16th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. J. Cunningham) took the chair at 11 a.m. and read prayers.
Public Relations and Publicity Branch
– “Will the Minister for Information inform the Senate why a publicity bureau has been set up in the Department of Labour and National Service? Has the Department of Information been asked to carry out the duties of the bureau? Was not that department established to undertake publicity and public relations work for all other departments? What other departments besides the Department of Labour and National Service have their own publicity bureau or public relations section? Does the Government intend to retain the Department of Information as well as public relations and publicity sections in the various government departments?
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has furnished the following information with regard’ to the matter raised by the honorable senator : -
Mr. Alan W. Nicholls has taken up duty as officer-in-charge of a publication section -which is in process of being created to work in close co-operation with the Department of Information. Mr. Vance Palmer is giving the greater part of his time to the work of the section. Mr. H. D. Bernard has also been attached to it.
The work of this section will not ‘be publicity in the sense of “ trumpet blowing “ for the Industrial Welfare Division.
One part of its work will be the preparation of information about industrial welfare in Australia, for distribution among factory managements and their technical advisers, trade union officials, workers and to a lesser extent the general public. This work has more than the obvious importance of spreading such information, because good working conditions can only be brought about by the interest and understanding of both managements and workers. Not only is there general ignorance about the best arrangements tor war conditions, but the public hearing of the Women’s Code showed that informed interest in working conditions was still lacking. Especially the need for any new regulations or other new means of improving conditions should be fully explained to those who will be affected by them before they come into effect.
All bulletins, pamphlets, leaflets and circulars, including duplicated material, that are to bc circulated outside the division, and all articles or other matter supplied outside for publication will be edited by Mr. Nicholls, and officers will find it an advantage to discuss any projects they may have at an early stage. In future we should issue a much greater volume of material than the trickle wc have had so far, and I want sections to make all the suggestions they can ito Mr. Nicholls about developments of their work that require preparation with the public concerned. Mr. Nicholls and his staff will also frequently be approaching sections for information, as a result of directions from myself, to prepare material for publication related to particular aspects of the industrial welfare .programme.
Any requests by the press for interviews or information should be referred to Mr. Nicholls.
In doing the foregoing part of its work, the publication section will be the assistant of the rest of the division. There are also aspects of industrial welfare that require only the dissemination of correct information. Examples are: certain features of absenteeism; the exaggerated idea held by some sections of the community of the wages and privileges of industrial workers; exaggerated notions of the extent and importance of strikes; the inadequate knowledge of many workers about the machinery of profit and price control resulting in suspicions that full production is chiefly for the benefit of private profit; stimulation of job interest in factories, &c.
In this part of this work, of course, the publication section will also be drawing on the rest of the Division for suggestions and information.
– It is with regret that I inform honorable senators of the death, at the age of 69 years, of Mr. Joseph Francis Hannan, whose public service included service in both the Senate and House of Representatives, and also in the Legislative Council of Victoria. °He first entered this Parlia-ment in 1913, having been elected as the member for Fawkner.- He was re-elected in 1914, but was defeated at the general elections in 1917. Turning his attention to the State parliamentary sphere, he was elected for Albert Park at a by-election in 1918, but he resigned in 1919, when he was again an unsuccessful candidate at the Commonwealth general elections.
In 1924 he was appointed to the Senate under section 15 of the Constitution, but he failed to retain his seat at the 1925 elections. In addition to his distinguished public service in the parliamentary arenas the late Mr. Hannan played a prominent part in the Labour movement. He held office as president of ‘the Melbourne Trades Hall Council and of the Victorian branch of the Australian Labour party. I move -
That the Senate expresses its deep regret at the death of Joseph Francis Hannan, a former Senator and former member of the House of Representatives, places on record its appreciation of his meritorious public service, and tenders its sincere sympathy to his children in their bereavement.
– On behalf of the Opposition, I join with the Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings) in tendering sympathy to the children of the deceased gentleman.
– I also desire to associate myselfwith this motion. The late Mr. Hannan was a life-long friend of the Minister for Aircraft Production (Senator Cameron) and myself. He played an important part in industrial matters in Victoria. He was the originator of the Iron Trades Council, an. important factor in the industrial life of Victoria, and, later, of Australia. He was a past president of the Victorian branch of the Australian Labour party and of the Melbourne Trades Hall Council. He was an excellent citizen, both politically and industrially, and a good father. The members of his family are well known in Labour circles, and the community in general is the poorer for his passing.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their places.
– Last night I asked the Minister for Trade and Customs whether he intended to allow the film Moscow Strikes Back to be exhibited without deletions. Is the Minister now in a position to reply to my question?
– This film was reported to and surveyed by the Film Censor who deleted 80 inches of the film, and as the result of an appeal the deletions were reduced to 60 inches. I saw the picture on Monday, and, whilst appreciating the good work done by the censors, I consider that the exhibition of the complete picture should be allowed. That decision has now been given effect.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, give any reason for the discrimination shown in the granting of 28 days’ leave to members of the Citizen Military Forces, whilst 21 days and, in some instances, only fourteen days’ leave is granted to members of the Australian Imperial Force, after two or more years’ service overseas?
– That matter has been considered by the Government, and for reasons which I do not wish to disclose in this chamber, it has decided, on the recommendation of the High Command, that 21 days’ leave should not be exceeded, at least for the present.
– In reply to a question asked by me as to the amount of income tax paid from deceased estates, the answer given was that the sum had been considerably less than £500,000 during the last three years. As the loss of this revenue is one of the chief objections of the Government to the adoption of the payment of income tax on the payasyougo system, and as that sum represents less than one-sixth of 1 per cent, of the total amount of tax payable by individuals, will the Minister representing the Treasurer, consider the advisability of foregoing that income, in order that the pay-as-you-go system may be adopted ?
– The matter will be investigated, and a reply will be furnished to the honorable senator.
– by leave - I have received an important communication from Mr. J. W. Allen, secretary to theGraziers Federal Council of Australia to-day in connexion with the meat industry. The letter states -
Inconsequence of the disallowance by the Senate of the regulations which provided for the Australian Meat Industry Commission, I am desired to convey to you, as Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, the following resolutionswhich were adopted at the 59th convention of this council, and which have again been brought under the notice of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture: -
That this Graziers Federal Council expresses its confidence in the Australian Meat Board and its conviction that such board is the appropriate authority to formulate and control any measures necessary for the rationalization of the industry, to meet the changing conditions associated with war-time.
To give effect to the above resolution, this convention requests the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture to gazette regulations which will extend the present functions and powers of the Australian Meat Board to cover all meat, whether for export, home or services consumption.
I take this opportunity to bring the matter to the notice of the Government, so that it may give consideration to it.
Debateresumed from the 16th March (vide page 1729), on motion by Senator Fraser-
That the bill be now read a second time.
.. - We have before us to-day a bill of a type which rarely appeared in this Parliament prior to the advent of the present Government. I do not know whether it is due to the brilliance of the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt)., mentioned recently by Senator Courtice, or to government policy, but on several occasions there has been a departure from a practice of very long standing and of very great importance, inasmuch as it is generally considered that legislation should, first, clearly and lucidly set out the subject with which it deals; and, secondly, should just as clearly indicate the power which the Government proposes to take under it. I suppose that the most glaring example of departure from these excellent principles was afforded in a measure introduced in the House of Representatives.
Sena tor Ashley. - On a point of order, I submit that the honorable senator is discussing a matter that has already been determined by the Senate. I refer to the Income Tax Bill.
– The point of order cannot be sustained.
– The most flagrant example of departure by the present Government from the very sound principles that I have enunciated was the introduction in the House of Representatives of a bill which was not determined, as the Postmaster-General (Senator Ashley) has suggested, but apparently was still-born, because we have not heard any more about it. On that occasion, the principles that I have enunciated were most flagrantly transgressed. There was placed before the House of Representatives a measure designed to conceal rather than reveal the intentions of the Government which introduced it. On the present occasion, we have abill which purportsto deal with a certain subject and to take certain powers for that purpose. If I may say so, it is a complete camouflage and a deception. Its designation is the National Welfare Fund Bill 1943. It purports to deal with a fund proposed to be built up for the purposes set out in clause 6. In my view, there is no difference of opinion among honorable senators on both sides as to the desirability of implementing the most generous social measures in this country. Only some people, however,have a real appreciation of the possibility of giving effect to such a desire, particularly at this time. Consequently, when the Government proposes to the Parliament that a tax shall be imposed for specific purposes - in this instance, mainly in order to build up a fund to finance certain social services - it wishes the public and members of the Parliament to assume that the necessary finance is available. Quite recently the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) delivered a financial statement which was the most dismal recital ever made in this Parliament. The honorable gentleman showed quite clearly that, instead of having ample funds, the Government is in the position of having to raise by other means an amount of approximately £400,000,000 which cannot be raised by ordinary revenue. We are aware of the means whereby the Government proposes to bridge the gap. In the most advantageous’ circumstances, the probability is that the Government will not be able to finance war and civil expenditure by means of either taxation or loans. It has blatantly stated that its intention is to finance the major portion of the deficit by means of bank credit which will result in further inflation. In addition, it has bad’ the audacity to propose to the Senate that, at a time when it is in such financial straits, a fund shall ba built up for the purpose of .financing future social services.
– Unspecified social services.
– As my colleague lias reminded me, the nature of those social services ha3 yet to be determined; and certainly, the National Parliament lias not yet signified its agreement with them. A cursory examination of this proposal is. interesting.’ It is suggested that, out of a non-existent, surplus, the Government shall pay £30,000,000 into :i national, welfare fund. In order to deepen the make-believe, the Treasurer has stated that the money so deposited will not lie idle but will be invested in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Audit Act and will provide temporary accommodation for war purposes’. If that means anything, the Government, in order to complete its deception, intends on the one hand to place £30,000,000 into a national welfare fund and on the other hand to take from that fund whatever balance may remain after provision has been made for any existing social services. Therefore, in reality the fund will have in. it I O U’s to an amount of £30,000,000. Judging by the ability of the Government to issue I O TPs I have no doubt that, even without such a fund, it could easily provide the required amount in that form when it had determined what social measures should’ be introduced and the Parliament had examined and passed judgment upon them, without resorting to all this camouflage and “ flapdoodle “. The purpose of the Government has been made perfectly clear- by the Prime Minister and the
Treasurer, who have pointed out that this measure is a part of the Government’s taxation proposals.
– Based on the Atlantic Charter.
– We have heard a great deal about the Atlantic Charter. Some of its terms were included in the bill to which I have referred as having been stillborn. I have a good deal of sympathy with honorable senators opposite, because they have dug their own graves and do not like descending into them. For years, they have told the people of this country that the imposition of taxation on the lower ranges of incomes would be a perfect outrage in any circumstances. Having been forced into taxing, quite unwillingly, the lower ranges of incomes, despite the flaunting of their principles and their determination to resist such a proposition, they are now endeavouring to cover up their retreat by the introduction of this proposal. It is merely an excuse, and is without substance, because the money which is put into the fund with the one hand is to be taken out with the other hand, leaving only an empty shell with which to deceive, not honorable senators^ I am sure, but the people outside this Parliament. It may be well to note what our present social services are and to consider whether, at this time in the nation’s history, when we are engaged in a major war, and the whole of the people are in employment, many of them at rates which they never previously received, it is necessary to place further burdens on the community in order to provide social services for people who do not require them.
– That mistake was made in the last war.
– And in the depression years.
– Let us consider the burden which our existing social services place on the community.
– We want to provide something better in the future.
– Apart altogether from the fund proposed to be established under this measure, the existing social services of this country cost the people about £45,000,000 a year. That sum represents about £6 5s. a head of the population, or about 5 per cent, of the national income. Although the Government has not yet commenced to cope with the problems of war finance, it proposes practically to double the expenditure on social services. The Government has always shown a disinclination to face the problems that confront it. In that respect, it differs greatly from the Labour Government of New Zealand or the National Government in Great Britain. An investigation was recently made in Great Britain with a view to ascertaining what the civilization which we envisage after the war might be expected to provide for the indigent and sick in the community. A full investigation was made and in due course a comprehensive report known as the Beveridge plan was presented.
– That report did not get a good reception.
– “When that report was presented to the Government of Great Britain - a government which includes some staunch representatives of the Labour party - its principles were accepted -almost in their entirety. Later, in spite of an attempt by men of small calibre in the Labour movement to create suspicion and dissension among the people, the Government’s attitude was supported by the Parliament as well as by the people of Great Britain. It is interesting to note the attitude adopted towards the Beveridge plan by some prominent labour supporters in Great Britain. Mr. Herbert Morrison, in a speech in the House of Commons, made clear his attitude as well as the attitude of organized labour towards the plan.
– Their attitude was similar to the attitude of Labour in this country.
– We shall see if that is so. Speaking from a Government bench in the House of Commons, Mr. Herbert Morrison expressed views which could have very well have come from the Opposition benches in this chamber, when he said -
Opposition or semi-detached parties have too often made wild promises and then failed to carry them out when they attained power.
That statement supports what I said this morning about members of the present Government when in Opposition making promises which they now find it impossible to fulfil. Mr. Herbert Morrison went on to speak in no uncertain terms. He expressed my views completely when he said -
I will not be a party to such political jiggery pockery. We must watch finance and consider its priorities and must remember that we have got a war on.
I am glad to hear that statement acclaimed by supporters of the Government because it indicates that if they are sincere the bill now before the Senate will be withdrawn. I fear, however, that their acclamations are not sufficiently deepseated for that to happen, and consequently I shall have to continue with my criticism of the bill.
A previous Government passed through both Houses of the Parliament a National Health and Pensions Insurance Bill. I say frankly that, in my opinion, there was no sound reason for pigeon-holing that legislation.
– Why did the honorable senator allow it to be pigeon-holed?
– Owing largely to pressure from the Labour Opposition of the day, the scheme was not proceeded with.
– That is not true. The Country party knocked it out.
– Although not perfect, that measure contained some good features. If the present Government wishes to proceed on sound lines I suggest that it should put that legislation into operation, as by so doing it would confer some real benefits on the people at a cost which, even on the basis of the Government’s pronouncements in connexion with the national welfare fund, would not. represent so heavy a burden on the people. But let us return to a consideration of the Beveridge plan. The scheme suggested would have cost the people of Great Britain £697,000,000 in the first year of its operation which would not have been earlier than 1945. Its originator had a realistic outlook: realizing that Great Britain was engaged in a struggle for existence he proposed that the commencement of the scheme should be deferred. The Beveridge plan is sound in that it envisages a contributory scheme. The suggested contributions are 4s. 3d. a week’ for males, which would be subsidized by a payment of 3s. 3d. a week by the employer, and 3s. 6d. a week for females, the last-mentioned amount being supplemented by a payment of 2s. 9d. a week by the employer. The total cost to industry would commence at £54,000,000 a year, and would increase in subsequent years. The total increased cost to the British budget in the first year was estimated at £86,000,000, which amount would increase as the years passed. I have not studied the scheme in detail, but from the information which I have been able to obtain the scheme has much to recommend it, because it would ensure a permanency of security which the sham measure before the Senate can never give to the people of this country. If we accept the pronouncements of Ministers at their face value, and assume, for the purpose of argument, that lower incomes will be taxed in order to establish a national welfare fund, we shall find that the scheme now before us, if all the contributions by way of income tax are allocated to this purpose, will cost a man in receipt of £3 a week - if such a man exists - ‘3s. a week. The contribution payable by a man earning £4 a week will be 4s. a week, whilst the weekly contribution in respect of incomes of £5, £6, £7 and £8 a week will be 4s., 5s. 6d., 6s., 8s., and 10s. a week respectively. It will be seen that the contributions under the scheme now before us, which does not cover so wide a field as is covered by the Beveridge plan, are, on an average, very much greater than under the British scheme. That is a point which I suggest is worthy of consideration by the Government. Even on the Government’s own showing, the proposals before us would impose a greater burden on the beneficiaries of this non-existent and illusory benefit scheme than would a straight-out contributory scheme which would provide permanent, social and economic security for the people.
– How can one assess the rates in the absence of the proposed benefits?
– We propose to ascertain the benefits the Government has in mind, otherwise we shall not agree to a nebulous scheme of this kind.
– The honorable senator says that the public will be pay ing too much for the benefits they receive, but he does not know what the proposed benefits are.
– I hope that the honorable senator will tell us what they are. We have been waiting for information on that point ever since this bill was introduced in the House of Representatives. Because that information has not been forthcoming, we say that the whole scheme is a delusion.
– The Opposition would not take up this stand in regard to the bill if there were any danger of a double dissolution.
– Apparently, some honorable senators opposite assess the value of proposals according to whether or not they are likely to cause them to lose their seats. They do not judge proposals upon their merits, and it would seem that the PostmasterGeneral (Senator Ashley) is in that category. Clause 5 of the bill reads -
There shall be paid out of the Consolidated Revenue fund, which is hereby appropriated accordingly, for the purposes of the national welfare fund, in each financial year (commencing with the financial year commencing on the first day of July, One thousand nine hundred and forty-three) the sum of Thirty million pounds, or a sum equal to one-quarter of the amount received in that financial year as income tax from persons other than companies, whichever is the less.
According to that clause the people of Australia will be required for all time to pay in the form of taxes imposed on individuals £120,000,000 a year for Commonwealth purposes alone, in addition to which, further taxes on individuals will be levied on behalf of the States. For the ten years preceding the war the total Commonwealth taxation upon individuals amounted to £120,000,000, or an average yearly collection of £12,000,000. I am not foolish enough to suppose that either in the near or distant future taxation will ever be reduced to that level again, but I am convinced that, although the people, out of a sense of duty and patriotism, willingly submit to even the most recent increases of taxes, they all hope that, after the war taxes will be substantially reduced.
– They are entitled to expect that.
– That is so. If taxes are substantially reduced, the proposed national welfare fund, which it is proposed to establish under this bill on the assumption that £30,000,000 a year will be paid into it from Consolidated Revenue, will immediately become unsound. Indeed, the Treasurer has stated that, when all the social service measures envisaged by the Government are in operation, even more than £30,000,000 a year will be required to finance them. We should make it clear to the public that, .although the Government may in war-time indulge in I ‘.O U finance, any scheme of social welfare in time of peace, if it is to be sound, must be financed out of taxation alone - despite the theories sincerely held by Senator Darcey. Social welfare schemes must be financed out of taxes imposed directly by the Government on the people as a whole, or by means of contributions levied on the beneficiaries. When taxes are reduced after the war - and I do not think that any honorable senator will suggest that they should not be reduced - the Government’s social welfare scheme will become bankrupt, even on the basis upon which it has been introduced.
– It will have to be amended.
– That will be a job for another government.
– We always have to come in and clean up.
– Yes, that is the task which always falls to the governments drawn from our party after a I/abouT government has been in office. In an attempt to tie the Government down to something real, as distinct from its present nebulous proposals, I intend, at the appropriate time, to move the following amendment to clause 5 -
That all -the words .after “ forty-three “ be comitted with a view ,to insert in lieu thereof the following words, “ such sums as are necessary to meet the cost of social services approved by “the Parliament “.
The effect of the amendment, if agreed to, will be to ensure that the Government does not attempt, in light-hearted fashion, to draw £30,000,000 -out of the air to service a national welfare scheme not yet in existence. If the Government has any real proposals to put forward on this subject it can quite properly bring down bills incorporating them. They will be considered on their merits, and if approved by Parliament, the (Government would be justified in asking that money be appropriated to put them into effect. However, until the Government reveals its proposals to Parliament, we are not prepared .to give it .a blank cheque for the service of a national welfare fund. While we on this side of the chamber are prepared to agree to this measure, if it be amended as I have suggested, we are determined., in spite of all the manoeuvring by the Leader of the Senate, to reject the measure, if that lies in our power, unless the amendment be incorporated. The responsibility for its rejection would rest on the Government, not on the Opposition.
– We are ready to pass the bill.
– We are also ready to pass the bill if it is presented in a reasonable form, but we are not prepared to do so when it is submitted in this nebulous form. Unless the amendment which I have foreshadowed be accepted by the Government, I, and I believe every other .senator on this side of the chamber, will oppose the bill, and do all we can to defeat it. If the bill be rejected the responsibility will rest on the Government, and not upon us.
– A few days ago Senator McBride occupied the best part of an hour discussing finance. He did his best to mislead the House during the whole of that time, and as soon as he had finished his speech he almost ran out of the chamber. Apparently, he felt sure that I would challenge his statements on the financial aspect of the subject. It is not the first time that honorable senators opposite have left the chamber when I rise to speak. They do not want to hear the truth. Senator McBride, being a rich man, knows nothing of the ‘social conditions of the ordinary people. In Melbourne a deputation once waited upon Dr. Argyle, when Minister for Health, and pointed out the terrible conditions which prevailed in the slums of that city, where sick people were dying unattended at home because they could not obtain accommodation in the hospitals. Dr.. Argyle admitted that everything they said was right, but. asked, “What are we to do? Where is the money to come from ? “ He held the same financial opinions as does Senator McBride. The Beveridge plan was drawn up in Great Britain in an attempt to improve the dreadful social conditions prevailing in that country. Dr. BoydOrr reported that there were 4,000,000 people in Britain who, after meeting all their . other commitments, have only 4s. a week left with which to buy food; 5,000;000 people had only 6 s. and 8,000;000 only 9s. a week for. that (purpose. That proves that nearly one-half the population of Britain was living on the bread line or below it only four years ago when the report was drawn up. Sir Stafford Cripps, after returning from Russia, said that if the Government wanted a- 100 per cent, war effort, it should tell the people what they were fighting for. The people would not be prepared after the war to accept the old living conditions. Our shims are a disgrace. To-day in our capital cities houses have been condemned by the hundred, yet no attempt is being made to deal: effectively with the housing problem from the point of view of public health. Even if the present occupants of slums and condemned houses be transferred to new homes, we must still deal with the problem of maintaining the general stan-dard of the health of the community from smother aspect. After an extensive visit abroad the Minister for Health in Tasmania, Dr. Gaha, reported that whilst in Great Britain he inspected a new garden suburb at Birmingham. He found that the new homes were excellent structures, but on further investigation discovered that the death rate among the residents of the suburb was 40 per cent, higher than the death rate was among the same community before it was transferred from slum areas. The reason for this surprising fact was that occupants of the new homes had to pinch themselves financially to such a degree in order to meet their rent that they were left with less money than formerly for the purchase of food. .Senator McBride apparently wants to perpetuate conditions of that kind. He is opposed to any proposal designed to improve the living conditions of the people. He is the greatest obstacle in this
Parliament to good government. This measure is necessary, and I hope that it will be passed. We must realize that under war conditions the health, of the workers is now threatened to a greater degree than previously. That fact is reflected in the increase of absenteeism, in industry. Most people who absent themselves from work do so because their health suffers as the result of the bad conditions under which they live. At present, when reasonable wage& are being paid, and many workers earn substantial amounts for working overtime, they are able to buy all the food they require> but,, at the same time, must continue to live in insanitary dwellings. Senator McBride opposes any proposal to remove that cause of ill health in the community by the provision of: proper housing, conditions. Of course, any person who, like the honorable senator, can write a. cheque for thousands of pounds does not worry about problems of that kind. The honorable senator is opposed to the principle of the bill- When we were discussing another measure, some honorable senators; declared that they might be embarrassed if they gave an undertaking to pass thismeasure in its present form. I am afraid that nothing would embarrass Senator McBride. He spoke of the heavy taxes levied in New Zealand; but he failed to mention that the Government of New Zealand was spending thousands of pounds on schemes to provide proper dwellings for its people. Consequently, the people in New Zealand receive some return for the heavy taxes imposed upon them. Indeed, before the war many workers in that country paid out five months of their’ wages to meet their income tax. The honorable senator should give the full story when he deals with matters of that kind. He contends that the Government should tax incomes down to £100 a year. His only reason for supporting such a proposal is the hope that the taxes on wealthy people like himself will thus be eased. I support the bill, because I am prepared to support any proposal which will improve the living conditions of our people. In that way we shall increase the efficiency of our workers, reduce our hospital costs, and also our expenditure on gaols. It is admitted that poverty is one of the main causes of crime. The Government of which Senator McBride was a member introduced a measure to establish a national health and pensions insurance scheme. Under that scheme every person was obliged to contribute upon reaching the age of sixteen years. I pointed out that that was most unfair, because our vital statistics show that approximately 40 per cent, of our people die before they reach the age at which they would qualify for the old-age pension. The Beveridge plan is also based on the payment of contributions in advance by people who wish to become beneficiaries under it. National welfare schemes should be financed by the use of national credit. When Sir Kingsley Wood, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, was asked in the House of Commons whether the British Government was prepared to use national credit in order to finance the war he replied “ No “. I have already pointed out that prior to the outbreak of war nearly 50 per cent, of the people in Great Britain were living on the bread-line, or below it. However, when schemes to improve the conditions of the people were advanced in peace-time, those who uphold the old orthodox financial methods asked where the money was to come from. We know now that millions can be provided without difficulty for war purposes. Following a visit overseas, the late Mr. A. G. Ogilvie, when he was Premier of Tasmania, submitted at a conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers’ that the defence of Australia depended upon an adequate air force, and urged that we should blacken bur skies with aeroplanes. Those who hold financial views similar to those propounded by Senator McBride immediately asked where the money was to be obtained to provide the aeroplanes. The then Treasurer of Tasmania, Mr. Dwyer-Gray, proposed that a sum of £100,000,000 should be advanced through the Commonwealth Bank for that purpose. The proposal was not taken up because of the objection of those who hold orthodox views on finance. Since the outbreak of the war, however, we have been obliged to raise an amount many times greater for our defence. We must abandon the old orthodox methods of finance. We must think of the future. There is to be a new order; but it will be quite impossible to establish a new order if the present monetary system be retained. The translation of the sentiments expressed in the Atlantic Charter into practice would go a long way towards improving the social conditions of the people.
– What is the basis of the new order?
– The purpose of the new order will be to give economic security to every body, including the poor. Judging by statements which the honorable senator has made in this chamber, it is apparent that he is not concerned about the poor. I often wonder whether honorable senators opposite realize the principal causes of the conditions now existing throughout the world. Governments have been responsible for our present mess, because they do not really govern. Incompetent and corrupt parliaments, posing as democratic institutions, have been responsible for present world unrest. High finance boasts that it has the power to sway, and make and unmake cabinets. We know that the British Cabinet was embarrassed because it was dictated to ‘by Wall-street, just as the late Sir Robert Gibson dictated to the Scullin Government in 1929, when he declared that the Commonwealth Bank would not come to its aid unless it reduced pensions. Governments do not govern, because they are indebted to the monetary system to such a degree that they must do what the big financial institutions instruct them to do. I hope that the bill will be passed.
– Some features of the measure appeal to me. Apparently, it is intended to convey the impression that the Government proposes to establish a scheme equivalent to the national health and pensions insurance scheme which was introduced by a previous government. The principle of national insurance appeals to me. Throughout my political career I have been a strong advocate of national insurance, and regret that it was to the discredit of the Government of which I was a member that it was forced by the Labour opposition to abandon that scheme.
– Do not forget the Country party.
– All parties in this Parliament must share the disgrace of having jettisoned that scheme, which would have been of considerable benefit to the nation to-day, and would have rendered this measure unnecessary. Nevertheless, in making the promises implicit in this bill, the Government is honouring the sacred duty which Parliament owes to the people who are to benefit under this scheme. However, the principle of national insurance is grounded, not on some nebulous basis, but on contributions made from week to week by employers, employees and the Government. That is a certain source of revenue for financing such benefits. All countries have found that that is the safest method of conferring social benefits upon the people. The method proposed under this measure does not satisfy me entirely that the Government intends to keep faith with the people who would become beneficiaries under a scheme of this kind, because the financial success of the scheme depends on something over which we have no control. It does not rest on that sure foundation as would be provided by weekly contributions from employers, employees and the Government. Senator McBride made a very good point with regard to sub-clause 2 of clause 5, which reads -
Sub-clause 1 of clause 5 provides -
There shall be paid out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which is hereby appropriated accordingly, for the purposes of the national welfare fund, in each financial year commencing with the financial year commencing on the first day of July, One thousand nine hundred and forty-three) the sum of Thirty million pounds, or a sum equal to one-quarter of the amount received in that financial year as income tax from persons other than companies, whichever is the less.
Does that connote actuarial solvency of the fund? To my mind and, I am sure, to the minds of the members of the Government, it must appear that income tax receipts from individuals will drop and continue to drop until they become a disappearing item. To rest the solvency of this fund on such a basis does not appeal to me. It is obvious that the present rate of income tax will work its own reduction. There can be no escape from that conclusion. Even if it does not, I accept Senator McBride’s statement that we cannot possibly maintain the income tax at the present level if industry is to develop after .the war. In the circumstances, we find that the solvency of the fund will be a very doubtful quantity. Parliament, when it considers certain measures of social benefits, as was indicated by Senator McBride, will be embarrassed, because the wherewithal with which to finance those measures will not be available. The amount will always be the sum equal to one-quarter of the income tax collected from individuals as distinct from companies. Parliament will, therefore, be handicapped in dealing with social services by the point that Senator Darcey so often makes, that there will be no money with which to provide the benefits.
– I rise to order. The honorable senator is misrepresenting me.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Brown). - That is not a point of order.
– Anyway, I object to the statement.
Senator A. J. McLACHLAN.Whence will the money come with which to finance social services when the income tax receipts from individuals has shrunk to only a portion of what they are to-day? This amount of £30,000,000 a year which the Government visualizes as being set aside for social service purposes, will be a disappearing quantity. It is not a fair approach to the carrying out of our sacred duty to those people who need social services to base the provision of those benefits on such loose finance. When the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) found that the finances of this country were strained, he was at great pains to explain this national welfare scheme and how it was intended to he developed and financed. If the capital that would have been paid into the Treasury under the National Health and Pensions Insurance Act had been available, the Government would have had a perfect right,, under the Commonwealth Audit Act, to borrow it for war purposes, but under this scheme the “ Government proposes to extract a vast sum from the pockets of individuals. It is true that a proportion of the money is to be put into a trust fund-, subject to the provisions of the Commonwealth Audit Act, hut it will immediately be borrowed from that fund by the Government for war purposes. It will go up in smoke, it will be shot away, it will be used for all manner of disappearing assets.
– That applies equally to money raised by war loans.
– The Government will have to pay interest on the money borrowed from the fund, but the Treasurer proposes to make the fund solvent by borrowing from the people. To use his own words - lt will ‘be replaced by long-term borrowings when the moneys are required later, for welfare purposes.
What a system of frenzied finance the Government is employing to surmount its immediate difficulty of obtaining money with which to finance the war effort! The result, coupled with what I have already indicated, will not place the fund on a sound basis. The Government proposes to take wide powers under clause 6. The validity of some of those powers may be questioned, but at the moment, I do not share the doubt of other honorable senators concerning the validity of those powers. The appropriation powers of the Commonwealth are complete. Clause 6 reads -
Moneys standing to the credit of the national welfare fund shall be applied in making such payments as are directed by any law of the Commonwealth to be made from the fund, in relation to health services, unemployment or sickness benefits, family allowances, or other welfare or social services.
Whence is money to come with which to provide those benefits, when they have to he provided ? The virtue of .Senator McBride’s proposed amendment is that Parliament would have in its own hands the control of what could be done having regard to the state of the fund.
– That power is already in the bill. Each social service will have to be covered by the bill.
– That point also occurred to me, but will the Minister assure me that any allocation from this fund will be made the subject of a special appropriation by both branches of the legislature? That would relieve my mind greatly.
– Even to the point of supporting the bill?
– There is no opposition to the bill in the true sense of the term, but the Government is taking the grave risk of not being able to help the people, whom it intends to help, by financing that scheme in this way. We should keep control; otherwise this fund will never materialize, because the revenue from income tax on individuals must decline. It is useless to try to change ‘human nature. If a man is. taxed 15s. or 18s. in the £1 he will proceed to spend his capital and not earn income. Of course, while the war is in progress as I have pointed out on more than one occasion, the people are going “ full steam ahead “. Many men are making practically nothing and are drawing on their capital, but are continuing with their war effort. The inroads that are being made on capital will have a very bad effect upon the finance of this country and accordingly on the national welfare fund. The Government will have to proceed with extraordinary caution if it is to keep this fund solvent.
Some of the benefits which the Government proposes to give to the people from a national welfare fund may be beyond the .ambit of the Treasurer’s powers. The Treasurer said that he thought that some powers were, but that there would be an attempt to induce the States to yield whatever powers were necessary to the Commonwealth. Senator McBride told us the cost of social services to Australia to-day. That cost will be about doubled by this measure. Then when the soldiers return a further tremendous burden will be cast upon the country in the provision of repatriation benefits. The national income may shrink. It may be said that it is £800,000,000 or £1,000,000,000 to-day, but that is an artificial sum, and it is provided by the extraordinarily high defence expenditure of the Commonwealth, which has enabled the spending power of the people to be increased, probably to the detriment of certain aspects of government finance. But what will happen when the national income shrinks? What will happen if wool prices collapse ? In Australia, wool is the greatest producer of revenue, but the fact that during this war certain countries have been denied wool will stimulate and improve the production of wool substitutes. Production has been stimulated already. For a time the wheat-growers may receive excellent returns, but two or three years after the war ends what will be the position of wheat-growers? The greatest wheat-producing country in the world is China, the next is Russia, with the United States of America, France and other smaller producers following in competition with Australia. What of the wheat industry? The national income will not be maintained unless we have extraordinary migration from overseas. T hope that we shall, but whether the people who come here will be able to bring finance to this country I do not know. Whatever happens, the national income will drop. I would not be a party to establishing a social benefit which I could not assist to maintain. I remember that, on the hustings after the Scullin Government had been forced to reduce invalid and old-age pensions, I was asked whether I would favour an increase of invalid and old-age pensions and I replied that I hoped that they would remain at the rate to which they had been reduced. History shows that during and immediately after war there has been a reign of great prosperity. After wars, primary producers and those engaged in secondary industries prosper in producing commodities needed for the civilian population. Those bursts of prosperity have always been followed by a slump of prices. That occurred in Australia after the last war. The right honorable member for Yarra (“Mr. Scullin), prompted by the highest motives, said to the wheat-farmers, “‘Grow more wheat”. He thought that wheat would fetch a good price. The farmers grew more -wheat. They responded to the appeal to .such -an extent that they demanded government support when the market collapsed. In some respects, wheat is similar to £1 notes. If too many bushels be available for consumption, down goes the price, if too many £1 notes are placed in circulation, the value of the £1 note depreciates. That, in passing, is for the edification of my friend Senator Darcey. Whilst I .believe in social legislation, and am convinced that the Beveridge plan is one of the finest ever produced, I share Mr. Morrison’s hesitancy to commit himself to it at this stage. We know that in Great Britain the standard of living is in some respects far below what it is here, but before the war, in France, there was to be found the anomaly of a high standard of living in a low-wage country. The food production was extraordinarily good. The ordinary peasant and his workmen lived in a way that would surprise a number of honorable senators, for two reasons, one, the excellence of the food and drink served, and the other the rough manner in which the meal was taken. There was no attempt at style at all. The meal was served on bare boards covered with a blue cloth, but one drank some of the best wines and ate some of the best foods in the world. We must meet conditions as they arise, and, whilst the measure commends itself to me in parts, I do not like the methods of finance or the safeguards which the Government has employed to keep the fund in a state of actuarial solvency.
– This bill appears to me to be the mostblatant piece of window-dressing that I have ever seen. It contains no provision for increased social services for the Australian people. Not a penny of new money will find its way into the pockets of the people in the form of grants for social services as the result of the passing of this bill.
-But it foreshadows something.
– It foreshadows things, but it does nothing more than establish a trust fund and appropriate £30,000,000, or one-quarter of the income tax from individuals. I have asked myself what is the purpose of this very strange proceeding. Why does the Government desire at this time to get on to the statute-book a measure which is of no value whatever to any member of the public, but which is apparently regarded as being of some value to the Government? The conclusion which I have reached when I put to myself that conundrum, is that this bill does serve a very useful purpose for the Government, which knows that in the near or not very far distant future it will have to face the electors. It will be open to criticism from two quarters at least. On the one hand some people will be prepared to say to it : “ You have not done anything like enough in the direction of financing the war effort in the way in which it should be financed “. The Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) and his supporters wish to be able to say to that type of audience: “Look what we have done. This year we raised £40,000,000 of new taxation, which is being used for the war effort”. On the other hand, the Government has, in the ranks of its supporters, certain people who are far more concerned with social service after the war than with the immediate problem of paying for the war. It wishes to be in a position to say to them: “We have established a great new national welfare fund, we have set aside £30,000,000 a year for the purpose of social welfare, and if you do not extend your votes to us, this great £30,000,000 scheme of social welfare will be in -jeopardy”. I do not mind the Government asking the Senate in the proper fashion to approve a scheme of social welfare, but it has not done so. Surely the first step in this matter must be to lay before Parliament the plans which the Government proposes to implement for the purpose of improving social services. No such plan has been laid before us.
– But we are making provision for it.
– We are making provision before we know what the plan is. That is my complaint. It seems to me that the obvious order of events is first of all to formulate the plan, and then we, as representatives of the people, can see how much it is going to cost. We should then be prepared to give the’ Government authority to raise the money for the purposes of its plan; but that is not what the Government proposes. Instead, it comes to Parliament and says: “Approve of our putting £30,000,000 into a trust fund “. Why £30,000,000 in the first place? Why not £60,000,000? Why not £100,000,000? There is no measure at all for the £30,000,000.
– Only common sense.
– I am afraid that common sense does not help at all. I have not been provided with any material to indicate that the claims upon this fund will bo anything like £30,000,000.
– The honorable senator knows that they will be very substantial.
– I do not even know that at the moment. As I understand the present position, the claims upon this fund for next year, in relation to legislation which this Parliament is to be asked to approve - which is the only factor of which we must take notice - amount to only £2,000,000 or £3,000,000. Because Parliament may commit itself in relation to measures of this kind to an expenditure of £2,000,000 or £3,000,000, we are asked to authorize the Treasurer to put £30,000,000 into a particular locker in the safe. We know very well, because he has told us so, that he is not going to leave it in the safe. Having placed it there, and having presented to the public this grandiose scheme involving an appropriation of £30,000,000 for social services, he is going to take £25,000,000 or more of that amount, and it is all going to be expended for war purposes. In other words, it is to be blown away.
– We . have to blow it away.
– I am very glad to have that admission from the honorable senator, because I was beginning to think that those who supported the Government did not realize that that was so, but apparently thought that we could carry on a war for nothing, pay for it by issuing new notes on the Commonwealth Bank, and at the same time go through the pretence, because that is all it is, of handing out another £30,000,000 for social services.
I suggest that the method which the Government has followed in relation to the proposal in this bill does not accord with even the spirit of the Constitution in relation to these matters. I am sorry that I have to persist from time to time in references to the Constitution, but, when we have a Government which does not adopt constitutional methods I suppose that it cannot be helped. I am perfectly satisfied that the framers of our Constitution never contemplated that this Parliament would be asked, in a bill of this kind, to set aside in perpetuity £30,000,000 a year for purposes which are entirely undefined. Section 56 of the Constitution provides:
A vote, resolution or proposed law for the appropriation of revenue or moneys shall not be passed unless the purpose of the appropriation has in the same session been recommended by message of the Governor-General to the House in which the proposal originated.
I ask the Minister, in all seriousness, to tell me the purpose of this appropriation.
– Social security.
– No, no vague thing like that. That is completely undefined. I shall suggest the basis of an argument to the Government, and I am prepared to admit that it may be right. The best that the Minister can say is that the purpose of this appropriation is that the money shall be paid into a trust fund - nothing more. When it goes into a trust fund, we are entitled to expect that the trust upon which it is to be held shall be clearly known to the people who have to administer the fund.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– To say the least of it, it is a most unusual procedure for a ministry to ask Parliament to agree to the appropriation of moneys for purposes which are entirely undefined. Such a course of conduct was not contemplated by the framers of the Constitution; but the case is even worse than that: The Ministry is asking Parliament to agree to the appropriation of moneys for purposes over which it has no constitutional power at present. We are asked to set aside £30,000,000 a year, amongst other things, for the provision of unemployment benefits. I shall be very interested to learn how it is that the Commonwealth has, at this moment, general power to deal with the problem of unemployment. The fact that there is considerable doubt about the matter is indicated by the Government’s request to the State governments to transfer power to the Commonwealth to deal with employment and unemployment. The States have not yet acceded to that request, and are we to anticipate that they will accede to it, or are we to expect that the Commonwealth Constitution, at some distant date, will be altered in such a way that the Commonwealth will be able to deal with this matter? Until that problem is solved, it seems to me most curious that, without any definite scheme being placed before us, we should be asked to appropriate £30,000,000 for certain purposes in respect of some of which the Commonwealth has no authority. The same thing is true of a number of other matters mentioned in the clause of this measure which apparently is intended to define the purposes for which this money is to be appropriated.
– Does that contemplate that we have the constitutional power to give a direction? Obviously if we have not, it would be useless to pass this measure, which includes the words “ as directed by any law of the Commonwealth to be made from the fund in relation to … “ If a particular matter does not come within the ambit of the Commonwealth’s constitutional powers we cannot agree to a measure relating to that matter.
– The Commonwealth at present has no general power to deal with unemployment.
– This measure deals with unemployment insurance, not unemployment.
– There is no mention of unemployment insurance; the reference is to unemployment benefits. If the position be that at present this Parliament does not have power to deal with that matter, it is quite true, as Senator A. J. McLachlan suggests, that any law which it may pass purporting to authorize such payments may be invalid. My complaint is that on the assumption that we have the power, or that we shall obtain the power, this Parliament is asked to set aside £30,000,000, not only for this year, but for every year in perpetuity, for purposes in respect of which the Commonwealth may not have power to deal.
– The Government could not use the money if it had not the power.
– But the’ money is to be set aside. If that be so, it serves to illustrate what I said before, namely, that this proposition is merely a piece of political window-dressing, and I am not prepared to be a party to providing honorable senators opposite with an opportunity to go to the electors with the claim that they have established a £30,000,000 trust fund, and that if they are rejected at the general elections that fund will be in danger, when the truth is that, so far, there is no plan for the use of these moneys in the manner in which it is suggested they will be used.
There is another curious matter to which I should like to draw attention. If there is to be a national welfare fund, one would expect that such a fund would provide for, and deal with, all phases of social security, and not that some social services should be a charge on the national welfare fund whilst others are dealt with in another way. If the Ministry really had any definite plan in relation to this matter, and not merely a string of meaningless words, one would have expected that it would have been a plan which put all social security activities on the same basis, and made provision for them from the same fund. Why, for example, is it that family allowances - whatever they may be - are to be a charge upon this fund, whereas invalid and old-age pensions are not? That seems to me to be quite incomprehensible.
– Pensions may be included in the drag-net clause.
– That may be, but we are not sure. It would be very interesting to hear from the Ministry just what is meant by the words “ other welfare or social services “. That expression is as vague as can be. Clearly, invalid and old-age pensions are not intended to be a charge on the fund, because to do that it would be necessary to have these payments directed by a law of the Commonwealth to be made from the fund, and, so far .as I know, the invalid and old-age pensions legislation does not contain such a provision. So, for some strange reason, one of our most important : social services is to he left entirely outside the scope of the national welfare fund. I should like to know also what is meant by “ family allowances “. Can it be that child endowment payments are to be made from this fund, and if not, why not? Surely child endowment is an integral part of our .scheme of social services, and there seems to be no good reason why it should not be a charge upon -the fund, just as much as unemployment and sickness benefits; but if child endowment were intended to be dealt with under this legislation, it would have been well for the Ministry to have stated that fact plainly. So far, we have called our family allowances child endowment, and when I find that that phrase is absent from this measure aud another is used instead, I can only come to the conclusion that the Ministry has some other idea in regard to family allowances about which we have heard nothing so far. All that goes to illustrate the point which I desire to make, namely, that the purposes of this fund are entirely undefined at present, and I can see no justification whatever for the proposal that this Parliament should in effect commit future administrations to the appropriation of £30,000,000 a year for a number of purposes, none of which has been described in any detail up to date.
– Can this Parliament commit a .future Parliament ?
– I used the words “ in effect “. Of course, this Parliament cannot commit a future Parliament, but, if this bill be passed, a future Parliament will first have to repeal the provision relating to the appropriation of this money.
– It can do that.
– I quite agree that if this measure be passed it is intended to convey to the public, first, that this Government has secured for these purposes the sum of £30,000,000 a year. It is also intended to indicate to future Parliaments th’at, in 1943, this Parliament considered it desirable to make permanent provision for the establishment of a fund to be provided out of this contribution of £30,000,000 a year.
– Future Parliaments could repeal the Invalid and Oldage Pensions Act.
– Yes, but once measures of this kind are placed on the statute-book in this form, it is more difficult to remove them than if a measure providing for an annual grant had to be presented every year. If the Government’s plans with regard to national welfare are not implemented, of course we could repeal this measure; but I do not believe that at this particular juncture we should authorize the appropriation of £30,000,000 a year for purposes about which the Government can give us no information whatever.
– But this Parliament will have complete control in the matter.
– That is not the point. For the purpose of serving the public welfare this bill does not accomplish anything. It is intended to serve the interests of the Government, in order to deceive the public into the belief that £30.000,000 a year is to be set aside for national welfare purposes.
– Why is not the honorable senator fair?
– I can reach no other conclusion than that those are the purposes for which this scheme has been put forward.
– In other words, the honorable senator says that the Government, would rob a trust fund ?
– I do not suggest that at all. It is true that the money in the trust fund which is not used for social security purposes this year will be used in promoting the war effort, but I should prefer the Government to deal with, this matter directly. If £25,000,000 of this money is required for war purposes why not say so? Does the Ministry fear that the people of Australia have such a poor idea of their obligations at this time of stress that it would make itself unpopular by saying to the public that it must have £25,000,000 for war purposes. What is wrong with saying that? Why pretend that the money is to be put into a fund for social services when in reality it will be used for war purposes?
– The honorable senator might take the same exception to the national insurance scheme in G’reat Britain. The funds- raised under that plan are invested in government securities.
– I quite agree. I should have no complaint at all if the Government came to the Senate with a properly prepared plan of social insurance at the present time, say a scheme in which provision was made for contributions by those persons who would benefit from the fund.
– That is the sting.
– I believe that the sound basis for the establishment of social security services of the kind contemplated by the Government is that they should be founded upon the principle of insurance, and that the people who contemplate benefits should be contributors to the fund. I have always stood for that principle.
– As the people pay direct and indirect taxes they would be contributors to the fund.
– But they should be direct contributors to it. This is more than a mere matter of finance. I believe that it is psychologically sound and good for the community that those who are to benefit from such services must be direct contributors to the fund at a. time when they are able to contribute. The Government likes to pretend that it is able to hand out largesse to people who do- not make any contribution to the fund. Ministers would much prefer to say, if they have to enter the lower income tax field, “ We are going to take 6d. in the £1 from you in income tax “, than “ We are going to take from you a contribution to a sickness benefit fund from -which you will benefit in future if you are unfortunate enough to need such assistance “. This matter should be dealt with as has been done in Great Britain, and as is contemplated in the Beveridge plan. Despite a large contribution from the Government of Great Britain, the whole foundation of that scheme is that tine persons who are to benefit will themselves contribute directly to the fund. In this bill we have not even the bare bones of a scheme of any kind, yet the Senate is asked to commit itself, and, as far as this measure contemplates, to commit other Parliaments for all time to a proposal for the appropriation of £30,000,000 a year for the purposes of a national welfare fund.
– The honorable senator said that future parliaments could repeal any act that may be passed.
Senator -SPICER. - I agree; but what is the urgency for this provision? No payment will be made out of this fund until the 1st July, 1943, or until some scheme has been formulated.
– Three bills are now on their way to the Senate.
– I understand that certain proposals are to come before us, but as I have not seen them, I cannot say whether money for, say, an increased maternity allowance is to come out of this fund. There are lots of social services which will not be financed from this fund, as, for instance, invalid and old-age pensions.
– They are already provided for otherwise.
– What is the reason for the distinction? What difference in principle is there between invalid and old-age pensions and a maternity allowance? Why is one to be a charge on the fund whilst the other is not?
– Such matters can be adjusted later.
– These things all go to show that the Ministry has no real plan at all.
– If the honorable senator believes that, what is he criticizing ?
– I am criticizing a measure which assumes that a plan exists when there is no plan at all. Until something in the nature of a plan has been placed before us, I shall not commit myself to the appropriation of the money for which the Ministry asks.
– The bills which are to come before us provide for the appropriation of only about £2,000,000.
– That is so.
Another feature of this plan - if it can be called a plan - which has already been referred to is extremely important. If we are to contemplate a contribution to the fund of £30,000,000 a year being onefourth of the annual tax on the incomes of individuals, it would appear that the Ministry contemplates that the incomes of individuals will continue to be taxed at rates which will yield about £120,000,000 a year. That means that the Government contemplates that the present general level of incomes will be maintained after the war.
– Why not?
– If the honorable senator thinks that that is likely, I am afraid that he is unduly optimistic. It may he that the money level of incomes will be maintained, but if we continue in the way that we are going, money will not be worth as much in the future as it is to-day. We shall not escape from this problem by suggesting that money incomes will remain the same. Should the real value of money incomes not be what it is to-day, we may have to take more than one-quarter of those incomes in order to make the same provision. This is a serious matter. Does the Ministry want the public to understand that its policy for the post-war period is one which will provide for the raising of £120,000,000 a year in income tax from individuals? In other words, does it want the public to understand that the high rates of tax which have been imposed allegedly for the purpose of carrying on the war will be maintained after the war?
– Is it not as essential to provide for the preservation of humanity as for the prosecution of the war?
– I agree.
– The honorable senator does not agree. He believes that money should be provided for destruction but not for construction.
– I am afraid that the Ministry does not believe in getting money for anything. It will not get a lot of this money in the sense which the Minister’s interjection suggests, because it will not get money from the public, which is the only place where it can be obtained. The Minister is getting money by issuing a lot of I O U’s. There are those who say that if this kind of thing can be done in war-time, it can be done also in peace-time. That may be; but, 1 so, a heavy penalty has to be paid. We shall make a great mistake if we think that we who live in 1943 are so much wiser than our predecessors that we can conduct ourselves as they did and yet avoid the consequences of our actions. I believe that if we manipulate our finances for the purpose of winning the war in the way that the Germans did after the last war, and a3 the French did during that war, precisely the same results will ultimately face us here.
– Nothing of the kind!
– Similar results are unavoidable; and because I believe that, I want to see social security services placed on a sound basis, and not made dependent on the issue of I 0 Ug by the Commonwealth Bank. That practice only means that’ what we give out with one hand we take from the people with the other hand: and usually we take a little more than we give. If we are to have social services, let them be real services which are based on a sound foundation. The Labour party had an experience in 1929 and 1930. The Scullin Government resisted the idea that it might have to reduce the scale of social services; but, eventually, it was obliged to do so. It had no escape. I do not want the public to go through another experience of that kind. For that reason, I suggest that the whole of this problem should be referred back to the. Government for reconsideration. Let the Government lay before us detailed plans, first, of the kind of benefits which it desires to provide, and, secondly, of the means by which it proposes to finance such benefits.
– We have already done that.
– No plan has yet been submitted to us. I invite the Government to tell us what it proposes to do exactly in relation to unemployment and sickness benefits. Who is to be entitled to such benefits? What are the amounts of such benefits, and when is the plan to be started? I should like to know something about the health services mentioned in the bill. What sort of plan has the Government in mind in respect of health services? How does it propose that such benefits should be paid? What contributions are to be made in respect of such benefits, and who is to receive them? Naturally, I ask for this information when I am told that the bill provides for a plan. It does nothing of the kind.
– That is just an assertion.
– I invite the Minister for the Interior (.Senator Collings) to point out to me the clause of the bill which indicates the Government’s plans in relation to unemployment and sickness benefits, and family allowances. And I should like him to tell me, also, what are the Government’s plans referred to in the words, “ other welfare or social services “. Vague generalities will not satisfy me on these matters ; I want details. I want the Government, in effect, to present its budget in respect of these plans. If the Minister can outline those plans, he can immediately comply with the only request which the Opposition now makes in respect of this measure.
– The Senate has the Government’s plans before it now.
– I am sorry if the Minister has a different idea from what I have on this point. When I ask him what is the Government’s plan in relation to unemployment and sickness .benefits, he says that the Government’s plan is that it will establish unemployment and sickness benefits.
– I did not say that.
– If the Minister can point to any clause in the bill which indicates the Government’s plans, I shall be pleased to hear him. If the Government’s plans actually exist there can be no reason why the Government should not proceed in this matter in a perfectly sensible and logical way. Let it lay its plans before the Senate, and obtain the Senate’s approval of them. When that is done, I am perfectly prepared to support the expenditure of this money; but I am not prepared to be a party to any measure which in the present circumstances has no effect except to provide the Government with a convenient election cry.
– The purpose of the measure is to establish a national welfare fund. No honorable senator should oppose that proposal. Surely, honorable senators opposite who are always ready to wave the flag, and speak so highly of our soldiers, are not averse to establishing this welfare fund. We also propose to appropriate the sum of £30,000,000 for that purpose. The Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) said that the money will be placed in a trust fund. All of us know that moneys which are placed in trust funds can be used only for purposes specified in cognate measures. Therefore, if Parliament decides to place this sum of £30,000,000 into a trust fund, the money will be absolutely safe, because the fund will have the country’s guarantee behind it. If we decide to place this sum into a trust fund for the specific purpose stated plainly in the bill, namely; that it shall be used to provide health services, unemployment and sickness benefits, family allowances and other welfare or social services, that money will eventually be used for those specific purposes. That is plain; and even a tory government comprised of tories of the type of the representatives from South Australia in the Senate would think twice before it robbed that trust fund in order to devote the money to other purposes. Therefore, when the Government says that it will establish a trust fund, and states the amount it will pay into the fund, that money, in the eyes of the people, is absolutely secure, and will be used for the purposes laid down. That is plain; and it is only specious reasoning by lawyers like Senator Spicer who says that the Government is thereby misleading the public. The Treasurer has definitely said that this money will be collected from the people, and will be placed in a trust fund, and will, of course,’ be used for war purposes. There is no beating about the bush in that statement. It is a plain, straightforward statement. Surely, honorable senators opposite understand plain English. However, they say that this money may be used for other purposes; that it will all go up in smoke. The Government undertakes to use it for the purpose of winning the war. That is a most laudable purpose, and one to which all of us can subscribe. Even the prospective beneficiaries under the proposed welfare scheme will subscribe to that idea, because they know that if the war is not won, and a Tojo dominates Australia, they will not have trust funds or social services of any kind. Honorable senators opposite said that this money will go up in smoke. A considerable sum of money is going up in smoke to-day. The Minister for Supply and Shipping (Mr. Beasley), who made an excellent speech at the loan rally in Martin-place, Sydney, yesterday, said that up to £1,000,000,000 has already been expended by Australia on the war. Honorable senators opposite are kicking against the provision of this sum of £30,000,000 to provide social services for our soldiers on their return after the war. Just imagine men of intelligence, great patriot, saying, “ Oh no, we must not spend £30,000,000, or at least we must not put it in a trust fund for future years “, when all the Lime they know that £1,000,000,000 has been spent for war and, according to them, has gone up in smoke. I do not know what tha country will think of it. Our men are coming back from the war and we are fighting to make this a. country fit for them to live in, and yet I he Opposition is opposing a measure of this kind which will help to guarantee them social security. It is almost unbelievable. We have spent, up to date, £139 per head of the population,, and, according to the Minister for Supply and Shipping, we have 2,530,000 males between the ages of 16 and 65, of whom 1,490,000, or three out of every five, have been called to the fighting’ forces or to the factories to do urgent war work. The Minister also said that of 712,000 factory workers 518,000, or 72 percent., are producing arms and war equipment. We have a total working population of 5,000,000, and 3,400,000 of them,, or 68 per cent., are fighting, producing war supplies, or working full time in industry. Yet SenatorA. J. Mclachlan and Senator Spicer say that millions of pounds are going up insmoke, and that if we pass this bill weshall take from the people £30,000,000- more, put it into a trust fund, and spend it i:! sr::, a way that it also will go up im smoke. Then we have the arguments of our feudal-minded financiers on lie other side of the chamber. They say that after this war we shall be in the same position as after the last war. Senator Spicer said that we could not get away from it, and that the same conditions would operate again.
– I said that that would be so if the Government went on in the same way.
– I am answering the honorable senator’s argument that after .the war is over we shall go through the same unhappy experiences as after the last war, in other words, that we shall have a depression, and so exercise our powers over the financial machine as to conserve the value of money and put thousands out of work. That is what all that means, because after the last war we did have a depression. We know how the financiers of the world sought to maintain their power as a financial gang over the wealth of the. world. They went so far as to bring about such a world-wide depression that hundreds of thousands of people were thrown out of work. After this war is over we shall not experience the same conditions. We have learnt lessons from the last war. So far as financial methods are concerned there has been practically a revolution. The same methods are not now in operation as during and after the last war. We all know what happened then. The organized banking power of this country was able to draw from the Government, if it so wished, millions of pounds. It had the right to do so, and on it it built up a pyramid of credit. This Labour ‘Government has stopped the power of the banks to pyramid credit on fie strength of having the right to draw notes from the Government. The right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) explained the position in a most illuminating speech on the Commonwealth Bank Bill in June, 1924. I have spoken about it in the Senate before. It is the duty of every honorable senator to read that speech and learn what was done by the banks. Senator Darcey has a copy of it. He reads these matters and has a full and complete knowledge of finance, although a number of honorable senators do not take much notice of him. However, I spoke on this matter long before Senator Darcey came into the Senate, although I do not take to myself any credit for that. If we «s a community can spend £1,000,000,000 on war and place 68 per cent, of our working population in industry or on the fighting fronts, are we not going to learn that productive power can be increased indefinitely by placing that relatively huge army in peace-time industry to develop Australia? Our friends opposite who live in the past are mental troglodytes. When they think of the future they say, “The case is hopeless, we shall not have this money any more, we do not know what we shall do. Things will be the same as after the last war, and there will be a depression with thousands out of work “. If we allow a situation of that kind to develop we shall be defeatists in every sense of the word. I know what is happening in the Navy, the Army and the Air Force and amongst all our young people who are battling to save Australia. They are saying that when they come back they will not stand for what happened after 1918. They say, “If the community could organize for war, we can organize for peace”. After all, money is only a secondary consideration. The first question is the economic organization of Australia, and I defy Senator Spicer or anybody else to prove to me that it is impossible, after all that that we have learned, to organize the fighting forces which we now have at our command, and the industrial forces in the factories, for the purposes of peace. We can do it -for peace, and when we have done so, Australia’s increased productivity will be so astounding that the matter of £30,000,000 for social services will be small. That is my view because, alt-hough I am getting up into the sere and yellow leaf stage, I am youthful enough to a’bsorb new ideas, and I am satisfied that Australia can organize for peace as it has done for war. I despise these troglodyte fears that we shall not have the money. Senator Darcey has shown time and time again, so far as money is concerned, that, so long as we ;have the productive capacity, the men and the material, money is only a reflex of our capacity to produce. Senator Spicer says that this :bill .is a blatant piece of window-dressing.
– Hear, near!
– That is what Senator McBride says also, but my faith in my fellow men is such that I believe my leader, Mr. Curtin, to be one of the most earnest and serious-minded men who ever occupied the Prime Ministership of Australia. I believe that the Treasurer, Mr. Chifley, although to my mind he is somewhat conservative as a financier, is also very sound politically.
– The members of the Labour party are all conservatives. They have learnt nothing over the centuries.
– Apparently, the honorable senator has not learned anything in the last ten minutes. The Treasurer, who is on the right wing of the Labour party, is as I say, in matters of finance, conservative. He has done a wonderful job in adopting certain methods whereby the power of the banks to issue credit has been limited. I say of the Treasurer as I do of the Prime Minister that he is a man of honour and probity; he is earnest in his endeavours to introduce such legislation as will ameliorate the conditions of the people and give to them a fair measure of social security. I believe in the Prime Minister and in the Treasurer. If I thought for one moment that they were out to humbug the people, I should cease to take my place on this side of the chamber, although I do not think that I would join honorable senators on the other side. I have faith and trust in our leaders; they are not humbugging the workers, but are dealing with the situation as they find it and endeavouring to give to the people of this country a guarantee of improved conditions. The other measures to which I have referred are already in process of drafting and they will be placed before Parliament at the earliest possible date.
Naturally, this measure has a definite link with the Government’s taxation proposals. The Labour party has been advocating the establishment of a scheme such as this for the past 40 years. I remember speaking in the streets of Vancouver, in Canada, 43 years ago as a young, enthusiastic Socialist. I said then that in the final analysis all taxation was paid by the workers, and recently I was pleased to hear the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Fadden) use almost the same words. It is the working man who is bearing the brunt of the war, both on the battlefields and in the factories. He is paying the price in sweat and blood. All this talk by honorable senators opposite of financing the war in this way or in that way amounts merely to national accountancy.
– And humbug.
– I admit that there is a considerable amount of humbug about it also. Capitalist tory financiers talk as if the war can be paid for after it is over. Such a suggestion is ridiculous. The men who .are dying on our battlefields or working in our war industries are paying for the war now in sweat and blood.
– The full cost of the war will have been paid the moment that it finishes.
– Of course it will. No matter what financial manoeuvring may take place to-day, the fight is being lost or won now by the men who are fighting or working in factories producing essential war commodities, and by people who are going short of the necessaries of life in order that we may secure victory. If it is fit and proper that men should die on our battlefields in defence of their country, it is also fit and proper that every one of us should make whatever money he has available for war purposes. It is only right that steps should be taken to see that the men who return from war service shall be properly looked after, and that individuals who to-day are making personal sacrifices in the interests of the war are rewarded in some way. That can be done only by so organizing our production that we shall he able to produce more goods than ever before. Senator McBride, who squeals in this chamber about high taxes, is merely looking to the time when taxes on high incomes will be reduced; apparently the soldiers can go hang. We have an obligation to our soldiers, and if necessary, the honorable senator will have to continue to pay his £1,000 or £2,000 a year by way of taxation, so that proper provision may be made for the mcn who are risking their lives for us to-day.
Does the honorable senator deny that that obligation rests upon him ? Does any honorable senator opposite deny that he has an obligation to our fighting men. Apparently not, because they are all silent.
– Action speaks louder than words.
– We are all contributing to the financing of the war according to our ability to pay. It is true that taxes on high incomes to-day are terrific; but war is a great leveller. Unfortunately, honorable senators opposite apparently hope that the new war levels will be abandoned when the conflict is over, and that we shall return to the old conditions under which some men were permitted to make millions whilst others starved. One of the objectives that we are fighting for is greater equality amongst the people, and the elimination of the exploitation of man by man. The Labour party stands by that principle, and it will fight for it as we have fought for it in years gone by. It is our firm belief that the morale of any nation can be increased greatly by the maintenance of reasonable economic equality. The Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings) and I have unpleasant memories of social inequalities in Great Britain many years ago. We know that the people in that country will never return to the rotten brutal conditions that operated before the war. In Great Britain the disparity of incomes probably has been greater than that in any other country. I have examined the workhouses and the gaols there; I have lived with the bottom dog; and it has always been amazing to me that there has not been a revolution. Income tax is an excellent method of levelling economic conditions. We are fighting for something more than a restoration of the conditions which operated prior to the war; we are fighting for a state of society in which there will be some measure of security for the soldiers who return from this war, and for the dependants of those who have made the supreme sacrifice. Senator McBride has said that when the war is over the proposed national welfare fund will rapidly reach a state of bankruptcy. That is a typical tory argument. How can we possibly go bankrupt when thousands of soldiers will turn their hands from destruction to construction? The same thing has been said of Germany and Japan. People with troglodyte minds argued that Japan and Germany could not possibly carry on the war because they would very soon be bankrupt. I have read such statements in the newspapers on many occasions, and I have heard them made in this chamber. The fact is that Germany and Japan have organized their economic and financial systems in such a way as to secure the maximum co-operation and the greatest possible production. The people of these nations know what can be done with a properly organized financial system. Germany and Japan will not go bankrupt so long as they have man-power and materials available. Incidentally, Japan has added to its material resources to such an extent that a former ambassador to that country has said that Japan to-day is the greatest potential power in the world.
– Apparently the honorable senator proposes that we should organize our finances on German lines, and so lead this country into inflation.
– In reply to the “ blah blah “ of the honorable senator from South Australia, I say that I have never advocated proceeding along the lines followed in Germany, but I do say that despite the insularity of this country we can learn from Germany, America, Japan, Iceland, Greenland and Timbuctoo. There is always something to learn. I travelled the world before coming to this country 30 years ago, and my experience was that points could always be picked up, even in alleged backward countries. Australia can learn from both Russia and Germany, and the lesson to be learnt is that there must be economic co-operation among the whole of the people. We should not imagine that we can improve the position merely by financial legerdemain. The financial resources of this country must be used by the Government so that we may obtain the maximum production from the forces at our command, but if those resources are misused production will necessarily be reduced. I stand for the scientific and intelligent economic organization of Australia, both in war and peace, but Senator
McBride, the South Australian troglodyte, wants us to continue to live in the past. The services of every man and woman in the community should be utilized in order to eliminate economic waste. I feel irritated when intelligent lawyers like Senator Spicer and Senator A. J. Mclachlan speak as though the world conditions have not improved. They fear that we shall go back to the dark days of 1918, and that the people will be in a hopeless and helpless position. I thank God that there is a Labour movement in Australia, and that in the ranks of Labour are men, young and old, who believe in learning from the past and applying their knowledge to present and future problems.
– “When did they start to apply their knowledge?
– Immediately the present Government came into power there was a big advance in the war organization of industry. When the war is won, the war organization of this country must be utilized in the production of the commodities needed by the people, so that nobody need go short. I take a realist point of view regarding this country’s powers of production, and I deplore the attitude of Senator A. J. McLachlan, who declared that after the war Australia will not have the “ wherewithal” to provide the benefits contemplated under this bill. Most of the commodities that are required to feed, clothe, and shelter the people of Australia, when the heavy hand of sickness is upon them, can be produced in this country. If Australia’s engineers and artisans, with the aid of blue-prints obtained from Great Britain, are able to produce Beaufort bombers, one of the most intricate pieces of mechanism ever manufactured in this’ country, and if they are able to erect structures such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge, surely after the war we could so organize industry, and utilize the skill of our people, that nobody need go hungry or be short of necessary medical attention. Socialism must come into operation after the war, and, in adopting such a policy, we shall only be carrying out the injunction of the Divine Master, that nobody should be left short of food or clothing. When we think of the wonderful inventions of man, such as that used for the detection of the approach of aeroplanes, one is induced to exclaim, in the words of Shakespeare -
What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how express and admirable!
Yet honorable senators opposite are afraid that, because, under this bill, £30,000,000 a year is to be placed in a trust fund, Australia will be doomed to financial disaster.. This measure should be passed, and we should say to the people, “ We give you our word that this money will be used for the provision of social services so that no man, woman or child shall go short of the things they need “. Those who oppose a policy such as that must have reached the stage at which they have outlived their usefulness.
– I consider, and I believe that every member of the Opposition agrees with me, that a social security scheme is neces-sary. With many of the sentiments expressed by Senator Brown I am entirely in accord. Nobody in this enlightened age desires to see poverty and unemployment in our midst, or any other conditions which produce widespread discontent among the. people-. Members of the Opposition and the Government and its supporters are in disagreement only as to the method by which a social service scheme shall be implemented. I believe that the method contemplated by this bill is not the right method. For more than a year the Joint Committee on Social Security has been considering problems of social welfare, but its recommendations, which have been embodied in an interim report, do not run entirely along the lines contemplated by the Government in this bill. There was a time when Australia led the way in social legislation, but that is not so to-day. In the years prior to the war many other’ countries had outstripped Australia in this connexion. It is true that since the war began legislation providing for child endowment and widows’ pensions has been enacted, . thereby bringing this country more into line with the leading countries of the world. In considering this subject we must have regard to Australia’s ability to provide for ite own security. There is need to have in readiness a plan of social legislation which can be put into operation immediately the war is over; but we can go farther, for we can erect the framework of such a scheme during the period of the war. The Joint Committee on Social Security made extensive inquiries into matters affecting social security, but every one will agree that our first concern must be the financing and winning of the war. If we lose the war, all our planning for improved post-war conditions will.be of no avail. I fully realize the place which finance must take in the winning of the war. The whole of our energies must be directed to raising the necessary finance, obtaining full production from industry, and doing all other things necessary to secure victory. I recognize that the men and women of the fighting forces will expect to come back to better conditions than existed before the war began, and rightly so. They are putting up a wonderful fight in various parts of the world ; on their efforts, and the efforts of our allies’, our future security depends. We must, therefore, be prepared with a plan which will ensure better conditions for them when they return. Production will play a great part in post-war security, for without production finance is useless. Production may be described as the yardstick of security and of the financial capacity of any country. Our first duty after the war will be to settle in usef ul occupations the men and women who have been diverted from their usual avocations to various kinds of war work, and therefore we must have in readiness schemes for their absorption in industry. In its interim report of the 24th September, 1941, the Joint Committee on Social Security said -
In a democratic community the right of an individual to share in community production must bc accompanied by an obligation to contribute to community welfare to the utmost of his physical and mental capacity.
I believe that those who share in community production are under an obligation to put all that they can into a common pool from which the general community will derive benefits. Personally, I prefer that that common pool should be established on a contributory basis. The Social Security Committee, of which I am a member, recommended that a common pool be established by contributions from a graduated tax on all incomes excepting the lowest. I agreed with the recommendations of the committee. This is the method of raising finance wHich the Government has adopted in this bill and with which I am also in agreement. I shall return to that point later. The report also stated -
Social services are generally given to citizens of the community who fulfil certain conditions, of which .proof of need is the most frequent, lt is widely held that the services should have a regenerative or moral side, that the disbursing authorities should avoid demoralizing the recipients of moneys or services, and that little help should be given to the undeserving, to those who by their vicious or improvident conduct have proved themselves unworthy of assistance. This latter attitude, however, brings up the whole question of the cause of poverty. For long it was held that poverty was the fault of the individual and was solely due to inefficiency, improvidence, dishonesty, drunkenness and the like. More modern opinion is that poverty is mostly not the fault of the individual but of the environment in which lie lives. Social services were developed largely because of the conviction that it is misfortune, not inherent evil, which brings people into want, and therefore it is the duty of the community to mitigate the worst effects of that want.
I agree with that view. The committee condemns the demoralizing effect produced upon the community when benefits are .provided either in the form of money, or services, to people who do not contribute towards such benefits. For that reason I oppose any proposal to provide social benefits from some nebulous fund, or from Consolidated Revenue, towards which the recipients do not make direct contributions.
– Does the honorable senator stand by the committee’s report-
– Yes. Indeed I regret that the Government has not acted upon the committee’s reports in several important respects. The committee in its interim report dated the 24th September, 194’1, recommends the passing of a comprehensive social -security measure to be administered by the Department of Social Services, and that that measure should embrace all existing social services as well as those to be provided from time to time in the development of a comprehensive social security plan. I point out to Senator Large that so far as this bill is concerned the Government is not giving effect to that recommendation of the committee. Otherwise this measure would embrace all existing social services. Further, the committee in its second interim report dated the 6th March, 1942, dealing with unemployment and war emergency, made the following recommendation : -
The simplest and most equitable plan in the present circumstances is to impose a general tax on every income-earner in the community, with the exception of those on the lowest scale. This tax should be graduated according to the income of the taxpayer, with a small exemption limit varying according to the income and family responsibilities of the taxpayer. Juniors on relatively low incomes who have no family responsibilities are often in a better position than married men with larger nominal incomes, and they canquite equitably be asked to contribute.It would probably be best, for reasons of convenience and in order to separate the operations of the scheme, to place the proceeds of the tax in a special unemployment fund, fromwhich could be made all disbursements, both for benefit and administration.
That recommendation summarizes another vital difference between the views of honorable senators on this side and those of the Government in respect of this measure. The committee has recommended that the proceeds of the tax should be placed in a special fund to be used for no other purpose, whereas under this measure the purposes for which this fund is to be used are not specified, with the exception of a sum of £2,250,000 which the Treasurer (Mr. ‘Chifley) has said will he devoted to maternity allowances, funeral benefits and other services which he specifically mentioned. I repeat that the committee recommended, first, the passage of legislation embracing all social security services in a comprehensive measure, including those already in existence; and. secondly, that the fund from which such services are financed should not be used for any other purpose.
– Do we not propose to do that under this bill?
– No. Apart from the sum of £2,250,000 which the Treasurer has said will be used for purposes which he specifically mentioned, such as, maternity and funeral benefits, no indication is given as to the exact purposes for which the remaining £27,750,000 will be used. Indeed, if the Government has made up its mind as to what it intends to do with the balance of that fund, it should set out in this measure the purposes for which the money will ; be used.
– The Treasurer has indicated only a part of the Government’s plan. What about free hospital treatment ?
– Does the Government propose to provide free hospital treatment ?
– Well, the honorable senator is telling me something of which I was not previously aware, although I am a member of the committee. The purpose of this bill is to establish a fund of £30,000,000. It is problematical whether that money will be used for the benefit of ex-soldiers. If the war lasts for, say, four years, the fund will amount to £120,000,000 at the conclusion of hostilities. The Treasurer proposes that when money is required for the purposes for which the fund is established, the securities in which the fund has been invested will be put on the market in the ordinary way. Surely, the Government realizes that it will flood the market by realizing on government stock to thevalue of £30,000,000 or £50,000,000 at any one time.
-Could not the Government place that money to its credit in the Commonwealth Bank, and draw on it as required?
– The Treasurer has not indicated that the Government intends to do that. He said that the fund will be invested in negotiable bonds, which can be redeemed when money is required for the purposes of the fund; and the only method of redeeming bonds at present is by putting them on the market. I take it that by redemption he means that those bonds would be put upon the market, and the public would have to provide the money, or absorb that amount of bonds to provide the money.
– Cannot the honorable senator realize that the money is to be made available from taxation?
– I cannot follow the honorable senator’s reasoning. Naturally the money is to be provided by taxation, but it is to be spent.
– Spent on what?
– The Treasurer said that it was spent on the war.
– Just the same as the British national insurance funds, invested in Government securities.
– And spent, as the Treasurer says. Senator Brown made quite a good point in quoting the statement made yesterday by the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Mr. Beasley), that up to now the war had cost Australia £1,000,000,000, and asking if another £30,000,000 would matter. It may not, but if we add £30,000,000 to another £30,000,000 and so on, it reminds me of what the Treasurer said when he introduced this year’s budget, that subscriptions to the war loan were so much last year, and would be double next year, and therefore he would have such and such a sum of money. That did not happen. It did not work out quite as he expected. Senator Brown did not deal fully with the Minister’s speech, because the Minister was asking the people for more money. He urged them to put money into the war loan and, in passing, in order to show the difficulty of obtaining finance, he told them that the war had cost Australia £1,000,000,000. He also said that there were still 2,000,000 people earning wages who had not put a penny into war loans, although there was £318,000,000 in the savings banks of the country.
– It cannot be there.
– It stands to the credit of depositors in the savings banks.
– But it is not money.
– It seems extraordinary, if there is that amount of money in the savings banks, that the Minister for Supply and Shipping has to appeal to the people to subscribe £100,000,000 by the way of war loan when, on his own figures, 2,000,000 earners have not yet put one penny into the war loans so far raised. The bill provides to appropriate £30,000,000 yearly, which is to be used for war purposes. I agree with that because I think that it is sound, but why not create a specific watertight fund and use the money for social services.
– It will be.
– It will, not be. Only £2,250,000 will be used for social services. Our total social services are now costing Australia £39,000,000 annually.
– That is the crux of the opposition to the bill.
– I am simply making a suggestion to the Government
– The honorable senator cannot camouflage the position.
– I am acting on the recommendation of the all-party social security committee, that the social services now in existence should be brought under one comprehensive social service act.
– The Government never agreed to that recommendation.
– I am speaking of what I think and what the committee thinks, not what the Government thinks. Whether the Government accepts that recommendation or not has nothing to do with me or the committee. I am explaining what the committee and myself after careful thought and consideration have recommended to the Government. What the Government does is entirely its own affair.
– The honorable senator and the members of the committee got themselves into a knot.
– Not at all; I have got the Government into a knot. My suggestion to the Government is this : It has social services at the present time which are costing £39,000,000 annually made up as follows: £22,400,000 on invalid and old-age pensions, £12,000,000 on child endowment, which is to some extent provided for, £1,600,000 on widows’ pensions, £375,000 on maternity allowances, and the remainder, £2,250,000, will be extra money for pensions and other social services.’ Roughly, that makes £39,000,000. The Government should bring in the framework of a comprehensive social service scheme. It need not take any money out of that social service scheme for those special services as provision has already been made for them. Consolidated revenue would be relieved of a like amount, the Government would get its money for war purposes in a strictly legitimate manner, the framework for the social service scheme would be brought in, and the fund could immediately be used for the purpose for which it was established. Other necessary benefits which will have to be brought under the social service scheme can be fitted into the framework. That would be a sound method of bringing it in, and additions could be made where necessary. The whole nation would know exactly where it stood in regard to social services, and with regard also to future social service, and there would be a fund actually intact, which could be drawn upon for social service work. I fail to see that full use could not be made of it. The Government would still have the full amount of money which it will obtain under this bill for war purposes, the framework of the social security scheme would be on a sound basis, and the scheme could be implemented with further benefits at any time. I shall not labour the matter any further. I have outlined what I consider would be a sound foundation for a social security scheme. I have given this matter quite a lot of thought, and I am sure that any government which adopted a scheme based upon the factors which I have enunciated would be able to build up a sound structure of social services, whereas under this bill all we know is that there will be certain benefits which will absorb only a very small proportion of the total appropriation. Under the scheme I have suggested we would be using the full amount collected for the purpose of social services by means of a special imposition.
– It was with a good deal of regret that I listened to the speech made by Senator Cooper, who, like myself, is n member of the Joint Committee on Social Security, and I was disappointed to hear him renounce a principle which was embodied in a report of that committee, to which he subscribed. I refer to the principle of a graduated tax. In order that I shall not be misunderstood, I point out that the committee recommended unanimously -
Continuation in the post-war period of the principle of a graduated tax on incomes as a means of financing unemployment benefits and to maintain a minimum standard of subsistence for disemployed persons or those suffering from want of the necessities of life.
The committee gave a great deal of consideration to that principle before embodying it in its report. It is a principle which I consider represents a definite step forward, and which was amply justified by the evidence placed before the committee. Therefore, I am sorry to hear a fellow member of the committee renouncing that recommendation and advocating the establishment of a social security scheme on a contributory basis.
– I fully agree with a graduated tax; hut I prefer the other method.
– I find it extremely difficult to understand the honorable senator’s attitude, in view of his support of the committee’s recommendations. In the course of our inquiries, we found that there was substantial unanimity of opinion that any scheme of social services could be most equitably financed by means of a graduated tax on income.
– I subscribe to that.
– I cannot see clearly just where the honorable senator does stand in regard to this matter. I sincerely hope that he does agree with the committee’s recommendation in this regard.
– I do.
– If the honorable senator agrees with the committee’s recommendations, he must also agree with the manner in which this measure has been framed, because it is a genuine attempt to give effect to the committee’s recommendation that there should be a minimum standard below which no individual in this country should be allowed to fall, and that the best means of financing that minimum standard would be by a graduated tax on incomes. I trust that the honorable senator, for whom I have the greatest respect, will realize that this measure conforms entirely with the recommendations of the committee.
– I do not agree with that. No provision is made in this bill to cover the existing social services.
– I suggest that in framing its recommendations, the committee did not intend that the principle of a graduated tax on incomes should apply only to existing measures; it was intended that the principle should apply to all social services.
– Including existing measures.
– Surely it cannot be argued that, because no provision is made for the inclusion of existing social services, the principle is wrong. This principle is being laid down for the first time, and if the Government is prepared to accept it and embody it in legislation, we should be prepared to stand by it. Having subscribed to the principle I cannot see how Senator Cooper can possibly have any objection to this measure.
– I object to it because existing social services have not been included.
– I shall leave that matter to other honorable senators to decide. The pamphlets which have been issued on this subject show clearly the plans envisaged by the Government. The Government proposed to introduce a comprehensive scheme of national welfare, including provision for sickness, unemployment and other associated services. These are matters which the committee recommended should be provided for. Obviously it is impossible to draft such schemes in a few days. Although the Government has been in office for only eighteen months, already it has given effect to many recommendations of the Joint Committee on Social Security. Some time ago the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) assured the House that a measure would be brought down covering certain of the committee’s recommendations, relating to unemployment insurance, a medical service, and housing. This measure represented a step in that direction. Senator Cooper must realize that the preparation of a Commonwealth-wide plan of medical services or hospital treatment is a gigantic task. The Joint Committee on Social Security has not yet finished taking evidence on some of these matters.
– This bill will not help the committee along.
– It certainly will cause no delay. The committee took a considerable volume of evidence relating to unemployment and investigated the scheme of unemployment insurance operating in Queensland. It also investigated similar schemes operating in Great Britain, America, and in various European countries. From all those schemes the committee has laid down certain basic principles which it considers should be the foundation of any plan providing for care of the unemployed. The preparation of that plan occupied many months, and the committee cannot expect its recommendations to be given legislative effect in the brief time that has elapsed since its report has been placed in the hands of the Government. A beginning has been made, and the Government has adopted the principle that the whole of the people should be maintained at a minimum standard of subsistence, below which they should not be permitted to fall. The Government has decided to set aside a sum of money so that, when people experience bad times, sickness, unemployment and other disabilities, benefits will be available to them. The Government has not submitted legislation providing for the adoption of all of the recommendations of the committee, but it has made substantial progress in that direction. The proposal has been submitted that the necessary financial provision should be made by means of a contributory scheme, and that payments should commence immediately, so that funds may be built up, in order that, in the lean years, the contributors will be able to derive necessary benefits; but the committee, after examining that proposal, decided to recommend the adoption of a graduated income tax, and its recommendation in that regard has been accepted by the Government. The Government considers that, rather than impose on the worker a direct contributory tax, and place into a fund money that could be used after the war, it should adopt the recommendation of the committee, and use portion of the revenue derived from a graduated income tax, not only for the relief of unemployment, but also for national welfare purposes generally. I am glad that the Government has, at such an early date, given effect to some of the recommendations of the committee, and I trust that members of the Opposition will assist the Government in giving effect to other social security measures contemplated by the committee.
Honorable senators opposite have criticized the method adopted by the Government for the provision of a reserve fund for national welfare purposes. Senator McBride has said that the money to be provided would be blown away on shot and shell. Many attempts have been made to draw a ‘red-herring across the trail, so that the people will draw a wrong inference from the Government’s proposal. A few weeks ago the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Fadden) submitted ‘certain amendments, one of which provided that, of the total additional income tax payable, 50 per cent, should be treated as a post-war credit. He proposed that such a credit should be placed aside into a reserve fund and that at the end of the war it should be paid back to the individuals who had contributed the money. The Opposition is agreeable to the repayment of that money at the end of the war to those who contributed it during the war, yet, when the Government desires to set aside a sum of money for the purposes of a national welfare fund, we are told that that money will disappear in shot and shell and cannot be replaced. Either Senator McBride is trying to mislead the people, or he has a woeful lack of knowledge of the Government’s financial proposals. Whether we raise war loans, provide post-war credits or vote money to a national welfare fund, the money will not be locked in a bank,, but will be used in the prosecution of the war.
– Why not raise the money from year to year as the circumstances require?
– That is a fair question. The joint committee considered that in the post-war period there will be a transition period when half a million or more men will be transferred from the armed forces to civil life, and I believe it will be necessary to have a fund available to enable them to be cared for. at that time.
– It will be necessary to raise money by means of loans later in order to replace money taken from the fund for war purposes.
– Under the Commonwealth Audit Act, a certain line of action must be taken. When the money is raised it must be paid into the Commonwealth Bank or another bank, and the Government can use it at a later date. If the Commonwealth Bank was prepared to make it available to the Government for war purposes that would be the bank’s responsibility, and it would be a responsibility of the bank to pay the £30,000,000 when that money was required for social security purposes. That would be an ordinary financial transaction.
– There would be a limit to the sum which the Commonwealth Bank would advance in those circumstances.
– That would be a matter for the bank itself to determine. The Commonwealth Bank is big enough to handle the transactions. There should be no risk of the people of Australia losing the money in the trust fund so long as that fund conforms with the Audit Act and the money will be available when the war is over. For the first time in the history of Australia, a Government has said that there shall be a minimum below which no one in the community shall be allowed to fall. This measure is an attempt to give effect to that principle.
– What is that minimum?
– The Government is taking the first steps to establish a trust fund from which people, who through unemployment, sickness, or other reasons, lose their incomes, may still be able to maintain themselves at a reasonable standard. Such a proposal should commend itself to every member of this Parliament. Honorable senators opposite should bear with the Government if it has not yet been able to introduce all the legislation to give effect to its programme. They know that the intention of the Government is to provide for security against unemployment, sickness, and so on.
– Can that be done under the Constitution?
– I believe so. If the money is available, almost anything can be done under the Constitution. By a system of grants-in-aid practically every difficulty can be overcome. I ask honorable senators opposite to give to this measure their sympathetic consideration and to pass it rapidly through the Senate. .
.- In considering this bill we should take our minds back to the reasons for its introduction. Listening to honorable senators opposite, one would imagine that the motive underlying the introduction of this bill was a desire on the part of the Government to provide social services which could not be provided otherwise; but I point out that this measure will not give to the Government any power to obtain finance which it does not already possess under its power to appropriate revenue from time to (time. The reason for the introduction of this measure was a desire on the part of the Government to placate that section of the caucus which is opposed to the lowering of the exemption in respect of income ;tax.
– The honorable senator is wrong.
– If I am wrong I should like the honorable senator to explain why the Government attempted to include in the Income Tax Bill a condition in relation to the national welfare fund which the bill now before the Senate seeks to establish. One of the problems which has confronted not only the present Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) but also his predecessors in office, has been the best way to obtain additional revenue from taxation. Successive Treasurers have been advised that if additional money were required, they would have to resort either to a greater use of bank credit, or to a system of taxing the lower ranges of income. I realize the predicament in which the Government finds itself, because no political party likes the idea of taxing persons with low incomes. It is much easier to “ sock the rich “, because persons with large incomes do not constitute a large section of the community, and their votes are not so effective at- election time. The financial advisers of the Government have pointed out on many occasions that the only way to obtain sufficient money to finance the war, without resorting unduly to the use of bank credit or borrowing too heavily on the loan market, is to tax the lower ranges of income. After a great deal of persuasion, the Treasurer submitted to the Labour caucus proposals to tax such incomes. I do not pretend to know what occurred in the caucus, but from time to time happenings in caucus leak out. The public understands that the determination of a section of the Labour caucus to resist the taxing of persons with small incomes led to strife within the party. But is it, after all, a serious thing that the Government should propose to tax such incomes? It is true that an individual earning £104 per annum is to be asked to pay 6d. in the £1 tax, but, as Senator Leckie pointed out a few days ago, most of the persons affected will be young people without serious family responsibilities. In a time of national emergency it is not too much to ask them to pay a few shillings a year towards the cost of the war. The Government would have earned the esteem not only of its own supporters but also of the Opposition in both houses of the Parliament, and, indeed, of the people generally, if it had said that, although in normal circumstances it objects to taxing people in the lower ranges of income, now that the country is at war it believes that such persons should make some direct financial contribution to the war effort. But the Government, in order to cover up its proposal to tax incomes in the lower ranges, has. tacked this measure onto the Income Tax Bill. No relationship really exists between the taxing of incomes in the lower ranges, and the creation of social services. Why does the Government wish to camouflage the fact that it has found it necessary, in order to finance the war effort, to tax incomes in the lower ranges, by introducing this measure, which is nothing but a hollow shell? This bill is mere camouflage. No doubt, Government supporters will hawk it around the country, and point to it as something to be given in return for the tax which persons on lower incomes are to pay. At the same time, however, the Government refuses to indicate specifically the benefits which it says it intends to provide under its national welfare scheme. Honorable senators on this side have never opposed any proposal designed to aid .’he Government in the prosecution of the war. We have co-operated with it in the passage of loan bills and taxation measures, and have done all we can to make the Government’s task of prosecuting the war as easy as possible. However, the
Opposition will always oppose any attempt by the Government to implement its policy of the socialization of industry. Senator Brown referred to conditions which existed in the bad old days in Great Britain and other countries, as well as in Australia. No member of this Parliament wishes to see those conditions revived. In the past many employers regarded- their employees as mere vassals, existing solely for their profit. Those days have gone. To-day. the wise employer knows that in order to win the full co-operation of employees ike latter must be well-paid and properly fed, clothed and housed. Wise employers realize that a happy and contented community means prosperity in industry. Honorable senators on this side agree with what Senator Brown said in that respect. We wish to provide social services to the limit of the country’s capacity to do so. We want our people to be assured that in the evening of their lives they will have something to fall back upon. We also want to make available to our people health services at reasonohle costs. However, many valuable social services have already been provided. No vital difference exists between the views of honorable senators on this side and those of the Government with respect to the provision of social services. I repeat that governments which we on this side supported were responsible for most of our present social services. At no time did we introduce a measure which could be regarded as a hollow sham. A glance at the history of past governments, which were akin politically to honorable senators on this side, will show that they did much in that direction. I have been a member of the Senate for over a quarter of a century, and have witnessed many changes in Parliament and in the country during [hat period. Shortly after I was elected to the Senate the Government, of which I was a supporter, introduced the Navigation Act, which for the first time provided reasonable accommodation and conditions for seamen. That Government was led by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes). Another government led by the same right honorable gentleman established the Commonwealth Public Service Child Endowment Scheme, and also provided for the adjustment of the salaries of public servants in accordance with variations of the cost of living. Later, another Government, which was supported by honorable senators on this side, provided child endowment in respect of the public generally. Therefore, we on this side have given practical proof of our desire at all times to provide social services for our people to the limit of the country’s capacity to do so. The War Service Homes Scheme was introduced by the Hughes Government. Under that scheme many people were enabled -to purchase homes on a low scale of repayment, and at a low rate of interest. In addition, State governments politically akin to honorable senators on this side have established housing schemes. The party to which I belong was also responsible for the introduction of industrial arbitration in the Commonwealth sphere. Since I was elected to the Senate, a quarter of a century ago, the rate of invalid and old-age pensions has been increased by approximately 125 per cent., and, with one exception, all those increases were effected by governments which honorable senators on this side supported. I merely cite those instances in order to dispel any idea that might exist in the minds of some people that honorable senators on this side are opposed to the improvement of our social services. Of course, honorable senators opposite, in view of their political experience, are aware of the facts which I have related. But they are blinded not only by their political bias, but also by their desire to mislead the public into believing that they and they alone are willing to assist in improving our social services. We have listened to several speeches from the other side, including that of Senator Brown, who would lead us to believe that his party alone desired to improve the social welfare of the community. The honorable senator has to speak like that now, because I was pleased to learn in the last few hours, that he was successful in winning his pre-selection ballot in Queensland, although we shall have very much pleasure in replacing him and his two colleagues by three candidates from our side of politics.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Brown). - The honorable senator is not in order. There is no reference to pre-selection ballots in the bill.
– This bill has its origin with the disgruntled members of the Labour caucus, who would agree to the Government taxing the lower range oi incomes only on condition that it tacked a measure of this kind onto the Income Tax Bill. I come now to one serious point which Senator McBride made in relation to the future of direct taxation in the Commonwealth. If the figures contained in the hill mean that a quarter, of the direct taxation to be provided by the income tax on individuals will .always be a minimum of £30,000,000 a year, as pointed out by Senator McBride, then for all time the very minimum of direct taxation which must be provided by the community to the Commonwealth Government will be in the region of £120,000,000 per annum. That prevents for a very long time, so long as this measure is on the statute-book, any reduction of the income tax burden on the community. Senator Brown seemed rather to rejoice in the fact that here was some other means by which the proceeds of the present abnormally high taxes could be spent. I make no apology for saying that I hope that a reduction of direct taxation will be possible very soon after the conclusion of the war. I do not want to see a state of chaos in the repatriation of our troops. I wish to see the work done systematically, and the men drafted back gradually into industry so that there will be no unemployment. I want to see all the men kept in the fighting services until such time as work is provided for them.
– This bill does not provide for keeping soldiers in the Army.
– It is supposed topi ay some part in post-war rehabilitation, according to honorable senators opposite, but it will be a very poor outlook for the individual and the business community generally if the present rates of direct taxation are to be maintained by the Government, for all time. Some men in the community are paying up to 18s. 6d. in the £1. That is confiscation of capital, not a tax, because the average man who pays that rate of tax on account of his various obligations, finds it impossible to live on the ls. 6d. in the £1 which is left to him. In time of war, however, when the country is fighting for its existence and all our assets are at stake, one can at any rate attempt to justify taxation of that kind, but no Government can justify, taxation of 18s. 6d. in the £1, no matter what an individual’s income- i3, in times of peace, whether for social or any other services. I hope that one of the first things we are able to do at the conclusion of hostilities will be to make some all-round and substantial reductions of taxation, and so give relief to taxpayers. If honorable senators opposite imagine that men will build up industries and successful professions, and endeavour to climb to the top of the tree in any walk of life under a burden of taxation of 18s. 6d. in the £1, they will be disappointed, because I do not think that anybody will do so. We cannot expect the individual who is prepared to give his time, intellect and finance to building up a big business or profession to carry on under such a burden.
– I rise to order. I submit that the honorable senator is not in order because the bill does not propose to impose rates of tax.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - The bill proposes to appropriate a certain sum of money which is to be placed in a trust fund for the welfare of the people, including returned soldiers. A certain amount of latitude has been allowed in the debate, because the bill deals with national welfare’, and passing references to matters which may be outside the strict scope of the bill, but which have relation to the welfare of the people, are allowable.
– I hope that I do not have to look forward to a continuation for all time of the present high rates of tax. I remind Senator Amour that the very foundation of the fund to be provided by the bill is to be 25 per cent, of the money raised by increased income taxes on individuals, other than companies. Let us not deceive ourselves as to the real motive for the bill. The Government is bringing down some measures which are at present before the House of Representatives dealing with an increase of maternity allowances, and the rectification of certain anomalies in connexion with invalid and old-age pensions. They will be dealt with on their merits and will probably be passed, because they provide additional social services which I believe that the majority of the members of this Parliament favour, but the finance for those increased social benefits will be provided out of Consolidated Revenue. The money will be secured from the ordinary revenues of the Commonwealth, either by direct taxation or by some other means. There is no necessity to have a bill setting up a trust fund of this kind to enable the Government to increase invalid and old-age pensions, if it so desires, by 2s. 6d. a week, or to introduce some form of national insurance to relieve unemployment, or to establish free hospital treatment for the needy, as suggested by one honorable senator on the other side. If the thing is constitutionally practicable, the Government should be able by means of its ordinary budgetary provisions in each financial year to provide the money required for any improved social services of which Parliament approves. A bill like this, which allegedly sets up a special trust fund, is purely eye-wash for the purpose of making it appear to that section of the community, part of which is now being taxed for the first time, that some benefit is coming -to them which the Government could not give them by any other means. The ‘Government can provide all those benefits whenever it desires, without establishing a trust fund of this kind. After all, what does the Government proposal involve? It involves merely a book entry; a transference of money from one fund to another. The money that is to be put into the proposed national welfare fund will be reinvested in the form of war bond’s or government securities. To accomplish that objective, there is no need for intermediate legislation of this kind. The Government has ample power over the finances of this country to introduce whatever schemes of social services it favours, at any time.
– We are merely asking the approval of Parliament to make a start.
– I point out that despite the attempt of certain honorable senators opposite and their colleagues in the House of Representatives to govern by regulation, this Parliament is still the supreme legislative authority in this country. At any time the Government may introduce legislation providing for social services for this or that section of the community, and if its proposals are acceptable to Parliament effect will .be given to them, but if, on the other hand, they are not acceptable, then they will share the fate of certain other measures. The bill is merely a subterfuge and a sham, and I urge the Government to abandon this pretence. It is an attempt to deceive the people. The Government has a big enough job in organizing our war effort without adding to its problems with proposals of this kind. Honorable senators on this side of the chamber will always support wholeheartedly measures designed to assist our war effort. The Government has just launched a second £100,000,000 loan, which we all hope will be successful. At the opening of that loan the Leader of the Opposition m the House of Representatives (Mr. Fadden) played his part by making an appeal for subscription to every section of the community.
– Why does not the honorable senator play ‘his part instead of indulging in the old game of party politics ?
– I do not relish discussing my private business affairs in this chamber, but in reply to the honorable senator’s interjection, I feel bound to state that I have invested as much as I possibly can in every loan. I hope that Ohe honorable senator has done the same. I regret that he has seen fit to make an interjection of that kind.
– I was not referring to the honorable senator’s private affairs, but to his participation in the old game of party politics in this chamber.
– I regret that I misunderstood the honorable senator. My attitude to this measure is the same as that which I have adopted to certain other legislation that has been brought before the Senate. I am quite prepared to give consideration to whatever form of social security the Government considers should he established in this country. It is my earnest desire to see the lot of the Australian people improved.
– Then here is the honorable senator’s opportunity.
– No, it is merely an opportunity that the Government is making for itself. ‘Senator McBride has indicated his intention of moving an amendment, and I contend that if the Government is really sincere, it will accept the amendment, and thus ensure that all the proposals for improved social services in this country shall be brought before Parliament for discussion.
– Apparently the honorable senator will support the amendment.
– I shall support the amendment because in addition to desiring to see conditions of the people of this country improved by means of extended social services, I also wish to ensure that Parliament shall retain its control “of the national purse. I should not like to see a fund established which would enable the Government to distribute largesse to various sections of the community behind the back of Parliament. This legislature must continue to be responsible for the authorization of expenditure which this Government or any other Government may wish to indulge in. That is the reason why an amendment will be moved by ‘Senator McBride, and I suggest that the Government would he well advised to accept it. I am surprised and disappointed that a Government led by the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin), who has said frequently that everything must be subordinated to the war effort, should sponsor a measure of this kind. Despite the fact that it has a tremendous task before it, the Government apparently cannot refrain from playing the party political game. It is endeavouring to lead people in the lower income groups to believe that they will receive an almost immediate return for the taxes which are to be levied upon them for the first time. The story that is being told to these people by the Government is that although a substantial portion of the revenue from increased taxes is to he placed in a trust fund, which will be drawn upon to assist the war effort, a return for the taxes will be given in the near future by means of increased social services. It would be much more honest for the Government to tell the people frankly that the financial problems of this nation are such that every wage-earner must make a direct contribution to war funds. The response to such an appeal would be much better than will be the reception accorded to this measure, which is merely subterfuge and camouflage. Let us tell the people that as our lives and our homes are in danger, every one must subscribe.
– The wording of this measure is perfectly clear and concise. It proposes to establish a fund or credit, amounting to £30,000,000 a year, which is to be used for the purpose of providing social services for those members of the community who need them. There is no camouflage. The difference between this procedure and that which has been followed in the past is that in. this instance we are appropriating money to give effect to future legislation. We do not intend to spend months and perhaps years debating what plans should be adopted. In a search for precise terms, Senator Spicer wanted to know the meaning of this word and that word. If I were to adopt the same tactics, I should he justified in asking the honorable senator just what be means by the “ spirit of the Constitution “ to which he said this proposal was opposed. Did he mean the visible spirit or the invisible spirit; did he mean the spirits of the dead which were responsible for drafting the Constitution and, if se, is the honorable senator the spiritual medium through which these spirits are expressing themselves? The Government has attempted to play with words with the object of mystifying and misleading people who do not know any better. The Government has a number of plans that it is prepared to submit to Parliament. The Minister (Senator Fraser) in his speech on the motion for the second reading of the bill said -
Briefly, those plans involve the introduction, stage by stage, of a comprehensive scheme of welfare services, including health, unemployment and sickness, and other associated services. Bills covering some parts of the scheme have already been prepared, and, it is hoped, will be dealt with during the present sittings.
These bills relate to maternity benefits, a liberalized scheme of maternity allowances, and funeral benefits for invalid and old-age pensioners. Preliminary work on unemployment and sickness schemes is in hand, and it is anticipated that the billa covering these two benefits will be ready for consideration by Parliament within six months.
There is no possibility of the money proposed to be raised under this measure being used for purposes other than those set out in the bill itself, and no money will be expended on the plans ‘to which reference was made by the Minister until they are submitted to and approved by the Parliament. If there be any better or fairer way of approaching the problem than that, I have yet to learn what it is. In speaking on another bill recently I said that we learn by experience. Practical experience is the world’s greatest and only teacher. A sound theoretical knowledge of social or financial problems is good, but, without practical experience, theoretical knowledge is of little use.
What happened in 1815, when the battle of Waterloo was won by the English Army, is exactly what has been going on since that time. In 1815, the people of Great Britain witnessed the capitalization of the post-war situation by those who had most to gain and had an opportunity to act in that direction. The position in 1815 was capitalized by the Rothschilds by means of information gained through the medium of carrier pigeons or messengers on horseback. They received an intimation, before the news reached London, that the battle of Waterloo had been won,’ and they immediately began to circulate rumours that the battle had been lost, that the English Army had been defeated, and that the best thing the people could do was to realize on their securities for any price they could get, and leave the country. By that means the Rothschilds obtained securities of all kinds to such a large amount that they were able to establish the Rothschild Bank. The end of the story is that for many years, in the early part of the nineteenth century, poverty unprecedented in its history was experienced throughout the length and breadth of England. Financial groups, represented at that time by the Rothschilds, were able to control practically the whole of the means of production throughout
England, and to force down the living standards of the working people to a lower level than previously. A Westminster magistrate, named Colquhoun, wrote several books on the subject, among which were, The Moral State of the Metropolis and Treatise on the Police of the Metropolis. He gave facts and figures relating to the appalling state of poverty caused at that time by the Rothschilds and others, who capitalized the post-war situation by making it impossible after the war to do anything to, protect the interests of the people. That most widely read author, Charles Dickens, referred to the conditions of the workers at the time in equally scathing and convincing terms. Senator Darcey mentioned the fact that poverty was the cause of crime. The crime committed in those days was appalling. Men, women and children were herded in gaols and subjected to the most indescribable conditions, from the effects of which they never recovered. In 1824, an official document, was submitted to the Parliament of Great Britain on the conditions of the agricultural workers, and another document was presented in 1832 on the conditions of factory children. Those deplorable conditions were due to the fact that governments of the day had not taken the precaution to prevent the capitalization of the post-war situation. There was a repetition of such administrative blunders after the South African war. As soon as peace was declared the government of the day in Great Britain provided for the expatriation of thousands of Chinese coolies to South Africa to take the place of white workers.
-^- -What has that to do with this bill?
– I shall show that the Opposition objects to the Government’s proposal in this bill, because its desire is to leave the way clear after the present war for the capitalization of the situation, as was done after previous wars. The Government of Great Britain made no provision after the Great War, such as that contemplated hy the Commonwealth Government, in order to protect the interests of demobilized soldiers and workers on whom the Empire relied for its very existence during the war. The result was appalling poverty. The following is an extract submitted in 1937 by the committee, appointed by the Ministry of Health in Great Britain, that inquired into anti-tuberculosis services in “Wales and Monmouthshire: -
Housing and Sanitary Services. - We measured one house; the living room was 11 feet by 7 feet by 8 feet high, the bedroom was 10 feet by ti feet by 8 feet high; the bedroom contained two double beds. In that house, up to March, 1938, ten persons had lived - a man, two women and seven children.
We are of opinion that Dr. Emrys Jones did not overstate the condition of the house when lie said : “ I think you will agree that the overcrowding in that house was worse than anything one could find in the native quarter of Shanghai.”
Feeding of the Children. - The children take with thom in their satchels some sandwiches - usually jam sandwiches - and sometimes a small medicine bottle containing milk. Often they cross fields and moorlands to reach the school - sometimes they are carried, sometimes they have to walk the .whole way. We were told that very often, when the morning interval arrives, the children are hungry and at once they go to their satchels and start eating their sandwiches, with the result that when the midday interval arrives there is nothing left.
Often, when they arrive home, they are given only a piece of bread and butter or bread and jam, and have to wait some time - .probably for the return of the father from work - before they get a proper meal. We were told repeatedly that this was a fair description of the conditions existing, even to-day, for many children in the rural districts.
The main diet is tea and bread and butter. Sunday is the only day when fresh meat appears on the table. Country products such as milk, eggs, garden vegetables and fruit enter very little into the diet of the people, and the milk-oatmeal foods (i.e. porridge, flummery, and oatmeal cake) once so characteristic of Welsh farm life, are rarely seen even in outlying farms.
Forty or 50 years ago (and more) the average country labourer would have his home- cured ham hanging in the house. He cultivated a vegetable garden which provided green vegetables, potatoes, &c, for his family, and ensured adequate supplies of vitamins. His wife prepared wholesome porridge, nourishing soups and stews. Milk was freely consumed, and buttermilk formed a very cheap and valuable food, containing, as it does, the proteins, sugar and salts of .milk, and also being a refreshing drink. Now buttermilk is unobtainable, ordinary milk is often difficult to procure in country districts and is high in price. Home-cured hams are rarely seen. porridge almost entirely neglected, and few housewives take the trouble to prepare the different varieties of soups and stews so familiar formerly in Wales. Instead the staple food is bread and butter or margarine, with or without jam, with tea, supplemented by prepared foods of various kinds, whether cereals, chipped .potatoes, tinned meat, or fish, and practically no green vegetables. Often, instead of fresh milk, condensed skimmed milk is used.
It will be seen that conditions in the mining centres of Great Britain, where the miners were condemned for demanding better living and working conditions, were worse in 1937 than they were 50 years ago. The reason was that adequate provison was not made after the war of 1914-18 to protect the demobilized soldiers and workers, particularly the miners. No social security was given to them. The result was that the average age of the persons who died from tuberculosis ranged from 20 years for women to 25 years for men. Unless provision is made to meet the conditions which will arise after this war, similar conditions are likely to prevail. Honorable senators will recall that the Duke of Windsor when King Edward VIII. directed attention to the appalling state of the people of Wales after the last war, and the need for a scheme of social security. He condemned the British Government for its indifference to the needs of the people. Hundreds of thousands of British workers, who had given of their best to save the Empire, were left to starve. Yet Senator McBride condemns certain Labour leaders in Great Britain for expressing suspicion about the rejection of the Beveridge plan by the House of Commons! I submit that they had good ground for their suspicion. In the absence of definite legislation to provide for social security after this war, they had the best of reasons for believing that a similar state of affairs would exist after this war, and was intended. I say that without qualification or reservation, because if those who opposed the Beveridge plan, despite its shortcomings, had been honest and sincere in their desire to protect the workers after the war, they would not have opposed it. Similarly, I say that, if honorable senators are honest and sincere, and intend to do what they would have us believe they desire to do, they will not oppose the bill before the Senate. If, however, their support of the bill is not forthcoming, and they succeed in destroying it, they, too, should be condemned. One of the reasons for the state of affairs which, existed in Great Britain after the last war was that a certain group of British financiers poured capital into Germany, Italy and Japan, particularly Germany and Italy, in order to build up the secondary industries of those countries and to assist in creating the war machine which they possess to-day. By doing so, they starved to the degree that I have mentioned the working population of Great Britain. Yet Senator McBride says that Labour members of the House of Commons have no grounds for their suspicions! Actually, the position to-day is that civilization is threatened with destruction by a military machine created mainly with British capital, which should have been employed to provide social security for the workers of Great Britain. In the light of the facts, the Government is to be commended for attempting, in a small way, to lay the foundation of social security, so that at least those who may need it ‘will be provided with a reasonable amount of food, clothing and shelter, and such dental and medical services as may be required. I have said that the process of capitalizing the post-war situation began in 1815 in the interests of the Rothschilds. It is now being carried on by the Bank of International Settlements. I shall now refer to a report which was published in the West Australian of the 26th October last. The report is headed “ Post-war Trade “. Honorable senators will notice that post-war trade, not postwar social security, is the dominant note.
– Without trade we cannot have social security.
– If we established social security, trade will be conducted under much more equitable conditions than is the case to-day; but without social security, trade is conducted under the same conditions as it was after the battle of Waterloo, the Boer War and the war of 1914-18, with the result that thousands in Australia and millions in Great Britain were impoverished. To-day the dominant thought is profit. Speaking on another measure, Senator Leckie said he was very disturbed in mind as to whether the people would secure in return for loans to the Government money which has a purchasing value equal to that of the money they lend. That was the honorable senator’s dominant thought. He was not concerned to the same degree about the lives of the men in the front line. If he was, he certainly did not say so. However, honorable senators opposite have sounded over and over again the note that we want in return for money lent to the Government money of equal value; but, at the same time, they have not said one word about the lives which are being risked on the battle-field, and which, if sacrificed, can never be replaced. I say to them that their opposition to this measure is based on the arguments of those who are dominated by the thought of profit. How much profit are we going to get out of this? How best can we secure our property, and increase our capital after the war? That is their thought; they do not pay much regard to the provision of this small measure of social security for disabled soldiers and the workers. Some people are now actually insisting that every munitions factory should be shut down the moment peace is declared. For what purpose? For the purpose of saving the wealthy from additional taxes. That is the dominant thought. Such people will not hesitate to throw the workers on to the streets, as they have been thrown out of factories after every war in order that the property of the wealthy can be protected, and those interests will be wealthier after the war than they were at its commencement. The report to which I was about to refer when Senator Sampson interjected, reads -
London, 25 October. “ Collaboration is essential in planning for the future of each country as a necessary part of a wider economy “, says a report of the Bank of International Settlements which has reached London. The Governor of the Bank of England (Mr. Montagu Norman) and Sir Otto Niemeyer (also on the Bank of England Board) are the British directors; Germany has three directors, neutral countries two and Italy, France, Belgium, Holland and Japan provide nine.
Representatives of the Axis countries are now collaborating and conferring with representatives of the big financial interests in Allied countries as to how they are going to control post-war trade. No doubt, they will do so by investing their capital in low-wage countries. The report continues - “ Difference in conception exists whether the wider economy should be on a world basis or firstly evolved in separate politically defined areas with arrangements for trade between these areas as larger entities “, the report continues.
The suggestion is made that various countries should limit their power to alter the exchange value of their currencies or main commercial practices regardless of the interests of their neighbours. National policies must sometimes be adapted to the requirements of common development. “ An individual country may feel keenly sacrifice involved in some measures to be adopted “, the report adds, “ but the result of alignment should be to ensure a higher degree and lasting welfare for each than that attainable alone “.
In its activities, the bank has constantly adhered to the principles of scrupulous neutrality which it laid down for itself in the autumn of 1039, avoiding all transactions whereby any question could possibly arise of conferring economic or financial advantages on a belligerent nation to the detriment of another.
Personally, I would not believe neutrality is intended, even if the representatives of those interests were to take an oath on a wagon-load of bibles to that effect. I cannot be convinced that representatives of financial interests who are now conferring with representatives of the Axis countries can be absolutely neutral. It is humanly impossible for them to be absolutely neutral. What is being done now was done during the last war. Those interests are now asking themselves, in effect, “Just how far can we agree among ourselves to divide the world economically and in our interests alone ? “ In the meantime, the war goes on, and millions of lives are being lost. The financial interests which are behind the opposition to this measure are the same interests which have been behind every proposal of this kind since 1815 to provide social security for demobilized soldiers and workers. I shall give the reason for that opposition. Those interests argue that the more secure we make the workers, the more independent they become and, therefore, the more difficult to exploit. That argument is not new. It was used when man first began to exploit and impoverish his fellow man for profit. It was the argument used by the politician McAdam in connexion with the abolition of slavery in America. Dealing with that issue, he asked whether the abolition of slavery would really matter provided that the interests he represented limited the food, clothing and shelter of the worker to his bare needs. In such circumstances, it would not matter whether the workers were free men or slaves. The big financial interests control the workers to the degree ,that they control the means by which the workers live. I emphasize that the opposition to this measure is designed to deprive the workers and demobilized soldiers and their dependants of that measure of social security which would enable them to demand just conditions under which to live and work. That is the policy behind the opposition to the bill. Senator McBride referred to the audacity of the Government. I consider that the Government is not audacious to the extent that I should like to see it. I believe that it is influenced to a large extent by its heart rather than its head and by a tendency to credit the Opposition with being a great deal more sincerely and favorably disposed towards the workers than it actually is. Those words may be harsh, and may be said by some to be unwarranted, but to those who have read and studied social problems, and who know the experiences of the working classes in years gone by and also in our own time, to which Senator Brown has referred, they are justified. Here in this country there has never been at any time a scarcity of food, clothing, shelter or work, but in the depression years, particularly from 1931 to 1934, thousands lived under semi-starvation conditions and thousands of bread-winners were compelled to work in return for the dole. It might be argued that, if there were a scarcity of the essentials of life, if there were not sufficient food to go around, and if it were not possible to obtain clothing and shelter for all because of a genuine shortage, there was justification for putting people on short rations, much as ship-wrecked sailors in an open boat, with only a certain quantity of food, are justified in limiting the share of each individual. In the depression years, however, there was food far in excess of what was actually needed, yet the Senate at the time did more than any other governing body to compel the workers to live under semi-starvation conditions in the midst of plenty. I shall tell honorable senators why that is done, and what arguments are used to justify it. Honorable senators opposite constantly refer to the subject of money. If my advice were asked, I should tell them to try to think and act in terms of commodities. “Where there is no scarcity of the essentials of life there can be, as Senator Brown said, no scarcity of money. Senator McBride spoke of the cost. Can he or those who support his arguments say that we have not sufficient food in this country to provide for all who need it?
– ‘But there is no scarcity of wheat, and while that is so no one need starve. There should be no scarcity of meat, unless stock-holders keep back their sheep with the object of forcing up the prices of wool and mutton. There is no scarcity of butter, cheese, or other foods, but production is restricted for the purpose of forcing up prices, no matter who suffers. Provided that the natural wealth and the labour power to transform it into commodities are there, we know that there is nothing in Senator McBride’s argument about the cost. The honorable senator also expressed fear that the tax would be a further burden on the community. This is a case where the particular is confused with the general, or vice versa. The fact is, as has been very well said, the workers pay all taxes, either directly or indirectly - mostly indirectly - or hoth.
– “Who are the workers ?
– The men who work on the land, in the workshops, the mines, and the laboratories. .They include technicians and others of that kind.
– Is an architect a worker ?
– Of course he is, but a person who tears off coupons and draws interest, living in a pig’s paradise all his life is one of what I term the privileged idle.
– There are very few of them in Australia.
– The honorable senator would have no doubts on the matter if he went to any of the leading hotels in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth or Adelaide. He would find there quite a number of people who, in spite of the war, are living in the very best conditions, while thousands of workers are living on the least that is possible. The workers are at the same time contributing much more to the war effort than the people who dine so sumptuously in those hotels and whose standard of living is ever so much higher than that of the men in the front-line, who live mostly on biscuits and “bully” beef. The position is the same in Great Britain. “Whatever the cost, the hurden is borne by the workers in production, and by no one else. The people who live in a pigs’ paradise, accumulating capital or profits without contributing anything towards production, are doing nothing, comparatively speaking, in the war effort. Senator McBride foreshadowed an amendment to insert in clause 5 after the words “ fortythree “ the words “ such sums as are necessary to meet the cost of social services approved by the Parliament “. That indicates to me that the honorable senator is much more concerned about making social security impossible in the way he has outlined, and conserving profits, than he is about the interests of the workers and the soldiers on whom the nation is dependent for its very existence. To him and others who have expressed similar ideas, money in the form of profits is the dominant factor. I am reminded of a story from the last war. Bill Smith, a hard and competent worker, was employed in a munitions factory in Great Britain. He worked his hardest all day and during long hours of overtime, and at the end of the week he was completely exhausted. On the Friday as usual, he collected his pay, and put it in his pocket. He decided that he would go home, have his evening meal, and go to bed to have a good rest. However, whilst he was on his way home, he fainted in the street through sheer exhaustion. A well-dressed stranger, who was in the vicinity, saw him fall and noticing the pay envelope in his pocket, took if out and placed it in his own pocket. The stranger then decided that he would have to get the poor fellow to hospital, and so he hailed a taxi. Together the well-dressed stranger and the taxidriver took the nian to hospital, and when they arrived there the stranger said to the driver in appreciative tones, “ These Bill Smiths are the backbone of the country. We must do all we can for this man “. The taxi-driver was so sympathetic that he said he would not charge the unfortunate worker for the ride to the hospital, but the stranger said, “ There is no need for you to lose anything. I believe that every man should be well paid for his services.” He then took Bill Smith’s pay envelope from his pocket and paid the taxi-driver 10s. From the same envelope he also made a donation to the hospital, and the matron said he was the most generous man she had ever met. The question that arises is, “ Who paid for the taxi?”. Bill Smith, of course, paid for the taxi, just as hia fellowworkers to-day are paying their taxes. They are robbed first, and then taxes and charitable donations are paid by the rich entrepreneurs, who take credit for their payments and generosity. That is the system by which we are financing this country at present. Figuratively speaking the workers’ pay envelope is appropriated almost as soon as he receives it.
– And sometimes before.
– Yes, that is how it works; yet we find people like Senator Spicer and Senator McBride waxing indignant and saying that they are not prepared to see this sort of thing going on; and that they are going to challenge the Government. Once again it is the old story of Bill Smith and the taxicab. I am reminded also of another story which clearly illustrates the point. One morning a man who had had a little too much to drink the night before went to the barmaid at an hotel and said, “ Miss, would you be kind enough to draw me a pint of beer. I feel very bad. I had a little too much to drink last night “. The barmaid obligingly drew the man a pint of beer, but when it was placed on the counter- he said, “ I think, perhaps, what I need is not a pint of beer but a large whisky. Would you be kind enough to get me one instead of the beer. The barmaid poured the whisky, but once again the customer was hot satisfied and he decided that he would prefer brandy.
– I ask the Minister to address his remarks to the bill. There is nothing about whisky, brandy or beer in this measure.
– I was merely endeavouring to explain by way of analogy the manner in which this country is being financed^ so far as the workers are concerned. The point in the story was that ultimately the customer secured the glass of brandy without having to pay for it. This measure has been introduced by men who from hard, long experience know quite well how the workers are being fooled, ruled, and robbed from the cradle to the grave under the existing financial system. Their wages are based on the mere cost of subsistence, and they never receive more than the mere cost of subsistence unless man-power demands make them indispensable in industry; but when it is proposed that they should be provided with a measure of social security in an endeavour to ensure that they will receive a reasonable supply of food, clothing and shelter so long as adequate production of these commodities is maintained, specious arguments, based upon entirely false and misleading assumptions, are raised by honorable senators opposite for the purpose of defeating this proposal and making it possible for financiers to do after this war what they have done after every other war, namely, to capitalize the post-war situation. At this very moment, these people are planning and scheming so that the moment peace is declared they will be in a good position to establish monopolist control of the industries in which they are engaged. That is the real story behind the opposition of honorable senators opposite to this measure.
– Will the Minister now tell us something about the bill’?
– I do not accept the statements of honorable senators opposite that they approve measure of social security. I do not believe that they are sincere in the matter at all, because if they approved a measure of social security they would know perfectly well that before one penny of the £30,000,000 could be expended on social services not already authorized, the approval of Parliament would have to be sought. I cannot accept the statement by members of the Opposition that they approve of social security measures, because, if they were sincere in their protestations, they would support the bill before the Senate rather than rely on specious arguments based on false assumptions, in an effort to defeat the measure. Any such effort will not succeed. The people are aware that, as the result of the pressure of war and the increasing demand for man-power, both on the fighting front and in production on the home front, many of the smaller business concerns are being practically starved out of existence, and it will be impossible after the war to rehabilitate them under the old conditions. Progressively, the power of private monopolies’, such as those which control sugar, tobacco, beer, bread and meat production, is being increased as the result of the exigencies of war. Either we must lay the foundations necessary for progressive adjustments in future, or those who, after the war, are deprived of their livelihood, must be provided for. Action should be taken, as I hope it will be, constitutionally and dispassionately. In the Axis countries, the post-war difficulties are said to be causing much more concern than the wartime problems; because of the position to which I have directed attention. I hope that the approach to this matter will be made, not in the light of the conditions that prevailed many years ago, but with a full appreciation of present conditions. If a sincere attempt be made to safeguard the interests of the people, as they are entitled to be provided for, I can foresee that we shall come out of this war prepared with the machinery required to meet the post-war situation. Then there will not be another widespread capitalization of the poverty of the people ; but we shall build up the wealth and prestige of this country as never before, and Australia will become one of the brightest gems sociologically in the British Empire.
– The honorable senator who has just resumed his seat has accused members of the Opposition of false assumptions. That is a most extraordinary offence with which to charge them, because from the beginning to the end of his speech he himself was guilty of such assumptions. We are not without feelings of compassion towards our fellow men, and the honorable senator, whose speech was a tirade of abuse, was entirely wrong in his insinuations. The object of this bill is to establish a national welfare fund, and I am in favour of promoting the national welfare. One of the most alarming discoveries of the present war has been the fact that the physique of the people generally is poor, although Australians have often been held up as fine examples of healthy manhood. John Masefield, in his book Gallipoli, speaks with admiration of the physique of the young Australians whom he saw on Gallipoli; but, when the men who have offered their services in the present war were subjected to a strict medical examination, the percentage of those rejected as medically unfit was appallingly high. In most instances the physical defects were traceable to malnutrition in childhood. During a residence in Melbourne for four years, I was brought closely into contact with health problems. It is not necessary for Senator Cameron to go to Great Britain for examples of undesirable social conditions, because, in the course of my work in connexion with Opportunity Clubs in Victoria, I found that a large percentage of the children in industrial suburbs, such as Carlton and Collingwood, suffered from malnutrition. In many instances the trouble was due, not to a shortage of food, but to the consumption of unsuitable food. In the course of the experiments carried out in those districts, a certain number of children were supplied with the Oslo lunch. They were measured and weighed weekly, and the physical improvement they showed was astonishing. The work of the Opportunity Clubs is still proceeding, and I welcome any steps being taken to improve the health and physique of the future Australian citizen. Throughout his speech the Minister for Aircraft Production repeated many times the word “ workers “. I interjected to inquire whom he meant by the term “workers” and was glad to hear him say that practically the whole of the men and women of Australia come within that definition. The statistician’s figures indicate clearly that there are few idle rich in Australia. Some drones are to be found in every community, but the great bulk of the people of Australia are workers, and therefore all the talk about the exploitation of the workers, and what happened to them after the last war, and what will happen to them after this war unless this bill is passed, is so much nonsense. T fear that the post-war period is still a long way off; but I would like to believe that when that time comes it will be possible to avoid the mistakes that have been made in the past, and ensure that there will be no distress or unemployment among the people. I do not believe, however, that that is possible. You, Mr. President, have, no doubt, seen in Western Australia, as I have seen on the South African veldt and in the deserts, what appear to be lakes and green trees in the distance. So real do these things appear that a person is inclined to hurry in order to reach them. But experience has proved only too often that it is a mirage. A man may easily be deceived, but if he is wise he will watch his horse. If the horse beneath him pricks up his ears and moves forward at a swifter pace, his rider knows that what he sees before him is not a mirage. I am afraid that the wonderful world that we are told is to be after ;he war, the “ new order “ which it is said will exist after the present ghastly and bloody struggle of the nations is over, will prove to be in the nature of a mirage. Notwithstanding what any one else may say, I am firmly convinced that wars have to be paid for. They have to be paid for in blood and lives, and nothing that may happen hereafter will ever put that right. In the war of 1914-18’ Australia lost over 60,000 men. That was an irreparable loss to this country. The material waste and destruction caused by war is tremendous, but that is something which can be overcome in time. Human waste, however, can never be restored. We shall have to pay for this war. In a time of war there is practically no unemployment, and the people generally are in receipt of high wages. Inflation is not a bogy, but something which should be avoided like poison. Peace will prove to be a most difficult time. There will certainly be unemployment after the war, due, in a large measure, to a cessation of heavy government expenditure. Even if inflation is deferred for a time, business conditions will still be most difficult. In order to meet those problems, deflationary measures must be taken now. That means increased taxes. I am glad, therefore, that the Government has at last seen the light. I shall support all its. taxation measures, because I know that they will help in some way to check the inflationary tendency which exists to-day.
– This bill is one of the Government’s taxation measures.
– Yes. That is why I commend the Government on having seen the light. I think, however, that the bill will prove to be something in the nature of a mirage, in that it will not do what the Government expects of it. I am afraid that the fund which is to be set up may be similar to other funds which I have known. In Tasmania a sinking fund was created for a certain purpose, but when the money was wanted for that purpose, it was found that the sinking fund had sunk. I am not saying that that fate will overtake this fund, but I ‘ hae ma doots “. Obviously, this measure is a sugar-coated pill for the unthinking people in the community. I realize that sugar-coating is necessary with some pills, otherwise the people would not take them. The taxation proposals being brought down by the Government will help us to overcome the inflationary tendency which is now making itself evident throughout the country. We must deal with that problem immediately. It will be easier to do so under the stress of war than after the war when the people will be clamouring for a return to freedom in their way of life, and, as was the case after the last war, will want to throw off their war-time burdens immediately hostilities cease. The war must be paid for. We cannot escape that fact. We cannot dodge it. Of course, war expenditure is poor security for borrowing, just as it is poor security for credit expansion. This bill is very nebulous. It mentions a plan of social services, but does not give any indication of the structure of that plan. As Senator Spicer, and other honorable senators on this side, have pointed out, clause 6, which deals with the purposes for which the trust fund will be used, is delightfully vague.
I take this opportunity to correct an assumption to which the Minister for Aircraft Production has given voice ad nauseam. A fellow-feeling makes us wondrous kind. When one has been absolutely up against it in a foreign city, and on discharge from hospital finds himself with his health considerably weakened and without a “ razoo “, he is mighty glad to put in six or seven nights in a Salvation Army doss- house on the waterfront. Any one who has had an experience of that kind knows what it is to be up against it. The Minister for Aircraft Production has said on many occasions that honorable senators on this sideare a white-collar brigade, that our hands are soft and have never known toil; and that none of us has ever earned his bread by the sweat of his brow. That is utter nonsense. It is an arrogant assumption. The Minister has reiterated ad nauseam that we on this side are the servants and representatives in this chamber of some mysterious “they”. Who are “they”? “ They “ are the people who grind the poor and oppress the needy and the worker. According to the Minister, we represent those people in this chamber, and all that we do in this chamber is done at their direction and command. That is utter “ poppycock “, and the Minister knows it in his heart; but such talk is part of his stock-in-trade. I resent such talk by any honorable senator. It is untrue. It is too stupid for words; and when the Minister trots out that sort of stuff among responsible and fairly educated men, who have a knowledge of the world and have rubbed shoulders with their fellow-men, implying that honorable senators on this side are absolutely devoid of feeling for their fellow-men and are without bowels of compassion, he gratuitously insults us. That is not worthy of the Minister.
. –I am glad that at least one honorable senator has at last told us frankly that he welcomes any legislation designed to provide for the social security of our people. However, I still do not know whether he intends to support the measure. Like many chaps on the racecourse, probably, he wants to have a “ bob “ each way. I find that the honorable senator did not support the national health and pensions insurance scheme introduced by the Lyons Government. I assume that he will vote with his colleagues on this measure, although if he voted in accordance with the remarks he has made he would support the measure. Senator McBride questioned the wisdom of establishing a fund to provide social benefits, including unemployment allowances, at a time of war, and when every body is employed. We can best make a start with such a scheme when every body is in employment. Obviously, it would have been most difficult to do so in 1934, when hundreds of thousands of our people were unemployed. Another reason why we should now make provision for social services after the war is that at present our workers are labouring such long hours, and their conditions of work generally are so arduous, that it is natural to expect that their health must he seriously impaired by the time the war finishes. Consequently, they will then stand in need of social service benefits.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– I am surprised to hear so much talk about unemployment insurance and at the same time about the new order that is to obtain after the war, but it is wise to make provision in case that new order is not up to expectations. Therefore, if we plan ahead for our social welfare scheme and include in it unemployment insurance while every body is employed, we shall create a fund on which we shall be able to draw to tide us over difficult periods in the future. That is exactly what this bill is designed for. I am hopeful that after the war the unemployment insurance scheme, if it is brought into operation, as it will be, will not have to be used io any great extent. I hope that it will be used only while men are being temporarily moved out of industries connected with the war into others engaged in production in the interests of humanity and for the development of Australia. It will be handy to have the scheme intact and in position, ready in case itis required. The main reason for planning now, to which the Opposition is so much opposed, is to have things ready when they are needed. Looking back to see what happened in other parts of the world, we find what Russia has done by planning ahead, exactly in the way that this Government is planning for the future by introducing this bill. If it had not been for the planning ahead which Russia did after the last war, it would have found itself in a <very different position from, that which it occupies to-day. These figures illustrate what Russia achieved by planning ahead : Its population increased from 147,000,000 on the 17th December, 1926, to 170,126,000 on the 17th January, 1939. Whilst the birth-rate in Russia during that period was unprecedented, the mortality rate declined by 40 per cent, from what it was in 1913. That was only brought about by social planning for the welfare of the people, to lift their morale and let them see that they had something worth living for. This bill is designed to create a fund so that we can do the same for our people in Australia, giving them justice, social service, health and hospital benefits and all those other things which go to make a contented, healthy and fit race. That is one of the reasons why it is necessary now to plan ahead. It is true that in 1938 a bill for a national health and pensions insurance scheme was introduced. The scheme was on a contributory basis and was noi financed by taxation in the same way as this one is to be. Opposition members claim that that was a much better measure than this one, on the ground that it was on .a contributory basis, one-third to be paid by the employee, one-third by the employer and one-third by the Government. They said that that was a sound scheme which would always be solvent, but they predict that according to the way in which we intend to finance out scheme after the war the revenue will fall continuously, because incomes will be reduced and consequently ability to pay taxes will also be reduced. My reply is that the same thing and worse, would have applied to their scheme. At the time when it was introduced, we were not so badly off, but in a time of depression the revenue would fall to a much greater degree than the revenue from income taxation will fall after this war. Do honorable senators opposite, who predict that the revenue will fall, consider that Australia is going to lie dormant with its seven millions of population after the war, after the advertisement that it will get, with people coming here from other parts of the world, and with all the other Allied Nations recognizing the necessity for having this continent thickly populated? I predict that there will be a considerable increase of the population of Australia as soon as the war is over. When all the men now in the fighting forces and the war factories return to civil life, they also will contribute to production.
– Will those who come here from overseas be workers or people with capital?
– It is simply a matter of what materials we have, .and what we can produce from them.
– It is a matter of markets as well.
– Of course, if we are all going to produce everything that we can on a 60-hour week, .we shall certainly have a glut, but the world will have to adjust itself so as to produce only sufficient for the needs of its population. That can be regulated by legislation, so that one man will not be working 50 or 60 hours a week and another man doing no work at all. An honorable senator asks if there will be work for all, and I reply that there will certainly be work for all who are likely to come to Australia for the next 50 years so long as we have a capable government in office. Australia is undeveloped and, if properly governed, can provide work for many more millions.
– The honorable senator says that can be done by a capable government. “When does he expect the present Government to be changed?
– If we had a change of government at the present time it would be disastrous to Australia. I say that without any qualification, because we know what the position was when the last change of government occurred. We remember the mess that this Government had to clean up, the state of the defences of the country and the disaster facing us if we had not moved very quickly. I do not think it would be a change for the better if the party in office went out and the Opposition party came into power. I cannot understand honorable senators opposite opposing this bill, seeing that they supported the national health and pensions insurance scheme so vigorously in 1938. That scheme was to provide benefits for approximately 2,000,000 of the population, because only a certain section of the community was to contribute to it, but the scheme which this Government has in hand, ready to bring into operation as soon as the fund is established, will include the whole of the people of Australia, and not one section only, such as honorable senators now in Opposition wanted to legislate for in 1938. It will certainly not place on a man who is earning only fi a week the burden of paying for his own old-age pension. The contributory basis will not be embodied in this scheme, but the burden of financing it will be thrust upon those best able to pay. Why was the national health and pensions insurance scheme not proceeded with after being supported so vigorously? Some honorable senators opposite said that it was defeated by the members of a certain party which supported the Government. The two schemes are somewhat identical, except that this one is far better than that adopted in 1938 which honorable senators opposite supported. Speaking on the previous scheme Senator James McLachlan said -
The debate in the House of Representatives occupied 100 hours, of which 57 hours was devoted to the second reading - 22 hours to speeches in favour of the measure, 22 hours to speeches against it, and about 12 hours by speakers who adopted a neutral attitude.
Those twelve hours were spent by the Country party, which was then supporting the Government. That is how the Country party and the United Australia party at that time deserted their own scheme. The honorable senator is now opposed to anything in the form of beneficial social legislation.
– How can the honorable senator say that? I have not spoken on this measure.
– All except one of those honorable senators opposite who have spoken on the bill have opposed it. Senator Sampson did not say he was opposed to it. Senator James McLachlan, speaking on the 1938 bill, said -
I wish to offer my meed of praise to the Government for having brought it forward, to Mr. Casey for his absolutely magnificent handling of it in the House of Representatives, and to Sir Walter Kinnear and Mr. Lindsay for the assistance they have rendered to both Parliament and the people.
At that time the present Opposition was bringing forward a bill which was not nearly so good as the measures the present Government intends- to introduce, yet when a better scheme is to be introduced honorable senators opposite want to condemn it. Senator A. J. McLachlan used the same remarks in closing the debate at that time.
– No scheme has yet been brought forward.
– The bill before the Senate now is to provide a trust fund of £30,000,000. The honorable senator says that there is no scheme and that the bill does not explain its purpose. He should read clause 6, which provides -
Moneys standing to the credit of the National Welfare Fund shall be applied in making such payments as are directed by any law of the Commonwealth to be made from the fund, in relation to health services, unemployment or sickness benefits, family allowances, or other welfare or social services.
– None of those laws has been passed.
– No, and it would be unwise for the Senate to debate three or’ four different bills and pass them for these social purposes before it had passed the bill which directs how they are to be financed. We cannot have them all incorporated in one bill, as Senator Spicer suggests. He wants every detail explained, every “ i “ dotted and every “ t “ crossed before be will agree to this bill. When honorable senators opposite were in power, they brought in three or four bills to implement their national insurance, health and pensions scheme, as can be seen by a reference to Hansard. Senator Spicer claimed that at a time such as this, when every available penny should be devoted to our war effort, it was unwise to bring down a measure such as this making provision for the future; but if previous governments had only indulged in a little sound planning, how different events might have been when the Japanese launched their Pacific offensive in December, 1941 ! Unfortunately those administrations did not plan for the future, and the chaotic conditions which operated when this Government took over the reins of office were due entirely to the lack of foresight shown by its predecessors; yet, now that this Administration shows a willingness to do some planning for the future in order that members of our fighting forces will not be thrown upon the scrap heap when the war ends as was the case after the last war, honorable senators opposite claim that this is not the right time to make such plans. If this is not the time to make plans, then I should like to know what is the right time. Should the planning be done at a time like the present when employment is plentiful and wages are reasonably high, or during a depression when one-half of the population is out of work ? I contend that the Government is taking a wise step by planning now, so that there will be an opportunity to build up this fund to such proportions that it will be capable of meeting whatever contingencies may arise in the near future. If Australia wants its population to increase, it will have to take steps similar to those that have been taken in other enlightened countries. We must bring our social legislation at least up to the standard enjoyed by the. most advanced communities, or even beyond that standard. An increase of the birth-rate which is so urgently required in this country can be brought about only by making the people contented with their social conditions.
Members of the Opposition complained also about the proposal that a trust fund should be provided, but although an almost identical trust fund was established in exactly the same way for war. damage insurance purposes, not a word of protest was heard from honorable senators opposite. Why then do they claim that this proposal is something new?
I am rather surprised at Senator Cooper’s opposition to this measure because that honorable senator is a member of the Social Security Committee, certain recommendations of which form the basis of this legislation. Senator Cooper signed the committee’s reports making the recommendations unanimous, but now that a measure based upon those recommendations is introduced, the honorable senator criticizes it. I sincerely hope that at least one or two members of the Opposition will change their views and assist the passage of this measure, so that some provision may be made for the men who are fighting for us to-day, and for the children of men and women who are doing such excellent work in our war industries.
– I do not propose to address myself at length to this measure; it has been thoroughly discussed by other honorable senators who have participated in the debate.. Senator Aylett began Mb address by telling us what had been accomplished in Russia.
– Does the honorable senator object to a reference to Russia?
– No, and I do not think that the PostmasterGeneral (Senator Ashley) will object to what I have to say if only he will give me a chance to say it. Senator. Aylett told us what had been accomplished in the Soviet by means of long-term planning. I admit that Russia has improved its position considerably, but we must remember that the Soviet was a long way behind Australia when it started its longterm planning. In fact, Russia is still a long way behind us. Whilst we realize that there must be some planning for the post-war period, surely Australia, wi;h its small population of 7,000,000 people, cannot expect to dictate a policy of postwar reconstruction for the world. After all, the population of the Allied countries alone totals more than 800,000,000, quite apart from the populations of enemy and enemy controlled countries.
Parliament was summoned early this year for a specific purpose - at least that is what we were led to believe. In September last, the Government brought down a budget estimating certain revenue and expenditure, but when only four months of the year had elapsed it was found that there would be a deficiency of £100,000,000, and that it would be necessary to summon Parliament in order that means of filling that gap might be devised. That, ostensibly, was the main objective in holding the present sittings, but when Parliament met and the position was explained to honorable senators, we were given an exhibition of what might be’ termed high finance. This afternoon Senator Brown charged the Opposition with being the futile financiers of this country, but in view of the financial muddle into which the Labour Government has got this country, it would seem that the charge of being futile financiers could’ more appropriately be levelled at honorable senators opposite. The financial policy of the Government reminds me of what occurred when a certain man was given a cheque-book for the first time. He wrote cheque after cheque until his bank manager became very worried and called him in for an interview. The manager said, “I am sorry, hut your bank account is overdrawn “ ; but his client apparently was not worried, because he said, “Fortunately I have my cheque-hook with me and I shall write you another cheque “.
– When do we laugh?
– I assure the honorable senator that from the point of view of the people of this country the financial policy of this Government is no joke. It has introduced this measure providing for the establishment of a trust fund of £30,000,000, to be added to from time to time; some day it will determine what the money will be used for. In my view, legislation of this kind could not be justified at any time, and in endeavouring to place it upon our statute-book at a time such as this, honorable senators opposite are super-optimists. In view of the fact that every shilling is supposed to be required for our war effort, a proposal of this kind is nothing short of amazing. I do not know of anything that is more detrimental to the war effort than the “ after-the-war “ campaign which is now being indulged in. This Government is endeavouring to create in the minds of the people the belief that after the war we shall return to the same happy conditions that operated prior to the outbreak of war.
– No, much better conditions.
Senator JAMES McLACHLAN.Then honorable senators opposite are truly super-optimists. However, the point I wish to make is that this constant talk of a bright future when the war is over tends to create the impression that the winning of the war by the Allies is a certainty. Is the Government oblivious to the effect that such a belief must have upon the sales of war bonds and war savings certificates? Surely it is obvious that people will say to themselves : “ If everything is going to be all right after the war, I am not going to put my money into Avar bonds or war savings certificates ; I am going to keep it in my pocket so that I will have it to spend when the good times come.” This “ after-the-war “ psychology that is being fostered by the Government will not assist the morale of the people. Unfortunately, although I am ashamed to admit it, there are people in this land who, if they pray at all, say : “ Thank God for the war.”
This measure purports to establish a trust fund of £30,000,000, to he added to ai the rate of £30,000,000 a year, but it does not say to what use that money is to be put. In his second-reading speech, the Minister for External Territories (Senator Fraser) said that in about six months legislation might be brought down to implement the Government’s proposals.
– We are bringing it down now.
– But only for the expenditure of a paltry £2,250,000 out of a total of £30,000,000.
– Well, there is nothing in the fund yet.
Senator JAMES McLACHLAN.This is where the high finance comes in: After establishing the fund, the Government proposes to operate upon it for war purposes. That was made clear in the Minister’s second-reading speech. All the money in the trust fund will be absorbed, and when finance is required for social services the Government will have to borrow more money in order to pay back into the fund the money that lias been taken from it.
– I did not say that.
Senator- JAMES McLACHLAN.But the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) did. How else could the money be restored? The Minister now says that the Government will not borrow in order to replenish the fund. Does it intend to issue more 10 Us? At the 30th June next, inflation will have increased to such a degree that bank credit will have been availed of to the amount of about £500,000,000.
– How does the honorable senator know that?
Senator JAMES McLACHLAN.Because the Government must have money with which to carry on the business of the country, and, unless it has other means of financing the affairs of the Commonwealth, which it has not made known to the public, it will be necessary to resort to an increased use of treasury-bills. It is well known to the people that the present Government desires to raise £40,000,000 by increased income taxation. It has declared for a long while that it would not tax people in the lower income range, but it eventually found’ it necessary to do so in order to obtain the revenue required. Then it looked for a means of placating the people in receipt of the low wages and it evolved the scheme contemplated in this bill. This measure was tacked on to the Income Tax. Bill, and for a considerable time members of the Senate were assured that the two bills were independent of one another, but it was finally admitted by the Government that they were closely related. I hope that the Government and its supporters will accept the foreshadowed amendment requiring that legislation should be enacted with regard to proposed social security schemes. As soon as the Government introduces such bills and indicates what expenditure is contemplated, the Opposition will give careful consideration to them. Two measures have now been placed before us in such a way that each must be considered in conjunction with the other. The Opposition naturally becomes suspicious of such proposals. The Government has promulgated 700 or 800 regulations under the National Security. Act and I am afraid that it may issue further regulations for the purpose of implementing its national welfare scheme, thus avoiding the necessity for submitting its proposals to the Parliament.
– The speech by the honorable senator who has just resumed his seat was not very inspiring. This bill should be discussed calmly, and there is no reason why recriminations should be hurled across the chamber. This measure has been discussed at considerable length, both in this chamber and in the House of Representatives, and I shall not traverse the ground covered by previous speakers. Nor shall I refer to the financial proposals of the Government.
– That is wise.
– There is no occasion to do so, in dealing with a bill of this kind, and I am surprised that the Opposition objects to the measure. lt merely provides for the establishment cf a trust fund for the purpose of dealing with post-war problems such as social and economic security. Does any honorable senator think that the introduction of such a measure is not warranted ? I believe that some honorable senators opposite will support the bill. They will not, like Senator Spicer, delve into history for the purpose of discovering a reason for opposing every measure introduced by this Government. It has every right to anticipate difficulties that are most likely to arise after the war, and the present bill is the first step in implementing a plan providing for social welfare. There is every reason why this measure should be carried unanimously. “We could spend considerable time in discussing the best methods of dealing with, social problems, hut this is not a suitable time for such a debate.
Senator Spicer said that he would willingly support a contributory social service scheme. I remind him that the National Health and Pensions Insurance Act emanated from a government supported by him, and certainly that scheme had a good deal to commend it. I regret that some effort was not made to implement the scheme embodied in that act, because it would have resulted in a commencement being made in the direction of providing necessary social services. Under that measure, the contributions of the proposed beneficiaries would have provided only one-fourth of the total cost of the scheme, whilst in Great Britain the contributions amount to one-third of the cost of the scheme in operation. We cannot expect to be supplied with full details of the plans to be implemented at the conclusion of the war, but the matter can safely be left in the hands of the Government. I should even trust a government formed by the Opposition to make an earnest attempt to meet the social needs of the people after the war. If our men and women are expected to fight and work for this country, they should surely be allowed to live in it in reasonable comfort on their return from the war. Senator A. J. McLachlan holds out no hope for the future, but this war is being fought in order to safeguard democracy and the best interests of the people. Although the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay), in his characteristic manner, airily brushes aside the possibility of social problems having to be solved after the war, the ‘Government should be mindful of the great need to plan for the future. Our peace plan, like our war plan, should be determined in accordance with our resources, and the bill merely provides for the establishment of a trust fund which is to be used by the government of the day for the purpose of dealing with problems that will surely arise after the war. We are prepared to spend £600.000,000 on warlike equipment, and the Government is not asking too much in submitting a scheme providing, among other things, for the rehabilitation in civil life of those who return from the war. We should not overlook the fact that many of those engaged in war service are women. The problem of re-establishing those men and women in industry will be difficult to solve. Although Senator McBride and Senator Spicer said that the bill was nebulous, they knew better. They are not opposing it because it is nebulous. Senator Spicer knows that it has its merits. He knows that the Government is determined to exercise its powers and use its resources to deal with the problems and difficulties which will confront Australia after the war.
– I believe in putting first things first.
– When would the honorable senator begin to deal with these matters?
– When we have won the war.
– That was said during the last war. The people of Australia are prepared to submit to heavy taxation if it is necessary to win the war. Should the money to be raised under this measure be necessary for the winning of the war, there will then be nothing in the trust fund, because our foremost responsibility is to win the war.
I regret that, at times, things are said in this chamber which would be better unsaid. Some of the remarks made here last night come within that category. No doubt the honorable senator whom I have in mind spoke as he did because for some time he has been living in a certain atmosphere, and has not had an opportunity to rub shoulders with the ordinary people of the country, and learn what they are doing. His remarks deprecating Australia’s war effort would have been better left unsaid. Some honorable senators have advocated a contributory scheme; but if the workers are to be taxed to the limit of their capacity to pay, they will not have any money left to make contributions. Their payment of taxes should entitle them to some security in the future. I resent the suggestion that the bill has been introduced in an attempt to fool the people. Even if it be admitted that it was associated with another measure in order to ensure its passage through the Parliament, can we not believe that the Government was prompted by a desire that both measures should become law, so that something could be done now to meet the post-war problems when they arise? Senator
Spicer complained that the Government had not set out its proposals clearly, but when we try to visualize the scope that exists for an improvement of our social conditions it is too much to expect any Government, at this stage, to introduce a measure in which every “ i “ is dotted and every “ t “ crossed. Surely we can accept the assurance of the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) and the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) that the money will be placed in a trust fund so that the Government will have funds available to meet its responsibilities in the post-war period. I regard this legislation as a war measure. I believe that it is necessary to create the proper psychology if we are to get the maximum war effort of which the people are capable. There is too much complacency in and around this chamber. The nearer we get to the far north of Queensland the more we realize the danger which threatens Australia. It is essential that the people engaged in the conflict shall realize that the Government appreciates that danger, and is determined to safeguard their future interests when the war is over. Surely we are not then going back to the old conditions? Surely we do not accept the economic policy of Senator A. J. McLachlan, which is a policy of despair ? The honorable senator said that we shall have so much wheat, that the people will have no bread to eat, and so much wool that our people will be ill-clad. I see possibilities of a far better distribution of the good things of this world than the honorable senator visualizes. If we are to build a strong nation, conditions must be such that our young men and young women shall marry, and establish homes, and have that sense of security which will encourage them to have children. Unless our population is increased we shall not be able to hold Australia. The step that the Government is taking merits the support of all honorable senators. Before deciding to defeat the measure I ask honorable senators opposite to ponder these matters. Senator Spicer need have no fear that money will be wasted on projects which are not in the best interests of the country. Surely we can trust whatever government may be in office to do the right thing. If money is placed in the trust fund, it will be an indication to future governments that on them rests the responsibility for establishing conditions which will enable some of the problems to be overcome. Honorable senators should trust the Government to handle this fund wisely. Ample safeguards are provided. When other bills embodying the Government’s plans come before us, I hope that the Opposition will co-operate with the Government in giving them a quick passage through the Senate.
– The bill before us authorizes the establishment of a trust fund and the appropriation of certain moneys which are to be paid into that fund. It also includes some generalities indicating what the Government proposes to do with the money. In my opinion, there is no need for the proposed trust fund, because the Government can take out of Consolidated Revenue all the money that it may require for the purposes set out in this bill. The measure is top heavy. First, it is a taxing measure, and then it provides for the establishment of a trust fund. Later, we shall probably have a measure setting out how the money is to be expended. I have always thought that the proper procedure is to introduce a bill showing in detail the proposals of the Government for the expenditure of the money proposed to be appropriated. I pledge myself to support any measure which is in the best interests of the people of Australia, but I do not want a repetition of what took place during the years following 1929. The Government has not given any clear indication of what it intends to do with the .money. We have been told that some of it will be used as an insurance against unemployment, and I suppose that it will be used also to provide certain social benefits, such as an increased maternity allowance, and a number of minor matters which were mentioned by the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) and repeated in this chamber by the Minister who introduced the bill. Those purposes will not require a great deal of money, and therefore, we are entitled to ask the Government to hold back this bill until the other measures have been dealt with. Every penny that we can obtain is required for war purposes. The more money that we can get without paying interest on it the lighter will be our burden after the war. Even if £30,000,000 be placed in a trust fund, it may have to be taken out for war purposes. In this connexion, I wish to quote from a speech delivered by the Treasurer in which, under the heading “National “Welfare Fund,” he said -
The Govern mont proposes to establish a national welfare fund through which provision will be made to finance the full scheme. Commencing from 1st July next, it is proposed to pay to this fund out of general revenue an annual sum of £30,000,000 or a sum equal to one-fourth of the total collections each year from Income Tax on individuals, whichever is the lower.
In its early stages the fund will build up some credit balances which will be used later when the welfare scheme reaches full operation. For instance, in the first year a substantial credit may accrue. These balances will not be allowed to remain idle but will be invested, and will thus provide a useful source of temporary finance for war purposes, which will be replaced by long-term borrowings when the moneys are required later for welfare purposes. “Why not pay the money into Consolidated Revenue ? I believe that the Income Tax Bill which recently passed through the Senate was necessary in order to make up some of the leeway due to the fact that expenditure has exceeded the amount already appropriated for certain purposes. This money could be left in Consolidated Revenue, to be drawn upon iis required. It is bad business to put it into a trust fund and take it out and pay interest on the amount, and subsequently go on the market and borrow money at 2-J or 3^ per cent, per annum.
– If we place this money into Consolidated Revenue, we shall not establish a trust fund, and the disbursement of the money would not then come under the Commonwealth Audit Act.
– Does it really matter if the money is paid into Consolidated Revenue? Expenditure is virtually the Government’s responsibility; it has charge of the revenue of the country. The Opposition cannot interfere very much with it in that respect. The Government cwn virtually appropriate any sum it wishes for social services; but the proper and honorable course for it to follow in this instance is to supply details of its proposals.
– Would the honorable senator suggest that collections under the war damage insurance scheme should be paid into Consolidated Revenue?
– That is a different matter entirely. Collections under that scheme are earmarked for payment to private individuals as compensation for damage suffered through the war. The Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) i* already arranging to make payments in respect of war damage in the north. For that purpose, however, he does not require anything like this sum of £30,000,000. J doubt whether the collections so far made under the war damage insurance scheme exceed £7,000,000. However, that amount would hardly be sufficient to meet war damage already caused in Australia, and territories under Australia’s control. The Minister for External Territories (Senator Fraser), therefore, cannot justify the comparison he has sought to draw between the proposed fund to be set up under this measure and the fund established under the war damage insurance scheme. I am hopeful that the Senate will accept the reasonable amendment forecast by Senator McBride. I shall support it, because the Government has no right to ask us to agree to tie up a large sum of: money for purposes not specifically defined, when every available penny is required for war purposes. Above all, wemust maintain the confidence of the people in the Government’s financial administration. We shall win that confidence by convincing them that theGovernment is not extorting more money from them than it really needs, and isexpending all its revenue wisely. Provided the Government adopts that policy, it can confidently make further appeals; to the people for increased revenue. I repeat that the Government has no rightto ask us to put our signature to a blank cheque. It is useless for honorablesenators opposite to talk about what is happening in the Old Country in respect of the provision of social services. Wemust, concentrate all our attention on thewar effort. The Leader of the Senate(Senator Collings) was very annoyed because I said that the Government was not doing that. Certainly, this measure has nothing to do with the prosecution of the- war. What is the use of .planning for the future if we do not win the war? What is, the use of planning to-day some scheme which will not come into operation until after the wai, which may last for another five years?
– Does the honorable senator suggest that we shall not win the war?
– No ; but we shall have less chance of doing so if we fail to administer our finances properly. The Government is in need’ of money. We should turn our whole attention to the winning of the war. The latest announcement made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) reveals that we still remain in imminent danger of attack from the north. He does not give us any reason to believe that that danger has lessened. When we have driven the enemy out of our territory, and the territories adjacent to Australia, it will be time enough to give consideration to proposals of this kind. I agree that we can best embark upon schemes of this kind when all our people are employed. To-day, our people are earning more money than they have ever earned before, although I regret to say that the purchasing power of their wages is decreasing rapidly.
– If the purchasing power of wages is decreasing, the wageearners are not actually receiving more than they received in the past.
– They are receiving more money, although the purchasing power of wages is decreasing. I know that the Minister for Aircraft Production (Senator Cameron) has wonderful ideas regarding finance. I am surprised that he holds a junior ministerial position when, according to the theories he expounds, the Government can finance the war much more easily than the Treasurer is doing the job. . Really, the bill contains very little; and most of the debate has been irrelevant to it. The only issue involved in the bill is whether we should allow the Government to lock up the sum of £30,000,000 in a trust fund, and in so doing to give to it a blank cheque with the right to spend the proceeds in any way it desires. That is not a fair proposition. Therefore, I intend to support the amendment forecast by Senator
McBride with the object of persuading the Government to explain in detail how it proposes to expend the money proposed to be appropriated.
– When listening to , Senator Latham I had hoped that he would support the measure. He said that he would support any measure which was in the interests of the country. I propose to make it clear that this measure is in the interests of the country. Senator McBride, like many of his colleagues, stated that the bill did not contain any definite proposal. All of us know that the purpose of the bill is to implement promises made in respect of the establishment of the new social order. We know that this is submitted as a first instalment of the new social order. Senator McBride was aware of that fact when he made his statement. His opposition to the measure merely shows that he is a die-hard who will oppose any improvement of the social and economic conditions of the mass of the people. I suppose that financially he himself is in such a position that he is not interested in the claims of the unemancipated. The Minister for External Territories (Senator Fraser), in his second-reading speech, copies of which were circulated among honorable senators, said -
Briefly, those plans involve the introduction, stage by stage, of a comprehensive scheme of welfare services, including health, unemployment and sickness, and other associated services. Bills covering some parts of the scheme have already been prepared, and, it is hoped, will be dealt with here during the present aittings. They relate to maternity benefits, ft liberalized scheme of maternity allowances, and funeral benefits for invalid and old-age pensioners. Preliminary work oh unemployment and sickness schemes is in hand, and it is anticipated that the bills covering these two benefits will be ready for consideration by Parliament within six months.
It would be rank hypocrisy for any honorable senator to say, after reading that paragraph in the Minister’s secondreading speech, that he does not know the purpose of this measure. Senator McBride said that, he was in favour of the establishment of social services, but that the present was not an opportune time to deal with such matters. Other honorable senators opposite also said that we should not do anything with respect to social services at present. Only ten minutes ago Senator Spicer, by interjection, said, “ Let us win the war first “. I replied that it would then be a case of “ too late with too little “. That has been the trouble in the past. We must benefit from the lessons we learned after the last war, and prepare now to prevent a repetition of the conditions which then existed. I warn honorable senators opposite that they must be careful what move they make in their endeavour to frustrate the achievement of the ideals and aspirations of our soldiers and workers after the war. Although Senator McBride said that he favoured social services he complained that the cost of existing social services amounted to £40,000,000 annually. Obviously, he thought that expenditure was too high. Then he switched to the Beveridge plan about which we have heard so much. The Beveridge plan has not been accepted in the British House of Commons by the prototypes of honorable senators opposite. They desire to pick the eyes out of that plan.
– The honorable senator is not in favour of the Beveridge plan ?
– No; I want this Government to introduce a plan which is better than the Beveridge plan. My object is to see Australia take its rightful place in the economic sphere among the countries of the world. I want to see this country recover the position which it held years ago in the forefront of democratic progress, and from which it has since fallen as the result of the actions of the calamitous governments which have held office since the defeat of the Scullin Government. Undoubtedly, legislation of this kind will again put us on the map in that respect. Senator McBride twitted the Government that it had changed its policy. The honorable senator said - and this applies to a number of others who made play around the same point - that the Labour party had all along objected to taxing the lower range of incomes, but was at long last accepting what it considered to be an inevitable position. There was a reason for that. We always have, and I hope always will, consider that the worker, having paid the taxes due by him at the point of production, should be absolved as far as possible from any further purloining of the meagre funds granted to him out of industry.
– What does the honorable senator mean by “ at the point of production “ ?
– In the case of the coal-miner, a profit is made from his labour right at the point of production, and that represents his taxation. Similarly, a profit is made out of- the engineer’s production. We put our money into banks, by which it may be lent to an engineering firm. If I lose my work, I may go to that firm and ask for a job. If the proprietor does not dislike the colour of my hair or my eyes, and thinks that he can make 20 per cent, or 25 per cent, profit out of me, he will employ me.
-. - The coal-miner often gets more than the shareholder gets.
– He does something for it at least, but the shareholder often does very little. The point is that we are now justified in that change of policy because we say, as I believe that the majority of our party do, that we regard this tax on the lower range of incomes as a form of insurance. This is our conception of the proper way to introduce a contributory scheme of social welfare. That is my contention, and the angle from which our party views this matter. This is a contributory scheme and, seeing that the worker is to get a direct benefit, we consider that we are justified in asking him to. pay some small quota towards providing the wherewithal. Senator McBride, at the conclusion of his speech, foreshadowed an amendment. I notice that either he or the other cherubic twin is always doing something of the kind. They remind me of a child who has found a toy whip. They have a small majority, and are using it in Parliament in much the same way as the child who has picked up a whip goes round slashing it at every available object on every possible occasion, regardless of who is hurt by it.
– Spare the rod and spoil the child.
– In this case it is the child that does not spare the rod. Perhaps if he were put across the knee of some one who could administer corporal punishment to him, neither Senator McLeay nor Senator McBride would wear such a cherubic smile as they do now. Senator Spicer accuses us of windowdressing. He surely understands what our policy is. He knows that we stand for a new social order - a world which will emancipate the down-trodden. He knows that we strive for the uplifting of the underdog, and yet he applies the words of “window-dressing” to a scheme like this. We have said all along that we stand for a new social order, as do the Archbishop of Canterbury, Mr. Winston Churchill, and a number of other eminent people all over the world.
– And Hitler!
– There are different conceptions of what the new social order is. Our conception is a system which will result in a more equitable distribution of this world’s goods.
– Those are exactly the same words as the Axis fellows use.
– They may mean it, too. Possibly they will follow along those lines.
– I thought the honorable senator was a totalitarian.
– I am far less of a totalitarian in my ideas than the honorable senator is. He wan te to know also what other schemes are to be included in the fund. He heard me read out what is proposed in the bill. He says that he favours the contributory system. ‘So do we. We make this a contributory system by means of a small tax on the lower range of incomes. He is anxious to know why the measure is urgent. I will tell him that also. I believe that the successors of the people who fought a war which was supposed to make the world safe for democracy and this country a land fit for heroes to live in, will not stand any more balderdash after this war. They will want the goods delivered. That is the reason for urgency, and that is why we are not waiting until after the war to give them a first instalment. The rank and file worker to-day will not accept the specious promises which he did last time. He was promised . a world safe for democracy and fit for heroes to live in, but all that he got out of it was a manmade depression. We believe that instead of giving him promises like others, it is only fair to give him a first instalment of this new social order, as a guarantee of our good faith. We realize that the workers want their pie now, rather than in the sky when they die. Senator Foll said that he thought that the scheme was only camouflage. I do not think that it is, neither do Senator McBride nor Senator Spicer. They regarded it as something very tangible, but proceeded to squeal about its possible defects, although there was nothing very sound in their arguments. Senator Foll expressed his age-old repugnance to socialization. He thought that this bill ‘ embodied some socialistic scheme. The world is becoming accustomed to that, and the dyed-in-the-wool conservatives have to realize that socialization, or the social ideal of society, must be implemented in the very near future. The experience of this war and the last war has demonstrated that when put to the test the capitalist system under which we have been living has failed.
– But Russia has gone back to capitalism.
– I claim to know as much of affairs in Russia as any one else, for very particular reasons, some of which I will tell Senator Gibson some day. I have heard some furphies in my time, but I have never heard one like that before. In times of war, when the capitalist system has been placed on trial, it has invariably cracked and the countries where it has prevailed have been forced to resort to the social control of various commodities in order to prosecute a 100 per cent, war effort. That has happened not once but all along the line. Senator Foll said that we had nothing to fear, as the bad old days had gone. But have they? I do not know what he had in his mind. He may have been visualizing the days of the marlinspike and the rope’s end, or the days of the chattel slave. I have worked in industry for many years, and I think that the chattel slave was better off than some of the industrial slaves of the lasttwo decades. He had this advantage at any rate, that his owner or employer had to look after him and feed him, give him reasonable time to recuperate in order to keep him fit, and keep him in good health .OV providing medical attention and other comforts. When chattel slavery disappeared and economic slavery came in, all that a captain of industry found it necessary to do was to allow his industrial slave the period between mid-day on Saturday and 7.30 o’clock on Monday morning to do his washing and bury his dead. If he wanted a tooth drawn or the attention of a doctor he had to get it all done in that short period. But the economic slave was just as much dependent upon and under the control of his economic boss as the chattel slave. I am sorry that Senator Foll is not present, because I could give him quite a good lesson in bread and butter economics which might cause him to think. My conception of a captain of industry is that he is more concerned with inanimate matter than with animate man. I heard a good deal of balderdash spoken about arbitration yesterday. I have gone into Arbitration Courts, and waited and ultimately given my evidence. I have been absolutely confident that that court, particularly the legal fraternity in it, was more concerned with machines or inanimate matter than with animate man. That is the trouble. This war must alter all that sort of thing. It. is useless for people to run away with the idea that we are going back to the old order. Recently one honorable senator said that our attitude would affect the conditions granted to us in the post-war period at the peace conference table, and the possibilities of our securing a reasonable share of international trade. That honorable senator is still in the flat earth period. I am afraid that he has not yet realized that the world is round. Senator Sampson said - I do not doubt his sincerity for one moment - that in his opinion the vision that people see of a new world after the war is merely a mirage. I say to the honorable senator that if, when this terrible war ends, our soldiers return to this country and find that their vision of a new world is merely a mirage, there will be trouble. The alternative to adopting this Government’s plans for social reconstruction is too terrible to contemplate. I am sure that Senator Sampson would not like anything of that kind to occur. I trust that the bill will go through and that the amendment will be defeated despite the fact that Senator Latham has announced his intention of supporting it.
– We shall convert him.
– I hope so; and there is another honorable senator in this chamber whom I trust we shall convert. I refer to Senator Cooper, who was a member of the Joint Committee on Social Security. In view of the fact that, as a member of that committee, the honorable senator subscribed to the principle of a graduated tax on incomes for the purpose of financing social legislation, I cannot see how he can oppose this measure.
In his ponderous legal manner, Senator A.- J. McLachlan said that he favoured a contributory scheme of social services, and expressed doubt as to the solvency of the proposed national welfare fund. Apparently, the honorable senator has not much confidence in the people of Australia. However, I am concerned mostly with two gems which he uttered. First, he said that it was hopeless to endeavour to change human nature. It is incredible that such a statement could, be made by a well-balanced intelligent member of the legal profession. Surely he must realize that if legislation such as this be given effect, that in itself will do a lot to change human nature. Environment is the most important factor in human nature, and if we improve the environment of the individual, an improvement in his nature will result. That is only logic. Senator A. J. McLachlan’ said also that our national income would decrease unless millions of people migrated to this country, bringing money with them, and on the question of bringing money, the honorable senator was supported by Senator Latham.
– I merely asked would the migrants be labourers or people with money. I wanted to know what would be the attitude of the Labour party towards bringing workers to this country.
– Surely the honorable senator realizes that whether a migrant has monetary assets or not, every person who comes to this country should have a definite value because of his productive capacity.
– The Labour party did not take that view a few years ago.
– That may be, but I remind the honorable senator that people who never make mistakes never make anything. Every . adult who migrates to this country has a definite monetary value as a producing unit. Many times in this chamber I have heard specious arguments from honorable senators opposite on the question what is wealth. In the final analysis, all wealth is the result of labour applied to the land, so that every migrant who comes to this country has a definite monetary value.
– The honorable senator should join the Country party.
– I remind Senator Gibson that the growing of wheat is not the only way in which labour can be applied to the land. For instance, a man engaged on roadmaking will wear out boots and clothing; therefore, bootmakers and tailors will be required to supply his needs. These bootmakers and tailors will have to eat and drink, and so more food will have to be produced. That is the manner in which the wealth of a country is created.
– The honorable senator is speaking as if the general elections were to be held soon.
– Although in the ordinary course of events I shall be here for another four years, I say in all sincerity that, if in any set of circumstances a double dissolution of this Parliament were brought about, I should be a very happy man. I have no doubt that I would be sent back for another six years.
– The honorable senator is an optimist.
– That is quite true. I always endeavour to be an optimist. Reference has been made in this debate to what has been done by the Labour Government in New Zealand, and I heard some one say “ What a Government !” In New Zealand the generous social service scheme is financed by a tax of1s. in the £1, but if this proposal be adopted, the
Australian people will get an even better return for their money than that obtained by the people of New Zealand. The burden of financing our social services will not be so great, when one considers that to offset the increased tax, individuals will be relieved of the necessity to contribute to friendly societies, hospital funds, &c. In addition, this scheme will be of great assistance to returned soldiers whose training as tradesmen, technicians, &c, was interrupted upon their enlistment.
– This bill has nothing to do with that.
-I point out that the measure includes the words “ and other welfare and social services “. Those other welfare and social services will include vocational and technical training. I can give my word on that. The unfortunate fact is that to-day we have poverty amongst plenty. Such a state of affairs should not exist in an improved world order. If this Administration be given sufficient tenure of office, 1 am sure that it will retain the confidence of the people long enough to make this country a little better than it was in years gone by. We are inclined to look down on the man whose stomach will not let him pass an hotel; but in a certain debate in which I participated I was able to prove conclusively that poverty was more responsible for drink than was drink for poverty. When a man has an inferiority complex, very often he goes to the one place where he can feel that he is an equal of his fellow men. He spends his time drinking, and so sinks lower and lower. The best way in which to tackle that problem is to eliminate poverty. In the last war we never got past the stage of mere promises, but when this war is over there will be accomplished facts. I commend this measure to honorable senators, and I trust that it will not be amended because an amendment will indicate a feeling of mistrust; so far this Government has not done anything to merit mistrust. It has been an honest government and a government of achievement. It may be that some mistakes have been made, but no one can deny that this Administration has accomplished a great improvement of conditions. WhilstI have no wish to reflect upon previous administrations, which may have laid the foundations of present achievements, the record of the Curtin Government is marvellous, and I believe that the time will come when the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) will be revered as the most able leader that this country has ever produced. I am no hero worshipper ; I earnt into this Parliament looking for weakness, but I found nothing but strength in our Prime Minister. I urge honorable senators opposite to assist the passage of this measure and to withdraw their amendment so that a start may be made upon our task of making this country a land fit for heroes to live in.
.- The main criticism of this measure is that in its actual terminology there is no specific plan. I answer that criticism by stating that on the 13th of last month as Minister representing the Treasurer in this chamber I read a statement, a copy of which was handed to every honorable senator, forecasting all the measures which are to be introduced. To show the sincerity of the Government, I mention that three of those measures are now the subject of debate in the House of Representatives. Of course they will not account for much of the £30,000,000 to be appropriated annually under this bill and placed in a National Welfare Fund. Clause 6 of the bill safeguards clause 5, and I have no doubt that some honorable senators opposite will agree with me on that point. No portion of the £30,000,000 to be placed in the trust’ fund annually can be used in the provision of any social service unless a specific bill is passed for that purpose. That is the legal opinion which has been received by the Government, and I understand that Senator A. J. McLachlan said that if such a guarantee could be given he would be satisfied. I repeat that not one penny of the £30,000,000 to be voted for social insurance benefits will be touched until a bill specifically dealing with a contemplated social service has become law.
Much has been said as to the plans of the Government with regard to improved social services. Obviously a good deal of time must be occupied in the necessary research and investigation with regard to services such as unemployment and sickness benefits. For some time I was associated with Senator Cooper as a member of the Social Security Committee, and I formed a high opinion of his capacity and sincerity. He and other honorable senators opposite realize that before a scheme of unemployment insurance for the whole of Australia can be drawn up, it is necessary to examine similar schemes in operation in other countries. Efforts are now being made to secure the services of experts from New Zealand, so that the best possible scheme may be evolved. The investigation will necessarily occupy some months. Sickness insurance is vitally necessary, and a weekly payment must be determined on an actuarial basis in order that the requirements of the Audit Act may be complied with. The proposed maternity allowance now under consideration in the House of Representatives is estimated to cost £740,000 a year; the maternity benefits £1,250,000; and the funeral benefits for invalid and old-age pensioners £260,000; a total of £2,250,000. These services will probably be inaugurated on the 1st July next. The proposals to be submitted later dealing with unemployment, sickness, hospital, and medical benefits are of vital importance to the community, but they necessitate careful research. The cost of these additional benefits is estimated at £45,000,000, and I contend that that is not an extravagant sum. I do not imagine that any honorable senator considers the 25s. a week meets the needs of the average invalid and old-age pensioner, because with advancing years increased expenditure is necessary to maintain them. When the war is over and taxes are reduced, these further social services will be provided out of ordinary revenue. The taxes can be regulated accordingly, but I say frankly that the people will have witnessed the first instalment of the new order which I think every honorable senator desires. When the change over has been made which will necessitate the transfer of about 1,000,000 persons from war activities to civil life it will be necessary to ensure that they escape the experiences of 1930-31. In Victoria, for instance, men prospecting for gold were paid only 6s. a week, and they were practically starving in the bush around Bendigo. Nor do we desire to see a repetition of what happened in the depression in 1890, when soup kitchens had to be established in the suburbs of Melbourne. Surely when we can provide hundreds of millions of pounds for war purposes, we can have a regulated economy and a reasonable system of taxation which will provide a fair standard of comfort for every member of the community.
Another important benefit is health, which includes medical, hospital, pharmacy and dental provision, as well as child welfare and maternal welfare. A complete plan for each of those items requires much further examination. Take hospitals for instance. A professional committee has just been appointed to make a survey of the hospital services throughout Australia. Senator Latham asked why the funds required for the purposes of a national welfare fund should not be taken from Consolidated Revenue and the Minister (Senator Fraser) replied that the provision of a separate fund was imperative. The establishment of a fund built up by means of additional taxes is the Government’s guarantee to the people of Australia, that the contemplated services will be provided. The accumulation of a balance in the trust account will be of tremendous assistance in meeting the demands that will be made for increased social services. For the next two years at least the demand for unemployment benefits will be almost negligible. I have already announced that the cost of the increased services to be provided immediately is between £3,000,000 and £4,000,000. The Government will have to use a good portion of the fund for urgent purposes and more particularly war purposes, but a sufficient safeguard is given by the provisions of the Audit Act. The foreshadowed amendment to clause 5 would destroy the whole scheme contemplated by the Government. As I have already said no portion of the fund could be used for a social service unless a measure were passed by the Parliament authorizing the provision of that service. As to the investment of money held in the fund, I need say no more than that the normal practice is to invest money held in trust accounts so that they may earn some interest and thus effect an accretion to the fund.
It is interesting to examine the position in Great Britain, where the three main social security funds relate to health insurance, contributory pensions and unemployment insurance. The balances in these funds have been accumulating, and now stand a £420,000,000. Within the next twelve months they are expected to increase by £130,000,000, making a total of £550,000,000. The balances are invested in United Kingdom Government securities and the income is £15,000,000 a year. It should be our objective to have sufficient money in the proposed national welfare fund so that when the necessity arises there will be money ready, without disturbing the social economy of the country, to give some measure of relief. The Government has made an effort to provide an instalment of a social service scheme that has not been attempted by any previous government. When legislation of this nature was submitted to Parliament when the Opposition was in power it received full support from the then Labour Opposition, and I remind honorable senators opposite that by pressing a vital amendment they may destroy the bill. I ask honorable senators on both sides of the chamber to accept the measure a.-s a step towards the provision of better living conditions for the people. I do not consider that we should refrain, from passing this bill merely because we are at war. The Government of the day will see that the proposed fund is kept solvent from an actuarial aspect, because there are government officers who usually attend to such matters. I hope that the bill will not be further delayed because it represents a milestone in the history of social progress in Australia. We should get ready now so that we shall not have a repetition of what happened in the years from 1929 to 1931, when 500,000 people in this country were out of work, every Government job had closed down, the prices of primary products had dropped, our credit in London had disappeared, and there was no market for loans abroad. At that time the Scullin Government made a frantic attempt to raise £18,000,000 but the Senate frustrated its efforts. The men who are away fighting do not want their homecoming to be similar to that of the men who returned from the war of 1914-18. The Australians who fought in that war were equipped abroad, but in this war our fighting services have largely been equipped in Australia. When the war ends, probably half a million people will have to be re-established in industries, many of which have been closed down temporarily. The task which will confront the nation at that time will be colossal. The bill before the Senate is one instalment of a post-war reconstruction plan. The Senate should remember that there is now a Minister for Post-war Reconstruction and that Dr. Coombs has been appointed to administer the new department, the establishment of which will assist whatever government is in power at the end of the war to handle the biggest problem that Australia has ever faced.
.- I suppose that there is no honorable senator in this chamber who has not, at some time in his life had a dream in which he has seen a world free from ill health, unemployment and misery. I suppose, too, that every one of us has experienced the desire to play a big part in abolishing sickness, unemployment and misery. If we start on that basis, we are not likely to criticize one another because of our particular ideas. Government supporters in this chamber talk a great deal about planning for the future. The way to abolish unemployment is to provide employment, but where is there evidence of any plan by the Government to do away with unemployment? I see some evidence of an intention to provide for unemployment. Honorable senators on the Government benches have said that if the present Government remains in office it will abolish unemployment. They have also said that a fund is needed to meet cases of unemployment. Where is the logic of their claim? Either their claim that a continuance of a Labour government will mean the abolition of unemployment is wrong, or else they are wrong in providing for unemployment. The Government is not planning to abolish unemployment. It has not given the slightest indication that it hopes to abolish unemployment. We should examine the basis of the Government’s claim that it is planning for the future. One honorable senator said that there was a depression following the last war. I suppose that he meant that the depression was caused by the war. The fact is that that war had been over for about eleven years before the depression came.
– That is not true. In 1920 many soldiers could not get a job.
– That was due to the over confidence of the people in the years following the war.
– The honorable senator was in a favoured position. Had he been a soldier he would have known that there was a depression.
– Some people have said that Australian soldiers were put on the scrap heap, but that is not correct. Compared with what was done in other countries which participated in that war, Australia did more for its returned soldiers than was done by any other country. That is not to say that what was done did not fall short of what ought to have been done. Nevertheless, it is a pointthat we must remember. It is useless to base a claim for support of this measure on the fact that members of the forces suffered injustices after the last war. Senator Courtice said that it was too much to expect any Government to introduce now complete plans for the post-war period. That statement was nearly true, but not quite true. The honorable senator should have said that it was too much to expect the present Government to introduce any plans now. He also said that the proposal before the Senate was a gesture indicating what the Government intended to do. Senator Sampson compared the bill with a mirage, and was taken to task for so doing. I can not see a great deal of difference between the bill being described as a gesture or as a mirage. When the Government is asked to define its plan, it says that certain moneys are to be placed in a trust fund.
– The honorable senator should not forget that there is now a Minister for Post-war Reconstruction as well as a Director.
– I had overlooked that fact, but I may be excused for doing so because so far I have not had any evidence of their existence. The Government plans to put certain moneys into a fund, and then to take them out of the fund. It would appear that there are two plans already in contemplation. I am reminded of the young couple who, when they started housekeeping, said : “ “We* have to pay £2 a month for this house, and, therefore, we must put away a certain amount each week for that purpose, so that at the end of a month the money will be available to pay the rent.” In the middle of the month,- some one suggested that they should go to the pictures. They had no ready money, but the husband said : “ There is money in the tin for the rent.” His wife replied : “ We cannot take that money; it is required for the rent.” The husband then said: “Don’t bother about that now. We can borrow the money for the rent at the end of the month.”
– There was no Auditor-General to control them.
– The Minister’s interjection leads me to refer to a statement made by the Minister for External Territories (Senator Fraser) when introducing the bill. He then said -
Clause 5 provides that the fund shall be applied in making such payments as are directed by any law of the Commonwealth to be met from the fund, in relation to health services, unemployment or sickness benefits, family allowances, or .other welfare or social services.
The National Security Act is a law of the Commonwealth, and, therefore, the Ministry could, under the authority of that act, take money out of the fund. That was the point made by Senator James McLachlan, and without examining the position carefully, I think that he was right. I am not accusing the Ministry of intending to do that, but I say that the loophole exists for that to bt done. It is for that reason that the amendment of Senator McBride is necessary. It provides that no money shall be taken out of the fund unless there is specific legislation authorizing that to be done. I should like the Minister to answer that point; it is important. The Senate is entitled to say that the money in. the fund shall not be used for purposes other than those set out in legislation passed by this Parliament. The loophole in this measure will not exist if the amendment of Senator McBride he agreed to. It is unwise for any honorable senator opposite, whether he is a Minister or not, to threaten honorable senators on this side. Senator Large said that the alternative to the adoption of the Government’s plan under this measure is too awful to contemplate.
– Does not the honorable senator think that it would be too awful for the soldiers to come back to a depression?
– The Minister for the Interior (Senator Collings) like his colleagues, is confusing two subjects. The purpose of this measure is to finance social services for civilians. Social service benefits for soldiers will be specifically provided in special measures. Therefore, it is useless to say that these unemployment benefits are being provided especially for ex-soldiers. That is merely begging the question. Honorable senators on this side have given ample assurances that they are absolutely convinced of the need to provide employment, and other social service benefits. However, such benefits are offered by the Government only in a nebulous form under this measure. We on this side have supported past governments which have taken practical steps to improve our social services. Therefore, we cannot be justly accused of opposing any proposal to improve social services.
– Honorable senators opposite can prove that by their vote on this measure.
– The .votes of honorable senators opposite on the National’ Health and Pensions Insurance Bill introduced by the Lyons Government reveal the attitude they adopted towards the provision of social service benefits in the past. Honorable senators on this side supported that scheme, and thus gave practical evidence in deeds that we are in favour of this class of legislation. Therefore, we can be excused for doubting the earnestness of honorable senators opposite when they bring forward a scheme almost identical with that which they opposed in the past.
– That scheme was designed to benefit only one section of the people.
– No ; it was a contributory scheme, and was open to all members of the community. No menu? test was to be applied in respect of the benefits provided under it. Every honorable senator wishes to abolish unemployment; and if the Goverment proceeded along the right lines in respect of measures of this kind, it would obtain unanimous support in this chamber. All of us wish to abolish sickness and misery in the community. We desire to provide to the utmost of our ability the best conditions for our people. Although we cannot realize the ideal in that respect, it remains our duty to examine any plans which the Government introduces for that purpose. When we object to any scheme because we are not informed of its details, honorable senators opposite are not justified in accusing us of opposing the establishment of social .services. The national health and pensions insurance scheme introduced by the Lyons Government was set out in detail, and was grounded on a sound basis. However, this proposal, as Senator Courtice has described it, is merely a gesture. It is a gesture to the people that the Government will do something in the future. I urge honorable senators opposite to get down from their high horse, and agree to the amendment forecast by Senator McBride, the object of which is to ensure that no government, regardless of its political colour, will be able to misuse this fund. The amendment simply proposes that the money to be paid into this fund shall be used for specific purposes. Honorable senators opposite have said much about the Government’s plans. They have spoken in “hifalutin” fashion about abolishing unemployment. At the same time they say that they wish to establish a fund to provide unemployment benefits. If the Government says it will abolish unemployment, it cannot require money for unemployment benefits.
– We have said what we want this money for.
– No. The Government says that it wants to establish this fund to provide unemployment benefits. Honorable senators opposite have said that the whole purpose of the Government’s social welfare scheme is to abolish unemployment. They claim that the Government will provide work for every one. Apparently, they wish to establish unemployment benefits in case the Government fails to abolish unemployment.
– We want to establish an unemployment fund; we do not want to give our workers a dole, as was offered to them by past governments.
– Honorable senators on this, side are not in favour of paying a dole to any one. The Government proposes to abolish unemployment, and yet, at the same time, it wants to establish a fund to provide unemployment benefits. The Government cannot have it both ways. Honorable senators on this side wish to see every man, who is fit and willing to work, paid a wage which will enable him to live in happiness and comfort. Any plan which the Government can present to achieve that objective will receive my support. However, the Government so far has presented only palliatives. It has not proposed any plan to abolish unemployment or want in the community. Therefore, we on this side are justified in our attitude in respect of this measure. We have pointed out the weaknesses in the bill. It does not contain any definite scheme. It is merely a gesture. The amendment forecast by Senator McBride offers the Government a way out of its difficulty; and by accepting it the Government will satisfy the people that the fund to be established under this measure will not be used for any purpose other than that for which this money is specifically appropriated. The Government refuses to accept the amendment, simply because it has no definite plan on the subject.
– I have not previously heard so much misrepresentation by honorable senators opposite of the Government’s proposals as I have in this debate. I do not suggest that that misrepresentation has been completely wilful. In the heat of argument, honorable senators on both sides have, perhaps, made exaggerated statements. One of the principal charges made against the Government is that it has introduced this measure for political window dressing. Let us examine the origin of the bill. The Menzies Government appointed a Social Security Committee, and that committee has issued several reports embodying its recommendations. Its report of the 6th March, 1942, recommends the establishment of an unemployment benefit scheme in respect of which it recommends that the following scale of benefits be paid : - Adult unemployed persons 50s. a week, wife of an unemployed person 25s. a week, one child of an unemployed person 5s. a week, a single unemployed person 18 years and under 21 years of age 17s. 6d. a week, a single unemployed person sixteen years and under eighteen years of age 15s. a week.
– That report was not unanimous.
– That was a majority report. A minority report was also presented, not in respect of the principle of the payment of unemployed benefits, but with regard to the scale of benefits. That minority report which is signed by Senator Cooper and the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) states -
We are in entire agreement with the substance of this report, but find ourselves unable to subscribe to the recommendations contained in paragraphs 13 and 18.
Those are the paragraphs which I have just read. I should like to know on what grounds honorable senators opposite describe this bill, which is complementary to the recommendations of the committee. as political window dressing by the Government.
– This bill does not give effect to the recommendations of the committee.
– It does. As to the need for a fund of £30,000,000, 1 per cent, of married people unemployed in this country on a basis of £1 5s. a week would cost’ £2,000,000 annually. It has been suggested that it is ridiculous to have £30,000,000 in a fund which, as has been pointed out by honorable senators opposite, will not be used immediately, and I hope that the time will never arrive again when there will be the unemployment that we had previous to this war and the threat of war.
– It will be all right when they get a change of government.
– It would not be a change for the better if it brought into power a government of the calibre of those sitting on the Opposition benches to-day, because, just previous to the war when they were in office, there were 250,000 unemployed in Australia. It has also been suggested by Opposition members that there is no need for this measure. Is not this the best time, when there is full employment, in a period of prosperity, which is unfortunately due to the war, to implement a scheme to make provision for the future?
– Prosperity? Why, the Government cannot pay its debts !
– I am speaking of prosperity so far as the people of Australia are concerned. Provision must be made now whilst the people are all employed. A further recommendation by the Social Security Committee is that the funds required for these schemes shall be raised on a graduated tax scale in accordance with the general’ principle of taxation, that the tax shall be imposed in accordance with the capacity of the people to bear the burden. There has been no objection to that, but rather great joy on the part of the . Opposition because the lower range of incomes has been brought into the field of taxation. Although the recommendations of the Social Security Committee, representing all parties in the Senate and House of Representatives, are being implemented by the Government, the Opposition still says the bill is window dressing. Senator James McLachlan said to-night that a large amount of money was being raised in this country for war purposes by means of treasury-bills, and that by the end of June the inflation of the currency would represent £500,000,000. That is a misstatement which will do a big disservice to this country at a time when a loan is being floated. I shall quote the correct figures in order to prove conclusively that the honorable senator’s statement is not true. In 1940-41 the amount of treasury-bills issued was £2,000,000, in 1941-42 it was £78,000,000, and in 1942-43 it was £200,000,000, or a total of £280,000,000. The members of the Opposition have quoted those figures, so that they should he familiar with them, and certainly should not exaggerate them.
– No, they are bad enough as they are.
– I agree that they are bad enough, but, whether they are bad or good, they are at least correct. No member of the Opposition is justified in making, from his place in Parliament, a misstatement which will do a great disservice to Australia, particularly when the campaign for another large loan has just been opened. The Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) said in his financial statement -
The significance of the treasury-bill issue may be exaggerated unless the effect of the Government’s control of hanking is fully understood. Trading banks have not been allowed to subscribe to war loans, and their excess investable funds have been immobilized. If the practice of allowing banks to subscribe to war loans had been followed, which is also the practice of most other countries, we might well have had something like £100,000,000 of loans from the banks in place of a like amount of the present treasurybill issue. A considerable part of the banking loans would have represented genuine savings by the public, or banking funds set free by the restriction of civil industry. Obviously this part of the loans would not have been inflationary. It follows that the corresponding amount of treasury-bills which have taken their place are also not inflationary. The volume of treasury-bills cannot therefore be taken as a measure of the inflationary forces.
I have no intention of attempting to answer the many other arguments used by honorable senators opposite during to-day’s debate. I say to the Senate now in all sincerity that this measure should be supported in its entirety. I do not think that the Opposition has any desire, any more than the Government has, that the conditions which prevailed a few years ago, when tens of thousands of people were unemployed and no provision was made for them. Not only is there reference to provision against unemployment, but medical and health benefits and benefits for invalids and old-age pensioners are also provided. An assurance has been given to-night by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) that no social measure will be put into effect by means of this fund unless it has first been passed by Both Houses of Parliament. I do not know what further protection is required by members of the Opposition, and I hope that the measure will be carried without amendment.
– in reply - I do not intend to go over the ground covered hy previous speakers, but I wish to make one or two observations regarding the speech made by Senator McBride when he resumed the debate on the second reading of the bill. During the course of his remarks, I referred to the Atlantic Charter, meaning that the bill was an instalment of the implementing of that famous document. The honorable senator referred to the Beveridge plan, which he held up as something of which we should at least take notice. He admitted that he had not seen the plan, and, consequently, was quite at sta as to what it actually contained. I shall read for his benefit one or two clauses from it, because it is closely associated with what the Senate is asked to do to-night on behalf of the people of this country. Clause 458 of the Beveridge plan, which appears on page 171 of my printed copy, is as follows : -
There are yet others who will say that, however desirable it may appear to reconstruct social insurance or to make other plans for a better world of peace, all such concerns must now be put on one side, so that Britain may concentrate upon the urgent tasks of war. There is no need to. spend words to-day in emphasizing the urgency or the difficulty of the task that faces the British people and their allies. Only by surviving victoriously in the present struggle can they enable freedom and happiness and kindliness to survive in the world. Only by obtaining from every individual citizen his maximum of effort, concentrated upon the purposes of war, can they hope for early victory. This does not alter three facts: That the purpose of victory is to live into a better world than the old world; that each individual citizen is more likely to concentrate upon his war effort if he feels that his government will be ready in time with plans for that better world; that, if these plans are to be ready in time, they must be made now.
That is what this Government is doing. It is endeavouring to make plans, as instanced by the Minister for Trade and Customs, who is now in charge of the bill. I understand, as a matter of fact, that that was the very basis of the procedure adopted by the previous Government when it appointed the Social Security Committee on which all parties in both Houses of the Parliament were represented. Clause 459 reads -
Statement of a reconstruction policy by a nation at war is statement of the uses to which that nation means to put victory, when victory is achieved. In a war which many nations must wage together as wholehearted allies, if they are to win victory, such a statement of the uses of victory may be vital. This was recognized by the leaders of the democracies east and west of the Atlantic in putting their hands to a charter which, in general terms, set out the nature of the world which they desired to establish after the war. The Atlantic Charter has since then been signed on behalf of all the United Nations. The fi f ih clause of the charter declares the desire of the American and the British leaders “to bring about the fullest collaboration between all nations in the economic field, with the object of securing for all improved labour standards, economic advancement, and social security “. The proposals of this report are designed as a practical contribution towards the achievement of the social security which is named in the closing words. The proposals cover ground which must be covered, in one way or another, in translating the words of the Atlantic Charter into deeds. They represent, not an attempt by one nation to gain for its citizens advantages at the cost of their fellow fighters in a common cause, but a contribution to that common cause. They are concerned, not with increasing the wealth of the British people, but with so distributing whatever wealth is available to them in total, as to deal first with first things, with essential physical needs. They are a sign of the belief that the object of government in peace and in war is not the glory of rulers or of races, but the happiness of the common man. That is a belief which, through all differences in forms of government, unites not only the democracies whose leaders first put their hands to the Atlantic Charter, but those democracies and all their allies. It unites the United Nations and divides them from their enemies.
There is one other clause of the Beveridge plan to which I would like to refer. I have no wish to weary the Senate with this matter, hut now that it has been raised by Senator Leckie I should like to make the position quite clear. Clause 461 states -
Freedom from want cannot be forced on a democracy or given to a democracy. It must be won by them. Winning it needs courage and faith and a sense of national unity: courage to face facts and difficulties and overcome them : faith in our future and in the ideals of fair-play and freedom for winch century after century our forefathers were prepared to die; a sense of national unity overriding the interests of any class or section. The plan for social security in this report is submitted by one who believes that in this supreme crisis the British people will not be found wanting, of courage and faith and national unity, of material and spiritual power to play their part in achieving both social security and the victory of justice among nations upon which security depends.
Yet, in his brilliant oration to-night, Senator Leckie claimed that the Government’s social security plan was in no way associated with the fighting forces of this country. If his words meant anything at all, they meant that the amended Repatriation Act would provide all that was necessary for members of our fighting forces returning to this country after the war.
– I did not say that.
– But that was the implication. The honorable senator said quite clearly that the proposed national welfare fund would not benefit members of our fighting services. That is entirely wrong. As was the case after the last waT, when this conflict ends men will be demobilized, and if in good health will have no claim whatsoever in respect of their war service. Senator MoBride said that as the proposed trust fund was to be drawn upon by the Government for war purposes, the £#0,000,000 would go up in smoke.
– I did not say that.
-The fact is that whatever is drawn from the fund will be replaced either by way of revenue or by way of loan. The position of this trust fund will be no different from that of the trust fund that has been set up for war damage insurance purposes, or the trust fund that has been created in Great Britain in respect of the national insurance scheme in. operation there. Acceptance of the amendment which is to be moved by a member of the Opposition will wreck the whole structure of this measure, and deprive the people of this country of something for which our soldiers are fighting. This Government is under an obligation to make adequate post-war provision for the men who are not in our fighting services, and for the men and women employed in our war industries. Honorable senators opposite who were responsible for the abandonment of the national health and pensions insurance scheme in this country, have an opportunity now to assist in the laying of a foundation for future social security in accordance with the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Social Security which is composed of members of all parties, and of both Houses of this Parliament. I regret exceedingly that one honorable senator who is a member of that committee has now in effect repudiated his signature to its reports by declaring his opposition to this measure. I say definitely that the people of this country are demanding that a scheme of social security be implemented in the interests of our fighting men who to-day are shedding their blood in order that this nation may be free. It is up to us to do something to give the people confidence in the belief that they have a land worth fighting for; that when the war is over they will have something concrete to look forward to, instead of the hopeless chaos which existed after the last war.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Motion (by Senator Collings) agreed to.
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn to to-morrow, at 11 a.m.
production Oi” ShALE OIL- AUSTRALIAN
Army: Amalgamation of Forces.
Motion (by Senator Collings) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– In view of the pronounced shortage of petrol and oil in this country, last week I drew the attention of honorable senators to a method by which it was claimed a much greater return could be obtained from the Glen Davis project. Two years ago I had a long conversation with one of the engineers at that centre, and he informed me that the greatest drawback to production at Glen Davis was the retorting system. On the 11th March I asked the Minister for the Interior the following question, upon notice: -
Has the United States Board of Economic Warfare recommended an expenditure of over £5,000,000 on the Newnes shale oil scheme?
If so, and before the Government commits itself on this expenditure, will it inquire into the patent retort invented by Mr. A. W. Dye of Sydney, who claims a 40 per cent, efficiency result over the figures given by Dr. W. D. McFadyen?
The answers were -
Representatives of the United States Board of Economic Warfare have recommended an expenditure of £4,500,000.
Mr. Dye’s retort has been investigated by Commonwealth technical officers who are of the opinion that it has some merit when applied to small scale projects, but it would not be suitable for a large scale undertaking like that at Glen Davis.
I have known Mr. Dye for twenty years. He is a very successful business man in Sydney. He has asked the following further questions in regard to the matter: -
The attempt to exploit the deposits of oil shale at Latrobe in Tasmania was not successful because a satisfactory retort could not be obtained, but I believe that the Dye retort, which is doing exceptionally good work at Newcastle, is better than any other retort of the kind on the market. I believe that it would prove of great value if used for the purpose of retorting Tasmanian shale. This might be of great value in promoting the war effort. The Government should consider the fact that we are almost at starvation point in Australia with regard to petrol, and that the results obtained from the expenditure of hundreds of thousands of pounds of Newnes have been disappointing. Before the Government expends £5,000,000 in assisting an American oil company I hope that it will give an opportunity to a local engineer to prove what his retort can do.
.- In reply to a question asked by me this morning as to why discrimination had been shown by the granting of 28 days’ leave to members of the Citizen Military Forces, after twelve months’ service, and 21 days’ leave, and even only 14 days’ leave, to members of the Australian imperial Force after two or three years’ active service overseas, the Minister representing the Minister for the Army (Senator Fraser) implied that hard worked members of the Australian Imperial Force could not be spared. If ever there was an argument in- favour of having one Army in Australia, it was that used by the Minister. Repeatedly I have stated in this chamber that the Government, sooner than agree to the amalgamation of the Australian Imperial Force and the Citizen Military Forces, which the latter desire, it will continue to use the Australian Imperial Force until it is wiped out by constant campaigning. In view of the war situation, it is not. yet too late to effect the amalgamation. The Citizen Military Forces, usually referred to as the Militia, does not, I am sure, desire preferential treatment over the Australian Imperial Force war veterans in respect of leave. Why. is the Government so adamant on this momentous matter? I cannot understand its attitude. Why does it not take courage and do what it obviously should do?
.- In view of the answer given by the Minister for External Territories (Senator Fraser) to Senator Brand, I desire to inform honorable senators that there will be no squealing or grizzling from the Australian Imperial Force if it is needed for an urgent job, but at the same time I urge the Government to realize the effect of its action. The Australian soldier is noted for the fact that he can “ take it “. He does not mind how hard the conditions are, or how tough is the job that he is called upon to do. When necessary, he does not object to being deprived of his leave, but there is one thing upon which he insists, and that is fairness. So long as the present conditions exist, under which there are two, or even more than two, armies in this country, one having to comply with a certain set of conditions, and another having different conditions, there will be discontent. One of those armies can fight wherever the enemy can be found, whilst another may fight only in limited areas. That creates a situation which is likely to destroy the morale of the magnificent troops which have brought honour to Australia. As Senator Brandhas forcibly pointed out, no better argument could be advanced in favour of having one army than was furnished by Senator Fraser to-day, when he said, in effect : “ In this crisis, we have to cut down the leave of members of the Australian Imperial Force from 28 days to 21 days, because we cannot use the Citizen Military Forces.” What other interpretation could be placed on his words? Therefore, I urge the Government to realize that Australia needs a united army that can fight anywhere.
Question resolved in the affirmative .
The following papers were presented : -
National Security Act -
National Security (General) Regulations -
Order - Control of Rubber.
Orders by State Premiers - South
Australia (2), and Victoria.
National Security (Supplementary) RegulationsOrders by State Premiers - Queensland and Western Australia.
Navigation Act- Regulations - Statutory Rules 1943, No.53.
Senate adjourned at11.7 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 17 March 1943, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1943/19430317_senate_16_174/>.