17th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown) took the chair at 10 a.m., and read prayers.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture inform the Senate what action the Government proposes to take with regard to Werribeebeef? When I moved for the disallowance of regulations promulgated with regard to the disposal of that beef, certain figures submitted by me were questioned. The Department of Commerce and Agriculture has now issued a statement by its own officers showing that, of. 335 carcasses inspected between the 18th and the 28th August, 203 were rejected because of beef measles ; of 183 examined between the 24th August and the 4th September, 109 were rejected; of 93 examined between the 5th and the 11th September, 65 were rejected; and of 100 examined between the 12th and the 18th September, 73 were rejected. Has the department refused to permit the export of Werribeebeef to our troops overseas, and has permission been granted for its sale on the local market for human consumption?
– Although the honorable senator informed me earlier that he intended to ask this question, I have been unable to obtain the information desired by him, but I hope to be able to get it during the day.
Dry Cleaning Requirements
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following answer : -
The difficulty in the dry cleaning industry in Queensland is due largely to the short supply of dry cleaning chemical solvents, without which it is not possible to meet normal demands for dry cleaning. I understand that the Department of War Organization of Industry is at present investigating means of increasing supplies of such solvents or of finding substitutes for them. The only war-time restriction relating to dry cleaning facilities are those imposed by the Department of War Organization of Industry, which I understand preclude dry cleaning establishments from accepting for cleaning such items as evening wear and other non-utility clothes. This restriction applies equally to all States.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
-The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has supplied the following answers: -
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 measure provides for the appropriation of revenue for the ordinary services of the various departments. The expenditure proposals of the Government have already been set out in the budget, and it is not proposed to deal now with the various items in detail. Any explanations that may be desired by honorable senators will be furnished at the committee stage. The bill provides for an appropriation of £110,807,000 for the services of the year 1943-44, to which should be added the amounts already granted under Supply Acts Nos. 26 and 42, of 1943, namely, £69,850,000, making the total amount £180,697,000, which is the estimated expenditure from annual appropriations for ordinary services for the year 1943-44, as set out in detail in the second schedule of the bill.
– I support the bill. The Opposition appreciates the attitude of the Leader of the Senate (Senator Keane) in allowing the Senate an opportunity to discuss the budget proposals on the motion for the printing of the budget papers. It is now only necessary to give formal approval of the second reading of the bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
First schedule agreed to.
Proposed votes - The Parliament, £172,500; Prime Minister’s Department, £970,600; Department of External Affairs, £173,200; Department of the Treasury, £1,938,900 ; AttorneyGeneral’s Department, £311,500; Department of the Interior, £559,100 - agreed to.
Defence and War (1939-43) SERVICES
Proposed vole, £139,646,000.
Senator COLLETT (Western Australia [10.17]. - I draw the attention of the Senate to the way in which claims for damage to private property by members of the fighting services are dealt with. I instance the case of Mr. B. J. Coath, of East Rockingham, a place south of Fremantle, situated on the coast of Western Australia. Some time . ago, Mr. Coath secured employment at ‘ the naval dockyard, and he and his wife left their home at East Rockingham and went to live elsewhere. He closed the house, leaving in it furniture, house linen, clothing, jewellery, a radio receiving set, and many personal effects. It is reported that large numbers of troops subsequently operated in that area, and that during the absence of Mr. Coath and his wife a military kitchen was installed in a shed adjacent to the house on Mr. Coath’s property. When Mr. Coath was informed of the intrusion he returned to his home, only to discover that various articles had been removed from the house, and damage done to the building, both internally and externally. His losses, which included the head of a windmill, represented a total value of £90. A witness has said -
I saw the troops using Mr. Coath’s shed as a cookhouse . . . one soldier had on some of Mrs. Coath’s clothes. When I asked him where he got them he pointed to the house and said, “ In there “.
Other witnesses saw trucks parked near to the house, and heard men shouting inside the house, which was lighted up. After making an inquiry, the civil police reported that for wanton damage and destruction it was the worst case that they had seen. Even parts of the family Bible were found in the tracks of a truck. If I had time to give details of the damage, honorable senators might think that 1 was describing damage done by German or Japanese invaders rather than by Australians in Australian territory. Mr. Coath is an Army veteran who has since retired from the dockyard police and is unfit for further service. He depends on his block of land for his future livelihood, but the removal of the head of the windmill makes its irrigation impossible. A claim, for compensation made on the Army authorities was rejected. Subsequently, the papers were sent to me, and on the 12th June last I wrote to the Minister for the Army in the following terms: -
I transmit for your consideration a communication from the State secretary of the Western Australian branch of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia regarding alleged damage to property owned by Mr. B. J. Coath, of East Rockingham, Western Australia.
On perusing the copy of the letter of the secretary of your department I find it difficult to understand the attitude assumed. During the last war, in European theatres, the means adopted to meet such claims worked quickly and equitably.
Your secretary writes, inter alia, “ The reports Show beyond doubt that acts of gross vandalism were committed, and almost certainly by Army personnel “. In these circumstances it would seem to be a reflection on the administration and discipline of the troops when the offenders cannot be traced and dealt with or means found to provide reparation to the sufferers from their depredations.
I would appreciate the further action which, 1 am sure, you will feel impelled to direct.
To that letter the Minister replied on the 6th July as follows : -
I refer to my letter to you of the 16th June in reply to your letter of the 12th June which enclosed correspondence from the State secretary, Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia (Western Australian branch), Anzac House, Perth, regarding damage to property owned by Mr. B. J. Coath, East Rockingham.
I regret that I am unable to alter the view expressed in the letter of the 17th May from the secretary of my department to the general secretary of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia, but nothing in that letter would prevent the claimants, if they so desire, from submitting their claim to the Deputy Assistant Director of Hirings, Swan Barracks, Perth, for determination under National Security (Hirings Administration ) Regulations.
Special political and diplomatic considerations apply to claims arising out of the criminal nets of individual soldiers against the residents of an Allied foreign country during the occupation of that country by our military forces engaged in actual military operations and it may be that in some areas in France during the last war certain claims were adjusted without reference to legal liability.
That is nonsense, as any honorable senator who served in France in the last war will know -
In Australia a wrongdoer is subject to civil and cri mi nal proceedings notwithstanding that he is a member of the defence forces, and any person injured by such wrongdoing has free recourse to the civil courts for redress, and his position is unaltered because the alleged thief, instead of being a member of the public, happens to be a member of the forces - in neither case are public funds able to make good the loss.
All the various aspects of this question have been considered by War Cabinet and the views expressed in the secretary’s letter of the 17th May conform with the decision of War Cabinet.
As the second paragraph of the Minister’s letter suggested that a claim should be submitted to the Deputy Assistant Director of Hirings, representations were made in that quarter. They elicited the following extraordinary response: -
In reply to your memorandum of the 20th July, 194.3, it is desired to advise that claim was submitted by Mrs. Coath on the 20th December, 1942, the amount of the claim being £7.1 Ss. 3id. and the claim being for contents of house, which the claimant alleged wasnui sacked by troops.
It cannot be said that these items were taken by troops acting in the course of their duty, and War Cabinet has made it very clear that the Commonwealth will not be responsible for irresponsible acts of troops or for theft or looting by individual members of the Army. Under these conditions there was no other course but to reject Mrs. Coath’s claim.
The claim for £71 Ss. 3£d. did not include the value of the missing head of the windmill. Referring to this and other similar cases, the West Australian, in a leading article published on the 9th September, 1943, made the following comments : -
Interpretations of the law given on Tuesday by the Compensation Board in disallowing claims for compensation by civilians against the Army focus attention on what appears to bc a gross injustice. In one case the applicant claimed that the damage was done in part when troops were being marched through his property on manoeuvres and picked fruit as they went through. The facts do not seem to hu disputed, but according to the military authorities “ the Army can only accept liability for loss or damage caused by actual training and manoeuvres of troops, and cannot accept liability for loss or damage caused by the irresponsible acts of individual soldiers “. If this means that the Army does not accept responsibility for thefts or destruction of property by soldiers even while they are supposed to be under direct military control and discipline then Australian citizens seem likely to fare worse at the hands of their own Government than French civilians fared at the hands of British forces in the last war.
The board, after careful perusal of the regulations, expressed itself as satisfied that “ there is nowhere’ any justification for the suggestion that the Minister f::r the Army is made responsible for the vandalism of individual members of the forces where such vandalism has not been committed under the instructions of a responsible officer “. Since it is scarcely to be imagined that any “responsible” Australian officer would ever instruct his men to commit “ vandalism “ on Australian soil the prospect of Australian property owners being able to establish reasonable claims for compensation for depredations by soldiers at present seems hopeless. It is understood there would be no legal difficulty about payment of compensation if Western Australia were classed as an operational area because this would have the effect of removing the matter from the civil authorities (working under inadequate National Security Regulations) and placing it with the military, working under the provisions of the Defence Act. As this is not an operational area it seems that if the rights of civilians are to be protected amended National Security Regulations should be issued giving the Compensation Board power which it now lacks to award compensation in nil meritorious cases. The War Damage Insurance Fund, with millions of pounds at its disposal, is an obvious source from which compensation of this nature could be drawn.
The attitude adopted by the .Department of the Army in this matter is against all principles of common justice. I have had some experience in dealing with damage to property during war-time. In cases in which an investigation showed that the damage was caused by certain individuals those individuals were made to pay. Whilst cases in which the defaulter was not discovered a levy was made upon all members of the unit camped in the vicinity.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that that procedure should be followed in this instance.
– Yes. That method proved to be effective, particularly because it, instilled in troops a proper regard for the property of civilians in the area in which they happened to be camped. However, the very fact that an incident of this kind should occur at all in this country is a grave reflection upon not only the discipline of the troops, but also the command. I think that the Minister for Health (Senator Fraser), who represents the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) in this chamber, is familiar with the details of the case I have mentioned. I am sure that honorable senators will join with me in expressing the hope that the Minister for the Army will alter his policy in order to afford protection to the public in cases of this kind.
. -In Division ‘No. 140 - Other War Services, Prime Minister’s Department - appears the item, Committee on National Morale, Expenses £2,000. Last year the expenses of that committee amounted to £1,781. I should like to know who are the members of that committee, and what are its functions.
– The committee consists of Major A. A. Conlon, chairman, Professor J. Stone, vice-chairman. Dr. K. Barry, Mr. S. Deamer, Dr. I. H! Hogbin, Dr. E. H. Stanner, Mr. R. D. Wright, Professor A.. K. Stout and Mr. Justice Roper. The members serve in a.n honorary capacity. The appropriation covers clerical assistance, office requisites and travelling expenses. The committee, which is purely advisory, is directly responsible to the Prime Minister. The terras of reference of the committee are to study matters of civilian morale and to advise the Government with a view to formulating a far-reaching policy in matters of morale. This involves not only a co-ordination of the agencies for adult education and physical fitness, but also a comprehensive remoulding and integration of these, and other activities influencing public opinion, into an essential weapon of national defence.
.- The statement just made by Senator Collett is, I think, one of the gravest that could possibly be made in a deliberative assembly against the administration of a department. It is most scandalous, first, that such an incident could occur, and, secondly, that excuses should be offered by the department for not taking appropriate action in the matter. However, the Minister representing the Minister for the Army does not, even seem to think that the honorable senator’s representations are worth replying to. If that is to be the normal course of procedure in this chamber, and if the policy just outlined in the correspondence of the Department of the Army is to remain its permanent policy, all I can say is that the people of Australia can expect to hear of other cases, of grave injustices which they “ill abhor. The facts that an injury has been done to an individual, and that the Army authorities refuse to give him any compensation, are apart altogether from party political considerations. The Minister representing the Minister for the Army has not denied the case made out by Senator Collett. Yet he has not attempted to reply to the honorable senator. He has not even intimated that, should the information given by the honorable senator prove upon investigation to be correct, steps will be taken to compensate the injured party. The Minister simply ignored the honorable senator’s representations. I submit that if the facts are as stated, this particular individual should be compensated. The Minister might at least give an assurance that the matter will be investigated, and if the statements are true, this man, an Australian citizen in fairly poor circumstances, will receive justice from the Government, if not from the Department of the Army.
.- I draw attention to the regulations regarding service pensions. The parliamentary committee which did such good work in suggesting amendments to the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act recently, did not recommend any change in the position of service pensions. No direct evidence was taken as to how the regulations framed five years ago affected this class of pensioner. These “ burnt out “ ex-service men, of whom there are about 9,000, including 66 from this war, have since formed an association. I was invited to attend one of its meetings in Melbourne. Their main grievance was that, they were not allowed to earn more than 12s. 6d. a week without forfeiting the maximum weekly allowance of 27s. The same provision applies in respect of the invalid and old-age pensions. These men contend that they should be allowed to earn whatever they can, in order to bring their pension and earnings up to the basic wage. “With this I agree; indeed, the same provision should apply to invalid and old-age pensioners. It would not affect Government expenditure.
I was also asked to draw attention to the granting from the 1st October last of a pension of 15s. a week to wives of invalid pensioners. If! economic conditions warrant, such a grant in the case of invalid civilian pensioners, there is justification for an addition to the wives of invalid ex-servicemen. It is true that the wives of invalid ex-servicemen now receive a small allowance which brings the total income of man and wife up to £2 9s. a week; but that is not sufficient for a man who has served his country so well. Two of the 66 service pensioners in this war asked me this question, “ Are we to continue to exist for the rest of our lives on 27s. a week, plus the 12s. 6d. which we are allowed to earn? Our average age is probably under 30 “. There is only one answer to that query, which, I venture to say, every honorable senator will endorse, and that is that these regulations must be reviewed.
The subject of medical attention also was brought to my notice. It is true that some pensioners with tuberculosis receive medical treatment. Not all of our 9,000 service pensioners would need help in this direction, but many exservicemen who are not receiving such pensions are suffering other disabilities. We hear a deal of talk about social and hospital benefits for all sections of the community. Why not make a start now to put that policy into effect, and’ give the ex-servicemen free medical treatment? The cost to the Repatriation Department could :be transferred to the Social Services Department. It would be merely a book entry. This lip service to the splendid work ‘done by men in the fighting services would be more appreciated if a sailor, soldier or airman knew that, should he become unemployable through war service, he would be guaranteed a service pension, with medical treatment. I ask the Minister to cause steps to be taken to improve the lot of service pensioners.
.- I wish to refer to division 151 - Division of Import Procurement, salaries and payments in the nature of salaries - to which is attached the following note: “ Less amount estimated to be received in respect of administrative expenses included as overhead charges in invoice price of Lend-Lease and other goods”. The Division of Import Procurement has created more trouble than any other department in the commercial world of Australia.
– Has it interfered with the profits of the manufacturers?
– No, because local manufacturers are using raw materials produced in Australia.
– The Department of Import Procurement has been a great factor in saving Australia from invasion.
– I do not dispute it. I simply say that its operations have caused a great deal of unnecessary unrest in the trading community of Australia.
– We could not have carried on without it.
– I do not a3k the Government to bind itself to abolish it. I merely want an undertaking that the department will not continue its unreasonable attitude of the last year or two. Its demands for returns and licences in regard to ordinary commodities from the United Kingdom have become a laughing stock. .1 have recently seen some forms to be filled in, which it would take ti Philadelphia lawyer, let alone an ordinary trader, to puzzle out. I know that it is not the desire of the Trade and Customs Department, or of the Government, to cause any more inconvenience to the general public than can possibly be helped. They want the business to go through as smoothly and easily as possible, consistent with the proper carrying out of war duties and the successful prosecution of the Avar. Many of these things are quite necessary and cannot be helped, but there is a feeling that many officers, . especially in the Import Procurement Department, are treating traders in an unnecessarily severe way. Possibly, most of the trouble is due to the fact that the department had to take in a large number of new officers who had not been trained in the particular jobs to which they were assigned, and therefore had to learn their new duties. Some of them have picked up the habit of being very dictatorial in their approach to the trading community. I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs to give quiet advice to the head of his department, or to some of his officers, to the effect that there is a good deal of quite legitimate resentment at some of the operations of the Import Procurement Department, not so much as regards its refusals as its delays. Months some- ‘ times elapse before traders are given a yea or nay as to whether or not they can obtain stuff. If they could be told straight out that it could or could not be got, the people who do the importing could satisfy their customers, but when the matter is left in the air for months on end without their knowing whether or not they are going to get the stuff, the Minister can understand that ill feeling arises between those who do the importing and those who do the selling. Will the Minister give a word of advice to this particular branch of his department that it is quite unnecessary to be rough with the ordinary trader? He is just an ordinary decent fellow who wants to carry on his business in the ordinary way, and he should not be treated as a criminal or semi-criminal. The Minister should tell his departmental heads in that particular branch that a considerable amount of delay which takes place there is causing great inconvenience outside. Much of it is probably inevitable, but much more is avoidable. I shall be satisfied if the Minister promises me to keep his eye on these matters and not allow the department to run away with the idea that it has absolute power, which it is going to exercise willy-nilly, convenient or inconvenient. A great deal of dissatisfaction exists now. Some of the things that have been told to me indicate that certain officers are not in sympathy at all with the trading public, and evidently have not been trained in the department. They have been brought in from outside and have no particular knowledge of the matters with which they have to deal. The main cause of the trouble is the centralization of everything in Sydney. Not enough power is given to officers in other States to deal with matters which they are quite competent to settle. In a big business community, with many things coming in, it is necessary to have a responsible officer on the spot with power to say “ yes “ or “ no “ immediately. Otherwise, matters cannot go on smoothly. Under the present arrangement, every little tin-pot thing has to be referred to the head office in Sydney and the delays and inconveniences that arise are very distressing to the trading community. I urge the Minister to see if these troubles cannot be removed and the burdens eased, particularly by reducing the number of forms which traders have to fill in.
.- The facts axe generally as Senator Leckie has outlined. There have been some complaints of delay, and centralization does, to a certain extent, create a bottle-neck, which has had my personal attention in the last year. I am always prepared to hear complaints of that nature, hut I can frankly say that I do not get many of them. If I receive a complaint I am prepared to meet any group in regard to it, and have generally succeeded in ironing out the trouble. The Department of Import Procurement had had colossal jobs thrown on to it, in many cases without warning. On one occasion there came into our ports overnight 191,000 tons of refugee cargo in 63 British, American and Dutch ships. All this had to be requisitioned by us and taken over, stored, sorted and sold to the services and civilians. We had to take over all the possible stores that we could get and arrangements had to be made with the owners in Britain, America and Holland. The work of the department is colossal, and has to be done by a staff which has been hastily thrown together and which ordinarily is doing a magnificent job. The volume of overtime is immense, but is inescapable, as we still require 300 more men, whom we cannot get under the present man-power conditions. We cannot put any man on to this kind of work. Those appointed must possess some clerical knowledge and ought, as Senator Leckie suggests, to have the art of handling people. There are in every department officers who are not regular civil servants and who have not been educated up to the standard which we think they ought to reach. However, I will confer with the head of my department about the questions which Senator Leckie has raised. I see him three or four times a week and will consult him as to whether we can speed up the business, and also get rid of some of the unnecessary clerical work which may have been placed on the outside trading community.
– I should like information about item 10 under section C: “Buildings, Works, Sites, Fittings and Furniture “, in Division 148 of the Department of the Interior. The item is as follows: - “ Post-war reconstruction, £5,000 “. The expenditure last year was £3,775.
– That is not the total amount to be voted for postwar reconstruction. A little higher on the same page there is another item for post-war reconstruction of another kind. They fall within the estimates which the
Department of the Interior Las to submit. The item about which the honorable senator asks refers to expenditure which we contemplate will have to be incurred in establishing branches of the department of Post-war Reconstruction in Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne. It is for buildings and works. My department comes into this matter only because it is the constructing authority for doing these works. The amount of 3,775 was spent last. year. We anticipate that the amount required to be expended this year will be £5,000.
– I draw attention to item 10, “ Labour corps - Western Australia, £2,000”, in Division 156, Miscellaneous, under the Department of Commerce and Agriculture. What is the special purpose for which that body has been created?
– There is an acute shortage of labour in Western Australia, and ‘ some time ago we set up an authority which is perhaps a little different from what obtains in other parts of the Commonwealth. The rural labour position in Western Australia is more acute than in any other State. Labour is particularly inadequate for such important priority crops as flax, hay and potatoes. Expedients adopted in other States to secure seasonal labour will not, it is considered, meet the position in Western. Australia. To overcome the difficulty it waa decided that a labour corps of enemy aliens, under the joint control of the Western Australian Departments of Forests and Agriculture, should be formed. This corps would be employed half-time on agricultural pursuits, and farmers would have to pay for the labour at normal rates. In accordance with the recommendation contained in a Cabinet submission, provision is necessary to cover the cost of supervision, transport and equipment, which is estimated to amount to £2,000. As the corps will be required to work only half-time on agricultural pursuits, this figure represents half the total co.=t of the overhead in connexion with the scheme, the other half being met by the Western Australian Government.
– I draw attention to item 14: “ Agricultural machinery - Purchase, £140,000”, under Division 156, miscellaneous, of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture. What class of machinery is it proposed to purchase, and for what, purpose, where is it to be purchased and who is to manufacture it?
– In the course of the Commonwealth drive to step up agricultural production, it has become very apparent that, in the present man-power position, machinery must be available to agriculture to a greater extent, if efforts are to bc successful. Several urgent food production projects in approved areas necessitate the setting up of machinery pools for the use of farm groups. Such machinery as soil preparation units, seedsowers, cultivators, navy bean harvesters and all crop harvesters, mechanized with tractor power, would be included in the pools and available for the use of farmers on an approved basis. District controls will be set up under the war agricultural committee organizations to supervise the farming out of this machinery on a rental basis. This item is dealt with by a production executive decision. In addition to that manufactured in Australia I understand that we ‘have had to import machinery, because of the necessity of getting as much of it as soon as possible.
– Whereas the vote for the Australian Potato Committee last year was £10,670, and actual expenditure was £15,911. This year the proposed vote is £27,000, and I should like to know the reason for the substantial increase.
– The Australian Potato Committee was constituted in pursuance of National Security (Potatoes) Regulations, the purpose being to secure, as far as possible, adequate supplies of potatoes to meet the needs of the defence forces and of the civil population during the war. A Potato Controller was appointed and organizations set up in the various States under the direction of deputy controllers assisted by advisory committees. The cost involved in connexion with the functioning of these bodies is anticipated to total £27,000 during 1943-44. The increased expenditure, as compared with 1942-3, is attributable to the appointment of additional staff.
.- I should like to know what action is being taken by the Government in regard to the provision of cold-storage accommodation for fat sheep when slaughtered, particularly in Victoria. At present it is impossible to get fat sheep into cold stores. After all, when a grower has stock in fat condition, the cheapest “ food “ that he can give to it is ice. The Government should not only make available more of the existing cold-storage accommodation, but also should construct new stores to take the slaughtered fat stock of this country before the season ends in the autumn. One honorable senator said yesterday that Australia has 125,000,000 sheep; the only place for excess stock is in. the cold stores. In Victoria, only dressed fat lambs can be put into the cold stores, despite the fact that there is any amount of space available. Action should be taken now to provide for the post-war period.
– I should be surprised to learn that the cold storage position in Victoria is as has been described by Senator Gibson. Under the National Security (Emergency) Supplies Regulations the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has authority to arrange for the accumulation of supplies of prescribed commodities. The object of the regulations is to ensure the existence throughout Australia of a three months’ supply of certain essential foods and household requisites in the case of emergency. The Government believed that in the event of Australia being attacked, serious inconveniences would be caused to the populace if, in these circumstances, there were local shortages of some supplies whilst in Australia as a whole, we had ample for all. Stocks of foodstuffs have been built up throughout the Commonwealth in collaboration with State Go vernments, and the amount now included in the Estimates will be required in the main for replacements, storage charges and administrative costs.
.- I am surprised to find in Division 154 that whereas last year the expenditure for anti-venereal disease activities was £18,500, this year the vote is only £6,500. In view of the alarming statements in regard to the spread of venereal disease which one reads frequently in the newspapers, and hears from medical authorities who should be in a position to know what progress is being made in the campaign against this disease, I should like to know if the Minister for Health and Social Services (Senator Fraser) can give an assurance that some headway is being made in this work, because only a definite improvement in the position would justify such a substantial reduction of the vote.
– A sum of £25,000 was made available in 1942-43 for a campaign for the prevention and cure of venereal diseases, but only £1S,500 was spent in that year. The amount of £6,500 provided this year is the unexpended balance of the £25,000 and will be used in carrying on the campaign.
.- . That does not answer my question. I should like the Minister for Health and Social Services (Sena tor Fraser) to give an assurance that the anti- venereal disease campaign is showing some good results. It would appear from the substantial reduction of the vote this year that our health authorities are satisfied with the progress that is being made, and that the severity of the disease is lessening. The people generally are most perturbed about this matter and would like ‘to know what success is being achieved.
– I assure the honorable senator that everything possible is being done, but. I remind him that control of venereal disease is not solely in the hands of the Commonwealth. However, all possible precautions are being taken, and in fact, this matter will be discussed at a conference of State Ministers for Health and medical officers to be held next month.
– This grant is to supplement the efforts of the States?
– ‘Yes; its administration is partly in the hands of the States.
– Are the steps that are being taken proving effective?
– Yes ; all that is humanly possible is being done. I had hoped that honorable senators would h ive had an opportunity to see a film t:,at has been prepared on this matter, but,- unfortunately, that is not now possible.
– Can the Minister for Health and Social Services (Senator Fraser) teLl honorable senators who will benefit from the vote of £25,000 provided under the heading, “ Labour for harvesting - Organization expenses “, in Division 156? Does that sum represent compensation payable to the State Governments, or will it go to producers’ organizations?
– Owing to the acute shortage of man-power, it became necessary for the Department of Commerce and Agriculture to organize the services of rural workers for harvesting operations in order that they would be employed to the best advantage. The position in regard to transport and accommodation is greatly altered from that prevailing under pre-war conditions, when rural workers generally provided their own transport and camping equipment. The depleted rural labour force has now to be supplemented from volunteer labour, the Women’s Land Army and other sources, and to ensure that this class of labour is forthcoming it is necessary for this department to see that adequate accommodation is provided and transport facilities are available. The above is covered by Cabinet Minute No. 1 of 1943, dated the 6th January, 1943, which provides for a total expenditure of £25,000 for the twelve months ending the 31st October, 1943.
In anticipation of Cabinet deciding to extend the scheme beyond 31st October, 1943, £25,000 is provided to meet estimated requirements for the current financial year.
.- The proposed vote of £670,000 in Division 157 to the apple and pear industry represents a huge increase over the expenditure last year of £33,252. Is it expected that the loss on the acquisition scheme will be that much greater than it was last year, and if so does that mean that again this year Tasmanian apples will not be marketed on the mainland, and that apples and pears from Western Australia will not find their way to the eastern States, where there is a steady market for them? Must the Apple and Pear Board continue to make the people pay ls. a lb. for apples when that fruit goes to waste in Tasmania and, to a certain degree, in Western Australia also? Something should be done to see that apples which are grown in abundance in certain States are made available at reasonable prices to the people in. the more thickly populated States. I know that the Minister will say that the present position is due to shipping difficulties. Housewives and others read repeatedly in the press that apples are plentiful in Tasmania, but I know that there is a considerable quantity of cargo space available between Tasmania and the mainland. Tasmanian apples should be marketed in the eastern ‘States at at least half the price the people are compelled to pay for them. It is shameful that they are required to pay ls. per lb. for fruit which, before the war, was sold at 2d. or 3d. per lb. The growers thought at that time that they were fairly well paid for their product. The difficulties experienced in marketing apples should be overcome, because fruit is an article of diet that the people need. What will be the position of the Tasmanian applegrowers after the war when they will desire to resume their former export trade ? While their apples are now going to waste I have no doubt that their industry is on the downward grade and I suppose that, to a certain degree, their orchards are being neglected, but at the same time the people of Australia are crying out for apples at a reasonable price. If there were a scarcity of that fruit, of course the people would have to do without it, but as we have a superabundance of apples a plentiful supply should be made available to the public. This is a most serious matter, particularly to the people living in the eastern States. If the Minister could be instrumental in supplying them with fruit at a reasonable price he would justify his appointment to the Cabinet.
– I am surprised at the extraordinary statements made by Senator Leckie, in view of the fact that the Government of which he was a member inaugurated the apple and pear acquisition scheme. When the present Government took office, the loss experienced in that venture amounted to £1,600,000, but that has been reduced to about £600,000 or £700,000. Even if transport facilities were readily available for the carriage of fruit from. Tasmania to the mainland, it would not be easy to market i! at reasonable prices. If the Government again took over the whole of the apple crop from the growers, and met the transport and marketing costs, it would be necessary to reimburse the fund for any loss sustained. More fruit has been received from Tasmania and Western Australia this year than in any previous year. The difficulties relate not only to shipping, but also to man-power and fruit containers. A great deal of fruit is being preserved by the solid pack method, and much is being dehydrated. Although the acquisition scheme now applies only to Tasmania and Western Australia, apples are dearer to-day than when the apple crops in all of the States were acquired. Fresh fruit cannot be stored on wharfs indefinitely. Sometimes fruit awaiting shipment has to be left lying on the wharfs because the shipping space is required for cargoes with higher priorities. The proposed vote on the Estimates this year in respect of the apple and pear acquisition scheme is the same as that of last year, but the actual expenditure will depend upon the assessment of the crop. The Government has done everything possible to preserve the apple and pear industry. Millions of pounds is involved in the export trade in apples, and the’ Government has tried to help the industry by fixing the price of the fruit.
– Why have we to pay so much for apples in Western Australia ?
– The prices in that State, as well as in Tasmania, are not higher than they were before the war. The sum of £670,000 is required to provide for repayments to the Commonwealth Bank of outstanding indebtedness in respect of amounts advanced to cover the operations of the Australian “Apple and Pear Marketing Board in the acquisition and marketing of the Australian apple and pear crop under the National Security (Apple and Pear Acquisition) Regulations.
The amount of £350,000 is required for the operations of the season 1941-42, when the Commonwealth acquired the crops of growers in all the States. A further sum of £320,000 is provided for the anticipated deficiency on the operations for the 1942-43 season, in which acquisition applied only to the States of Western Australia and Tasmania.
.- The Minister (Senator Fraser) says, in effect, that he is helpless in this matter, and that the price of apples is to be fixed for the coming year. The probability is that the people on the mainland will have to pay higher prices for apples than at present.
– The honorable senator is as adept at turning words as at turning profits.
– If the acquisition principle is wrong, the Government should change the system. There should not be millions of apples going to waste in one part of the Commonwealth while in other parts the people are unable to buy apples at less than ls. a lb.
– When the Government of which the honorable senator was a member was in office, thousands of apples were left to rot in the orchards, but the price of the fruit was very high.
– The question I am always asked is, “ What did your Government do in the matter?” The Government says, “ We cannot do any better than you did “.
– lt could not do worse.
– When the Minister says to the people of Australia that the price of apples to consumers will he still higher the people reply that millions of bushels of apples are going to waste, and they want to know why the Government can-not make available a few thousand cases of apples to relieve the shortage. Apparently Ministers seem satisfied with what the Government has done, and proposes to do ; but the great body of consumers are not satisfied. The people will not be satisfied so long as apples are going to waste and the Government fails to take action which would bring them within reach of consumers.
.- Probably the most important food requirement is wheat. When in opposition, honorable senators on the Government benches objected to the restrictions imposed on the production of wheat; but they now support those restrictions. The estimated wheat crop this year will be only 80,000,000 bushels. Of that quantity, it is expected that 65,000,000 will be consumed in Australia, leaving only 15,000,000 bushels available for export. As the Government has sold a considerable quantity of wheat, the quantity carried over cannot be large. In view of the shortage of superphosphates and the lack of man-power on farms, it is possible that next year we shall not have sufficient wheat even for our own requirements. In the light of that possibility it is a criminal act to restrict the production of wheat. The policy of licensing farms is both childish and wrong. If production must be restricted, then instead of licensing farms the Government should license farmers. As an instance of the foolishness of the policy which has been followed, I mention that my son, who has been in the Army since the beginning of the war, gave instructions to sow a certain paddock with wheat. After the wheat was up a licence to grow wheat in the paddock was refused, and he was told that he was lucky that he was not fined £500 for sowing wheat on an unlicensed farm. Had he known in advance that that paddock would not be licensed to grow wheat, he would have sown it with oats. Eoi- the wheat grown in that paddock he was paid only 2s. a bushel. Actually, he fed most of it to pigs rather than accept that price. If the Government insists on restricting the acreage sown with wheat, farmers should not he forced to sow wheat in certain paddocks, but many farmers are fallowing laud to-day which I am confident will not be licensed because it has not previously been sown with wheat. Such a policy is wrong. Those men are not exceeding the area allotted to them. I hope that common sense will prevail in this matter and that if the policy of restricting acreage is insisted upon farmers, instead of farms, will be licensed. I disagree with the policy “now in operation, and urge that farmers should be allowed to produce as much wheat as they can. If they are to get only 4s. a bushel for the first 3,000 bushels, and must accept market price for the balance, if will not matter a great deal if some surplus wheat is produced. There are millions of starving people in other countries who would bc glad of it. A different policy is followed in the various States. For instance, in Western Australia farmers ave paid not to grow wheat, whereas in Victoria farms are licensed.
– Farms are licensed in Western Australia also.
– The principle is wrong and should not be continued.
– Reference has been made to the apple and pear industry. Is it not a fact that the extra 5-J-d. a unit paid to the growers of apples since the present Government came into office accounts for a considerable proportion of the proposed increased expenditure? Growers in Tasmania are better off than they were previously, and, moreover, not so many apples are allowed to rot in that State as in previous years because of the provision of dehydration plants. Honorable senators have referred to .the shortage of apples in some of the mainland States, but they seem not to realize the difficulties associated with shipping apples from Tasmania. Had not Victoria drawn out of the acquisition scheme the position would not have been so- bad as honorable senators opposite have represented it to be. Some honor- able senators opposite would like to see the apple and pear industry thrown to the wolves.
– I do not want any misunderstanding to arise in regard to the estimated loss. The amount may not be £670,000, as a great deal will depend on the size of the crop and the marketing facilities available to deal with it. The Government increased, not only the payment for each bushel of apples harvested, but also the rate paid to growers for picking them. The loss to the Commonwealth this year may not exceed £400,000.
– L should be glad of an explanation of the item “Wheat Industry -£1,750,000 “ in Division 157.
– The Commonwealth has acquired wheat grown in Australia in each season since the war commenced. Payments to growers have been based on. the return from the pools concerned, and the Commonwealth Bank has financed advances on this basis. Advances by the bank have, therefore, been on a business basis, with assets held to cover the full amount of the indebtedness. With the introduction of the wheat quota plan, payments to growers for a quota of 3,000 bushels have been at the rate of 4s. a bushel. It is realized that this will involve a loss to the Commonwealth as the full amount payable at sidings plus the expenses of the pool concerned will exceed the proceeds from the sale of the wheat acquired. In respect of the surplus wheat not covered by quota payments there will not be any loss. The present provision is required to cover the- anticipated
I0S3 on wheat in No. 7 pool - that is the 1943-44 crop soon to be harvested. The Government considers that growers should he provided with a definite assurance of a payment for a reasonable quantity of wheat which will allow them to carry on under war conditions. The Government has had in view particularly the need to maintain the small grower in a position in which he can reasonably carry on his wheat-farming activities.
’. - Can the Minister explain the item “Cornsacks Subsidy- £281,000 “ in Division 157? Especially should I like to know what amount is made up by the Government on each dozen cornsacks.
.- The present cost of importing cornsacks has increased in comparison with the figures prevailing last year. As part of the Government’s price stabilization policy, the payment of a subsidy to enable sales of cornsacks to be made at, last year’s prices has been approved. The importation of cornsacks is handled by the Australian Wheat Board, which in turn retails them to primary producers. The average cost of importation is 15s. 2^-d. per dozen sacks, whilst the retail price prevailing last year was 12s. 4£d. per dozen sacks. It is proposed to fix the price to users during the 1943-44 season at this latter figure which entails an estimated subsidy payment of £2S1,000.
– ‘The remarks of Senator Gibson should be given the earnest, attention of the Government. This year we have seen how nature controls production, but some governments seem to think that they can control nature. That is a great mistake. As Senator Gibson pointed out, the estimated wheat crop this year will be only 80,000,000 bushels, of which 65,000,000 will be consumed in Australia. Should we again have a lessened natural production we may be in the position of not. having sufficient wheat to meet our own future needs. That has happened before, and wheat has had to be imported from the United States of America. The shortage is due almost entirely to the muddling in connexion with man-power. It would not have been necessary to provide any subsidy whatever to the dairying industry had the industry been handled in anything like a businesslike manner. The industry’s difficulties arise solely from the fact that it has been depleted of man-power. In such circumstances dairy herds became useless because owners could not find the labour required to make them profitable. The attitude of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. .Scully) in handling this matter reminds me of the story told of the city girl who visited her cousins in the country and for the first time saw cows being milked. Nest morning, when she was asked if she would like a glass of milk she declined, because she had seen the milk obtained from a dirty cow, whereas, at home in the city, she obtained her milk from a nice clean billy-can. Apparently, the Minister believes that milk merely comes out of billy-cans. No subsidy will bring dead cows back to life. I hope that the Government will give careful consideration to the representations made by Senator Gibson, and agree to license farmers instead of farms. We have reached the stage when we should allow farmers to grow as much wheat as they possibly can. If it were now placed on the overseas market it would bring as much as 6s. or 7s. a bushel. The day will again come when we shall have an open market for wheat, and as it is possible to keep wheat in good condition in storage, fanners should be given more freedom to produce than is the case at present. Senator Leckie has dealt fully with the position in the apple industry. His remarks show that in that industry also more freedom of action should be allowed to producers.
.- I agree with Senator James McLachlan that the Government’s handling of the difficulties confronting the dairying industry has been very bad. In answer to a question by Senator Lamp to-day we were informed that the wage prescribed for milkers is £5 12s. 6d. a week. I do not care how much employees receive so long as the farmer himself is enabled to pay the wages awarded, and to make a fair living for himself and his family. However, a milker can milk only sixteen cows morning and evening, and on that basis the farmer cannot afford to pay the present award wage.
– What about sharefarmers ?
– I have asked the Government on several previous occasions to clarify the position of share-farmers under the award, but the Government, apparently, cannot interpret its own regulations, with the result that the dairy-farmer and the share-farmer do not know where they stand. According to an opinion given by the SolicitorGeneral in Victoria a share-farmer must be paid a minimum of £5 12s. 6d. a week, and should he earn less than the award prescribed he cannot contract himself out of the award. Therefore, he can claim from the owner of the farm the difference between the award rate and his actual earnings. Under those conditions it is obvious that many farmers will be ruined, particularly in a bad season when the share-farmer does not. make the basic wage. I contend that the Government should have permitted an increase of the price of butter. I urge the Government to review the subsidy to the industry in order to ensure that justice will be done to farmers as well as employees and share-farmers.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vole - Department of Civil Aviation, £361,100 - agreed to.
Department of Trade and Customs.
Proposed vote, £705,000.
– As I believe that the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) is doing a good job, I do not like to criticize his administration. However, an extraordinary position exists with respect to the sale of meat in Melbourne because butchers are not permitted to acquire the full supplies they need, although full supplies are available. In Victoria all fat stock must be sold before the autumn, or they will become stores. As butchers have, an opportunity to supply the people of Melbourne with meat of high standard at reasonable prices they should be permitted to purchase, all fat stock available. I ask’ the Minister to review the position in order to see whether it is not possible to permit the sale of all fat sheep available before the autumn.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed votes - Department of Health, £154,100; Department of Commerce and Agriculture, £330,000; Department of Social Services, £395,000 ; Department of Supply and Shipping, £256,000 - agreed to. miscellaneous services.
Proposed vote, £1,129,000.
– I should lite to know who are the members of the Tasmanian Industry Expansion Commission, mentioned in Division 202. What are the functions of that body for which £500 is provided ?
– Approval was recently given for the setting up of a Tasmanian industry expansion commission on lines similar to the Western Australian Industry Expansion Commission, the terms of reference of the commission being: First, to advise the Commonwealth Government on measures necessary to ensure the fullest and most effective use of Tasmania’s industrial resources for war purposes; secondly, to serve in Tasmania as a Commonwealth advisory authority, cooperating with the Department of Post-war Reconstruction, and with State authorities in planning Tasmania’s participation in post-war economic reconstruction; and, thirdly, to submit to the Commonwealth specific proposals for such industrial and related developments as are necessary for these purposes. It was proposed that the commission should consist of three nominees of the Commonwealth Government, and two nominees of the State Government, the chairman to be one of the Commonwealth nominees. In view of several developments, however, the establishment of the commission has been held over for the time being, and it has been proposed that the Department of Post-war Reconstruction and State Government departments and instrumentalities should collaborate directly with each other.
– In Division 204 we are asked to vote the sum of £44,000 as Australia’s contribution for the ensuing year to the League of Nations Secretariat. I should like to know whether the league is still functioning, and, if so, where are its headquarters situated, and what work is occupying its attention. In spite of all the fond hopes which we placed in the league after the last war, many of us believing that it would be the means of settling international disputes, it is largely the fault of that body that we are again at war. Last year, we voted £34,000 for this purpose, and our actual expenditure was £39,001. I should like to know what value we- expect to receive for this proposed vote for this year of £44,000. I have studied the work of the league very closely. To come down to tintacks, it can be said that our belief in collective security and the idea that we should with others be the world’s policemen, without even a baton or a gun, has proved to be our downfall. Our faith in that idea has brought us to our present pass. .The proposed vote is comparatively large, when we remember that for many years dozens of nations who are nominally members of the league did not pay their contributions but “ poled “ on the other nations, particularly Great Britain and the Dominions, who paid their dues.
– The league is still functioning at its headquarters at Geneva, whilst branches have been established at Princeton University, United States of America, and the McGill University, Montreal. The work of the league comes under the following main headings : Publications of works on current economic events and tendencies is divided between Geneva and Princeton. Work in connexion with post-war economic problems is being carried out at Princeton. The league assists in two ways in combating the spread of epidemics: First, there is the epidemiological service whereby information regarding the incidence of epidemics is made available to all countries; secondly, the work in biological standardization is of proved value. Studies are being conducted with a view to improving general standards of health after the war. Work along other lines, including the control of drug traffic, is continuing. The International Labour Office is now functioning at Montreal. Other work concerns the registration of treaties and minorities, and that of the Mandates Commission and the International Court. The Supervisory Commission of the league meets at regular intervals, and is responsible, for the security and adoption of the league’s budget. The commission points out that the league expresses in its three main institutions the aspirations towards peace, social justice and the observance of international law, and in the mast difficult circumstances is continuing work of great value to mankind.
– The proposed vote in respect of scientific and industrial research provides for an increase of staff of nearly 300, the vote in respect of investigations being more than £100,000 greater than last year’s appropriation. I should like details of the work being carried out in this field. “What scientific and industrial research is being done with respect to certain stock diseases which to-day are destroying our flocks and herds? I refer particularly to Entero-toxaemia. which, I think, was first noticed in Western Australia, where it became most severe. To-day, that disease is prevalent in Victoria. So far as I know, no advance has been made in the efforts to stem the ravages of that disease. I have learned from departmental officers that the position is becoming very bad in the United States of America, where a high death-rate among sheep as well as lambs .is reported as the result of this disease. Some experts place their faith in inoculation. I have no faith in that method, because I have seen experiments carried out’in my district by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research which proved to be inconclusive. I also hope that our research workers will devote more attention in the future to animal nutrition.
– When the Minister replies, I should like him to state whether any amount is being specially set aside for combating the encroachments of the buffalo fly. Is anything being done in that matter?
.- The increase is almost entirely due to war activities under the following headings : Division of National Standards Laboratory, Division of Aeronautics, Division of Industrial Chemistry, Division of Forest Products, Division of Food Preservation and Transport, and Division of Plant Industry. All of these, as honorable senators will realize, are urgent parts of the war activity. The other items mentioned by Senator Gibson and Senator Cooper, I am informed, form the subject of the ordinary general work of the bureau, and are actively under notice at the moment.
– I draw attention to the vote, “ Empire Parliamentary Association - ‘Grant towards expenses of Australian delegation “ under Division 202 of the Prime Minister’s Department. The amount expended in 1942-43 was £1,740 and the vote for this year is £750, making a total of £2,490. Is that money to be used entirely for the expenses of the delegation, and, if so, what is the allowance to be paid to each member?
.- The Commonwealth Government provided a grant to each member of £200 for clerical assistance necessary in the United States of America, the United Kingdom and Canada, exchange on up to 75 per cent, of parliamentary allowances, and arrangements for meeting delegates in the United States of America, the United Kingdom and Canada. Details of all overseas expenditure have not yet been received in Australia, and the vote of £750 is to cover the balance of the cost of the above items not paid last year.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed votes - Refunds of revenue, £5,000,000; and Advance to the Treasurer, £6,000,000- agreed to.
Was (1914-18) SERVICES
Proposed vote, £1,168,000.
– I draw attention to Division 217 - War Service Homes Commission. The officers who have been appointed are being paid a considerable amount in salaries, and I should like to know when it is anticipated that the building of homes will be commenced.
– I have made inquiries from the Minister for Repatriation. (Mr. Frost) in respect of this matter, and am informed that the question of building activities under the provisions of the War Service Homes Act is constantly under review. Owing, however, to the need for diversion of man-power and materials to urgent war purposes, the Government regrets that no indication can be given at the present time of when the ‘building of further homes will be commenced.
– I direct attention to item 4 of paragraph B, general expenses, under Division 217, relating to the War Service Homes Commission. The item is “Payments to State Government institutions in respect of the provision of war service homes. £6,300 “. Last year the amount voted was £6,900 and the amount spent was £6,439. I should like to know from the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation the nature of the payments to State government institutions in respect of the provision of such homes.
.- The item, of £6,300 about which Senator Sampson asks represents remuneration payable to the Workers Home Board, Perth, in accordance with the agreement with the State Government of Western Australia.
Senator COLLETT (Western Australia) 1 12.9]. - I direct attention to Division 218, Repatriation Commission, for which the appropriation is £924,S00. Adding the amounts for Division 219 - Repatriation, Miscellaneous, and Division 220 - Maintenance Services, the total vote for the Department of Repatriation is £940,000. I wish to say something regarding the organization and staff of the commission.. _ Before doing so, I should like to revert to my original comments on this year’s Estimates with regard to the Department of the Army. Neither the Minister in charge of the hill nor the Minister representing that department has made any comment at all on a matter which I consider to be of the greatest importance to the individual as well as to the community. I know that it is the custom, when matters are brought up by members of Parliament, for their remarks to receive some sort of courteous attention.
On this occasion I want to deal with the Repatriation Commission which, if not now, at any rate in the near future, will have a very large responsibility to meet in connexion with the community. On the 29th June last I asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation a series of questions relating to the composition and functions of the Repatriation Commission. These questions are comprehensive in their character and will, with the answers, be found set out on pages 113-114 of Hansard. No. 16, issued on the 7th of this month. They are too long to repeat now. My inquiry was prompted by an uneasy feeling that, in view of the magnitude of the task ahead of it, the commission might be caught unequipped and unprepared, to meet it.
I do not, at this stage, propose to review the whole field of repatriation, or the major problem - -rehabilitation, but rather to draw attention to those factors which, in my opinion, require immediate attention. In the first place, I want to express, as a result of knowledge and experience, my confidence in the capacity and zeal of the members of the board of commissioners. Nevertheless, I have the impression that they are being over-worked and find themselves, at the moment, tied down to the performance of routine matters that might well he relegated to others. At this stage there must be a volume of preparatory work and planning to be performed. These should not be delayed, and as the Minister for Repatriation has not yet thought fit to make the extra appointments to the board authorized by Parliament, I can see the future gravely prejudiced. It must, too, be borne in mind that whilst the commissioners plan and authorize in the terms of their powers, it is the deputy commissioners in the States who have to execute and who will have direct contact with the men and women discharged from the forces. Inevitably, new policies will be instituted, and I would like to be confident that that fact is known and appreciated, by the State deputies so that they may organize staffs, provide means and accommodation, and arrange institutions to meet increased and varied demands.
I need not remind honorable senators that the numbers to be dealt with, in prospect, are double those of the last great war, and, whilst casualties may not be greater - and so far that is suggested - other factors of complexity will arise demanding study and action. For these reasons I am led to suggest that one or more of the commissioners should visit the States for the purpose of inspecting preparatory measures and plans taken and made, instructing staffs, and, where necessary, arranging consultations with civic and other authorities. This cannot conveniently he done unless extra commissioners are appointed at an early date. Such appointments should be conferred upon men of known administrative capacity who also understand the basic structure of society, have human understanding, and, in addition, a personal knowledge of war and war atmosphere gained by active association with one of the services.
I would recommend, too, the recall to the chairmanship of the commission of Mr. Norman Mighell, a man of marked capacity.
– He has done a very good job.
– I quite agree. The proper work of the Coal Commission has become subservient to political considerations, and no longer requires the services of a man of Mr. Mighell’s qualifications.
On the medical services side, I am by no means satisfied with the answers given to my questions. It is in this side that I am particularly interested, for reasons which I shall disclose as I proceed.
I did ask, “Is it the desire of the Minister to place the medical treatment and after-care of those disabled in war on as high a .plane as possible?” His answer was, “ Yes “. But if the experiences of the past are to be repeated, the desired end will not be attained.
– “What action did the honorable senator take when he was Minister to give effect to the question that he put to the present Minister?
– I took such action as would have matured with very beneficial results if the Government had not been so rudely disrupted by the honorable senator and others on his side.
– That Ls not altogether correct. The honorable senator cannot lay that at the door of this Government, because the Government to which he belonged disrupted itself.
– I cannot understand the mentality of the Minister for Health and Social Services, nor am I concerned with it at the moment. Hitherto the medical staff of the commission has been recruited and maintained in a haphazard fashion, and, whilst some excellent men have been secured, little encouragement or opportunity has been extended to them to broaden their clinical knowledge or even consultation within the staff itself. Indeed, there has been, in the departmental methods, a tendency- to convert them into clerks associated with records. This naturally has given rise to dissatisfaction, which has been expressed in various ways, and has led, amongst other things, to the institution of expensive and, in some measure, unsatisfactory appeal tribunals, which, with a properly organized, highly trained and zealous staff, rarely would be necessary. I do not blame the Government for the existing conditions. In my opinion, the commission is an excellent body, but its functions could be improved and that is why I am making these suggestions. We must proceed by evolution. I am informed that to-day, after a lapse of 2S years, no fewer than 29,000 veterans of the war of 1914-18 are still under treatment by the commission. The number of medical officers on the commission’s staff is 62. Nobody knows when this war will end, or even the number of men and .women who ultimately will be involved in it. Therefore, the field for conjecture is immense, and now is the time to institute and organize a medical service which, by reason of its extensive experience in medicine, surgery, hygiene and institutional management, will constitute a valuable and major adjunct to any national health service. The conditions attached to appointments to that service should be such as to attract the best men and women available. A start could be made now by calling for applications from service personnel and establishing a nucleus. As a further preparatory measure, I suggest that a plan prescribing the functions, organizations and conditions of appointment to such a service should be the work of a committee composed of the medical chiefs of the Navy, Army and Air Force, aided and strengthened by two civil representatives. In the matters with which I have been dealing, I have a great personal interest of long: standing, and I trust that what I have said to-day will be given the fullest consideration by the Government. T foresee in the work of the Repatriation Commission something which, if it be done properly, will be of extraordinary benefit to the nation as well as to those unfortunate men and women who have to seek medical treatment as a result of their war service.
– As I was under the impression that Senator Collett was aware of the fact that an investigation of vandalism by troops to which he referred earlier was still proceeding, I had not intended to reply to the honorable senator’s remarks.
– The correspondence indicates that the matter is closed.
– The correspondence files may be closed, but the investigation is still proceeding. The point is that, under the war damage insurance scheme, no provision is made for consequential damage. I do not agree with the honorable senator that in all cases an entire unit should be punished for an offence committed by one individual.
– In certain circumstances, yes.
– In my opinion, under no conditions should that be the case. That may be the Army method but it certainly is not mine. For instance, let us suppose that an Army unit is stationed in a certain locality and that several individuals of that unit steal some fowls from a nearby farm. Surely the honorable senator would not suggest that the entire unit should be punished for the misdeeds of the few. There are many cases of that kind. I know the whole history of the case to which the honorable senator has referred. The Army authorities claim that they occupied only part of the building concerned and were not responsible for the damage done by service personnel. In regard to these matters our position in this country is rather difficult, inasmuch as conditions operating during the last war were vastly different from those that are being experienced now. Responsible officers have been appointed to investigate looting that has occurred in Darwin and in the territories under the control of the Commonwealth by our own service personnel.
– The honorable senator is suffering from lack of experience.
– We are bound to take some notice of the opinions of thos who are given the task of investigating these cases, although the recommendations of these individuals need not necessarily be accepted. I assure the honorable senator that the Army authorities have not dropped the investigation of the matter to which he has referred.
.- I assure Senator Collett and honorable senators generally that the Government is anxious to do all that is humanly possible in the granting of repatriation benefits to returned soldiers, and I think that it will be agreed that there has been ample evidence of that desire up to date. Consistent with its resources, the Government has made a considerable improvement in the conditions of partially or permanently incapacitated soldiers. I shall have very much pleasure in conferring with the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Frost) in regard to the proposals which have been made by Senator Collett. I assure the honorable senator that everything which can be done to improve the position - I am one of those who believe that a good deal more could be done - will be done.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote - Commonwealth Railways, £2,794,000- agreed to.
Postmaster-Genera i/s Department.
Proposed vote, £17,961,000.
.- I should like to know the reason for. the increase of the vote for air-mail services, shown in Division 228. Whereas expenditure last year under this heading amounted to £828,597, the proposed vote for the current financial year is £1,175,000. Does that mean that there is to he an extension of existing air-mail services, or that there will be increased expenditure directly attributable to the war and to difficulties associated with the maintenance of these services?
.- On behalf of the Postmaster-General (Senator Ashley) I give the following information to the honorable senator: The total provision of £1,175,000 includes £1,100,000 for internal air mails, £12,500 for the trans-Tasman service, £35,500 for other external services, £1,000 for Qantas internal services, and £26,000 for airgraph services, including payments to Kodak (Australasia) Proprietary Limited, Owing to the continued alteration in the disposition of service personnel throughout Australia it is most difficult to assess reliable figures for payments to be made to the Department of Civil Aviation for internal air mails. The net weight of originating air mail correspondence conveyed by internal services in 1942-43 showed such a tremendous increase over the previous two years that it is still not possible to estimate with any degree of accuracy what will be the position in 1943-44. The estimate which has been given is based on an average of the mail carried during the four” months, March to June, 1943.
– I notice that the provision made in Division 228 for “Engineering1 stores, tools and equipment “ under the heading “Stores and Material”, shows a substantial increase for every State. Can the Postmaster-General (Senator Ashley) state the reason for that increase?
I should like some information also in regard to inland mail services. In the past, the practice has been to let contracts for these services, and I know that in some oases contractors have undertaken services covering as many as 400 miles a week, for only £50 a year. That has been done in order to secure priority to run on certain country roads and carry parcels, with the result that the mail services suffered. I suggest to the Postmaster-General the advisability of paying for these inland services a remuneration sufficient to enable the contractor to concentrate upon his job of currying mail without, also running a package and parcel delivery. I suggest also that the department should investigate the possibility of converting some long-distance inland services to airmail services after the war. There are many mail runs in the back country of from 100 to 300 miles, and a light aeroplane could probably do them as cheaply as, and more efficiently, certainly more quickly, than they are done to-day by motor lorries and motor cars.
.- The increased vote in respect of stores and materials in the postal department is caused by the fact that the departmentis doing much work for the various services, but the cost will be recovered from those services. Senator Cooper’s suggestion about inland mail services will be brought to the notice of the PostmasterGeneral (Senator Ashley) and a reply to it will be forwarded to the honorable senator.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote, £223,400.
– The Northern Territory having become a military territory, is ihe local control exercised by the civil authorities or by the Army?
.- It is notified in the Commonwealth Gazette of the 14th May last that, under the authority of the National Security (Emergency Control) Regulations, the Army ha.s been placed, in control of the whole of the Northern Territory. Nevertheless, the civil authority is maintaining essential and civilian services, and is also providing certain services for the defence establishments in the territory.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Australian Capital Territory.
Proposed vote, £404,600.
– Item 17 under “ Other Services “, Division 246, relates to “ Entertainment of visitors”. Last .year £50 was voted, and only £2 was expended. I am not surprised that the vote was not expended, if the entertainment of visitors comes under the control of the Minister for the Interior (Senator Collings), seeing that he is a cold-water fanatic; and a nonsmoker. “Who were the visitors entertained last year, and in what way were they entertained? The sum of £2 would not go fay in that direction.
.- The sum of £50, which is proposed to be voted this year, is intended to cover expenditure in connexion with the transport of official visitors, and to meet requirements in donnexion with visits of organized parties of school children, carried out under the auspices of the Young Australia League and other bodies.
– The sum of £2,S00 is proposed to be voted for rabbit and dingo extermination, I suppose that that expenditure applies only to the Australian Capital Territory. The Government should consider the extermination of dingoes on a national scale, and should pay a uniform bonus throughout the Commonwealth for the destruction of this pest. The menace has become serious, because heavy losses are being experienced by stock-owners throughout Australia as the result of the ravages of the dingo. At present the problem is approached in a haphazard manner. Some local governing bodies pay 10s. for each dingo killed, whilst others pay 15s. The Government should make a determined drive against the pest.
– Like Senator Cooper, I have some knowledge of the seriousness of the dingo pest. Even if the Government intended to do so, it has no power to act on the lines suggested by the honorable senator, because the matter is under the control of the State authorities. The Government of Queensland spends large sum? on the extermination of dingoes and rabbits. The vote referred to meets the cost of providing rangers in the Australian Capital Territory, and the work is proving successful.
Senator JAMES MCLACHLAN (South Australia) [12.41 1. - Reference has been made to the prevalence of petty thieving and vandalism in the Australian Capital Territory. What has been done to combat that practice, which is said to have increased?
.- Petty thieving and vandalism have not increased recently in the territory. An examination of the crime sheets for the year ended the 30th September, 1942. shows that the total crimes reported in the territory, including petty thieving, was 413. The cases of vandalism reported to the police during that period numbered 49. The crimes reported, including petty thieving, for the year ended the 30th September, 1943, totalled 368, and the number of cases in which vandalism was reported was 2S. Of the total number of 368 cases of crime reported for the year ended the 30th September last, 165 related to thefts of bicycles. Of the total of 413 cases of crimes reported for the year ended the 30th September, 1942, 209 concerned thefts of bicycles.
– I should probably be out of order if at this stage I gave a dissertation on vandalism in the Australian Capital Territory.
– The Minister is entitled to refer to that matter.
– The degree to which vandalism is practised in the territory is appalling, and it is mostly the work of persons who have had to pass an educational examination to enable them to occupy government positions in this territory. While I am Minister for the Interior I shall endeavour to stamp out vandalism. I suggest that honorable senators should not commit acts detrimental to the beauty of this city, because I know that some of them do so.
– In what way ?
– The Minister i.= not entitled to reflect on honorable senators.
– I refer to the practice of walking over lawns, which cost thousands of pounds to maintain, to such a degree that eventually they are destroyed. That is a common fault of the residents of Canberra, and members of Parliament are no exception to the rule. Canberra is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, yet, despite our efforts to preserve its reputation as a garden city, the residents, unfortunately, do their best, in many instances, to destroy its beauty. Only recently I had to take severe action because private persons had been cutting the blossoms from trees and shrubs without regard to the damaging effect of their action. I had to appoint rangers in order to prevent the practice. The children of well-to-do residents have been found destroying electric light globes in the street lamps and the parents arc indifferent to the fact that they should prevent their children from doing it. Cases of that kind are probed from the psychological angle, and we often find that the delinquents come from homes from which one would expect different behaviour.
Sitting suspended from 1S.J/5 to 2.15 p.m..
– During recent months certain changes have been made in the Police Force of the Australian Capital Territory. An expert was brought from the New South Wales Police Force, but later he returned to that State, and another man was appointed in his place. Does that indicate inefficiency in the local force? I do not wish my request for information to be regarded as in any way reflecting on Colonel Jones and his officers, but I should like to hear the Minister’s explanation.
– I have only one statement to add to what I said this morning, namely, that although the police force in the Australian Capital Territory is under the ministerial control of the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt), I have always received from its members their full co-operation in maintaining peace and order in the Territory.
– Perhaps the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral may be able to offer an explanation.
Senator KEANE (Victoria - Minister for Trade and Customs) [2.1T. - I understand that there was no complaint against the local police force, and that the changes were not the result of any inefficiency.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote, £4,000.
Senator LECKIE (Victoria) [2.18 J.- Can the Minister offer any explanation of the proposed vote for Norfolk Island ? Is any of the proposed expenditure associated with the maintenance of New Zealand troops on the island because members of the Australian militia forces were not allowed to be sent there, or was that service a free gift by New Zealand ?
.- The . Government has certain financial responsibilities in respect of Norfolk Island, but although Australia has provided certain equipment for the. defence of that territory, I am confident that it has no financial commitments in respect of the army which has been stationed there. I should say that the expenditure covers some of the cost of the equipment as well as administrative costs.
: - I should like an explanation of the proposed vote under the- Prime Minister’s Department of £16,341 for “ Officers on unattached list pending suitable vacancies “.
– Immediately prior to and during the war, officers have been appointed to the Prime Minister’s Department either to deal with special work not of a permanent nature, or to replace officers who have been granted leave for war service. Such appointments have been made to the unattached list. The provision covers 36 clerks, 34 typists, 2 assistants and 4 messengers, and the appointments were mainly in connexion with the work of the Cables Branch.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Second schedule agreed to.
Preamble and Title agreed to.
Bill reported without requests; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by SenatorKeane) read a first time.
.- I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The Estimates for 1943-44 provide for the expenditure of £4,870,000 for additions, new works and buildings. The following is a summary of the proposed appropriations : -
Details of the proposed expenditure will be found on pages 298-308 of the printed Estimates. In accordance with the desire of the Government to divert all resources of materials and man-power to war purposes, expenditure on civil works has now been reduced to the minimum necessary to meet essential and urgent requirements. The estimate of £845,000 for civil aviation works make provision for electrical and other equipment and works at civil aerodromes which are now being used extensively by the Allied forces. The amount of £3,242,000 required for postal works is also mainly dictated by war conditions and the urgent demands of the service departments and war industries. The total expenditure on postal works for 1942-43 was £2,903,000. An amount of £150,000 is included for hospitals and other institutions for the Repatriation Department. The cost of military hospitals is charged to Army votes. Because of man-power difficulties there has been a considerable curtailment of expenditure on civil works in the territories of the Commonwealth. The amount’ of £118,000 which has been included for the Northern Territory provides mainly for the completion of essential works which are now mostly required for military purposes. The estimates of the Australian Capital Territory provide only for urgent works which are within the capacity of available resources. The proposed appropriation of £4,870,000 does not include works for defence and war services, as separate provision for this expenditure is made under war votes. Any details required regarding specific works will be supplied to honorable senators by Ministers in the committee stage.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
– In his second-reading speech the Minister mentioned the sum of £118,000 as the appropriation for the Northern Territory, and explained that that sum provided mainly for the completion of essential works required chiefly for military purposes. As the road from Alice Springs to Darwin has been completed, I should like to know what the amount covers?
– The honorable senator is aware, of course, that most of these works are intimately related to our defences. This amount is required to cover a programme of works which include incomplete works authorized during 1942-43, and new works which are essential to meet both civilian and military needs.
– I ask the Postmaster-General (‘Senator Ashley) whether the item “ Telephone Exchange Services, £1,795,000 “ covers country telephone exchanges, and, if so, what proportion of that sum is to be expended on such services?
2.32]. - lt, is difficult to indicate what portion of this amount will be expended on telephone exchange services in the country. Detailed provision for such work is not made until specific applications are dealt with. However. I assure the honorable senator that this expenditure covers country telephone exchange services.
.- Can the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation indicate what works are contemplated in respect of the item “ Buildings, works, sites, fitting3 and furniture, £150,000 “ proposed in respect of the Department of Repatriation. Does it include the provision of adequate departmental premises in Western Australia?
.- That sum is in respect of hospitals and sanitoriums in Victoria, Queensland and South Australia, and new proposals to bc undertaken in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania.
.- I. presume that the item in respect of Parliament, under the control of the Department of the Interior, “Buildings, works, sites, fittings and furniture, £24,000 “ includes the extensions now being made to the Senate wing of Parliament House. Has the accommodation in the new wing already been allocated, or will such allocation be solely the responsibility of the President?
.- The works for which this provision is required are as follows: - Incomplete works authorized during . 1942-43 : New South Wales, minor works, £41; Australian Capital Territory, Parliament House, erection of additional wing, £6,321; furniture for new wing. £1,800, and minor works, £38. New proposals include: Parliament House, additional wing, “Senate side, £12,750; House of Representatives, fittings and furniture, including requirements for rooms under construction, £1,900; Joint. House de partments, furniture and fittings, £950; Library, fittings and furniture, £50: and Federal Members’ Rooms in all States, fittings and furniture, £150.
– The new wing will be under the control of the President, who will not be dragooned by any Minister as to how he shall allocate the new accommodation ?
– That is so.
.- Does the item “ National broadcasting service, £24,000 “ in the estimates for the Postmaster-General’s Department include provision for the erection of a new broadcasting station; and, if so, where?
– That is part of the cost, of a number of broadcasting stations, including a new regional station at Geraldton.
– I should like the Leader of the Senate (Senator Keane) to give some details of the item “ Trans-Australian Railway, £120,000 “.
.- The honorable senator will notice that the total provision in respect of Commonwealth railways is £150,000. Thi 3 provision is to meet expenditure on the following works: - Incomplete works authorized during 1942-43, £44,690; additional housing accommodation for employees, £31,130; plant and equipment for workshops and running sheds, £13,970; improvements to permanent way, £11,480; improved facilities for supply of meat to employees, £8,190; bridges and culverts. £8,060; additional accommodation and facilities at stations, £7,800; additional office accommodation and telephone facilities, £7,500; rail anchors, £5,900; improvements to rolling stock, £4,550, and miscellaneous purposes, £6,730.
.- The items of expenditure for the PostmasterGeneral’s Department for last year include the item “ Subscription to share capital - Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, £50,001 “. What was the exact nature of that expenditure ?
-It was the final payment owing by the Government in respect of its share liability in Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited.
.- No provision is made for the ensuing twelve months. Has the Commonwealth now met its full liability in respect of its shares in Amalgamated Wireless ( Australasia ) Limited ?
Schedule agreed to.
Preamble and Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
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 thu bill be now read a second time.
The main purpose of the bill is to provide for the issue of national savings stamps in. connexion with the raising of Commonwealth war loans. It has been found that the most convenient method for wage-earners to subscribe to loans by instalments is by means of deductions from periodical payments of wages. Where employees are continuously engaged on the one payroll, this presents no difficulty and deductions are made regularly until payment for bonds has been completed. There are, however, numbers of people whose employment is constantly changing, and in these cases deductions from salary is not practicable. In order to provide for these subscribers and also for those who wish to set aside small amounts as they become available, it has been decided to introduce the 5s. national savings stamp. Folders will be provided to contain 40 stamps, the face value of which will amount to £10. These may be accepted in payment for treasury bonds. Alternatively, stamps to the face value of £2. or multiples thereof, may be accepted in payment of instalments for bonds. National savings stamps may be paid to the credit of depositors’ accounts with all savings banks. The banks will, in turn, exchange the stamps for war loan securities. The stamps will be on sale at all savings banks, money order post offices and such other selling points as may be decided from time to time. This measure makes provision for the protection of war savings stamps and national savings stamps against forgery and uttering similar to that given to treasury-bills under the relative provision of the Treasury Bills Act.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Motion (by Senator Keane) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave of absence be granted to every member of the Senate from the determination of the sitting this day to the day on which the Senate next meets.
Motion (by Senator Keane) pro posed -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn to a dato and hour to be fixed by the President, which time of meeting shall be notified to each senator by telegram or letter.
.- Will the Leader of the Senate (Senator Keane) inform us when we are likely to be called together again?
– My present understanding is that we shall not meet earlier than the end of next January.
.- I have a vivid recollection of members of the Government, when they were on this side of the chamber, proclaiming, fromthese benches and from the housetops, that Parliament ought not to adjourn for any lengthy period, and should meet as frequently as possible. They even mentioned dates, and expressed the view that we should meet at least every month. Now, however, that they have complete control, they have altered their attitude, and propose to adjourn Parliament to a day of which members are to be notified.
– They do not mind meeting Parliament, but they do not want to meet the Caucus.
– That may be the trouble. The Leader of the Senate (Senator Keane) is not very definite even now. All he says is that it is probable that Parliament will not meet again before the end of January. Many interpretations could be put on that answer. I am convinced that we shall not meet before then, but how soon after the end of January will we meet?
– As early as possible.
– This motion seems to postpone the meeting of Parliament for at least three or four months. Although the war position is looking a little better, Ministers should be more consistent.
– This is the usual motion, which the honorable senator has heard many times before.
– It is not the usual motion. When Senator Collings was Leader of the Senate he was always definite. He has the habit of being very dc finite about certain things, and does not deal so much in generalities. He usually mentioned a date. In this case he would probably have said “ the Senate will meet before the end of January “, but the present Leader of the Senate says, “ My present understanding is that we shall not meet earlier than the end of January “.
– New men, new ideas.
– I am not offering an appreciation of which is the better method. Those on this side of the Senate would like to know, for their own convenience, whether the end of January i3 a definite date, or one in the blue that may or may not be adhered to within a week or two.
Apart from that, it is apparent to every one inside and outside Parliament that the people expect it to meet as frequently as it possibly can, because, in spite of what happened recently, they have grave doubts whether the Government will be able to carry on successfully if it has an uninterrupted period of three months free from interference. Ministers, I think, are aware of their own limitations. They should know that they are not absolutely infallible, and should welcome the fact that honorable senators on this side are prepared every now and then to tell diem the right way to go. In order that we may have a full opportunity to do so, and to assist the Government in every possible way, Parliament should be called together at fairly frequent intervals. This motion is not up to the usual form of the late Leader of the Senate. He would have said, “ We shall meet even if the heavens fall”; or “We shall not meet if the heavens fall “. I should like the Minister to be a little more definite^ and to say to senators on this side, is particular, and to the country generally: “ We are not going to adjourn Parliament any longer than is necessary to enable us to prepare our legislation, and will consult the Houses within the next month or two about the difficult problems with which we have to deal “.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Visit by Members of Parliament to Battle Areas - Volunteer Defence Corps - Civil Constructional Corps - Commonwealth Powers Bill - New Guinea : Treatment of Natives ; Casualties - Australian Army : Absentees; Canteens Fund - Meat Industry : Werribee Beef - Federal Members’ Rooms, Perth.
Motion (by Senator Keane) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
.- As I did not have an opportunity to speak on the budget, I desire to bring to the notice of the Government the contents of a letter which I have received from a friend of mine in the Australian Imperial Force - a major serving in the northern part of Australia. He suggests that members of Parliament representing all political parties should visit the Northern Territory and other battle .areas to see exactly what is going on there. He complains that in the Australian Army there are three different sections. The first, he says, is the “administration society comprising the men who returned from the Middle East, and who hardly condescend to talk to those who through no fault of their own, have not served in the Middle East. He himself has been on the active strength of the Army for six years, but he says that the majority of promotions go to the men who have been to the Middle East, I whether they ares qualified or not. According to him the men from the Middle East hardly condescend to talk to members of the Militia, or to those who, through no fault of their own, have not had the opportunity to serve overseas. He himself was anxious to go overseas when the war began, but was retained in Australia on account of the special nature of the work that he is doing, and so was not given the opportunity to serve abroad. He says that the “ administration society “ will hardly mix with the Militia, although some of the Militia have seen as much service as have those from the Middle East. Members of Parliament should have the necessary facilities provided for them to go through the battle areas, the camps up north, and the different Australian Imperial Force stations, so that they may see for themselves what the position is. I hope that the Government will agree to provide those who are willing to go with travelling facilities to enable them to mix with the men and explain the difficulties under which the Government and the country are working. Such a party would do very good work, especially if it were composed of members of all parties.
– As I did not have an opportunity to speak on the budget, I wish to refer to two matters. One relates to a question which I asked the Minister some days ago about officers above the rank of sergeant in the Volunteer Defence Corps not being allowed to drive a motor car. These men would like the privilege of driving themselves, and it is considered also that in Tasmania alone at least twenty men could be released for some other occupation if this permission were given. If a member of the Volunteer Defence Corps of the rank of warrant-officer or higher is now caught by one of their transport inspectors driving a motor car, he is courtmartialled. There should he nothing to prevent these men from driving motor cars themselves when they have to go from one place to another on military duty. They are quite agreeable to do it. In one particular camp three motor cars are available, but the officers are not allowed to drive themselves. They have to get men to do about six hours driving a week for them. I hope that the Minister will take notice of what I have said, and thus save expenditure, and also release about twenty men in Tasmania alone for other work.
Recently I asked the Minister for the Interior (Senator Collings) which department controls the Civil Constructional Corps, on what date Mr. Summers was appointed in Tasmania, and the number of men transferred from Tasmania to the mainland. Since the appointment of Mr. Summers the number is less than 300. Mr. Summers has been in Tasmania for almost six months, and no doubt he is receiving a substantial salary. His offices are of a high standard, and it is evident that the rental of them would not be low. They are situated in the heart of a capital city. He has a staff to assist him and the use of a motor car. No doubt, he has other work to do besides his Civil Constructional Corps activities, but a statement on the matter should be made by the Minister for the Interior in order to clear the atmosphere. I do not wish to he critical. No doubt the expenses that are being incurred are perfectly justified, but there is an impression abroad that Mr. Summers is engaged solely upon Civil Constructional Corps work.
I hope that Cabinet will reach an early decision in regard to the future of the Commonwealth Powers Bill. Unless the Commonwealth Parliament be given sufficient power to deal fully with all phases of post-war reconstruction, when the war is over conditions in this country will be chaotic. At present we have in operation elaborate systems of control over the price and marketing of many essentia] commodities, particularly primary products, but that control depends entirely upon national security regulations, which will become invalid when the war ends. The Commonwealth will he unable to pursue’ an effective policy of industrial decentralization unless it be given increased power, and wider authority will be required also to deal adequately with social and industrial legislation. For the information of honorable senators, I shall cite an example of the state of affairs which exists to-day and which must be remedied. For a long while, coal-miners in Tasmania who, in the past three years, have worked conscientiously, and with very little absenteeism and few stoppages, have been endeavouring to secure the passage through the Tasmanian Parliament of pensions legislation. A bill meeting their approval was passed by the Legislative Assembly, but when it reached the Legislative Council it was subjected to a vicious attack led by one member of that legislature who represented the interests of the mine-owners. The result was that the measure was rejected. That sort of thing is happening also in the other States. If a referendum is to be held upon the subject of granting wider powers to the Commonwealth Parliament, I suggest to the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) that the questions to be submitted to the people should include one relating to the abolition of the State Legislative Councils. Alternatively, the constitutions of the States should be amended to provide that -the Legislative Councils shall be elected by full adult franchise. We in this country tend to pride ourselves upon our democratic institutions, but in this respect at least we are undemocratic because State Legislative Councils are elected by only one section of the people, and that section is a very small minority indeed. The result is that any liberal legislation which may be introduced and passed by the Legislative Assemblies is almost certain to be rejected by the higher legislatures. Generally speaking, the Legislative Councils are composed of gentlemen who were old even at the time of their election, and whose ideas are 50 years behind the times.
If we hope to make any progress at all, an attempt must be made to alter the outlook of the States towards the Commonwealth Powers Bill. I urge that a referendum on this matter be taken at an early date and that it include a question relating to the future of State Legislative Councils.
– In brief terms I wish to correct a misleading and inaccurate statement that was made recently by the Minister for Transport and External Territories (Mr. Ward), in regard to the Papuan natives. The Minister is reported to have said -
The “ Fuzzy-Wuzzy angels “ have been victims of shabby treatment and will require a comprehensive plan of social betterment. It has taken this war to make many people realize that the “ Fuzzy-Wuzzy angels “ are worthy charges of the Commonwealth.
The Minister’s charge of shabby treatment is quite unfounded, and is a gross libel on that great man, the late Sir Hubert Murray, who was administrator of Papua for many years. Our treatment of the native races in Papua has been humane and just, and is a bright spot in Australian history. The same thing applies to the administration of our mandated territories, and I suggest to the Minister for Transport and External Territories that he might profitably devote some time to reading the many illuminating annual reports prepared by Sir Hubert Murray, and by the administrators of the mandated territories, and forwarded to the League of Nations in Geneva. The Minister’s statement is also a libel on the work of many hundreds of brave yoting Australians who have given their lives succouring the natives of our mandated territories, and to the many hundreds of others who have ruined their health performing medical and mission work in those areas. I repeat that to say that the natives of Papua, or of any territories over which we have a mandate, have been treated shabbily is a libellous statement which could emanate only as the result of ignorance. The Minister would do well to read some of the many interesting publications that are to be found in the Library on the work that has been accomplished amongst the New Guinea natives. I refer particularly to books by authors such as Mr. Jack Hydes, whom we had the privilege of meeting here in Canberra some years ago, and who gave his life to their service. If the Minister will only visit the external territories he will see for himself that his statement is quite inaccurate and unfounded.
– To-day, Senator Nash asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
The Minister for the Army has supplied the following answers: -
To-day Senator Uppill asked’ the Minister representing the Minister for the Army,, upon notice -
The Minister for the Army has supplied the following answers: -
This morning Senator Brand asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
In il the intention of the Government to create a canteen fund out of the profits of Army canteens in the present war and utilize that fund as was done with the Australian Imperial Force canteen fund of the 1 9 1 4 - 1 S war ?
The Minister for the Army has supplied the following answers: -
This morning Senator Gibson asked me a question, without notice, in relation to cattle slaughtered at the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works’ farm at Werribee, Victoria.
The figures quoted by Senator Gibson were supplied in response to inquiries by honorable members in the House of Representatives for stated periods, and were compiled from the reports of the veterinary officers in charge of the respective abattoirs. They are being checked back to the original reports but this, of course, cannot be completed before the Senate rises.
The position is that certain cattle from the farm are examined by the technical officers of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture and if a carcass is found to be free from beef measles (Cysticercus bovis) the forequarters are acquired for canning under the Commonwealth plan and the remainder is passed to the jurisdiction of the State authorities. Any beast found affected with beef measles is rejected entirely and its disposal is subject to State health laws.
. -I wish to draw the attention of the Senate to the state of the federal members’ rooms at Perth. With the membership of the Labour party at its present strength, the arrangement of the accommodation is entirely unsuitable. Consideration must also be given to the fact that Western Australia now has a woman member of the Senate. When one travels round other cities of the Commonwealth and sees the provision that has been made for members of the Commonwealth Parliament, one is inclined to believe that the Western Australians are being left out in the cold. There are two large rooms which could easily be altered. The remaining accommodation is small and I have had the unfortunate experience of endeavouring to give confidential interviews to people in the presence of several other honorable senators. In these circumstances, people hesitate to speak frankly. Actually, the building is one of the finest in the Commonwealth but the office accommodation for federal members is quite inadequate. The cost of re-arranging the accommodation would not be very great.
– If the honorable senator will take the matter up with the Works Director in Western Australia he will take action through the responsible Minister, who happens to be myself, and there should be no difficulty in having the work carried out.
– I thank the Minister for the Interior (Senator Collings) for his assurance.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1943, No. 233.
Canned Fruits Export Control Act - Seventeenth Annual Report of the Australian Canned Fruits Board, for year 1942-43, together with Statement’ by Minister regarding the operation of the Act.
Dairy Produce Export Control Act - Eighteenth Annual Report of the Australian Dairy Produce Board, for year 1942-43, together with Statement by Minister regarding the operation of the Act.
Judiciary Act - Rule of Court- dated 4th October, 1943.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Commonwealth purposes - Ballarat, Victoria.
Meat Export Control Act - Eighth Annual Report of the Australian Meat Board, for year 1942-43, together with Statement by Minister regarding the operation of the Act.
National Security Act -
National Security (Capital Issues) Regulations - Order - Exemption.
National Security (Food Control) Regulations - Order No. 1.
National Security (General) Regulations - Orders - Prohibited places (2).
Taking possession of land, &c. (128).
Use of land (5).
National Security (Industrial Property)
Regulations - Orders - Inventions and designs (116).
National Security (Man Power) Regulations - Orders - Protected undertakings (38).
National Security (Prisoners of War) Regulations - Rules - Camp.
Wine Overseas Marketing Act - Fifteenth Annual Report of the Australian Wine Board, for year 1942-43, together with Statement by Minister regarding the operation of the Act.
Wool - Report of the Central Wool Committee for Season 1942-43.
Senate adjourned at 3.15 p.m. to a date and hour to be fixed by the President.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 15 October 1943, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1943/19431015_senate_17_176/>.