16th Parliament · 1st Session
The Senate met at 2.30 p.m.
The Clerk. - I have received advice that the President (Senator the Honorable J. Cunningham) will he unable to attend to-day’s sittings of the Senate. In accordance with Standing Order No. 29 the Chairman of Committees will take the chair as Deputy President.
The Deputy President (Senator Brown) thereupon took the chair, and read prayers.
Assent to the following bills reported : -
Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 1942-43.
Loan Bill (No. 2) 1943.
Tasmania Grant Bill 1943.
– I present the second report of the Broadcasting Committee.
Ordered to be printed.
– As Chairman, I present a statement of the confidential reports which has been addressed by the War Expenditure Committee to the Prime Minister for the consideration of War Cabinet.
– by leave - I desire to make a personal explanation. The statement made in the Senate yesterday by Senator Amour that I am now engaged in courtmartialling members of the 9th Division of the Australian Imperial Force is untrue. I am not engaged in courtmartialling any men. I have never been either the president or a member of a court martial. As Senator Amour has seen fit to make sneering reference to my service overseas, I desire to place on record the facts of the case. I enlisted as a gunner in the 2nd/7th Australian Field Regiment early in June, 1940. I was promoted to the ranks of lance-bombardier, bombardier and lance-sergeant, and embarked for the Middle East in November, 1940. I disembarked in the Middle East in December, 1940, and after further training moved with my regiment to the western desert where I served until November, 1941, when I was seconded to Headquarters, Australian Imperial Force, Middle East. I remained with the Australian Imperial Force Head-quarters until my return to Australia in March, 1943. At no time have I ever suggested or implied that I was in the battle of El Alamein. I was, however, in a position to know the disgust of the men at being pulled out at the final stage of the battle. It appears obvious that the honorable senator has manufactured these falsehoods in an endeavour to reflect upon my character and injure me politically.
-. In view of the fact that the price fixed for baconers of 100 lb. and over is 8d. per lb., and that porkers at 90 lb. are selling at ls. per lb., how can the Minister for Trade and Customs reconcile the sale of a 99-lb. porker for SA 19a. with the fixed price for a 100-lb. baconer at 8d. per lb., which would bring only £3 6s. 8d. ? By adding 1 lb. to the 99-lb. pig, the grower is at a loss of £1 12s. 4d.
– I shall obtain an explanation of the position for the honorable senator before the Senate rises.
– Has the Leader of the Senate read the report in the Sydney Morning Herald of the 8th May last in which it is stated that Dr. Coombs, the ‘Director-General of Post-War Reconstruction, while in New York made this statement -
Dr. Coombs declared that Australians generally had no preference between private enterprise and government activity, but the general tenor was towards public activity playing a larger part in the post-war period.
Will the Minister state whether Dr. Coombs as a public servant made that statement by direction of the Government or whether it is another example of government propaganda?
– The answer is “ No “.
– -Will the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping state whether it is a fact that within the last few days vessels under charter to the Shipping Control Board and engaged in the coal and iron trades have been diverted from those trades by order of the Government in order that general cargo may bo substituted for the essential coal and iron freights? If the answer be in the affirmative, and in view of the fact that several States are urgently in need of coal for industrial as well as household purposes, will the Minister provide the
Senate with information which will satisfy honorable senators that this latest remarkable move by the Government in this matter is not actuated by a desire to gain political favour at the coming elections? If the answer to the first part of the question be in the affirmative, will the Minister indicate whether the cargo to be carried by these diverted ships is of an ‘essential nature or, as is alleged, luxury articles which are in short supply in Queensland? Will the Minister undertake to have immediate inquiries made with a view to ensuring that there will be no interference with the high priority of those essential cargoes, namely, coal and iron ore?
– As the Leader of the Opposition should know, it is undesirable to give information concerning the movements of ships. I am astonished that the question has been asked, but I oan assure’ the honorable senator that luxury cargoes are not carried in preference to essential war supplies.
– I asked not for information about the movement of ships, but whether in order to become popular the Government had decided to carry luxury goods instead of essential cargo.
– I thought that I had made myself clear. . It is not the policy _ of the Government to carry nonessential goods in- preference to war material.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has supplied the following answers -
Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping, upon notice -
– The Minister for Supply and Shipping has supplied the following answers -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Army has supplied the following answers -
contributions by commonwealth Savings Bank.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer -
Will the Minister supply the Senate with particulars of the amounts contributed to the Second and Third Liberty Loans by the Commonwealth Savings Bank?
– It has been the invariable practice of the Treasury to publish particulars of subscriptions to loans only where the subscriber has given consent to publication. Since the commencement of the war, theCommonwealth Bank has adopted the policy of not supplying information of this nature, and has intimated that it still desires to maintain this policy unless at any time special circumstances make it desirable to alter it.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
What Army personnel and vehicles were detailed to attend, or were present, at the point of arrival when (a) the Minister for the Army reached Perth on the 15th April, 1943 ; ( b ) the right honorable the Prime Minister and Minister for Defence reached Perth on the 22 nd April last?
– The Minister for the Army has supplied the following answer : -
Post-war Conditions - Goldreserve.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answer : - 1 to 5. Under the direction of their respective governments, the experts in both the United Kingdom and the United States of America have been closely examining the problem of post-war international monetary mechanism, and both the United Kingdom and United States of America Governments have published as a preliminary contribution to the solution of that problem the draft proposals formulated by the experts. No government is in any way committed to the principles or details of the proposals which have been published. They have merely been communicated to the governments of the United Nations for technical examination at the official level.
Special Service Coupons
– On the 28th June, Senator Aylett asked, without notice, the following question : -
Will the Minister for Trade and Customs inform the Senate whether 70 or 75 special clothing coupons are issued to Army and Navy officers, whilst only 25 special coupons arc issued to officers of theRoyal Australian Air Force?
As promised, I have had inquiries made and I am now in the position to inform the honorable senator that an annual maintenance issue is made of 70 coupons to Army officers and 25 coupons to Air Force and Navy officers. The reason for differentiation is that Army officers purchase in retail stores shirts, collars, shoes and socks, whereas Air Force and Navy officers obtain these articles coupon-free from service stores.
Debate resumed from the 29th June (vide page 508), on motion by Senator Keane -
That the bill be now read a first time.
– When I obtained leave last evening to continue my remarks, I was dealing with the attitude of the Labour party, both as a government and as an opposition, to the defence of this country. I expressed astonishment at the flood of patriotism which appeared to have come over that party, and I wondered whether the people of Australia would regard the change of view as a death-bed repentance because of a desire to flee from the wrath to come, or as a sincere conviction. However, the electors will have an opportunity to decide that question for themselves within, the next few weeks. During this debate honorable senators opposite have repeatedly alleged that the Menzies and Fadden Governments left Australia defenceless. I cannot believe that they really believe their own statements in that respect. At all events, I am certain that all thinking people will judge those statements to bo gross exaggerations. During the regime of those Governments, we were not as prepared, perhaps, as we should have been; but the reason for that fact is to be found largely in the attitude adopted by honorable senators opposite towards the defence proposals of those Governments. It cannot be said that either the Menzies or the Fadden Government was isolationist in outlook. Both realized their responsibilities towards our Allies, and were prepared to assist our Allies in any sphere which strategic considerations dictated. They realized that the Mother Country, for instance, was greatly in need of supplies which we could make available, because I need hardly remind honorable senators of the tragedy of Dunkirk, and the immense quantities of war mlaterial which the British forces were obliged to abandon when they evacuated northern France. Following that tragedy, previous governments realized Great Britain’s urgent need for supplies of war material which we had on hand, and they did not hesitate to make as much as possible of that material available to the Mother Country in its hour of need. That is the principal reason why this country was not as prepared as it might have been when Japan entered the war. It is clear that the present Government has not shown the same degree of appreciation of the help being rendered by our Allies as did the Menzies and Fadden Governments.
– Or anything like the appreciation of our Allies that the people of Australia desire us to show.
Senator JAMES MCLACHLAN That is so ; and the people will give their answer within a few weeks. This Government, in its arrogance, has lost its sense of proportion. It does not seem to realize that our strength numerically is infinitesimal compared with that of the United Nations. The population of the United Nations is approximately 700,000,000 compared with our population of 7,000,000, that is, in the ratio of 100 to 1. Therefore, it should behove this Government to be wary about endeavouring to dictate the policy of the United Nations, or what they should do for us. Several honorable senators who have taken part in this debate have referred to the visits overseas by the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt).
– Is that the Dr. Evatt who belongs to the Social Credit Group ?
– That is not true.
– It is true. The Minister for External Affairs declared at a meeting of social credit supporters in Sydney that although lie did not know what they were talking about they were right; and, in assessing the value of that statement, we must ‘ remember that the Minister was formerly a judge of the High Court, and, therefore, would not make such statements without due consideration. That statement is in print to-day.
– What the honorable senator has stated is not in print.
– It is a deliberate lie.
– It is a fact, and I, and other honorable senators, can substantiate what I am saying. A pamphlet which was distributed to members of this Parliament contained that statement.
– But the Minister did not issue that pamphlet.
– His photograph appeared on the front of the pamphlet.
– We shall see that the honorable senator will not only renounce what he has just said, but will also eat his own words.
– What the Minister said at that meeting was that they had done more than any one else to educate the people about finance; and that is a fact.
– The object of the visit overseas by the Minister for External Affairs was to confer with the leaders of the United Nations with the express purpose of obtaining assistance for Australia. Were the circumstances in which we find ourselves to-day not so serious, not only the mission on which ho is now engaged, hut also the previous mission he undertook for a similar purpose, would be ludicrous. If it were necessary to send an ambassador of this country abroad, the man who should have gone was the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin).
– We could not spare him.
Senator JAMES McLACHLAN.I shall tell honorable senators why. In the event of the Prime Minister being unavailable to undertake such a mission, the next man who should have been sent was the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde), because he should know more than any other Minister about the state of our defences.
– Does the honorable senator think he would ?
– I say that the Minister for the Army should, know more about our defences than any other Minister. Therefore, in the event of the Prime Minister being unable to undertake such a mission, that Minister, and not the Minister for External Affairs, should have been sent. But why was that Minister sent overseas in preference to the Prime Minister and the Minister for the Army ? I shall give the reason. The Prime Minister was too astute to go abroad and leave his Cabinet behind him. Probably, if he could have taken all his Ministers with him he would have undertaken the mission. However, I believe that the Prime Minister was not too sure that if he left these shores he would remain Prime Minister. That was why the Minister for External Affairs was sent. He took with him a retinue of officers, including his secretary and publicity officer, in order that we should be kept well informed of what he was doing while he was overseas. “We have been kept well informed at least of what he has tried to do. He has tried to rectify a mistake which he made on his previous visit abroad, from which we did not see any results until about eight months after he returned, when the Mother Country, very graciously, made available to this country a squadron of Spitfires for the protection of our northern shores. When some of us expressed our pleasure at the arrival of these aircraft, we were told, “ That is what Dr. Evatt went to Great Britain, for “ ; but we did not know anything about it until the Spitfires arrived here, some eight months later. Apparently, the right honorable gentleman is making no mistake on this occasion. He has taken a publicity officer with him, and we are informed regularly of what he is doing so that no matter what comes along after he returns, he will be able to say, “Yes, that is what I got for you “.
– Hitler got the “ wind up “ when Dr. Evatt went to Great Britain.
– I should not have thought that. In my view, sending the Minister for External Affairs to Great Britain to confer with men like President Roosevelt and Mr. Winston Churchill is like sending a Pekingese pup to a bulldog show.
This Government was extremely lucky when it assumed office. It found the affairs of the nation in good order. The ground work of our defence programme had been carried out, and our finances were in a wonderful condition. Now, when an honorable senator on this side of the chamber happens to mention the word “ inflation “, some honorable senators opposite become highly indignant, as if it were horrible to think of such a thing; but the position as I see it is this : All governments make mistakes, and in most cases these mistakes can be rectified by succeeding administrations, but when a government wrecks the financial institutions of a country, that is a mistake which it i3 extremely difficult to remedy; yet that is what this Government is doing to-day. When it came in to power, the value of treasury-bills amounted to less than £2,000,000; to-day that figure has risen to. approximately £300,000,000. That is not the worst : This Government is using the printing press to turn out £1 notes in very much the same way as a butcher uses a sausage machine. When this Administration came to power, our note issue amounted to approximately £47,000,000, whereas to-day it is between £1 37,000,000 and £138,000,000- an increase of about £90,000,000. In addition, it is not necessary for me to emphasize that the face value of the money we possess is not a real indication of our wealth. When the Fadden Government went out of office, in effect, a £1 note could be purchased for 21s.; to-day, that figure has risen to 29s. 3d., and is still rising. It is also true that the new notes issued are not in the hands of the banks, where they should be and usually are, but in the pockets of the people. That is a serious position. While I agree that it is impossible to pay for this war as we go along, at least we should pay as much as we can now. ‘Great Britain is working on those lines. At the end of this financial year, Great Britain will have provided 50 per cent, of its war expenditure out of revenue, whereas we shall have provided only 16 per cent. Although it is unavoidable that a certain degree of inflation will occur in times like the present, we are getting close to the border line, and that unless action be taken to curb the present trend, disastrous results may follow.
In the course of this debate there has been much talk of rationing, primary production, and “ the Brisbane line “. In regard to rationing, although I agree with Senator Courtice, who said that it was impossible to administer such a huge organization without creating some anomalies, the anomalies are far too numerous. The Rationing Commission is composed of three gentlemen, only ore of whom has had any commercial experience. That gentleman is the chairman of the commission, and his business experience is very limited. One can hardly expect a man whose life has been spent endeavouring to buy articles for ls. and sell them for 2s. 6d. to have a very strong grip on commercial affairs. The original decision of the commission in regard to lay-,by goods was ridiculous. Even one member of the commission agreed with that, but obviously a man who sells nothing over 2s. 6d. would not do much lay-by trade and could not be expected to know much about it. The decision was particularly hard on young women who were preparing to set up housekeeping. I know of one case in which a woman was preparing to make the last payment shortly after the date of the announcement of the new rationing; yet the shopkeepers concerned bad the audacity to ask her for 80 coupons for the goods which she had purchased for her “glory box “ over the last six months. As one member of the Commission was in Great Britain and the dispute over lay-by goods was referred to the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane), who not only is the biggest man in the Cabinet physically, but also is a bigger man mentally than many of his fellow Ministers. The Minister settled the question in a very business-like manner, and I am sure that the people of this country are grateful to him for what he did in that regard.
It is obvious that the attitude of this Government towards the primary producers has changed considerably during the last month or two, due, of course, to the fact that an election is approaching. In season and out of season we on this side of the chamber endeavoured to secure a further advance on the 1941-42 wheat crop; but we were told repeatedly that nothing further would be paid on that crop. However, as soon as an election loomed, an additional 3d. a bushel was paid. Some time ago the Government destroyed the dairying industry by absolutely depleting it of man-power, and many of our finest breeders, finding that they could not proceed, got rid of their cattle. We had a shortage of men, and the Government started to regiment the industry. Then it turned around and said, “We will make this all right by giving the dairying industry a subsidy of £2,000,000 “. The dairymen did ‘ not take this too kindly, but an election was looming and up went the subsidy from £2,000,000 to £6,500,000. But this was twelve months too late, because the damage was done.
– The honorable senator’s party was in office for ten years, and never gave the dairymen anything.
– We gave them a fair deal, which was much better. There is to be an election in the near future, but it is overdue. A dissolution should have been announced on the day on which two members of the Parliament scrapped their election pledges, subordinated them for their own benefit, and voted with what to-day is the Government. We have been going on for the last eighteen months with a government in power entirely dependent on two men who could simply ask for what they wanted, and they got it.
– They did not ask.
Senator JAMES McLACHLAN One of them was shipped away to Great Britain a little time ago, and I understand that the other, when the vital vote was taken in the House of Representatives last week had to be dragged back as ho was getting out of the door.
– They would have lost him altogether the next time.
– The Government knew that.
– Does the honorable senator think that there should have been a double dissolution at that time?
Senator JAMES McLACHLAN.Yes, if the party opposite wanted it. It is time that the people had the opportunity to Say who shall govern Australia. I am a democrat and believe in democracy. It is right that the people should say who their government should be. I am satisfied that we are going to our masters, and that they ought to say who shall govern. They will decide the issue, and it will no longer be left in the hands of the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Coles) and the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Wilson). If the people make a mistake and return a Labour government to power I shall ‘bow to their decision, because I am a democrat. I shall say, “This is the party that the people wish to govern Australia “. That will be far more satisfactory than the intolerable position under which we are working now. I hope that the Government will not be returned, but, if it is. I shall treat it with more respect than I have in the past when it has been hanging on to those two gentlemen.
Only two things concern the country at the present time. One is a national government and the other is one army. Let us fall into line with our Allies by having one army and let the Government be prepared to allow it to fight anywhere. Do not let our country have to rely for its defence on American conscripts. We have British conscripts flying the Spitfires at Darwin, and we have two islands off our coast, Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island, being defended by New Zealand troops, who come from a country which has a population of fewer than 2,000,000. I hope that as the result of the general elections we shall have a national government and one army and other benefits will follow.
– I have heard many debates, but have never heard the political propaganda machine worked to the degree that it has been worked during this debate. In fact, as my colleague, the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) suggests, the machine has been worked overtime. The shock troops who led the attack - .Senators McBride, Wilson and Spicer - have by their contributions lowered the prestige of this chamber and the standard of debate. That is .characteristic of the Opposition. I raise no objection to their attempt to create a favorable impression upon the people of Australia when there is an election in the offing. If in their wisdom they decide that the best method of propaganda is criticism and vilification of the Government, and a recital of their own activities or misdeeds when in office, I have no complaint to make. But I emphasize that, whether in criticism of the Government or in their recital of the activities of the United Australia party or United County party governments of the past, it is essential that their remarks should have a factual background. As I proceed, I propose to furnish some conclusive evidence of the utter disregard for the truth which has characterized the contributions of Opposition senators to the debate. Inaccuracy has not been their only feature. There has not been one utterance by honorable senators opposite in regard to major problems con fronting the country at present. They have made no suggestions for the successful prosecution of the war, which should be the first consideration of this National Parliament. We have heard the Prime Minister and the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) vilified and condemned to the utmost by gentlemen sitting opposite, whose major object in this Parliament seems to be to utter carping criticism and to parade their own patriotism at every opportunity. I remember last year when, with characteristic realism, the present Prime Minister made his appeal to the United States of America, and the criticism by members of the Opposition. Other honorable . senators also remember the campaign that was started when the Prime Minister appealed to that country for help. The campaign was started in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia. It was noticeable that it did not blossom in either Queensland or Western Australia, those States not being regarded as fertile ground upon which to inaugurate such a campaign. In those States the people realized the dangers that would beset them in the event of further encroachment of the Japanese southwards. Honorable senators should reflect for a few moments and carry their minds back to the middle of 1941. It will be easy for them to refresh their minds with regard to that period, because it was about the time when the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) returned from Great Britain. At that time the Menzies Government was being whipped into action by the press of Australia. It had been challenged by the press as a result of its ineptitude and. inefficiency. So pronounced was its inefficiency that its own friends had turned upon it. It was criticized by the press as a government of bewilderment and confusion. I heard Senator James McLachlan say that other honorable senators had seen something in print about the Minister for External Affairs, but it had not been produced. I have something before me in print, and I intend to read it. It is an extract from the Melbourne Herald of Wednesday, the 2nd July, 1941. The caption is “ Overlapping and Confusion “ and the article states -
It is now a fortnight since Mr. Monzies announced his “ prospectus for Australia’s total war effort”. It consisted of proposals for the croation of a large amount of new governmental machinery. The public naturally assumed that Mr. Menzies had a clear-cut programme of work for all the new authorities he was creating and that each would immediately be set to its appointed task.
Time is beginning to paint a very different picture. Machinery can bc used to turn out work or it can merely clutter up the workshop. The only discernible difference in the progress of the Government’s war effort since Mr. Menzies announced the new appointments is that nobody seems to know whose job it is to get on with the things that are urgently waiting to be done.
Yesterday there was a frank admission by a Minister handling one of .the most important of home war problems that he did not know the scope of his department. At a previous Cabinet reconstruction the new Department of Labour was created to deal, among other things, with the problem of the diversion of man-power from civil industry into war production. There has now been added to the administration a new Minister of War Organization of Industry, a new extra-parliamentary man-power authority to consist of a chief executive and a committee composed of representatives of the Tariff Board, the other Man Tower Committee, the Department of Customs, Commerce, Treasury and Supply. In addition, there has been created a parliamentary standing committee on man-power of which Mr. Coles, M.H.E., is chairman.
The ability of the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Coles) whom the Opposition now condemns, was recognized by the
This morning it was further announced that the Federal Government has invited the State governments to an early conference “ on technical training to equip gome of those who may be displaced from present industry either for work in war industries or enlistment in services “. But before this conference can be held, the Federal Government proposes to hold a preliminary inquiry.
Honorable senators, who now sit in opposition, claim that when in power they laid the foundations for the production of munitions.
– Does the honorable senator dispute that?
– I do not deny that a portion of the foundations was laid by the Menzies and Fadden Governments. I do not wish to take from any previous government credit to which it is entitled, but I consider that the governments immediately preceding the present Ministry did little more than lay the foundations for the production of munitions. I have no doubt that the intentions referred to by Senator McBride were good but broken promises brought about the downfall of the Menzies and Fadden Governments,
The statement was made during the debate that the Minister for Supply a.nd Shipping (Mr. Beasley) had appealed to a Labour conference in Melbourne for a truce with regard to strikes and absenteeism in industry for a term of from four to six months. That is entirely incorrect. What the Minister said, in effect, was -
In the mouths that lie ahead and perhaps the years that lie ahead, I ask the trade union leaders of Australia to endeavour to bring about a curtailment of strikes and absenteeism in industry.
– Not to stop them ?
– The total prevention of industrial stoppages is beyond the capacity of even Senator Sampson. The Minister asked for a curtailment of holdups, in order to bring about increased production. He appealed to the people who could help.
– What have they done?
– I ask the honorable senator not to be impatient. We have heard a good deal from honorable senators opposite of the efficiency pf the Ministry which preceded the Curtin Government. About the time the right honorable member for Kooyong returned from Great Britain a number of additional departments were established and placed under the control of three additional Ministers. That elaborate re-arrangement followed the right honorable gentleman’s famous speech in the Sydney Town Hall on his return to Australia. I propose to compare the preparations that were supposed to have been made for the defence of this country by the Menzies Government and the achievements of the Curtin Government. I use the word “ preparations “ advisedly in .respect of the former Government, despite the fact that Australia had, in the middle of 1941, been at war for nearly two years. By no stretch of the imagination can the Melbourne gerald be regarded as a newspaper which supports the Labour party, yet in its issue of 1st July, 1941, referring to plans made by the Menzies Government for the .transfer of man-power from .nonessential industries to war work, that newspaper said -
Questioned last night on what steps the Government was taking to deal with men displaced by its policy on petrol, newsprint and imports, Mr. Menzies referred questioners to the Minister for Labour, Mr. Holt.
Mr. Holt said that he was unable to say anything until Mr. Menzies had defined the scope of his department, and the extent to which Mr. Spooner would be responsible for man-power questions.
That lack of understanding of their responsibilities on the part of Ministers is typical of the confusion which was associated with the Menzies Administration. According to the Melbourne Herald of the 2nd July, 1941, the then Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) speaking in the House of Representatives said -
The whole question of war reorganization of industry was not a matter to bc rushed into in an elephantine fashion.
He said that so far no men had been displaced as a result of the creation of the new War Organization of Industry Department, and no unemployment had been created.
It will be seen that the right honorable gentleman was trying to justify his administration. He went on to say - the assumption that the Government had already put into operation a series of drastic steps affecting industry generally, and that as a result a great number of men had been displaced was entirely unfounded.
Referring to the Department of War Organization of Industry the Herald report stated -
Mr. Menzies said he wanted to make it perfectly clear that the operations of this new department, acting in close co-operation with the Ministries of Supply and Munitions, had yet to begin.
I emphasize that that statement was made nearly two years after the commencement of the war. The report continues -
It was still in the planning stage.
Yes, it was a most interesting week of political news in the first week of July, 1.941, soon after Mr. Menzies had returned from England on what should have been one of the most valuable missions for this country that had ever been undertaken by a Prime Minister, or any Minister of State.
On the 3rd July the following report appeared in the same newspaper -
Canberra, Thursday. - The present Federal Parliament sittings are ending in an atmosphere of turmoil and disorganization among Government supporters. A divergence of opinion am’ong ministerialists was in evidence throughout to-day’s sittings, a-nd but for the support being given by the Opposition the Ministry would be in danger of collapse.
The restlessness among ministerialists is due mainly to dissatisfaction over what is regarded as the failure of the Government to follow by action, Mr. Menzies’ broadcast on June 1 7 giving the prospects for “ an unlimited war effort “.
That is an indication of the activities of the then Government in the middle of 1941 nearly two years after the commencement of the war. It appeared not in a newspaper which supports the Labour party but in one which year in and year out has consistently supported the United Australia party and the United Country party.
– Does the PostmasterGeneral accept all that he reads in newspaper leading articles?
– I accept what was published on that occasion, because I witnessed what then took place in this Parliament. Senator McBride could not refrain from having a tilt at the coal-miners, but his statement was inaccurate. I do not say that he intentionally endeavoured to mislead the Senate, but I do say that in his desire to gain a political advantage, his enthusiasm overcame his judgment. The honorable senator said that it had been estimated that, as a result of industrial stoppages, 2.000,000 tons of coal had been lost in 1942. The figures mentioned by Senator McBride are typical of the kind of propaganda used by opponents of the Government during the last three or four months. Senator McBride said that the loss of production of coal in 1942, as the result of strikes and hold-ups, was 2,000,000 tons.
– What about absenteeism ?
– I want to be fair, and I am sure that when the honorable senator sees that he ha3 made a mistake he will be man enough to admit it. He said that the loss of 2,000,000 tons of coal in 1942 was due to strikes and holdups. He did not attribute any of that, loss at all to absenteeism. In that year the number of man-days lost in the industry was 177,566. I want the honorable senator to relate that figure to the loss of production of 2,000,000 tons which he cited, and then, let us look at the corresponding figures for 1940 when the Menzies government was in office. In that year the number of man-days lost in the coal-mining industry was 1,364,310. On the basis of Senator McBride’s statement that 2,000,000 tons was lost in 1942. when. the number of man-days lost was 177,566, the loss of production of coal in 1940 would be 15,200,000 tons. That little calculation, which I invite honorable senators opposite to check, shows how fantastic is the figure given by Senator McBride. It forces one to the conclusion that his statement is ridiculous.
– What was the loss of production of coal last year,
– It is almost impossible to compute with any degree of accuracy the loss of production of coal. I have no doubt that Senator McBride as a former Minister for Supply will agree with me on that point. However, the figures I have just given have been supplied to me by the Department of Supply and Shipping. I have simply used them as a means of testing the accuracy of the figure of 2,000,000 tons loss of production cited by the honorable senator. I have already said that, in 1940, when the Menzies government was in office, 1,364,310 mandays were lost in the industry whilst in 1941 275,605 man-days were lost, and last year 177,565 man-days were lost. At the same time, our total coal production last year was nearly 15,000,000 tons which is a record for this country, the quantities of coal produced during the last four years being 13,535,142 tons in 1939, 11,73 6,682 tons in 1940, 14,212,450 tons in 1941, and 14,971,893 tons in 1942.
– What did the honorable senator’s party do about the loss of production of coal in 1940 owing to strikes and hold-ups?
– The right honorable member for Kooyong, who was then. Prime Minister, visited the coalfields and pleaded with the 10,000 nien who were on strike to go hack to work. He did not suggest then that the strikers should be put into the Army, although he had the power to put them there. He also had the opportunity to put them in gaol, but he did not suggest that they should be put in gaol. On the contrary, he pleaded with them to go back to work. Yet, to-day, honorable senators opposite, including those who were members of the Menzies government, criticize this Government for failing to deal with strikers in the drastic fashion they now suggest. I also point out that in giving figures dealing with the loss of production of coal, Senator McBride did not make any allowance whatever for loss due to stoppages owing to faults in the mines. Eoi’ purposes of propaganda he merely lumped all losses together regardless of their causes.
When speaking last night Senator Latham referred to the increases of postal rates and charges by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, and I interjected that such increases were made as a war measure. No Government instrumentality should continue to make huge profits as have been made by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department in the past, because any profits above a reasonable amount should either be expended in improving the particular service to the public, or should be used to offset a reduction of its charges. However, every honorable senator knows that the last increases of charges by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department were made primarily as a means of spreading additional taxes fairly over the community as a whole. Honorable senators opposite will also admit that the increases of taxes imposed by this Government are exactly the same as those which the Fadden government proposed to impose when it was defeated. That should clear from Senator Latham’s mind some of the fears which he expressed in regard to the imposition of additional taxes for postal purposes.
Senator Latham claimed that employees at nonofficial post offices would be forced to join a union before they could enjoy the increased payments recently announced, but I can assure the honorable senator that that will not be necessary. In any case, the organization of which these employees would be members is not affiliated with the Labour party in any way, so that no benefit to the Labour party would accrue if they did join. Senator Latham claimed also that previous governments had granted increased emoluments to employees of non-official post offices; but any one who understands the working of these institutions knows that as business increases so small increases of allowances are granted. I point out that the previous scale of allowances paid to non-official postmasters took effect on the 1st July, 1927. That scale introduced the system of payment on a work value unit basis. It was subsequently amended from time to time to increase the unit value of particular transactions, and to incorporate in the scale new classes of business or work. An availability allowance to increase rate of payment at small offices was introduced in 1938 and, at the same time, the monetary value of the unit was increased. The estimated additional cost of these innovations was £41,000 a year. The scale adopted as from the 1st July, 1942, embraced some important modifications. These included a revision of the unit appraisement of the work value of transactions in light of presentday conditions; an increase of the monetary value of the work unit; provision for the variation of the monetary value of the work unit according to the rise and fall of the cost of living; provision for payment at a minimum rate of £272 a year, where the work is of such volume as to necessitate constant attention during office hours - owing to subsequent cost of living variations, the minimum payment for full-time service offices is now at the rate of £290 a year; increased payment for attention to traffic after normal office hours; payment by the department at full-time service offices for subordinate staff necessary in the. light of the volume of business transacted ; an increase of the allowance at small offices for provision of office accommodation; an increase of the availability allowance at small offices; payment for attendance on public holidays; a special allowance for morse telegraphic qualifications; and the granting of three weeks’ recreation leave annually to postmasters at full-time service offices where they personally give full-time attendance. The additional payment to non-official postmasters, as a result of the application of the present scale, amounted to £258,000 a year. Following cost of living increases, that figure has now considerably increased. The total payments to non-official postmasters during the forthcoming financial year is estimated at £1,221,000.
So much has ‘been said in the course of this debate about strikes that I draw attention to the following report which appeared in the Melbourne Herald on the 3rd July, 1941 : -
The opening of Parliament during which the terms of Mr. Menzies’s prospectus for total war effort were to be given legislative enforcement is to end this week. The only measure arising out of the Prime Minister’s programme which has been passed by Parliament has been an act increasing the number of Cabinet Ministers from twelve to nineteen.
It may be recalled that Mr. Menzies’s national broadcast contained more promises than that. There were phrases which still remain in the memory for their note of resolute and urgent action. Among them this - “ The time has passed for simply protesting against strikes and lock-outs in war or allied industries. We propose to prohibit them.”
Yesterday the Government announced that it would not proceed with legislation to prohibit strikes. Some days ago it abandoned the proposal to give the Commonwealth Industrial Tribunals unfettered jurisdiction to award preference to unionists. The retreat has been conducted with all the proper parliamentary procedure. The Leader of the Opposition made a speech which so convinced the Prime Minister by its eloquence and logic that, on the spot, he withdrew the Government’s proposals.No mention was made of the private negotiations at which the political bargain had already been struck.
The legislative part of Mr. Menzies’s programme has thus faded away, leaving nothing but a host of new government appointments. What of the new administrative policy? Phrases of the Prime Minister’s broadcast again return to mind. “It is clear that our national organization must become one primarily for war. War industries must no longer stand for what we can carve out of civil industry and civil industry must become what we can afford to the total organization of a country which is at war . . . the work of munitions construction is handicapped by the shortage of plant and labour. We still have too many civil industries which make the things they like and could be better engaged in making munitions. More men and plant are essential for war purposes. . . . It is my belief that this year 1941 will determine whether we shall lose or win the war “.
Yesterday the” Prime Minister replied to anxious doubts as to whether the transfer of workers from non-essential civil industries to war industries is being organized to prevent a distressing lag of employment. His reply was startling. It amounted to an assurance that there is no need to worry, because no such transfer is being made- at least not for the purpose of providing workers for munitions. For the consolation of any who think that the Government might act with undue sense of urgency Mr. Menzies explained that the new Minister for War Organization of
Industry (presumably after he lias discovered what his particular functions are) “will not not take any steps in a reckless fashion. He will not act without great thought “.
Yet Mr. Menzies is one of the men who, honorable senators opposite claim, laid the foundations of our war effort! Those are the men on the opposite side of the chamber who complain - and this applies not only to their leaders but also to their rank and file members - on behalf of people who to-day are grumbling because they are short of a few mantles in some country section, or short of butter or some other commodity. They do this without considering what Australia is doing in regard to assisting Great Britain in the war effort. I ask those who complain of and make representations in regard to rationing, and even those who stand up here and say that they plead for the small business man, to take a much wider view. They moan and shed crocodile tears for the small business man. but those members of the Opposition who represent vested interests in Australia care not a tinker’s curse for the .small business men or the workers. I read to the Senate this afternoon evidence which showed that when they were in power they were shackled by the fetters of vested interests. They could not move, or they were afraid to move, because they were placed in this chamber to look after vested interests. The manufacturers and monopolists of this country are the parties that they represent. They stand up in their places here and moan over the small ‘business man and the harm that is being done to him. Whatever they blame the Government for, the Government has endeavoured to play its part so far as the war ig concerned. I made reference a little while ago to what occurred in the middle of 1941. I should like to lake honorable senators hack to the early part of last year, and compare the condition of this country then with what it is now. That was the period after the fall of Singapore and the Netherlands East Indies.
– That was when the Government got the jitters.
– It did not get the jitters. It stood up and did a good job for Australia. Honorable senators oppo site and some of their friends had the jitters -when they started that campaign against the Government for appealing to America for help. I am very glad that America came to the help of this country.
– We are, too.
– Honorable senators opposite did not show it when they supported a campaign against the Prime Minister. I remember how, after the fall of Singapore and the Netherlands East Indies, one met the same atmosphere of gloom and despondency in the cities, the country towns, or the rural areas, and invariably the question was asked, “How. long are we going to last? “ There is a different feeling in Australia to-day. There is a complacency which is not justified, and which allows honorable senators opposite to complain about small men being pushed out of business because some one has been squeezed in the war effort. The Government is endeavouring to see that every one in this country plays his part in regard to the Avar. There is too much complacency when a man complains that S oz. of butter a week is not enough for him. People in Great Britain have to live on 2 oz. of butter a week. No consideration is given here to that fact, and no comparison is made between the conditions here and in Great Britain. Any body who complains of the rationing in this country should first of all consider some of the disabilities and hardships that our forces are enduring in defending Australia. I have met many men who have returned from the Middle East and New Guinea. Some of them have told me that they did not even have bread for two months. Yet there are people who grumble and growl because they say that half a pound of butter a week ig not sufficient for them. I say frankly that, whatever restrictions have been imposed by the present Government, and whatever inconveniences have been caused to the Australian people, they are insignificant in comparison with the sacrifices and hardships that have been endured by our soldiers, airmen and sailors in defending Australia.
.- I appreciate Senator Ashley’s consideration for me in ending his speech in sufficient time to enable me to get a good “ press “, but unfortunately the train which I anticipated catching has now left. I feel under a certain degree of disadvantage in following the Minister, because it is apparent that he has driven nearly all his supporters out of the chamber, and it is difficult to talk to a party which is represented in the chamber by only four senators. At the outset of my remarks I wish to make reference to one statement made by Senator James McLachlan in the course of his speech. He referred to a speech delivered by the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) in Sydney on the 3rd December, 1942. I understood Senator Darcey and Others to interject that some speech or other had not been made.
– No, that is not what I said. I said that Dr. Evatt was not a supporter of the social credit policy.
– There was a chorus of interjections from honorable senators opposite, who said that it was not true that Dr. Evatt had applauded the work of the Social Credit party. I have here a pamphlet issued by the Social Credit Movement of New South “Wales, containing a report of the speeches made at a luncheon given in Sydney by the Social- Credit Movement on 3rd December. 3942, which Dr. Evatt attended. The report begins as follows : -
Summed up, Dr. Evatt’s address constituted the greatest tribute yet paid to the educational work of social crediters throughout Australia.
The following is part of what the Minister said : -
Of course, the pioneers of a movement seldom get the credit for the work they have done, but no doubt they are fully rewarded by seeing their ideas adopted.
I pay personal tribute to the work you have done. That is the spirit in which I have come to this gathering to-day. Please don’t misunderstand me. I do not wish to sail under false colours. I do not profess to understand all about money or all the principles you people put forward, but as far as my understanding goes my appreciation is unqualified.
That is to say, Dr. Evatt stated that he knew nothing whatever about what they were saying, but that he was in full accord with it. A little further on he said to the “comrades”: -
It is people like you, combined ou great principles, who can help, when we do win the war. to see that the victory is carried into the days of peace. (Prolonged applause).
Then the report continues -
Mr. BarclaySmith, in seconding a vote of thanks to -Dr. Evatt, said that Dr. Evatt’s unqualified assessment of their work was the greatest tribute yet paid to social crediters by a public man.
At the end a woman present said -
I’m sure we’ve all listened to Dr. Evatt to-day with great interest. I share Mr. Barclay-Smith’s opinion that Dr. Evatt has the necessary character to challenge financial orthodoxy, but (turning to Dr. Evatt) I don’t know whether you have the courage. (Laughter and uproar.)
That pamphlet was issued by the Social Credit Movement itself.
In the course of this debate there has been a good deal of discussion of the war efforts of past governments and the present Government, but I venture to say that, so far as the forthcoming election is concerned, the war effort of Australia is not and cannot be an issue. Criticism of the Opposition has been offered by honorable senators opposite because of the fact that, when war broke out, this country, in common with the democracies in other parts of the world, was not so prepared as it should have been to resist the Axis partners, who had devoted the whole of their efforts and money to t3ie building up of armaments, although that involved enslaving and starving their people. Great Britain and its dominions, the United States of America and other democracies did not desire to enslave their people by taking part in- the mad race for armaments, and it will be a sorry day for our Empire if, after the war, the manufacture of armaments is continued at the present pace. We should not utilize the whole of our resources for armament production. The Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings) has been untiring in his efforts to secure a restriction of armament production throughout the world. It appeared for a time that the work of the League of Nations would be successful, but, unfortunately, the nations did not act towards one another as we hoped they would have done, and the Axis countries alone were prepared for this war. It was hoped that the example set bv Great Britain, the United States of America and certain other countries disarmament would have been followed throughout the world, so that further wars could be avoided.
When this war broke out, it was recognized that a definite challenge had once more been issued to democracy, and particularly to the British Empire, which is the keystone of democracy throughout the world. When it was eventually realized that the efforts of Great Britain and the other democracies to keep the peace were of no avail, the governments of the day commenced the construction of ships, aeroplanes and various armaments, but it is of no use for the present Government to say now what previous governments should have done, because the circumstances before the war were, of course, entirely different from those now prevailing. The people of this country would not have tolerated the enormous burden of taxes which have now been imposed for the building of armaments, because our desire at that time was to secure peace and goodwill among all nations. Honorable senators opposite cannot truthfully say that the defences of Australia have been neglected by past governments. The men who were selected by previous administrations at the outbreak of the war to lead our fighting services and to take control of the production of munitions and aeroplanes are the same as those in control to-day. The leaders of industry who four years ago were roundly condemned by honorable senators opposite because they were said to represent vested interests have been allowed by the present Government to continue in positions of authority, because it is recognized that they are the most suitable men to direct war production. All parties agree that the war must be prosecuted with the utmost vigour and determination and that the people generally must work, pay and make heavy sacrifices until democracy is again free. At the request of the former Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) and senior members of the Labour party, the Advisory War Council was, for good or for ill, established for the purpose of creating a joint partnership in the carrying on of the war effort. That council was deliberately established by the Menzies Government at the request of the then Opposition, in the hope that it would eventually provide a bridge towards the formation of a national government. That council was set up after the Prime Minister of the day had, time after time, offered the hand of friendship to the then Leader of the Opposition with a view to the formation of a national government. When that offer was declined, the Opposition replied, “ We are willing to meet you to this extent, that we shall gladly cooperate with you on the Advisory War Council “. If the Menzies or the Fadden Governments failed with respect to the war effort a similar charge could be laid against the Labour government, because the Labour party had as many representatives on the Advisory War Council as did the government of the day. It had access to all of the war plana and all of the operationsbeing undertaken by the fighting services. It knew how many men were being called up. It had access to the munitions programme and it was consulted with regard to financial problems. It saw the budget in advance. Its representatives met with the government regularly, week after week, but they uttered not one word in protest against what was being done by the Menzies and Fadden Governments. I agree with the PostmasterGeneral (Senator Ashley), who said that those governments did not fail entirely because of the efforts of the Opposition. They failed partly because of the traitorous action of two men who had been entrusted to follow a certain line in politics. One of those men voted against the government because he could not get into the Cabinet, and the other, who has a most weird outlook on political life, was liable to vote any way at any time. After the change of government the Advisory War Council was continued. The same offer of partnership as had previously been made to the Labour party was extended by the Curtin Government to the Opposition. At the first party meeting of the Opposition following the change of government, the invitation was readily accepted, and since then representatives of the Opposition have met regularly with other members of the Advisory War Council. Consequently, if any success can be claimed by the Government, the Opposition claims its share, because it has acted on the council as equal partners with, the Government. Honorable senators know that during recent months I have not favoured the retention of Opposition members on the council. My attitude changed because of the action of the Government in regard to the bill for the extension of the area in which the Militia could serve. Instead of giving to its partners on the Advisory War Council access to the information that was available to the Government, the Prime Minister took secret plans for the conduct of the war to a meeting of trade unionists who had no responsibility to the people. In my opinion it was then time for every decent member of the Opposition to retire from the Advisory War Council. The Prime Minister’s action was a gross betrayal of responsibility: he placed members of a trade union congress above the elected representatives of the people.
I shall not deal at length with what has been referred to as “ the Brisbane line “, but which is in reality the Brisbane lie. Had it not been for the fact that there had been an election for the Greater Brisbane City Council and other municipalities in Queensland, which resulted in the complete rout of the Labour forces in that State, nothing would have been heard of “ the Brisbane line “. Honorable senators know that at the elections to which I have referred the mayor and alder-men representing the Citizens Reform party were opposed bitterly by Labour candidates. Labour staked its reputation on the result of the election, but when the poll was declared the present Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Alderman Chandler, was shown to have a majority of 56,000 over the whole of the Labour and Independent candidates opposed to him. A wave of anti-Labour opinion swept throughout Queensland, and supporters of the Labour party became alarmed. They saw the prospect of the loss of at least three seats in the House of Representatives at the forthcoming federal elections, and, in addition, the loss of three Senate seats. They realized that the present Leader of the Senate, who has adorned this chamber for several years, was about to end his career as a senator. They wanted to stop the drift, and they wondered how it could be done. Eventually, they hatched the Brisbane lie which is now known as “ the Brisbane line “. The action of a Minister of the Crown in discussing matters of strategy - particularly a Minister who is not a member of the War Cabinet - is something new in Australian politics. It is clear that “ the Brisbane line” story was either manufactured by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward), or was deliberately given to him. However, I shall not deal further with that matter, because it is to be the subject of investigation by a royal commission. However little I may have admired the Minister for Labour and National ‘Service for his actions, I admire less his colleagues, who remained quiet for three or four months and made no attempt to repudiate his utterances, but yet, when the Minister was exposed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden) in the House of Representatives, were ready, like a pack of dingoes, to turn on him. The Prime Minister has equal responsibilities with every other member of the party for what has taken place, because the right honorable gentleman was prepared to take any political advantage that might accrue from the utterances of his colleague.
– The honorable senator is entirely wrong.
– I am not wrong, and the Minister knows it. I shall now refer to another shabby trick which the Prime Minister has played. Every member of the Labour party, whether Cabinet Minister or private member, rejoiced to think that the Labour party would gain some political advantage from the “ revelation “ in connexion with “ the Brisbane line “. Not one of them repudiated Mr. Ward’s statements; he could have gone on repeating his statement till Doomsday so far as they were concerned. They said, in effect, “Good old Eddie; that is the stuff to give them “. What happened next was one of the most despicable things that have -ever occurred in the public life of this country. The Leader of the Opposition wrote to the Prime Minister and asked him to give the facts to the public. But what did the Prime Minister do ? He wrote a letter in reply in which he said that the author of “ the Brisbane line “ was General
Sir Iven Mackay, who had been given his job by the Menzies Government.
– He did not say anything of the sort. That is a deliberate lie’.
– I ask that the Minister for the Interior withdraw that statement.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Cooper). - .Senator Foll has objected to the statement of the Minister and asks that it be withdrawn.
– In accordance with your request, Mr. Acting Deputy President, I withdraw the statement, but the honorable senator knows-
– I ask honorable senators not to get heated.
– The honorable senator should set an example.
– I ask them to take their minds back to the letter which the Prime Minister of Australia sent to the Leader of the Opposition. He said that the proposal which is now known as “ the Brisbane line “ was submitted to his Government by General Sir Iven Mackay, who had been appointed by the Menzies Government. If that was not trying to pass the buck “ to a gallant soldier, why was it necessary to mention his name?
– The Prime Minister did not mention “ the Brisbane line “ in connexion with General Sir Iven Mackay, and the honorable senator knows it.
– On the 24th Mav the Prime Minister wrote to the Leader of the Opposition a letter which contained this passage -
On Japan coming into the war the Commander in Chief, Home Forces, submitted to the Minister for the Army proposals relating to the defence of Australia, the essence of which was concentration on vital parts of Australia, and this involved holding what is known as “ the Brisbane line “.
In the same letter, the Prime Minister mentioned the fact that General Sir Iven Mackay was appointed CommanderinChief, Home Forces, by the Menzies Government. Never before in the history of this country has a Prime Minister been known, when challenged on a matter of policy, to name an individual general as the author of a particular strategic plan, or to make a point of the fact that that particular general was appointed by another government. “What did it matter who appointed General Sir Iven Mackay Commander-in-Chief, Home Forces? Why was it necessary to state that fact? If the Prime Minister desired to be honest in this matter, could he not have said that the military advisers to the Government had submitted certain plans ? Why was it necessary to brand this gallant soldier as the author of this plan? If the Prime Minister had no intention of branding General Sir Iven Mackay in that way, why did he find it necessary to rush into print the next day to say that he was not going to allow General Sir Iven Mackay to be made the football of party politics? Every soldier who occupies a high position in His Majesty’s Forces is called upon from time to time to make certain strategic plans for the government. In the strategic planning of the defences of this country, there are, perhaps, a hundred different plans designed to meet a great variety of eventualities. For instance, certain areas might have to be evacuated, or it might not be possible to defend certain areas. Had we been faced with the entire might of Japan, we know that with so small a population, unaided by any other of our Allies, we could not repel the invader from every part of Australia even if we placed every man and woman in the country under arms.
– Any school-boy knows that.
– But no school-boy would expect the Prime Minister of this country to cite a general as- the author of a particular strategic plan.
– The honorable senator will never be cited as the author of any strategic plan.
– I know how the Leader of the Senate feels inwardly about this matter; and I can appreciate also the inward feelings of the Prime Minister himself, because when he saw his letter in print he himself rushed into print the next day. We shall have no chance of retaining the loyalty of public servants in any branch of our armed forces if we adopt the principle that after strategic plans are given by our military advisers on the basis of what they know to be the position, the Prime Minister will disclose the authors of such plans. I hop?, that 1 shall never live long enough to see so treacherous an act again perpetrated against any member of the Public Service of this country.
So long as the war goes on, the heads of our various war departments will proceed with their programmes regardless of what government is in office; and the people will see that those programmes are carried out. The chief failure of this Government has been on the economic front, due to its insane desire to introduce its socialistic policy under the cloak of war emergencies. Let me give a few notable examples of bungling on the part of the Government. Can one imagine worse bungling than has occurred as the result of the way in which our man-power position has been handled? Senator Latham has referred to the difficulties now confronting primary producers. The way in which the country-side has been bled white of labour is one of the worst economic blunders of which any government could be guilty. To-day we are paying for that mistake. The Government now proposes to provide the sum of £6,500,000 to subsidize the dairying industry.
– Does not the honorable senator support the payment of the subsidy ?
– The necessity for assisting the industry in that way would not have arisen had the Government handled the man-power position properly. The Government allowed the industry to be bled white of labour, and to be reduced to chaotic conditions before it took any steps to help it. Even now, it has linked the payment of that subsidy with the application of an industrial award to the industry which will mean that the bulk of the subsidy will be a “ good thing “ for the Australian Workers Union. During the last twelve months, members of this Parliament in both chambers have warned the Government of the dangers confronting the dairying industry. We know that dairy herds have been slaughtered for beef simply because the dairyman could not obtain assistance on his farm. Not only persons engaged in business on their own account, but also business men who are endeavouring to carry out war contracts, complain that they are being asked for so many returns by different departments that their businesses have been reduced to chaos. The Government is deliberately following that policy because it desires to prove that private enterprise is a failure. It is deliberately placing every possible obstacle in the way of those engaged in business solely for the purpose of proving that State ownership is better than private enterprise. This Government has failed miserably to check rising prices. One of the first acts of the Menzies Administration - and it was done by Mr. Menzies himself - was to appoint a Prices Commissioner to ensure that the inordinate increase of the cost of living which occurred in this country during the last war would not occur again. During the first eighteen months or two years of this war, the increase of the cost of living in Australia was less than in any other country of the British Empire, including even Great Britain itself. But what is the position to-day? Since this Government can]e into office, because of its reckless inflationary policy and wasteful expenditure, costs are rising to such a degree that the housewife is now faced with a very serious problem in balancing her household budget. It is all very well for honorable senators opposite to quote statistics and say that this item or that item has risen by only a small percentage. Most honorable senators are family men like myself, and I suggest to them that they should do the family shopping on a Saturday morning as I sometimes do. and they would know just what a difficult problem has been created for Australian housewives owing to rising costs during the past twelve months. A comparison of family household expenditure now with what it was just prior to the advent of the present Government - an administration which claims to be the friend of the under-dog and the poor man - shows that the cost of almost every domestic commodity has risen beyond all reason. For instance, compare what we have to pay the greengrocer to-day for a cauliflower or a cabbage with what these vegetables cost in 1941. These are the matters upon which the people of this country will judge honorable senators opposite at the elections. They will want an explanation of the confidence trick that has been put over them in regard to increased wages. What is the use of pretending that people are benefiting by increased wages, when the increases are more than offset by the higher cost of living and the heavier taxes imposed by this Government, despite its promise that no additional impositions would be placed upon the lower incomes? Another question that the people of this country will ask honorable senators opposite is why the Curtin Government sold itself to the militant trade unionists of this country, and withdrew the ban of illegality upon the Communist party. I point out that when that ban was lifted the Government immediately gave the Communist party licences to issue newspapers in four capital cities, but when an application was made for newsprint for these publications, it was referred to the newsprint pool.
– There has been a denial of that statement.
– I am giving the exact answer that the Minister for Trade and Customs ((Senator Keane) gave to me. I did not say that the Minister agreed to the request for newsprint. I said that the application was made and was referred by the Government to the newsprint pool, which so far has declined to make the paper available. If newsprint is not to be issued for the publication of these newspapers, then why issue the licences ? Was that only a “ square-off “ to brother Communists ?
I shall refer to the attitude of the Government and of government servants to non-unionists .in this country. I am not prepared to condemn people who do not join unions any more than I would condemn those who do. It is a matter entirely for themselves. After all, we are fighting for freedom and the right of every individual to make his own decision in regard to such matters. We on this side of the chamber do not believe in the right of the bludgeon as apparently certain honorable senators opposite do. What is the position of many non-unionists in this country at present? At the outbreak of war with the Japanese, when it became imperative to speed up war production, the Prime Minister and other Ministers rightly appealed to the people to offer their services for work in munitions factories. Many people who, in normal circumstances, would not be prepared to do such work, listened to the appeal and, wishing to play their part in the war effort, accepted jobs in factories rather than stay at home. Immediately they commenced work, the screw was put on them. First of all there was a demand that they should join unions. When the appeal was made to these people there was no mention of joining unions and paying union dues, part of which goes to the Labour party funds. They were merely asked to come to the aid of Australia by working in vital industries; but what was the result? Ten women in a Sydney factory announced recently that they were not prepared to join a union unless that union gave two undertakings; first, that it would carry on uninterrupted production for the war effort, and, secondly, that it would obey the awards of the Arbitration Court which are the laws of the land. Was that an unreasonable request? I should think it would be to the credit of any one joining a union to seek such an assurance, but what happened? The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward) sent “ Jock “ Garden along to handle the trouble. Without wishing to give an advertisement to the Sydney Bulletin. I suggest to honorable senators that they should see a cartoon published in that journal showing “ Jock “ Garden, stripped to the waist, and with bulging muscles, saying, “I will fight the best woman among you “. When “ Jock “ Garden interviewed these women who were anxious to do their war job, he asked what the trouble was, and was informed that they would not join a union unless the assurances which I. have mentioned were given. Apparently Mr. Garden became a little angry at that stage, and told them that if they did not go back to work he would find them some other jobs to do where they would be up to their necks in dirt. I admit that subsequently he denied using the expression, but looking at the incident in a quite unbiased manner, I think I would prefer to accept the version of Mrs. Cassidy, who was one of the non-unionists concerned, of what occurred. When this matter was being discussed, at about the same time, in the Legislative Council of New South Wales, one honorable gentleman, who was, I think, a Minister of the Crown of that State, referred to those women who did not join the union, and to non-unionists generally, as “ loathsome toads “. That is the term he applied to people who had come forward at the request of the Labour Prime Minister, left their homes and gone to work in the factories from early in the morning until late at night if necessary, doing any sort of work that was given to them. Do honorable senators opposite think that the people of this country will stand for such Gestapo methods on the part of this or any other Government ?
– They will not stand the honorable senator if they hear him talking as he is doing now.
– They will hear me speaking very loudly in the State which the honorable senator and I have the honour to represent. The difference is that they will still he hearing me in this chamber after June, 1944, but they will not hear him.
I wish to refer to the way in which the Government has been handling the censorship. One thing which we, as a government, laid down when the censorship was established was that there should be no such thing as political censorship. There should be no political interference with the censorship, which should be used only for purposes of national security. I have here extracts from articles which appeared in two British newspapers, criticizing the Australian censorship. Have we reached a stage at which the censorship as such must not be criticized at all? Is the Government too frightened?
– It is inadvisable to go too far with it here. We should have a little sense of decency.
– The Minister knows that I shall make no reference to the activities of any of the services or to anything affecting national security.
– The honorable senator is attacking the censor.
– Not as an individual, because the censor has to take his instructions from the Government. This article appeared in April, 1943, in the following terms, in two of the leading British newspapers : -
A .fortnight ago World’s Press News published a straightforward account by Noel Monks, thu war correspondent of the Daily Mail, of his experiences in Australia with the political and military censorship now operating there. This pointed out that the Australian censorship was actuated by motives other than security, that it had political angles, and that the Australian Government was concerned to hide the fact that a censorship existed at all, inasmuch as correspondents were at no time allowed in any way to suggest that their messages were subjected to censorship.
Monks wound up by saying that he came back with the considered conviction, after eight years’ experience as a war reporter, that the Australian censorship was the worst he had ever encountered, being below the standard adopted by the Abyssinians even, in their war, and that, on the contrary, the British censorship was the best in the world for efficiency and balanced judgment.
A full summary of Monks’ important statement was cabled to Australia by the Australian Associated Press, as well ‘ as to New Zealand.
Inquiries made in Australia by World’s Press News show that Australia has lived up to the reputation given it by Noel Monks. The Australian political censorship killed Noel Monks’ story. Not a word of the revelations he made of the standard of political and military control ruling in that country has been allowed to appear in print.
This shows in illuminating fashion that while Australia is prepared to “give it” in criticism of British censorship she is not prepared to “ take it “ in relation to her own actions.
The summary of Monks’ interview forwarded to Now Zealand was published in that country.
The implications of Australia’s action are very far-reaching. It proves the truth of the charges made by Monks and makes suspect news emanating from Australia because a censorship that is partisan and secret inspires no confidence - there is nothing to distinguish it from Axis methods.
Australia, with other parts of the Empire, is fighting Axis totalitarianism and restrictive policies, .but employs them in her own regime ! The attitude seems wholly inexplicable and regrettable, and is certain to boomerang against Australia’s own long term interests.
It is perhaps not insignificant to recall in this connection that Great Britain found it advisable recently to dispatch to Australia a highly placed executive of the Ministry of Information, .John do la Valette, formerly in the Ear East. The reason for this, it’ is understood, was associated with securing a better presentation of vital news about the war to the Australian public - which, in plain language, means overcoming some angles of the mentality of censors and their political rulers, as well as liberalising newspaper treatment. The experience now reported would seem to emphasise the desirability of that educational process being accelerated.
The following passages appeared in another article on the same subject: -
The strong criticism of the Australian censorship which was made by Noel Monks, the Daily Mail war correspondent, when interviewed by The Newspaper World recently on his return from the Dominion, was not allowed to circulate in Australia.
The interview, together with that in another trade journal, was cabled to Australia by the London offices of the Australian news agencies, but the messages never reached the offices in Australia. Service messages were sent advising the Australian officers that the messages had been sent, but replies were received in London that the messages had not arrived.
They were not released by the censorship.
This in itself is striking evidence of the dictatorial powers of the Australian censorship.
Obviously the messages could not have been hold up for security reasons, as they would never have passed the censorship here.
Furthermore, the practice of censoring incoming cables ia most unusual in democratic countries.
– I do definitely. Representations have been made to the Government times out of number in connexion with censorship matters. I hove the greatest respect for the chief publicity censor, but quite recently the Australian Associated Press made certain representations to the Prime Minister, under whose control the censorship comes, and he has done nothing to overcome the difficulties that are being experienced by these people in getting correct news. The ‘article goes on -
The action of the Australian censorship confirms Monks’ assertion in the interview that the most pernicious form of censorship exists there and that it is operated on political lines.
Monks expressed the view to The Newspaper World that it was the most disgraceful exhibition of censorship among the United Nations since the outbreak of war. One of the war aims was supposed to be the maintenance of a free Press, and yet here was what claimed to be a democratic Government suppressing legitimate criticism of its actions from political motives.
That statement was published not only in the British but in the New Zealand -press.
We have had in recent months a series of most unfortunate public statements by the Prime Minister in regard to the progress of the war. These have largely shattered the. faith of the people in ministerial utterances.
– It is impudent of the honorable senator- to set himself up as a censor of the Prime Minister’s statements.
– The greatest piece of impudence is exposed in the article from which I have been quoting. I remind honorable senators that only a few months ago a statement was made, I think during the progress of the war loan campaign, or just before it, by the Prime Minister, the CommanderinChief, and the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) regarding the great concentration of Japanese troops right around the islands north of Australia. I had no reason to doubt that that concentration existed, and I do not doubt for a moment that there was some ground for making the statement. It was said that it was estimated that 200,000 of the enemy were scattered along the fringe of islands to the north of Australia, ready to invade this country. The people naturally accepted that statement, yet only a few weeks later, when the general elections were looming on the horizon, we were told that all danger of invasion of this country had passed. That is welcome news, but members of the Advisory War Council have said, that nothing has happened to justify this sudden change of view.
– How does the honorable senator get information about the Advisory War Council?
– The statement has been made by honorable senators on this side of the chamber who are members of the council that to the best of their knowledge no change has taken place that would justify the assertion that, the danger of invasion has passed. I hope that an optimistic view is justified, but, if the outlook is not so bright as has been pictured, the statement is most serious. Every effort must still be .put forward by everybody in this country until Australia is out of danger. Some people are inclined to be complacent, and nothing is more calculated to induce complacency tuan over-optimistic statements.
Senator Brown quoted freely from a statement by Mr. Hanlon, the Deputy Labour Premier of Queensland, with regard to “ the Brisbane line “. Mr. Hanlon said that he had some military information - I do not know where he got it - regarding the abandonment of parts of Queensland in the event of certain military operations by the enemy. He is reported in the press as having said that he had knowledge that a portion of Queensland was to be abandoned, and that provision was to be made for defence for only a certain distance up the north coast. He said that he knew all of the circumstances. The Leader of the Senate might well ascertain if there has been a leakage of information in this instance, because I am anxious to know where Mr. Hanlon obtained his knowledge. He should be the last man to criticize military strategy in relation to defence matters, because,’ after the outbreak of this war, he advocated on the public platform the return of the Mandated Territory of New Guinea to Germany.
– He fought in the last war.
– Every credit is due to him for that, but he should be the last to endeavour to make political capital out of a matter of this kind. Instead of retaining New Guinea as a natural barrier against the Japanese, and instead of Australians driving the enemy out of Papua, as they will eventually drive him out of the Mandated Territory of New Guinea, Mr. Hanlon would have allowed Germany to establish bases right at the front door of Australia.
I shall now refer to the pettifogging interference with the private lives of the people by the amateur economist from Corio, the Minister for War Organization cf Industry (Mr. Dedman). He has prevented people from putting pink icing on wedding cakes. He has taken the pockets and cuffs off their trousers, and would probably have taken the buttons also if somebody had not stopped him. Men would have been left with only half a shirt had the Minister had all his own way. His greatest achievement was witnessed when he brought the whole of his extensive organization into operation to deal with a school-boy who had been running messages for a neighbour. The boy’s father and brothers were away at the war, and a messenger was required to obtain a supply of food for the family. The details of the case, as reported in the Melbourne Herald yesterday, are as follows : -
Sir, - I was amazed to read (24/6/43) the article headed “ Schoolboy breaks law by running neighbors’ messages.” What next will we have to face? This notice affects me greatly as a neighbor’s boy of .12 used to collect my messages when he went for hia mother’s, for which I gave him 1/0 a week. Now his mother has stopped him. We live more than a mile from the station and the nearest shopping centre and being in ill-health I was grateful for this service. We have two young children (eldest two years and four mouths) and I am soon to have another child. My husband is in the A.I..F. (returned from oversea). If he had let me buy a small car and spend our money in comforts instead of investing it in war loans I could have faced this extra burden.
That is a sample of the general inconvenience’ to which, the people of this country arc- being subjected. At first, tire Minister for War Organization of Industry said that men’s suits should not include a. waist-coat, and that cuffs were not to be placed on trousers, but later he changed his mind. Then the Prime Minister said, that race-goers could attend race meetings on only three Saturdays a month. The service man who was able to visit the city on leave was unfortunate if his leave coincided with a raceless Saturday. So also was the munitions worker who had put in a heavy week’s work in a. factory. Had the restriction in any way assisted the war effort, the position would be different, but there is no evidence that it has had that effect. I would rather see men on leave spend their time at the races than in some other ways, so long as the holding of a race meeting did not interfere with the country’s war effort. I have no objection to the complete abandonment of midweek races, but I think that people should be entitled to some enjoyment at weekends.
I hope that it will not be long before the present Government, which has practised on the people its socialistic policy and economic doctrines, will soon be sent to the place where it belongs, and that a government which will restore to the people that freedom which the present Government has taken from them will be placed in power.
– It is said that condemned men can afford to be frank, and as I stand in the position of a condemned man, with sentence postponed until the 30th June, 1944, when some others now in this chamber will join me, I propose to offer a few observations, a.nd to place under the microscope, as it were, the effect that this Parliament has had on the public mind, and the reaction of the people to its activities during the last couple of years. At times I fear for parliamentary life in this country. I fear because we have not addressed ourselves to those problems which should have exercised the whole of our efforts and intelligence. A little less than three years ago a parliament was elected which has brought the system of parliamentary government into a measure of disrepute, ft is our bounden duty to restore the prestige of the parliamentary institution. In a little less than three years, Australia has had three Prime Ministers and three distinct governments, each endeavouring to control the country according to its own ideas, and each with indifferent Success. There is only one thing concerning which we have been united, and upon which every party, to the best of its ability, has concentrated, namely, loyalty to Australia’s Allies in the effort to win the war. But what has happened to parliamentary government in the meantime? As a parliamentarian who has devoted his life to advancing parliamentary government in this country, I sometimes shudder when I think of the subservience of Parliament to outside organizations. I have seen a Prime Minister, whose responsibility is te the Parliament, which is the highest institution in the land, go to an outside body which is not responsible to the people for permission to do what he believed ought to have been done. In this country Parliament should be supreme, yet the present Prime Minister bowed his knee to an outside organization. In reality ‘ he crawled ; he was craven when he solicited from a body which was not representative of the people power to do what he conceived to be right. What greater blow could be struck at the parliamentary institution than that? After the last election, when two men who were supposed to support the government then in office failed to do so, a national government should have been formed, or, failing that, an appeal should have been made immediately to the people in order to clear the position. However, there did not emerge an individual with that greatness of mind which has characterized the leader of our kinsmen in the Old Country, who said, “ We are for freedom. We are for liberty. We will have a man who will lead us to freedom and liberty - a man who will win the war for us.” Compare their magnificent spirit with the paltry spirit which has been displayed in this country. One cannot help feeling that what has happened has detracted from the respect which this Parliament should command from the populace. For some time I have seen deterioration setting in. If, as I believe, we can judge the mind of the people by the various political groups which have been formed recently, we can see that this Parliament does not stand high in public esteem. We have two or three great machines for bringing men into the Parliament - and for passing them out from time to time - but there is setting in a doubt in the minds of the people as to the efficacy of the highest tribunal in the land, namely, the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia. If honorable senators wish to know how Parliament is regarded by the populace to-day, they have only to ask their own followers, or, indeed, almost any individual whom they may meet. Should they do so, they will be told, in effect, by many of them that the Parliament at Canberra is something almost to be spat upon.
Senator Aylett interjecting,
- Senator Aylett may be more at home in a place governed by Rafferty’s rules than in a properly conducted assembly such as we have inherited from our forebears, and such as I hope we shall maintain. The greatest blow that has ever been struck at this Parliament was struck during recent months, when the Prime Minister approached an outside organization and asked for permission to do what he undoubtedly believed he should do. It is time that some one acted to remove from office the gang which has bowed the knee to an outside organization.
– The people are making sure about removing the honorable senator.
– That is true.. What happened next? We saw a spectacle that must shock us. I am afraid that my friends opposite may say that the parties now in opposition were to blame. There might have been a lack of courage on their part, but there was undoubtedly opposition by the party which now sits on the treasury bench to giving to the defence of this country the foremost place in its policy. We cajoled ourselves into believing that something was to be gained by adhering to the League of Nations. We hoped that by supporting that institution a new era of peace would dawn, but we failed to face realities. For a time we embraced a doctrine which we thought was in the interests of mankind, but which eventually proved disastrous to ourselves and to our Allies, because while, in accordance with that policy, we disarmed, those who are now our enemies armed themselves to the teeth. During the years immediately prior to the war, we witnessed a deterioration in the outlook of the Parliament, in its failure to recognize that another great war was upon us, and its failure to take those steps that should have been taken. The modest efforts which were then made by the Lyons Government to recognize realities were denounced by supporters of the Government now in office as warmongering. Parliament on the whole must take the responsibility for the nakedness of this country so far as its defence at the outbreak of war is concerned. To suggest that Mr. Menzies, Mr. Fadden, or Mr. Curtin and their Governments and supporters failed to do their duty to this country is to accuse them of betraying Australia. Now, to-day we can admit that after the war fell upon us they did their duty as they saw it. Each government that has been in office since the outbreak of war has evoked every possible power to arm and defend the country, and to help our Allies and the Mother Country in its hour of need. To say less of any of the leaders of those governments is to charge them with being traitors to the allied cause. We are in the war. Whilst governments which honorable senators on this side supported rather shrank from the ordeal of doing their duty to the country prior to the war, how was the small effort which they did make accepted by honorable senators opposite? They endeavoured to instil into the people fears about conscription. They represented conscription as something that should not be introduced. Thefirst duty of a citizen is to defend his country. Where and when that duty can best be carried out is a matter for decision by those in charge of military operations. Another deterioration, .which has become most marked during the regime of this Government is its attempt to interfere with judicial tribunals. I refer particularly to the Arbitration Court. This Government has passed regulation after regulation which in the long run can tend only to subvert the authority of the court. We know that the court already has great difficulty in preserving a proper balance, having regard to the tribunals which are appointed under various regulations, and the setting up of all sorts of committees and persons to determine wages and conditions of employment. For many years honorable senators opposite fought for the principle of industrial arbitration. To-day, by their very actions, they are subverting the Arbitration Court, and, ultimately, will bring about a state of chaos so far as our arbitration laws are concerned.
This Government, on assuming office over eighteen months ago, established a cabinet consisting of nineteen Ministers. How have they administered the affairs of the country ? Have they kept control of the public purse? Have they done anything to prevent waste from occurring? They have spent their time in trying to keep their feet on the slippery slopes of party politics. They have devoted their energies to political propaganda rather than to the administration of their departments. They have given to outsiders entire control over the expenditure of millions of pounds. What will the taxpayers who- are sweating blood to-day, and the worker who must put his tax stamps on his weekly wage sheet, think of such looseness of administration. To-day, without ministerial approval, sums up to £50,000 or £60,000 can be spent on adventurous experiments. The influence of industrial leaders outside this Parliament should be restricted, and ministerial approval should be insisted upon in respect of the expenditure of sums over a certain amount. When the history of this war comes to be written it will make a sad story indeed. Ministers have not devoted the whole of their efforts to the prevention of extravagance. They have devoted their efforts mainly to propaganda, and the making of specious speeches, with the object of putting the best case forward in the interests of their party. Very soon they will be obliged to give an answer to the people of this country for their failure to support a proper policy of defence. They will also be obliged to explain their grovelling to an outside organization. They will be asked to explain their legislation by regulation which, if it continues, will absolutely subvert the jurisdiction of the Arbitration. Court. What has this Government done with regard to national insurance? The National Health and Pensions Insurance Act, enacted by the Lyons Government, was based on sound principles. It was an honest measure; but it was abandoned by a government of which I was formerly a Minister. To-day, many people believe that that abandonment was forced by members of the present Government, who have now seen the writing on the wall, and have come along and said, “We will establish another insurance fund “. They propose to establish it on unsound lines. They propose to establish a trust fund under conditions which will allow a needy treasurer to transfer the whole of the fund to the Consolidated Revenue Fund. Any director of an insurance company would be imprisoned if he acted along similar lines. The fund which the Government proposes to set up offers no better security for the beneficiaries than the old-age pension or the widows’ pensions, because a government which finds itself in necessitous circumstances will be able to repeat what we have seen happen in the past when a government of the same political colour as that opposite wa3 obliged to reduce the rate of oldage pensions. The inauguration of a scheme of national insurance is a sacred duty which this country owes not only to the people who would benefit under such a scheme, but also to itself. When one sees such a scheme planned in a loose manner, one can only come to the conclusion that there is politics behind it, and that it will not give to the people that security that they would have if the scheme were on a contributory basis and they had to contribute 6d. or ls. a week to the fund. Apparently this Government intends to wipe out entirely the great friendly societies of this country, with their 500,000 or 600,000 adherents. Those organizations are to be thrown into the discard - organizations which understand this business from end to end and could be of tremendous assistance. Instead, a bureaucracy is to be created. We are to have a new department, of some sort. Quite recently there came into this House a green-covered booklet showing the personnel of the huge number of government departments, boards, commissions, and committees which are now in existence. On top of this already vast network of authorities, there is to be imposed a new department, the National Insurance Department, it is to be called, despite the fact that the scheme is not really an insurance scheme at all, but depends upon the will of Parliament and upon the revenues of the Government. I contend that the scheme should be on a true insurance basis, so that the benefits would be ensured to the contributor just as they are at present in the case of friendly societies. I believe also that the existing friendly society organizations should be used to the fullest possible degree in the administration of any national insurance scheme.
There is one important matter about which I should like to say a word or two. Objections are being raised in many circles to the working of overtime. Lt is claimed that overtime is injurious to the individual and of no benefit to the body politic; yet we find that it is worked most extensively to-day - “ worked “ in more than one sense of the word. I admit that the great majority of the workers of this country are willing to do their best and to turn out a fair day’s work; but there are others who are unwilling to do their utmost except at the penalty rates provided for overtime. There is no doubt that in time of war, overtime is an inducement to workers to go slow during ordinary hours. Something will have to be done in regard to it. Either it must be paid for at ordinary rates or it must be more strictly supervised. Up to the present, there has been a marked lack of control in that regard.
There has been a great deal of criticism in regard to the handling of primary industries by the present Government. I say to this chamber, and I shall continue to say it so long as the present state of affairs exists, that this country must look to its primary industries if its future is to be worth anything at all. The Government of this country has subscribed to the Atlantic Charter, which envisages a return to a certain measure of free trade in order that the peace of the world shall be preserved. Is that great charter to be merely an empty gesture to mankind? Is it something to be spurned when the war is over? I think not. I trust that we shall make a genuine effort to save civilization from another calamity such as the one through which we are passing. I have heard it suggested that the Atlantic Charter is a mere gesture. If that be so, then it is time that we were overcome by our enemies. Personally, I feel disposed to take the charter at its face value. It is signed by the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin), who, I am sure, believes earnestly that something must be done. What does the charter spell for this country? It means that Australian primary industries must build up such secondary industries as can be carried. There are many secondary industries which we can carry to-day, such as the iron and steel industry; but unless we safeguard our primary industries we shall perish. With a population of only 7,000,000 people and a productive capacity which is very small indeed compared with that of larger nations, we must face the future as realists. The most dangerous thing we can do would be to let any of our primary industries down. Apparently realizing the important part that our primary industries will play in post-war reconstruction, the Government already has taken certain stop-gap measures in regard to some of them, notably the dairying industry, but intensive planning for the future must be undertaken now. I do not fear that the wheat industry will suffer very much in the immediate postwar period. In fact it may enjoy a period of great prosperity, but ultimately we shall reach the stage when China, the greatest producer of wheat in the world, and Russia, the second greatest producer, will again be in full production. We must establish in this country industries that will depend for their development upon our primary products such .as wheat, wool, iron and so on, otherwise we shall have a very thin time indeed. When one looks at the condition of many of our primary industries today, one can only come to the conclusion that some of our controlling authorities are far astray. It is popularly supposed that curtailment of production is a good thing; I contend that it is not good, either in theory or in practice. It is the greatest fallacy that has ever been accepted by mankind. Whether it is by men working with their hands in the factories, or by men on the farm, all production, after all is said and done. is really the wealth of the country. To reduce that wealth is to injure the body politic as a whole and the individual in the body politic indirectly. Therefore, all this reduction of production, in any shape or form, and even this control of production by the Government, is injurious.
– What about control by private monopolies ?
– Is there such a thing as private monopolies in this country? I am afraid that the Minister is letting his metaphysical mind run riot. Private monopolies so called have been the most beneficial agencies that Australia has ever had. -What better instance could there be than the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, which I suppose honorable senators opposite will call a monopoly? That company has really saved Australia. It is exporting to-day at a price that would surprise them. They cannot point to anything governmentallycontrolled that would compare with private industry in well-developed management, experience, wisdom, and the power to produce things. When one travels over this country as I travelled a little while ugo, and sees the people of Melbourne short of barley, one wonders what is wrong. The domestic life of the country is impaired by the shortage of barley, yet on Yorke Peninsula, in South Australia., millions of bags of barley are stacked. The weevils are just beginning to show their appreciation of its quality, and unless something is done soon in that direction there will be a considerable loss of a most valuable food product. That sort of thing is going on all round us. One glaring example i3 the wastage of good apples. Hundreds of soldiers are camped near the orchards, yet the apples are rotting on the ground, being dug in, or eaten by pigs. Surely there is in authority some one who is big enough, and not always thinking of the political side of things, to detail an officer to give the necessary instructions to the commanding officers of military camps so that the men may go out and assist the growers of apples and oranges to gather and market their products. In the cities hundreds nf people are rounded up and bluffed by the man-power authorities, and sent all over the place, yet a very simple order from the Government to the military authorities would solve a great part of the problem. I am sure they would be only too glad to let the troops from the various camps assist the primary producers in their perplexities and difficulties, in areas like Renmark, Mildura and other producing centres, and in States like Western Australia, Tasmania and Victoria, where the bulk of the apples and oranges are grown. I have no interest to serve other than Australia’s interest, but this ha3 been a calamitous government, which has reduced the status of Parliament. Therefore, let us go forth on to the hustings and try to instil in the minds of the people the confidence which they should have in their parliamentary institutions. Let us tell them that we believe in Australia, and that we are not here simply to sling mud at one another or to grovel in the gutter. Let us assure them that we are not going to traduce military officers or divulge military secrets; those are the practices of others, and should not characterize the members of deliberative assemblies such as this chamber and the House of Representatives.
– Senator A. J. McLachlan remarked in the early part of his speech that the Government was in a mess. That remains to be seen. His colleagues in their speeches were, guilty of what he described in his closing remarks as slinging mud. If any mudslinging has gone on it was done by honorable senators opposite during the early part of this debate. They may think that that sort of propaganda is the way to win an election, but I believe that it is the other way round, and that they will lose by it. If they stoop below garbage tins to get dirt to throw at a government which has been doing a wonderful job, they will find that they are only injuring themselves. The remarks made by Senator McBride and other Opposition speakers were shameful, particularly in a time of war, and with conditions existing in Australia as they are to-day. If honorable senators opposite do not make all that sort of stuff up. themselves, they must get it from some of their leaders elsewhere. I am satisfied that they do not mean what they say, and it is very noticeable that those who are the most bitter are those who do not go before the people on this occasion. I should not think so much of it if it came from those who go before the electors within the next few months, but honorable senators on this side form the great majority of those who are due to retire. I ask honorable senators opposite to throw their minds back to the last general elections. If they look up Han.sard of those days they will find that we never threw dirt at them as they are throwing it at the present Government. We never spoke on the eve of that election as they are doing now. A great deal of mud has been slung at the Labour party, particularly in the House of Representatives, concerning “ Eddie “ Ward. Some of the remarks that have been made in this chamber against him have been such that the honorable senators who made them must have got them from under a garbage tin, and that is the place that they come from. Any man who speaks in that way about a Minister who tries to do his duty by his country, as the Minister for Labour and National Service has done, can have no higher origin. What the honorable senator said was simply political scandal. The debate in this chamber has shown that honorable senators on the other side are simply kith and kin of members of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, who spoke on the motion of want of confidence. The worst abuse has usually come from members of the House of Representatives, and it has been remarked time after time that honorable senators never behave so badly as the members of the other House, but the statements made during this debate have been worse than those made in the other House.
I wish to refer to my friend, Senator Wilson. Before he went to the war I had a good opinion of him, although he crossed swords with me several times. I find now that he is like many others who go overseas and come back with different opinions. He has been away for most of the time this Government has been in power, and he knew nothing of its actions, yet when he returned he spoke of it as badly as any one could speakabout any government. That is true of his speech last night in this chamber. He has somersaulted. Something has gone wrong with him. He said that the soldiers were dissatisfied with the Government, but I have relatives who have been to the war, and they have told me that when the soldiers knew that “ Jack “ Curtin had been made Prime Minister they cheered and cheered all along the lines. That is a fact which honorable senators opposite cannot deny. Iwas surprised at the remarks of Senator Wilson, and I do not believe that he really meant what he said. His attitude to the Government was altogether different before he went to the war. Some Australians, after going abroad, return to Australia with swollen heads. One who will not do that is the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt). Honorable senators opposite would be glad to have a few Cur tins and Evatts on their side of the chamber. Nobody has done so much for Australia in a few weeks as has the Minister for External Affairs. I take off my hat to him, and so will the. people of Australia. Senator Wilson referred to what the Government should do for returned members of the fighting services. He said that no man should be discharged until employment had been found for him. I remind him that, when speaking on the Appropriation Bill in September, 1942, I made a similar statement. I said that every man should remain on the Army pay-roll until he was provided with a job.
– I am glad that the honorable senator agrees with me.
– I am pointing out that the honorable senator has stolen my thunder. He also referred to the claims of the primary producer, but I maintain that no government has done so much for them as has the present Ministry. Members of the Country party are unable to do all they would like to do for the farmers because they are linked up with the United Australia party and high finance. Perhaps Senator Wilson has taken his cue from the speech recently broadcast by the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley), who said that the problems which the Government must tackle included the rehabilitation of primary production, the full utilization of secondary industry, the provision of housing, the planning of national works, the improvement of nutrition and the provision of medical services. The Treasurer also said -
The rehabilitation of primary industry would have regard to the potential markets available at home and abroad. Our aim must also be to give to our farmers greater stability of income, and to improve efficiency in farming methods so that many of our primary industries will become less dependent upon subsidies.
We must make use of our capacity for secondary production. This production- has been greatly extended, both in size and technique, under the spur of war and the need to produce many things that previously seemed beyond us. We must endeavour to decentralize our industries. We must bring new markets closer to the farmer, and provide variety of occupational outlets for the farmers’ children.
There was a great need, said Mr. Chifley, to build houses to make up for the shortage already existing before the war, but made more acute on account of the war-time necessity to restrict building operations. These homes must be built at a price which will bring them within the income of the average worker. This work will have to be undertaken in the country as well as in the city.
The remarks by the Treasurer which I have quoted show that the Labour Government is sincere.
– Action rather than talk is required.
– The present Government, ever since it has been in office, has shown that it is a ministry of action.
The honorable senator also referred to housing. We are told that there is a shortage of 250,000 houses in Australia. We shall have to build 50,000 houses a year for five years, and they could be erected at a cost of £800 each. As it is necessary for Australia to have a population of 20,000,000 in order to make this country safe, houses will have to be provided for all who need them, and this would give work to tradesmen of various kinds.
– How many houses has the Labour Government built?
– During the terms of the Menzies and Fadden Governments not a single dwelling was built by those Governments. A house should be erected for every couple who desire to marry, and in order to encourage marriages they should be advanced a lump sum to be repaid over a period of years, varying in accordance with the increase of family responsibilities. As this country needs a population of 20,000,000 people, that is one way to get it. Such a housing scheme would provide work for hundreds of thousands of men from the fellers of the trees to the carpenters, bricklayers and others who would be engaged in the actual construction of the buildings.
– Houses cannot be built without a plan.
– The Treasurer has already outlined a plan, and the problem is under consideration by a committee.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– I was pleased to notice that, in his recent statement on post-war housing, the Treasurer included country centres as well as metropolitan districts. In this matter the requirements of the country ought not to be overlooked.
A good deal has been said during this debate on what is now known as “the Brisbane line “. I do not know anything about “ the Brisbane line “, but I do know that that portion of Western Australia from Moore River to Broome was to be evacuated. The Deputy Premier of Western Australia came to Canberra to see the Prime Minister about the proposal. Senator Latham, who was Leader of the Opposition in the Western Australian Legislative Assembly at the time, is aware of the conferences that then took place. I am glad to say that it now appears that Western Australia is as safe from invasion as is any other part of the Commonwealth. I know that in the country between Moore River and Geraldton there are now many thousands of fighting men.
The debate on this bill indicates that the forthcoming election campaign will be a dirty fight. There has been so much mud slung at the Government that it would appear that instead of a dignified election campaign it will be a case of “ clogs on and gloves off “. However, there need be no fear that there will be any dirty fighting in Western Australia; the people of that State do not believe in such things. Earlier to-day Senator Foll indulged in an outburst of abuse against the Government. Metaphorically speaking, he tore the Government to pieces. The honorable senator does not know what is happening in the State that he assists to represent, because instead of residing in that State, he resides in Sydney. In the United States of America a senator must live in his electorate. Western Australian senators would not he affected by any such rule in this country; and when the Senate rises it will not be long before they are all on their way back to their own State.
– Is the honorable senator now giving us good clean dirt?
– My remarks are clean compared with those of Senator Foll. According to to-day’s newspapers, the Right Honorable William Morris Hughes is another who has attempted to destroy the Prime Minister politically. At a time when the people should he united he chooses to attack the head of . the Government!
– Does not the honorable senator like it?
– Of course 1 like it, because the dirtier the Opposition is, the more the Government will gain. Honorable senators opposite are annoyed because the Labour party has not agreed to participate in a national government; but how could members of the Opposition work in harmony with any one else when they cannot agree among themselves? It is difficult to say how many parties are represented by honorable senators opposite. I do not blame the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) for trying to retain the leadership of the United Australia party. Lt was for a similar reason that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden) recently moved a motion of want of confidence in the Government; he does not wish to be robbed of his position. The Leader of the Opposition in this chamber (Senator McLeay) also is in a similar position, and that is why a short time ago he charged the Labour party with being under the domination of the “ red “ element in the party. According to the honorable senator, the Prime Minister had not the courage, the power, or the desire, to oppose that element, but sits back quietly and does nothing. Such remarks do not tend to create that unity which is a vital necessity in the nation at the present time. It is interesting to find the old stalking horse of a national government being put through its paces. How could any one agree with an honorable senator who has filled so many positions as the Leader of the Opposition has occupied ? When he was in Western Australia some time ago a leading newspaper in that State, the West Australian Worker pointed out that during his eight years in the Senate, he had filled the following positions: - Member of the first Australian War Cabinet, Minister for Trade and Customs, Minister for Commerce, Minister for Supply and Development, Minister for Repatriation, Postmaster-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Senate.
– That shows that the Leader of the Opposition is a man of many parts, an all-rounder.
– He certainly is a “ go-getter “.
When the present Government came into office there was a serious shortage of petrol, notwithstanding that during the term of the previous Administration the present Leader of the Opposition was the Minister in control of this commodity.
– There are a good many gas-producers about
– There are more vehicles running on producer-gas in Western Australia than in any other State. The Opposition also attacked the Scully plan for the control of the wheat industry, but that plan has won universal approval among wheat-growers, which is more than can be said of any plan introduced by previous governments, yet the Opposition claims to be the farmer’s friend. The present Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) also got a better price for wool than has been obtained previously. Compared with previous years, the return from 1,000 bags of wheat last season represented an increase of £220 to each farmer. He also received 2d. per lb. more for his wool. Previous governments were not interested in helping the primary producers. The Labour party is the true friend of the farmer. I could never understand why the primary producers should support the United Australia party; if they supported the Labour party they would do better for themselves and all concerned. Many farmers in Western Australia frankly admit that they have obtained greater benefits under a Labour government than from any other government.
– The Government has relied on the support of the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Coles).
– The honorable member for Henty is a fair-minded man who knows right from wrong.
– He knows on which side his bread is buttered.
– The honorable senator should not make foolish remarks. He knows that the honorable member for Henty is a man of independent means, who is playing the game fairly. Senators McBride and McLeay and other honorable senators opposite are supporters of the private banks and of monopolies in industry. Can they deny that?
– The farmers in Western Australia are largely in the hands of the St. George’s-terrace farmers. Senator Latham will not deny that.
– I do deny it.
– The honorable senator is himself one of the St. George’sterrace farmers; that is why I threw out the bait which the honorable senator has taken.
Honorable senators opposite continue to repeat the parrot-cry of inflation, and the danger of utilizing national credit to finance the war, but I say that if the parties opposite get into power they will impose heavier taxes on the people instead of using national credit.
The issue which will be before the electors within a few weeks will be whether they will entrust the solution of post-war problems to those who have consistently advocated reforms which are now universally acclaimed, or to those who were blind to a similar opportunity after the last war, when anti-Labour governments bred a depression. The people do not want a repetition of those times, and so they will support the Labour party. I believe that the suffering during that period was more severe in the eastern States than in Western Australia, but the people of this country will not again submit to such conditions. Instead of providing full employment for the people after the last war, an antiLabour administration handed Australia over to an imported “ big four “ of financiers who fashioned a policy which resulted in thousands of employees being thrown out of work. The nation was handed over to the private banks. We do not want that to occur again.
The Opposition has attacked the Prime Minister unfairly. Instead of speaking in that way, Opposition senators should be grateful that Australia has as its leader a true statesman, a man who has always played the game.
– What game has he played ?
– The Prime Minister has always stood for the safety and prosperity of Australia - and that is more than could be said of Senator McBride. The Government of which he was a member would have forced the people of Geraldton to evacuate that town, in which millions of pounds have been expended by the State Government. I am convinced that when an appeal is made to the electors the achievements of the present Government will be recognized and it will be returned in greater strength.
– When was it proposed to evacuate Geraldton?
– The proposal was reported in the Melbourne Herald. The area from Moore River to Broome was to have been evacuated. That is why Lieutenant-General Gordon Bennett was sent to Western Australia.
– That happened when the present Government was in office.
– The present Government saved the situation. The people of Western Australia are just as good citizens of the Commonwealth as are the people of South Australia. The present Prime Minister and his Government have acted in the interests of the whole of the people of Australia. The proposal to evacuate Geraldton did not take into account the inability of the nation to transport the evacuees or to find accommodation for them elsewhere. I am indeed thankful that the Prime Minister has been able to say that Western Australia is now safer than it was a short time ago. He made that statement on information supplied to him from military head-quarters. Although this matter may not greatly concern honorable senators personally, it does affect their wives and children who are happier than they were twelve months ago.
– I agree with Senator Clothier that we should endeavour to keep the debate as clean as possible. Like him, I deplore dirty insinuations, inferences, half-truths and untruths. For that reason I deplore what transpired in this chamber last night, when an honorable senator levelled charges against another honorable senator who is serving in this war. It was a most pitiable and wretched display, and it hurt me greatly. The statement made last night was similar to a statement made about three years ago when that honorable senator charged his colonel and other officers, including the adjutant, and subalterns in the 18th Australian Battalion of the old Australian Imperial Force with having been cashiered and dismissed from the service for cowardice. That statement was utterly untrue; but it was ventilated in this chamber. An attack like that which was made last night by one honorable senator upon another is very deplorable and dirty. “We live in an island continent, and, in the main, we are inclined to look inwards instead of outwards. Australia is off the beaten track, and I think that Australians who have not travelled or lived in other countries are inclined to get the idea that Australia is the only “ pebble on the beach “. Therefore, it is very interesting, and sometimes illuminating, to get the other fellow’s point of view. I recall that about thirteen years ago, when I had a little job of work to do in Canberra, I spent an afternoon in the company of two gentlemen from Japan. They were educated men who were out here on business. I had met them previously in Melbourne. I took them into the House of Representatives, and they were intensely interested in the proceedings. They stayed there for about two and a half hours that afternoon. Afterwards, I took them to see some of the showplaces in Canberra. Later, when we were having refreshments, one of them said .to me, “ How is it that you have so many coolies in your parliament?” I replied, “ Coolies ? We have no coolies in Australia.” And he rejoined, “ Oh, yes, you have. I saw quite a number of them this afternoon in the parliament.” I was rather incensed at that remark, but that was his point of view. That was the way he summed us up, although he was not very nattering.
We have heard much talk in this chamber about who is to blame for this and who is to blame for that. I think that we ourselves had much to do with the Jap coming into the war when he did. For many years we had been encouraging Japanese aggression. Labour had abolished compulsory military training. We had cut down our defence pre- parations to the bone. Even after the outbreak of this war, there were men in this country who were utterly opposed to the raising of the Australian Imperial Force, or to sending any troops overseas. They were bitterly opposed to raising forces compulsorily for training in their own country. Would not such an attitude give an astute, war-like people like the Japanese the idea that a great many people in this country were decadent, and that when Australia was put to the test in battle we would not fight? It is a poor dog that will not fight for its own bone; and Australians are not lacking in pugnacity, or courage. But to ask men, however brave and tough they may be, to enter battle without proper training and preparation is a crime. We had another spectacle. Our compulsorily raised troops were not to go outside the territories of Australia. I have in my hand an issue of the Johannesburg Star dated the 6th February. As 1 said earlier, it is interesting to get the other fellow’s point of view, and with that object in mind I propose to quote from this paper, which expresses the view of a great many people in our sister dominion. The Union of South Africa has many problems, such as the racial and language problems, which we have been spared; and about 40 years ago Britons and Dutchmen were fighting for supremacy in that country. On the 5th February of this year the Prime Minister of South Africa, Field Marshal Smuts, moved in the South African Parliament a motion known as the “ Outside Africa motion “. That motion was passed, and the report in the newspaper mentioned on that debate is headed, “ Senate Passes Outside Africa Motion. Little Opposition to Sending Troops Overseas.” The motion was passed in the Senate of the Union of South Africa by 21 votes to 6. In the same issue of that newspaper, a leading article which attracted my attention, gives a good line on what the people of that dominion are thinking. This article is entitled, “Australia’s Tied Hands “. When the Senate of the Union of South Africa was considering that motion to provide that their troops, if necessary, could go outside the continent of Africa, or, in short, go wherever they were needed, we in Australia had passed the very pitiful measure known as the Defence (Citizen Military Forces) Bill. The leading article to which I refer reads -
Because of his insistence upon remaining Prime Minister in a Labour administration, rather than appeal to the country for a mandate as head of a National Government, Mr. Curtin is sponsoring a measure in the Australian Parliament which threatens to produce the extraordinary anomaly of American troops fighting to defend Australia in territory in which the Commonwealth Government will not allow its own compulsorily recruited Militia to fight. The American Expeditionary Force is compulsorily recruited on a selective basis. It is liable for service in any theatre of war, and its members are already fighting in Europe, Africa, India and China, as well as the South-West Pacific. If the Australian Militia Bill is passed, Commonwealth troops fighting side by side with the Americans may be withdrawn immediately the combined forces have thrust the enemy beyond a very limited arc.
This situation, which is hardly likely to ensure a sympathetic hearing in the United States for repeated Australian appeals for further aid, is entirely political in origin and results from the vigorous use of unexpected power by a minority. A strong isolationist element developed in the Australian Labour Party after the end of the last war. Whether that element actually dominates the party at present is uncertain, but it is ‘obviously sufficiently powerful to extract concessions from a Prime Minister whose record does not suggest that he is in sympathy with the policy he is now pursuing. Mr. Cur’tin’s Government has only a narrow majority. It must be accepted as representative of a slender margin of Australian public opinion, but as the whole of the Labour Party is not isolationist, it would be unfair to accuse the entire Australian .people of willingness to allow others to do their fighting for them, if that fighting takes place more than a few hundred miles from the Australian mainland.
There is a marked inconsistency in this demand for a narrow limit to be set on the liability for service abroad and the attitude adopted by Australian spokesmen before the outbreak of war with Japan. Up to a little over a year ago, it was claimed in most vigorous terms that Malaya was the Commonwealth’s first line of defence. Singapore was not a remote outpost, but the key to the whole Australian position. It had to be held at all costs, and more than 20,000 Australian troops were sent to help in the task of holding it. They were supremely confident and their principal complaint in the months preceding the Japanese attack arose from boredom. The full story of the disaster which resulted when the blow did fall is not yet known, but there is abundant evidence that the loss of Singapore was a tremendous shock not only to Australian security, but to Australian pride. A vital point in the defensive system had been lost and between 17,000 and 18,000 Australians had fallen into the hands of the enemy.
There followed a brief period in which Java was substituted for Malaya as the Commonwealth’s extreme frontier. When that country, and later Timor and islands still nearer to the Australian mainland were overrun, there developed a deep sense of grievance among many people in Australia. The country had contributed generously to the common cause. Expeditionary forces had been sent to the Middle as well as the Par East, and the only reward was a direct threat of invasion, a situation infinitely more perilous than anything previously known in the nation’s history. The feeling that Australia had been let down was exploited by the isolationist element in the Labour Party, and Australian troops still outside the Commonwealth were recalled to their homeland. The argument was heard that Britain had failed Australia in not providing forces powerful enough to hold the outposts of Java and Malaya, therefore the obvious course for Australia was to withdraw within her own borders and think only of herself. Mr. Curtin’s failure to issue a conclusive challenge to the proponents of this view is responsible for his present dilemma, and the only solution of the problem is a belated acceptance of the need for including party politics among the luxuries that must go into the discard when the enemy is at the gates.
That article gives us some idea of the repercussions abroad of events that happen in this country. As I said earlier, we are inclined to be somewhat self-centred and a little insular in our outlook. We are an island continent. I quote that report te show honorable senators the different view that is held by some people in regard to matters that are happening in this country and their repercussions.
There has been quite a lot of criticism of this Government; there was a tremendous volume of criticism of the shortlived Fadden Administration, although it seems to me that to blame the Fadden Government for anything that has happened is rather rough, in view of the fact that it held office for only four or five weeks; and there was considerable criticism of the Menzies Government, some of which was deserved and some undeserved. However, I understand that post mortems are always smelly affairs, and I do not wish to hold one now. Instead, I shall touch on a few matters which I consider to be of real interest. On my travels I carry with me a little red notebook, in which I record little incidents that I do not wish to forget, or which I consider to be of outstanding importance.
In it I have entered some of the sins of commission and omission of this Government. We can profit and learn by experience and by our mistakes, if we are not too set in our way or too stuffed up with prejudices. I am extremely pleased that before long this Government will have to account for its sins to the people, because I can assure honorable senators opposite that for some time now the cry has been going up, “ How long 0 Lord, how long?” Any one who stops to think must entertain some very serious thoughts and fears about the future of this country under the present Administration. It has been, from the outset, a fluke government, and ever since it came into office - I shall not say into power, because that would be a misnomer - it has been kept alive on sufferance by one sportsman- who, I have no doubt, is of the firm opinion that he is the finest person into which the Almighty ever put breath. Incidentally, 1 point out that as soon as any government is born it begins to die, just as human beings, from the moment of their birth are moving towards their death. No matter how good a government may be, or how long it may reign, it is a dying government. Throughout the entire term of office of this Administration there has been political turmoil and favouritism, backing and filling at the behests of the unions, kow-towing to communists and law-breaking strikers, and concessions to political clamour, even when the country’s industrial and economic safety have been jeopardized thereby. We have seen the deplorable spectacle of the Prime Minister going to the trade union organization of this country - an outside junta - before making decisions. Particularly was that the case on the most important question of sending our soldiers outside the borders of Australia. There have been innumerable cases in which the interests of service men have had to take second place to the utter selfishness of undisciplined wharf labourers and other unionists, especially in the great State of New South Wales. I can see only ruin if a government of this type is permitted to carry on in this reckless way. In many ways, it is squandering the Commonwealth’s inheritance; the inheritance of great principles of freedom of enterprise, private enterprise, freedom of speech and action, and the right to decide how one will work, for whom one will work, and the volume of work that one will do. There are many people in this country, even to-day, who would like to be able to choose just how they will work, for whom they will work, and the amount of work that they will do. Then there is our inheritance of British justice, which also is in grave danger. No right thinking person, who has read the daily newspapers during the last few weeks, has not had that in his mind constantly. It is a most serious and wicked thing. The rights of minorities, which, after all, have rights as well as majorities, are held in utter contempt, unless, of course, those minorities happen to be strongly organized or truculent bodies. Another doctrine that has been preached by members of this Government is that of class hatred - as if there could be class hatred in a country such as Australia, in which more than 90 per cent, of the inhabitants are workers. Class hatred and industrial friction are being generated by the larrikin element in the Cabinet.
– I rise to order. I object to the honorable senator’s reference to “ the larrikin element in the Cabinet “, and I ask that the words be withdrawn.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Brown). - Senator Ashley has objected to the expression “ the larrikin element in the Cabinet “, and I ask Senator Sampson to withdraw it.
– I assure the Postmaster-General (Senator Ashley) that I was not referring to him personally when I mentioned the larrikin element in the Cabinet. If the Minister considers the remarks offensive to him I withdraw them.
– I rise to order. I also object to the expression. As Senator Sampson was not referring to my colleague the Postmaster-General, if I am the larrikin in the Cabinet I should like to know. The words are offensive to me, personally.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Senator Sampson has withdrawn the remark.
– Senator Sampson withdrew the remark so far as it referred to the Postmaster-General, and I suggest that he is now referring to me. I repeat that the remark is offensive to me, and 1 ask that it be withdrawn.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.Order ! I understand that Senator Sampson has withdrawn the remark unreservedly.
– I assure the Minister for the Interior (Senator Collings), for whom I have a very high regard, that I should never dream of calling him a larrikin.
– I accept the apology.
– It is quite a good thing in time of war to introduce a system of price fixing in order to curb inflation; but there is one commodity the price of which has not yet been fixed ; I refer to votes, and I suggest to the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) that he might get the Prices Commissioner to work on that matter.
In its heart of hearts this Government believes in compulsory unionism, but it has not been game to go the whole hog. By devious means it has coerced people into joining unions.
– Will the honorable senator give an instance?
– We had an instance only recently. It appears that in the Commonwealth Public Service the awards for unionists are higher than those for non-unionists. That matter was ventilated in this chamber by an honorable senator from Western Australia and one from Victoria.
I should like to know from honorable senators opposite if the attacks upon and interference with industry and finance are to continue. That is a question which has to be answered and which in the forthcoming campaign will be a matter of the first importance. There is grave danger in a political policy which discourages greater production per man and per unit of cost, because when we are through with this wretched business of war there is going to’ be a lot of licking of wounds. It is a tremendous problem which will take the combined wisdom of the leading men of all the nations. I suggest that, if the Atlantic Charter means anything, we shall have to compete for trade with other countries. In this country some have been so long engaged, particularly on the union side, in trying to reduce output when working for private bosses that some unionists now seem to use the same tactics in government factories with very disastrous results.
– How does the honorable senator know that? What is his experience ?
– I know what has taken place. Unless we can increase production there will not be much chance after the war of a successful export trade, because we cannot continually export at a loss. I believe and I think it is true that living standards depend on the volume of our production more than anything else, and that comes down to the output of the individual. A go-slow policy is fatal.
I chanced to pick up a little book to-day and came on a passage regarding morale which I propose to quote to the Senate. This is something that we might ponder on -
The basis of morale on the home front is to transform the frustrated energy wasted in class conflict into the united energy of a society co-operating to achieve aims which will benefit all.
That was written in reference to the United States of America, but it would apply to any country. It is worth thinking about. That result cannot be obtained in any democratic country except under a national government.
– The same old tune !
– It is not an old tune but a fact. We shall not get the best results until we have achieved unity of parties and cut out all this nonsense. Under the stress of war the utter fallacy of Labour economics has been quickly revealed. No government in this country has ever had greater powers than this Government has under the National Security Act. By virtue of the defence powers, and its war powers generally, it can do almost anything. Yet with the greatest powers ever wielded by any Australian government, .it has failed to produce anything but a costly, cumbersome and inflationary war effort that threatens the economic stability of the Commonwealth. The fun of it all is that private enterprise has had to come to the rescue time and time again. Ministerial misrepresentation has been flagrant.
To-day we saw a film which was sheer propaganda. The first film shown was a very good one, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The second was nothing but propaganda of a low kind, making use of the men who went overseas and fought, suffered and died, although if this Government had had any voice in it no man would have gone overseas, and there would have been no Australian Imperial Force. To trade on it, as is done in the stuff that we saw to-day, is getting down pretty low. We have heard talk ad nauseam of a 100 per cent, war effort, but does anybody in this chamber believe that Australia up till now has made a 100 per cent, war effort, when we have had nothing but hold-ups and continual strikes? There are too many friends of Hitler in this country. Any man or woman who strikes during war is aiding Hitler, and is Hitler’s friend. But this has gone on, and these perpetual strikes, particularly in the coalmines, lead me to think that there is more behind this unrest than mere dissatisfaction with conditions. I suggest that it is the bounden duty of the Government to rout out these sinister figures that may be in the background and are causing this trouble. Let us know who they are, and deal with them for what they are. There will be no remedy until Australia has a government courageous enough to tackle this strike sedition drastically. If it is not tackled, it will persist to the benefit of our enemies.
We have in this country three armies. We have the civil population, and we have our servicemen, and the third army that we have has been growing by leaps and bounds ever since the war started. The Government is building up a tremendous bureaucracy in the shape of commissions, boards, committees and controllers of all sorts. We must of course have plans, and we must have control in time of war, but I am afraid that this system and these people will become so well dug in and entrenched that, when hostilities cease, we shall find ourselves absolutely shackled and chained, and discover that we have lost the very thing for which we have been fighting.
Abraham Lincoln, a great president of the United States of America, and a very wise man, who was cut off in his prime, spoke truthfully about this subject. A bureaucrat has a lot of power, and in a sense is living in a world of his own, something like a monk in a monastery. This is what Abraham Lincoln said about him -
Men moving only in an official circle are apt to become merely official - not to say arbitrary - in their ideas and are apter with each passing day to forget that they only hold power in a representative capacity.
I have here another publication named the Shop Steward. It is issued for shop stewards by the Victorian branch of the Arms, Explosives and Munitions Workers Federation of Australia. There is a beautiful little bit in it about unfinancial members and what is going to happen to them. They are to be “ blitzed “, because the union has adopted the German word so often used by Hitler, but the gem and the point I want to ram home to any misguided people who are going to vote for the Australian Labour party is the following : -
Future governments will be made up of shop stewards of to-day and the steward will do well to keep this in mind and realize the responsibility of his or her position.
God help Australia when we have a government of shop stewards!
– It would be well at this stage to deal with first things first. Senator Sampson has, like other members of the Opposition, used the old cries of strikes, compulsory unionism and suchlike things in an endeavour to criticize this Government. He has advocated a national government, which has been dealt with over and over again in this Parliament. He has referred to Great Britain and its national government but, despite the fact that Canada has been cited extensively in this debate, and that New Zealand and the good deeds of its Labour Government have been referred to, he and his colleagues have failed to mention the fact that there are no national governments in those two countries. I should like the electors to ask themselves what would be the possibility of a contented parliament or an efficient government in this country, after the display that -we have seen this week in our National Parliament. “We have seen some of the most tragic affairs in the history of this Parliament, and I shall refer to them before I sit down. Last night we heard over the air, and this morning we read in the press, an indictment of the Prime Minister of Australia by the Bight Honorable William Morris Hughes. Every Prime Minister in the United Nations, even including M. Stalin, has been commended by the other side for the work he has done in the war, but the Australian Prime Minister has been forgotten. If a national government were formed it would include, I take it, the right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) and it would surely include the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) and also the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes). I assume that that would be part of the composition of any national government.
I remind the Senate of the speech broadcast last night by the right honorable member for North Sydney in which he criticized the Prime Minister. When the National Service Group was formed it comprised, I understand, seventeen members of the Opposition. It was apparent that the United Australia party and the United Country party had been split into fragments, yet the parties opposite ask the Labour party to form a national government. What did that outstanding figure in Australian political history, the right honorable member for North Sydnev, say about a former Prime Minister under whom he had served as a Minister ?
– Tell us what he had to say about the present Prime Minister.
– Honorable senators have heard that. Referring to the right honorable member for Kooyong he said, “He talks about one army”. The Menzies and Fadden governments were in office for over two years, but did they then speak about the necessity for one army? Not at all. They did not even talk about conscription until the present Government came into power. The right honorable member for North Sydnev published a pamphlet concerning the right honor able member for Kooyong, in which he wrote -
He talks about one army! He was Prime Minister for the first two years of the war, he could have merged the forces, but he did nothing. He is contemptuous about the miserable amendment of the Militia Bill - but when he had the power he did not even attempt to extend the area in which our Militia could be made available!
But he did not do it. On this occasion the right honorable member for North Sydney was correct. Continuing, he said -
He expresses alarm at rising prices, about strikes, absenteeism, lack of food and manpower organization - but when these great burning questions about which he professes to be so concerned are brought up for discussion, in Parliament he is either absent or silent!
He deplores double and treble rates for overtime, but if men are getting double or treble rates it is because awards of courts and tribunals that he appointed or supported, have so determined. And Mr. Menzies must accept his full share of responsibility for all that these tribunals and courts have done.
I shall not go into the other indictments against the right honorable member for Kooyong except to remind honorable senators that the right honorable member for North Sydney also said that he himself had applied the principle of preference to returned soldiers after the last war, and he reminded the right honorable member for Kooyong that he did not have too distinguished a career in the last war. Yet the Opposition invites honorable senators on this side of the chamber to join a national government. I hope that there will be no attempt by the Opposition to make political capital out of the fact that the Labour party- has declined to be associated with such a government. It has been in office for twenty months, although it relies upon the support of two independents, who support it because they know that it is doing a good job. For the first two years of the war the present Government and its supporters were in opposition, but we were told last night that we were responsible for Australia’s unpreparedness for war. I remind the present Opposition that for the last 25 years anti-Labour governments have been in office almost continuously, and therefore, the blame for Australia’s unpreparedness for war at the outbreak of hostilities cannot be laid at the door of the Labour party. The indictment should be levelled against those who were in power prior to the war and during its early stages. I remind the Opposition that when it was in power it reduced the soldiers’ pay from 8s. to 5s. a day, thus repudiating a promise made to them. I refer honorable senators- to the following report in Hansard of the 16th November, 1939, page 1201, of a statement made by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron). He did not take part in the campaign to obtain recruits. He said that he did not favour voluntary service but believed in conscription. He has always adhered to his convictions and I give him credit for doing so. The report reads -
I was a member of the Government at that time, but I did not take any part in the campaign.
Mr. Lane. Why not?
– Partly because I had better things to do. In any case I am not a lover of the voluntary system. Ministers went on to platforms and said that the rate of pay would be 8s. a day. If the Government’s promise meant anything, it meant that the rate of pay would be 8s. at all times, and under all conditions. There were no tags.
Mr. Street. There was a tag in a technical sense. The rate of pay was to be 5s. a day plus a peace training allowance of 3s. a day.
– Has that allowance been abolished?
Mr. Street. ; The peace training allowance has been abolished and the rate of pay is 5s. a day.
– If that is the position, I simply say that it is still more remarkable. The men are training under what may at any minute become service conditions, and it is something new in the world’s history to lay down the principle that the rate of pay in wartime is to be lower than the rate of pay in peacetime.
Sir Charles Marr. , The troops did not know it.
– That is correct.
After members of Parliament had called for recruits the pay was reduced from 8s. to 5s. a day.
I now intend to refer to the pay of members of the Services as compared with members of the Civil Constructional Corps. The statement that ?12 a week has been paid to a “ billy boy” is absurd. The rates of pay of members of the ‘Civil Constructional Corps are fixed by Judge O’Mara. During the first two years of the war we had the spectacle of organizations being established for the purpose of collecting funds for the support of the dependants of the men overseas. I am glad to say that that state of affairs has been abolished. In September, 1939, a private was paid ?4 4s. per week; a corporal ?5 12s. and a sergeant ?5 19s. Those amounts are calculated on the basis of 5s. a day for a private, 2s. deferred pay, 33. for a wife, ls. for the first child and ls. for the second child, a total of 12s. a day. On the 26th September, 1941, on the same basis a private received ?4 lis. a week, a corporal ?5 19s. and a sergeant ?6 6s. When the Curtin Government took office on the 7th November, 1941, the rates of pay on the same basis were ?5 12s. a week for a private, ?7 for a corporal and ?7 7s. for a sergeant. But on the 8th August, 1942, those rates were increased to ?6 6s. for a private, ?7 14s. for a corporal and ?8 ls. for a sergeant. Those amounts are free of income tax. The Government has remitted to the men and women in the fighting services income tax to the amount of ?21,000,000. Let us see how their pay compares with that of members of the Civil Constructional Corps. A single man working in that Corps receives ?5 10s. a week. After paying taxes amounting to 17s. a week, his net wage is ?4 3s. a week. A man with a wife and without children receives the same gross payment, but his taxes amount to only 10s. a week, so that his net earnings are ?5 a week. Should he have a child also, his income after paying a tax of 5s. 3d. a week, amounts to ?5 4s. 9d. a week. A man with a wife and two children receives ?5 15s. a week, from which 3s. tax is deducted, leaving him with ?5 12s. It is clear from those figures that a private soldier who, in addition to his pay, receives his keep and his clothing, is not in so unfavorable position as the honorable senator would have us believe.
– The Minister has not mentioned the overtime paid to Civil Constructional Corps workers.
– Whatever overtime they receive is paid in accordance with the awards of legally constituted tribunals.
I wish to say something about the position of Western Australia, but I shall not refer to any “ Brisbane line “, Moore River line, or any other line. I do know, however, that before the present
Government came into office Western Australia was undefended. There was a time when there was a shortage of 9,000 rifles in that .State. It is useless to have men to defend a country if they have no weapons with which to defend it.
Many statements have been made about the food supplies in this country. It has been stated that Australia has not fulfilled its promises to the United Kingdom, but that is not correct. Speaking recently to a representative of the Sydney Morning Herald, Lord Woolton, British Minister for Food, said that Australia had not failed to keep its promises to the British Ministry of Food. That disposes of the charge that the Curtin Government has not met Australia’s obligations to Great Britain, and I hope that the last has now been heard of a canard which can only bring discredit to Australia in the eyes of the world and adversely affect this country in the post-war period, when markets for our produce must be found. If I had to choose between the word of Senator McBride and the statement of Lord Woolton, I should prefer to accept the latter. There have been many difficulties in maintaining adequate supplies of foodstuffs, particularly in relation to obtaining the necessary machinery. In addition to providing its fighting services with necessary foodstuffs, Australia has contracted to feed the members of allied forces in the South-West Pacific Area. The difficulties have been similar to those which confronted a previous government in connexion with machine tools in the early stages of the war. No government can control nature, and, should droughts come, or pests cause damage, the government of the day should not be asked to accept the blame. I claim that the present Government has a wonderful achievement to its credit in maintaining food supplies for our own fighting services, the allied services, civilian needs, and in sending food to the United Kingdom.
As so much has been said about rationing, I was pleased to hear Senator McBride say that if the Opposition parties were in power they would have to resort to rationing.
– But in a different way.
– It would be a worse way if the honorable senator had anything to do with it. . Senator Wilson may know something of army matters, but he does not know the position in regard to materials, otherwise he would not have spoken as he did. The whole of the tinned plate used in Australia, has to be imported. In this connexion the requirements of other countries also have to be taken into consideration. Another difficulty is that all building material has been “ frozen “. There is no desire on the part of either the Government or the Opposition to impose unnecessary restrictions on the people, but in the interests of the country in this time of war rationing is necessary. Senator Latham complained of the position in regard to towels. Towelling is not so severely rationed in Australia as it is in the United Kingdom, yet the honorable senator recommended the Government to get towelling from that country. Manufacturers there are not permitted to export towelling.
– I shall supply the Minister with the name of the firm.
– I have here an official document from which I shall read a paragraph -
The supply of towels (Terry type) for the services as well as for civilians is dependent on the production of the four towel weaving mills in Australia. Towels for civilian usage have for some time past been in acute short supply for the reason that service demands have been heavy and therefore the available quantities for civilians have been restricted. Drastic rationing of towels prevails in the United Kingdom and supplies are not available for export.
If Senator Latham can tell me where we can get towels, I shall be pleased to have inquiries made.
I have tried to indicate the difficulties confronting the Government, and to make it clear that restrictions have been imposed on the people not because of any desire on the part of the Government but because the country’s needs demanded them. If the Government had not been prepared to impose these restrictions the Government would have failed in its duty and the Opposition would have been the first to complain. One member of the Cabinet has been singled out for special attack. I refer to the Minister for War Organization of Industry (Mr. Dedman) who has done a difficult job well. He is the pivot on which the regimentation of the commodities which I have mentioned depends, and when I find that he has been selected for special criticism it is natural to trace that criticism to its source. I find that it emanates from those controlling the banking institutions of this country because the present Government took steps to prevent them from doing what they did during the last war. Honorable senators will recall that a royal commission disclosed that the banks then made profits of 15 or 16 per cent. Because the present Government would not allow them to repeat that performance, and issued regulations requiring them to divert certain of their assets to the Commonwealth Bank, those interested in private banks were displeased. I have no doubt that in the forthcoming election campaign the private banks and other financial institutions will do their utmost to defeat the Government.
– So will all private enterprise, because the Government is trying to cripple it.
– A start in the campaign against the Government has already been made, as will be seen from the following report which appeared in the Sylney Morning Herald of the 22nd June last.
TRADING BANK SYSTEM.
What Nationalisation Would Mean.
MELBOURNE, Monday.- Nationalisation of banking meant destruction of the existing successful system of trading banks without evidence of thought as to how, if at all, it could be replaced, the chairman of Associated Banks of Victoria, Mr. L. J. McConnan, said in an address to the Constitutional Club to-day.
There was only one reason why a political element desired to nationalise trading banks, he said. These politicians wanted for their own purposes control of the people’s money - the ?450,000,000 at present in the care of the banking system.
Control of people’s money would be a big Btep towards achievement of the first plank of the Labour platform, “ socialisation of the means of production, distribution, and exchange “. That step towards complete socialisation and regimentation of the individual was the mecca of all good Communists, and also of Fascists.
Mr. Goode, the general manager of the Union Bank of Australasia Limited, Melbourne, is reported to have said -
With all this in mind, I had come to the conclusion that something definite must be done by the banks, but I was forestalled at a recent meeting of the banks by Mr. McConnan (National Bank) making the same proposition. His idea is that something in the nature of an expanded “ Sound Finance League “ with a properly equipped staff including a competent publicist and an economist of note should be heavily subsidised by the banks. This body would publish articles and broadcast them through the Press everywhere, by radio, etc. It would enter into any controversy - newspaper or otherwise, and by extensive propaganda, endeavour to educate public opinion on sound lines. The idea is that it should be purely in the national interests - our selfish interest is interlocked with this.
Mr. Goode continued
All the banks are definitely in favour of the idea with one exception. . . . The cost may be between ?20.000 and ?30,000 a year, or even more, but spread among the banks that is nothing if it means our survival as independent trading banks and the education of the electors on lines which we think are right. The money will be well spent.
Those views were referred to the editor of the Sound Finance League’s publication. He was asked his views on the proposal, and his reply included this paragraph -
It is noteworthy that the most outspoken attacks on the banks during 1940 and the recent defeated budgets were made by new members such as Evatt and Dedman. The latter has made some study of economics and finance. He should not be under-estimated.
When vested interests decide to get rid of a government that will not fall into line with them, they pick out for attack those Ministers who have had the most unpopular work to do. The Minister for War Organization of Industry is being singled out for attack by these institutions because he has had an unpopular job. According to Mr. McConnan this campaign on the part of the banks has already commenced, and they are prepared to spend ?30,000 or more in order to defeat this Government. Under the regulations to which I refer the associated banks have diverted to the Commonwealth Bank surplus deposits totalling ?104,000,000. On that sum the associated banks will draw interest at the rate of 15s. per cent. The transfer of those deposits is in itself evidence of what would have happened had these regulations not been implemented. A position similar to that which arose in the last war would have recurred. The private banks would now be building up a superstructure of credit, and declaring dividends of 15 or 16 per cent, as they did during the last war. Incidentally, I point out that since the date on which the regulations came into force, the primary producers of this country have deposited up to £33,000,000 with, the private banks. I have endeavoured to present a picture with respect to rationing. I am aware of the complaints that are made in that respect, but it cannot be said that any individual in the community is suffering under the scheme for the rationing of butter. I pay a tribute to the women in our capital cities who voluntarily give their services daily in canteens providing for the welfare of soldiers on leave.
I am able to inform Senator Latham that some time ago I took up the matter to which he referred with respect to the dispute between the Australian Wheat Board and the bulk-handling authority. That is primarily a matter for the board. However, I have had a look at the agreement. It provides that disputes be referred to an arbitrator. The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) offered to secure the services of a judge of the Supreme Court of the State to arbitrate in this particular dispute, but the bulk-handling authority would not agree to that. However, the agreement provides that a local solicitor, or legal man, may be appointed to act as arbitrator, and I understand that the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has again offered to refer the matter to arbitration. I am not aware of the views of both parties on that proposal. I think that Senator Latham will admit that I am as anxious as he is to see that a fair deal is meted out to Western Australian wheat-growers in this matter.
.- To say that I am disappointed with the debate on the bill is to put my view very mildly indeed. I know, as honorable senators generally know, that on the first reading of a bill which the Senate may not amend, honorable senators may speak upon almost any subject. That opportunity has been fully exploited during this di bate. The Government is very anxious that the bill be passed as soon as possible.
I promised the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) that we would conclude our consideration of it about this hour. However, that does not now seem to be possible, because other honorable senators wish to speak after me. I shall not detain the Senate for very long, but, as Leader of the Senate, it is essential that I make certain remarks.
First. there is the general election for which all arrangements are now in train. Honorable senators opposite have suggested that we should not have an election while we are at war. The fact of the matter is that the Commonwealth Constitution provides that we must have a general election every three years, and we cannot alter the Constitution without carrying such a proposal at a referendum. Admittedly, the Constitution contains a proviso which enables the Commonwealth Government to apply to the Imperial Government to interfere in our affairs in order to give us the opportunity to carry on without an election beyond the ordinary term of the Parliament. However, no real Australian would suggest that we should take advantage of that proviso. We are quite competent to order our own affairs. We enjoy equal status with every other member of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
Honorable senators opposite have repeatedly urged that we should agree to the formation of a national government. I have no intention of dealing at length with that suggestion. The unedifying spectacle which, has been witnessed in this chamber during the last two days makes it for ever impossible for the Labour party to participate in the formation of a national government. I say with respect to honorable senators opposite, that the Labour party, the Labour movement and this Government have always tried, at any rate, to be clean and honest; and in any association with honorable senators opposite in the formation of a national government we should be obliged obviously to abandon the pleasant outlook we have always cherished. Honorable senators opposite have said that the workers of this country have refused to subscribe to war loans. With all the class hatred and bitterness of which they are capable, they have said repeatedly that the workers of this country are slackers so far as war loans are concerned. The very opposite is the truth. It is true that only a limited number of people have subscribed to war loans, and that very few members of the working class are included in that number. It is the mortgage banks, the pastoral companies, the great life assurance companies that invest large amounts in Commonwealth loans. Where do those organizations get their money from ? The two first-mentioned classes wring it out of the primary producers, whilst the great insurance companies get their money from the workers of this country, who, because they have never had economic security, have been obliged to keep themselves poor in order to pay life assurance premiums so that when they die they will avoid a pauper’s funeral. But despite the fact that honorable senators opposite have never given the workers a chance of reasonable security, they twit the workers because they do not appear in the list of persons who subscribe £1,000 and over to war loan’s. Who buys the majority of war savings certificates ? Not the wealthy people, or the great institutions, but the working class men and women. I resent the slander cast by honorable senators opposite on the class to which I belong.
Throughout this debate honorable senators opposite have magnified the things that really do not matter. I am sure that every one of us is proud of the manner .in which the men and women of Great Britain stood up to the worst days of the blitz. We are proud of the way they “ took “ it, and of the fact that they never squealed. When their homes were bombed at night, they were out the next day cleaning up the wreckage and serving in emergency forces. Are Australians less able to “take” it? I have been astounded and ashamed to hear honorable senators opposite complain that they cannot purchase mantles for Aladdin lamps, or cannot buy chocolates in the quantities that they would like, or cannot obtain enough butter, sugar, tea or’ clothing; and that they have had to take the cuffs off their trousers,, and have had to make other sacrifices so small that any one would be ashamed to mention them in a time of war, when, as now, we are confronted with the great task of keeping the Japanese out of this country. Australia is the most favoured country in the world. With the exception of the men who have made the supreme sacrifice, and relatives who have suffered the agony of losing their loved ones, no one in this country has yet really suffered because of the war. Are we such a nation of squealers, cowards, and Quislings that we cannot bear such insignificant irritations as a shortage of mantles for Aladdin lamps, when the people from whom we sprung took the blitz and never complained. I say now, and I hope to have sufficient strength of voice left to say it throughout the length and breadth of this land in the next few weeks, that honorable senators opposite have shown their assessment of the value of Australian men and women by charging them with being cowards, Quislings and squealers. I shall have no hesitation in letting the people of this country know the valuation that is placed upon them. It is a foul slander of the people of this country, and on their behalf, I resent it. Senator Spicer smirks and smiles. He can afford to do that, and so can Senator Wilson and certain other honorable senators opposite who have participated in this debate. Senator Wilson inherited economic security, yet he has the audacity to come into this chamber and say that the Government of which I am a member and which is under the able leadership of that great man, Mr. John Curtin, has let Australia down. Another member of the Opposition said that we on this side of the chamber put the interests of unionists before those of members of our fighting services. I ask honorable senators who are the members of our fighting services? At least 75 per cent, of them, if not more, are union supporters, and they have been fighting in every theatre of war. They left unions to enlist, yet they are slandered by honorable senators opposite who sneer at unionism and everything that it portends. Senator Spicer made a remark which I think, upon reflection, he probably will regret for the rest of his life. If he has that innate decency of manhood which previously I gave him credit for, he certainly will regret it. The honorable senator asked, “ Are members of this Government any less clever than the Germans ? “. All I can say is that I, for one, do not want to be as damnably clever as the Germans. In his love of fascism and all that it stands for, the honorable senator apparently forgot himself and declared himself on the side of clever Germany. “ Are members of this Government”, he asked, “less clever than the Germans? “. We may not be as clever as the Germans, but at least we do not stand for the purges, the wholesale massacre of Jews and the making of bonfires of great libraries containing books which civilized people wish to read, that have occurred in Germany, neither do we teach our people that there is nothing in life but war and preparation for war. I suggest to Senator Spicer that if he indulges in a little introspection in the quiet of his own home, he will apologize, to himself at least, for what he has said.
In his desire to discredit this Government, even by picking out small unworthy items, Senator Latham said something about an awful crime committed somewhere along the East-West railway in that railway employees at Tarcoola had galvanized fences around their homes. Any honorable senator who knows that line will recall the type of homes that the men who do the great job out there, and their womenfolk, occupy. [, as Minister for the Interior, have control of the Commonwealth railways and this is the answer to the honorable senator’s allegations: The fences in question were put up at a time when there was no embargo upon the use of galvanized iron ; they are cheaper to erect than timber fences both from the point of view of material and labour, and maintenance costs are negligible; they are white-ant proof in country in which timber fences must be renewed frequently because of the depredations of that pest; and they are very serviceable in drifting sand country such as that in the districts concerned.
All that this debate has produced has been a series of discreditable indications of how the Opposition intends to fight the forthcoming elections. One of my colleagues from Western Australia washed his hands completely of such tactics, and said that in Western Australia the Labour party would not fight on those lines. I say that in Queensland also we shall not fight on those lines. Honorable senators opposite can have those tactics all on their own and derive whatever satisfaction they can from them. If the disgraceful exhibition that we have seen in thi3 chamber during the last 48 hours is an indication, as obviously it is, of the tactics which our opponents intend to adopt in the election campaign, I am absolutely certain of a victory for the clean fighting Labour party. It is obvious that no party in either chamber has a sufficient majority to enable it to carry on the government of this country and attend to the great job of preventing the invasion of our land by the Japanese. There is only one authority that can make a stable government, and that is the people to whom an appeal will shortly be made. The proper issue upon which that appeal should be based is the question : “ In your opinion, is the present Government, or some other government that you can envisage, capable of making the best war effort?” I have no fear of what the answer will be, if the issue be clearly stated to the people. There is no country in the world that has made a better response to the call of patriotism than Australia, and there are few countries among the Allied Nations who have achieved anything like the war effort that we have made in this country.
– Does that apply to the Defence (Citizen Military Forces) Bill?
– I had not intended to refer particularly to Senator Wilson, but perhaps at this stage it would bc- appropriate if I had a few words to say. about that honorable senator. I am sadly disappointed with the honorable senator, whom, as a soldier, a senator, and a man, we had learned to respect. Last night, he destroyed that respect and affection.
In regard to what our men have accomplished on the battle-front, this Government has no complaint. We know what our fighting men have done. We know, as Senator Wilson knows, although he is rather diffident about admitting it, how our fighting men and women responded to the call of their country. We know how they have not quivered, quavered or quarrelled. We know that they do not ask any questions in the trenches as to what religion a man adheres to, or what his political views are. We know that they answered the call as fighting men and women, and have done a wonderful job. I point out, however, that in order to keep our men in the field and fighting, there had to be in this war, as never before in the history of Australia, another army, the great industrial army; the army behind the Army; the army that keeps the fighting men and women able to fight on; the army which supplies the guns, tanks, equipment, cooking utensils, food, and so on, which are so necessary if we are to win battles. Industrial workers of this country answered the call as bravely as did their brothers and sisters, husbands and sweethearts in the fighting forces. Honorable senators can see in the King’s Hall of Parliament House an. exhibition of photographs depicting the magnificent constructional work that has been carried out in this country by the Allied Works Council. The activities of the council are under the control of my department, and I know well that a modern miracle has been achieved by this organization which was called into being by the Prime Minister of this country only twelve months ago last February. I. am proud of our Prime Minister, as honorable senators opposite should be, instead of slandering him as they have done for the past 48 hours. Every member of the Opposition who has spoken in this debate has made accusations against the right honorable gentleman. He has been accused of lying, misrepresentation, and of going to an authority to which he had no right to go merely because it did not hold its meetings in a bank parlour, and he has even been accused of treachery, but it was the right honorable John Curtin, Prime Minister and Minister for Defence, who was able to stand proudly in the House of Representatives only a few short days ago, and say to the people of this great Commonwealth : “ The battle of Australia has been won as surely as the br.tt.le of Britain was won.” I was prouder than ever of my leader when he said that. But even that is all wrong in the eyes of the Opposition. When the Prime Minister told the story of the imminent danger of invasion threatening this country he was accused by honorable senators opposite and by their prototypes in the country, of merely making inflammatory statements in order to get the war loan successfully floated. When he made the opposite statement, knowing that the danger of immediate invasion was past, honorable senators opposite said that he had no right to say such a thing, because it might make people unduly complacent. I have been ashamed and astounded at the complacency in the ranks of the Opposition during this debate. There is complacency when they know that the only thing that matters is to keep the Japanese out of this and other allied countries. We set out to do it when we became the Government, and without a party majority in the House of Representatives and a minority in this chamber we have been carrying on for the last twenty months. That is a political miracle, and the work that we have done is both a military and industrial miracle. So far as I am concerned I am going to stake my political future on the work which has been done for the protection of this wonderful Commonwealth of ours by the Labour Government since it came into office in October, 1941.
– in reply - As the Minister in charge of the bill I wish to make one or two comments upon what has been said during this debate. I agree with my leader that not much has emanated from it, but this is an occasion on which honorable senators have the right to say almost anything they like. I remember also that we are on the eve of an election, and, therefore, it is understandable that honorable senators should want to dress their political window. I suggest, however, that some of the statements made have not been helpful to the Parliament or to the honorable senators who have made them. I wish to emphasize that although a great deal of capital has been made by Opposition members out of the industrial position in Australia, and strikes have been continually referred to, measures for the repression of strikes have not been suggested. I tell the Opposition that in their regime they too had strikes, as this Government has had them, but if we take the industrial workers of Australia as a whole, with their vastly augmented numbers, and the fact that they have worked exceedingly long hours, the industrial loss of time in this country is amazingly small. ‘Great Britain has its coal troubles and finds them equally as difficult to solve as we find ours. So has America, and other parts of the world. The obvious fact remains that, although the waterfront has had trouble to some extent, it has had less trouble than it had for a number of years previously. In’ one week, to my knowledge, since we have been a Government, there has been trouble on the waterfront, but frankly, I would forgive the men in that particular job for anything at all. The Minister for Aircraft Production (Senator Cameron) will remember the part he took with me in the big dispute in Melbourne years ago. Senator Leckie and other Victorians will also remember what occurred at that time. We know that the life led by those men was nothing short of horrible. They had to stand out in the open with not even a shed to shelter them, waiting sometimes for many days for a ship. They had a rough time. There was a dispute recently owing to their system of work. It is true that soldiers are working on the waterfront but if all the waterside workers worked the soldiers would still be working there because of the enormous number of ships arriving. The American Army does most of the unloading of its own ships, but if ships bringing lend-lease goods continue arriving in big numbers our ports will be crowded, and it will be a big job to provide sufficient man-power to carry on the work on the waterfront. It can be truly said that the other great sections of industry in this country have done and are doing a phenomenal job. That applies among others to the railwaymen of Australia. The men in the employ of the Queensland railways are working up to 90 hours a week, and the same applies to the employees in Victorian and other State railways, owing to the abnormal amount of traffic that has been forced on to the land transport system. Prior to the war 90 per cent, of the commerce of Australia was sea-borne. Nearly 30 per cent, of that must go by rail to-day. That body of men is doing a tremendous job. A great number of munitions workers, men and women, have been working for a long time in shifts of twelve hours, which is a very long shift. If we had to work shifts from nine o’clock at night until nine o’clock in the morning for a month on end on the same repetition work, doing the same deadly monotonous task, we would be very frayed at the end of the month and certainly not in the humour that we would be in if we worked fewer hours. The position generally is excellent from the industrial aspect.
The allusions to one army are too late. That is all over. Senator Wilson surely does not suggest that he is going to recruit another 100,000 men for the Army. He knows that the man-power of this country is practically depleted and that the food supply for Australia and for our Allies is going to be a tremendous problem. It is a case of manpower again. Does he suggest that further enlistments of men can be made for the military forces? With his military knowledge he knows that that is not possible. There is no trouble at all arising from the fact that we have an Australian Imperial Force and a Citizen Military Force in this country. These men have merged and are being used in whatever zones the High Command directs. Senator Wilson’s utterance was a particularly unfortunate one. He gave no credit to the Government for anything. When I was an Opposition member I supported the war effort of the last Government, as I support the war effort of this Government. When a government has carried on as this Government has done under every possible difficulty, with the entry of Japan into the war and the added burdens thrown on to the Government thereby, it is only fair that it should be given credit for what it has done, even if an election is pending. Senator Wilson commenced his speech with a complete indictment of the Government, but I suggest that it is not supported by any corroborative evidence at all. He said, “ The Government has destroyed the good name of Australia “. I say that the good name of Australia was never higher than it is at thi; moment, so that that charge is not supported. He also said, “ It has let down our fighting men “. I suggest that that was an incorrect statement to make. Our fighting men have been reinforced as far as the man-power of this country will allow. Every possible thing has been done for them in the way of increased emoluments, and a more liberalized repatriation scheme, possibly with the highest rates in the world. Every member of this Parliament and every person in the community is ready to give whatever he can for the benefit of the soldiers, who are doing a tremendous job. Obviously, therefore, that statement also is not correct. The honorable senator has also condemned strikes and absenteeism. He said that strikes were prevalent, that we issued certain regulations and did not enforce them. When he is older he will find that, as Senator Cameron said, bodies of men cannot be dragooned. In fairness to the waterside workers, to whom he made such a rough reference, I suggest that they have worked under a certain system for forty years. The Government of the day through the Stevedoring Commission said that for an obvious and sound reason they were to report for duty. Certain men in the union were sheltering from an Army call-up, and they were told to be there on the Monday morning when the new system was to be introduced. This was not wise, and caused tremendous irritation, but a man on a war job has to stick to his post all the time, and 99 per cent, of the people of Australia have been doing so. As long as the world lasts there will be men who are discontented, whatever job they are in. Senator Wilson also said that the Government had interfered with the administration of justice. Where has it done so? He did not give one instance.’ The Women’s’ Employment Board, whether the honorable senator admits it or not, is handling an aspect of industrialism that has never previously been touched in the history of this country.
– The Government withdrew two prosecutions in Melbourne, was not that an interference with justice?
– I do not admit that. Certain men were working under the Allied Works Council. They were leaders of a union, and through some stupid boneheadedness they were actually arrested in their beds at 3 o’clock in the morning. If the law provides that what they did is an offence, I have no comment to make, but they should have been proceeded against by summons and not made martyrs of as was done by a certain department. Following on that, the Minister for S*upply and Shipping (Mr. Beasley), who was Acting Attorney-General, was not satisfied with the reason for which these men were arrested. The honorable senator surely does not want me to say anything more about it.
– Why did the Government withdraw the prosecutions?
– For a very obvious reason.
– Because they were members of a union.
– Nothing of the sort. It was because it would not be wise to proceed with the prosecutions, for reasons that I might let the honorable senator know privately. I am not prepared to give them here. Senator Wilson also said that the Government has bungled the man-power problem. He should know that the members of the Ministry do not call up men. The High Command lays down the strategy of the war in conference with the Prime Minister and certain members of the War Cabinet. The High Command says that it wants so many men to do a certain operation, and it is then mandatory on tho Ministry to see that the necessary number of men are called up. Men have been called up from the land. I have objected to that both as a senator and as a Minister. As Senator Brand knows, a tremendous number of crops in the Western District of Victoria were wasted for lack of man-power to harvest them. There was no escape from that. Men had to be found, and the potatoes had to remain in the ground. To say that the Government has bungled manpower is a political misstatement which should not have been made.
– The Government exempted trade union secretaries and called up dairy-farmers.
– For the very obvious reason that we want the machinery of industry to run smoothly. It is necessary to have men who can handle the workers properly. The great majority are men who do a very good job, and it was wise to protect them. Senator Wilson also says that the Government has muddled commerce and industry. He should know that in wartime commerce has to be controlled, and that any Government, whether from his side or this side, must undertake the task. He knows that we had to ban exports, that we must tell the people that they cannot have what they had in peace-time, and that we had to ration certain goods. We limited the manufacture and sale of beer and tobacco and rationed tea, sugar and clothing because they were all in short supply. Butter now has had to be included. If he thinks that he is not getting enough butter, I think he is. He is getting more than I would let him have if I were the determining authority. He cannot say that half a pound a head is too little. The only complaints I have received are from men in engine crews on long runs who are away from home for a week and from the men in bush sawmills. Their cases will probably have to be looked into, but outside of them no relief will be given in that matter at all. I remind Senators Spicer and Foll that the Labour party has as much appreciation of its obligations to Great Britain as has any other party in this Parliament. That is why the Government is going on, whether the electors like it or not, with the commitment entered into by the last Government and by this Government to send to the Old Country as much meat, butter and cheese as we can. In order to provide that supply for Great Britain, the people cannot have as much as formerly. Obviously, therefore, we did not muddle that matter.
Senator Wilson said that we deprived the people of homes. Imagine a man of his capacity saying in the National Parliament that this Government deprived the people of homes, when he belongs to a party which in 1928 put through a Commonwealth Housing Bill appropriating £20,000,000 for homes and then shamelessly used it as a bait during three elections, but never built one home. He cannot expect this Government, in the middle of a war, to build homes when he knows that we have no man-power and no materials. If we had had them this Government would have built them, knowing as we all do that one of the most dreadful things in this country is the lack of housing and the shameless exploitation of the people by means of high rents for houses, rooms and flats. I am amazed at some of the statements that have been made.
Comments have been made regarding the visit of the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) to the United States of America, but I consider that he has done an excellent job. His appeal to America does not imply disparagement of the war efforts of Great Britain. The Government and its followers fully realize that Britain, which has been suffering the blitz of hell for years, could not be expected to give to Australia all the help that it needs at this period of the war. We know that Britain had a tremendous aggregation of troops, aeroplanes and guns for the inevitable day when a second front had to he opened in Europe. The Labour Government did not ask for the aid of the United States of America until the position of Australia became desperate. The Minister reached a good understanding with the United States of America and secured improvements to the lend-lease arrangements. He has done remarkably well and the large number of American troops now in this theatre of war has been a big factor in turning the tide in our favour in ‘ the South- West Pacific Area. To-day’s issue of the Melbourne Sun Pictorial contains an interesting article from London, entitled “ Evatt’s speech hailed as voice of Empire “. It states -
LONDON, Monday, AAP. - “ There is the strength and vigour of Young Empire in the voice of Dr. Evatt “, says the Daily Express, commenting on the Australian Minister’s broadcast address last night. “ Australians themselves set the pattern for victory. In New Guinea, they won a campaign, which Dr. Evatt rightly calls one of the epics of the war. “ The Allies are lighting, two wars as one. Reverses inflicted on either Germans or Japanese have an instant bearing on the fortunes of the other.”
The Daily Herald, in a leading article, said that Dr. Evatt had a wonderful story to tell, and pointed out that even at the time of her direct danger Australia was contributing powerfully to the Allied war effort.
The Daily Sketch said : “ Accustomed for two wars to spring to the aid of the Motherland, Australia found herself calling for aid to the parent country. It was a reversal of fortune which shook the dominion, but never shook her faith in the Empire.” “No public man on the Australian side has done more to restore the old cordiality to Anglo-Australian relations than Dr. Evatt,” says theStar, in a leading article. “ His fine broadcast surely sets the seal on the task he began a year ago, when the Japanese peril had led to a situation jeopardizing Australia’s ties with the United Kingdom. Between them,Mr. Churchill and Dr. Evatt have removed a danger to Empire unity. “ Dr. Evatt also told a thrilling and moving talc of stemming the Japanese tide in the South-West Pacific. New Guinea will rank beside Gallipoli, Tobruk and El Alamein among Australia’s great battle honours. “ To-day we salute Australia. We realize that in halting the Far Eastern foe her comparatively tiny forces performed a feat of arms comparable with ours of 1940. In turn, each of us stood almost alone against a racing tide of barbarism, and won through against colossal odds.”
I have referred to that article in reply to the indiscreet remarks of Senator James McLachlan. The present Government has been in office for about a year and nine months. It came into power, not as the result of the last general elections, but because the Opposition failed to manage its own affairs. Its leader, the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies), has always had my respect. He is one of the biggest men that the Opposition has produced. He was doing a good job as Prime Minister, but the Opposition could not manage its own team, and the Labour party had to take over the control of the affairs of the nation. I have no comment to make regarding the internal strife of the parties forming the Opposition, but I am glad to be able to say that, despite the heavy responsibility which the nineteen Ministers in the Curtin Government have had to carry owing to the war, not one dispute has occurred among them throughout their period of office. The fact that the general elections are imminent will not induce me to enter into a bitter tirade of abuse of my political opponents. I am not particularly interested in “ the Brisbane line “. I am not stupid enough to imagine that the Menzies and the Fadden governments did not include some capable men. I say in all fairness to those governments that they had to put huge national works in hand and bring about tremendous changes in industry. That work was continued by the present Government, but the circumstances demanded an even greater effort by the present Government and greater sacrifices have had to be asked of the people. I believe that when the electors are consulted as to whether the Labour Government has acted in the best interests of the people, they will give a true verdict.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this measure is to secure the necessary appropriation of moneys to carry on the ordinary services of government for the first three months of the financial year 1943-44. The amount required is £43,889,000. The provision may be summarized under the following heads : -
The bill provides only for the amount which is estimated to be sufficient to carry on the essential services on the basis of the provision in the Appropriation Bill passed by Parliament for the current year 1942-43. Excluding Defence and War Services, and excepting a few cases where expenditure is heavier in the early months of the financial year, the items making up this total represent approximately one-fourth of the 1942-43 appropriations.
Excluding special appropriations it is estimated that, in the first three months of 1943-44, war expenditure will amount to £143,000,000. The sum of £30,000,000 provided for war services in this bill represents the estimated amount which will be available from revenue receipts for the first three months of the year after making due allowance for other obligations. The balance of war expenditure will be met from loan appropriations.
Provision has been made for assistance to the dairying industry of £2,150,000. This will cover arrears in respect of the additional provision from the 1st April, 1943. A sum of £2,000,000 has also been provided under the price stabilization scheme for subsidies on imports and miscellaneous subsidies to secondary industries.
As in previous years, provision is made in the bill for “Advance to the Treasurer “, the amount being £5,000,000. This amount is required mainly to carry on uncompleted civil works which will be in progress at the 30th June, and also to cover unforeseen and miscellaneous expenditure. No provision has been made for any new expenditure except in respect of defence and war services. There is no departure from existing policy.
– As the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) has said, the object of the measure is to provide for the appropriation of the funds required to carry on the ordinary services of government. The Opposition, therefore, does not propose to obstruct the passage of the bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives without amendment.
NEW BUSINESS AFTER 10.30 p.m.
Motion (by Senator Collings) proposed -
That Standing Order No.68 be suspended for the purpose of enabling new business to be commenced after 10.30 p.m. this day.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- There being an absolute majority of the whole number of senators present, and no dissentient voice, the question is resolved in the affirmative.
“THE BRISBANE LINE.”
Appointment of Royal Commission.
Senator COLLINGS (Queensland -
Minister for the Interior). - by leave - I desire to inform honorable senators that the Honorable Charles John Lowe, a justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria, has been appointed a royal commissioner to inquire into and report upon the following matters : -
The statement “I am most reliably informed that one important report is now missing from the official files “ made by the Minister of State for Labour and National Service in the House of Representatives on the 22nd June, 1943, in the course of the debate in that House concerning the matter known as “ The Brisbane Line “.
The question whether that Minister was informed in the terms or to the effect specified in the statement set out above.
If that Minister was so informed -
the particulars of the information given to that Minister and. referred to in the statement set out above: and
the questions as to the person by whom, the circumstances under which, and the reason why, that information was given to that Minister.
The question whether any document concerning the matter known as “ The Brisbane Line “ is missing from the official files specified in the statement set out above, and, if so, the particulars of the document.
– I ask leave to make a statement, with regard to the Tasmanian War Industries Committee.
– I object. The Opposition desires that the motion standing in the name of Senator Latham shall be dealt with to-night.
Leave not granted.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Keane) read a first time.
.- I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to give approval to a reciprocity agreement between the Commonwealth of Australia and the Dominion of New Zealand with regard to invalid and old-age pensions. This subject has been discussed by the Governments of both countries from time to time since 1913. In that year the respective Prime Ministers reached an agreement, as a result of which the Government of New Zealand enacted the Old-age Pensions Reciprocity Act of New Zealand, but the Commonwealth Government failed to proceed with the matter. The subject was again considered in 1938, but no finality was reached. The Government recently reviewed this matter at the request of the Prime Minister of New Zealand, and it was decided to introduce legislation simultaneously into the Parliaments of both countries to give effect to reciprocity.
The bill authorizes the execution of a reciprocity agreement, in the form contained in the schedule, between the Commonwealth in respect of its invalid and old-age pensions on the one hand and the Dominion of New Zealand in respect of its age and invalids’ benefit on the other hand. It provides that where a person resident in Australia applies for a Commonwealth invalid or old-age pension his residence in New Zealand will be regarded as residence in Australia. It also provides that a person resident in Australia who became permanently incapacitated for work or blind whilst residing in New Zealand, will be regarded, for the purposes of the Invalid and Oldage Pensions Act, as having become permanently incapacitated or blind in Australia. No person will be qualified to receive a pension under the bill unless that person is qualified therefor under the more restrictive conditions of the laws of either the Commonwealth of Australia or the Dominion of New Zealand, whether as to residence or otherwise. The rate of pension granted in any case shall not exceed the maximum rate of pension payable under the law of the country which provides the lower maximum rate. Provision is also made for the removal of the existing disqualification from pension benefits in Australia of aboriginal natives of New Zealand who are resident in Australia and are otherwise qualified to receive the pension. The agreement between the two countries may be terminated by the Government of either country upon six months’ notice being given. The Government of New Zealand has always been in favour of reciprocity, and for many years Australians resident in that Dominion have been given certain benefits which have been denied by the Commonwealth to New Zealanders living in Australia. With the closer ties between the two countries resulting from the present war and the exchange of official representatives, the Government believes that the time is opportune to take a practical step in ‘ establishing reciprocity in regard to pensions in the interest of persons otherwise eligible who change their place of residence. I am confident that the Government will have the support of all honorable senators in giving a speedy passage to this bill.
Motion (by Senator McLeay) put -
That the debate be now adjourned.
The Senate divided. (The Deputy President - Senator G. Brown.)
Majority . . . . 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from the 25th June (vide page 356), on motion by Senator Keane -
That the following paper be printed: - “Financial Statement, 24th June, 1943.”
Debate (on motion by Senator McLeay) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Collings) pro posed -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn to to-morrow, at 2 p.m.
– I ask the Senate to oppose the motion. The Opposition has endeavoured to meet the convenience of the Government, but it desires that the motion on the businesspaper in the name of Senator Latham under the heading “ General Business “ shall be dealt with to-night. Moreover, I understand that some urgent tariff bills will reach the Senate in about twenty minutes and that the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) wishes those measures to be passed to-night, as this is the last day of the financial year. As Leader of the Opposition, I have agreed to support the passages of those bills at this sitting. I suggest that the motion be withdrawn so that Senator Latham may proceed with the notice of motion standing in his name. Otherwise, the Opposition will be compelled to oppose it.
Question resolved in the negative.
.- I move-
That all papers purporting to instruct or advise the Commonwealth Public Service Board to differentiate in the payment of travelling allowances to Public Service officers, or all papers causing the Commonwealth Public Service Board to issue instructions providing for differentiation in payment of travelling allowances to such Public Service officers, be laid on the table of the Senate.
We have been informed through the press that differential treatment in respect of travelling allowance is meted out to officers of the Public Service who travel on official duty. If that be so, some instruction must have been issued to heads of the departments, because the payments are made on their authority. I understand that an officer who is a member of an approved organization receives £1 8s. a week travelling allowance in excess of the amount paid to officers who are not members of such an organization. I cannot understand how these differential payments can be calculated, because they are purely in respect of out-of-pocket expenses. It would appear that, whilst one officer may be paid £1 8s. a week too much, another officer may be paid £1 8s. a week too little. This payment is not a part of ordinary salary, but is made available to cover out-of-pocket expenses. An important principle is at stake in this matter, and the Senate has a perfect right to the information for which I ask. With the House of Representatives, this chamber, on behalf of the people, authorizes Government expenditure, and it is our prerogative to ascertain how that money is expended. I was rather surprised when the Minister treated my motion as being not formal.
– The honorable senator’s motion would have come before us in the ordinary way to-morrow night.
– But to-morrow night will perhaps be too late, because I understand that the Senate will finish its business some time to-morrow. Therefore I ask that these papers be laid onthe table. The Government has no right to say to an officer who is despatched on public business that he will be paid £1 8s. a week less than the expenditure he incurs in out-of-pocket expenses while he is engaged on that job. I am hopeful of getting support from honorable senators opposite on this matter, because it is not a party political matter so far as I am concerned. I want to know under whose authority this provision is being implemented. Surely, the departmental heads have not held a meeting and decided upon this discrimination in the payment of outofpocket expenses to public servants. The Government has a moral obligation to the Senate to explain the reason for the provision, and to indicate under whose instructions it was issued. I hope that the Leader of the Senate has come prepared to deal with my motion, and will lay the papers upon the table to-night.
– I second the motion.
– Senator Latham has said that he hopes that I have come prepared to lay these papers on the table of the Senate to-night. I am not prepared to do that. I was anticipating that honorable senators would realize that an important measure like the Supply Bill should be passed before any other business was dealt with. In those circumstances I anticipated that Senator Latham’s motion would be considered tomorrow night after 8 o’clock in the usual way. The Senate has yet to deal with much business. I am not prepared to lay the papers on the table at this juncture, but I shall attend to the matter to-morrow.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Keane) read a first time.
.- I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The bill follows the usual practice of validating before the expiry, or dissolution, of Parliament the collection of duties of customs under outstanding customs proposals. The measure is necessary in order to ensure the continuance of collection of revenue. No absolute period of validation has been prescribed, because in view of the necessity to give precedence to matters vitally and directly affecting the prosecution of the war, it is uncertain when a tariff debate can be introduced.
– As this bill, and cognate measures to be introduced later, are purely formal I shall not delay their passage. The Opposition supports them.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Keane) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The bill is incidental to the Customs Tariff Validation Bill (No. 2) and ensures the continued operation of the exchange adjustment alterations made by the Customs Tariff (Exchange Adjustment) Proposals of the 5th March, 1942.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Keane) read a first time.
.- I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The bill will ensure the continued collection of revenue under the Customs Tariff (Special War Duty) Proposals of the 5th March, 1942.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Keane) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill will ensure the continued operation of the duties imposed by the Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Proposals of the 5 th March, 1942.
Question resolved ‘in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Keane) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill provides for the validation of the collection of duty imposed by the Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) Proposals of the 5th March, 1942.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Keane) read a first time.
.- I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The reasons for introducing this bill are the same as those for similar preceding bills. The excise duties are of great importance in maintaining revenue for the prosecution of the war, and the revenue would be seriously affected if the continued operation of the duties was not assured. The proposals which this bill seeks to validate are the Excise Tariff Proposals introduced into the House of Representatives on the 5 th and the 25th March, the 2nd September, 1942, and the 28th January, 1943.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Motion (by Senator Collings) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn to to-morrow, at 2.15 p.m.
Mk. A. W. Coles, M.P. : Fees ok Allowances - Shortage of Supplies in Queensland - Queensland Mail Contracts - Senator Wilson - Aluminium Industry - Tasmania : Report of War Industries Committee; Appointment of Industry Expansion Commission.
Motion (by Senator Collings) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
.- On the 29th June, the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) asked the following question,upon notice : -
What salary and/or allowances have been claimed and/or paid to the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Coles) up to the 31st May, 1943, for the performance of duties by that honorable member as Chairman of the Rationing Commission and Chairman of the War Damage Insurance Commission, or in any other capacity?
As promised, I have had inquiries made and I am now in a position to inform the honorable senator that the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Coles) has received no salary in his capacity as Chairman of the Rationing Commission or as Chairman of the War Damage Insurance Commission, but up to the 31st May, 1943, he received travelling allowances totalling £339 17s. 6d. It is known to me that the honorable member has repaid to the Department of the Treasury as a free gift to the Commonwealth Government from time to time, all amounts received by him as travelling expenses in connexion with his duties as Chairman of the Rationing Commission and Chairman of the War Damage Insurance Commission.
To-day Senator Brown asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
Yes. Repeated representations on the subject have been made to me and to other members of the Government by Queensland members of the Government party. 2, There is a shortage of supplies of textiles, clothing and other goods in Queensland due to a variety of reasons. 3 (a) (1) In respect of textiles and clothing the causes of such shortages are (a) the reduced volume of textile imports on account of restrictions imposed by the United Kingdom and India and on account of general shortage of available shipping: (6) lack of man-power available in the making-up sections of the textile and clothing industry; and (c) the large demand of the fighting services, which have priority for the supply of, and the making-up of, garments.
– To-day the Postmaster-General (Senator Ashley) made a statement in regard to mail contractors, some of whom it was alleged were charging exorbitant rates. That brings to notice the method that is employed to deliver mails to people in the outback areas of this country. For many years past, it has been the custom of the Postal Department to call for tenders for the carrying of mails. This is a matter that I have taken up with previous governments on several occasions. At present many contractors carrying on mail services are being paid a ridiculously low remuneration, which makes it impossible for them to meet the cost of even petrol and tyres. I know that it will be claimed that the contracts are competitive, and a*e let to the lowest tenderer ; but there is another side to the story, and that is the service that is given to outback settlers. I believe that in order to give an efficient mail service, the contractor should receive an adequate return. I know of one mail contractor who travels 500 miles a week, for an annual payment of £100 which has to cover the cost of running a 3-ton lorry. Prior to the present contractor undertaking the job, the contract had been let for as low as £50 a year or approximately id. a mile. Obviously it would be impossible for any one to make a reasonable profit out of such a contract. In 1922, 1923 and 1924, the same contract carried a remuneration of £1,500 a year, for the simple reason that the service was solely a mail service and the contractor was not dependent upon other sources of income. It may be that in some of the cases in which it is claimed exorbitant prices are being asked, the return represents only 6d. or 9d. a mile, which is not a payable proposition for a man with a 2 I or 3 ton lorry. The time has come when the Postal Department should review this method of delivering mails, and should pay to mail contractors a sum adequate to ensure to the contractor a reasonable living wage, after meeting the cost of running his lorry. If that were done, the country people would get a better and cheaper service, because a contractor who takes a mail contract at a ridiculously low figure must feel that he has to make up the difference between his contract price and a living price by mean3 of his charges on the goods that he delivers on his mail route. Under present conditions, instead of being a mail delivery, as it should be, leaving on time and running to time, and a credit to the department, the service simply becomes a goods service which is carrying mail matter. The department should take a broader view of the subject. When I have approached it previously I have been told that contracts are let to the lowest tenderer. I maintain that it is the duty of the department to pay a fair contract price, and also its duty to ensure that good equipment is provided by the contractor and that he carries mail matter and other small goods, but operates purely as a mail contractor and gets his remuneration from the department without having to depend upon the people in the district paying higher charges on the goods that he is delivering. I shall be glad if the PostmasterGeneral will give the matter his attention and see whether something cannot be done on the lines that I have suggested.
Senator AMOUR (New South Wales) [11.17 J. - Last night I referred to the war service of Senator Wilson. To-day the honorable senator said that my statement was incorrect. He admitted that he had been on the Head-quarters staff in the Middle East, and that he is now on the Head-quarters staff in Australia.
He said that he had not as president or member of a court-martial tried any members of the 9th Division.
– - That is not what I said to start with.
– Well, it was along those lines. I would be prepared to let this matter drop, had I not in mind what happened, what 1 know to be the truth, and had not the following statement appeared in yesterday’s Melbourne Age :-
Senator Wilson, who became a major during two years’ service abroad with the 9th Division, attacked the Government for its defence policy. He said that in the battle of El Alamein it was necessary to get sick men, B class men, and reclassify them, but they were willing. It was necessary to have men, and those men have gone up and fought side b)’ side because reinforcements were not sent. I went to the detention barracks and gave men there a chance to fight.
The honorable senator was with the 9th Division for two years. I pointed out that on the 18th December, 1941, he was at head-quarters of the 9th Division in the Middle East. That would be the Australian head-quarters. He was there until the division came back to Australia.
– When was the battle of El Alamein?
– On the 3rd November, 1942. A letter was sent to him on the 2nd January, 1942, stating that the Empire Parliamentary Delegation would not be making the trip to England. He did not go with the division into battle, but he went to the prisoners in the camp and asked them to go into action. He said that they got the sick men to go to El Alamein, but he did not go. Then he returned to Australia, and on the 3rd March, 1943, he informed the Prime Minister that he felt that it was his duty to refuse to leave Australia with the Empire Parliamentary Delegation, as he thought he ought to remain in Australia with his unit. That unit is now somewhere in North Australia and the major is at the Victoria Barracks. I say that he is a member of the court-martial panel.
– I rise to order. I ask that that statement be withdrawn. If is untrue.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.Order ! The honorable senator will have an opportunity of speaking later.
– If he is not associated with the court-martial panel he is associated with the body which arranges the panel.
– That is not true either.
– He does not leave the barracks, but remains in Melbourne, whilst his mates in the 9th Division are in North Australia undergoing trials and conditions with fewer amenities in many ways than the major himself enjoys. I remind him that it is not in the best interests of the Army for him to attack the Government and forget what he himself is doing. He has used hi3 political position for the purpose of rapid promotion in the Army. He has remained, at head-quarters and been promoted from lance-sergeant to major. He said that it was his duty to be with his unit in Australia, but he remained at the Victoria Barracks, Melbourne, whilst his unit went away to do its job. I should never have mentioned the matter had not the honorable senator in effect brought the boys of the gallant 9th Division into this Parliament, and dragged them and their blood through the mud of this chamber. It ill-becomes a man, because he is a senator and has to face the people, to disparage not only those who returned but also those who did not return from war service overseas. He says that this Government brought them back. I remind him that in to-day’s issue of the Melbourne Argus appears a leading article which concurs in what I say. It uses these words -
It is a matter of regret that Senator Wilson should have attempted when speaking in the Senate on Monday to make the withdrawal of the 9th Division from North Africa a question of party politics.
The honorable senator has a lot to learn. If he can only be elected by trying to make political capital out of the boys of the 9th Division who were fighting while he was at head-quarters, and out of their wives, mothers and sweethearts, it is a poor lookout. Those boys went into that terrific battle which we witnessed on the screen in a Canberra picture theatre today, and the honorable senator told us that this Government gave instructions for the division to return to Australia when they were on the point of going in for the kill and collecting the prisoners. He should be the last person in the world to utter such words to the discredit of any government. His remarks were an insult to the people of Australia. The honorable senator knows that the Government brought back the gallant boys of the 9th Division because their services were required in addition to the services of the American forces in order to defend Australia. The men were brought back on a’ military recommendation. These men did not travel in the deck cabins of a troopship, in comfort, as Senator Wilson did; they had to travel below decks. The honorable senator has said that he was not a member of a courtmartial. If he had a spark of decency in him, he would also say to the Melbourne press, “ What I said on Monday, is not what I said on Wednesday “. He should say clearly how long he was with his unit in the Middle East. He should also say that he was not at El Alamein during the time the troops there were proceeding to battle.
Senator Sampson has made some remarks about a statement I made some time ago that certain officers had been cashiered ; but he did not have the decency to remind the Senate that I amended my statement, after I had learned that no officers were cashiered in the 1914-18 war. I then said that they were asked to resign.
– The honorable senator is quibbling. Did he amend his statement about the court-martial?
– I did not say that they were court-martialled. I said that they were cashiered, and subsequently I amended my statement and said that they were asked to resign. I do not withdraw that statement because it was true. Many officers have been asked to resign during this war.
I wish to say, also, that I entirely disapprove of men who have been asked to resign from the forces “ swanking “ around this country in the uniforms of generals, colonels, majors, captains and lieutenants. I do not consider that men should “ swank “ about in uniforms which they have not earned the right to wear. It is nauseating to me, too, that some politicians are “ swanking “ around in this Parliament in the uniforms of generals, majors and captains, although they have done nothing, during this war, to justify the wearing of such uniforms. The time has come when the Parliament should take the requisite steps to ensure that men shall not wear military uniforms in this building for purely party political purposes. Some of the individuals I have in mind are receiving their parliamentary allowances and also military allowances. In my opinion, that is totally wrong.
For Senator Sampson’s benefit I say that I shall never withdraw true statements that I have made.
– The honorable senator would not withdraw an untruth.
– I shall always be concerned about my mates who served with me in the last war, and I think often of those who lost their lives through stupid actions that were ordered. Every time I pass the Cenotaph, in Sydney, and the Shrine of Remembrance, in Melbourne, I think of my mates and particularly of those who lost their lives. They were decent soldiers and they fought a good fight. I am sure that if those who lie on the fields of France and Flanders were still alive, they would not be “ swanking “ about this country wearing uniforms and displaying badges. I am sad that Senator Wilson should have referred as he has done to our boys who have returned from the battlefields, to say nothing of those who will never return. The honorable senator had no right to accuse the Government of having brought back the gallant boys pf the 9th Division for purely political purposes.
.- The remarks that Senator Amour has made are too disgusting, too degrading and too despicable to warrant a reply from me. Having told a lie, and having been found in it, the honorable senator has proceeded to tell two more lies. I have nothing further to say about the criticism by a person who has not been on active service in this war, of another person who has been on such service. The people of South Australia will decide whether they are satisfied or dissatisfied with my services.
– Senator Cooper has made some remarks concerning payments to Queensland mail contractors. I agree with some of the sentiments he expressed. He has suggested that a course different from that adopted by the Government should be followed, though he has not suggested what should be done. Surely, the Senate will agree that the competitive method is the only proper one on which to base contracts. Tenders are invited and contracts are let after consideration of the tenders received. The honorable senator has suggested that the PostmasterGeneral’s Department should operate a special mail service on routes followed by existing carrying services. . Surely, this is not the time to duplicate services in that way. I stand by the statement that I made in the Senate last week: that certain mail contracts which have been let on new tenders are now costing the department 100 per cent, more than they cost formerly. I remind Senator Cooper, also, that in consequence of increases of the cost of living and of operating expenses generally, particularly in relation to petrol and tyres, adjustments have been made in the rates applicable to current contracts. The department has treated the mail contractors fairly, and adjustments have been made from time to time, in cases where it has been shown that owing to increased costs the contracts are not payable. I am prepared to reconsider the matter, but in a Parliament about to be dissolved it would not be right for me to review the conditions of mail contracts. Much investigation would be needed before a change could be made.
– in reply - This morning Senator Darcey asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
The Prime Minister has now supplied the following answers -
I also have a statement to make to the Senate regarding the report of Tasmanian War Industries Committee. Honorable senators will be aware that shortly after this Government assumed office approval was given to a request of the Premier of Tasmania that an investigation should be made into the economic position of Tasmania as affected by conditions arising from the war. A committee consisting of Professor E. R. Walker, the Honorable Sir George Bell, M.P., and Mr. H. C. Barnard, M.P., was accordingly appointed to make a survey of the economic position of Tasmania as affected by, and in relation to, Australia’s war problems and war effort, and the report of this committee has been under consideration of the Government for some time. It had been intended to table this document, but for security reasons it has not been possible up to the present to make public the whole of the committee’s report. The report of the committee wa9 completed in May, 1942, and action was immediately taken by the departments concerned to consider the various recommendations contained therein. Briefly, the measures that have already been adopted by the Government are as follows -
The responsible departments are proceeding with plans to give effect to the recommendations of the committee regarding the production and processing of vegetables.
The Vegetable Seeds Committee has given Tasmania every consideration in preparing its seed programme.
The Director-General of Man Power has been requested to give particular attention to the specific recommendations of the committee relating to the man-power.
Action has been taken to encourage tin-mining in Tasmania.
Avariety of measures have been adopted which meet all the recommendations of the committee regarding shipping.
A programme for the construction of wooden ships in Tasmania has been approved.
Negotiations are proceeding for greater quantities of pyritic concentrates to be produced in Tasmania.
The production of ammunition boxes has been undertaken.
Responsible officers of Commonwealth departments have been appointed in the State to deal with local matters and collaborate with the State authorities.
During the last twelve months there has been a significant change in Tasmania’s position, in relation to Australia’s war-time industrial effort, and the State is now moving to a stage where all its economic resources will be fully directed to maximum war production. However, some of the recommendations of the committee still require further action. The respective departments have been advised of the Government’s decisions on these matters and arrangements have been made to ensure that they will be implemented without delay. These matters include -
The appointment of a full-time officer to the Tasmanian Board of Area Management to act as liaison officer with the Victorian Board of Area Management.
The issue of a general departmental direction that, where war work can be done as efficiently in Tasmania as on the mainland, Tasmania should be given special opportunities to do the work so that her labour supplies can be fully employed within the State.
Consideration of the potential importance of the fishing industry in the post-war period.
The matter of the establishment of the aluminium ingot industry in Australia has received the attention of the Government in an active manner. A survey of the Australian resources of bauxite has been completed, supplies sufficient in quantity and suitable in quality are available, and inquiries have been made overseas regarding plant and equipment necessary for the establishment of the industry. The power position has also been investigated, and plans had been prepared for the establishment of this industry on a worthwhile scale in Tasmania. The matter had reached the state of final consideration by the Government, but in view of the present political situation it has not been possible to reach a decision nor to proceed with the presentation of a bill to Parliament. In outlining for the information of honorable senators the position in relation to many matters raised by the Tasmanian War Industries Committee, I have not been able to set out all the action taken by, or under consideration of, the Government to meet the committee’s recommendations. I think that it will be agreed, however, that the committee’s investigations have been of singular value both to Tasmania and to the Commonwealth in furthering the economic war effort of that State.
I should like also to inform honorable senators that the Government has approved the setting up of a Tasmanian Industry Expansion Commission on similar lines to the Western Australian Industry Expansion Commission. The terms of reference of the commission will be -
Although, as will be seen from the terms of reference, the commission will be primarily an advisory body, it will, in practice, take an active part in promoting the maximumuse of the capacity of Tasmania in meeting war requirements. It will pursue investigations, offer advice, and make recommendations independently of normal departmental procedure, on specific matters relating to the war effort where Commonwealth action is called for, and, in its examination of such measures, the commission will take into consideration the ultimate effect of such action upon the Tasmanian economy as a whole. The personnel of the commission will be: Mr. C. H. Ferguson, chartered accountant, Hobart, chairman, with Mr. D. Meredith, Mr. John Reynolds and Mr. K. J. Binns as members. A further member is still to be appointed. Mr. Meredith is ex-general manager of the Electrolytic Zinc Company and is now acting as business administrator in the Ministry of Munitions, Tasmania. Mr. Reynolds is the chief commerce officer of the Department of Agriculture, Hobart, and Mr. Binns is the investigation and statistical officer of the State Treasury. Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Binns are the nominees of the State Government.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
National Security Act -
National Security (Agricultural Machinery) Regulations - Orders - Agricultural Machinery (2).
National Security (Land Transport) Regulations- Order - Western Australia No. 5.
National Security (Man Power) Regulations - Order - Regulation of engagement of employees - Exemptions.
National Security (Vegetable Seeds) Regulations -
Notice - Returns of vegetable seeds. Order - Fixing date of regulations of sale of seeds.
Senate adjourned at 11.47 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 30 June 1943, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1943/19430630_senate_16_175/>.