17th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– I have received from Mrs. A.W. Robinson a letter of thanks for the resolution of sympathy and condolence passed by the Senate on the occasion of the death of her husband, ex-Senator Albert William Robinson.
Assent to the following bills reported : -
Commonwealth Electoral . (War Service) Bill 1943.
Customs Tariff Validation Bill (No. 2) 1943.
Customs Tariff (Exchange Adjustment) Validation Bill (No. 2) 1943.
Customs Tariff (Special War Duty) Validation Bill (No. 2) 1943.
Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Validation Bill (No. 2)1943.
Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) Validation Bill (No. 2) 1943.
Excise Tariff Validation Bill (No. 2) 1943.
Income Tax (War-time Arrangements) Bill 1943.
Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications)
Invalid and Old-age Pensions (Reciprocity with New Zealand) Bill 1943.
Dairying Industry Assistance Bill 1943.
National Security Bill 1943.
War Service Estates Bill 1943.
Supplementary Appropriation Bill 1941-42.
Supplementary Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill 1941-42.
SenatorKEANE (Victoria - Minister for Trade and Customs). - It is with regret that I inform honorable senators of the death on the 20th August last of the Honorable Sir William Hill Irvine, formerly Lieutenant-Governor and Chief Justice of Victoria, a former Minister of the Crown and member of the House of Representatives and of the Legislative Assembly of Victoria. The late Sir William Irvine had adistinguished career, both in law and in politics. Learned, and gifted with great mental capacity, he utilized his talents for the benefit of Australia and, more particularly, for the State of Victoria, where he was elected to the Legislative Assembly in 189-1 as member for Lowan, a seat he hold until his resignation in 1906, when he entered the Commonwealth sphere. During that period . he held several ministerial offices, being successively Attorney-General, Premier and Attorney-General, and Premier and Treasurer. He was elected to the House of Representatives as the member for Flinders at the general elections in 1906 and retained the seat until his appointment as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria in April, 1918. During his term as the member for Flinders he held office as Attorney-General from
June, 1913, toSeptember, 1914. As a tributeto the memory of a great Australian I move -
That the Senate expresses its sincere regret at the death of the Honorable Sir William Hill Irvine, a former member of the House of Representatives for the Division of Flinders and of the Legislative Assembly for Lowan, Victoria, and a Minister of the Crown, also a former Lieutenant-Governor and Chief Justice of the State of Victoria, places on record its appreciation of his meritorious public service, and tenders its deep sympathy to his widow and family in their bereavement.
– I second the motion, and join with the Leader of the Senate (Senator Keane) in expressing the deepest sympathy of
members of the Opposition with the relatives of the late
– I desire toassociate the members of the Australian Country party in the Senate
with the motion before the chamber. The late
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their places.
– I have also to inform the Senate of the death on the 21st July last of the Honorable David John O’Keefe, who was a member of the first Commonwealth Parliament, having been elected a senator for Tasmania in 1901. Although defeated in 1906, he successfully contested the general elections of 1910 and 1914, wasChairman of Committees from 1910 to 1914 and a member of the Commonwealth Parliamentary RecruitingCommittee from 1917 to 1918. Having been again defeated in the general elections in 1919, he stood for Denison, Tasmania, at the 1922 elections, and secured the seat which he lost in the succeeding elections in. 1925. After suffering a further defeat in 1931 as a Senate candidate, he won the State seat of Wilmot in 1934, Subsequently he was appointed Speaker of the House of Assembly in Tasmania and retained that high office until 1941. In that year he was awarded the distinction! of Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George. With his death passes yet another of the pioneers of the Labour party. His long years of public service and elevation to high office bear witness to the worth and to the esteemin which he was held by his fellow men. In recognition of his services to the Commonwealth and to the State of Tasmania the late Mr. O’Keefe was accorded a State funeral. I move -
That the Senate expresses its sincere regret at the death of the Honorable David John O’Keefe,a former senator for the State of Tasmania, and a member of the House of Representatives for the Division of Denison, and a Speaker of the House of Assembly, Tasmania, places on record its appreciation of his meritorious public service, and tenders its heartfelt sympathy to his widow and family in their bereavement.
– I second the motion, and endorse the remarks of the Leader of the Senate (Senator Keane) expressing appreciation of the meritorious public service rendered by the late former senator. The Opposition extends to the relatives of the deceased gentleman its deepest sympathy in their bereavement.
– I wish to associate myself with this motion. I had known the late Honorable David John O’Keefe all my life. I first remember him as editor of the Zeehan and Dundas Herald, when he adopted as his slogan the following lines which appear on the leader page of the Canberra Times: -
For the cause that lacks assistance,
Gainst the wrongs that need resistance,
For the future in the distance,
And’ the good that we can do.
The late Mr. O’Keefe faithfully observed the spirit of that slogan in its entirety. I knew him as a member of this Senate, as the member for Denison in the House of Representatives and as the representative of Wilmot in the Parliament of Tasmania. During the last State elections I was his campaign secretary, and he conducted himself during that campaign as one of nature’s gentlemen. On the Monday morning after his re-election he called at my house with his. chequebook and desired to settle all of his accounts. I have never known a more noble or humane man than our late esteemed comrade. He died a poor man, which shows that he was not in Parliament to gain financial benefits, but to serve the interests of the community in general. While I was in hospital recently he visited me and told me that he desired to see his son in Victoria. He added, “ I shall be back wi thin a month in order to conduct your campaign, the same as you have conducted mine”. The deceased had all the attributes of a perfect gentleman. I extend my heartfelt sympathy to his widow and family.
Senator COOPER (Queensland).Members of the Australian Country party in the Senate desire to associate themselves with this motion. We express our appreciation of the valuable service rendered by the deceased, and offer our deepest sympathy to his widow and family.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their places.
– I have to announce the death of another former member of the House ofRepresentatives, Mr. EdwardRiley, who died on the 21st July last. He represented the electorate of South Sydney from 1919 to 1931. He was chairman of the Public Works Committee from 1914 to 1917. In 1923 he was a member of the select committee on the effect of the operations of the Navigation. Act on trade, and in 1926 and 1927 he was a member of the select committee which inquired into Commonwealth Electoral Law and Procedure. He is another of the pioneers of the Labour movement who strove hard for better conditions and regulated wages for the workers, and deserves the affectionate remembrance of his fellow men. I move -
That the Senate expresses its sincere regret at the death of Mr. Edward Riley, a former member of the House of Representatives for the Division of South Sydney, places on record its appreciation of his meritorious public service, and tenders its deep sympathy to his relatives in their bereavement.
– I second the motion, and on behalf of the Opposition pay tribute to the work of the late Mr. Riley. It is fitting ‘that we should place on record our appreciation of his work, and extend to his family our deep sympathy in their bereavement.
– The members of the Australian Country party in the Senate desire to associate themselves with the motion, and to say how greatly they appreciate the work which Mr. Riley performed. He. was probably the only person who could say that he sat in this Parliament at the same time as his son and his son-in-law. -The late Mr. Riley gave the whole of hi3 time to the betterment of the people whom he represented, and members of the Country party extend to his family their sincere and deep sympathy.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their places.
– I regret to announce to honorable senators the death, on the 14th September, of Mr. Joshua Thomas Hoskins Whitsitt, a former member for Darwin in the House of Representatives, and of the Tasmanian House of Assembly. The deceased gentleman held his seat uninterruptedly in the Tasmanian Parliament from the time of his election in 1909 until his defeat in 1922. Later in 1922, he successfully contested the Darwin seat in the House of Representatives, and retired on the expiration of the Ninth Parliament in 1925. I move -
That the Senate expresses its sincere regret at the death of Mr. Joshua Thomas Hoskins Whitsitt, a former member of the House of
Representatives for the Division of Darwin and of the House of Assembly, Tasmania, places on record its appreciation of his meritorious public service and tenders its deep sympathy to his widow and family in their bereavement.
– On behalf of the Opposition, I second the motion, and join with the Leader of
the Senate (Senator Keane) in expressing
appreciation of the services rendered by the late
– I desire to be associated with the motion. The late
– I, too, should like to pay a tribute to the memory of the late Mr. Whitsitt. It was my privilege to know him for many years both as a member of the House of Representatives and as a member of the Parliament of Tasmania. There was neve]1 a more earnest man, or one more determined to uphold the Commonwealth Constitution. Only a few weeks aso I visited him at his home, and although a very sick man, he spoke cheerfully and kindly of his associations with men in public life. He was a great advocate of the claims of the primary producers, and he spoke forcefully on their behalf. He was a charming companion, and he possessed all those qualities which make a good Australian. I regret his passing, and support the motion that the sympathy of the Senate be extended to his widow and family.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their places.
Allotment of Portfolios - War Cabinet - Representation of Ministers - Government Leadership in the Senate.
– by leave - I desire formally to announce to the Senate that on the 21st September, 1943, a new Ministry was formed, constituted as follows : -
Minister for the Army - The Honorable P. M. Forde, who willalso be Deputy Prime Minister.
Treasurer and Minister for Post-war Reconstruction - The Honorable J. B. Chifley.
Attorney-General and Minister for External Affairs - The Right Honorable H. V. Evatt, LL.D., KC.
Minister for the Navy and Minister for Munitions - The Honorable N. J.O. Ma kin.
Ministerfor Trade and Customs - Senator the Honorable R. V. Keane.
Postmaster-General and Vice-President of the Executive Council - Senator the Honorable W. P. Ashley.
Minister for War Organization of Industry and Minister in Charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research - The Honorable J. J. Dedman,
Minister for the Interior - Senator the Honorable J. S. Collings.
Minister for Health and Minister for Social Services - Senator the Honorable J. M. Fraser.
Minister for Repatriation and Minister in Charge of War Service Homes - The Honorable C. W. Frost.
Minister for Aircraft Production - Senator the Honorable D. Cameron.
The members of the War Cabinet are
Ministers in the House of Representatives will be represented in the Senate as follows : -
Senator the Honorable R. V. Keane will represent the Prime Minister and Minister for Defence and the Treasurer and Minister for Post-war Reconstruction ;
Senator the Honorable W. P. Ashley will represent the Attorney-General and Minister for External Affairs, the Minister for the Navy and Minister for Munitions, the Minister for Labour and National Service, and the Minister for Information;
Senator the Honorable J. S. Collings will represent the Minister for Transport and Minister for External Territories, and the Minister for Home Security;
Senator the Honorable J. M. Fraser will represent the Minister for the Army, the Minister for Supply and Shipping, and the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture; and
Senator the’ Honorable D. Cameron will represent the Minister for Air and Minister for Civil Aviation, the Minister for War Organization of Industry and Minister in Charge of the Council forScientific and Industrial Research, and the Minister for Repatriation and Minister in Charge of War Service Homes.
I have to announce also that I have been appointed Leader of the Government in the Senate and that Senator Ashley has been appointed Deputy Leader.
– by leave - On behalf of the Opposition, I
congratulate the Minister for Trade and Customs
– by leave - I wish to report that . Senator McBride has tendered his resignation as Deputy
Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and that
Before the prorogation of tie last Parliament I placed on the notice-paper a question relating to the medical staff of the Repatriation Commission.. I have received an answer by letter, but as the question was an important one, I consider that the information contained in the answer should be made public. Perhaps the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation would be good enough to indicate whether he would like me to repeat the question, so that it and the answer may be incorporated in the records of the Senate.
I have no objection to the answer being made public, and will arrange for that to be done.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture say whether it is a fact that there are vast quantities of apples still available in Tasmania notwithstanding that, in other portions of the Commonwealth, consumers have to pay exorbitant prices for apples? If so, can he say whether Tasmanian apples can be made available at reasonable prices to the thousands of consumers on the mainland who desire to obtain this fruit?
Every endeavour has been made, both in Tasmania and Western Australia, to supply sufficient apples to markets in the eastern States, but, unfortunately, shipping difficulties have prevented that from being done. Commodities with a higher priority than apples have been given precedence in allotting the shipping space available.
I move -
That the following Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General’s Speech be agreed to:-
May it please Your Excellency:
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
I realize the great honour which has been done to me in affording me the opportunity to move this Address-in-Reply. I also realize my great honour in being the first woman to be elected to the Senate. But it is not as a woman that I have been elected to this chamber. It is as a citizen of the Commonwealth; and I take my place here with the full privileges and rights of all honorable senators, and, what is still more important, with the full responsibilities which such a high office entails. I trust that I shall carry out my duties in this chamber with every regard for the dignity and honour of the Senate, and also of the party to which I have the honour to belong.
Addressing myself specifically to the motion, I express my gratitude to those who have rendered our nation so secure as was indicated in the Speech delivered by His Excellency. I pay tribute, first, to the wonderful achievements of our men and women in the fighting forces who in every sphere of action have so gallantly upheld the prestige of Australia. I also pay tribute to the remarkable achievements of our Allies to the men and women of China who for so many years now have fought our common enemy, to the thousands of Americans who left their homes and came to our assistance in our most critical hour, when, for the first time in the 150 years of our existence as a free nation, we were threatened by a foreign enemy; to our gallant Dutch allies who from our Australian homeland are now doing their utmost to drive back the Japanese aggressor to the confines of his own territory; to our gallant kinsmen in New Zealand who, for a second time, have shown that the word Anzac has no hollow meaning but really symbolizes the kinship of blood which unites us and makes the peoples of the Commonwealth and of New Zealand the standard-bearers of freedom in this farflung outpost of the Empire. The work which has been done by our Allies and the men and women of our forces has been backed up no less by the vast army of industrial workers, both men and women, who, in the past four years, have worked night and day so loyally and well to turn out the sinews of war in order that the best human material we have available shall with the best possible equipment bring closer the day of victory.
Particularly, I pay tribute to the women in industry who, for the first time, have been called upon to take their places in fields hitherto the prerogatives of men, especially those engaged in the engineering industry who have turned night into day, and have pursued a way of life completely foreign to anything they had known before. I have seen them at work in munitions factories. I have seen them going on shifts at midnight with the same heroism as has marked the wonderful exploits of our men on the battlefields. I hope that when the day of peace comes what has been so willingly surrendered by our workers in industry will not be forgotten, and that the maximum of what they have voluntarily given up in the war effort will be the minimum upon which our new industrial standards will be based. I do not forget the men and women on the land who with very great inconvenience have toiled from daylight to dark in order that we and the members of our fighting forces shall be fed, and our food commitments to our Allies, particularly Great Britain, shall be met. They have done this work in spite of hardships due to unavoidable shortages of material and labour brought about by the war. The people of Australia owe to the people on the land a very great debt.
I pay tribute to the Curtin Government which was called to office at a time of crisis unprecedented in the history of the nation. Under conditions never before paralleled in this country, and with a minority in both Houses, it was still able to call the nation to a total war effort and to co-ordinate the various forces necessary for the success of that effort. We know of the policy of regimentation imposed on the Australian people. Such a policy is absolutely foreign to our normal way of life; the imposing of it upon us must have been most distasteful to any government, and particularly to a Labour Government. However, it was necessary because the times were such as we had never before experienced; and all our man-power and natural resources had to be fully exploited if we were to survive as a free nation. Because of the measures that were taken we are now, as His Excellency remarked, free from danger of foreign aggression; but we are not free from the responsibilities which lie upon all of us to bring to the oppressed peoples of the world the same measure of freedom and democracy as we enjoy, and we must not rest from our labours until that happy state of affairs is instituted. That is why we have a foreshadowing of very heavy taxation because by that way of sacrifice victory will be achieved. Should we feel no greater impact of war than increased taxes, or the rationing of certain goods which we have come to regard as necessaries, but which, after all, are luxuries, we should indeed be thankful, because all of us know of the conditions of the peoples in those countries which have been overrun by the enemy. None of us likes to pay taxes but we must realize that the contributions required of us bring nearer the day of victory. We must also remember that the Government which was recently elected by the people of Australia has a twofold duty to perform. First and foremost is the winning of the war, the giving of the maximum possible assistance to our Allies so that peace may be won. But there is also a very heavy responsibility upon the Government to see that the peace shall not be lost. All of us know what happened after the last war; that it was a war to end wars, and would make this country fit for heroes to live in, but instead of Australia being made fit for heroes to live in it became a land for paupers to die in. We must be certain that a similar state of affairs shall not follow in the wake of this war. Therefore, I put it to the Senate that one of the chief functions of the Government is to work towards a policy to ensure that, once our national safety is assured, the fate of those on the home front will be safeguarded, and we shall build up a democracy on the very best basis that Australia can provide. The last Parliament laid down the foundation of a plan of social services. Social security is the right of every Australian; and I trust that on the foundation already laid we shall be able to build a much stronger edifice which, no matter how fierce the winds of reaction may blow against it, will be able to endure. Thus we shall make this country what it should be, a model for all other democracies to follow. In order to do this we must observe fully the Atlantic Charter. Every citizen has at least two rights - freedom from fear and freedom from want. In order to safeguard those rights the Commonwealth Parliament will need to take over a great deal of work that has hitherto been regarded as the prerogative or duty of the States. If this war has done nothing else it has at least made our people Australia-minded. We are no longer Western Australians, or Victorians, or New South Welshmen. We all are Australians, and we come here with a common duty to perform, not in the interests of any special section of the community, but in the interests of Australia as a whole. We say that Australia is a democracy. I hope that that is true. I believe that if any democracy is to succeed it must be an educated democracy, and its leaders must come from the people themselves. That has been proved over and over again. Therefore, in any scheme of reconstruction, in the new order - about which there is so much glib talk but apparently little knowledge - we must be certain to put first things first. In this policy of reconstruction we must give, first, social security to all. I understand that a portion of the Government’s revenue from income tax has already been earmarked for that purpose. We shall be too late if we wait until the last gun is fired or the last shell has burst before we enter upon this era of reconstruction. We must begin now, and I am pleased to know that provision has already been made by the Government to this end. His Excellency’s Speech also gives an indication of further provision to be made for that purpose by this Parliament.
We must have federal control of education, and see that the various State education departments are freed from their present financial worries and enabled to carry out a policy which will give to every Australian citizen the benefits which only education can confer. Help has already been provided by the Commonwealth Government for university students, but the problem of education goes much deeper. The previous Government has done something for kindergartens at the one end of the scale and university students at the other, but the vast mass of our children in between has been left untouched. If we are to achieve anything as a nation, we must tackle education over its whole range, taking care at the same time not to make the system stereotyped. Education is just as vital a part of our defence system as is any portion of the armed services, and in that light it must be considered by this Parliament.
That applies also to our other social services. We have at present a system of pensions which, to my mind, are very inadequate. I do not know how I or any other honorable senator on either side of the chamber could exist on £1 6s. a week, with an odd 6d. thrown in now and again. It is time that pensions were abolished, because we are all shareholders in this vast Commonwealth; there are 7,000,000 of us, and it is the duty of this Parliament to provide that men or women who have given a lifetime of service to the nation shall be given, when they reach pensionable age, not £1 6s. a week as a dole, but their share of the national dividend which they have helped by their labour to create over the years. I hope, therefore, that in this new scheme of social security, adequate provision will be made for those who have reached the eventide of life so that they may enjoy in peace and security those benefits which they themselves have helped to create.
The medical schemes listed under the social service proposals should also be put into operation, because at present only the two extremes of our people are receiving the very best that medical science can give. The very poor receive it as a charity or dole, and at the other end of the social ladder we have those who can afford to pay for it, but the people in between, the vast middle class, have to spend the rest of their lives paying for one severe illness. I do not think that the introduction of a system that would assure the best medical attention to all would destroy initiative, or discourage anything that the doctors at present do or could do. We must have a healthy community, and prevention is better than cure. Under present conditions many people delay going to the doctor until it is far too late, because they are afraid of the expense involved. I feel sure that if we had a national system of health this could be obviated. Quite recently I visited a sanatorium for tubercular patients, and was very perturbed and saddened by what I saw there. Many of the patients were young men and women of from 20 to 25 years of age. If we cast our minds back, we will find that they were some of the children who were growing up during the depression years, and in nine cases out of ten their present illnesses must be due to the circumstances which existed at that period, including malnutrition which was a consequence of the miserable dole upon which their parents had to exist, and unhygienic housing, often consisting of only shanties or huts on a river bank, that were unfit to be the habitations of the growing sons and daughters of Australia. That is why so many young people at the present moment are suffering in our sanatoriums. Had they received medical attention earlier, and enjoyed a proper standard of living during their growing years, they would be healthy citizens to-day instead of waiting for the end in institutions.
I therefore hope to see during the life of this Parliament legislation enacted which will remove from all the fear which comes from long protracted illness, and ensure a decent standard of health in our community. We talk a great deal of, and pride ourselves upon, the standard of living which we have reached in Australia, but while our standard of health is what it is, we have no just cause to take pride in our standard of living. I therefore trust that the health measures, foreshadowed in the Speech under the heading of social services to be given to the community during the lifetime of the Parliament will take precedence in the Government’s programme.
That brings me to the subject of housing. Our present housing conditions are causing a great deal not only of discomfort but even of hardship to many members of the community. The Commonwealth Bank has now sufficient powers to enable it to help the workers to secure their own homes. By homes I do not mean flats or one-room tenements. I am thinking of homes with gardens to enable families to live in decency, instead of being brought up like rabbits. In any scheme of social service we must be certain that these reforms are introduced, and that our health and education systems and our housing facilities give to the worker, and indeed to every other member of the community, what he has a right to expect. I use the word “ worker “ in the broad sense. In Australia, after all, we are all workers. If we are not, we are drones and therefore not wanted. I speak for the vast majority of the people - 97 per cent of them at least - who are doing their utmost to build up this nation to what it should be.
The rehabilitation of the men and women of the forces will be perhaps the most important problem which will face this Government, because if those who have offered their lives so valiantly do not return to an Australia which is better than the one they left, their sacrifice will have been in vain. I hope that in this policy of reconstruction we shall build on the very best of what is in the old system, and discard the rest. We must build up so that both men and women who have given their services so loyally during the last four years of bloodshed and carnage may realize, on their return, that they have not been let down by those of us whose walks of life lie in much pleasanter places than those through which they themselves have passed.
I hope that, under the scheme which the Government has already enacted in the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act, facilities will be given to the men and women of the forces to take a full share in the improved life of the whole community which we must make sure will follow the end of the war. I do not speak of preference to them, because preference to any section of the community implies a return to the old order of things, in which there was not sufficient for everybody, and only some people were privileged to work. If those conditions are allowed to return, they will be a negation of what we are fighting for. Under this new order there must be justice for all and not preference for any one section.
The Speech does not in itself predict a very great deal for the future, nor does it make very rash and specious promises, because all of us realize that the great task which confronts this Parliament is the same task which confronts the people of Australia - that is, to bring this war to a just and honorable conclusion. To this task we must bend all our energies. The way will not be easy, because there is a great deal to be done before not only the Japanese, but also the Germans, are beaten back to the confines of their own lands. When this has been accomplished, we must proceed with the plans which have already been partly put into operation, so that we may give to every man, woman and child in this community the social security which is their birthright. We must also be very careful that those whom we select as the representatives of this nation at the peace conference shall be men and women of integrity - because I believe that women should play their part there - imbued not with a spirit of revenge but with a spirit of justice, resolved that we and other democracies shall receive evenhanded justice at the settlement.
In this respect I should like finally to remark upon the importance of Australia, first as a very vital unit in the British Commonwealth of Nations, and secondly as a vast Pacific power. After this war, things can never be the same as they were before. We are a Pacific nation, and the problems of the Pacific are a special charge upon us in common with the peoples of New Zealand, the United States of America, Canada, China and other Pacific countries. We must make certain that what was done so treacherously nearly two years ago shall never be allowed to recur. The Government’s policy in connexion with foreign affairs must take cognizance of the vital importance of Australia as a Pacific nation.
The financial burdens which the Government of Australia will call upon the people to bear in the next few months will be heavy, by comparison with peace-time requirements, but the times are very difficult and must be faced with courage. I am certain that even when peace comes the present heavy burden of taxation will not be relaxed until we reach that happy stage in which every man and woman who is employable is in productive employment. But it will be ridiculous if a country which can expend £1,500,000 a day for war cannot provide afterwards the money necessary to place its people on a decent economic footing for peace. I fear that for some time at least taxation will have to continue at a high level. The parrot-cry that money can no longer be found should not be raised, or, if it is, it will never again be heeded. When millions of pounds were needed to remove the burden of unemployment, and all its attendant evils, from the people of this community, the money could not be provided, yet it has now been raised for the purpose of defence. Its provision will be just as necessary for the defence of the rights of the people of this democracy when peace has been declared as it is during this time of war. I conclude by expressing the hope that the deliberations of this chamber during this session will be profitable to the Commonwealth of Australia, not only in its own right, but also as a unit of the British Empire.
– I second the motion so ably moved by
It. will be recalled that the first woman ever elected to an Australian Parliament was Mrs. Edith Cowan, who represented the electorate of West Perth in the Parliament of Western Australia. Subsequently Miss May Holman was elected to the Parliament of that State to represent the Forrest constituency. Unfortunately, Miss Holman was killed in a motor accident, but during her term of office in the Western Australian Parliament she did excellent work, always bearing in mind the particular problems of her sex. I am sure that, in addition to showing a keen interest in the welfare of women, Senator Tangney has the broadest possible outlook upon all matters affecting the people whom she has been sent here to represent. I endorse heartily all that she has said so ably in regard to the valiant service of the mcn and women of our fighting forces, and I join with the honorable senator also’ in paying tribute to the United Nations for the assistance which they have given to this country. I believe that had it not been for the prompt and generous help of the United States of America when Australia was in deadly peril of invasion, our position in this country to-day would not be nearly so favorable as that indicated by His Excellency in the Speech he delivered in opening this Parliament. It is pleasant, indeed, to note that despite the fact that only a short while ago this land was threatened with the greatest possible danger of invasion, the position in all theatres of war has improved vastly. That improvement reflects great credit upon the people of this country, and upon the Commonwealth Government which, in collaboration with the Governments of Great Britain, the United States of America, and other allied countries has done such good work that ultimate victory in this conflict is no longer in doubt. The knowledge that Australia is now free from the danger of invasion should be a great incentive to the people to give their fullest possible financial support to the Government despite the sacrifices that may be involved.
I am pleased to note that the Government intends to carry out a comprehensive review of Australia’s war effort with a view to rehabilitating certain classes’ of production which have been depressed unduly by the concentration upon war requirements. I trust that this review will mean that there will be an easing of wheat acreage restrictions and the limitations imposed upon the production of other staple commodities. The improved shipping position resulting from recent successes in the Mediterranean including the surrender of Italy should enable this country to adopt immediate measures to alleviate the food shortage in India, where we are told thousands of people are starving. In the light of such appalling conditions, Australia should produce the greatest quantity of wheat that is economically possible. I hope that the Government will give the fullest attention to the food front generally, and make available more rural labour so that this country may become one of the world’s greatest granaries. In view of food shortage in many countries, it is essential that Australia should do its utmost to produce as much grain as possible, and also strive to become a predominant producer of wool and meat. Particularly in Western Australia, complaints are being voiced about the shortage of apples and pears. I believe that the Apple and Pear Board is doing excellent work, particularly as at present we have no export trade in those commodities, but the fact remains that in the orchards of Western Australia apples and pears are rotting on the ground, whilst many thousands of people in that State, and I presume throughout the Commonwealth, are unable to purchase these fruits at anything like reasonable prices, if at all. The Government should endeavour to improve that position by eliminating waste.
I am pleased to note that the Government intends to proceed with plans for the rehabilitation of members of our fighting forces after the war, and also to safeguard the position of workers in war industries. ‘Concrete plans for this work must he laid now. The men and women of our fighting forces and on the industrial front should be the Government’s first consideration, in the post-war period. The greatest problem facing this Parliament will be post-war reconstruction, which cannot be handled merely by making speeches in this chamber. Clearly, unless adequate powers to control various aspects of post-war reconstruction are vested in the Commonwealth, the jurisdiction of this Parliament over many important activities will be limited seriously. Therefore, it is necessary for the people of the various States to reorientate their outlook in regard to granting additional powers to the Commonwealth Parliament, so that it may have all the authority necessary to handle post-war problems. Twelve months after the war terminates certain powers which at present are vested in the Commonwealth will cease to have legal effect, and in order to safeguard adequately the interests of members of our fighting forces, many of whom are being maimed or seriously wounded in the fight for democracy and for the safety of their country, steps must be taken at the earliest possible date to provide the Commonwealth Parliament with adequate authority.
The magnificent victory of the Labour party at the recent general elections was due mainly to the fact that the policy of the Curtin Government was one of deeds and not of words. The policy of that Administration was an all-in war effort. It is pleasing to note that the Government is planning now for the development of this country when peace is secured. The people of Australia have indicated in no uncertain way to this Parliament that not only do they wish victory in this war, but also that they wish victory in the subsequent peace.’ To win the war and then to lose the peace would be disastrous. As Senator Tangney has pointed out, it was said during the last war that after the cessation of hostilities Australia would be a land fit for heroes to live in, but we all know that such was not the case. We found instead the spectacle of unemployment, malnutrition and want.
It is remarkable - Senator Tangney referred to the fact - that money has always been found in unlimited amounts for war purposes. Therefore, no adequate excuse could be found by members of this Parliament or anybody else for failure to make available the finance required for post-war reconstruction. I remember the last depression period, and have no doubt that it has not been entirely forgotten by honorable senators generally. At that time 29 per cent, of the people of this country were unemployed. That depression was caused by the manipulation of finance by private interests, and a recurrence of such conditions after this war should not be tolerated. Unemployment and undernourishment would be a national disgrace, because those evils cause national stagnation and seriously affect the whole community. What is worse, Australia would have a C3 classification. Post-war problems, being national in character, must be dealt with on a national basis. That is why I refer to the necessity for increased Commonwealth powers in the post-war period. After the war private enterprise will not be able to absorb the whole of the unemployed. During the last depression it was proved conclusively that the governments of the States were unable to deal adequately with the problem with which they were then faced. To make palliatives available to people who are starving and to children who are undernourished would be of no use. Either the States must agree to become more generously disposed towards the granting of adequate powers to the Commonwealth Parliament, or the people must be asked to determine the matter as soon as possible.
Another important requirement for the post-war period is the right of the Commonwealth Bank to create national credit for national purposes. I hope that the Government will introduce legislation as soon as possible to restore to that bank its original charter. To the best of my knowledge the control of the bank has, as the result of political action, been placed in the hands of a board composed of private citizens. Instead of the bank being a people’s bank, as originally intended, it is now merely a bankers’ bank. It is, in effect, a central reserve bank for ensuring the stability of private financial institutions. The right to create credit should be vested only in a Commonwealth authority, and should not be the prerogative of private financial institutions. One of the anomalies with regard to finance which has greatly impressed me is the fact that, before the war, we were told that from the point of view of orthodox finance Germany and Japan were bankrupt countries. Yet each of those countries evolved an internal economy which produced a war machine that has taxed to the utmost capacity the ingenuity of the United Nations and has caused the loss of the lives of thousands of Australian citizens. If orthodox finance results in a continuance of unemployment and starvation among the people of this country, I shall have none of it. Australia has been called upon to make many sacrifices in the prosecution of the war, and the people generally, particularly the working classes, have responded very well indeed to their country’s call; but further sacrifices will be necessary on the part of every citizen. All will have to give the utmost possible financial assistance. I am afraid that the improved outlook which is indicated in the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General may be seized upon by certain sections of the community as an excuse for slackening their efforts in support of the prosecution of the war. Therefore, I hope that the next Liberty Loan, which will be placed on the market shortly, will be oversubscribed. In the interests of this country and of allied strategy the success of the loan is essential.
The recent general elections have exploded the necessity for what has been termed a national government. All that the people of Australia require is sound government, and I firmly believe that the Curtin Government will continue to make that kind of administration available in the interests of the country. Reference was made in the Speech of the GovernorGeneral to contemplated provision for certain social services. I regret that the
Speech was not more explicit in that regard. The Government is to be commended upon what it has already accomplished in that respect. I refer to the increase of the invalid and old-age pension, the increased consideration shown to blind pensioners, the more humane consideration of invalid pensioners, and more favorable maternity allowances, the recipients of which have been relieved of the means test. I hope that the Government will bring down legislation for unemployment benefits and for the nationalization of health and medical services.
I congratulate the Minister for Health and Social Services (Senator Fraser) upon his appointment to the office which he now holds. I have no doubt that he will give excellent service. He has proved his ability by the way in which he discharged his duties in connexion with his previous portfolio, and, knowing him as I do, and his long association with the working classes, I am sure that his ministerial service will be of real value to the people.
I believe that education should be considered from a national point of view. I also hold that ability to learn should be the governing factor in the granting of facilities for higher education. Many thousands of growing children are allowed the benefits of higher education because of the ability of their parents to meet the expense it involves. This brings about the cultivation of what has been called the “old school tie “ spirit, but, in the interests of the Commonwealth, higher education should be available to all.
I congratulate the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) upon his personal victory in the contest for representation of the Division of Fremantle in this Parliament. I hope that the result will have the effect of stopping at least one political adventurer who appeals to the people from selfish motives. The Prime Minister has proved himself to be one of the greatest leaders this country has ever had. It is strange that political opponents endeavoured during the recent election campaign to besmirch his good name. I saw a fairly large advertisement in the West Australian in which the Prime Minister was described as an opportunist. That such a man as the present Prime Minister of this country should be’ labelled an opportunist shows the lengths to which some political partisans will go in order to defeat an opponent. It is impossible for me to express my disgust at such tactics. Political propaganda of that kind is no credit to those responsible for it, and I suggest that the appropriate Minister should examine this matter with a view to preventing a repetition of such statements in the future. During the election campaign radio broadcasts, under the title, “ The Voice of Freedom “, disseminated statements which, although extremely clever propaganda, were in the main a distortion of facts. I suggest that the Broadcasting Committee should call for the script of those broadcasts, with a view to action being taken to prevent propaganda of that kind from being broadcast in connexion with future elections.
Until the present war began, Western Australia was, for the most part, a primary producing State, but as the war has proceeded numbers of secondary industries have been established there. Among them is the production of flax. As I believe that the flax industry has great possibilities in this country I suggest that proper safeguards be provided to ensure its continuance after the war. Another industry which has been established in Western Australia since the war began is that of ship-building. Whilst it is true that at present Western Australia is unable to construct certain classes of ships which are now being built in other Australian States, the artisans and workmen generally engaged in ship-building in the western State are equal to those elsewhere in Australia. Other previously unknown Western Australian industries are aircraft production and the canning and dehydration of fruit and vegetables. It would be desirable if those new industries also could be continued after the war.
Western Australia, in common with the other States, suffers from a great shortage of houses, “and I hope that, consistent with meeting military requirements, the Government will be able to release sufficient building materials, as well as operatives, to alleviate this pressing social and economic problem; it is a matter which requires immediate attention. Large numbers of young people are getting married, but homes are not available for them. The result is that there is danger of slum conditions, not only in the poorer residential districts but also in private houses and other places of accommodation in more favoured localities. The provision of homes for the people is a national responsibility. I suggest that homes should be made available on the basis of a weekly rental equal to one day’s pay. Western Australia is fortunate, in having already established its Workers Homes Board, and I suggest that in the provision of homes that body should work in cooperation with the appropriate Commonwealth authority. The Social Security Committee has done valuable work in this connexion, and I hope that at least some of its recommendations will be given effect by the Government. There is ground for the hope that, under the present Minister for Health and Social Services, legislation which will be of great benefit to the people generally will be introduced.
In carrying out their parliamentary duties, honorable senators and members of the House of Representatives representing Western Australia have to travel by the trans-Australian railway. On my way to Canberra for the parliamentary session I was struck by the type of residence provided for -railway workers along that line. These workers are in a somewhat different category from workers generally elsewhere in Australia in that they live in remote and lonely spots, in many instances in barren country where there is not a tree within many miles of their homes. None of the usual amenities exist, and the outlook is certainly uninviting. I suggest that the appropriate Minister should examine the accommodation provided- for these workers; to me the homes in which they have to live appeared to be hovels.
Reference has been made to the incidence of malaria among our troops, particularly in New Guinea. Some time ago an Australian political leader advocated that no Australian soldier who had had more than two attacks of malaria should be sent back to New Guinea. In my opinion, that was the wrong way to deal with this problem. The proper thing to do is to deal with the cause of malaria. I bring this matter forward to-day because I have reason to believe that army officers in charge of hygiene are unable to enforce proper preventive measures because their rank is not sufficiently high to guarantee that their views shall be given effect. I understand that the position is so serious that casualties among the troops due to malaria exceed those resulting from combat with the enemy. I conclude by expressing the hope that the war will soon be brought to a victorious conclusion.
Debate (on motion by Senator McLeay) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Keane) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn to Wednesday next, at 3 p.m.
Motion (by Senator Keane) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
.- On behalf of several property owners whose blocks of land in North Essendon, Victoria, are about to be acquired compulsorily by the Government, I draw attention to the unjust and ridiculously low prices offered. One owner paid £280 for two blocks twenty years ago, yet after paying rates and taxes since then he was offered only £61. Another who bought three blocks for £270 has been offered £75.Still another owner, after paying rates and taxes for 25 years on a block for which he paid £100 has been offered £15. In three other instances the owners are members of the Australian Imperial Force. They have not completed the purchase of their holdings, but the amount offered by the Government is not sufficient to cover the outstanding liability.
The Constitution provides, and the High Court has ruled, that just compensation should be paid for property so acquired. Are these prices just compensation? Certainly not. The Government should set an example of fair dealing in these transactions, more especially when the owners are serving overseas. One is a prisoner of war in Malaya. An offer which is less than fair compensation is pure confiscation. It is not as though the local valuation of these blocks were on the decline; rather is the reverse true. Situated in the vicinity of the Essendon aerodrome, the owners could expect a normal increase of the value of their properties afterthe war when civil aviation will undoubtedly be further developed. I ask the appropriate Minister to look into this matter and to see that justice is done to these owners, who are not wealthy citizens, but persons who have been thrifty on small earnings. They cannot afford the expense of taking their case to the High Court.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Air Force Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1943, No. 198.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. -
No. 18 of 1943 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia.
No. 19 of 1943 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia; Postal Telecommunication Technicians’ Association (Australia) ; and Federated Public Service Assistants’ Association of Australia.
No. 20 of 1943 - Commonwealth Telegraph Traffic and Supervisory Officers’ Association.
No. 21 of 1943 - Commonwealth Public Service Artisans’ Association.
No. 22 of 1943 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia.
No. 23 of 1943 - Commonwealth Telephone Officers’ Association.
No. 24 of 1943- Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association and others.
No. 25 of 1943 - Commonwealth Public Service Artisans’ Association.
No. 20 of 1943 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association and others.
No. 27 of 1943- Blacksmiths’ Society of Australasia; and Electrical Trades Union of Australia.
Beer Excise Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1943, No. 228.
Commonwealth Electoral (War-time) Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1943, No. 175.
Contract Immigrants Act - Return for 1942.
Control of Naval Waters Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1943, No. 216. Customs Act -Proclamations prohibiting the exportation (except under certain conditions) of -
Macaroni; Spaghetti; Vermicelli (dated 1st September, 1943).
Margarine; Neatsfoot oil (dated 27th July, 1943).
Quartz crystals (dated 29th June, 1943).
Ti-tree oil (dated 1st September, 1943).
Customs Act and Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1943, No. 192.
Dairying Industry Assistance Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1943, No. 171.
Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1943, Nos. 174, 199, 200, 218, 219, 227.
Defence Act and Naval Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1943, No. 217.
Immigration Act - Return for 1942.
Lands Acquisition Act -
Land acquired for Commonwealth purposes -
Alexandria, New South Wales.
Bullsbrook (Pearce), Western Australia.
Cootamundra, New South Wales.
Crystal Brook, South Australia.
Dubbo, New South Wales.
Eagle Farm, Queensland.
East Oakleigh, Victoria.
Forrest, Western Australia.
Gladstone, South Australia.
Goulburn, New South Wales.
Kilburn, South Australia.
Lake Boga, Victoria.
Largs, New South Wales.
Lidcombe, New South Wales.
Lithgow, New South Wales (2).
Mudgee, New South Wales.
Murray Bridge, South Australia.
Parafield, South Australia.
Portland, New South Wales.
Port Melbourne, Victoria.
Port Pirie, South Australia (2).
Putney, New South Wales.
Salisbury, South Australia (2).
Singleton, New South Wales.
Tamworth, New South Wales.
Violet Town, Victoria.
Motor Vehicle Engine Bounty Act - Return for year 1942-43.
National Debt Sinking Fund Act - National Debt Commission - Twentieth Annual Report, for year 1942-43.
National Security Act -
National Security (Agricultural Aids) Regulations - Order - Nicotine sulphate (Restriction of Sale).
National Security (Allied Forces) Regulations - Orders -
Allied Forces (Application of the Defence (Visiting Forces) Act 1939) (No. 5).
Allied Forces (Civilian Witnesses).
Allied Forces (Penal Arrangements) (No. 4).
Allied Forces (Relations with Civil Authorities) (No. 2).
National Security (Civil Defence Workers’ Compensation) Regulations - Order by State Premier, Victoria (dated 8th July, 1943).
National Security (Egg Industry) Regulations - Orders - Egg Industry (Nos. 5-7).
National Security (Food Control) Regulations - Order - Cream (Restriction of use).
National Security (General) Regulations -
Cocoa, chocolate and confectionery. Control of -
Automotive spare parts (No. 2).
Edible oils and edible oil constituents.
Electric dry battery manufacture (No. 2).
Essential materials (No. 4).
Grapefruit (Western Australia).
Knitted goods ( No. 2 ) .
Leather (No. 3).
Radio service (Nos. 1-2).
Trailer manufacture (No. 2).
Woven woollen materials (civil needs) (No. 2).
Beating and cooking appliances (control of manufacture).
Heating and cooking appliances (retail sales) (No. 2).
Ice industry (New South Wales).
Prohibited places (2).
Prohibiting work on land (2).
Prohibition of non-essential production (No. 13).
Returns relating to artificial silk yarn.
Taking possession of land, &c. (731).
Telephonic communications control. Use of land (51).
Vegetable seeds (No. 3).
Order by Chief Warden - Victoria (dated21st June, 1943).
Orders by State Premiers - Queensland (dated 30th June, 1943), Victoria (Nos. 48-50), Western Australia (2 - dated 5th July, 1943).
National Security (General) Regulations and National Security (Supplementary) Regulations - Order by State Premier - New South Wales (No. 39).’
National Security (Industrial Property) Regulations - Orders - Inventions and Designs (248).
National Security (Land Transport) Regulations - Order - South Australia (No. 11).
National Security (Man Power) Regulations - Orders -
Man Power (Local Appeal Boards).
Pharmaceutical Chemists ( Supplementary Information).
Protected undertakings (221)
Registration of -
Regulation of engagement of em ployees - Exemptions.
National Security (Maritime Industry) Regulations - Orders - Nos. 38-40.
National. Security (Meat Industry Control ) Regulations- Orders -
Meat- Nos.6, 8-14, 16-28.
Meat (Returns) Nos. 1-6.
Stock- Nos. 1-5, 7-10.
National Security (Munitions) Regula tions - Order - Agricultural machinery and plant for processing food products. National Security (Prices) Regulations - Declarations Nos. 117-125.
Orders- -Nos. 1054-1209.
National Security (Stevedoring Industry) Regulations - Orders - Nos. 15a, 20-25. National Security (Supplementary) Regulations -
Balance-sheets of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Commonwealth Savings Bank of Australia and Note Issue Department, as at 30th June, 1943, together with AuditorGeneral’s Reports thereon.
Statement of Australian Banking Statistics for the five quarters ended 30th June, 1943.
Orders by State Premiers - New South Wales Nos. 37-38, Queensland (2- dated 7th July, 1943, and 13th August, 1943), South Australia (No. 4 of 1943).
National Security (War Damage to Property ) Regulations - Orders - Public Authorities (3).
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1943, Nos. 165, 166, 107, 168, 169, 170, 172, 173, 177, 178, 179, 180, 181, 182, 183, 184, 185, 186, 187, 188, 189, 190, 193, 194, 195, 196, 197, 203, 204, 205, 206, 207, 208, 209, 210, 211, 212, 213, 214, 220, 221, 222, 223, 224, 225, 226, 229, 230, 231.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1943, Nos. 201, 202.
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Administration) Act - Regulations -
No. 2 of 1943- (Motor Vehicles Ordinance ) .
No. 3 of 1943 - (Marine Ordinance).
Northern Territory Representation Act and Commonwealth Electoral Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1943, No. 176.
Papua and New Guinea Bounties Act -
Return for year 1942-43.
Post and Telegraph . Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1943, No. 215.
Raw Cotton Bounty Act - Return for 1942.
Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1943, No. 191.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act -
Canberra University College Ordinance - Report of the Council of the Canberra University College for the year 1942.
Seat of Government (Administration) Act. - Statement of Receipts and Expenditure of the Australian Capital Territory for year 1942-43.
Ship Bounty Act- Return for year 1942-43.
Sulphur Bounty Acts - Return for year 1942-43.
Supply and Development Acts- Regulations -Statutory Rules 1943, No. 164.
Tractor Bounty Acts - Return for year 1942-43.
Wine Export Bounty Act - Return foryear 1942-43.
Wire Netting Bounty Act- Return for year 1942-43.
Senate adjourned at 12.45 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 24 September 1943, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1943/19430924_senate_17_176/>.