17 March 1944

17th Parliament · 1st Session

The President (Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown) took the chair at 10.30 a.m. and read prayers.

page 1517



Position of Austrians

Senator FOLL:

– Has the Minister for the Interior read the statement in the Sydney Morning Herald to-day headed “ Nazi Law Rules in Canberra “, in which the criticism is levelled at his department that refugees who have come to this country from Austria to escape German aggression are being asked by the department to declare themselves, on their applications for naturalization, to be German citizens? Will the Minister clearup the matter, because it isundoubtedly causing a good deal of concern?

Minister for the Interior · QUEENSLAND · ALP

-The question of the nationality of Austrians is very involved, and brings into consideration intricate matters of international law. So much was my department impressed by the large number of applications received for naturalization from Austrian refugees thatwe called a conference about a month ago between the responsible officers of my department and the Department of the Attorney-General. Professor Bailey was the chairman of the conference. A considerable quantity of evidence was taken regarding the matter, and several German legal men, who are in Australia at present as refugees, submitted their opinions on the matter. Every proposal for naturalization is considered on its merits. There is nothing whatever to prevent refugees from being naturalized, providing they can comply with all of the usual requisites of naturalization. They must have been resident in Australia for five years and they must be of good character. Those conditions apply to Jews who have been forced out of Germany, because of Nazi oppression, as well as to Austrians. Two possibilities arise. In the first place they could be declared “ stateless “, or they must declare ‘themselves to be Germans. There is no hardship in that, because it does not affect them in any way whatever; they are still entitled to naturalization if the usual conditions can be fulfilled. If they do not declare themselves to have some nationality, how are we to get them to renounce the loyalty previously declared to some other power? That is all that I propose to say on the matter to-day. At a later stage, either to-day or on the next day of sitting, I shall be in a position to submit a prepared statement setting out the matter in greater detail. Both the sub-leader in the Sydney Morning Herald and the correspondent’s letter on which the sub-leader is based, are a cowardly misrepresentation of the whole position. The press is not by any means immune from that charge, because of mis-statements made by it on many other matters of government policy.

Senator McBride:

– The Minister should not hit his friends too hard.


– Both the subleader and the letter of the correspondent constitute a cowardly attack, without reference to the facts or to those who have knowledge of the facts. The statements afford further proof of the utter unreliability of the newspapers. I do not object to honours being heaped upon me, but I draw attention to another inaccurate report’ published in the Sydney Morning Herald this morning. The report says that in this chamber yesterday I made a statement with regard to the manufacture of penicillin. I did not do anything of the kind. The statement was made by my colleague the Minister for Health.

SenatorFOLL. - When the Minister is making further inquiries, will he endeavour to ascertain whether it is not possible to avoid the practice of making these refugees declare themselves to be Germans, and whether the requirements of naturalization cannot be met by declarations by these applicants of allegiance to the country from which they actually come.


– I might say that it was because we felt the need for action along those lines that the conference was called.

page 1517



Senator LAMP:

– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs state whether any person, on the presentation of a doctor’s certificate to an officer of the Department of Trade and Customs, can obtain an order for a bottle of brandy? If so, is the necessary brandy available in Australia for distribution?

Senator KEANE:
Minister for Trade and Customs · VICTORIA · ALP

– The answer to the first portion of the honorable senator’s question is in the affirmative. Some complaints have been made that, after getting the order, the brandy is not obtainable. T am now having an investigation made into the matter of the supply of brandy for invalids.

page 1518



Senator LECKIE:

– As there seems to be some doubt regarding the announcement that the ration coupons for clothing will be of no use after the 3rd June next, will the Minister for Trade and Customs amplify his statement? Is it to be understood that the new ration books will be available on the 3rd or 4th June, or is there to be an interval between the 3rd June and the 1st July during which people will not be able to buy clothing in respect of which coupons have to be surrendered ?

Senator KEANE:

– I undertake to obtain the information desired by the honorable senator during the day.

page 1518



Senator NASH:

– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce ind Agriculture state the intention of the Government with respect to the continuance of wheat acreage restrictions in Western Australia? Has any decision been made, and if so, what is the present position ?

Senator FRASER:

– The whole matter of lifting the compulsory wheat acreage restriction in Western Australia, is under consideration. The Government has to consider transport difficulties, the lack of superphosphate and the storage problems in that State. No doubt the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture will make a statement on the matter as soon as full consideration has been given to it.

Senator GIBSON:

– In view of the shortage of superphosphate, will the Government ‘review the system of licensing farms for the growing of wheat -so that persons with ground suitable for wheat production without superphosphate may be enabled to grow wheat? Failing that action, will the Government license the grower to place a certain area of land under wheat rather than licence the farms?

Senator FRASER:

– I shall bring the question to the notice of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture.

page 1518


Senator JAMES McLACHLAN.According to press reports, representatives of the Transport Department have been taking a census of the passenger traffic on the railway between Adelaide and Melbourne during the last two or three weeks. Can the Minister representing the Minister for Transport say when a report on the matter will be available, and what the Government intends to do with regard to the service on that line?


– I shall make inquiries and furnish a reply to the honorable senator, if possible, to-day.

page 1518



Senator BRAND:

– Does the Minister representing the Minister for the Army know of the recent arrival of a contingent of Australian war prisoners from Japan who arc walking skeletons, not because of wounds, but because of malnutrition and starvation? Will the Government take whatever action is possible, through the Swiss neutral authorities, to impress upon the Japanese authorities that if this treatment is again given to Australian prisoners, reprisals will be made against. Japanese prisoners in this country?

Senator FRASER:

– Every precaution has’ been taken -by the Government to safeguard the interests of Australian prisoners of war held by Japan. Every channel has been exploited in order to forward to prisoners in Japan those things which are necessary for the maintenance of their health.

page 1518



– As the result of the temporary withdrawal of the steamer which formerly carried passengers and mails across Bass Strait, thus causing delay in the delivery of second-class mail matter, will the PostmasterGeneral have inquiries made and see that the delivery of such mail matter is expedited.

Senator ASHLEY:
Postmaster-General · NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– I shall have inquiries made.

page 1519



Senator LAMP:

asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -

  1. Is it a fact that landlords can refuse to accept rent from their tenants for two months, thereby giving the landlord grounds for eviction?
  2. If so, will the Minister take steps to prevent this (practice in the future?
Senator ASHLEY:

– The AttorneyGeneral has supplied the following answer : - 1 and 2. - I am not aware of any case in which a court has so held, but, in the event of a court so deciding, I will ask the Minister for Trade and Customs, who administers the National Security (Landlord and Tenant) Regulations, to consider an appropriate amendment.

page 1519


Call of the Senate - Suspension of Standing Order 283.

Motion (by Senator Keane) agreed to-

That Standing Order 283 be suspended so as to enable a call of the Senate to be made, without 21 days’ notice, in connexion with the third reading of the Constitution Alteration (Post-war Reconstruction and Democratic Rights) Bill 1044.

Motion (by Senator Keane) proposed -

That there be a call of the Senate on Thursday, the 23rd day of March, 1944, at 3 p.m., for the purpose of considering the third reading of the Constitution Alteration (Postwar Reconstruction and Democratic Rights) Bill 1944.

Senator McLEAY:
Leader of the Opposition · South Australia

– I should like to know what would be the position with respect to the proposed call of the Senate should the bill not have passed the committee stage at the time prescribed in the motion?

Senator GIBSON:

.- As it is very unusual to have a call of the Senate, I should like to know to what penalty an honorable senator who does not observe the call renders himself liable.

Senator SPICER:

.- The motion expressly provides that a call of the Senate be made at 3 o’clock next Thursday for the purpose of considering the third reading of the Constitution Alteration (Post-war Reconstruction and Democratic Rights) Bill.

Senator Gibson:

– The measure has had a new christening.

Senator SPICER:

– Yes, it seems to have been given a new name within the last 24 hours. Should I support the motion am I to be taken as consenting to the proposition that at 3 p.m. next Thursday the third reading of this most important measure will be taken ? If that is so, it involves me in making up my mind as to whether I shall consent to the bill being rushed through the second reading and committee stages in order that the third reading may be disposed of at 3 p.m. next Thursday.

Senator Large:

– We can sit all night.

Senator SPICER:

– Even should we sit all night on next Tuesday and Wednesday, this measure contains so many important proposals that it will require even longer consideration than that. I have looked at the Standing Orders, and I gather that a call may be postponed. 1 take it that at 3 o’clock next Thursday the Government could move for a postponement of the call. I should like the Leader of the Senate (Senator Keane) to assure me that, should the discussion of this measure not proceed sufficiently to enable the third reading to be taken at 3 o’clock next Thursday, he will not apply the gag in order to get to the third reading stage by Thursday, but will be prepared to postpone the call in order to give to the Senate full opportunity to discuss every portion of the measure adequately on the second reading and in committee.

Senator McBRIDE (South Australia)

Senator Spicer. Intrinsically, this measure is of vital concern to the Senate because under it the Government proposes to hold a referendum to determine whether certain powers shall be transferred from the States to the Commonwealth. As the Senate is primarily a States House the measure should be thoroughly considered by this chamber. I do not suggest that at 3 p.m. next Thursday the bill will not be at a stage at which the third reading can be taken; but, as the Leader of the Senate (Senator Keane), when he was a member of the Opposition, acclaimed the rights of this chamber at every opportunity in his desire to preserve those rights, it would ill become him now in his position as Leader of the Senate to use his powers to prevent the Senate from discussing this measure thoroughly. Therefore, I hope that the Leader of the Senate will agree to Senator Spicer’s request and that this motion will be agreed to on the clear understanding that the business of the Senate will be proceeded with in a normal way, and that at the hour and date prescribed it will be possible to take the third reading of the measure; but should the measure not have reached that stage the Leader of the Senate will ask for a postponement of the call to enable the Senate to give full consideration to it.

Senator A J McLACHLAN:

– I have had some experience with respect to calls of the Senate. As there appears to be some misapprehension in the matter on the part of some honorable senators, I should like to say that the view that has hitherto been held is that once the hour and date is prescribed, the call continues until the business in respect of which it is made comes up for consideration. I do not think that the Government would have any necessity to take the drastic step implied by Senator Spicer. The call, having once been made for the hour and date named, it is the duty of all honorable senators to be hero at that hour; but it does not necessarily follow that the motion for the third reading of the bill will be put at that hour. Senator Spicer has asked for an undertaking that the Government will not apply the closure. In view of the importance of the measure, I have no doubt that the Government will not hesitate to give that assurance, having regard particularly to the magnitude of the measure and the fact that it is of particular concern to the Senate as the States’ House. The measure contemplates a disturbance of the existing relationship between the Commonwealth and the States, and opens up vistas that will involve a great deal of discussion. I think that I am correct in saying that a call of the Senate is a continuing call until the matter in respect of which it is raised is disposed of.

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon Gordon Brown:

– In order to make the position clear. I shall read Standing Order 286-

  1. . When the Order of the Day for calling over the Senate is read, unless the same be postponed or discharged, the names of the Senators shall be called over by the Clerk alphabetically: Provided that any alteration of the Order varying the time fixed for the Call shall be on a motion fixing an hour or day subsequent to that previously named for the Call.

I take it that if the bill has not reached the third-reading stage at the hour prescribed it will be competent to move for a postponement of the motion for the third reading.

Senator McBride:

– We are asking that the Leader of the Senate give an assurance that, he will move in that direction.


– I cannot speak for the Minister. I am merely stating the position insofar as the Standing Orders deal with the matter. The Senate itself will decidethe penalty to be inflicted on any senator who does not attend the call.

Senator KEANE:
Minister for Trade and Customs · Victoria · ALP

in reply - It is the desire of the Government to give to the Senate an opportunity to discuss this important measure fully. The second-reading speech of the Minister in charge of the bill will be delivered this morning, and the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) will secure the adjournment of the debate until 3 p.m. next Tuesday. The debate will then proceed without interruption. I am assuming that there may be some late sittings next week, and, therefore, I suggest that we might meet at 10.30 a.m. on that day instead of the usual hour of 3 p.m., in order that we may have an opportunity to reach the third-reading stage at the hour mentioned in my motion. Honorable senators will realize that we must fix some hour for the putting of the motion of the third reading of the measure. I have not fixed the hour I have mentioned in any arbitrary fashion, but have discussed it with the Leader of the Opposition as an approximate hour. I assure honorable senators that the Government does not desire to apply the closure, if it can avoid doing so. However, we are anxious to get the bill through as soon as possible in view of the fact that the Senate has still to deal with other urgent business.

Senator Spicer:

– Does the Minister call this measure urgent?

Senator KEANE:

– I say definitely that it is an urgent measure. I assure honorable senators opposite that the Senate will be given ample ‘ opportunity to discuss the bill.

Senator Spicer:

– What will the Minister do if by the time mentioned the Senate has not passed the second reading?

Senator KEANE:

– The honorable senator will be at liberty to raise that point should the necessity arise.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Second Reading

Senator ASHLEY:
New South WalesPostmasterGeneral · ALP

– I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

This is a bill to seek power to alter the Constitution by the insertion of a new chapter vesting in the Commonwealth Parliament certain additional powers and providing certain declarations of right. The proposed new provisions are of a temporary character, in that they are to continue in operation for five years after Australia ceases to be engaged in hostilities in the present war. The legislative powers set forth in the bill are designed to make it possible for the Commonwealth Government to deal effectively with the postwar reconstruction problems that will arise after the war. The outbreak of war found the people of Australia, along with the peoples of all the Allied Nations, unprepared to meet the great emergencies which arose. It is only after four years of continuous planning and effort that we are now reaching that state of organization and efficiency necessary to enable us to crush the predatory powers that have thrown the world into chaos. When peace comes, we must not again be unprepared to perform the tasks which will then fall to our hands. If the winning of the war is to be worth the effort and sacrifices we have made to that end, the world that emerges from the present global struggle must be one in which every individual will have, together with the other freedoms - freedom of speech and expression, religious freedom and freedom from fear - a reasonable chance of obtaining freedom from want. Freedom from want in Australia cannot be attained without national planning and the power to carry into effect schemes for economic and social security evolved by that planning. Australia will have its part to play as a nation in the international arrangements that will be made to attain the objective of the Atlantic Charter. If we are not equipped to maintain in order our own house, we shall not be able to pull our weight in post-war reconstruction.

In order that the people of Australia may be able to transfer, without utter dislocation and chaos, ‘ from a war economy to a peace-time economy, the Government will require to have at its command the legislative and executive machinery necessary for the purpose. As the change-over can only be carried out satisfactorily on a national basis, it is essential that the Government should be able to operate the necessary machinery with continuance of the active cooperation of the parliaments and governments of the States. For this reason, the bill seeks to provide the ‘Commonwealth with certain powers which, in addition to those now exercised by the Commonwealth, are considered necessary if we are to be equipped for the work that lies ahead. Honorable senators are, no doubt, aware of the reasons which actuated the Government in asking for the additional powers sought under the bill. This Government has always realized that the Commonwealth should have additional powers to perform the work of post-war reconstruction. The first step towards obtaining these powers was taken in October, 1942, by the introduction in the House of Representatives of a bill to provide for an alteration of the Constitution designed to give to this Parliament power to legislate with respect “to the development and advancement of Australia after the war. The introduction of that measure was followed by a Convention held in Canberra from the 24th November to the 2nd December, 1942. The Convention was attended by the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition of each State Parliament and by twelve representatives of this Parliament - six representing the Government and six representing the Opposition. The Convention may thus be truly said to have been fully representative of parliamentary political thought in Australia. Shortly after the ‘Convention opened, a revised draft bill was submitted to it. After some days of discussion, it was unanimously resolved that additional powers should he vested in the Commonwealth and that this should be done hy the States referring certain powers to the Commonwealth. A drafting committee was accordingly appointed to draw up the matters of reference. That committee consisted of the Premiers of the States, the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Hughes). After deliberating for some days, the drafting committee presented a draft bill to the Convention which, after discussion, was adopted by the Convention, and the State Premiers agreed to introduce it into their respective parliaments. All the State Premiers undertook to do their utmost to secure the passage of the bill, in the form agreed upon, through their respective legislatures. But only two State parliaments have passed a bill to confer the powers sought. South Australia and “Western Australia have passed a Commonwealth Powers Bill which departs in many vital respects from the draft bill. Victoria passed a bill which was substantially identical to the draft bill, but attached to it a condition suspending- its operation till all the other States had passed identical legislation. In

Tasmania, the Legislative Council refused to pass the bill. The position is, therefore, that up to the present the plan has failed, but, as the Attorney-General said, the States mentioned can still pass the necessary legislation.

As the attempt to obtain a reference of powers by the States has failed at least temporarily, the Government feels that, in the absence of prompt action, it has no alternative hut to attempt to obtain the necessary powers from the people. Having regard to the agreement reached at the Convention, it considers that it should seek only the powers so agreed upon. Accordingly, the present hill provides for an appeal to the people in an endeavour to acquire the powers which the Commonwealth would have been able to exercise if all the States had passed the draft bill in the terms agreed to at the Convention. Only such alterations have been made as are necessary to enable bills to be introduced in the State legislature and in order, to comply with section 128 of the Constitution. A modification has been made in paragraph (i) of proposed new section 60a which provides for the rehabilitation and advancement of servicemen and their dependants. In the draft bill adopted at the Convention, this paragraph was limited to persons who had served in the present war and their dependants. As a result of an amendment made in the House of Representatives it now extends to persons who have served in any war and to their dependants. As already mentioned, the powers sought by the bill can ;he exercised for only five years after the cessation of hostilities. They will, therefore, be on trial and it is proposed that, before the expiration of the period mentioned, the Constitution should be revised at a representative Convention with a view to a permanent alteration in the light of the experience of the trial period.

I shall now deal with the scope of the bill insofar as it proposes to confer powers on the Parliament. With the exception of paragraph (xiv) - the people of the aboriginal race - it will be seen that each .matter is closely related to the .problems which we know will arise when the war ends. During the war, there has been full employment for all, because of the great demand for man-power and woman-power and the internal organization of war-time industries. Such full employment must be maintained after the war, but that will he possible only if the thousands of servicemen and servicewomen can be properly placed in peace-time industry, and if, in the meantime, they are being prepared for absorption in industry. The .powers for the rehabilitation and advancement of servicemen in the matter of employment and unemployment and with respect to production and distribution will give adequate power to cope with this problem. During the war, the organization of marketing and production has reached a high mark of efficiency. It has been estimated that, as the result of organized marketing, the debts of primary producers have been reduced by over £60,000,000 since the war began. Under the Commonwealth’s peace-time powers similar results could not be maintained, and the nation would therefore be faced with the possibility of the collapse of primary industries vital, not only to Australia, but also to the whole world. The powers with regard to organized marketing of primary commodities, prices and distribution, coupled with the existing Commonwealth powers over bounties, overseas trade and external affairs, will, in the opinion of the Commonwealth’s legal advisers, form a satisfactory foundation for continuing and increasing through Commonwealth legislation the many benefits received by primary industries in time of war. By the introduction of .a system of price control, the people have been largely protected from the pernicious evils due to unfair trading practices and the natural increase of prices where demand exceeds supply. In peacetime the power of the Commonwealth Parliament is necessarily divided and the evils of inflation would be almost impossible of control. The powers relating to profiteering and prices and to trusts, combines and monopolies will give to the Commonwealth the necessary authority to provide against a threat to the social security of the people. This will be of great advantage, not only to the industrial worker but also to the man on the land.

I now pass to a brief survey of each of the powers enumerated in sub-section 1 of proposed new section 60a. With respect to the first power, Parliament has already passed legislation dealing with repatriation. Parliament has also provided for preference to returned servicemen and servicewomen. In accordance, however, with the practice adopted ever since the last world war, this preference has been limited to employment in the service of the Commonwealth,” and it is at least doubtful if there is power to pass any law to give such preference in employment in industry generally or for an unlimited time. In the House of Representatives the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) expressed a contrary view, but the view I have stated is supported by opinions expressed by the Attorney-General, the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) and the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender). In a broad sense, this power is related t<> the second power - that of employment and unemployment. The causes and effects of unemployment will not be determined by reference to conditions in any one State; they will be Australia-wide in their incidence. Unemployment and its attendant evils must be dealt with as a matter affecting people living throughout the entire length and breadth of the continent. It is considered that the defence power, while adequate in time of war, will not enable this Parliament to deal with many of the crucial problems relating to employment which after the war will present themselves to this country. For instance, there is the great evil as to mass dismissals, in respect of which Mr. Herbert Morrison said -

The right of private enterprise to inflict the penalties of unemployment and want in its own interest has been seriously and, I believe, decisively challenged.

The whole of the emphasis we are increasingly placing on full employment means the denial of this right to throw men on the scrap-heap. The conscience pf society to-day. will not accept unemployment as part of the natural order of things. Still less will it accept unemployment as a weapon in the hands of competitive business.

The High Court expressed the opinion in the Cockatoo Dock case that the naval and military defence power did not warrant the Commonwealth entering into contracts for the supply of civil needs in peace-time whatever may be the position in time of war, even though the employees of the Commonwealth were naval dockyard technicians. Somewhat opposite views were expressed later in the Clothing Factory case, but the Cockatoo Dock decision has not been overruled. Therefore, in time of peace the defence power will be an uncertain legal foundation on which to base laws for post-war reconstruction. In peace-time the Commonwealth can make grants to the States for the purpose of employment; but it would be difficult to establish a national scheme of employment by such methods unless the Commonwealth surrendered to the States much of its control. It is not generally realized how limited is the power of the Commonwealth in relation to employment in peace-time services.

The power of the Commonwealth under the bill with respect to organized marketing of commodities will be subject to section 92 of the Constitution, which guarantees interstate free trade. However, the High Court’s recent decisions indicate the possibility that effectual marketing schemes can be established without infringing section 92, provided that the scheme is really directed not to the mere restriction of interstate commercial transactions hut to the achievement of such objectives as the orderly maintenance of adequate supplies for consumers. In particular it seems reasonably clear from the judgment of Sir John Latham in the Milk Board case, reported in 62 C.L.R. 116, that the pooling system adopted in connexion with the Queensland peanut industry could be carried out without infringing section 92. Whilst no doubt much greater certainty would result if section 92 did not hind the Commonwealth, it is thought that any attempt to do so would be fatal to the success of the bill, and a great step forward would be made if pooling schemes of the nature I have indicated were undertaken by the Commonwealth on a national basis.

The power with respect to companies is clearly desirable. The absence of full power in this respect is a defect in the Constitution. It is true that the power should be permanent, but it is considered - Senator Ashley. certain that the Convention for the revision of the Constitution on a permanent basis will approve this power being permanently incorporated in the Constitution.

With respect to trusts and monopolies, I would point out that the Commonwealth attempted to exercise some control over these when the Parliament passed the Australian Industries Preservation Bill in 1906; but the act could not be made effective, because the Commonwealth has no direct constitutional powers over production or over intra-state commerce.

The power to control profiteering and prices is closely related to the power sought to regulate the production and distribution of goods. One of the most pressing needs of the community will relate to housing. A housing programme of considerable dimensions will have tremendous impacts in many directions, and costs of production will have to be se controlled that the finished houses will he within the financial reach of the people who need them. What is true of housing is true of other requirements. The additional powers sought with respect to production and prices will enable the Government to safeguard traders on the one hand and consumers on the other. The power of the Commonwealth Parliament in this respect in times of peace is practically valueless.

I draw attention .to the special qualification attached t« the proposed Commonwealth power in relation to primary production. Having regard to the long period of co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States in the marketing of primary products, and also to the great importance of primary production in the political and economic affairs of the States, the Premiers insisted that no Commonwealth law under the specific power of production should operate in a State except with the consent of the State government concerned. Experience during the war indicates, however, that this qualification should not materially affect the exercise of this power. In any event the Commonwealth’s- proposed new powers over prices and organized marketing and the power over bounties will enable production problems to be tackled in a reasonably satisfactory manner.

I would emphasize the importance of currency stability after the war. For the effectiveness of reconstruction plans, it is essential that the Commonwealth exercise control over exchange movements.

I suggest that no valid argument can be advanced against the proposal to give to this Parliament power to regulate air transport. The present position is far from satisfactory. There will be a tremendous development in civil aviation after the war.

The war has shown the difficulties presented by the present system of different railway gauges. Inconvenience has almost reached the danger point.’ Under the powers asked for, the Commonwealth can determine what shall be a standard gauge for all future railway construction and can initiate a plan for bringing about a standardization of gauges.

The present peace-time powers to carry out schemes of national works are limited. New power is needed as one of the essentials of reconstruction. Under section 96 of the Constitution, the Commonwealth can make grants to the States for carrying out national works on conditions laid down by this Parliament. The Federal Aid Roads Act is an illustration of what can be done. A system of grants in aid is not, however, an efficacious method of tackling a scheme of national works.

The Constitution lags well behind public opinion in matters of national health co-operation and organization. The Commonwealth has, at present, powers only in respect of quarantine. The importance of national health has been’ recognized by such CommonwealthState collaboration as marks, for example, the National Health and Medical Research Council. The new paragraph, if adopted, will bring the Constitution up to date in that respect, and will ensure that Commonwealth health activities shall be carried out in cooperation with the States.

The new power sought in relation to family allowances relates to that great freedom - freedom from want. At present the power to pass legislation with respect to child endowment and widows’ pensions rests on the very insecure basis of the appropriation power. Mr. Justice

Starke in the Clothing Factory case reported in 52 C.L.R. 533, said that it is not a sound constitutional basis and the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives has expressed a similar view. The new power will put beyond doubt the war-time advances towards social security. It has always been a matter of doubt as to whether the appropriation power is sufficient to support the grant of money for social services, with the exception, of course, of invalid and old-age pensions.

Few people will deny that the care and welfare of the aborigines shouldbe a matter of Commonwealth responsibility. The Constitution provides that the Parliament can legislate for the people of any race, but makes an express exception in the case of the Australian aborigines. This is quite an anomaly.

The bill contains three provisions which were not included in the draft bill: These provisions do not confer any power but simply establish certain guarantees which will endure until the end of the period of operation of the fourteen new powers. They are guarantees of -

  1. freedom of speech and of expression ;
  2. freedom of religion; and (c) Parliamentary control of delegated legislative power.

Freedom of speech and of expression is one of the four great freedoms enunciated in the Atlantic Charter. I cannot stress too strongly that this is one of the greatest fundamentals of our code of living, if not the greatest. It is this freedom which distinguishes our system of society from any system which can be designated totalitarian. The provision sought to be inserted in sub-section 2 of proposed new section 60a will constitute a direct and powerful prohibition of any attempt, either by the Commonwealth or a State, to prevent any person from giving voice to his or her own views, whatever they may be. However, the provision will not make people free to express themselves without regard to the canons of common decency or to the interests of the nation or other persons. The protection of this freedom will be the function of the High Court One or two examples of the manner in which a similar guarantee in the United States Constitution has been construed by the Supreme Court of that country will illustrate .the value of the protection which will be given. In Gitlow v. People of New York (1924) 26S U.S. 652- the appellant had been convicted of a statutory crime of criminal anarchy under the penal code of New York. “ Criminal anarchy “ was defined as “ the doctrine that organized government should be overthrown by force or violence . . . or by any unlawful means “. The advocacy of any such doctrine, either by word of mouth or in writing, was declared to be a felony. - The appellant had published a manifesto which plainly infringed the statute. The Supreme Court of the United States held that a State may constitutionally punish utterances which endanger the foundations of organized government and threaten its overthrow by force, violence and other unlawful means. Another case is that of Grosjean v. American Press Company (193>5) 297 ILS. 233. An act of the legislature of Louisiana required a licence for permission to sell advertising space in any publication having a circulation of over 20,000. On its face, the- act was a valid exercise of the State’s general power to regulate commercial transactions in the State. In fact, however, all the publications affected were opponents of the Huey Long Administration in Louisiana. The act was held invalid, as abridging the freedom of the press. Sub-section 3 of the proposed new section is intended to enlarge the scope of section 116 of the Constitution, which provides that the Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and that no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth. The effect of the provision will be to prohibit a State from doing anything which the Commonwealth is, hy the present section, forbidden to do. With regard to this freedom, it will, no doubt, he urged that there is no danger of its being interfered with. The provision does not, however, introduce any new principle, but makes religious freedom positive in relation to the States as it has always been in relation to the Commonwealth.

The third proposal ensures that members of the Parliament will have special notification of .regulations of =a legislative character before they become operative. They will thus have an opportunity of recording their disapproval of a proposed regulation and of taking steps to have it disallowed or postponed. At present, the . power of disallowance can be exercised only after a regulation comes, into force. It is not intended that the new proposal will replace the existing provisions, which will continue to apply alongside the provision in the Constitution. Thus, the existing provisions will be continued in relation to regulations made after a declaration of urgency by the Governor-General. Further, as the proposed provision is to operate only in respect of regulations under the authority of laws made under the proposed newpowers, the existing provisions will continue to apply to other regulations. The object is to bring into the field of proposed legislative activity the opinions or views of members of both Houses. This provision operates only in respect of the fourteen proposed new powers. This is a measure which I ask the Senate to consider from a national viewpoint, . and to disregard any considerations arising from sectional interests. It is to be remembered that the question to be determined is not whether the Commonwealth should he given additional powers at the expense of the States, hut whether the Australian people throug’h the National Parliament should have the means to perform the service that will be required of them in the strenuous post-war years. The powers sought are powers for the people, to be exercised on their behalf by the Commonwealth Parliament and the Commonwealth Government. On the one hand, the Government recognizes the dangers of bureaucracy, whilst, on the other hand, it recognizes that, without some degree of national planning, the post-war years will witness . economic chaos and mass unemployment. In order to steer the ship of State through these perilous years, the Commonwealth Parliament and the Commonwealth Government must have greater powers. I commend the bill to the Senate.

Debate (on motion by Senator MoLeay) adjourned.

page 1527


Debate resumed from the 16th March (vide page 1470), on motion by Senator Ashley -

That the following paper be printed: - “ Australian-New Zealand Agreement 1944 - Ministerial Statement.”

Upon which Senator Hays had moved by way of amendment -

That all the words after “ That “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words : - “ in the opinion of the Senate the agreement entered into by’ the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia and the Government of the Dominion of New Zealand is ill-timed and should not be implemented until such time as the Prime Minister of Australia attends the Imperial Conference to be held this year, as the contents of such agreement may cause embarrassment to the Prime Minister in discussing Empire and interAllied questions which form part of the agreement and may prejudice Australia’s position at such conference.


– The contribution to this debate by honorable senators on the Government side of the chamber proves that they have not given to the agreement the consideration that it deserves. Even the Leader of the Senate (Senator Keane) told us that the agreement was the outcome of a conference between State Premiers and Leaders of the Opposition and representatives of the Government and of the Opposition in this Parliament. Suddenly remembering that he was referring to another matter, he proceeded to discuss the agreement. Probably the fact that the Senate was absolutely ignored when the agreement was under discussion may explain why so little interest has been taken in it by the Minister. As has been pointed out by other speakers, no representative of the Senate was a member of the conference which drafted this important document. The Leader of the Senate referred to the agreement as representing the voice of the Parliament. One ground for our objection to the agreement is that it does not represent the voice of the Parliament, for the reason that the Parliament was not consulted before the agreement was entered into. We on this side claim that the draft agreement should have been submitted to both Houses of the Parliament before it was signed. The Opposition has been twitted because its members recently praised the social security legislation of the sister Dominion whilst now giving the impression that they do not regard New Zealand as being worthy of consideration. It is true that we gave to New Zealand a measure of praise for some of the legislation that its Parliament had passed. It is true also that we admire the whole-hearted support which New Zealand has given to the Motherland since the present war began. New Zealand introduced conscription practically at the beginning of the war, and since then the soldiers of that dominion have fought in almost every theatre of war. We are grateful to the Government of New Zealand for the assistance that it has given to Australia in this war. I have in mind particularly that members of a New Zealand contingent are defending an island which should be defended by Australians, but is outside the area in which the Militia may serve. The most friendly relations have always existed between Australia and New Zealand, yet the remarks of some honorable senators opposite would give the impression that Australia was almost at war with its sister dominion, and that this agreement would not be continued after the cessation of hostilities. The Minister for Aircraft Production (Senator Cameron) referred to it as a wartime agreement. That is not so; and even if it were a. war-time agreement, I repeat that we are not at war with New Zealand. I cannot understand why a master-mind like that of the Minister for Aircraft Production was not consulted when matters affecting the future of aviation were under discussion. I regard that as an insult to the Minister. Senator Nash said that Opposition senators tried to create the impression that the Commonwealth Government had conspired against Great Britain in negotiating this agreement. I do not think that the remarks of any speaker on this side can be so construed, although there are grounds for the suspicion that Great Britain was ignored on that occasion, as on some previous occasions. It is not so long ago that the Minister for the Interior (Senator Collings), when in opposition, said that he would have nothing to do with that mad dog Churchill.

Honorable senators will recall also a disgusting scene which occurred in the House of Representatives earlier in the present series of sittings, when a Minister of the Crown, whose signature appears at the foot of this agreement, made remarks derogatory to the Mother Country.

Senator Nash said that 850,000 Australian soldiers were prepared to fight in any theatre of war. He was definite on that point, but his statement is entirely contrary to fact. We have not 850,000 soldiers ready to fight anywhere in the world ; indeed, we have not that number of men in uniform, including members of the Royal Australian Air Force, the Royal Australian Navy and the Militia. The total enlistments may number 850,000 but of that total a considerable number were rejected for active service. Moreover, between 30,000 and 35,000 Australians are now prisoners of war. To say that there are 850,000 Australians ready to fight in any theatre of war is to depart from the facts. The honorable senator again raised the old bogy that when the present Government assumed office uo preparation had been made for the defence of this country, and that if the Government had not obtained power when it did the position of Australia would have been most perilous. I realize that the position was perilous, hut I do not admit that nothing had been done by the previous administrations to prepare for defence. I shall read a portion of a statement by the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) on the situation in the Far East, in a booklet published on his behalf. The statement was made on 18th October, 1941, and the following is what the right honorable gentleman said regarding the work of his predecessors in office: -

Through their membership of the Advisory War Council, most Ministers of the War Cabinet were familiar with Australia’s war effort, and, since assuming office, the Government had made a broad review of the situation with the Chiefs of Staff and the CommanderinChief, Far East. The Navy was’ at the highest pitch of efficiency, as demonstrated by the notable exploits of some of its ships overseas. The Home Defence Army was welltrained and its equipment had been greatly Improved. The strength of the Air Force had been largely increased, both in respect of home defence squadrons and the training resources for the Empire Air Scheme. The equipment nf the Air Force had also been much improved.

Finally, munitions production and the development of production capacity over a wide range of classes, including aircraft was growing weekly.

That is what John Curtin said, but Senator Nash assures us that when the Government took office nothing had been done to prepare for the defence of Australia. I desire to pay a tribute to the Leader of the Senate, who referred to the serious position that arose at the time of the withdrawal from Dunkirk. We have been told that at one time Australia had very little ammunition and other war material. The reason was that, after the disaster at Dunkirk, all of the munitions and equipment that we could spare and more was sent overseas.

Senator FRASER:

– That was not a great deal.


– lt was all that we had. The Leader of the Senate is the first Labour Minister, as far as my knowledge goes, who has pointed out the reason why Australia was left in a precarious position at that particular period. Let us take a glance at our neighbours, the people of the United States of America. Paragraph 13 of the agreement reads -

The two Governments agree that, within the framework of a general system of world security, a regional zone of defence comprising the South-West and South Pacific Areas shall be established, and that this zone should be based on. Australia and New Zealand, stretching through the arc of islands north and northeast of Australia to Western Samoa and the Cook Islands.

Yesterday Senator Allan MacDonald gave us a fair idea of what area that arc covered. I also draw the attention of honorable senators to the following paragraphs of the agreement -

  1. The two Governments accept as a recognized principle of international practice that the construction and use, in time of war, by any power, of naval, military or air installations, in any territory under the sovereignty or control or another power, does not, in itself, afford any basis for territorial claims or rights of sovereignty or control after the conclusion of hostilities.
  2. The two Governments take note of the intention of the Australian Government to resume administration at the earliest possible moment of those parts of its territories which have not yet been re-occupied.
  3. The two Governments declare that no change in the sovereignty or system of control of any of the islands of the Pacific should lie effected except as a result of an agreement to which they are parties or in the terms of which they have both concurred.

What will the United States of America say about the control of those islands by Australia and New Zealand ? It must be admitted that, but for the action of the United States of America, none of those islands would have remained in the hands of the Allies.

Senator Nash:

– Which government brought the United States of America to our aid?

Senator JAMES McLACHLAN.The honorable senator need not flatter himself that the Curtin Government brought the United States of America to our aid. We should not insult the people of that country. They sent their armed forces here and helped us when we were in dire trouble. Australia would not have held one inch of those islands but for their assistance.

Senator FRASER:

– And also the good work of the Australian troops brought back to this country by the Labour government. The Opposition wanted to send them to Burma.

Senator JAMES McLACHLAN.Nothing of the kind. If the Japanese had struck at Sydney when they attacked Pearl Harbour, what would the position of Australia have been now? Surely we can be men enough to acknowledge the debt we owe to the United States of America. We should not hurl an insult at the people of that country by making a paltry pact with New Zealand as to what the two dominions will do after the war with territories that have been saved for us because of American assistance. I hope that the amendment submitted by Senator Herbert Hays will be accepted. He merely asks that the implementation of the agreement be postponed till the Prime Minister has attended the Imperial Conference to be held this year. Acceptance of the amendment would show that there are some people in Australia who realize the magnitude and importance to the British Empire, and do not believe that two dominions should enter into a pact merely to suit themselves. The honorable senator desires to substitute for the


motion “ That the paper be printed “ the following words: -

That in the opinion of the Senate the agreement entered into by the Government of the Common wealth of Australia and the Government of the Dominion of New Zealand is illtimed and should not be implemented until such time as the Prime Minister of Australia attends the Imperial Conference to be held this year, as the contents of such Agreement may cause embarrassment to the Prime Minister in discussing Empire and inter-Allied questions which form part of the Agreement, and may prejudice Australia’s position at such Conference.

I take exception to the words “ Prime Minister “ second occurring, because I contend that the embarrassment -will be to Australia and not to the Prime Minister. It will certainly not cause embarrassment to the Prime Minister, because he has proved himself to be one of the most astute politicians that this country has produced for a long time. He is a word-spinner, and would find his way out of a rabbit-warren in the dark. However, ‘ I support the amendment, and I hope that some honorable senators opposite will exercise sound common sense, and support it.

I should now like to comment on the burlesque staged at the signing of the agreement. Australia has not wit*nessed anything like it before, and I hope that it will nor. witness anything like it again. The table on which Queen Victoria, signed the Proclamation of the Australian Constitution Act, which is usually on exhibit in King’s Hall, was commandeered for this memorable ceremony, which was to make the world shudder. As a part of the unwarranted publicity given to the event, the proceedings were filmed. I presume that the Prime Minister will take that film with him when he goes to London to attend the Imperial Conference.

Senator Spicer:

– He might leave it in the British Museum!


– Perhaps he will take it to Buckingham Palace, and have it shown before His Majesty the King. I hope that the amendment will be carried, because it at least reveals that some Australians have respect for our Allies and the Mother Country.


. - I have listened to this debate with much disappointment. One would expect that the Senate would discuss a subject of this kind free from party political bias and prejudice. Senator James McLachlan, in his characteristic manner, claimed much kudos for his party, and indulged in his usual innuendoes against the Government. This agreement was received with approval by not only the people of Australia, but also by our Allies. My surprise at the attitude adopted by honorable senators opposite is increased by reason of the fact that the agreement has been much more favorably received by members of the House of Representatives. The agreement has a bearing on the common future of New Zealand and Australia in their approach to various problems which now confront the respective countries and which will confront them in the post-war period. Surely honorable senators opposite can desist from approaching such a matter along the usual lines of the Opposition versus the Government. The agreement will confer great benefits on both countries. It provides -

Having met in conference at Canberra from the 17th to the 21st January, 1944, and desiring to maintain and strengthen the close and cordial relation between the two Governments . . .

The two Governments give mutual assurances that, on matters which appear to be of common concern, each Government will, so far as possible, be made acquainted with the mind of the other before views are expressed elsewhere by either.

Surely honorable senators opposite do not object to that.

Senator McBride:

– No.We indicated the paragraphs to which we object.

SenatorCOURTICE.- Senator Leckie can generally be relied upon to bring sound common sense to bear on his consideration of matters which he discusses in this chamber, but on this occasion his arguments were not convincing. He endeavoured to show that Australia and New Zealand were attempting to dictate to Great Britain and the United States of America in respect of the matters dealt with in the agreement. On the contrary, it simply reflects the desire of Australia and New Zealand to co-operate in their consideration of common problems.

Senator Gibson:

– What disagreement existed between the two countries before the agreement was signed?

SenatorCOURTICE. - Cordial relations have always existed between the two countries. Surely, honorable senators opposite do not contend that it is not to the advantage of both countries to discuss problems which will confront them after the war. That is all that the agreement proposes. It expresses the desire of both Governments to arrive at a common understanding with respect to their responsibility towards each other in dealing with many of the problems which will confront both countries after the war, particularly the defence of each dominion and the future control of islands adjacent, to both countries. No serious objection can be taken to anything contained in the agreement. No foundation exists for the argument advanced by honorable senators opposite that the two governments desire to dissociate themselves from the governments of Great Britain and the United States of America in dealing with matters of this kind. Such an argument is mischievous, and I have heard it expressed only in this chamber. The people of Australia and New Zealand are of one mind with the people of the United Nations concerning the common interests of all in this conflict and in the post-war period. Neither the people of Australia nor New Zealand have any desire to impress their views unduly upon the governments of the other United Nations.

Senator McBride:

– What does the honorable senator think of paragraph 26?

SenatorCOURTICE.- It reads-

Thetwo governments declare that the interim administration and ultimate disposal of enemy territories in the Pacific is of vital importance to Australia and New Zealand, and that any such disposal should be effected only with their agreement and as part of a general Pacific settlement.

Senator McBride:

– Is that not dictatorial?

SenatorCOURTICE.- No. Surely Australia and New Zealand have the right to have their voice heard with respect to the future control of islands adjacent to both countries.

Senator Gibson:

– Does that apply in respect of New Caledonia?


– The Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) has repeatedly affirmed the right of the people of New Caledonia to have a voice in the determination of matters of this kind. The Government has never attempted to infringe the .rights of other peoples. Therefore, the arguments advanced by honorable senators opposite are not in the best interests of this country or those of our Allies. Indeed, such arguments are a disservice to Australia. Only yesterday, the Prime Minister of New Zealand stated that the United States of America was in full accord with Australia and New Zealand in respect of this agreement. The two Governments have simply taken the initiative in considering problems in which they are vitally concerned, and, as the Leader of the Senate (Senator Keane) said last night, such a policy on the part of Australia is long overdue. The manner in which we shall make our voice heard in respect of post-war problems is of vital concern to our people. Honorable senators opposite have complained that Parliament was not first s-iven an opportunity to discuss the agreement before it was signed. That argument is verv weak, because-

Senator McBride:

– Does the honorable senator believe in the principle of Government by regulation?


– That principle was first applied by the Government of which the honorable senator was a supporter. I am getting tired of hearing honorable senators opposite and others outside, who are in sheltered places, complain that their liberties are being filched from them. The people who are really suffering in that respect are our soldiers. They are paying dearly in order that we and others might continue to enjoy our liberty. We ourselves are very fortunate indeed. Those who are really making the sacrifices are not those who are constantly moaning in this way. As I said at the outset, I believe that the people not only of Australia, hut also of other countries, will appreciate the efforts of the two governments to arrive at common action and policy in relation to several problems that confront them now, and will certainly do so after the war. I admit that the agreement does put up a kind of placard about the future control of aviation, but there is nothing very objectionable in that, because aviation will play a tremendous part in the development of both countries after the war.

Senator Spicer:

– The complaint is that we are trying to dictate international policy.


– Does the hon.orable senator contend that Australia and New Zealand can dictate international pOliCy on that subject?

Senator Spicer:

– Of course they cannot.


– Then why suggest that it is proposed to do so in the agreement?

Senator Spicer:

– The two governments pretend to do so.


– If the agreement is only pretence, why bother about it? There is, on the contrary, something very real about it. I believe that the only way to secure lasting peace is for the Allied countries to come to a closer mutual understanding about the future. Senators Allan MacDonald and Sampson stated that they had no time for pacts or agreements of this kind. What is the alternative? Wars are caused by misunderstandings, and failure to appreciate the responsibilities of other countries. It is quite wrong for the Senate to discourage in any way the efforts of the two governments to come to an understanding on their problems, and iron out difficulties threatening their futures, particularly in relation to defence. We have definite responsibilities towards the islands adjacent to Australia and New Zealand. If we are not prepared to take some part in their control for the sake of our own defence, whose responsibility is it to be? I hope that the Senate will approve the agreement, and sincerely trust that any future discussion will not be on the lines of asking what kudos the Government hopes to get out of it, or what the Opposition did before the Labour party took office. I very much resent Senator James McLachlan’s statement that the Leader of the Senate is the only Minister who has given the Opposition credit for what it did before it went out of office. The members of the Opposition are constantly moaning about the fact that they did such a lot and got no credit for it. The Prime Minister and various members of the Labour party have publicly expressed recognition of the difficulties which the then Government had to face when the war began. Although we differed with that Government on many points of its policy, no member of our party has seriously contended that it did not attempt to meet the very difficult position with which it was faced.

Senator Spicer:

– The Minister for Aircraft Production said that our party had left Australia practically defenceless.


– Unfortunately, there is a good deal of truth in what lias been said about Australia’s then defenceless position. No honorable senator should know better than I do what the position in Queensland was, but I do not think that any good purpose will be served by bringing up the subject again. Whatever mistakes were made at that time, we must believe that the best was done in the circumstances. For the Opposition constantly to suggest that the Government is only trying to gain a little limelight and kudos in its approach to these difficult problems is not the right way for honorable senators to discuss the agreement. Mistakes have been made by the Government, and’ also by the Opposition. As Senator McBride knows, it is questionable whether a good deal of money expended in South Australia was expended to any great advantage.

Senator McBride:

– I know that a good deal of money was wasted recently in Queensland.


– The work done in Queensland was well done and is of great value to the Commonwealth, but it is very doubtful whether much of the money expended in South . Australia was so useful. I hope that, as the result of the agreement, there will be mutual understanding and friendly agreement between Australia and New Zealand on many matters which are essential for the successful development of the two dominions and the future peace of the world.

Senator A J McLACHLAN:

– This agreement, so far as I know, is the first essay that Australia has made in the light of the new conception of our power in foreign affairs. There is much to be said for closer relationship between New Zealand and this country - a relationship which when in office I endeavoured in a humble way to improve by various suggestions. I had in mind the fact that, during the effort to create a federal Constitution in this country, considerable importance was attached to the possibility of New Zealand joining with Australia to form one federated nation. I suggested a customs union between the two countries, and also a joint defence policy, hut our relationship has unfortunately been blighted by certain small things, which I think could have been adjusted to the satisfaction of the people of both countries. I remember well when Mr. Richard Seddon, who left on New Zealand an impression which has lasted to this day, visited Australia. He was approached, and seemed almost willing to bring New Zealand into the federal movement, but forces were at work both here and in his country which ultimately led to NewZealand standing aloof. I suggested to a subsequent New Zealand government, which was not of my own political colour, led by that delightful man, Mr. Savage, an examination of the interests of the two countries in relation to our manufacturing industries. At that time, New Zealand, which had a population of 1,500,000 people, was considering the establishment of the steel industry. It has an advantage over Australia in- possessing in profusion a number of alloys which are essential for the manufacture of many high-grade steels, and also some of the cheapest electrical power in the world. There isno necessity in many parts of the dominion to dig for coal to provide power, because Nature has supplied all the power necessary, as the result of which vast hydro-electric schemes are working in various parts of the country. I suggested to the Prime Minister at that time that we should endeavour toembark on a customs union with New Zealand, but to my deep regret the proposal was not taken up.

At a time like this, when it is desirable to bring about a closer relationship between the two countries, there is no occasion to enter into an agreement which is blazoned to the world, and Which may cause a certain amount of irritation and heart-burning in other countries. I do not say that the agreement proposes to curtail the rights of other countries, but it does announce very loudly to the world that, unless certain things are done, Australia and New Zealand will take no part in future arrangements. I do not condemn the agreement altogether. Like the curate’s egg, it is good in parts, but I regret the publicity which has been given to it, and which can only adversely affect our relationships with our Allies, as Senator Herbert Hays has indicated in his amendment. The relationships embodied in the first part of the agreement are excellent in themselves, but, whilst it is good in parts, in others it is extraordinarily bad, from the diplomatic point of view, lt was a blunder of the first magnitude to publish the agreement. Whatever arrangements were necessary could have been made and carried out between the two governments. According to Current Notes on International Affairs the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Mr. Fraser, said -

We ure prepared to discuss at the forthcoming Prime Ministers Conference in Loudon the whole question of colonial trusteeship and of an advisory regional commission for colonial and native administration, and we wish, therefore, to exchange views on these matters at this conference.

After the conclusion of the agreement, the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) said -

Indeed, the Australian and New Zealand Governments hud agreed that, as early as practicable, steps should bc taken to call together representatives of other governments in the Pacific and the Territories to the north of Australia, with a view to extending the scope of regional collaboration.

That is .quite satisfactory. After the event, the Prime Minister of New Zealand said, in a statement issued to the press -

Both countries have made their position clear in regard to any changes in control or sovereignty of Pacific islands. They have embodied in the agreement their firm belief in the application of the principle of trusteeship.

The gravamen of the charge made by most honorable senators on this side is not that there should not be a close relationship between Australia and New Zealand, or that we should not see eye to eye with New Zealand in all these matters, or seek absolute agreement, and use all the persuasiveness at the command of both countries, at these regional conferences, or whatever form the ultimate settlement may take. We support such sentiments. We, as a nation of 7,000,000 people, and New Zealand with a population of 1,500,000, should speak with one voice if we can possibly do so. That is quite proper, but unfortunate incidents have occurred. It seems to us that the principle expressed in the agreement is, to put it in the language of the man in the street, “ Hop in and get your cut “. It is not proper that incidents of this nature should be permitted to intrude into our diplomatic relations with more influential countries.

Senator Courtice:

– The Government takes responsibility for this agreement; it is not just “getting in for its cut”.

Senator A J McLACHLAN:

– I prefer the word “irresponsibility”. Apparently, some members of the Government at least do not realize just how delicate diplomatic relations may be in the matter of dividing up territories which are important to the defence of other countries as well as of Australia and New Zealand. As one honorable senator hinted the other day, it may be a question of whether the right to certain possessions does not rest with the country which recovers them from the enemy, or of how far the American sphere of influences extends. In years gone by, many European nations have enjoyed spheres of influence in the South-West Pacific Area. Whilst I laud the efforts of the Government to bring about a closer commercial relationship between Australia and New Zealand, and a greater cohesion of the two countries generally, even to the extent of joining with New Zealand in a federation, I do not think that this approach was diplomatically sound, nor do I think, that it will give prestige to this country, or to its Prime Minister, when these matters are finally .determined at a round-table conference. One honorable senator has said that this agreement is an attempt to provide that Australia and New Zealand will defend certain areas. Whilst such an objective may be most desirable we should not tell countries such as Holland, many thousands of whose sons are giving their lives in this theatre of war, the United States of America, whose soldiers are playing a major part in the fighting in the Pacific islands, and Great Britain, which is being bled white that they cannot take any action which is rot in accordance with the terms of this agreement, is a blunder of the first magnitude. For diplomatic reasons, the agreement may be hailed in certain countries, but I am afraid that it can only he a source of embarrassment to Australia and New Zealand. It really means that two small nations, whose joint population is less than 10,000,000, are attempting to dictate to much more powerful countries. Whether the contents of this document have yet reached the United States of America, I do not know. ‘

Senator Keane:

– The whole thing was cabled.

Senator A J McLACHLAN:

– Paragraph 8 of the agreement states -

The two Governments are in agreement that the final peace settlement should be made in respect of all our enemies after hostilities with all of them are concluded.

On the face of it, that provision would appear to be satisfactory, hut does it not mean, in effect, that we are telling the British Commonwealth of Nations that, if Germany is beaten, Australia and New Zealand will go right ahead, and that if Japan is beaten first, which is within the bounds of possibility, we shall act similarly. Surely that is hardly an appropriate gesture, particularly in view of our obligations; but the agreement contains other provisions which are even more difficult to explain. Paragraph 15, which may in itself not he very harmful, and probably may not have such venomous effects upon our diplomatic relations as certain other provisions, concludes -

For that purpose it is agreed that it would be proper for Australia and New Zealand to assume full responsibility for policing or sharing in policing such areas in the SouthWest and South Pacific as may from time to time be agreed upon.

Whilst to some degree that may be innocuous, is it an appropriate gesture having regard to the diplomatic relations which will have to take place between the Allied nations and ourselves after the war? Is it proper that two small nations of less than 10,000,000 people, who without doubt have been saved by our Allies, should get together and make pronouncements of that kind? In my view, that portion of the agreement at least is most untimely.

The question of air transport after the war has been dealt with extensively by honorable senators and I shall not weary the Senate by discussing it at length. Paragraph 22 states that, “ In the event of failure to obtain a satisfactory international agreement to establish and govern the use of international air trunk routes . . .”, these two countries shall adopt a certain policy. The whole agreement reeks of provocation. The paragraph concludes - . . the two Governments will support a system of air trunk routes controlled and operated by governments of the British Commonwealth of Nations under government ownership.

I happen to know something of the difficulties which have been experienced in the past in connexion with air transport. Any one who looks at this matter dispassionately cannot help believing that America is entitled to some consideration. I know of the fights that we had in the old days to maintain Empire control; but under present conditions, should we flaunt this statement before the other members of the British Commonwealth of Nations and our Allies, particularly the United States of America and Holland ? . I remind honorable senators that the Dutch have always proved worthy competitors in air transport and have produced some of the best pilots that God ever made.

Then we come to the administration of territories, in relation to which paragraph 25 states -

The two Governments take note of the intention of the Australian Government to resume administration at the earliest possible moment of those parts of its territories which have not yet been reoccupied.

The govern men ts concerned “take note” of that. That is getting back to the old language of the League of Nations. I would prefer to regard that paragraph as an authoritative declaration of the inten tions of the Governments of Australia and New Zealand, notwithstanding decisions which may be made at peace conferences . Paragraph 26 declares - . . the interim administration and ultimate disposal of enemy territories in the Pacific is of vital importance to Australia and New Zealand, and that any such disposal should be effected only with their agreement and as part of a general Pacific settlement.

It appears that there must be no agreement without the sanction and approval of these two midget countries in point of view of population. I have listened carefully to the debate on this measure, and I cannot help feeling that we are unnecessarily trailing our coats in front of our Allies, although I do not believe for one moment that there will ever be a serious dispute between our Allies and ourselves, and I think that Australia and New Zealand - two very small outposts of white civilization in the Pacific - have been treated with the greatest possible generosity. The agreement seems to me to be a mistake of the first magnitude.

Paragraph 27 states -

The two Governments declare that no change in the sovereignty or system of control of any of the islands of the Pacific should be effected except as a result of an agreement to which they are parties or in the terms of which they have both concurred.

In short, it seems that we are prepared to tell the United States of America where it “ gets off “. No other inference may be drawn from those words. This matter should never have been made public. “Whatever has been agreed upon between New Zealand and ourselves should have been kept to ourselves. The interests of New Zealand are our interests, and I have no doubt that the people of New Zealand have a full sense of their responsibility in regard to the defence of this area and share our ideals in many respects, but untimely announcements such as this are likely to have serious adverse effects on our diplomatic relations with other countries. I consider that the real disservice is in the publication of these matters.

Senator A J McLACHLAN:

– It is most unfortunate from a diplomatic point of view that the agreement was ever made public. The bringing together of representatives of the two dominions so that they can work together in an attempt to get the best terms possible for the white race in these regions is most desirable; but to flaunt some of these provisions in the face of those who are largely responsible for our present safety is not, to say the least, diplomatic. It may be that no exception will be taken to what is contained in the agreement, but I think that this Parliament should voice some protest against the publication of a document which says, in effect, “We will have this, and nothing else, when conferences take place to determine the future of the Pacific area “. We can understand the intention underlying the agreement, but it seems to me that it verges on the provocative. However, as I have said, I do not think that those who take exception to it will go to any great lengths. The criticism that has been voiced in regard to this document should serve as a warning to the Government. No doubt the agreement was entered into with the best of intentions, and is an attempt to stress the necessity for the two dominions acting in accordance with the spirit of the Atlantic Charter, to which they are both parties. I shall support the amendment of Senator Hays in order to show to the world that this agreement, although rigid within itself, is not something which means that we want to act as dictators, and to ignore those nations which have rendered to us most valuable assistance. Many of the features of the agreement appeal to me; my chief criticism is not so much of the agreement itself as of the publicity which has been given to it. The document should never have left the archives of the Governments of Australia and New Zealand.

Senator Amour:

– The Opposition wanted the agreement tabled so that it could be publicly debated.

Senator A J McLACHLAN:

– The two governments have expressed their wishes; but the document should not have been- made public because it may endanger their relations with other countries.

Senator Nash:

– Does the honorable senator believe in secret agreements?

Senator A J McLACHLAN:

– Had there not been secret agreements, the nations of Europe would have been at one another’s throats years ago. It is all right for Australia and New Zealand to enter into an agreement concerning matters affecting only those two dominions, but when an agreement between them contains provisions which affect other nations also, those nations may feel called upon to take notice of it, and the repercussions may extend as far as the Philippines or Java. We should not adopt anything approaching a dictatorial tone and say, “ This is what we will agree to, and nothing else. These are the only terms in which we will concur “. Whilst I applaud the attempt to bring the two dominions closer together, I fear that the agreement will give rise to diplomatic difficulties, and therefore I favour the amendment which voices a protest against what may appear to be a somewhat autocratic action on the part of the Government.

Senator LARGE:
New South Wales

– I confess that the attitude of Senator A. J. McLachlan intrigues me. After several honorable senators on the other side had protested that the relations between Australia and New Zealand had always been most amicable, the honorable senator commenced his speech by saying that the relations of the two countries had been somewhat upset by things to which undue significance had been given. That shows that the honorable senator is out of step with his party. He then likened the agreement to the curate’s egg, which, he said, was good in parts. He said that with one exception the provisions of the agreement were good; later, he said that the two dominions had adopted a dictatorial attitude and had said, in effect, “ This is what we will agree to. These are the terms we will accept, and nothing else “. He then added that the agreement was somewhat provocative, a statement which he qualified by saying that it was not intentionally so. Let us examine both the agreement and the amendment. I was not astonished that Senator Hays should move the amendment that is before us, and whilst I applaud his sincerity and honesty of purpose, I suggest that he wouldhave Australia adopt an attitude, not of civility, but of servility. On a number of occasions I have observed that the honorable senator does not seem to have realized that Australia has grown up.

Senator Keane:

– He is a little Australian.

Senator LARGE:

– I do not attribute any improper motive to the honorable senator, but he reminds me of a parent who refuses to admit that his son is big enough to wear long pants, and that as they grow up his children are entitled to freedom of action. iSenator McBride. - The person who originated this agreement is not out of his political swaddling clothes.

Senator LARGE:

-I am now dealing with the amendment of Senator Hays, and I repeat that the honorable senator expects Australia to be servile to other powers.

Senator Herbert Hays:

– There is no such suggestion in my amendment. The honorable senator should read it.

Senator LARGE:

– I have, and having heard the remarks of the honorable senator in support of his amendment, I can come to no other conclusion. I believe that underlying the amendment is a belief that Australia is still a child and must be obedient to others. Senator Hays refuses to acknowledge that Australia has grown up. Surely the achievements of our people during the last few years entitle Australia to be regarded as a nation.

Senator Herbert Hays:

– There is no need to emphasize the obvious.

Senator LARGE:

– The honorable senator himself is doing the ostrich act by refusing to recognize the obvious. He asked what need there was for the agreement.

Senator Gibson:

– Perhaps the honorable senator will tell us something on that point.

Senator LARGE:

– The need is set out in the preamble, from which I quote -

Having met in conference in Canberra from the 17th to the 21st January, 1944, and desiring to maintain and strengthen the close and cordial relation between the two Governments, they hereby enter into this agreement.

It will be seen that the desire of the two parties to the agreement is that the close and cordial relations which hitherto have existed between them shall be maintained and strengthened. Senator Hays does not appear to have read the agreement carefully. Opposition senators have deliberately translated the word “ should “ into “ shall “ in their interpretation of the document. Senator Spicer was the first to do so. He is a member of a profession which has a habit of making words mean anything or nothing, according to the purpose in view at the time. The honorable senator accused the Government of adopting a dictatorial attitude. There is nothing dictatorial in the agreement, because throughout it the word used is “ should “, not “ shall “. Among the purposes of the agreement is the following: -

The two Governments agree to act together in matters of common concern in the Southwest and South Pacific Areas.

Is anything wrong with that?

Now I turn to the reference in the agreement to the armistice and the arrangements to be made subsequent to it. I was impressed by Senator Nash asking, “ Where is the nigger in the woodpile ? “ I am convinced that the problems of post-war reconstruction and the introduction of a new order are in process of solution even now. The agreement provides in paragraph 7 -

The two Governments declare that they have vital interests in all preparations for any armistice ending the present hostilities or anypart thereof, and also in arrangements subsequent to any such armistice, and agree that their interests should be protected by representation at the highest level on all armistice planning and executive bodies.

That declaration contains nothing dictatorial. The agreement further states in paragraphs 8 and 9 -

The two Governments are in agreement that the final peace settlement should be made in respect of all our enemies after hostilities with all of them are concluded.

Subject to the last two preceding clauses, the two Governments will seek agreement with each other on the terms of any armistice to be concluded.

In the armistice terms concluded at Versailles we were the unfortunate re cipients of a backhander. The control of the islands in the Pacific was dealt with to a considerable degree, but nobody apparently asked what would happen to us when the Marshall Islands and the Caroline Islands were ceded to Japan as the result of the Versailles Treaty. During the last 30 years there has never been so close a community of interests between Australia and New Zealand as exists at present. Each has a Labour government with approximately the same conception of a new social order. That new order must be implemented immediately hostilities cease, but preparation for that work should be made now. The agreement has been entered into to smooth the way for the introduction of the conditions which, according to the conception of the Labour party, should, prevail in the post-war world. Paragraph 10 reads -

The two Governments declare that they should actively participate in any Armistice Commission to be set up.

In view of the events at Versailles, I think that we are justified in demanding that we should be represented at any conference at which the terms of peace are drawn up. We should see that, at the conclusion of the war, machinery is provided to guarantee peace for the next 50 years, instead of a renewal of war in recurring cycles. Paragraph 35 of the agreement states -

The two Governments agree that -

the development of commerce between Australia and New Zealand and their industrial development should be pursued by consultation and, in agreed cases, by joint planning.

Senator Herbert Hays:

– That has been done in the past.

Senator LARGE:

-Senator James McLachlan did not agree with the honorable senator on that point, although he was out of step with the rest of his party. Paragraph 31 relates to the protection of the interests of the coloured races. Sub-paragraph d, for instance, provides that the South Seas Regional Commission shall - recommend arrangements for maintenance and improvement of standards of native welfare in regard to labour conditions and social services.

There is nothing dictatorial about that. Sub-paragraph e reads - recommend arrangements for collaboration for economic, social, medical and anthropological research.

All of those are meritorious provisions. The object is - to enable the two dominions, which I think we may say have a dominant interest in the SouthWest Pacific Area, to decide that, in all future negotiations with any of the other powers interested or concerned, to speak with one voice. I fail to see why this debate was initiated. I exonerate Senator Hays from any charge of active collusion with other honorable senators who have spoken on this agreement, because I believe that he moved his amendment in all sincerity, hut, ostrich-like, he refuses to recognize the fact that Australia has a right as a nation to a voice in the determination of its own destiny.

Senator HERBERT Hays:

– In consultation with other nations.

Senator LARGE:

– In consultation with those most closely allied to us. Throughout the agreement the word “should” is used, showing that the agreement merely expresses our opinions with regard to the matters to which reference is made. When problems affecting our future interests are discussed we should have a voice with regard to them.

Senator Herbert Hays:

– If there were no agreement we should still be consulted.

Senator LARGE:

– When a youth reaches the age of 21 years he has a right to claim the latchkey, but Senator Hays refuses him the right to assume his majority. There is something pernicious in the attitude of the legal members of the Senate in persisting in altering the word “ should “ in the agreement to “ shall “ for the purposes of this debate. Personally, I think that the agreement is valuable. The Government decided that in view of the close community of interests between Australia and the sister dominion of New Zealand, where a Labour government is in power, we should confer and decide what, in our opinion, is in the best interests of these small sections of the British Empire. By their deeds in the last two wars and by their policies during the last half a century, they have demonstrated their right to be considered to have reached their majority and be capable of speaking for themselves in the councils of the world, in any discussion regarding world peace. Most of the debate by honorable senators opposite has been based on the contention that the Government has adopted a dictatorial attitude to other nations, but I defy those honorable senators to point out where the word “ shall “ has been used in a dictatorial sense.

Senator SPICER:

– In what sense is itused ?

Senator LARGE:

– Like a boy who has reached his majority, we are merely expressing the opinion that our claims should be considered. Honorable senators opposite who have legal minds have twisted the words of the agreement, and have said that they indicate a dictatorial attitude, a contention with which I cannot agree.

Senator TANGNEY:
Western Australia

– I support the motion. ] consider that the amendment aims a blow at, not only the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) and his colleagues who drew up the agreement, but also at the Prime Minister of New Zealand and his colleagues. Judging by the speeches of honorable senators opposite, one might think that the whole purpose of the pact was to assume dominant control over the whole of the South and SouthWest Pacific regions to the exclusion of all other nations. But that is definitely not the case, as will be seen hy a close study of the agreement. I am strongly impressed by the lack of geographical knowledge displayed by the Opposition. It has been said that Canada and South Africa have not been consulted with regard to the problems of the Pacific, whereas a glance at a map of that region shows that Australia’s relationship to the Pacific is much closer than that of other parts of the Empire. South America was also mentioned, but the nearest part of South America to the outermost arc that is proposed as the territory that comes within the ambit. of this pact lies as far distant from Australia as Canberra does from Tokyo. It would be just the same as if we in Australia became annoyed because the people of South Africa and Argentina discussed the fate of islands in the South Atlantic, adjacent to their coasts without reference to us. “We maintain that the South Pacific is definitely a sphere of influence wherein Australia and New Zealand must have a very firm and dominant voice by virtue of the fact that they are the two main countries in the South Pacific. Much has been said about the alleged desire of the Government to break its association with Great Britain when it appealed 1o the United States of America for aid in 1942. Nothing could be further from the truth, because this Government realizes that as an integral part of the British Commonwealth of Nations its duty towards Great Britain lay in maintaining the integrity of Australia and New Zealand. At the time to which I refer Australia realized that it was impossible to expect immediate help from Great Britain, which had been putting up such a gallant fight, for so long and alone, against the might of Nazi aggression. It would have been ridiculous to expect Great Britain at that time to send aid immediately to Australia. So the natural thing for the Government of Australia to do was to turn to the other great democracy, the United States of America, whose interests are also vitally bound up in the Pacific. That was done, and we now know the result. However, listening to honorable senators opposite one would think that the whole success of the Pacific campaign has been due entirely to America. Not for one moment do I wish to belittle the great part played by the United States of America in our interests, but, at the-same time, we should not forget what has been done by Australians, because Australians have fought on every battlefield in the world in this war, and many have Seen under arms since the very day on which the war broke out. “When it faced the most critical moment in its history, when, for the first time in its existence, our soil was violated by a foreign aggressor, thousands of our best trained soldiers were unable immediately to defend their own country. But when they did return we know how quickly they made their presence felt in the South-West Pacific War Zone. I feel certain that had honorable senators opposite bothered to read the speeches of the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) and the Prime Minister of New Zealand in connexion with the signing of this agreement, they would not have made the remarks they have made to-day. They have endeavoured to lead us to believe that the sole purpose of this agreement is that Australia and New Zealand alone should decide the fate of the Pacific islands and their peoples. That is a prevarication because on the occasion mentioned the Prime Minister said -

We can and should expect to share in the conduct of the affairs of the United Nations on a footing commensurate with the great efforts each country has made in the common war. In turn, we have every reason to welcome co-operation with other governments in the handling of regional matters in this area.

That does not suggest to me that Australia and New Zealand were trying to take full control of the Pacific affairs. All that the two countries ask for in this agreement is the right to share in the conduct of the affairs of the United Nations on a footing commensurate with the effort they have put forward in this war. I do not think that any nation can say that either Australia or New Zealand has not lived up to its respon-81 b111t1es in this respect. We must remember that the population of this country is no greater than that of London, New York or Tokyo. Despite that fact we have to defend a country that is almost as large as the United States of America or the continent of Europe. However, in undertaking that task we have put forward an effort which is the envy of greater nations. Australia assisted its Allies not only on the war front, but also on the food front. Although Senator Wilson said that we were not now fulfilling our original commitments in respect of food supplies to Great Britain, Lord Woolton, the British Minister for Pood, who recently visited Australia, stated publicly that Australia had never defaulted in its commitments to Great Britain in that respect. If, perhaps, within the last twelve months we have not been able to do all we should like to do, we must realize that other factors have entered into our considerations since those commitments were made. To-day, we have to feed not only the people of Australia, but also supply foodstuffs and equipment to members of the Allied forces in this country and in the islands to the north of Australia who are helping to keep the enemy at hay. As the result, our commitments have more than doubled since we undertook to supply to Great Britain the quantities mentioned by Senator Wilson.

Much criticism has been levelled by honorable senators opposite against paragraphs 26 and 27 of this agreement. Listening to them discuss both of those ^paragraphs one would think that the representatives of Australia and New Zealand who took part in the signing of this agreement had no sense of fairness. Honorable senators opposite suggest that we want a monopoly at the peace conference with respect to the Pacific; but they do not give either the Government of New Zealand or that of Australia any credit for fair play. All that these Governments are asking is that they he consulted with respect to the disposal of the Pacific islands, and that any attempt at the disposition of those islands shall have the concurrence of the two countries. That is only fair, because Australia and New Zealand are the major countries in the South Pacific, and the presence of other powers in the South Pacific islands would be a very great source of danger to both countries, as has been proved in the past. Thus, it becomes a matter of vital concern to them as to how those islands are to be disposed, of when peace comes. The Manchester Guardian takes a view of the agreement which is very different from that expressed by honorable senators opposite. That newspaper, in a leading article, states -

The. fuller reports of the agreement between the two Pacific Dominions will, increase the welcome that has already been given to it. They have decided to act closely together in international concerns and in defence, in domestic questions like immigration and native affairs, in the measures to be taken during and at the end of the war, and, in particular, in the post-war settlement of inter- national air routes. There is nothing exclusive or narrow about their plans.

Apparently, the editor of that newspaper did not consult honorable senators opposite on the matter, or he would not have made that remark-

They aim at “ regional collaboration “ within a great international system. Losing no time - and the making of this agreement is in itself a good example to us - they want the other Governments interested in the South Pacific to meet them as soon as possible to carry the arrangements farther.

That again is embodied in this agreement - as soon as possible the other nations which are vitally concerned with the peace of the Pacific should meet and thrash out these problems -

Co-operation both in defence and in politics is aimed at, and these Dominions are anxious to be working out the plans even though the Pacific war is certain to go on for a long time after the European war is over. . . . The sooner the proposed Pacific regional conference meets the better, with these Dominions taking a leading part.

Here we have an English newspaper assigning to Australia and New Zealand our real place in the scheme of things - they are to take a leading part in these discussions. They have earned a right to do so. Yesterday, we heard much about, the war effort of Australia, and of the bond of Anzac which was established between New Zealanders and Australians at Gallipoli. The Australian nation was horn at Gallipoli. To-day, Australia is out of her swaddling clothes as a unit of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and can now speak for itself, particularly when in so doing it concurs with the general opinion of the other units of the British Commonwealth of Nations. The extract from the Manchester Guardian continues’ -

The war has wrought a transformation. Australia and New Zealand can no longer remain quietly at home,” leaving both defence and, for the most part, foreign policy to the home country. They have been close to invasion; in the future they have to act together, but in close conjunction with the other Pacific powers, both great, and small, in order to obtain a secure future for themselves and the whole area in which they lie. It should mean among other things, greater strength for the new international order and for the British Commonwealth.

That is the opinion of the Manchester Guardian, which is not a Labour paper. So much for the arguments of those who say that we are striving to isolate Australia and New Zealand without any regard to other powers which are vitally concerned in the Pacific. We know that that is impossible, because if this war has shown nothing else it has shown the interdependence of the white races of the world. I do not propose to talk about the position of Australia when Japan entered the war. All of us know, unfortunately, what that position was. And I do not propose to castigate the previous Government, although -I do not withhold from it credit due to it for what it did. No matter what government was in office at the time, it would have had to take drastic steps for the defence of Australia. We know that the previous Government did certain things, although we on this side say that it ‘did not do sufficient. At the same time, we fully appreciate the action of the previous Government in sending help to Great Britain after Dunkirk; and we realize that that help was a contributing factor in the Mother Country’s success in the Battle of Britain. We pay tribute to those who sent that help to Great Britain, but we say again, that the Government responsible for giving that help did not do sufficient with regard to Australia’s own defence. I happen to represent Western Australia which, as honorable senators know, was very badly off in that respect. Wo Lave seen the .transformation that has been made during the. past few years; and to-day the Commonwealth Parliament can now look ahead and plan for the peace to come, but not simply as an isolated unit of the British Commonwealth of Nations.

The object of the amendment moved by Senator Hays is to defer the agreement until after the visit of the Prime Minister to the forthcoming Imperial Conference. But the purpose of the agreement is to enable the Prime Minister to go forward to that conference and speak not only for Australia, but in a common voice with New Zealand. As the result of their discussions in connexion with this agreement, the representatives of Australia and New Zealand have a better knowledge of the actual state of affairs in the South Pacific, and will be able to present a wealth of knowledge on the subject to the conference which will be of special value to all representatives at that conference. One honorable senator commended the agreement, but regretted that it was not secret. The Prime Ministers of the two countries placed particular stress upon that point. From the experience of other nations, we know where secret undertakings can lead us. Following the signing of the agreement the Prime Minister of New Zealand said -

Thu understanding arrived at is directed towards the enhancement of the welfare of the peoples of both countries, and of the island territories of the Pacific, .lt is an agreement of positive value in the sense that it is directed against no other people. On the contrary, other powers are invited lo adhere to the principles enunciated. It. contains no secret clauses.

The publicity that was given to the signing of the agreement should prove that the signatories realize that they have nothing to be ashamed of. In the agreement they merely make a declaration of their policy to the world. There is nothing underhand or moan about the agreement. One article which calls for special consideration is that which deals with the control and welfare of the native peoples of the Pacific islands. We know what a polyglot group of natives inhabit those -islands. I have visited some of those islands, and in NewCaledonia, particularly, I was amazed at the variety of native races, including Japanese and Javanese, who were engaged there in various classes of work. I was therefore not at nil surprised when trouble occurred in New Caledonia, because of the number of types of native races there which were not trained to live very amicably together. This agreement has definitely laid down a. policy for the native peoples. It gives only the broad statement of policy, which the Prime Minister of New Zealand has elaborated much better than I could do, in the following words: -

Great importance was attached by the conference to questions relating to dependencies and territories, and the welfare and advancement of native peoples. Both countries have made their position clear in regard to any changes in control or sovereignty of Pacific islands. They have embodied in the agreement their firm belief in the application of the principle of trusteeship. In this, their views are in the closest harmony with the policy and practice of the British Government, with whom they will continue to give and receive the utmost co-operation in the administration of the island territories of the Pacific. The proposals put forward for an advisory regional commission will, it is believed, mark the beginning of greater co-operation in the administration of colonial territories.

Then - and this is the crux of the matter - he proceeds -

The problem in the Pacific has in the past been complicated by a multiplicity of governmental systems, yet the problems of native welfare so far transcend national boundaries as to call for international co-operation in their effective solution. It was agreed that the responsibility for the administration of their island territories should remain with the existing sovereign powers-

That does not seem like trying to filch those territories from the powers which have hitherto controlled them -

But emphasis was laid on the desirability of international co-operation for the two-fold purpose of a widening and liberalizing administration in the interests of the native peoples, who are just as entitled to higher standards of living as the peoples of the more advanced nations.

From what I have seen of the island races of the Pacific, no sentence in the agreement contains anything more truthful than that. If one of the results of the agreement is to make the living conditions of the native peoples of the Pacific a little better, it is definitely our duty to help in that direction and to make sure that they are not exploited as they have been in the past, and would be if there were no international charter to ensure them justice. I should like honorable senators opposite to realize that the people of Australia and the people of New Zealand are the co-guardians of the Southern Pacific. They are the only two units of the British Commonwealth of Nations in this area, and it is their bounden duty to try to keep inviolate these outposts of the Empire. We can do that only by making certain that the Pacific islands, and other territories in the Pacific, do not again become jumping-off places for attacks on Australia or New Zealand. There is no intention in the agreement to insult any other country, or to run contrary to its principles. That is made clear by paragraph 34, in which it is suggested that now that Australia and New Zealand have given the lead by coming together to discuss Pacific problems, the other nations vitally concerned in the Pacific should be invited to attend an international conference at which those problems can be further examined and, if possible, settled. There is no hint of doing injustice to the nations already entrenched there, and nothing could be farther from the truth than such a suggestion. All that is wanted is to raise the islands and their peoples to such a standard as will not again permit even the threat of invasion of Australia and New Zealand. This will be ultimately for the good not only of those two countries but also of the Pacific peoples themselves. Apart altogether from the paragraphs relating to defence, the agreement contains a great deal which will help to solve post-war problems, which are sure to be very difficult, particularly for us in our isolated position. I suggest that the Prime Minister should go to London to attend the Imperial Conference fully armed with the knowledge that the Governments of Australia and New Zealand have set forth for him a policy which gives freedom and security to all the peoples of the Pacific. For having helped to do so much to solve the many vexed problems which will arise in the post-war era, he will earn the gratitude of all the other countries whose representatives participate in the proceedings of the Imperial Conference. I therefore support the motion, and oppose the amendment, which I trust will not be carried.

Question put -

That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Herbert Hays’s amendment) be left out.

The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown.)

AYES: 17

NOES: 18

Majority . . . . 1



Question, so resolved in the negative.

Senator ASHLEY:
Postmaster-General · New South Wales · ALP

in reply - During the debate on the motion the Senate has been subjected to a regrettable indignity. Prominent members of the Opposition, for the sole purpose of attacking and embarrassing the Government, have stooped to make irresponsible statements and palpable misinterpretations publicized by the Murdoch section of the Australian press. .Some of the phrases coined by journalistic dabblers have been used by members of the Opposition. “For example, Opposition speeches have contained such phrases as “ isolationism “, “ segregation of Australia and New Zealand “, “ encouragement to isolationists in America “, “ offence to our Allies”, and so on. Opposition members have also made irresponsible comments purporting to show that the agreement attempts to give to Australia and New Zealand a monopolistic position in the South and South-West Pacific Area, and seeks to dictate to other powers and annul their rights. That the Opposition should borrow ideas is quite understandable, but there is no reason why it should - and in a matter of national importance every reason why it should not - make irresponsible statements. Nor does ‘it need to borrow incivility. Much of the press criticism, and I regret to say a great deal of the criticism heard in this chamber, has _ been insulting to New Zealand. The Prime Minister and senior Ministers of the New Zealand Cabinet participated in the framing of the agreement, and it bears their signatures. In their eagerness to make political capita] out of the publicity given by certain newspapers to attacks on the agreement, honorable senators opposite have, I hope thoughtlessly, besmirched a friendly government.

The remarks that have been made in the .Senate against the Australian-New Zealand Agreement, like the articles in that section of the press which I have referred, have been calculated to belittle the status of Australia and of New Zealand. Those who uttered them have ignored the important position Australia and New Zealand occupy in the Pacific, and in spite of the expressed opinions will continue to hold. They refuse to recognize the importance of our position, even though it is recognized by other nations. These critics, although themselves Australian, have not grasped, and seem unable to grasp, the importance of the responsibility of British interests in the Pacific in safeguarding Anglo-Saxon civilization. Perhaps they are afraid that they could not shoulder the responsibilities of leadership so obviously calledfor in this part of the world. The Government does not share this timidity. In signing the agreement it has recognized the need for initiative in the South Western Pacific Area. The need was clearly revealed by the state of affairs immediately prior to and in the early stages of the war against Japan. Whatever Opposition senators may think, the Government is confident that the people of Australia, do not want a similar situation to recur. I am confident that the agreement will safeguard the Australian people. It puts forward proposals which offer a basis on which all the powers interested can get together and work out an agreed plan for the attainment of security and welfare not only for themselves, but also for the peoples of the whole region.

There has been too little recognition of the work of this Government in shouldering the burdens of foreign policy in a time of unprecedented crises, and when the decisions made must affect our future. Any government in recent years would have been faced with extremely difficult external problems, but I venture to claim that, few would have solved them as this Government has done. New situations have arisen which could not have been met by the old rule which, no doubt, the Opposition would still advocate - “ Follow Whitehall “. Doubtless, they would be content to let the United- “Kingdom bear the burdens, while they followed like sheep instead of assuming responsibility. In the Pacific zone leaders and not followers are needed, and the Government has earned the respect and praise of the British press for its realistic outlook and its initiative in recognizing and meeting new situations. Unfortunately, there are a few persons in Australia who are prepared to surrender Australian territory despite the appalling sacrifice and suffering of our servicemen. Such men are potential quislings at a time of national crisis. They cry “stinking fish “ to everything done in the interests of Australia.

Senator Leckie:

– I rise to order. I object, Mr. President, to being called a “ potential quisling “. That statement is offensive to honorable senators on this side of the chamber, and I ask that it be withdrawn.

The PRESIDENT (“Senator the Hon Gordon Brown:

– Do I understand that the Postmaster-General (Senator Ashley) referred to Senator Leckie as a potential quisling?

Senator Ashley:

– I was not, referring to Senator Leckie, but if the cap fits let him wear it. What I said was -

Unfortunately there are a few persons in Australia who are prepared to surrender Australian territory despite the appalling sacrifice and suffering of our servicemen. Such mcn are potential quislings at a .time of national crisis. They cry “ stinking fish “ to everything done in the interests of Australia.


– As the PostmasterGeneral has not made a personal attack on Senator Leckie, I cannot ask that the words be withdrawn.

Senator Herbert Hays:

– I rise to order. Do I understand, Mr. President, that you asked that the words “ potential quislings” be withdrawn? If not, I object to any member of the Opposition being referred to in that way, and I ask that the words which are offensive be withdrawn.


– I listened carefully to the Postmaster-General, and, so far as I could gather, he was not referring to the members, of the Opposition. He described certain people who were ready to give away Australian territory as “potential quislings”. It was. a general statement, and I do not propose to ask the Postmaster-General to withdraw it.

Senator Herbert Hays:

– The statement was intended to refer to members of the Opposition. The PostmasterGeneral is replying to a debate which took place in this chamber, and I submit that he is not referring to persons who did not participate in the debate. Therefore, his remarks apply only to honorable senators who spoke during the debate.


– The PostmasterGeneral, who has now supplied me with his notes, said -

Unfortunately there are a few persons in Australia who are prepared to surrender Australian territory despite the appalling sacrifice and suffering of our servicemen. Such men are potential quislings at a time of national crisis. They cry “stinking fish” to everything done in the interests of Australia.

In my opinion, the remark to which exception is taken was not directed to any honorable senator. I do not know what is in the Postmaster-General’s mind, and I can deal only with the words of his statement. I rule that his remarks are in order.

Senator Spicer:

– I rise to order. In accordance with your ruling, Mr. President, I submit that the matter which the Postmaster-General (Senator Ashley) is now reading is not in order. He is replying to a debate that took place in this chamber, and in the course of that reply it is proper for him to deal only with matters that were raised during that debate. I submit that he is quite out of order in introducing entirely new matter, and attacking people, who are not members of ths chamber, and who, so far, have not been mentioned in this debate.


– I do not think that it would he possible for any presiding . officer to prevent an honorable senator from wandering, occasionally, from the subject-matter of a debate. During my term as President I have noticed, ‘on many occasions, that honorable senators have strayed from the point at issue, and it is in order for a Minister in replying to a debate to make a general statement on matters arising out of the debate. . I see no reason why I should prevent the Postmaster-General from making a general statement.

Senator ASHLEY:

– When the Commonwealth Government obtained aid from the United States of America certain people regarded its action as antiBritish, and when it seeks to protect Australia’s vital interests in the SouthWest Pacific Area they regard such action as anti-American. It never occurs to them that the activities of the Government are pro- Australian. These men do not care for Britain or America; it is simply that they hate and fear everything that is Australian. They will be condemned by every one who loves his country and will meet the political fate they deserve.

Senator McBride:

– I rise to order. The last few words that the PostmasterGeneral has uttered confirm completely the impression that he has been directing his criticism to honorable senators on this side of the chamber, and I ask now that the words “ potential quislings “ be withdrawn.


– I did not gather from the Postmaster-General’s remarks that he was referring to honorable senators in opposition. He is making a general statement which does not necessarily refer to the Opposition.

Senator ASHLEY:

– British press comment on the agreement has been almost wholly favorable. The Glasgow Herald said that the agreement was “ a remarkable and wholly admirable beginning “. The Baily Mail said, “ Here is the nucleus of Empire and international agreement; this act of statesmanship may be the model for further developments “. The Manchester- Guardian made a similar comment. The Liverpool Daily Post described the agreement as “ a really practical contribution to the enlightened shaping of a new world order “, and the Evening Standard considered it “ A fine initiative “. The Times welcomed the agreement, especially the positive commitment of the two governments in relation to the maintenance of security in the Pacific.

Much has been made of criticisms ventilated by some sections of the American press, but, of course, favorable American comment has been conveniently ignored by those who wish to attack this Government. This is the more repre hensible when the attack is directed against a policy of safeguarding Australia’s vital interests in the Pacific by collaboration with all other powers with interests in this region. To cite two examples of more rational comment in the American press, the New York Times, on the 24!th January, published an article from its Canberra correspondent referring to the policy as one designed to serve the interests of the two countries, but in complete harmony with accepted principles; and on the 29th January, a special article in. the New York Post said that the agreement was not to be regarded as petty nationalism, but that the signatories wanted a general international organization and a regional organization in which they would be represented as equals. The correspondent of the Sydney Morning Herald in the United States of America, in an article published in that newspaper on the 26th January, said that the forming of a common policy by Australia and New Zealand was generally applauded., and that it was considered that the two countries had made “ a thoughtful and friendly endeavour to put their house in order “.

The Government has been charged with failure to consult with other United Nations, particularly Great Britain and tha United States; but the Opposition should not imagine that, because there is not an article in the newspapers on any particular phase of external relations, that it has been overlooked by the Government. There is a constant stream of communications between Canberra and London on all aspects of external affairs and there is intimate contact with Washington. The suggestion that Australia and New Zealand have no right to talk over their common interests except in the presence of a representative of the United Kingdom, betrays ignorance of the nature of the British Commonwealth and the status of the nations of which it is composed. The matter was effectively dealt with in the British Parliament. The official records of the House of Commons and House of Lords disclose that the British Government cordially welcomed the decision to hold the conference, and in the words of the Dominions Secretary, Lord Cranborne, believed that the conference had constituted “ a valuable innovation in inter-Imperial machinery and inter-Imperial relations which must strengthen the British Commonwealth as a whole In the House of Commons, the Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, in answer to questions on the 19th January and on the 1st February, said -

His Majesty’s Government in the Commonwealth of Australia have advised His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom as to this conference. It is understood that it is designed to effect an exchange of views between the Commonwealth and New Zealand Governments on Pacific questions as a preliminary to further consultation with His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom and other interested governments. There is accordingly no question of United Kingdom representation at the present conference.

His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom welcome the decision to hold this Conference and are glad that they will have the opportunity a,t the forthcoming meeting here with Dominion Prime Ministers of discussing the conclusions reached.

Some of the statements made by the Leader of the Opposition will astonish any one who has read the agreement. To suggest that a full understanding between two nations engaged in this war against Germany and Japan does nothing to increase the effectiveness of their contribution to the United Nations’ war effort Ls nonsense. It is only necessary to mention the Atlantic Charter and the Anglo-Russian Treaty in order to establish the importance attached to the reaching of such understandings and to their publication. The same examples show that other governments besides our own consider it necessary, for the sake of the war effort itself, as well as for the success of future peace negotiations, to get some definition during the actual course of the war, of future objectives. Again, the idea that the two parties to the agreement have attempted to “ fence off “ this region for themselves is a perverse misinterpretation which can be refuted by an honest reading of the text and which was specifically denied by the two Prime Ministers. At the conclusion of the conference Mr. Curtin said, “ The policy . . is neither exclusive nor monopolistic “, and Mr. Fraser on the same occasion declared, “ There was never any thought throughout the whole of the pro- ceedings of scoring points against any other nation or community. . . .” Again, in his press statement Mr. Fraser said, “ It is not directed against any other people. On the contrary”, he added, “ other powers are invited to adhere to the principles enunciated. . . .” A fair reading of the agreement fully substantiates this view. The Minister for External Affairs has already reviewed the contents of the agreement in detail in the House of Representatives. Let me recall a few points. In regard to security, paragraph 13 shows clearly that we have in mind, not an exclusive sphere of Australian-New Zealand control, but a regional zone of defence “ within the framework of a general system of world security “, and paragraph 34 shows that the first practical step we have in mind is the calling of a conference for a frank exchange of views, not only between the two governments, but of all governments with interests in the area, including the United Kingdom, the United States of America, the Netherlands East Indies. Portugal and the French National Committee of Liberation. Is this what the Leader of the Opposition and others call exclusiveness, monopoly, a Monroe doctrine, an Australian-New Zealand domination or a condominium? It is proposed that there shall be an advisory commission to bring about intergovernmental collaboration in the interests of the peoples of the Pacific islands. Here, again, as in our proposals in regard to security, we suggest, that all powers with interests in this area should participate. ‘Is this fencingoff a sphere of Australian-New Zealand domination? The word “condominium” is entirely inapplicable. The proposed commission would, in any event, be advisory, not executive, and it would represent Britain, America and France as well as Australia and New Zealand. Is there any evidence of isolationism in these proposals which I have reviewed and which are among the most important of the whole agreement ? Another point : Why should it give any one offence to be told that we are prepared to take over the responsibilities and burdens of administering our former territories as soon as military requirements permit? The task was a heavy one, but it is ten times heavier now. Only people completely ignorant of the havoc wrought by war in Papua and New Guinea and the immensity of the tasks - the maintenance of the services necessary to the efficiency of the forces moving forward into new combat areas, and, the rehabilitation of native life - could speak so lightly. Our territories have to be made into bases for use during the remainder of the war in the Pacific, and we have said that we are ready to do the job. Is it suggested that we should leave it to some one else ? The paragraphs relating to migration are also objected to. But had they been left out, the omission would have been objected to. They are there because the two countries are aware of common interests in migration matters, and because they wish other nations to know that they consider that the recognized principle of control of immigration should stand. There could be no better time to make their position- on this matter clear than when the two governments were announcing their views on international collaboration in regard to postwar problems.

The present Government has been taken to task in this chamber for its unequivocal commitment to support the restoration of French sovereignty in New Caledonia. It is true that the Government takes this stand. The policy was stated before the Australian-New Zealand Agreement was reached, yet it is only now that the Opposition finds it necessary to question it.

On the 14th October - three months before the agreement with New Zealand was made - the Minister for External Affairs stated the Government’s policy. It was not questioned- then, and it is only questioned now by those who wish to use for their own ends the publicity given to the criticism of the agreement. But the crowning exposure of the Opposition’s insincerity lies in the fact, that the policy is traceable to the previous Government, several members of which are now in the Opposition. These gentlemen have, perhaps conveniently, forgotten that in June, 1940, the then Prime Minister, Mr. Menzies, sent to the Governor of New Caledonia the following message, which was published at the time in New Caledonia: -

His Majesty’s Government in the Commonwealth of Australia conveys to the Government and people of French Caledonia its deep sympathy in the temporary defeat of France, and its resolute determination to co-operate with the French people all over the world in support of the British Arms and the ultimate attainment of victory and freedom for all of us.

We would be glad to know of any way in which we could render you practical cooperation at this time.

Robert G. Menzies, Prime Minister.

Later, on the 30th August, 1940, the following statement was issued: -

The Minister for External Affairs, Mr. McEwen, stated this evening that the Commonwealth Government has received information that rumours are being spread, especially in New Caledonia, that Australia desires to annex New Caledonia. “ There is “, said Mr. McEwen, “ no foundation whatever f01 these allegations, of which the purpose can only be to disturb relations existing between New Caledonia and the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth Government’s policy towards New Caledonia has been clearly defined. Our only desire is the maintenance of the friendly relations which have always, existed between New Caledonia aud Australia, and, in particular, the maintenance of normal trade and commercial ties.”

Further, in February, 1942, following representations by the Free French movement for recognition of their authority in the Pacific colonies, the United States Department of State issued the following declaration : -

The policy of the Government of the United States as regards France and French territory has been based upon the maintenance of the integrity of France and of the eventual restoration of complete independence of all French territories.

In order to show what was in the minds of the two parties to the agreement, I draw attention to some passages in the statements made by the Prime Minister and Minister for External Affairs of New Zealand, and by the Commonwealth Minister for External Affairs. At the opening session of the conference, Mr. Fraser said -

There is no need for me to stress in this conference that our two countries, by their whole-hearted participation in the conduct of war and by their sacrifices, have established their full and effective right to be heard both now and when the terms of peace are eventually discussed. Like Australia, New Zealand regards its membership of the British Commonwealth as a fundamental principle of its external policy. At the same time, we wish to the utmost possible degree to collaborate with Australia and the other Pacific powers in playing our full part as a sovereign nation and in ensuring the security of the Pacific.

Security from invasion and the preservation and advancement of our dearly won. standards of living are, in our view, complementary problems and must always remain essential features of New Zealand’s policy, both external and internal.

After the conference, the AttorneyGeneral, in hia press statement of the 21st January, said -

In my view, the conference is of the greatest value to the cause of the United Nations in the Pacific. The peoples of the United Nations will certainly look to the two great British democracies of the South Pacific to give a load in the post-war period. . . . The three problems of security, post-war development and native welfare in the Pacific are regarded as proper matters for attention by all governments having territorial interests in the South-West Pacific- and South Pacific. A further and wider conference is, therefore, contemplated at a later stage.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

page 1548


Motion (hy Senator Keane) agreed to-

That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn to Tuesday next, at 3 p.m.

page 1548


Clothing and Foodstuffs Coupons - Division of Impost Procurement - Lend-Lease Aid - Australian Army: Hospitals; Issue of Spirits; Use of Queensland Schools - Motor Tyres for Primary Producers - Building Restrictions: Alleged Breach of Regulations at Bankstown - Patent Medicines - Bar ley - Hoousing .

Senator KEANE:
Minister for Trade and Customs · Victoria · ALP

.- I move -

That the Senate do now adjourn.

Earlier to-day Senator Leckie inquired as to whether there would he any lag between the time at which current clothing coupons expired and the commencement of the currency of the new coupon issue. I have made inquiries, and find that the new issue of ration books is to be made on the 3rd and 4th June next, and that” the clothing and foodstuffs coupons in those books will operate from Monday, the 5th June, 1944. It will, therefore, be seen that there will be no appreciable lag likely to cause hardship or distress to persons in need of clothing.

On the 3rd March, Senator Leckie raised the question of the future of the Division of Import Procurement of my department, and sought an assurance thatafter the war the division would not be established as the overseas buyer for the Australian market at the expense of normal channels of trade. I should like to make it quite clear to the honorable senator that the Division of Import Procurement was not created for the purpose of “ nationalizing “ or “ socializing “ Australia’s import trade. The fact is that under the conditions created by a global war, it is not possible for Australian commercial importers to arrange for the importation, through normal channels, of the equipment and supplies required by Australia for the prosecution of the war in this theatre of operations. Practically all the commodities we need are in critically short supply, and are subject to strict control in the supplying countries. Allocations of these critical commodities for export to Australia can he obtained only if the transaction is handled through government channels. To the extent that supplies have been maintained under war-time conditions, the manufacturing and commercial community should be thankful that such an organization exists to perform this function. Normal methods of making international payments have also broken down a.s a result of conditions created by the war. To meet the position arising from the exhaustion of British gold and dollar holdings, the United States Congress has enacted what is known as the Lend-Lease Act. This has been followed by the Canadian Mutual Aid Act. These measures empower the Governments of the United States of America and Canada to give aid to other United Nations directly in the form of goods and services. Goods procured on lend-lease or mutual aid terms must be procured through government channels. The aid given by the United States of America and Canada to Australia is aid to the Commonwealth Government, and not to individual firms in Australia. Ordinary commercial transactions cannot he bought within the scope of either lendlease or Canadian mutual aid. Thus, the establishment of the Division of Import Procurement was in no way concerned with party politics. “Whatever government had been in office, it would have been necessary to establish some agency to handle the procurement of Australia’s necessary war-time imports. Actually, the decision to establish the division was taken in 1941 under the Menzies Administration. The question of the role which the division is to play in the post-war period will depend very largely on conditions over which the Commonwealth Government will have little or mo control. The cessation of hostilities will not mean that shortages of critical materials will suddenly be relieved. Demands from liberated territories for equipment and materials required for relief and reconstruction will be on a scale which will strain to the utmost the resources available. At least so far as the immediate post-war period is concerned, the main producing countries will be obliged to maintain strict control over the allocation of supplies. Difficulties in effecting payment in foreign currencies will, doubtless, also remain and even be accentuated. For these reasons it seems evident that there can be no likelihood of a sudden reversion to normal commercial channels of trade on the cessation of hostilities. No one can foresee the conditions which may arise at the end of the war. A great deal will depend on the economic clauses written into the ultimate peace settlements. I can, however, assure the honorable senator that so long as the present Government remains in office its objective will be to formulate a realistic import policy and to make use of whatever methods of procurement are best calculated to ensure that Australia’s essential import requirements, both during and after the war, are supplied to the maximum extent possible.

Debate interrupted.

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown) . - In conformity with the sessional order that, unless otherwise ordered, the motion for the adjournment shall be put on Fridays at 3.45 p.m. I -formally put the question -

That the Senate do now adjourn.

Question resolved in the negative.

Debate resumed.

Senator KEANE:

Senator Leckie, in his remarks on the 3rd March, referred to the omission of any reference to transactions under mutual aid agreements. He said that the impression was generally held that our contribution under the reciprocal lendlease arrangement was not. fully appreciated in relation to the assistance obtained by us from the United States of America under the Land-Lease Aid Agreement. Statements have been made from time to time by the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) -and other Ministers on the mutual aid given to the United States forces in Australia, which is a direct charge against the financial resources of the Commonwealth. Statements have also been made in the United States, at various intervals, by the President, the Lend-Lease Administrator and the head of the Office of the Foreign Economic Administration. The latest announcement by the head of the Foreign Economic Administration was issued in the United States only a few days ago, and a reference to it appeared in the Australian, press on the 13th . March. The information upon which these statements were made has been supplied by the Australian administration of reciprocal lend-lease, which is very anxious that official information is supplied to the United States administration so that it and the United States public are correctly informed on this very delicate subject.

It will be appreciated that the details supplied for publicity purposes are conditioned by considerations of security. Australian aid under reverse lend-lease differs from United States lend-lease aid in that quantities of lend-lease material can be revealed, as a general rule, without much danger to security, because of its world-wide distribution. On the other hand, a great deal of reverse lend-lease aid cannot be revealed because it relates to items provided for troops in this area, and it would not be beyond the capacity of the enemy to relate such information to troop strength. Indeed, if sufficient details were published, many other facts relating to numbers, types and positions of troops could he estimated with considerable success. It is not the intention of the Government to make these details available to the enemy. For the information of the Senate, I give the following details of our mutual aid to the United States forces in this area up to the 31st December, 1943 : -

  1. Total overall reverse lend-lease expenditure to the 31st December, 1043, is as follows: -
  2. It is estimated that the expenditure in Australia on mutual aid to the United States Forces will approximate ?160,000,000 to 30th June next.

Senator Leckie also referred to the high cost of lend-lease goods. In general, the items which Australia is obtaining from the United States of America under lend-lease aid are not available from the United Kingdom or from local production, and it is not easy to make any comparison of price levels for comparable articles in the three countries. However, whilst there are many exceptions, it may be taken as generally true that price levels in the United States are much higher than in the United Kingdom or Australia. I have been unable to obtain any information as to whether the United States of America has made any special arrangements regarding amortization of war plants. I cannot say, therefore, whether American prices have been influenced by any such arrangements. Any comparison of lend-lease to reciprocal lend-lease values is very difficult in the absence of common items. Moreover, values are not regarded under mutual aid arrangements as being of primary importance, and whilst it is desirable from some angles to maintain reasonably accurate financial records, the real measure of our success lies in the extent to which the two countries have used their resources for mutual support.

Senator FRASER:
Minister for Health and Minister for Social Services · WESTERN AUSTRALIA · ALP

– To-day Senator Arnold asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice -

  1. Will the Minister inform the Senate whether the Australian Army in New Guinea has the same or comparable hospital accommodation as our American allies?
  2. Have the Australian Army authorities yet decided upon a design for forward hospitals similar to the prefabricated hospitals being supplied by the Allied Works Council to the American Army?

The Minister for the Army has supplied the following answers: -

  1. The hospital accommodation provided for Australian troops in New Guinea compares favorably with that of our American allies.
  2. Prefabricated huts have been used in the Australian Army, and an improved design for use in the tropics is at present in production. Standard plans for forward hospitals have been in use for some time and improvements are effected from time to time in the light of experience. These designs and improvements are comparable with those of the American Army.
Senator LAMP:

-day asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice -

  1. Is it a fact that spirits are issued to officers of the Army in Northern Australia? If so (a) what are the spirits; (b) what quantity is issued?
  2. Will the Minister consider the issue of beer instead of spirits?

The Minister for the Army has supplied the following answers: -

  1. Yes. Spirits are issued to officers and other ranks in Northern Australia. (a) Brandy. (b) As recommended by the responsible medical authority for medicinal purposes to hospital patients only. During the last five months, a total of GO pints has been issued from depots in the area. There is no indication that this quantity has been consumed as much of it may well be still held in hospital stores.
  2. In view of the unsuitability of beer for the purpose, the Minister cannot consider the issue of beer instead of spirits.

Senator Cooper today asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice ;

  1. With reference to the question asked by Senator Cooper on the 25th February, is it a fact that “alternative accommodation” provided at Commonwealth expense for sleeping quarters for the boarders at one of the schools taken over by the military authorities at Charters Towers, Queensland, consists of open horse stalls on the race-course?
  2. If so, will the Minister consider the immediate erection of prefabricated huts to accommodate these pupils?

The Minister for the Army has supplied the following answers: -

  1. No. The race-course was made available at the request of the school authorities after inspection by the headmaster. The manner in which it is being utilized is for the school authorities.
  1. The question of providing prefabricated huts to supplement space at the race-course is being considered as a temporary measure, pending the release of the school buildings at the curliest opportunity.

On the 2nd March Senator Cooper asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice - 1.Is it a fact that primary producers are having difficulty in obtaining motor car tyres?

  1. If so, will the Minister have investigations made into the report appearing in the Brisbane Courier Mail of the 9th February, 1944, to the effect that there is a huge heap of worn Army car and truck tyres as big as the City Hall dumped at Enoggera awaiting shipment to the south for rubber reclamation work?
  2. if this report is correct, will the Minister consider making available, at a price, the best of these and of future discarded Army tyres of suitable size to primary producers?
  3. Is it a fact that many of these dumps of tyres arc picked over by unauthorized persons before shipment?

The Minister acting for the Minister for Supplyand Shipping has supplied the following answers : -

  1. Primary producers and many other essential users of motor vehicles are experiencing difficulty in obtaining tyres. This is unfortunately unavoidable due not only to the acute stock and supply position of crude rubber but also to the shortage of man-power available for the manufacture of tyres. The honorable senator may he assured, however, that the Government is making efforts to provide the essential requirements of primary producers in the shortest possible time.
  2. Approximately 400 tons of Army rubber comprised mainly of aeroplane, truck and car tyres is held at Enoggera awaiting shipment to the reclamation plants in New South Wales and possibly to Victoria.
  3. Any tyres included in this quantity which are capable of being reconditioned will, in accordance with standard Army procedure, be reprocessed and used by the Army until such time as they are fit only for reclamation. No tyres are discarded by the Army unless and until they are beyond repair.
  4. Army tyres held in salvage dumps are not picked over by unauthorized persons before shipment.
Senator AMOUR:
New South Wales

– In the House of Representatives the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan) has made a statement to the effect that the officials of the Bankstown Municipal Council are in collusion with a certain contractor. His statement reads -

Even the local alderman seemed to be unaware of any approval having been given for the work. It would be interesting to know whether only a few individuals are concerned in this matter or whether people who should have protected the interests of therate-payers and the community are also implicated. A concrete road was recently constructed past the premises. The old bitumen road was to have been straightened out slightly, buta completely new concrete road has been built past the premises. A wide sweep has been taken under a railway bridge, thus creating a dangerous curve at that point. Practically the sole person benefiting from the construction of the road is the owner of the abovementioned premises, because he now has a concrete entrance from one side and a concrete drive at the other end of his premises. This road cost several thousands of pounds. In view of the fact that the materials used in connexion with road construction are in short supply, I should like to know how this matter can have escaped the notice of the Minister.

Some years ago, the Railways Commissioners constructed a connecting link in the railway from Bankstown to Regents Park, and in doing so erected a bridge over Marion-street, one abutment being on the centre of the road. For years the council had endeavoured to induce the Railways Commissioners to rectify this mistake, but without success, and it was decided to make a deviation of Marion-street so as to eliminate a very dangerous traffic hazard. In 1936, the council adopted a recommendation of the mayor to resume certain lands for the purpose of eliminating this dangerous bend. The council continued with the proposal, and acquired certain land; and in 1940, land was purchased for the deviation. A cottage was on lot No. 4. The land, together with the cottage, were purchased from Mr. Edward Fripp in 1940. The cottage was sold and removed, and the residue of lot No. 4, after making provision for the road, was sold by public auction on the 10th January, 1942, to Mr. R. Fitzpatrick, the Governor’s approval being dated the 11th March, 1942. The construction of the road deviation was included in the 1938 loan programme, but was held up by man-power shortage and the difficulty of obtaining materials. It was, however, commenced during the week ended the 3rd September, 1943, and is still in progress. The delay in completing the work, which normally would take about five or six weeks, is due to the fact that only a few men are available. Because of - the inability to secure bitumen, the Local Government Department granted to the Bankstown Municipal Council permission to substitute concrete.

Senator ARNOLD:
New South Wales

– I direct the attention of the Governmentto the inadequacy of the control of the patent medicine trade in Australia. Since I raised this matter in the Senate a few weeks ago, I have received many letters and representations from persons who have suffered by reason of this trade. The health of the Australian people is a serious charge on the Government. When such an obnoxious and dangerous practice is in operation, the duty of the Government is to take steps to control it. The time is ripe for an investigation of the whole matter. One of my informants has told me that he purchased tablets for the treatment of high blood pressure, and subsequently discovered that they contained only garlic. This is one of the most commonly advertised remedies for high blood pressure on the market. Medical science recognizes that garlic does not possess any property which has the slightest therapeutic effect on the blood pressure. Another widely advertised tonic, Phospherine, is described as the greatest of all tonics. It is modestly claimed to be -

A proven remedy for nervous debility, influenza, indigestion, exhaustion, maternity weakness, premature decay, mental exhaustion, loss of appetite and many other things. This tonic is frequently advertised in the press and over the air, and the public is prone to accept as correct the claims that are made for it. I am not concerned at the unproductiveness of the expenditure of persons who purchase such things, but I view seriously the deleterious effects which the taking of them has on the health of the nation. I have endeavoured to learn what checks have been imposed by different governments within recent years, and have been unable to find any evidence of such action having been taken. The latest evidence which I have been able to obtain as to the damaging effect of this trade shows that, in New York State alone, exclusive of New York City, in the period from 1926 to 1932, there were 158 fatal cases of poisoning from all causes, in children of five years of age and under, and that 75 per cent. of these deaths were due to strychnine in cathartic pills, such as A.B.S. & C. and Dr. Hinkle’s Cascara

Pills. If this trade is rife in America, it is also rife in Australia; consequently, measures ought to be taken for the protection of our people.

Certain toothpastes which are much advertised are not acceptable - Kolynos and Listerine because they are excessively abrasive; Ipana, because it has been reported to contain betanaphtol, a drug which has no place in toothpaste; and Pebeco, because it contains potassium chlorate, which is a poisonous substance. If the purveyors of these products are allowed to make extravagant claims on their behalf, and our people have no protection against them, the health of the nation must be gravely endangered. People suffering from complaints accept the claims advertised by the manufacturers of these products. In their illness they are easily gulled into a false sense of security, with the result that they do not seek skilled attention in time. The Government should immediately investigate the manufacture and sale of patent medicines.

SenatorUPPILL (South Australia) [4.5]. - I have been asked to bring to the notice of the Government a disability being suffered by barley-growers whose crops have been classified by the Australian Barley Board as feed-grain. The board’s guaranteed first advance on feed barley delivered by growers was 2s. a bushel in the country, but in view of the ceiling prices operating on feed barley there appeared to be very little prospect of any further substantial payment to growers. In April, 1942, the Government decided to reduce the selling price of wheat to stock feeders by 6d. a bushel and to subsidize the wheatgrowers at the same rate per bushel on the quantity of wheat sold for feeding purposes. Before this decision feed wheat was available at 4s.0¾d., Port Adelaide basis. This is equivalent to approximately 3s. 4d. a bushel for feed barley, as the trading bushel weights of wheat and barley are 60 lb. and 50 lb., respectively. It should be borne in mind that barley was generally regarded as preferable to wheat for stock-feeding purposes.

The Barley Board’s selling prices for feed barley are restricted to 2s. 8d. a bushel, Port Adelaide, for 200 bags, and 2s.10d. a bushel for small quantities, equivalent to 6d. and 8d. a bushel, respectively, below equitable values. In addition to the substantial subsidy already mentioned, theCommonwealth Government for some time past has been permitting the sale of feed wheat in truck loads at 3s.6¾d. a bushel, delivered to any railway station in the Commonwealth, and it is understood that the transport costs from the loading station to the destination represented an additional subsidy paid by the Commonwealth. It is obvious, therefore, that South Australia feed barley growers for some considerable time have been in the unenviable position of having their grain sold at inequitable ceiling price limits in competition with heavily subsidized feed wheat. In addition to the disabilities already outlined, many barley-growers bad an unusually small acreage, or perhaps no acreage atall, under wheat during those seasons which were taken as the basis for quotas. As a result, they are debarred from increasing their wheat acreages, and are almost wholly restrictedto the growing of barley, which in the event of any unfavorable season, may be feed quality only. I urge the Government to investigate this matter immediately, because I know that these people are suffering a great disability. The matter has already been brought to the notice of the Government, but I now ask that further consideration be given to it.

Senator WILSON:
South Australia

– I am glad that Senator Arnold has raised the subject of patent medicines, and I support his remarks. Yesterday, in answer to a question, I was told that the Government was not prepared to relax the existing restrictions upon the erection of homes for workers. Although man-power is available to carry out repairs to houses, and although many builders, plumbers and artisans are engaged in occupations other than building work, permission is refused for the erection of oven the humblest of cottages. Indeed, the Department of War Organization of Industry has refused permission for the erection of one or two rooms as the first instalment of houses where it was proposed, to complete the structures at a later date. At a time when the Government is refusing to make available man-power for the erection of private homes we find that man-power is utilized in the manufacture and distribution of totally worthless patent medicines and toothpastes. The man-power involved in the manufacture of those products, including articles essential to their preparation and packing, as well as transport, must be very substantial. It is staggering to think that after four years of war we are not yet able to build a single home for our returned service personnel, many of whom have reached marriageable age and want to marry and settle down. At the same time, the Government permits a substantial volume of man-power and materials to be used in the manufacture of worthless patent medicines. I sincerely urge it to consider this matter, and to ask itself whether it would not be better to make available man-power for the erection of homes rather than utilize the time and energy of thousands of men and women now engaged in the manufacture of dope which is costly to purchasers and does not do the slightest good. I ask the Government to give serious consideration to the suggestion put forward by Senator Arnold.

Senator KEANE:
Minister for Trade and Customs · Victoria · ALP

in reply - The representations made by honorable senators will be brought to the notice of the appropriate Ministers and will be given early attention.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

page 1553


The following paper was presented : -

National Security Act - National Security (War Damage to Property ) Regulation - War Damage Commission - Second Annual Report for the period 1st January, 1943, to 31st December, 1943, together with Statements of Accounts.

Senate adjourned at 4.12 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 17 March 1944, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.