see what objection honorable senators opposite can have to such a proposal, because obviously the Government will decide to what part of the world Australian troops shall be sent. The Leader of the Senate made reference to the fact that a map showing the extended area was disclosed to the public for the first time by himself at a meeting of the State executive of the Australian Labour party in Queensland.
– I did not say anything of the kind.
– Are not the members of that executive members of the public?
– Are they under an oath of secrecy?
– Can the Minister justify his action in showing a secret map to a body which is not responsible to the people, before it was shown to members of the Advisory War Council, members of which are under an oath of secrecy regarding executive matters ? The Minister said that the map was not shown to members of the Opposition, who were members of the Advisory War Council, because he would not trust them. He feared that they would “ blab “ information of value to the enemy. I say that the members of the Advisory War Council who represent the Opposition should inquire whether that is the opinion of the Government regarding them.. I make no secret of my attitude to the council and my opinion regarding the position which Opposition members of it should occupy. I said first at a party meeting, and the information soon became public, that, unless those members were given some executive authority, and access to the whole of the information which partners in a body such as that were entitled to, they should nolonger remain members of the council..
The Minister stated that owing tothe danger facing men, women and children in Australia, the Government regarded as essential the power proposed to be taken under this bill. Three or four months ago, the Prime Minister had his attention drawn to the necessity for power to be taken to send members of the Citizen Military Forces beyond the boundaries of Australia and its territories, but this bill comes before us as late as the middle of February. If the matter were regarded as serious, why was not Parliament called together immediately ? Why were not themembers of both branches of the legislature told at a secret sitting of thedanger that had arisen, and of theurgent necessity for this additional power, instead of the proposal being first submitted to an outside body? This Parliament is the tribunal which should first be consulted.
– The honorablesenator does not believe in control from . Collins-street now.
– The Government of the country should be carried on in the Parliament elected ‘ by the people.
I make no secret of my own attitude to the vote taken on this bill in the House of Representatives. Personally I consider that my own party made a grievous mistake in accepting the bill without making’ a serious attempt to amend it on the lines of the policy advocated by the Opposition ever since it relinquished the reins of government. I am not a last-minute convert to that view. I wired to my leader, urging him to submit an amendment to enable Australian troops to be brought into line with those of our allies and with our kinsmen from other parts of the Empire. T regret that iri the House of Representatives the Opposition did not, make a unanimous attempt to amend the bill in conformity with its well-known policy on the subject of military service overseas. Such action would have been in accordance with the joint letter which members of the Opposition in both branches of the legislature forwarded to the Prime Minister about a year ago.
When the bill reaches the committee stage, I propose to support any amendments that may be submitted with a view to extending the area in which members of the Citizen Military Forces may be called upon to serve. When the Leader of the Opposition proposes an amendment to give to the Executive Council the right, after the issue of a proclamation by the Governor-General, to extend the area, I shall support it. When the bill submitted by the Leader -of the Opposition for the amendment of the National Security Act for a similar purpose is debated, I shall give it my support.- I shall give to any government in power the right to make full use of Australian troops in any theatre of war. A bill of this kind is an insult to the intelligence of the Parliament and the people of Australia. The measure reeks with the narrow, sectional interests that are dividing the Labour party outside Parliament, and has been introduced in order to pander to the “ Langites “, the “ Thornton! tes “ and any other “Labourites” that happen to exist. This measure is not worthy of a Government that must have been asked by its military advisers to obtain increased power with regard to the area in which the Australian forces could be used.
As has been mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition, in referring to the work of previous administrations, the Leader of the Senate should not endeavour to cover up the sins of the Labour party by referring to the Government’s belief in the necessity for a maximum war effort. Most of the difficulties with regard to the Military Forces can justly be laid at the door of the Labour party. I say without hesitation that the worst blow ever dealt at those forces was the abolition of compulsory training, which was brought about during the regime of the Scullin Government.
– Why have not anti-Labour governments, which have enjoyed a quarter of a century of office, re-imposed compulsory training?
– Not only was compulsory training abolished, but many men who had voluntarily given their time to military work were so discouraged by the attitude of the Labour party to defence matters that they severed their connexion with the forces. An efficient military organization of that kind could not be rebuilt in a short period. In addition, the Royal Military College, at Duntroon, which trained many of the brilliant officers who fought in the last war, was closed down by the Scullin Government.
– How long was that Government in office?
– It was in office long enough to do a lot of damage to the defences of this country. The shutters were put up at Duntroon, and men, who were in training as staff officers were taken to a “ pokey “ hovel at Victoria Barracks, Sydney, where there was not sufficient room to train them. When the Scullin Government was defeated, ite successors restored and enlarged the Royal Military College. That institution, with its long courses as well as its refresher courses, has rendered wonderful service not only to. Australia and its sister dominion, but also to our other allies.
– It is doing a good job.
– The Royal Naval College at Jervis Bay was also closed by the Scullin Government.
The Leader of the Senate had something to say on the subject of man-power. I realize that the position is extraordinarily difficult, but for the Minister to say that this hill affects the position is utter nonsense. As young men are being called up every day to serve in the Militia Forces to the limit of Australia’s capacity and as every man who volunteers for service with the Australian Imperial Force immediately becomes available for service overseas, what becomes of the argument of the Minister?
– The Opposition would spread out our limited forces too much.
– ‘We do not want one section of the Army to do all the fighting. We want one army, so that there shall be equality of responsibility.
– The honorable senator knows that that is not possible.
– There is no reason why we should not have one army.
– There Are good military reasons.
– The Prime Minister, who is also Minister for Defence, has advocated one army for Australia. The Minister must know that the only practical solution of the problem is to have one army; our fighting men should not be classed in two or three geographical categories.
The Minister referred to enlistments in the Australian Imperial Force and implied that every member of the Australian Imperial Force would serve overseas; but there are many men with the word “ Australia “ on their uniform who will never see service outside Australia - some on account of age and others because of the work on which they are engaged. It is ridiculous to say that, every member of the Australian Imperial Force is eligible for front-line service.
– No one has said that, but the honorable senator and his colleagues say that every member of the Militia should be eligible for front-line service.
– I did not say that, but I do want to see Australia with one army instead of having mixed divisions, mixed battalions, and mixed companies. If we have only one army, we shall know that every man in a unit will be part of one entity.
One reason why Australia’s man-power problem is so serious is that the Labour party has consistently opposed the increase of our population by migration. I have been a member of this chamber for over a quarter of a century, and during that time governments consisting of members of the parties now in opposition have sought to increase Australia’s population by bringing migrants from the Mother Land and from other countries.
– Those non-Labour governments were in office for a quarter of a century, but they did not do much.
– When Mr. Bruce was Prime Minister, he went to Great Britain and returned with a migration agreement under which finance would be made available to Australia for the purpose of settling in this country a considerable number of migrants. Had that policy been pursued, the population of Australia would now be much greater than it is. However, the Scullin Government cancelled the agreement.
– The honorable member knows why it did so.
– The agreement was cancelled because the Labour party has never had a broad vision in regard to migration to this country.
I regret that the Government has not been hig enough to introduce a bill which would put Australia in the same category as other members of the British Empire and our allies. I pay my tribute to the work performed by our gallant allies from the United States of America. It is useless for the Leader of the Senate to say Australia’s safety ‘ is due to the achievements of the present Prime Minister. I give some credit to our allies who fought the Japanese at Guadalcanal, the Solomon Islands, and elsewhere. Australia is safe, largely because many of its young men have been prepared to fight anywhere in its defence, whilst others have performed a wonderful job in various factories. In saying that it is nonsense to attribute
Australia’s safety to John Curtin, I have no desire to detract from what that right honorable gentleman has done; hut we must be fair. Let us give credit also to previous governments which were in power during, the first two years of the war - a period much more difficult than any which the present Government has experienced. I remember the situation which confronted us after the evacuation of Dunkirk, when Australia was called upon to go short of arms and ammunition in order to help our allies in other parts of the world. I claim that the Government of the day did right in taking risks to help our kith and kin overseas as well as our allies in other countries. That action- gives to honorable senators opposite a chance to say that there are more munitions of war in this country to-day than when the present Government took office. That was because we did not adopt a dog-in-the-manger attitude with respect te our meagre supplies. At that time our British allies had lost-most of their equipment. They were fighting with their backs to the wall; and it looked as though England was going to be invaded. Out of our slender supplies we did not hesitate to extend aid to them, and I shall always be proud of the fact that I was a member of the Government that did so. I intend to support the second reading of the measure, but I hope that in the committee stage we shall be able to improve it.
has rightly described this measure as one of the most important that, has ever been presented to this chamber. He told us his story, and, in doing so, established a certain background. Both the story and the background will bear close examination. I have given considerable thought to the position which has arisen as the result of the introduction of this measure. A study of the progress of the war affords to us considerable grounds for comfort. In many respects, however, we must admit, unfortunately, that we have not done so well as we should like. To that degree we can heed the injunction expressed by Mr. Churchill in an address which he delivered to the Scottish nation some time ago. Summing up Britain’s position and prospects, he declared -
Deadly dangers still beset us. Weariness, complacency or discord, or squabbles over petty matters, will mar our prospects. We must all drive ourselves to the utmost limit of our strength. We must preserve and refine our sense of proportion. We must strive to combine the virtues of wisdom and daring. We must move forward together united and inexorable.
This measure in its general purpose has been fully canvassed in Parliament and in the press. There can be no doubt that the people are interested in it and in the discussion which takes place upon it in the Parliament. However, we can only conjecture the views of the members of the services. They are most vitally concerned in the measure; and they are looking to us for support in a great human and national venture. I have yet to be assured that the Government realizes that fact. It has only one real soldier in its ranks; and it is scarcely able to conceive the real significance of its proposals.
I propose to confine myself to a consideration of two features - the actions of the Government and the effect of the proposed law on the members of the fighting forces. Undoubtedly, the thinking members of the Government were sincerely and wholeheartedly “committed to the prosecution of the war to a victorious conclusion. Their attitude, at one stage, can best be described in words used by the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) in relation to the Commonwealth Powers Bill 1942, when he said -
Any one who interferes with the carrying out of these promises and guarantees will be swept aside.
That is the attitude of a man who has made up his mind. The fact that that measure, and another measure, have vanished into Ewigkeit, before the issues which they raised have yet been determined, is, perhaps, symptomatic of the Government’s flexibility of purpose. Let us now look at the Prime Minister’s actions. In January of last year he paid his first visit as Prime Minister to Western Australia. He was well received, as he should have been. The State was pleased with him, and took pride in the fact that a Western Australian was
Prime Minister. In a speech which he delivered on the 27 th January to a large and appreciative audience he said -
The organization of the nation’s man-power it, the Government’s responsibility . . .
The Government will have to enforce discipline in order to win the .war.
Warming up, he metaphorically thumped the table, and .affirmed -
The Government will govern . . . it is no good arguing . . . because the Government will not take any notice.
That was the statement of a man with a purpose, and a determination to give effect to it. These were the things of the spirit that the people were looking for. They said to themselves, “He is the strong man. No longer will there be any hesitation about an ‘ all-in ‘ effort to win the war “. It will be recalled that some time previously the Prime Minister had expressed approval of, and adherence to. our form of democracy, consisting of the Grown, and the supreme authority of a parliament elected by the people. Every one appreciated that statement from the Prime Minister. Later, in interviews and press statements, he made illuminating references to “global strategy” and Australia’s part in the plans of the Allies. He described the Commonwealth as the bastion of the South-Western Pacific, and as the base from which a great allied offensive against Japan would ultimately bc launched, and in which our own forces would march “knee to knee” to victory with, our kinsmen from the United States of America and the other democracies. Something of what he had in mind he defined in a statement made on the 20th November last, which I quote from the Digest of Decisions and Announcements. No. 46-
ALLIED OFFENSIVE- USE OF MILITIA.
On the 20th November. 1942, Mr. Curtin, in a discussion on war strategy, said that Australia was at present being defended on an miter screen running through New Guinea, the southern Solomons, the New Hebrides, New Caledonia and Fiji. If the more eastern parts of the screen were held, we could defend the eastern part of Australia from the Owen Stanley Range in New Guinea. If the Japanese could be pushed out of the Solomons and New Guinea, he would have to retire to Eis liases in the Marshall Islands. It was better to keep the eastern part of Australia, inviolate from the ravages of war by keeping the enemy at arms length than to let bini in. The same applied to the defence of the northern and western part of Australia, where the battle would have to be fought in Timor and the islands adjacent thereto. These islands were within the theatre of the South-West Pacific and were vital to the holding of the Commonwealth. Because of the nature of the continent of Australia, it became, in fact, a series of military islands, the movement to and from each involving transport problems, all of them making mobility a matter of difficulty and taking time; The delays iti this connexion were a bitter handicap in dealing with the enemy. That was why one army under one command for the military operations in the South-West Pacific was now a military necessity.
– “ One army “ - that is his own statement.
– Yes, “ one army under one command was now a military necessity “. I think that “ military necessity “ was the keynote of the speech of the Leader of the Senate this afternoon. In the Sunday Telegraph of the 31st of last month, apropos apparently of something he had in mind, Mr. Curtin is reported to have said -
The South-West Pacific Area is too crucial to be left to a force of caretakers.
Imagine then, if you will, the feelings aroused when the Prime Minister declared the necessity for broadening the terms of the Defence Act. He did so on a plea of great national need, and even urgency, so as to permit the merging of the Australian Imperial Force and the Australian Militia into one army, and that army to be used as military necessity dictated in parts beyond our shores. Expressions of satisfaction with the proposal were general, but the people were shocked when this great democratic Prime Minister, the right honorable member for Fremantle in Western Australia (Mr. Curtin), announced his intention of first consulting the interstate conference of the Australian Labour party, with a view to securing its authority to introduce the matter to Parliament.
– “ Its acquiescence “ is what he meant.
– “ Authority “ is the word he used, and authority was, I think, claimed earlier in this afternoon’s proceedings. We have been told that this announcement and approach was made without previous reference to members of his own Cabinet. In regard to this neglect, I was rather curious as- to precedent, and shall quote the form of oath taken by a privy councillor. It may be presumed that it is from this form that the oath of a member of the Federal Executive Council is taken, if I remember it correctly. The older form reads in this way -
You shall in all things to bc moved, treated and debated in Council faithful lj’ and truly declare your mind and opinion., according to your heart and conscience.
– The Prime Minister has done that.
-He did it to the the Labour party, but not to the Cabinet. We know what followed. The issue was canvassed around Australia for weeks whilst Parliament suffered the indignity of being denied its proper functions, and Ministers disputed publicly with their reputed leader. The pains which Australia is enduring at present are similar to those experienced 25 or 26 years ago. So, if I may presume to interpret the minds of those who fought or are fighting for our cause, it will be to say that they view all these proceedings with concern and as a rather shabby business. There is no doubt that the proposal submitted by Mr. Curtin to the Labour conference did not emerge from it in the form in which it entered, or that it was later whittled down by the caucus of Government supporters in Parliament. In fact, the plan explained by the Prime Minister to sundry members only a few days before the bill was brought down is not the plan now contained in the bill. This emasculated instrument is far from what the public expected, and far from what they hoped for. Its whole history reveals a marked departure from the British system of parliamentary government and cabinet responsibility, and yet I have heard it said that the actions of the Prime Minister were indicative, of true democracy. That theory I maintain cannot be accepted. As global strategy has been so freely mentioned, particularly in this afternoon’s debate, I have been at a little pains to differentiate between it and local strategy. I wish, therefore, to say something that I hope may assist honorable senators to appreciate the real problems which our leaders have to solve. Obviously global strategy comprehends a world war, but the term is a fluid, one and not static in its application and in its strength. I will put it this way if I may: Mr. Churchill and President Roosevelt are accepted as the supreme directors of our actions in this war. In consultation with experts they decide upon immediate and ultimate physical and political objectives for the war.
– Would the honorable senator acknowledge Stalin as a leader, too?
– At present Stalin has little to do with global strategy, in which he is playing a minor, part. The experts, after our two great political leaders have determined upon plans, evolve the strategy needed for gaining each objective in turn. Global strategy develops and expands in phases, and the completion of each phase necessitates adjustments in the plans, or even the preparation of new plans. Here, to-day, it will be a defensive scheme, and there an offensive. At a later period, the processes may be reversed. For these and other purposes the world has been divided into zones and commands. Such zones and commands are altered as progress is made and our forces pass from the defensive to the offensive. As an illustration of this I invite honorable senators to con.sider the changes brought about during the last four months by the allied victories in North Africa, in which, it might well bc pointed out, an Australian division and the Royal Australian Air Force played a not inconsiderable part. The main instruments used to give effect to strategical conceptions are the armed forces. It is known that these must be highly organized and thoroughly trained and equipped with ample reserves of men, supplies and materials. Their numbers must be sufficient for the task allotted and the allotment of the task must be considered and governed by the strength available at the time or likely to be available in the immediate future. A concomitant of success is that the personnel of the forces is imbued with the spirit of national service, of every one taking a share of risk incurred in rendering that service, a realization that the whole people are behind the forces in their aspirations and hopes, that conditions for all are similar, and that, too, there is a common expectation in respect to rewards when that service terminates. The words “ conscription “ and “ conscripts “ have ‘been used ad nauseam in political circles. I doubt if such will be heard outside. The principle of universal service in defence of this country was affirmed without opposition, as the Leader of the Senate told us this afternoon, in the terms of the Defence Act of 1903. It was at that time devoutly hoped that the call would never have to be made, but the menace is now here and the people have been warned repeatedly and called upon to serve. “We shall never again be secure, I submit, whatever local victories we may gain, until the cause of the menace is finally removed, and that entails the subjugation of Japan, which means going to Tokyo. Mr. Curtin says that this desired end is to be brought about by volunteers - the people whose patriotism is nearest the surface and that as they gain ground, the conquests made will be held and garrisoned by the Militia, provided that the locality and area of such conquests does not overlap certain geographical boundaries. What a reflection on the Militia! Militiamen are of the people who are now thoroughly aroused and more than anxious to play the part for which primarily they exist. Senator Aylett’s suggestion that the Militia is made up largely of old men and crocks is hardly encouraging to the many splendid corps that have undergone hard training, and are now impatiently awaiting their chance to acquit themselves.
– I did not use the words “ old men and crocks “.
– That in effect was the honorable member’s suggestion. I agree that the present strategic situation does not indicate a need for the immediate use of large expeditionary forces. We are on the defensive; that Ls our role in global strategy for the time being. That is confirmed by the Prime Minister’s statement, but I ‘think that with confidence we can look to the time when we shall strike back. Then we shall have to keep the spearhead sharp and effective by a constant flow of fresh troops and rested formations in proportion to our commitments, but not beyond them. In order to play our part fully, we must prepare for that day now, and not leave our plans so late that lack of preparation will embarrass and retard allied strategy. It is not suggested that the Australian Imperial Force or the Militia should be sent hither and thither indiscriminately and thus be frittered away, nor that the essential defence of a major base should be neglected. Even the proposal to use Militia troops for garrison duty abroad after the cessation of hostilities will not bear examination. Fresh young forces will be needed for that purpose. It is impossible to hold war-weary troops in comparative idleness for an indefinite period, and it will take more than six months to enforce security guarantees when once the guns are silent.
Sitting suspended from 6.13 to 8 p.m.
– I return to tho volunteers in the last war - the members of the first Australian Imperial Force. The Prime Minister has referred to the present Australian Imperial Force as the spearhead by which we shall have to share in the final victory against the Japanese. I shall tell honorable senators what may happen to those volunteers, if adequate support be not forthcoming. In December. 1917, the Australian Corps emerged from the third battle of Ypres. In three months fighting, it had suffered over 3S,000 casualties. One morning during that December I was standing on a roadside in Belgium, and the ground was covered with four inches of frozen snow. I was expecting a visitor, and he happened to be General Birdwood. He said to me, “ Well, Collett, they have turned us down “. I asked, “ What do you mean ? “ He replied, “ The Australian Government has refused the authority to send the Australian Corps the reinforcements which it needs. You will have to go back into the line again”. We went back.
– The soldiers opposed conscription.
– They did not. They voted for it. Men went back into the line who had been wounded on two or more occasions, and some of them did not come out. I remember the case of a man who left Australia in the same unit as my own. He came under notice for bravery at Gallipoli, and was mentioned in the proper quarter. I saw him carried out at the battle of Pozieres on a stretcher. Later, when I returned to the unit, I found him with his right arm strapped to his body, and in command of a company in the front line. I took him out, but after I left he went back again, and he participated in almost the last battle of the war. That cost him bis life. Circumstances of that kind have to be considered in connexion with the provisions of adequate reinforcements for what the Prime Minister has called the spearhead of Australia’s defences. The right honorable gentleman spoke recently in a post-prophetic vein. He claims that he is not a strategist. I am not so sure of that. But he referred to something said by him in 1937 regarding air forces, omitting to mention that the Lyons Government had already adopted the Salmond plan, which promised even a greater strength in the air than the Prime Minister then advocated. There is nothing wrong to-day with our Air Force. The Labour party did not design or, ab in.il.io, accept the Empire Air Training Scheme. The Leader of the Senate told a story this afternoon which was not quite worthy of him. It was partially true, but .there was a good deal of suppression of the truth. In referring to Australia’s contribution to the war effort under the previous Administration, he did not mention the contribution made to other dominions in arms and material, or the help sent to Great Britain owing to the shortage which Britain itself was then experiencing. The Minister for Aircraft Production (Senator Cameron) has defined truth as a matter of opinion.
– I never used those words. I said that the art of speaking the truth is to state things in their contradictions and variations.
– He said that truth is a matter of opinion, and his actions justify that. I am afraid that the Leader of the Senate has been listening to him.
On the 17th May, 1939, four months before Australia became involved in the war, the Leader of the Senate also indulged in prophecy. On that occasion he was dealing with the newspapers of Australia, and he said -
The newspapers of Australia must stop their damnable practice of crying war and emphasiz ing imaginary dangers, when it is well known that within recent months we have been getting further and further from the danger of war.
That was said at about the same time as the Minister made reference to the “ hydrophobic canine of Europe “. -Senator Collings. - The honorable senator knows perfectly well that at that time what I said was true. We had emerged from the time when the people were afraid to open their newspapers till at last they believed that the danger had passed.
– I do not accept a word of what the Minister says in that respect. Only last Friday he assured the Leader of the Opposition that we had not encouraged Tokyo. There are other people with the power of prophecy. There is a newspaper called The Bulletin, which is published in Sydney. In its issue of the 30tb November, 1922, appeared a cartoon which I shall describe. There is a gentleman standing on a box, and I think it has some association with the legendary soap box. In front of him is a Japanese soldier fully equipped and applauding. Alongside him is a miserable looking youth labelled “Australia”. The gentleman on the soap box is reading from a paper called Labour Manifesto. This is what he is reading -
If .the Labour party were returned it would cut defence expenditure to a pre-war figure. Compulsory training would be abolished, and a voluntary system introduced. - Charlton’s Labour Manifesto.
A Labour government, did that.
– The quotation is not very modern.
– It is a prophecy. The party has at least been consistent.
I pass to another sort of prophecy. A little over 60 years ago a boy was born in the United States of America. A hunchback, his youth was ‘filled with hopes of being a great soldier. He studied to that end and,, eventually, went to China where he strongly supported Sun Yat Sen in the establishment of the republic. He became a general. Somewhere about 1910 he wrote and published a book which he entitled The Valour of Ignorance. Part of that work is devoted to the philosophy of war, and. part to the political and defence problems of the United States cf America. It was largely as a result of this writing that the Government of the United States of America reviewed its then defenceless condition and embarked on the preparation of strategical plans for the defence of the Pacific. For their subsequent adoption and. development we in Australia have reasons to be very grateful. Amongst the many conclusions which this strange man, General Horner Lea, came to there is one on the note of preparedness that stands out. It is -
When, in peace, nien postpone their patriotic activity to a time of war, their ‘procrastination is only indicative of their worthlessness.
I trust that I have made it clear that this bill in its present form is not regarded by me with favour. I shall give four reasons for my opposition - First, it is not a true reflection of the Government’s considered views on strategical requirements, ultimate possibilities and needs; secondly, it does not provide for a merger of the land forces into one army so as to ensure the maximum of strength, efficiency, and striking range; thirdly, it perpetuates invidious distinctions that should not exist amongst a patriotic people imbued with a common purpose; and fourthly, no equality of effort is demanded. I opened my speech with the quotation of an utterance of the Prime Minister of Great Britain. I shall close by recalling to the minds of honorable senators the words of the Prime Minister of Australia when he said -
The task that confronts us is the most formidable the nation has ever faced. Its magnitude is not a matter of statistics. It calls for everything the nation can do. Anything less than that would amount to criminal folly on our part and a base desertion of the cause to which we are pledged and the United Nations to which we belong, and who look to us no less than we look to them.
– Does not the hon.orable senator agree with that?
– I do entirely. The sentiment is the same in both quotations, but actions speak louder than words.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. The speaker who has just resumed his seat made a statement that was incorrect and objectionable to me. The honorable senator stated that in my speech last week I said that the Militia was made up of old men and “ crocks “. What I did say was -
And who are the Militia? Some members of it are returned soldiers from the last war, up to (10 years of age. Some of them, also, are men who have volunteered for service in the Australian Imperial Force two or three times in the course of this war, but have been rejected on medical grounds. . . . They have been classed as militiamen and many of them could not get into the Australian Imperial Force even if they wished, to transfer.
The remarks of the honorable senator were entirely incorrect and untrue. I did not make them, and I now ask that they be withdrawn, because they are objectionable to me. as well as damaging.
– I understand that the honorable senator is now quoting from the report of his speech in Hansard in order to show the incorrectness of a statement made by Senator Collett. His remarks to-night also will be recorded in Hansard. It is now too late, however, for him to ask for a withdrawal.
– I ask you, Mr. President, whether Senator Collett was quoting from any document, the tabling of which could have been ordered? I do not know from what paper he was quoting.
– The time in which the honorable senator is entitled to ask that the document be laid on the table of the Senate has expired.
.- The most significant thing about the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) to-day was the difference between his attitude and that of the Leader of the united Opposition in the House of Representatives and the Leader of the party to which he belongs. Honorable members are aware that leading members of the Opposition parties have expressed the wish that the Militia Forces’ should be available for use wherever the Government desires, and that an agreement was reached, in that connexion. Is it the desire of the Leader of the Opposition in this chamber that the Government should be guided by the leaders of global strategy - Mr. Churchill and President Roosevelt - or those who would serve party political ends? In a bill which the Leader of the Opposition introduced into this chamber a few days ago, he spoke in somewhat similar terms to those used by. him in relation to this measure. In my opinion, the honorable senator was utterly insincere when he brought that measure before the Senate. His only purpose was to place his colleagues in the House of Representatives in an invidious position.
– That is not true.
– Before that measure was introduced, members of the Opposition parties had decided to accept the decision of their executive, but since then there has been some disunity, leading to a breakaway. Previously, they bad accepted the views placed before the House of Representatives by the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin), but after visiting various capital cities and reading what appeared in the press, their views changed. Among the many things which have happened during the last two weeks has been a united effort on the part of the press of Australia, with few exceptions, to use the Government’s proposals in relation to the Militia as a means of changing the leadership of the United Australia party. I repeat that the sole purpose for which the bill which was introduced by the Leader of the Opposition last week was to nullify the support given by the Opposition parties in another place to the Government’s measure to extend the area in which the Militia may serve. In his second-reading speech on the bill introduced by bini, the Leader of the Opposition reviewed in his own way the development of the idea that the area in which the Militia could be used, should be extended. I remind him that it required a Labour government, under the leadership of a courageous Prime Minister, first to bring the Militia to its full strength, and, secondly, to extend the sphere in which it could operate. The present Leader of the Opposition was a member of two previous governments, which, whilst realizing the need for that to be done, were inactive in matters relating to the defence of this country. In saying that, I do not assert that those governments’ did not play a big part in organizing Australia’s war effort; nor do I deny that they laid the foundation of the great production of war materials, that is taking place in
Australia to-day. I do not wish to deprive previous governments of the credit for anything that they accomplished; but I do blame the Opposition for trying to misinterpret every action of the present Government. I am amazed that Senator Collett should have attempted to misinterpret, a statement made by Senator Aylett. Any one of us can, if he so desires, be unjust to his opponents in this chamber by rnisinterpreting his remarks. We are told that the Opposition, which at first was opposed to this bill, is now prepared to support it, although reluctantly. I understand, also, that an amendment is to be moved to it in committee.
– It is proposed to insert a new clause to give more power to the Government.
– The Government does not seek additional power, and will resist the amendment.
– The Government is afraid of it.
– It is strange how quickly the opinions and tactics of the Opposition have changed. The bill introduced last week by the Leader of the Opposition proposed to delete from an act of Parliament a provision which was inserted by a government of which he was a member.
– I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable senator in order in discussing another measure which is before this chamber?
– The honorable senator is not in order. He may not now discuss that bill. I ask him to- confine his remarks to the measure before the Senate.
– Are we to understand that the Opposition honestly believes that the Japanese menace did not exist before the 7th December, 1941, when Japanese forces struck at Pearl Harbour and Malaya? That is what the Leader of the Opposition would have us believe when he stressed that, shortly after Japan made its attack, he suddenly realized the need to extend the area in which the Militia may operate. As early as February, 1941, the then Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Fadden) invited the then Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) to join in issuing a statement to the
Australian people stressing the seriousness of the threat by Japan. I hope that members of the Opposition have not forgotten that incident, because it took place twelve months before the letter to which the Leader of the Opposition has so frequently referred was written. .Surely at that time the Government in office was conscious of the likelihood of Japan entering the war. The Government of which the Leader of the Opposition was a member possessed the power at that time to take the action which he now asks us to take; but it made no attempt to do so. The Government of that day appealed to the present Prime Minister, who was then Leader of the Opposition, to emphasize to the people the dangers which were then threatening this country from Japan. Why, therefore, did it not attempt to bring the Militia up to its full strength? I, and the people of Australia, would like the Leader of the Opposition to answer that question. The honorable senator also drew invidious comparisons between our defence policy and that of New Zealand. To say the least, such comparisons can do no good for the cause for which our allies as a whole are fighting. I have no doubt that, in many respects, our war effort compares more than favorably with that being made by any of the other United Nations. When Senator Collett, in the course of his speech, referred to those two great leaders, Mr. Churchill and President Roosevelt, I interjected that he should also include M. Stalin in his reference. To my amazement, the honorable senator replied that Russia was playing only a minor part in the war.
– I said in global strategy.
- Mr. Churchill himself, and representatives of President Roosevelt, have visited Russia in order to take counsel with M. Stalin with regard to the strategy of the war. I admit that much of Russia’s success to-day is the result of the assistance which it has received from the British Empire and the United States of America. Any one who is familiar with the political history of New Zealand and Australia knows that New Zealand has always imposed compulsory military service in order to meet its requirements, whereas
Australia has traditionally adhered to the voluntary system. The voluntary system has been adhered to by all Australian governments. It is noteworthy that the Leader of the Opposition made no mention of the fact that South Africa also relies upon the voluntary system. That fact has figured in recent history, and every one is well aware of it. Surely, if the honorable senator had any intention of facing the matter squarely, he would not have referred to New Zealand only and failed to mention South Africa at all in that respect! The Prime Minister has dealt effectively with the respective positions of New Zealand and Australia in relation to the South-West Pacific Area. In order to show that the utmost co-operation and agreement exists between the two dominions in the prosecution of the war, I quote the following from an official Government cablegram, despatched from New Zealand to the Commonwealth Government on the 12th February last: -
Commenting on Militia Bill, Mr. Fraser stated for publication that he felt assured from his discussions last July with the Prime Minister of Australia (Mr. Curtin), who had so ably directed his country’s war effort since taking office, and also from discussions he had with the Australian War Cabinet and War Council, that if New Zealand were in danger of attack, Australian troops and warships would come to our aid. Similarly, he could also state that, if Australia were attacked, New Zealand, would assist to the utmost of its capacity.
That official pronouncement by the New Zealand Government shows that complete co-operation and understanding exists between it and this Government. It also explains the reason why the Government’s policy is along the lines set out in the measure now before us, in contrast to the mock heroics embodied in the bill introduced into this chamber last week by the Leader of the Opposition. Of course, in this discussion, honorable senators opposite are playing to the gallery in order to gain some political advantage. The Leader of the Opposition also interpreted statements made by the Prime Minister in a most remarkable way. He said that the Prime Minister had cried to the United States of America to send its conscripts to Australia while we were not prepared to send our troops outside Australia. The impediment which has prevented us from despatching members of the Militia Forces outside Australia is part of the legacy we have inherited from past governments. This Government was not responsible for that impediment. It was brought into existence by governments formed by the United Australia and Country parties, which have been in office in this Parliament for over 25 years. Therefore, honorable senators opposite must accept their full share of responsibility for the position that this measure seeks to rectify, together with the people of Australia who elected the governments which have held office during those years. The Leader of the Opposition did not tell us that the Australian Imperial Force can be used in any theatre of war. Members of that force have actually fought in practically every theatre of war. The honorable senator, however, gave no credit whatever to those men, and did not pay any tribute to their glorious deeds. He is concerned solely in gaining some political advantage in this discussion with the object of disseminating a certain kind of propaganda regardless of the honour due to our soldiers. In proportion to our population the numerical strength of our armed forces bears favorable comparison with those of Great Britain and the United States of America. In order to equal our effort in that respect, those countries, in proportion to their populations, would need to despatch 13,000,000 men beyond their borders. I challenge the Leader of the Opposition to refute those figures. Can any honorable senator visualize, at any stage of the war, 13,000,000 men being sent outside the borders of Great Britain and the United States of America? Only if they can visualize that are they entitled to ask for still greater Australian forces to be released for far-flung battle fronts. In the world strategy of this war, Australia’s part is to provide and keep inviolate a base from which the defeat of Japan can be launched. The Government has framed its policy to meet this requirement of world strategy, and I remind honorable senators opposite that that policy is not finally dictated in Australia. It is determined by the higher commands, and this and any preceding Australian Governments could only make recommendations. In view of the greater power of other nations, we must be subject to their decisions, and rightly so, too. I have no disagreement on that score. I emphasize that this Government does not determine the strategy of the war. It will be remembered that in December, 1941, the Prime Minister said -
Without any inhibitions of any kind, I make it quite clear that Australia looks to America, free of any pangs as to our traditional links of kinship with the United Kingdom.
Following that statement there was in this country a campaign which suggested that the Labour Government and the party that supported it, were disloyal and trying to sever the ties which link us with the British Empire. I remember that campaign well. It was started not only in New South Wales and Victoria, but also in South Australia, from which last mentioned State the most voluble senators on the opposite side of the chamber come, but it found little or no support in Australia, and it was ignored in America and Great Britain. An undercurrent of it has, however, continued ever since. Certain people have been trying to resurrect it on every possible occasion, as is evidenced by the action of the Leader of the Opposition in interpreting Mr. Curtin’s statement which I have just quoted as “ crying for help to be sent to Australia “. What was the position? This Government asked for help from America because it realized that Great Britain was not in a position at that time to give it. Great Britain had been savagely attacked and was in desperate circumstances itself. I take no exception to the action of the previous Commonwealth Government in sending out of this country, after Dunkirk, whatever it could lay its hands on to help the British Government. It was to the credit of that Government that it gave all the assistance it could to the Government of Great Britain. But when Great Britain was not able to assist Australia, when Japan prepared to attack us, and our Government realized that that attack was imminent, it appealed to America, whereupon America helped to save Australia. We were criticized and called disloyalists because we appealed to America. Statements to that effect were published in the British press, but I nave here extracts from newspapers published in Great Britain, which show the reception that that campaign received there. The Melbourne Argus, on 1st January, 1942, under the heading, “ Mr. Curtin’s view defended “, published the following: - “ Outspoken John Curtin hae demanded a plan for the Pacific and for Australian selfdefence. He is understood to have received a promise of one - 1 definite and decisive ‘,” says the Daily Mirror in a leader.
What has he said that is so dangerous and ‘ subversive ‘ ? “ the leader continues. “ In substance merely that Australia’s views must be heard, that Australia must wake up and face the strategic problems of her own defence; in short, that there must bc a plan - now promised - for Australia.”
Manchester Guardian in a leader says: “Nobody in Britain will contest the essential soundness of Australia’s case. She must, as a Pacific power in her own right, be given, and must assume, more responsibility in the conduct of a war that touches her so nearly. The only point at issue is the method. Does an Imperial war cabinet any longer suffice? Mr. Curtin asks for a plan with the U.S.A. as keystone. He is only asking for what, in working out strategy in the Pacific, the Washington Conference must have decided upon.”
Then the following, which shows the feeling in America, was published by the Melbourne Argus on the same date: -
Ballimore Sun publishes a leader entitled “ Australia looks to us in Pacific conflict “. The newspaper describes Mr. Curtin’s idea as “ forthright .and in many senses realistic “. The leader continues, however: “It does not follow that one must join him in refusing to consider the struggle in the Far East as a .subordinate segment of the general conflict’. Of course, it is not subordinate in any sense of the word. But certainly it is only part of the greater conflict. Yet one can well understand Mr. Curtin’s position - concern for the defence of his homeland, interest in obtaining Russian collaboration in the vast Pacific theatre, and, finally, primary reliance upon the U.S.A.”
Those leading articles give a true interpretation of the Prime Minister’s appeal to America, and reflect the opinion not only of the people of Australia, but also of the American people and those of the British Empire. In times of peace, I might have conceded that there was some justification for the campaign that has been indulged in for some time to destroy the confidence of the people in the present Government, but I say frankly that, in a time of national stress, when we are standing, as it were, with our backs up against the wall, fighting for our very existence, it ill becomes the Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues to indulge in specious propaganda of the description for which they have been responsible. Honorable senators will also remember that even last week the Leader of the Opposition suggested that the Prime Minister and his Cabinet preferred to rest the hurden largely upon the shoulders of our American friends. That statement is not founded upon fact. Between America, its .soldiers, the Commonwealth Government and the Australian people there has been the utmost co-operation. The Leader of the Opposition’s interpretation of the statesmanlike and realistic utterance of the Prime Minister was, in effect, that we asked the United States of America to save us and yet would refuse to play our part in defeating Japan when the danger was removed from our shores. That also is incorrect. While Mr. Curtin was in opposition, particularly during the war period, no man in this country played a more noble part or assisted the Government in the prosecution of the war more than he did. He made himself a big man ‘in opposition. He never resorted to specious propaganda, but helped the Government in every possible way ‘and restrained his party from attacking it lest it might interfere with the successful prosecution of the war effort. Further evidence of the campaign that is being waged to disunite the Australian people .and create a wrong impression in the British Empire and America is contained in a cable addressed to an overseas press agency. ‘ It was lodged as part of a service, arranged by the former Director of Information, Sir Keith Murdoch, to be sent regularly to the United ‘States of America, giving information based on editorial opinion and news published in the Australian press. I propose to read the cable. The cost of its transmission was charged to the Department of Information, which was the reason that my attention was officially drawn to it. It was as follows : -
Australcan Montreal - Feb. 2nd, 1943, charge a/c. to Dept. of Information.
The Adelaide Advertiser, commenting on the Militia Bill, said “Our Allies will certainly be staggered and possibly revolted at the thought of the vast areas that have been deliberately excluded. The .decision to arbitrarily and pointedly exclude Guadalcanal will profoundly humiliate every decent Australian. Worse still, our British kinsmen will have a full share of this astonishment and dismay. The cynical wounding gesture directed at the American people by the Australian Prime Minister, who a few days ago renewed his shrill invitation to the U.S. to send more and more of her conscripts to fight for us in sectors in which important elements of our own forces are specifically, even ostentatiously, forbidden to go “ . . .
That shows the continuity of the propaganda that has been going on since the early part of last year, when we were accused, as a Government, of being disloyal. That propaganda is still being disseminated through all possible channels. Its originators are endeavouring to spread it not only throughout this country but also in the United States of America and in Groat .Britain. I point out to honorable senators opposite that the harm caused by that propaganda will not be done only to the Government, but also to the Australian nation. The message that I have read was based upon the contribution made by The Advertiser, published in Adelaide, in a leading article, to the proposal that the Government should extend the area in which the Militia may serve. It is a typical example of the distorted reports which are being printed for propaganda purposes by certain press interests which guide honorable senators opposite who represent South Australia. Incidentally, an interesting item was published in the press last week. It stated that last year Adelaide Advertiser Limited, after paying £43,000 in taxation, made a net profit of £91,750. The taxation paid was actually £13,000 less than during the previous year, and a dividend of 12 per cent, was paid for the seventh successive year to the holders of ordinary shares. The balance was added to the reserve, increasing the carryover to £82,576. That is the newspaper which guides certain honorable senators opposite. One can read in that, editorial the words that were uttered by the Leader of the Opposition. The figures which I have quoted show that during last year, when the Australian nation had to dive so much deeper into its resources to pay for a vastly accelerated war effort, the Adelaide Advertiser Limited accumulated a surplus of £91,000 and paid a dividend of 12 per cent, to ordinary shareholders, 3.2 per cent, being added to reserves. It is common knowledge that Sir Keith Murdoch has a close interest in that newspaper.
In the course of debate on this measure I was surprised to hear one honorable senator opposite, in reply to an interjection, refer to the war service that is being given by a certain section of the community, namely, the sons of graziers. It is unfortunate that any particular section of the community should be selected for special mention in that way. No honorable senator will deny that the sons of graziers are playing their part in this war, but so also are the workers. Moreover, whilst in many cases the graziers’ sons have left comfortable homes, many less fortunate individuals were, until the time of enlistment, on. the dole as the result of the misgovernment of this country during the past 25 years.
– “What about 1929-31 ? Was not a Labour government in office then?
– I asked honorable senators to refrain from interjecting. Such interruptions are becoming far too numerous, and at times it is difficult to hear what is being said by the honorable senator who is addressing the chamber.
– The Australian Army to-day includes many thousands of young fellows who, prior to the war, never had an opportunity to earn their living. In the front line, however, they face the same horrors of war and are subjected to the same perils as their comrades who have been more fortunate in civil life. It is wrong for any honorable senator to make invidious comparisons between the service that, is being given in this war by various sections of the community. I pay tribute to the graziers’ sons, just as I pay tribute to the sons of the workers, for the part that they are playing in our fighting forces. I pay tribute also to the soldiers in industry who have worked long hours in order to keep up the flow of arms and munitions to the fighting forces.
I hope that this bill will be passed without the amendment which has been foreshadowed by the Leader of the Opposition.
– I make no apology for saying that this bill gives me no satisfaction whatever. Unless it be amended in one form or another, I do not think that I shall vote for it, and I shall tell honorable senators my reasons. In the first place, I agree entirely with the view expressed by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) that this bill is an insult to our allies. I would add that it is a slander upon the people of Australia.
– The honorable senator is the only one who thinks so.
– I am sure I have many “ pals “, and if Senator Clothier is not aware of the dissatisfaction that exists throughout the community over this bill he must be blind.’ I shall go further, this bill does not represent the views of the Australian people - thank goodness - and I am quite satisfied that it does not represent the views of members of this Parliament and of at least some members of the Government. The Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings) told us that he would relate the whole story, and I was looking forward to some rather interesting revelations. Had he told the whole story he would have satisfied my mind on some very interesting points in regard to which I remain so dissatisfied. This measure has been presented to Parliament, and to the public, in a form which I suggest is in. itself a misrepresentation of its real objective. Discussion on this matter opened with statements by the Prime Minister which indicated the necessity to amend the Defence Act to enable the Government to send Militia forces to any part of the South-West Pacific Area. However, the South-West Pacific Area referred to by the right honorable gentleman in these statements, was quite different from the area which is described in this bill as the South-Western Pacific Zone. I shall prove that to be so by quoting the Prime Minister’s own public statements.
– A lawyer can twist anything.
– There is no need to twist anything on this occasion. I am prepared to take the Prime Minister’s word, and I take his word not from something that I remember but from a publication printed and published by the Commonwealth Government Printer, namely, the Digest of Decisions and Announcements and Important Speeches hy the Prime Minister. That publication includes the statement made by the Prime Minister on the 20th November, 1942, to which reference has already been made. In that statement the Prime Minister referred to the area in which Australia was being defended. He said that this country was being defended on an outer screen of islands running from New Guinea to the southern Solomons, New Hebrides, New Caledonia and Fiji. After referring also to Timor, the right honorable gentleman went on to say that the islands mentioned were within the theatre of the Southwestern Pacific, and were vital to the holding of the Commonwealth.
– There was nothing wrong with that.
– No, but it indicates clearly that there is something wrong with this bill, because the area prescribed in it does not include Fiji, New Caledonia, New Hebrides or the southern Solomons. As a matter of fact, the curious thing is that of all the places referred to the only one which has been included in this bill is New Guinea. All the others have been excluded, although in the Prime Minister’s statement they were referred to as islands within the South- Western Pacific Zone vital to the holding of the Commonwealth.
– Who altered it.
– I should be interested to know who did.
– It was altered after consultation with the American authorities.
– My suspicion is that it was altered at a Labour caucus meeting.
– The honorable senator is wrong there.
– Then it was altered at a conference of the Australian Labour party.
– I am not much concerned in establishing by whom the alteration was made. What I am anxious to show is that the Prime Minister, who above all is in possession of the information that would enable a judgment to be made on this matter, said these things in November last, and they were the foundations of his approach to the conference of the Australian Labour party. I call attention to another portion of the statement of the right honorable gentleman, who went on to say -
X put it as plainly as I oan that the policy of the Australian Labour party in respect of New Guinea and Kaban 1 should apply to all the islands in this theatre of war.
The theatre of war about which he was talking was that which included Fiji, the New Hebrides, New Caledonia and other islands. He added that limiting the operations of the Militia to some of those islands “ negates common sense “. What is the attitude of honorable senators opposite to a bill which limits the operations of the Militia to not only some of those islands but also to that part of them that is south of the Equator. Surely, if it is the negation of common sense to say that we shall send troops to some islands and not to others, it becomes ludicrous to divide an island by an imaginary line, and say that our troops may go up to that line but not north of it.
The Leader of the Senate began to tell us a story this afternoon about a map. He said that he would tell us the whole story, but all we got from him was the fact that hs took the map to Queensland. I put it to the Minister, through you, Mr. President, that the map which he took to Queensland was not one of the South-Western Pacific Zone as denned in this bill.
– I am not taking the bait.
– The Minister wants the public to believe that the area which was described by the Prime Minister as the South-Western Pacific Zone in December is the area included in this bill, but it is perfectly clear that that is not so. Can the Minister say how the statement which I shall read is consistent with the idea that the South-Western Pacific Zone to which the Prime Minister was referring is the area defined in this bill? On the 6th December, 1942, the Prime Minister said1 -
There arc islands close to Australia which the enemy holds, and from which he launches attacks against us. These include the
Netherlands East Indies, Timor, the Solomons and others. These places are integral to our defence, but, politically, are outside the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth.
This Parliament should have an opportunity to vote on the proposal which the Prime Minister said in December was a national necessity, and that opportunity i.i not being presented by this bill. The Netherlands East Indies was included, but this bill does not include that territory.
– Is not the Netherlands East Indies in the Indian theatre of war?
– I am not concerned about that matter. I want to know why in December the Prime Minister describes as a national necessity the power to send the Militia to the SouthWest Pacific Area, which includes the Netherlands East Indies, but now comes to Parliament with a proposal which leaves out most of the areas previously referred to.
– Are not New Zealand and New Caledonia included in the Anzac Area?
– I am talking about the South-West Pacific Area referred to by the Prime Minister.
– That was altered by the Commander-in-Chief.
– I am interested to hear these last-minute suggestions, when the Government is under fire, that some great alteration was made by the CommanderinChief. The day before this bill was introduced in the House of Representatives, I and other members of Parliament were invited to see a map. Every member on the Government side of the chamber knows that that map did not indicate the area defined in this bill.
– Honorable senators on this side heard a full explanation of that.
– I cannot accept the suggestion that between the time I saw that map, which was on the day before the bill was introduced, the CommanderinChief took steps to alter the area. What was I invited to see the map for if it were not for the purpose of indicating to me the area in which the Citizen Military Forces were to operate? The map I saw, curiously enough, was consistent with the statement made by the
Prime Minister in December. We were shown the map for the purpose of seeing the area covered by the bill, but when the measure was introduced it did not include much of the territory which we were led to believe it would cover. . It was a piece of political trickery. Why havethe Prime Minister and all of the members of the Labour party departed from their policy of sending the Militia, if necessary, to ]STew Zealand. Why has New Zealand been left out?
– That is wrong.
– In these circumstances I must rely to a large degree on what the Prime Minister has said. In the statement to which I have already referred, he supported his own case by reference to the policy of the Labour party. He said -
At the l!)40 special federal conference of the Australian Labour party, Mr. Calwell, M.P., voted for the following: -
No raising of military forces for service outside the Commonwealth other than is necessary in the land and waters adjacent to Australia and New Zealand for the strategical defence requirements of the Commonwealth and New Zealand.
The Prime Minister, having quoted that resolution, went on to say -
The proposal I have put forward is a military necessity for the strategic requirements of the Commonwealth.
– Hence this bill.
– But it is a mere shadow of the measure proposed in December
– The Prime Minister is not responsible for it, as the honorable senator knows.
– I have always suspected that that was so. Indeed it is well known that the Prime Minister is not personally responsible for this bill.
– We do not say that. The Government does not decide the strategical areas; that is a matter for the Commander-in-‘Chief.
– In December last, when he was in possession of all the information that was available - information which, the Opposition did not have, and which members of the Australian Labour party conference did not, and could not have - the Prime Minister formed his own judgment on this question. He -then said that the area should include the Netherlands East Indies, the New Hebrides, the Solomon Islands, Fiji and New Zealand.
– The honorable senator knows what has happened since then.
– The Prime Minister formed that judgment, yet we are now asked to accept a mere shadow of what he then proposed because other people who were not in possession of the information that he had, have overridden him. That is the true position. I do not regard this bill as representing a victory for the Prime Minister. Unfortunately, the right honorable gentleman was defeated at the Australian Labour party conference. This bill is a mere face-saver.
– That is not true.
– The section of the Labour party led by the Minister for Aircraft Production (Senator Cameron) won that dispute. I congratulate him on the success that has attended his efforts - that, despite the prestige of the Prime Minister, he and his colleagues have been able to whittle down this proposal, so that it will not be in conflict with the policy of isolationism, for which he and the Australian Labour party conference stand, and always have stood. This bill is pure isolationism in another form. It sounds grand to say, “ We will send Australian Militia troops as far north as the Equator “. Just imagine setting off on a military operation in the Netherlands East Indies with troops that the CommanderinChief knows may go only so far as an imaginary line, and must then stop ! The result is that, although on its face this bill appears to extend the area as far as the Equator, it does little more than include the territories of Timor and Dutch New Guinea. We should be thankful that Australia has received help from our American ally.
– Who got their assistance ? (Senator SPICER. - Conscripts from the United States of America have come here in thousands to defend us. I agree that in defending us they are defending themselves also.
– The honorable senator’s party objected to their coming here.
– When we contemplate the possibility of being, asked to step forwardwiththem in order to throw the enemy back to Japan, the best that we are able to say to them and to the world is that we shall allow our Militia troops to go to Dutch New Guinea and Timor, but no farther. I shall hesitate a long time before I shall cast my vote to put on the statute-book for all time a measure of that kind. There is more in this matter than the drawing of lines on maps.
– There is the value of an example.
– It is to a great degree a matter of morals and national honour. I do not want it to go down in history that the best that this Parliament was prepared to do in this crisis was to pass a bill which allowed the Australian Militia to so only so far as Timor and Dutch New Guinea. I believe that when this war is over Australiawill be greatly in need of friends. We shall need Friends and supporters in the international sphere. The degree of assistance and sympathy which is likely to be extended to us by other communities then will depend in a great measure upon how wo undertake the burden which we should shoulder now. I agree that this measure does not represent the whole of Australia’s war effort; but it is the kind of legislation by which Australia will be judged in other countries. It will be known in other countries that the Commonwealth Parliament passed this limiting act. The people of those countries will easily forget the exploits of the Australian Imperial Force even should they hear of them; but they will not forget a tiling like this to which a great deal of publicity is given. If we have any regard for our international reputation, we shall see that we put on the statute-book a measure which is more in accord with the real views of the members of this Parliament and of the people of this country.
We have heard a lot about what this and other governments have done. I was disappointed that the Leader of the Senate, instead of discussing the questions which arise in relation to this bill, should merely criticize the governments which preceded the present Labour Government. I shall make one or two comments on that point. I remind the Senate that in the first two years of the war, when other governments were in office, the Labour party had its representatives on the Advisory WarCouncil. They were in a position to know the real situation in regard to aeroplanes and other war materials. Now they endeavour to present to the Australian community a picture indicating that the absence of some of those things wasdue to some negligence on the part of previous governments.
– Does the honorable senator deny that?
– It is a foul lie, and the honorable senator knows it. We hear a lot of talk about the absence of Beaufort bombers at that time, but the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) will remember an occasion in November, 1940, when he went to a factory and saw the progress that wasbeing made with their manufacture.
SenatorKeane. - I nearly broke my neck in one of them.
– Were there any in existence at that time?
– Machines were then in process ofbeing made. The whole foundation of the present great undertaking had been completed, and work had reached the stage at which machines were actually being assembled. The present Minister for Trade and Customs, who was then in Opposition, joined with me in expressing praise and appreciation of what had been done. Yet, honorable senators have the nerve to say that the absence of those machines was due to negligence on the part of previous governments. I am amazed that a member of the Labour party should talk about the low stocks of petrol in Australia when the present Government took office. He knows that the last federal elections were fought largely on the issue of petrol rationing.
Sena tor Ashley. - Japan had not then entered the war and the sea lanes were open.
– That is so. When we talk about the strength of the Militia when the Menzies Government went out of office we should not forget that Japan had not then entered the war. That argument cuts both ways. In New South Wales, particularly, an important issue at the last election was the rationing of petrol. The Labour paTty won. a number of seats in that State because of its opposition to rationing. Every time that I hear such misrepresentation I shall endeavour to make the position clear. I regard the bill before us as a bad one, but I shall not vote against the second reading because I believe that it is a measure which is capable of improvement by amendment. In committee, I shall move an amendment which I believe will improve the bill. However, should it not be amended in committee, I shall continue to regard it as a measure which will not warrant my casting a vote in its favour.
.- I support the bill. I shall oppose any attempt to amend it, because it is entirely adequate for the purpose which it is designed to serve. Nations, like individuals, have principles, and we must maintain our national principles at all cost. All of us know the dangers which threatened us following Japan’s entry into the war. We then appealed to Great Britain for assistance, but found that the Mother Country itself was in dire straits and could not come to our aid. Therefore, we made a direct appeal to the United States of America for assistance, and, to-day, in response to that appeal noble fighters from that country are helping us to defend our shores. The Labour party believes in the Militia as a unit of our defence forces. This party founded the Militia in 1910. Unfortunately, a Labour government, under duress during the depression years, was forced to abandon compulsory military training, but no succeeding government saw fit to re-establish it. The late Mr. A. G. Ogilvie, who was the leader of the Labour party in Tasmania, and for many years Premier of that State, made a tour of the world, and, as the result of what he saw in Germany, Austria, Italy and other European countries, he advocated, on his return to Australia, the re-introduction of compulsory military training.. He took up that matter with the anti-Labour Government then in office and urged it to establish a super air force. He urged it to blacken our skies with aeroplanes. We know that Australia was not properly prepared to defend itself when the war broke out. That was not the fault of the Labour party, because a non-Labour government was in office at that time. Speaking on the Supply Bill on the 27th September, 1938, in my first speech in this chamber, I said -
The Labour party believes that Australia must largely depend upon aerial defence. We cannot expect Great Britain to send its navy to the Pacific in order to protect Australia when its ships are urgently required at home. Australia’s preparedness for defence depends upon the number of fighters, bombers and aircraft carriers at its disposal. We should have an aerial fleet that could easily defeat any force that is likely to be brought against us, and it is essential that the Air Force be provided with facilities such as landing grounds and oil supplies.
But how long was it bef ore the Government established air-training schools and aerodromes throughout Australia? I believe in the Militia as an organized fighting force. Youths under 21 should not be sent to combat zones. They should be trained and gradually welded into a fighting force, before they are actually sent into battle. I base that observation on personal experience. I was only nineteen years of age when I had my baptism under fire. So long as the younger men were under expert officers they did the job allotted to them, and did it well; but when they were thrown on their own initiative they were unable, owing to lack of experience, to do the right thing. The utilization of youths under 21 in battle zones should be carefully considered. - 1 was a member of the Militia under the compulsory service system in 1912-13-14. I took a great interest in the work of that force, and I say definitely that the greatest stumbling-block to the proper use of the Militia in any zone is the arrogance and stupidity of a great number of officers. The officers of the Australian Imperial Force were superb. They were well trained and knew that they were leading volunteers. However, officers in charge of compulsorily enlisted men seem to have a peculiar psychology. They treat the men harshly simply because they know that the latter have no “ come back “, and give them a very raw deal. For these reasons, our officers must be specially trained in the management of men. The most successful officer in any fighting zone knows how to manage the men under him. The Government should immediately take steps to establish in all training schools for officers throughout the Commonwealth a special course dealing specifically with the management and welfare of the men.
I repeat that the bill is adequate for the purpose for which it is intended, namely, to enable us to hold certain zones for the protection of Australia. It is a fallacy to suggest that a small nation like Australia, confronted with the problem of defending a large continent with a small population, should be expected, when faced with a lifeanddeath struggle in its own region, to send forces to other theatres. It is not in the same position as are the great nations which, after providing for the security of their home territories, have a substantial margin of strength for service in other parts of the world. We can only resolve this problem on the facts of the military position. It is clear that Australia’s strength is not sufficient to meet all the contingencies of the military situation with which it may at any time be confronted, and the strength of the Allied forces in the South-West Pacific Area is inadequate to provide for more than a holding strategy with a limited offensive action. The South-Western Pacific Zone has been defined on sound military principles. The Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) has effectively answered all criticism to the effect that our failure to permit members of the Militia to be sent beyond the limits of that zone means that we refuse to attempt to free our prisoners of war in Malaya. I am certain that the enemy would not be so foolish to keep prisoners taken in Malaya in that region in view of its proximity to India and Burma where the Allies are now commencing an offensive. I quote the Prime Minister’s exact words on this subject -
Criticism has been made that the Citizen Forces cannot serve in Malaya and the Solomons. ‘Ih is quite ignores the strategical set-up in the South-West Pacific Area. Our forces are assigned to the Commander-in-Chief of the South-West Pacific Area, whose sphere of command does not extend to those regions. 1 would repeat, however, that when the position permits, Australian forces will be available in any theatre in which they can best be employed. The criticism that, because the boundaries of the area do not extend to Malaya, the Government is abandoning Australian prisoners of war in that region is a gross distortion of the position and the facts, and creates unwarranted anxiety in the minds of their relatives. I repeat that, if our forces are assigned to General MacArthur who is conducting one campaign in the South-Western Pacific Zone, how can they be placed at the disposal of Field-Marshal Wavell who is conducting another campaign in the Indian area which embraces Malaya? It would be equally true to say that we are abandoning our prisoners of war in Germany and Italy because the boundaries of the zone do not extend to Europe ! When the time comes to use forces from the South-West Pacific Area in another theatre, it will bc soon enough for the critics to raise their voices on this matter. At present, their ideas cut across the whole strategical set-up of the campaign. Their adoption would result only in chaos and defeat, with the consequence of endless servitude for these Australian prisoners of war. The Government has no intention of following any course other than the soundest military course, which will result in the earliest possible release of these men.
It is clear that the Government is bearing in mind what should and can be done, with the limited resources at its command, to release those prisoners of war. The Prime Minister continued -
Australia has once been perilously near to the brink of disaster. No nation, not even Britain, has been in greater danger of invasion and yet lacked the resources with which to defend itself. We possess neither a large navy nor a large air force, and the most effective part of our Army was overseas when Singapore fell. Our inability to despatch battle-trained troops to the New Guinea area to stem the Japanese advance almost let Japan into a base from which the whole of eastern Australia would have been vulnerable to attack. This would have neutralized Australia as a base from which the United Nations could attack Japan. When the holding phase is passed, when the enemy has been driven beyond the boundaries laid down, and when the size of the Australian naval, land and air forces which go forward from this area are realized, it will then be early enough for the critics to complain about the extent of Australia’s cooperation. We may go through many trials in the Pacific before then, but the immediate aim and responsibility of the Government to the Australian people is to ensure the security of Australia as a base; to co-operate in driving the enemy from threatened points of attack; and to co-operate in offensive action from the jumping-off points as soon as the. strength of the forces in the South-West Pacific Area permit.
The situation, therefore, is well in hand. I have no doubt that when the bill is passed, and members of the Militia force are made available for service within the South-Western Pacific Zone, they will acquit themselves with credit to Australia.
– Before addressing myself directly to the bill, I shall replyto certain statements made by honorable senators- opposite. The Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings), in his opening remarks, told us of what had been done in the defence of Australia and, added, “ We sent troops abroad “. That is not correct, because every honorable senator knows that on each occasion when, the Menzies and Fadden Government proposed to send troops abroad honorable senators opposite, who were then in opposition,, strenuously opposed those proposals. The Leader of the Senate declared that the South- Western Pacific Zone, as defined in the bill, represented the minimum and the maximum. However, the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) stated some time ago that when our troops reach the limits of that zone they will, if necessary, continue beyond those limits. The Leader of the Senate has contradicted the Prime Minister on that matter:
When Senator Collett was speaking with regard to the vote on the conscription referendums taken in. 1916 and 1917, an honorable senator opposite challenged his figures. This measure is, in effect, a conscription measure. It is advisa’ble, therefore; to give the figures in connexion with those referendums. Some people have an erroneous idea that on each occasion the majority of our soldiers voted against conscription. That is not correct. The soldiers’ vote- in 1916 showed a majority of 13,505 in favour of conscription, and, in the referendum held in 1917 a majority of 9,S79. The- bill is very long overdue, and, as a member of the Opposition, I welcome it. Although it is a- very meagre contribution to what we require, it does indicate an awakening- in the ranks of the Government and the Labour party to the fact that an all-in war effort requires something more than the making of regulations and cheer-chasing speeches. Although the bill is only the nucleus of what we should like to see, it does indicate the preparedness of the Government to defend this country in a proper manner.
In its effort, Australia has done remarkably well in proportion to its population. I do not say that it has done a 100 per cent. job,, but it has done a really good. one. As regards the manufacture of arms and ammunition,, it has surprised not only itself, but its neighbours with larger populations by the supplies it has produced. The people of Australia responded very generously to the Government’s appeals for funds to finance the war. In their fighting qualities, our men, wherever they have been engaged in. this conflict, have maintained the traditions- set up by their predecessors in the war of 1914-18. The civilian population of Australia has put up with minor inconveniences - and they have been only minor ones. Circumstances and situations always give rise to comprehensive phrases, and people nowadays talk glibly about a global war. The most casual observer, glancing at the map of the world, must recognize that that, is- a. very suitable designation, because, with the exception of Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, part of Russia beyond the Ural Mountains, and portion of Turkey north of the Bosphorus, all Europe is to-day under the- control of Hitler and Mussolini. In that I must include Sweden, because, although Sweden has not yet capitulated to Germany, it is practically under German control. That is the debtor side. On. the credit side are Great Britain, China, the United Sta.tes of America, the British Dominions as well as other smaller countries. A comparison of countries requires also a comparison of populations. I propose to make the calculation in order to show what a small portion of the Allied Nations Australia represents, and- how absurd it is that we should attempt to say just what we should do, how we shall do- it, and where. Just prior to the war, Mr. Max Werner published a book entitled.. Military Strength of the Powers, in which he gave the relative fighting strengths of the different countries of the world at the time. His estimate of Russia’s war potency was regarded as somewhat fantastic, but he recently published another book entitled, The Great
Offensive, which ‘the New York Times reviewed in the following terms: -
The Russians will continue to throw in reserves after Hitler has scraped the bottom of the barrel. You cannot win a “total” victory over 190 million Russians, 45 million Englishmen, J 30 million Americans, and 400 million Chinese with 80 million Germans and (i0 million Japanese. Anybody who says you can should be teaching arithmetic to Count Screwloose of Toulouse.
I gather from statistics that Mr. Werner was somewhat conservative in his estimates of the strength of the Axis Powers, and I am rather inclined to take the figures of Professor Karl Brandt, an American economist who was attached to the University of Berlin at the time the war broke out. In an article on foreign affairs he credits Germany and its European allies, which include Italy, Bulgaria and Rumania, with 170,000,000 people. Germany also has, in the countries it has occupied, another 165,000,000 people, entirely subservient to their masters, the Germans, who will exact from them everything possible by violence or fraud. If to these are added Japan’s 65,000,000 people - this does not include Korea, as against which I am omitting the populations of the British dominions - it gives an Axis total of 400,000,000 people. As the Allied total is about S00,600,000 people, we have practically two-to-one against the Axis. The all-in war effort of the Allies cannot be confined to any particular zone. The members of the Royal Australian Air Force at present in Great Britain, and participating in bombing raids on Berlin and other cities in Europe night after night, are fighting for Australia just as surely as if they were fighting in Australia. The American soldier in New Guinea is fighting just as much for America as he is for Australia. Our allies, being very busy, arc probably not taking much notice of what we are doing, but the history of this war will some day be written, and I am afraid that our parochial attitude will then reflect no great credit on us. The Government and its supporters appear to think that we on this side of the chamber are trying to dictate to “them what they shall do with the Australian Imperial Force and the Militia. We are doing nothing of the kind. We are trying to give the Government power to do what it likes with them. We are not dictating to it in any way how far they shall go, and where they shall stop, but we want it to have the power to send them wherever they are required. In comparison with the immense population figures that I have just quoted, our people number abo.it’ 7,000,000. Is it not ridiculous arrogance on the part of so small a nation to attempt to dictate to its S00,000,000 allies where its men shall fight? Our allies have 1.00 people for every person that we have in Australia, yet we are attempting to tell them what we are going to do, and where we shall do it. That is unfair, not only to our own people, but to our allies. The Leader of the Senate made an appealing speech a few weeks ago on the defence of Australia, in which he told us that this country was well worth defending. We knew that quite well without his advice. Every member of the Senate, and the majority of the people of Australia, know it, and are prepared to defend their country, but there is a section which does nothing towards it. The Leader of the Senate might have stirred their enthusiasm if he had told the people of Australia who is defending them to-day. If Japan had struck at Sydney Harbour instead of Pearl Harbour, none of us would be sitting here to-day. That shows who is defending us.
– It shows how necessary it is to prevent the Japanese from getting in.
– That is right, but at the same time, 95 per cent, of our safety to-day depends on the American navy, the members of the Australian Imperial Force, the Royal Australian Air Force, and the American forces. Our present contribution is in my opinion a feeble effort to repay what has been and is being done for us. The Government is confident of full support for the bill at least from honorable senators on this side ‘ of the chamber, because it is a step towards our objective, which is much wider and bigger, but we should be lacking in our duty to the people of Australia if we allowed it to pass without stressing its many weaknesses. Its greatest is that the area defined by it is not wide enough. “We should at the same time make an apology to our allies for our arrogance, seeing that people are fighting for us all over the world in numbers totalling 100 for every single individual that we can muster.
– How far would the honorable senator extend the area?
– I do not wish to extend it at all. I would increase the power of the Government to send our troops wherever it likes. I am not going to dictate the area to it.
– There is nothing in this bill giving the Government power to do that.
– That is the trouble. The bill confines us to a certain area. I want to give the Government power by regulation to send our troops wherever they are required.
– Conscription by regulation !
Senator JAMES McLACHLAN.Yes, but I shall deal with that subject on the bill introduced by the Leader of the Opposition. Let me view this measure from another angle. How did it come into existence? Let me trace it from its infancy. In November last the Prime Minister informed the people of Australia that the military advisers of the Government definitely stated that the safety of our country demanded a fuller strength outside of our territorial boundaries; in other words, that our volunteers were not sufficiently numerous to hold positions necessary for the safety of Australia. In those circumstances did the Prime Minister call his Ministers together? Did he call a meeting of the War Cabinet, the Advisory War Council, or even the Parliamentary Labour Caucus? He did none of those things. He preferred to consult his political advisers, by which action on his part the safety of Australia, and the advice of his military leaders were made subordinate to Mr. Fallon and his executive, whilst Parliament was made subservient to an outside junta.
– A motion moved by Senator Foll last October was turned down by the honorable senator’s own caucus
– We call our meetings party and not caucus meetings. I thought that I had attended most of them, but apparently the Minister was at one from which I was absent, because I have no recollection of it.
– I defy Senator Foll to contradict that statement.
– I shall leave the matter to the Minister for External Affairs and Senator Foll to fight out between themselves. I am concerned only with what led up to the framing of this measure. We all know what the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) did : He submitted certain proposals to the Australian Labour party conference, held in Melbourne, and presided over by M~r. Fallon, but, in the words of Robert Burns, “ The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley”. Apparently the Prime Minister was confident that his eloquence would be sufficient to win over the conference, but his proposals did rot get the support that he expected. Obviously, in anticipation of obtaining that support, he had summoned Parliament to meet on the 7th December, but it seems that, although he himself was prepared to scrap certain ideals to which he had clung for a number of years, some of the delegates decided to stick to the old platform of the Labour party. It is true that a few delegates thought that they had better follow their leader, but others, as a matter of political expediency, announced that they wished to consult their State executives before making a decision; but whether that account of the proceedings be right or wrong, the Prime Minister’s proposals were not accepted by the conference, and the two-day session of Parliament, held on the 7th and 8th December, was an absolute fiasco. Western Australian members were brought thousands of miles to Canberra, and all that was put before them was- a statement, the contents of which could have been read in the newspaper a fortnight or three weeks before. Since then this question has been settled and unsettled half a dozen times. Honorable senators were told - it was almost whispered to us - that if we walked along a certain passage and knocked at a certain door we would be permitted to see a certain map. Apparently the map was so secret that the official secretary had to be in attendance while honorable senators and members of the House of Representatives were inspecting it. With Senator Spicer and several others, I tip-toed down the passage, knocked at the door, and was admitted to view the map. Although we were not satisfied with it, we decided that it would be better to take what was offered. This bill was in print at that time. By interjection, we have heard this evening that the Commander-in-Chief altered the zone before the bill was presented to Parliament. The result is that the zone prescribed in this measure is not even that which honorable senators were shown on the all-important map.* When introducing this measure in the House of Representatives, the Prime Minister said, “ It is a bill drawn up in accordance with the realities of our problems”. I do not think that statement has a parallel in -any British community. It is absolutely true; but it was given with a sinister meaning, and a clever cover-up. After four months, this contemptible attempt, to strengthen the defence of our country has been submitted to Parliament. If the Prime Minister had said that this measure had been drawn up in accordance with his own problems, and those of his .party, that statement would have been absolutely true. It is quite apparent from a perusal of press reports, or an examination of information from al: Y other source, that there was no problem so far as the people of Australia were concerned, nor was there any problem in either House of this Parliament. To say that the measure had been drawn up in accordance with the problems of the country was simply nonsense. I hope that never again will a political leader have to bring down in this Parliament such a miserable remnant of his own opinions, after they have been pulled to pieces by the party to which he belongs. The civil laws of our country make it a criminal offence’ for a person to obtain money by false pretences, and I think that if he were tried for that offence, the Prime Minister would have considerable difficulty in avoiding conviction. Some time ago the Government appealed to the people of Australia to subscribe to a £100,000,000 loan, and during the period of that loan the Prime
Minister was very busy inviting subscriptions. The right honorable gentleman said -
We shall make of our nation two complete fighting armies - the fighting forces to smash their way back through New Guinea, Java, Malaya, the Philippines and on to Japan; and the working forces that will back them to the limit in mine, factory and workshop.
– Surely the honorable senator does not take exception to that !
– No, I think that it was a very fine statement, and the people responded wonderfully, but now the Prime Minister is not going to do the job. He has obtained the money, but he is not prepared to go as far as he said he would. Surely that is obtaining money under false pretences. People do not like being deceived, and when the Prime Minister made a definite promise he should have been prepared to carry it out. I shall support this bill - let honorable senators opposite make no mistake about that - but the fact remains that its history is so well known that no amount of reiteration can make it more despicable. It has one redeeming feature, namely, that although the Labour party, ever since its inception, has strenuously opposed conscription, it has now, with some degree of consent from caucus, decided in favour of extending the area in which our fighting forces may serve - to the Equator in the north, and, if necessary, to the South Pole. Although the eastern and western boundaries of the zone are indeed narrow, the proclamation of that zone is also a declaration that the “ noconscription “ flag has been lowered and that, in spirit at least, the antieon.scriptionist has capitulated. We on this side of the chamber are pleased to see the Government go this far, and I promise that we shall keep it up to the mark. All we desire is that the Government shall have power to send Australian troops to whatever part of the world their services may be required. I repeat that I am not appealing for the proclamation of any particular area; I am merely asking that the Government be given power to do the job that should be done.
– Much has been said about this measure, and I for one believe that too much stress has” been laid upon the circumscribed area specified in the bill and not enough upon Australia’s duty as a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and to our American cousins who rushed to our aid when we were in dire distress. In other words, there has been too much selfishness and too much consideration for the safety of our own hides. I should much prefer to see a broader outlook. As a Britisher, I consider that we are not doing justice to the name of Australia, and are letting down our allies when we seek to confine the operations of our Militia forces to the narrow zone prescribed in this measure.
I should like to make passing reference to another measure which is now before the Senate, and which the Government would have been well advised to adopt. I make only brief reference to that legislation, because if it were passed the Government would have the great technical advantage of being able to move our troops anywhere whether they be members of the Militia or of the Australian Imperial Force. I make that reference as an exservice man and to indicate that I am not opposing this measure with a desire to be obstructive. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) has submitted legislation which I contend would meet the needs of the case fully, and I consider that even at this late hour the Government would be well advised to take advantage of that legislation to know the cause of all this ill-feeling and counter the many arguments that are being raised with regard to the provisions of this hill, not only in this chamber, but also among the public generally. In the first place, when we compare the aims of this measure with what is being done by the people in the Old Country, it is clear that it is sadly lacking. The same I would say to our cousins of the United States of America, in comparison with their action in sending the expeditionary forces to ensure the safety of Australia. By fixing a zone beyond which the Citizen Military Forces may not be employed against the enemy, we are stultifying ourselves after what has been done so readily by our American cousins. It is futile for the Leader of the Senate to quote what General MacArthur said, or the pledge which Australia gave to him through the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) when he came to Canberra last year. As a matter of fact, General MacArthur’s name should not have been mentioned in this debate. In my opinion, he had nothing whatever to do with the drafting of the zone beyond which the Citizen Military Forces may not be used. Nor do I think that the British Commander-in-Chief in this so-called global strategy, was consulted. Even if he had been consulted, I doubt whether .he would have had the temerity to give advice on such a domestic matter. The Australian people have to decide the question, and I should like them to decide upon something more substantial and generous to the Old Country and to our American cousins.
By interjection previously, I likened this bill to a dead fish. In response to our urgent appeals, the Americans hastened to our assistance, and we now repay them by figuratively smacking them in the face with a dead fish. The bill was severely man-handled throughout Australia. The Prime Minister carried it on his journeys to and from Melbourne to consult with his Australian Labour party bosses, or the “Fascist Grand Council of the Labour party “ as it, is rightly called, and to Sydney to discuss it with the Trades Hall josses there. Then he handed the fish to the Leader of the Senate who pirouetted to Brisbane for the purpose of seeing what he could do with the Queensland Central Executive.
– He was not very successful.
– No. He came back with his tail well between his legs. By the time he returned to Canberra, the mackerel had been dead for a long time and was beginning to stink. In my opinion, the bill should be rejected as a gesture from the Australian people that they can think more broadly than is indicated by two . parallel narrow lines drawn north and south just beyond the boundaries of the territories of the Commonwealth. We should be able to demonstrate to the British and American people that we have a conception far broader than has been displayed by this Socialist Government in drafting this legislation.
Too much emphasis has been laid upon the word “conscription”. The Labour party has clearly indicated that it has not progressed during the last 45 or 50 years. One might have understood that attitude many years ago. Before the Boer- War, there was a certain amount of antipathy to what windy gentlemen on the Yarra bank were prone to describe as the “ imperialistic grabbing by Great Britain of every available acre on the globe “. Those windbags constantly bruited it abroad that Great Britain was ill-treating the people of India. They loved to use the word “exploiting”. One can imagine the Minister for Aircraft Production (Senator Cameron) getting his tongue around “ exploiter “. Those windy gentlemen claimed that Great Britain used to exploit the downtrodden masses of India, and browbeat and shoot the Dutch settlers in South Africa. Therefore, ‘we can understand why certain misguided people in Australia were opposed to the conscription of Australian manhood for the purpose of “ exploiting downtrodden races “. Then there was the conscientious objector and the ragged end of the Sinn Fein element who hated’ the word “ Britain “. They would have sacrificed their right arm so that they could not have been called upon to help Great Britain. Finally, there were the feather-brained pacifists who liked to prate about the “ international brotherhood of man “. All of them were opposed to war, and hoped that Australia would never be called upon to fight. All those types were opposed to conscription, and they made their presence felt in the Australian Trades Hall movement. Incidentally, they were helped on their way by the fact that Australia was isolated from war-like countries, and Great Britain always kept a protecting arm near us in the form of certain naval strength, also substantial numbers of troops stationed in India, Burma and China. Their very presence deterred countries whose covetous eyes turned to Australia. This protection helped pacifists and others in their advocacy of “ no conscription for overseas service “”.
But those things all belong to the dead past. To-day, it is a question not of conscription, but of national service to our own country at a time when it is threatened with invasion. How can we apply conscription, as Australians knew it 40- years ago, to national service for the purpose of repelling the Japanese? All the arguments which have beon used by the Trades Hall, party regarding conscription fall to the ground because of this threat of invasion. Every one must do his or her best to hurl back the Japanese to Tokio. The Germans in South Russia- are already on the run, and when the Japanese commence to retreat, they will not halt until they reach Tokio. Consequently, no restriction should be placed upon the use of the Citizen Military Forces to pursue this enemy right to his own doorstep. It is wrong, fundamentally and ethically, for the Government to restrict the use of a portion of our forces in view of the generous help which has been extended to us by Great Britain and the United States of America.
– Is not Australia assisting its allies? The British Empire stood alone for nearly two years against the Axis.
– Iagree that Australia has rendered very substantial assistance to its allies.
– The honorable senator has not given Australia credit for that assistance.
Senator ALLAN MacDONALD.Yes, I have on this and many other occasions, but we must not foi-get that for the last 150 years the safety of Australia has not been dependent upon our own efforts, but upon the armed might of the Royal Navy. Now that Australia has an opportunity of rendering material assistance to its allies, the Government submits this anaemic bill which gives with the one hand and takes away with the other. This is not the true Australian spirit. I hope that the Government will accept another bill that has been introduced in this chamber to provide for the unrestricted use of all our troops against i he enemy. It would be absurd to say that thisbill is not causing heartburnings among the people of Australia. I daresay other honorable senators have received copies of a letter, dated the 9th February last, which has been sent to me from the Housewives’ Association of New South Wales. It is signed by Mrs. Eleanor Glencross, who is described as Chairman of Directors. This is what the writer has to say about the bill now under discussion -
As a first appeal in this letter, I am conveying to your legislators at Canberra, and to Senators in particular, the heart-rending cry of our members whose sons are prisoners of war in the hands of the cruel Japanese, and they beg that the Government will alter their bill before Parliament so as to enable any men from Australia to go to the help of their dear ones who cannot appeal for themselves. The limitations imposed on the Government bill by a comparatively small number of men outside Parliament because of party politics is breaking the hearts of many mothers, and I have promised to send on their plea to you to save their sons and let party politics go to the wall during the war - that is, if you all have the courage.
That is a reasonable expression of the views of many people who are concerned about the fate of their sons who are prisoners of war in Malaya. It was stated by the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt), in the House of Representatives, that to argue that this bill prohibited the movement of the Militia into the Malaya peninsula, where a few Australians were still held as prisoners, was wrong, because most of those prisoners were nearer to Japan. That statement has been ex- posed by an announcement made by the British Minister for War, who has declared that the bulk of the prisoners taken in the Malayan campaign have not been moved from that area. Therefore, the Attorney-General made a misleading statement, because a large percentage of the 17,000 Australians captured in Malaya are still there. The fact is that the passage of this bill would preclude the sending of the Militia to the help of their own kith and kin in Malaya. It is necessary to amend the bill by removing its restrictions or by extending the area to which the Militia may be sent. I shall vote against the second reading of the measure, and, should it reach the committee stage, I shall seek to have it amended.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. It will be remembered that this afternoon, in reply to an interjection by Senator Foll,I made reference to a map and to the members of the Advisory War Council. I wish to say that I now know that the map is on the wall where members of the Advisory War Council meet and has been there for months. I was therefore in an error in saying that there were probably good reasons why members of that council had not seen it. The fact is, that they had seen it. I withdraw any implication “that information gained by members of the Advisory War Council in secret has been improperly used.
Debate (on motion by Senator McBride) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Collings) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn to to-morrow, at 10.30 a.m.
Motion (by Senator Collings) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– To-day I received an answer to a question asked by me regarding the curtailment of the omnibus service from St. Mary’s to Launceston. I protested to the Minister for Transport (Mr. Lawson) against the action taken in this matter, but the reply that I have received shows no justification for the curtailment. I asked whether the Minister had any further evidence in support of the action taken, and, if so, whether he would lay it on thetable. The reply received to-day indicated that the Minister had no further evidence to submit, and I therefore feel compelled, in the interests of the war effort, to bring this matter to the notice of the Senate, and lodge a protest against the curtailment of the service, particularly as no saving in rubber, petrol or man-power has been effected. The Minister states that a railway runs parallel with the omnibus route to which I have referred: That is true, but it is one of the worst railway services in Tasmania, and, perhaps in Australia. Many of the railway passengers are compelled to stand in the carriages for the whole of the distance from their home towns to Launceston. The omnibus service which has been further reduced had already been reduced by 50 per cent. The advisers to the Minister for Transport are evidently victimizing country districts under the pretext of saving rubber, petrol and man-power. Other towns and cities have omnibus services, some twice a day, and some of them run parallel with railways. The Minister claims that these services are necessary, and I admit that they are; but it is even more necessary that certain country services should also be maintained. The restriction of the service from St. Mary’s to Launceston will result in a loss of man-power, because it is of value to the people in the district who are producing tin, wolfram, coal and rural produce, four products that are essential to the war effort. It has been the custom in this district when anything goes wrong with a piece of farm or factory machinery to put it on the omnibus and send it to Launceston for .repair or replacement. Unless replacements can be obtained quickly a serious loss of man-power occurs. The curtailment of this service will not save a single man; it will cause the loss of many man-power hours. Insufficient attention is being given by the authorities to the serious result of breakages in machinery in country districts.
There can be no doubt that the residents of Avoca, Fingal, .Cornwall, Storey’s Creek, Rossarden and St. Mary’s are being unfairly treated in this matter. The mines and sawmills operating in the district are making a useful contribution to the war effort which will be seriously” minimized unless replacements are quickly available when breakages occur from time to time.
Under normal conditions, when a breakage occurs, either the manager or one of his men in the industry concerned goes to Launceston .on the omnibus, spends two or three hours searching the city for a suitable replacement, and returns on the omnibus the same day. The breakage is repaired by the next day and production is resumed. The Minister said in his reply’ to my question that the telephone could be used to obtain replacements and that the necessary spare part could be put on the train. Neither Mr. M. S. “Wilson, the Director of Emergency Land Transport, nor the Director-General of Land Transport, Sir Harold Clapp, who is on a salary of £4,000 a year, has had any experience in this matter. Those individuals apparently do not realize what breakages of machinery means on farms, in saw-mills and mines. Although it may be possible to describe by telephone the nature of a breakage and to order a spare part, we all are well aware that such descriptions frequently result in unsatisfactory spares being forwarded, thu3 causing an additional loss of time. The stoppage of a machine may cause the temporary unemployment for quite a number of men in a given industry. The guards on trains cannot be expected to scour a city in order to obtain a suitable spare part for replacement. It is highly important that the St. Mary’s service shall be maintained.
It is said that this service involves an undue use of petrol. As a matter of fact, it involves the use of only 5 gallons of petrol a month, for the 80-mile run each way is done principally on producer-gas. I am informed that the authorities in one district issue at least 30 petrol tickets a month in order to enable serious cases of sickness to be taken into Launceston by car. If it were not for this omnibus service, a much greater quantity of petrol would have been used in order to transport cases of sickness which could not be accommodated on the railway at the required times. I am quite satisfied that the curtailment of this service will involve the use of much more “petrol for this purpose. I do not suppose it. would be argued that petrol tickets should be refused to the persons who need them for the transport of serious cases of illness.
The Minister also stated in his reply that tyre wear equivalent to 25,000 miles of running per .annum will be saved by the curtailment of this service; but, in my opinion, that is not likely to be the result, for the curtailment of the service will involve many more private car trips to meet urgent needs of one kind and another. Additional man-power will also be required. I am quite satisfied that the omnibuses would involve considerably less tyre wear and considerably less petrol consumption than would be involved in the additional and unavoidable use of private cars. The talk about tyres in this connexion is all hooey.. The curtailment of the service cannot be justified in any way.
I wish now to refer to an omnibus service operating between Burnie and Smithton which has been running one trip a day each way. The Smithton to Burnie run is 60 miles. There is a railway service available, but it is the most obsolete in the Commonwealth. Mo.eover, it is not available to persons who live in some parts of the district, and they have no means of transport available other than the omnibus service. Even those people in the area who own cars receive a ration of only four gallons a month.. The Smithton to Burnie service is of particular value to the people in certain parts of the district and the action taken by the authorities to curtail it has not only definitely hindered :.he war effort in the district, but has also victimized the residents in the count/y.
Why has Tasmania been singled, out for treatment of this description? When the Director of Emergency Road Transport in Tasmania, Mr. M. S. Wilson, was replying to a deputation which waited on him in connexion with this service,, he said that he was prepared to visit the district to make an investigation on the spot. I asked him if be would also visit the Fingal and St. Mary’s district, but he declined to do so. He knew that I had been in the district, and that T had interviewed the members of the district council, the executive of the Shale and Coal-workers Federation, and the managers of the mines and sawmills and also other citizens. I had checked up on the facts. How can Sir Harold Clapp be expected to have any knowledge of the circumstances, in this district? He has never visited it and hd does not know the requirements of the people.
– Hays. - Did he decide the question?
- Mr. Wilson stated that he was acting under instructions from the Director-General of Land Transport.. I have referred to the fact that Sir Harold Clapp is drawing a salary of £4,000 a year plus expenses. I do not criticise this Government on that account because Sir Harold Clapp was appointed to a certain position for a stipulated’ term by the previous Government.. He was, in fact, Director of Aircraft Production, and he did not make a success of the job. Had this Government not found him another position it would still have had to pay him £4,000 a year for the unexpired period of his previous appointment. Judging by the treatment that the Director-‘General of Land Transport is meting out to the country people in Tasmania he is likely to make just as great a failure of his present job as he did of his job as Director of Aircraft Production.
In reply to the suggestion that the people in the districts to which I am referring have an adequate train service available I point out that the service was never adequate, and that since the outbreak of the war, even the former inadequate service has been seriously curtailed. The train leaves St. Mary’s about 10 a.m. Fifty miles on their journey the passengers have to wait an hour and a half for a connexion to be made by another train and when the train runs on time it reaches Launceston at 2.46 p.m. I have travelled1 on the train scores of times and I am able to say from bitter experience that it runs on time ‘on only about one trip in twenty. It is regarded as something in the nature of a record if a train arrives on time twice in succession. The train which is due to arrive at 2.46 p.m. often does not arrive until 3.30 p.ra:. The return train leaves an hour and a half later, so that travellers have only about one and a half hours to do their business, have their lunch, and join the return train. That frequently means that a journey of two days is required, involving loss of time and manpower. In case it should be said thatadditional rail transport will be made available, I shall read the following paragraph from the Hobart Mercury of last Thursday -
Railway Services. “ Transport difficulties are world-wide and are not peculiar to Tasmania,” said the Commissioner of Transport (Mr. Wilson) yesterday, when referring tothe criticism of the chairman of the Women’s Employment Board (Judge Foster) of the Tasmanian railway services, and to thecomplaint of the Richmond Council regarding the service betweenHobart and Colebrook.
Mr. Wilson said the services at present were not as satisfactory as the commission would like, but the railways were being conducted under extraordinarily difficult circumstances because of the shortage of man-power and equipment and the lack of sufficient rollingstock to meet the demands of the extra traffic brought about by the war.
The commission was doing its utmost to give the best service possible under the conditions, but some inconveniences would have to be put up with. The complaint of the Richmond Council would receive consideration when it came before the commission.
That is a clear admission by the Commissioner of Transport that the railway rolling-stock is already overtaxed, and that more cannot be provided. With a reduced railway service, how can a full war effort he expected in those districts? Has the Minister who has issued these instructions over considered the practicability of putting off the road ears which are used only for pleasure, and making their tyres available for use on vehicles which provide essential services? If not, I offer the suggestion to him. If the Minister intends to take more notice of men who have failed in other jobs, and probably have never visited the district in order to become acquainted with local difficulties, than he takes of men who have personally investigated this matter, he will meet with trouble. The residents in the district, particularly those in the St. Mary’s and Fingal areas, know that they have been victimized by both Mr, Wilson and Sir Harold Clapp. I shall therefore not attempt to justify the action that has been taken. 1 appeal to the Minister to let an independent officer accompany me to the district in order to ascertain the facts. If that bo done, it will be found that between Hobart and Launceston, where there is one of the most efficient train services in the State, the owner of a bus service which is supposed to be restricted to one vehicle sometimes has three other vehicles running on the road. The flame thing occurs in connexion with some other services. Yet the people in the district to which I have referred are denied an essential service, notwithstanding that many of them have discontinued using their cars and rely on the services to which I have referred in an effort to save petrol and rubber. The Minister should not be gulled by some one who is prejudiced against the district. If further action be not taken to remedy the present unsatisfactory state of affairs, I shall be forced to take other action.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Commonwealth Railways Act - Report on Commonwealth Railways Operations, for year 1941-42.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Commonwealth purposes at -
Dubbo, New South Wales.
Lithgow, New South Wales.
Nationality Act - Return showing number of persons to whom certificates of naturalization were granted during the year 1942 and the countries whence applicants came.
National Security Act -
National Security (Emergency Control) Regulations - Order - Military powers during emergency.
National Security (General) Regulations - Orders -
Control of -
Jams, Jellies and Marmalade.
Taking possession of land, &c. (140).
National Security (Munitions) Regulations - Order - Refrigerators.
National Security (Supplementary) Regulations - Statement of Australian Banking Statistics for the five quarters ended 31st December, 1942.
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Administration) Act - Ordinance No. 3 of 1943 - Mining (Royalty Suspension).
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Scat of Government (Administration) Act - Ordinance No. 5 of 1943 - Enclosed Lands Protection.
Senate adjourned at 11.6 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 17 February 1943, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1943/19430217_senate_16_173/>.