17th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown) took the chair at 10.30 ;i.m., and read prayers.
Statement by Mk. Ward
Senator JAMES McLACHLAN.Has the Minister representing the Minister for Transport read the report in yesterday’s issue of the Canberra Times with regard to transport facilities, in which the following statement is attributed to the Minister for Transport: -
My powers cun be exercised only in connexion with transport for war activities. If I can be satisfied that the attendance of members of Parliament here is in some way connected with the war, I will endeavour to have something done.
Does the Minister representing the Minister for Transport share the opinion that members of Parliament have no interest in the war?
– I do not know exactly -what the honorable senator has in mind in propounding a question of that kind. If he desires to bring the matter mentioned to the notice of the Minister for Transport, I shall see that his attention is directed to it.
Exchange at Hamilton, New South Wales.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral investigate the possibility of either installing an automatic telephone exchange at the post office at Hamilton, New South Wales, or taking some action to prevent the serious delays experienced by the people using the telephone through the Hamilton exchange?
– I shall have inquiries made, and a reply will be supplied to the honorable senator later.
Newspapers Despatched bt Registered Post.
– On 15th March Senator Foll asked me a question, without notice, concerning the handling of newspapers, forwarded by registered post, addressed to members of the Royal Australia Air Force. Inquiries show that a substantial increase has taken place in the number of newspapers and other articles lodged at post offices for transmission by registered post to serving personnel- of the Royal Australian Air Force. The Royal Australian Air Force postal service has, however, experienced some difficulty in according registration treatment to articles coming within the category of books, periodicals and newspapers, and the matter of registered mail for members of the services is at present being considered by the Postal Department, the Department of the Army, and the Air Force and Naval postal services. As early as practicable the public will be fully informed on the matter. The registration labels which had been cancelled, and were submitted by Senator Foll for investigation, have been forwarded to the Air Force authorities, and further inquiries are being made regarding those specific cases.
Personnel - Broadcasts - Newspaper Publicity - Booklet issued by Attorney-General - Negotiations with the States.
– I draw the attention of the Leader of the Senate to the fact that in a letter received recently from a soldier in New Guinea these words occur, “ Can you tell my cobbers and me the dinkum oil about this referendum stunt?” Will every facility be given by radio and official publications to enable servicemen in battle areas to become acquainted with the arguments advanced against the proposals to be submitted to the people by refeorendumonthesubject ofthealteratin of the Constitution for the purposes of conferring increased powers upon this Parliament?
– When the bill was under consideration every opportunity was afforded honorable senators on both sides of the chamber to state the case for and against the proposals. Every person on the roll, whether engaged with the fighting forces or not, will receive the same information regarding the proposals, but the information distributed will not be so extensive as in the case of previous referendums. Certain restrictions will have to be imposed with regard to advertising and other matters.
– In view of the serious shortage of man-power and paper, and the rigid restrictions placed on the publishing trade generally, can the Leader of the Senate say how many men were employed, andhow many tons of paper were used, in printing the various pamphlets that have been issued by the Attorney-General in connexion with the Government’s proposals ?
– I am unable to say what weight of paper was used in the preparation of these publications. I remind the honorable senator that they were all printed at the Government Printing Office, and could not have been printed had the staff been working at full capacity.
– Will the Government give an assurance that in any of its publications in connexion with the referendum proposals both sides of the case will be equally and fairly presented?
– I have already said that any statement, leaflet or pamphlet issued on behalf of the Government will contain the “ No “ as well as the “Yes” point of view. At thisstage I am unable to indicate what the general arrangements will be. That is a matter for my colleague the Attorney-General.
– Will the same facilities for obtaining information be given to soldiers as were given to members of the Senate, and, if so, does that mean that the information will be given to the soldiers in the early hours of the morning when they may be sound asleep? Further, will information be withheld from the soldiers in the same way as it was withheld from honorable senators who sought information when the bill was before this chamber?
– The soldiers will be given the information, and I suggest that at whatever hour of the day or night it is given to them they will not complain. The soldiers will not be given all the information that has been supplied by the Government to members of the Parliament. The honorable senator will recall that a complete history of the Canberra Convention was supplied to the Senate as well as complete notes regarding the bill. There was also a booklet issued by the Attorney-General, in which each proposed provision was explained at length. That publication was in the hands of honorable senators many weeks ago.
– Am I right in assuming from the answer to my previous question that, although the Government is prepared to impose restrictions on private enterprise in regard to the publication of various matters, the Government makes no attempt to economize in regard to publications which issue from its own printing office?
– The honorable senator’s assumption is wrong.
– Is the Postmaster-General aware that, despite the fact that the third reading of the Constitution Alteration (Post-war Reconstruction and Democratic Rights) Bill was discussed in this chamber for nearly three hours yesterday afternoon, no mention was made of that fact in the news session, either yesterday afternoon or evening? Is he also aware that a long statement made by the announcer was entirely in favour of the referendum proposals, and probably supplied by the Attorney-General, was broadcast? Will he take steps to notify the Australian Broadcasting Commission that between now and the holding of the referendum opportunities shall be given to present over the air the case against the proposals?
– I did not hear the news sessions to which the honorable senator has referred, but I inform him that I have not instructed the staff that collects news from Canberra, or elsewhere, as to what news shall be broadcast over the air. I have no intention to give any such instructions.
Honorable senators interjecting,
– Order ! When a Minister is replying to a question, I ask honorable senators to hear him in silence.
– I do not intend to issue instructions to the Australian Broadcasting Commission as to how it shall gather news, or as to what news shall be broadcast in its news sessions. The commission has its own responsible officers to decide such matters. At no time since I have been PostmasterGeneral have I issued any instructions in regard to the news service of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, and I do not propose to do so. I say, however, that in any reference to discussions in this Parliament, equal publicity should be given to the views of the Opposition and of the Government.
– Will the Minister representing the Attorney-General ask the Government to issue a regulation under the National Security Act to compel newspaper proprietors to give the same space in favour of the referendum proposals as they will devote to the case against the Government’s proposals?
– I am not in a position to do what the honorable senator suggests; but if the result of the last general elections can be taken as a guide, there does not appear to be any need to seek that power.
– When the referendum proposals are before the people, will those who speak in opposition to them from public platforms be able to use the confidential booklet prepared hy the Attorney-General? Will permission be granted to them to do so?
– Any speaker who desires to explain the Government’s proposals will, I imagine, use the booklet.
– In view of the austerity advocated by the Prime Minister, can the Leader of the Senate say whether the cost of the booklet and other propaganda issued in connexion with referendum proposals wil] be paid for out of Commonwealth revenue ?
– The cost of any government printing is necessarily a charge on the revenue; but the cost of disseminating views over the air is not, and will not be, a charge against the Government.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral if the technical services in respect of short-wave broadcasting are still provided by the Postal Department, the Department of Information supplying the information for short-wave broadcasts ?
– The technical services are still provided by the Postal Department.
– In view of statements published in the press that New
South Wales may have insufficient wheat for its own requirements by the end of the year, will the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture state whether the Government will reconsider its refusal to remove the restrictions on wheat production, so as to enable Australia to assist in feeding the starving millions of people in Europe, as well as provide for its own requirements?
-The Government does not desire to restrict wheat acreage, but problems have arisen that prevent any great expansion of wheat production. Difficulties have been caused owing to transport, man-power and the supply of fertilizers, and from time to time the Government has reviewed the whole position. Special licences have been granted to farmers who have extra acreage available far wheat-growing, and this policy is adopted as far as possible consistent with government policy and the availability of fertilizers, transport and man-power, t agree with the honorable senator that as much wheat as possible should be grown.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture seen a statement in this morning’s press that the United States of America will be without wheat before the end’ of this year, and will require supplies’ from Australia and other British dominions to meet its requirements? Will the Minister give an assurance that the Government will make available to our American Allies, as well as to Great Britain and other countries with which we are allied in this war, such wheat as they may require?
– I have not seen the press statement to which the honorable senator has referred, but I shall discuss it with my colleague the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture.
– Has the Minister for Trade and Customs read a report published in the Brisbane Courier-Mail of the 14th M’arch, concerning the prosecution of traders at Ipswich under the Prices Regulations for failure to display price tickets on commodities? It is reported that the magistrate imposed a fine of only §d. on the ground that the offence was of a highly technical nature. What action, if any, does the Government propose to take to ensure the imposition of adequate penalties on traders who are convicted of contravention of the regulations?
– My attention has been drawn to a statement appearing in the Brisbane Courier-Mail of the 14th March, on a fine inflicted by Mr. R. H. Allen, stipendiary magistrate, on cafe proprietors at Ipswich, Queensland. The defendants were charged with having failed to exhibit a notice setting forth the maximum price of beetroot. According to the press report, Mr Allen said that the offence was a highly technical one, and he fined each of the defendants 1/2d., with 4s. 6d. costs. No professional costs were allowed.
For the information of honorable senators I desire to state that the display of price tickets on many declared commodities is an important feature of prior control. It is designed to ensure that the public will know what prices the trader is charging and that traders will conform to Prices Regulations. Frequently refusal to display notices where required under the regulations is a cloak for overcharging or for charging differential prices according to the customer. To describe failure to display notices on commodities as a “ highly technical offence “ displays a lack of understanding of the principles under which prices in Australia are controlled. Unfortunately a statement of this type, coming from a judicial authority, is apt to influence traders unduly and to increase the task of the Prices Commissioner in his efforts to protect the interests of the public. There was a tendency in Sydney and elsewhere recently on the part of traders to ignore their obligations to display prices on commodities. Frequent inspections were made by prices officers and offending traders were brought to the courts, which imposed substantial fine6. This has stopped the practice. If, however, courts are to take the attitude that offences of this nature are highly technical offences, and to fine persons convicted of such offences a contemptuous amount of id., traders may feel that they can disregard the regulations almost with impunity. It may appear a small matter to refuse to place a price ticket on even one commodity. In this case it was beetroot, and it might well be asked why price tickets should be displayed on other commodities but not on beetroot. The answer is obvious. “With the shortage of supply of beetroot, perhaps temporary, it would be easy to obtain a price in excess of the legal maximum price. In these circumstances it would be very difficult for the prices officers to protect the public against traders who were prepared to resort to such tactics. There can be no excuse for failing to place a price ticket on a commodity, and I regret that in the case under consideration a judicial authority should not have felt obliged to refrain from making a public comment that could only be to the advantage of traders who desire to break the law.
– I rise to order. Is the Leader of the Senate in order in reflecting on the judiciary?
– I am keenly desirous that any ruling that I shall give shall be the result of considered judgment. I have an idea that there- is a difference between the magistracy and the judiciary, but I do not wish to express any view on the subject until any relevant standing orders have been placed before me, and I have considered them. I ask the Minister to continue with his statement, and later I shall give a ruling on the point raised.
– I had completed the prepared reply to the question asked by Senator Courtice. In no State has greater care to be exercised in regard to price control than in Queensland. The obvious reason is the presence there of large numbers of Allied servicemen. The difficulty which officers of my department are experiencing in dealing with instances of overcharging is aggravated by a shortage of supplies in that State. A similar position has arisen in New South Wales on several occasions. The matter was brought to the notice of the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt) with a view to preventive action being taken, and as a result a special stipendiary magistrate was appointed to deal with offences against price-fixing regulations. I am of the opinion that similar action will have to be taken in the other States also. To the honorable senator’s remarks regarding my comment on the decision of the magistrate I say, “ It is damned stupid “.
“PLANNING FOR INDUSTRY.”
– Has the Leader of the Senate seen a paragraph in the Sydney Morning Herald of the 23rd March, under the heading “Planning for Industry”, in which it is stated that the Commonwealth Government is considering the formation of a holding company with a capital of £100,000,000, in the post-war period, and that the directors of the company are to be Dr. Evatt, Mr. Chifley, Mr. Beasley, Mr. Makin and Mr. Dedman? If so, will he give to honorable senators an opportunity to study the articles of association of that company?
– The account in the Sydney Morning Herald is a recital of a suggestion that is before the Government, at the moment. The honorable senator will understand that before anything in the direction indicated could be done certain legislation would be necessary. Should the occasion arise, honorable senators will be given an opportunity to dis- “ cuss the matter as is usual in such cases.
– Pursuant to the statement presented to Parliament on the 30th June, 1943, I lay on the table the following papers: -
These reports have been revised with a view to the elimination, for security reasons, of information that is likely to be of use to the enemy.
– I present the first report of the Printing Committee.
Report - by leave - adopted.
asked the Postmaster-General. upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable senator’s questions is as follows : -
The number of airgraph letters despatched from Tasmania in the early stages of the service was small and it was more expedient to have them assembled at Hobart to be transmitted to Melbourne as one lot. In view, however, of the increased business now offering, it has recently been arranged for Launceston to be the assembly point for the north and north-west lodgments, and these will not in future circulate through Hobart.
asked the Leader of the Senate, upon notice -
When, if ever, does the Government, in accordance with its promise, intend to bring down the bill providing for preference to returned servicemen and servicewomen?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
The Government has under preparation a measure which will cover preference for exservicemen as part of the general scheme of re-establishment.
Maribyrnong Ordnance Factory
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Munitions, upon notice -
– The Minister for Munitions ha3 supplied the following answers : -
For purpose of greater clarification the figures given under (6) may be broken down into groups of skilled and unskilled personnel, as follows: -
With regard to releases generally from this factory it is pointed out that since the beginning of May, 1943, there has been a net decrease in employment of 1,791, comprising 1,365 males and 326 females.
asked the Leader of the Senate, upon notice -
Will the Government provide, by regulation, for the audit, by competent auditors, of all funds being raised by outside organizations in connexion with matters arising out of the war!
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
Without knowing the funds which the honorable senator has in mind it is impracticable for the Government to give full consideration te this question. Patriotic funds, which come within the category mentioned, are subject to the National Security (Patriotic Fund) Regulations and these regulations provide for audit. Patriotic funds fall into two groups - (a) those which -are interstate or Australian-wide in character; (6) those which are intra-state or the operations of which are confined to a particular State. The first group is controlled by the Repatriation Commission, and, under regulation 14 of the National Security (Patriotic Funds) Regulations, the central body of the particular fund is required by the commission to furnish an audited financial statement embracing the activities of the fund in all States. Further, each State branch of the fund must render a separate audited financial statement to the authority controlling patriotic funds in the State concerned. Funds in the second group are exempted from the regulations referred to above by the operation of regulation 5, the Governor-General having been satisfied that there exists State legislation for the control of these funds. There being no State legislation in Tasmania, patriotic funds in that State are subject to the audit provisions of regulation 14. Patriotic funds in the Australian Capital Territory are also subject to this regulation. Somewhat similar arrangements apply to funds raised by local repatriation committees.
Motion (by Senator Collings) agreed to- -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Forestry Bureau Act 1930-1932.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
.- I move-
That Utensils (Miscellaneous) Order issued Under National Security (General) Regulations as appearing in Commonwealth Gazette No.6, of the 12th January, 1944, and tabled in the Senate on the 10th February, 1944, be disallowed.
This order provides for the regulation and control of miscellaneous utensils including crockery, cutlery, dairying utensils, domestic glassware, hollowware, kitchenware and tinware utensils. It sets up a controller with dictatorial powers. Clause 4 (1) provides that any person who is a manufacturer shall apply to the controller for registration. It will be noted that manufacturers of ware of this type are compelled to register. Clause 4 (3) provides that a person shall not commence manufacturing utensils until that person first makes application to the controller for registration. Clause 4 (6) prescribes that the controller may prescribe the utensils which the holder of a certificate of registration may manufacture; and clause 4 (7) prescribes -
The Controller may in his absolute discretion remove or suspend a manufacturer from the Registry and cancel or suspend his Certificate of Registration.
It will be seen that the controller has powertomake,orbreak,amanufacturer. Hecancompletelyclosethebusinessofan existing manufacturer, or register a competitor and destroy an existing concern. The powers of the controller are com pletely dictatorial. They are contained in clause 6, which reads - (1.) The Controller may from time to time by notice in writing -
The controller therefore can compel a manufacturer to reveal lists of his customers and other details of his business, including his secret processes of manufacture. As the clause provides that the controller may enter and inspect any premises of a distributor, it will be noticed that he is in a position to enter and inspect the plant, processes and formulae of a manufacturer.Sub-clause 3 of clause 6 provides that a distributor shall comply with all the requirements of the controller. Some of the articles referred to in this order have been manufactured by the Adelaide firm of A. Simpson and Son Limited for the last 90 years. The firmwas the first in Australia to manufacture pots and pans, tinware, kitchenware and innumerable articles essential to a housewife. The firm of A. Simpson and Son Limited, which began manufacturing tinware 90 years ago, has 1,000 employees, and the relationship between the company and its employees has always been extraordinarily good. Twentyfive per cent. of the company’s total production is sold outside South Australia. Western Australia has always been a very substantial market for its products, and Queensland has almost entirely relied upon South Australia for its pots and pans. Following upon the gazettal of the order, the Government proceeded to appoint a controller. When very wide and completely dictatorial powers are given, such as those included in the order, the controller should be a man who is not only impartial but also completely free from any influences that might affect his impartiality. Many persons must have been completely staggered when they found that the Government had appointed a man with these dictatorial powers who is a director of Metters Limited of Sydney, the chief rival of A. Simpson and Son Limited. Therefore, to-day, the best and oldest established firm in Australia has to disclose the whole of its books and secret formulae, and the names of its customers to a director of its chief rival. One would have expected that the new controller would be especially careful that his actions were correct, but his first action was to give an order to A. Simpson and Son Limited that none of its goods were to be sent outside of South Australia. The effect of this, of course, was to destroy the interstate markets of this firm and to place in the hands of its rival full information about its customers. No doubt it will be said that Metters Limited was able to supply the requirements of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, and that it should be allowed to supply them because it was near to those markets. As the controller has ascertained all the details of the business of A. Simpson and Son Limited during the war, honorable senators can easily understand how invaluable the information will be to Metters Limited, and how much harm will be done to an old and highly respected firm. The order sent to the firm on the 4th March was as follows : -
I now request that no deliveries of hollow- ware be made by you outside the State of South Australia until further instructed by myself.
The matter was immediately taken up by the South Australian Premier, Mr. Playford, and the South Australian Auditor-General, Mr. Wainwright, and a letter, complaining of the action taken, was sent to Dr. Walker, the chairman of the Civil Requirements Board. Dr. Walker replied that a Commonwealth order had appointed Mr. N. H. Keysor, director of Metters Limited, as Controller of Utensils and Appliances, and that Mr. Keysor had complete power to direct production and interstate distribution. Dr. Walker proceeded -
I am informed that Mr. Keysor is arranging for Simpsons to supply South Australia and Western Australia, and that they should have no difficulty in disposing of the goods already packed in those States. Supplies for Queensland will be furnished by manufacturers in other States to save transport space.
In other words, supplies for Queensland will be furnished by Metters Limited. On the 11th March, Mr. Wainwright wrote to Dr. Walker saying that Dr. Walker had given standard reasons, but analysis showed that they were not valid. He said that if Mr. Keysor’s reasons for prohibiting export were shortages of transport, including Western Australia, the facts showed that there was empty shipping and empty rail space available almost every week from South Australia to Victoria. That is not the statement of a man who does not know the facts. It was made by the Auditor-General of South Australia, who holds other very responsible positions in that State. He added that there appeared to be no difficulty in goods from South Australia going on to New South Wales. He went on -
The main purpose of some of these controllers is to seize the opportunity to shut South Australian manufacturers out of the whole of the New South Wales and Queensland market, which is about 4-5ths of the Australian market, and in this case the attempt is to shut South Australia out of all markets but South Australian. Further, this “ dictator’s “ order was conveyed in curt terms without any explanation, or without any indication as to what would happen in the future, and as though this was final and complete.
The secretary of the Chamber of Manufactures, when asked to comment, said -
The chamber had knowledge of many instances where South Australian business houses had been entirely cut off from their interstate trade, particularly with the eastern States.
The president of the Chamber of Commerce commented -
The action taken by an official appeared to be most extraordinary.
That appears to be putting it mildly -
It amounted to a restriction on the development of industry in this State, under the guise of war control, and was quite unjustifiable.
The South. Australian Advertiser, in its leader of the 17th March, commented on the matter as follows
The people of Australia will learn with melancholy interest that the war-time hierarchy of Federal departmentalism now includes a Director-General of Tin Pots, or. at the very least, a factotum who discharges this momentous function, under the official title of Controller of Utensils and Appliances. The result is a literal tin-pot dictatorship, exercised from some convenient centre of authority in one of the capitals of the eastern States; and, as almost always happens in such a case, South Australia is being given another sharp lesson in the evils of centralization. The Director-General of Tin Pots, it appears, is Mr. N. H. Keysor, a director of the firm of Metters Ltd., which is a manufacturer in Sydney and Melbourne, of the sort of “ utensils and appliances “ placed under his absolute and exclusive control. It cannot be objected, therefore, that this dictatorial official is not a specialist; and it would be highly improper to suggest that he would ever be tempted to use his power as a bureaucrat to advance the special interests of his own company. South Australia’s quarrel, perhaps, is less with Mr. Key so r than with the system which has made him a dictator over tin pots, with authority to do things that, to all appearances, it would not be necessary to attempt, if Federal departmentalism were less inclined to strive after Federal absolutism.
In any event, however, Mr. Keysor may be suspected to have that eastern States complex which is more or less normal among business men situated as he happens to be. He doubtless knows a great deal about “ utensils and appliances “, but it has yet to be shown that he understands, or is at all concerned to safeguard the perfectly legitimate commercial interests of South Australia, which, after all, cannot be betrayed without grave detriment to Australia as a whole. Two or three weeks ago, the well-known firm of A. Simpson and Son Ltd., which manufactures “ utensils and appliances” in this State, and which has long supplied customers all over the Commonwealth, received from Mr. Keysor a communication eminently dictatorial in form and substance: - “I now request that no deliveries of hollowware be made by you outside the State of South Australia until further instructed by myself “. The management of Simpson’s rightly deemed this a matter that would interest the South Australian AuditorGeneral (Mr. J. W. Wainwright), who was recently appointed by the Playford Government to assist and advise State manufacturers, particularly in regard to the problems that will beset them when post-war reconstruction has to be undertaken. Mr. Wainwright was not only interested, but indignant; for here was a clear case in which a South Australian concern, being needlessly shut out of the general Australian market, faced the virtual certainty of a most formidable obstacle to the recovery of its rightful position after the war.
The Auditor-General is in close touch with Federal affairs; but he is far too good a South Australian to stand idly by while Mr. Keysor - “ this dictator “, he calls him - dislocates the business of Simpson and Son for no valid reason - empty shipping and rail space being constantly available from Adelaide to Melbourne - and produces a mild famine in “ hollowware “, not only in places as far away as Queensland, but in all those towns .just over the South Australian border which naturally look to Adelaide as their source of supply. Mr. Wainwright!s angry question, addressed to the chairman of the Civilian Requirements Board, “ Is this the way the Commonwealth Government is going to implement the powers which it possesses?” will be echoed by most of the people of South Australia. Unhappily, although Simpson’s experience of the tin-pot dictatorship is singular in some ways, the spirit of the order which Mr. Wainwright so properly resents, is not new. Several of the industries of this State are suffering disproportionately, and not always unavoidably, under the weight of the Commonwealth’s war-time controls; and the secretary of the Chamber of Manufactures is fully entitled to say, by way of comment on Simpson’s case, in particular, that the circumstances constitute a definite warning to the smaller States of the risks they would run if the Federal authorities were given increased peace-time power to govern interstate trade.
This is not the first occasion upon which, acting under National Security Regulations, controlling authorities have prevented trade between South Australia and other States. About twelve, months ago, the Controller of Footwear issued a total prohibition .upon the export from South Australia of boots and shoes. One firm which had been exporting 80 per cent, of its production to the eastern States, was summarily informed that its export trade to those States must cease. That firm had spent thousands of pounds before the war developing markets in the eastern States, and had produced a high quality of footwear. It is true that the firm is still able to employ its workmen fully, and to keep its plant in operation, because it is now engaged upon large defence contracts, but that does not alter the fact that the markets which it had built up in the eastern States in pre-war years by the production of first-class goods has been lost as the result of the export prohibition.
– Many hundreds of people have lost relatives in the course of this war; surely that is much more important than loss of trade.
– I am fully seised of the fact that in war-time great sacrifices have to be made; but that does not justify the appointment as controller of an industry, of a person who has a vested interest in that industry, and stands to gain by the prohibition of the export of goods from South Australia to the eastern States. Since the publication of the order to which I have referred, another order has been issued stating that apples shall not be exported from South Australia to the eastern States. Apparently apples are to rot on the ground in South Australia merely because this bureaucratic Government has decreed that they shall not be exported to the eastern States.
Following upon the complaint by the Premier and Auditor-General of South Australia, the Minister for Munitions (Mr. Makin) made the following statement : -
Although the order in the first case restricted distribution to South Australia, it was agreed on the 15th March, that Simpson and Sou could distribute to Broken Hill, Western Australia and Tasmania.
That was extraordinarily kind of the Minister. The Government having done something that was totally wrong, the Minister then said, as a concession : “ We shall remove the total embargo. Of course we must retain the New South Wales, Queensland and Victorian markets for Metters Limited and other firms; but we shall allow you to dispose of your goods in Broken Hill, Western Australia and Tasmania “. I am not making imputations against the Minister for Munitions. In fact I have the highest regard for him. My regret is that the Government should appoint to the position of controller a man who obviously has vested interests in this industry. So far as I know, he may be acting quite innocently in this regard, but an individual who is a director of a rival concern, should not be given power to destroy his competitors. My complaint is that when the Minister’s attention was drawn to this position he should have said to this bureaucratic controller immediately, “ That is wrong ; you should not have power to destroy your competitors. The order preventing South Australian manufacturers from disposing of their goods in other States must be cancelled, and the order conferring these dictatorial powers upon you rescinded immediately”. I am sure that every honorable senator will realize that the position is an impossible one, and that this power cannot remain in the hands of a person interested in the industry. I confidently ask honorable senators to agree to the motion for the disallowance of the order. The Government will have ample time to introduce another order, which will be more just and will at the same time achieve whatever may be necessary for the marshalling of the resources of this country for war. Serious complaints have been voiced from Queensland on the ground that the people of that State have been unable to purchase utensils, which normally were obtained from South Australia. However, I shall leave that aspect of the matter to my Queensland colleagues who have knowledge of local conditions.
In conclusion I point out that when the States agreed to federate they did so on the condition that section 92 be inserted in the Constitution. That section, of course, provides that trade between States shall be absolutely free, and in innumerable cases the High Court has held restrictions upon trade between States to be invalid. Apparently this Government is quite prepared to remove that freedom with a stroke of the pen, and to force the individual to go to the High Court to uphold his rights. Any person, of course, can go to the High Court, but in the meantime the damage is done. It may be many months before the High Court is able to deal with his case, and by that time he will find that his markets have been lost. I am not imputing anything against Mr. Keysor. In fact, I do not know the gentleman. My complaint is against the system which permits a person who is financially interested in an industry to be clothed with dictatorial powers in respect of that industry. I confidently leave this motion in the hands of the Senate.
– I do not propose to traverse the ground which has already been covered adequately by Senator Wilson in relation to the injustice that has been done to the company concerned in this matter. I agree with all that the honorable senator has said in regard to the danger of appointing a person financially interested in an industry to a position in which he is able to exercise dictatorial powers over rival firms. I am concerned mainly with the effect of this order upon my own State, which is suffering considerably from a shortage of these utensils. One could understand action such as this to restrict interstate trade having some justification some time ago when the war situation was much more acute than it is to-day. However, we are pleased to learn that the sinkings of merchant vessels off the Australian coast have been greatly reduced in recent months. Therefore it appears extremely strange to me that the Government should consider it necessary to continue the rationalization of industry in this way when one would imagine that in the interests of the future employment of the people of this country, it would be advisable to relax certain existing control; but it seems that instead of endeavouring to make things easier for people engaged in business and primary industries who require these implements urgently, the Government is enforcing an even greater degree of rationalization than existed during the period of our most acute man-power shortage and transport difficulties. I dealt with a case similar to this some time ago. There has been an acute shortage of primus stoves in Queensland and in my view, owing to the large influx of people to that State, those appliances are more urgently required there than anywhere else in the Commonwealth, to supplement ordinary cooking facilities. I discussed this matter with one of the main manufacturers of these stoves and he informed me that at the very time when one branch of the Department of War Organization of Industry refused him a permit to continue the manufacture of primus stoves for the Queensland market, another branch of the same department had announced that the restrictions on transport of primus stoves had been removed because of the acute shortage in Queensland. That shows the degree to which government departments are exercising ineffective control over industry. Our attention has been drawn to the necessity for increasing primary production, particularly in the dairying industry, yet the export to Queens land of dairying utensils from A. M. Simpson and Son Limited, df Adelaide, is banned. Tinware has been almost unobtainable in that State for some time, and prices paid at public auction for second-hand utensils has been out of all proportion to their value, because of the acute shortage. I should be prepared to make every allowance for the present difficult position, were it not for the fact that I know that there is a considerable surplus of raw materials and man-power. The peak has been reached in the production of munitions and the requirements for war purposes are not so great as they have been. Why should we continue to rationalize industry at a period such as this? Senator Wilson has referred to statements by responsible persons showing that there is no shortage of railway or shipping transport facilities from South Australia to Victoria. The Government, in order to assist in the rehabilitation of industry, and the reemployment of servicemen and others released from forward areas, should be making the position of private firms as easy as possible. I know from my own experience what the position is with regard to copper. The Mount Isa company has been told to cease copper production and return to the production of lead and zinc. I also know the” position in relation to bronze. At present there is not the same shortage of essential materials as that experienced during the darker days of the war. We should allow trade to return to normal levels, as far as possible, without interfering with the war effort.
– The honorable senator has reminded himself that a war is in progress.
– The darker days having passed, it is absurd to ration tin pots and pans in order to keep controllers and bureaucrats fully occupied, and have an opportunity to appoint new controllers. I pay tribute to the work of Metters Limited, which has .built up a valuable organization, but we should not tolerate the appointment of one of its directors to a position of control which gives him the complete right of access to the business affairs of another company, which is one of the main competitors of Metters
Limited. I am surprised that the Government has acted in that way, although I have almost ceased to be surprised at anything done by it. The people of Queensland have suffered from the shortage of essential commodities to a greater degree probably than the people of any other State. Although the Government is asking for increased production in the dairying industry, it has taken action which prevents the people engaged in that industry in Queensland from obtaining necessary dairying utensils. The goodwill trade built up by A. Simpson and Son Limited between South Australia and Queensland is reciprocal, because the people of South Australia purchase Queensland goods in return. I urge the Government to agree to the disallowance of this order, so that the trade affected may return to its normal level. Instead of the Government extending its control more and more into matters with which it should not concern itself, it should relax control as much as possible, and allow private industry to carry on under ordinary conditions, so that work may be provided for the men returning from the war zones. Senator Wilson has presented his case in a calm and dispassionate way, and had every right to object to the appointment as Controller of Utensils and Appliances, of a director of a firm which is a business rival of A. Simpson and Son Limited, thus giving to that director the right of access to the secret business of a rival company.
– Did not the Government with which the honorable senator was associated ever do anything like that?
– If that is the only criticism that the honorable senator can offer, he must have a very poor case to present on behalf of the Government. During the early part of the life of the present Government, and during the regime of the two previous administrations, the transport position, was much more difficult than at present; but the war has now been taken further from our shores. The position- with regard to shipping has improved ; we are not losing so many ships as formerly, and, as more man-power and material are becoming available, industry should not be unduly rationalized. The Government should not increase the difficulties of the people in obtaining essential commodities, in order to retain bureaucratic control. Many luxury lines can be procured without permits, but permits are necessary in order to obtain some of the most essential commodities. I hope that the order will be disallowed, so that an injustice to an old-established firm in South Australia, and also to the people of Queensland, may be removed.
– I shall be pleased to hear the ministerial explanation with regard to this matter, because this and several other similar grievances have been brought to my notice. Undoubtedly, the people of Queensland have suffered more than the people of any other State because of the dislocation of trade and transport due to the war and to the geographical position of that State in relation to the other States. I have been in close contact with Ministers with regard to many difficulties with” which the people of Queensland are confronted owing to war conditions. We all know that administrative mistakes are made, and I am not prepared to support the appointment of a Controller of Utensils and Appliances in the circumstances which have been made known to the Senate; but in many instances Ministers have acted on the advice of certain committees. Great difficulty has been caused because of the shortage of commodities necessary for the carrying on of industry.
– Particularly since the present Government has been in office.
– Honorable senators opposite seem to be more concerned about that aspect of the matter than the needs of the people of Queensland. It must be realized that trade has been dislocated, and. we should not lose sight of the fact that the transport difficulties are great. For many months, important works have been held up.
– That there are no transport difficulties was proved by Senator Wilson.
– I shall await the Minister’s reply, but I know that transport difficulties have been responsible for a good deal of trouble in Queensland.
Members of the Opposition seem to think that the Government desires to control trade and commerce so as to make conditions as irksome as possible. That is ridiculous. The Government is faced with real problems. I know from my own experience that, when examined, the difficulties have proved to have been very real indeed, and are not the result of any inflexible attitude on the part of the Government. ‘ I hope that the Minister will consider this matter carefully; and should it be proved that trade is being unnecessarily interfered with, I hope that appropriate action will be taken.
– The interference is both unnecessary and improper.
– I am afraid that many honorable senators from the other States have no proper conception of the difficulties associated with the carrying on of industry in Queensland.
– What has the honorable senator done about it? We rarely hear his voice raised in protest.
– There are other ways of achieving results than by making a noise in this chamber in order to gain publicity. Generally, I have found Ministers anxious and willing to do everything possible to overcome the difficulties which arise from time to time. Production and industry in Queensland have suffered greatly because of war conditions, but the people of that State, who are closer to the war than are the people elsewhere in Australia, recognize those difficulties and do not blame the Government for all that has occurred. They are thankful that they are able to continue in business and industry at all; and they look forward to expanding and developing their undertakings after the war. Especially is that so in the northern part of the State. If there is one State which has concentrated its efforts on winning the war, it is Queensland. I have been twitted with inactivity in regard to the needs of Queensland, but I assure the Senate that I have not been remiss in my duties. I know, however, how great are the difficulties, and that war conditions have, in some measure, lowered the standard of efficiency to which we were previously accustomed. It is my view that the Government should interfere as little as possible in these matters, because the repercussions may be serious indeed, but
I am confident that it has not overlooked these problems. It will, I am confident, do all that is possible to reduce to a minimum the inconvenience to which the people of Queensland and South Australia, and indeed all States, may be subjected.
– At the outset I point out that no government, regardless of its political colour, would place restrictions on the people arbitrarily, but only where such restrictions are warranted in the interests of the country. It would seem that Senator Wilson is more concerned about the trade rights of A. Simpson & Son Limited, of Adelaide, than about making available to those who need them the utensils and other articles referred to in the order of which mention has been made this morning. The main point in the argument of Senator Wilson was that that company’s trading activities had been restricted. Possibly that is so; at least I do not deny it, but I say, will all the emphasis possible, that greater things than that have happened in this country. Many other companies have had their activities restricted ; many small shopkeepers have lost their livelihood owing to war conditions. The whole case of Senator Wilson was in the interests of the profits of .the company, rather than the prosecution of the war.
– A typical ministerial statement!
- Senator McBride should know that what I have said is true, but because of his political bias he is unable to sec anything , good in the present Government. No government, even one of which Senator Foll was a member, would have appointed a labourer, or an inexperienced clerk, to carry out the duties performed by the Controller of Utensils and Appliances. Previous governments appointed to various positions men fitted by training and experience to carry out onerous and important duties, and the present Government has retained those men in their positions and has followed the same practice when making new appointments. That is true of such men as Mr. Essington Lewis, of the Department of Munitions, and other men holding responsible positions. Had the Curtin Government appointed a union secretary to control this industry, I can imagine the outcry which honorable senators opposite would have made. I do not know the Controller of Utensils and Appliances, although I have some knowledge of the work of the Department which he controls. I am not the Minister in charge of that department. It is all very well for honorable senators opposite to say that rail and sea transport facilities are available to enable these goods to be conveyed from one State to another, but they do not know all the facts. I remind them that when the present Government came into office beer and stout were being shipped from South Australia to Western Australia notwithstanding the fact that there were breweries producing those beverages in Western Australia. At the same time crates of cotton which were necessary to the country’s war effort were left on the Adelaide wharfs because space could not be found for them. It was necessary therefore to set up a Central Cargo Control Committee. That body has done a splendid job. Senator Wilson did not state the whole of the facts. The control of utensils was instituted as an outcome of a decision of the Production Executive made on the 23rd November, 1943.
The reason for that decision was that civilian stocks of certain utensils had deteriorated, and that information received from London gave little hope of the position being relieved by shipments from the United Kingdom. Surveys made by the Department of War Organization of Industry showed that the Australian factories were capable of an output sufficient only to meet the requirements of the fighting forces and the barest civilian needs; but even that programme necessitated securing large additional quantities of material and skilled man-power. A further objective was the securing of an equitable distribution of the utensils that could be manufactured, so that a proper balance would be maintained between service and civilian needs, and between States. At that time the position in relation to dairy utensils also was causing grave concern, and constructive steps were considered necessary in order to ensure that equipment vital to the dairying industry should be planned for, and obtained. Accordingly, an order under National Security Regulations was gazetted on the 12th January, 1944. Mr. Norman Keysor was appointed Controller of Utensils and Appliances, in an honorary capacity, and he had the assistance of an advisory committee, which was representative of the various sections of the trade. The advisory committee is constituted as follows: - Knives - Mr. J. McFarlane, of the Diamond Cutlery Company; spoons and forks - Mr. E. G. Redwood1, of Mytton’s Limited; dairy utensils and hollowware - Mr. A. Chown, of Chown Brothers Limited, Sydney; glassware - Mr. Thomas Ross, of the Crown Crystal Glass Company; tinware - Mr. Ralph Wilson, of Wilson Brothers Limited, Melbourne; crockery and earthenware - Mr. F. Dewsbury, of Fowlers Limited; imported lines - Mr. Worboys, of the Sydney Importing Company. Mr. K. Webb’, of Malleys Limited, was appointed Deputy Controller in Sydney, and Mr. K. Luke as Production Adviser to the Controller. Both of these gentlemen serve in an honorary capacity. I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Keane) read a first time.
.- I move -
That the bill bc now read a second time.
The main purpose of the bill is to give effect to the Government’s proposal to adopt the principle of relating the taxation liability to income of the current year in lieu of income of the previous year. Other amendments in the bill extend the exemption allowed to members of the defence forces and provide concessions for personnel of the various philanthropic organizations associated with the forces overseas. The bill also contains amendments designed to prevent the avoidance of taxation which has developed in the last year or two. These amendments relate to funds established for the benefit of employees and to the allowance of unrecouped losses of private companies where there has been a substantial change in the shareholdings.
Turning to the main feature of the bill, a committee representative of all parties of this Parliament was constituted for the purpose of inquiring into and reporting upon the advisability of basing the liability for income tax for each financial year on the income of that year, or of adopting any other method of avoiding the hardship which might arise under the present system of basing the liability for income tax for each financial year on the income of the previous year. Senator Spicer and I had the honour to be members of tha t committee. The committee’s recommendations were adopted by the Government, and are incorporated in this bill. It is unnecessary for me to detail those recommendations as no doubt they are well known to honorable senators. The plan recommended by the committee is divided into two parts, one of which deals with employees and the other with taxpayers other than employees. There is no change in the basis of the assessment of companies.
So far as employees are concerned, the present system of collecting tax by instalments from salaries and wages will remain substantially unchanged. Deductions which will be made from the current earnings of the employee will be applied in payment of the tax on his earnings of the same year. The present system of an annual return and an annual assessment will continue. After the close of each year an assessment will be issued based on the income of that year. If the deductions exceed the tax assessed a refund will be made. If the deductions fall short of the tax payable, the employee will be required to make a cash payment of the difference between the tax assessed and the deductions made from his salary or wages. Under the proposed new basis of taxation it is necessary that tax deductions made in any year be applied in the payment of the tax assessed in respect of the income of that year. In order that tax deductions may be readily identified with the income from which the deductions are made, the collections of tax by means of employers’ group schemes will be extended. Accordingly, the group system will apply where ten or more persons are employed.
In the case of persons other than employees, the tax for the current year will be based on the income of that year and will be collected during the year by way of a provisional tax. This provisional tax will be calculated by reference to the taxable income assessed for the preceding year. After the close of the year an assessment will be made on the actual income delivered during the year. The provisional tax paid will be applied in payment of the tax assessed and any necessary adjustments will be made. Where the income consists partly of salary or wages and partly of investment or other income, provisional tax will be payable on the income other than salary or wages except in those cases where the other income is small. In these other cases the tax will be payable on the final assessment.
I have described the effects of the new plan in respect of a normal year. To set the plan in motion, however, certain adjustments are necessary in the transition year. Under the law as it stands, the tax for the present financial year is payable on income of the year ended the 30th June, 1943. Under the proposed plan, the tax for the next financial year, i.e., 1944-45, will be based on income of the year ending on the 30th June, 1945. As to the income of the intervening income year, which will end on the 30th June, 1944, the bill proposes that only onequarter of the amount of tax assessable at current rates shall be paid. The balance of three-quarters of the tax assessable on that income will be cancelled. Generally speaking, payment of the one-quarter tax will be effected by employees by means of the tax deductions made between the 1st April and the 30th June, 1944. The onequarter tax payable by non-employees will be paid by three equal instalments over the next three years. Special provisions are contained in the bill to safeguard the revenue against the unduly high cancellation of tax on inflated incomes of the transition year. I propose to discuss the remaining provisions of the bill only briefly as the bill is essentially one to be dealt with in the committee stage. There are, however, several important amendments, which require some elaboration.
The Income Tax Assessment Act contains, and has, since the inception of the act, contained a provision under- which a deduction is allowed to employers in respect of contributions made by them to funds to provide pensions, retiring allowances and other benefits for their employees. Honorable senators will agree that the principle is an excellent one, but will appreciate that it was intended to encourage the provision of benefits for employees generally and not for a favoured few. It ha3 been found, however, that the concession has been abused. By way of illustration I quote the case of a public company which recently paid £50,000 to a benefit fund of this kind. The beneficiaries of the fund are the managing director who is to receive £20,000, the general manager who is to receive £10,000, and the departmental managers whose benefits range from £1,000 to £4,000. The saving to the company in taxation is more than £20,000, so that the real cost to the company of providing these benefits is something less than £30,000. It was never intended that the provision should be used to provide for arrangements of that kind, and it is proposed to limit the annual deduction to £100 for each employee or 5 per cent, of his remuneration, whichever is the greater. The limit now set will effectively defeat the avoidance of tax in the type of case I have described. At the same time, there will be little or no disturbance in the vast majority of existing funds, as the permitted maximum is ample in the case of genuine funds established for employees generally. The Commissioner is, however, given a discretion to increase the allowance in cases where the circumstances merit an increase.
Finally, I wish to make a few comments on the provisions of the bill which relate to Navy personnel and members of the Army and Air Forces. The amendments now proposed arise mainly out of the changed circumstances of the war. The provisions exempting the pay and allowances of members of the forces were enacted when the war was being fought on the other side of the world. Then it was reasonable enough to make the exemption of pay and allowances earned in Australia depend on service for six months outside Australia. But with the outbreak of war in the Pacific a review of the existing provisions has become necessary. Australian forces in New Guinea frequently return to Australia before they have served six months outside Australia. With the object of preserving the exemption in their favour the bill provides for the reduction of the qualifying period from six months to three months’ continuous service outside Australia. The exemption i3 also extended to members of the aircrews of squadrons stationed in Australia but operating regularly outside Australia. In their case three months’ continuous service with such a squadron will extend to them the same exemption as that allowed to aircrews stationed in New Guinea, and other places outside Australia.
A further provision releases trustees from the payment of any income tax owing in respect of pay and allowances included in assessments of deceased members of the forces. A concession is also being provided for representatives of philanthropic organizations and other civilian personnel associated with the forces in Papua, New Guinea and elsewhere outside Australia. The personnel who will receive this concession include officially accredited correspondents and photographers, and representatives of the Australian Red Cross, <<the Australian Comforts Fund and kindred organizations. The concession takes the form of the special diminishing deduction of £250 allowed to memoers of the forces serving in Australia. Another provision of the bill exempts the earnings of seamen of British and Allied Nations employed on vessels operating in Australian waters who pay income tax outside Australia on their earnings. The exemption to be granted by the Commonwealth will avoid double taxation on these earnings.
Debate (on motion by Senator McLeay) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator .Keane) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn to Tuesday next, at 3 p.m.
Alleged Reflection on Judiciary: Ruling - Business of the Senate.
Motion (by Senator. Keane) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– This morning, when the Leader of the Senate (Senator Keane) was reading a statement in answer to a question asked by Senator Courtice, Senator McBride, who raised a point of order, held that an honorable senator was not in order in reflecting upon a member of the judiciary. So far as I have been able to ascertain, the Standing Orders are silent on the point; and in such circumstances the practice is to be guided by precedent. Ex-President Cunningham gave a ruling on the question of whether the Senate could pass a motion censuring Judge Foster. His ruling is reported in Hansard of the 24th March, 1943, at page 2281. The circumstances are not comparable, but on that occasion ex-President Cunningham referred to May’s Parliamentary Practice, 13th edition, page 271, which states -
Certain matters cannot be debated, save upon a substantive motion which can be dealt with by amendment or by the distinct vote of the House. Among these may be mentioned the conduct of the sovereign, the heir to the throne, the Viceroy and Governor-General of India, the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, the Governors-General of the Dominions, the Lord Chancellor, the Speaker, the chairman of ways and means, members of either house of Parliament and judges of the superior courts of the UnitedKingdom, including persons holding the position of a judge, such as a judge in a court of bankruptcy and of a County court. These matters cannot, therefore, be questioned by way of amendment, or upon a motion for adjournment under Standing Order No. 108 (see p. 246). For the same reason, no charge of a personal character can be raised, save upon a direct and substantive motion to that effect.
That does not furnish me with an exact precedent. Australia is at war, and the practice known as black marketing is definitely detrimental to Australia’s interests. Early in the war, a good deal of black-marketing was being practised, and when a bill to prevent it was being discussed in Parliament, many comments were made concerning the small fines imposed by magistrates, the effect of which was to encourage illicit traders to continue the practice. In these times it is essential that there should be as little unrest as possible in the community, but black-marketing and increased prices of goods cause inflation, and naturally create a good deal of dissatisfaction. The Government is, therefore, anxious to keep down prices and has compelled traders to mark the prices of their goods in plain figures. This has undoubtedly been efficacious in many parts of Australia, but some traders ignore the law, and prosecutions have been launched in the magistrates’ courts to enforce it. The Minister, before he replied to the question, was, I am sure, fully aware of all the facts. I also understand that he had been somewhat perturbed at the conduct of certain traders who had not obeyed the law, thus causing others, who were envious of their success in wrong-doing, also to ignore it. In the course of his reply, the Minister said -
Mr. Allen said that the offence was a highly technical one. … To describe failure to display notices on commodities as a “ highly technical offence “ displays a lack of understanding of the principles under which prices in Australia are controlled. … In these circumstances, it would be very difficult for the Prices Officers to protect the public against traders who were prepared to resort to such tactics. There can be no excuse for failing to place a price ticket on a commodity, and I regret that in the case under consideration a judicial authority should not have felt obliged to refrain from making a public comment that could only be to the advantage of traders who desire to break the law.
Having taken all the circumstances into consideration, and in view of the fact that the Senate must assist to uphold the law, I rule that the Minister was in order, as his remarks were fair comment.
– I wish to take exception to the manner in which the business of the Senate is being conducted by the Government. The adjournment has been moved, although it is now only 12.35 p.m., and we have until 3.45 p.m. to continuewith the business of the Senate. Honorable senators who were prepared to continue the debate on the matter raised by Senator Wilson this morning have been prevented from doing so, and now it is proposed that the Senate shall rise until Tuesday next. While honorable senators are in
Canberra, the Government should give them every opportunity to discuss matters of public importance. We travel long distances to attend the meetings of Parliament, and are absent from our homes for some time. We should receive every consideration from the Government while we are here, and be assisted to do the work which is before us. We should not be compelled to stay in Canberra with practically nothing to do for three parts of our time. Personally, I am prepared to sit from Monday morning until Friday night if that is necessary, although those hours might be rather strenuous. It is most unfair of the Government to ask us to adjourn now. I realize that Ministers have many duties to perform outside of Parliament, but they should give us some consideration. While we are here, we should perform our duties in a proper manner, and not be gagged on matters which we think are of some importance to the States.
.- I wish merely to. reflect on tie fact that we were forced by the Government to discuss a most important measure in a sixteen-hour sitting, the Government refusing time after time to accede to the reasonable request of the Opposition to adjourn the debate to enable us to discuss the bill when we were not tired. Now, on Friday, we find that the Government has no business for the Senate to go on with. Had the Government been prepared to act reasonably, it now appears that we could have been discussing the measure in a pleasant atmosphere all day yesterday and all day today. Evidently the Government had some reason best known to itself for forcing the measure through by three o’clock yesterday afternoon. It was afraid that its majority might not stay in Canberra long enough to provide it with the vote which it required. I can only suspect that, before the honorable senator concerned came here to provide the Government with his vote, it had entered into a firm bargain with him that the division would be taken in time to enable him to leave Canberra, and desert his parliamentary duties, at six o’clock on Thursday night.
by some oversight had not been informed that the Government desired the members of the Senate to spend a few minutes this afternoon with the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin), who will he leaving Canberra shortly. The invitation has since reached the honorable senator. Comments have been made by Senator Spicer concerning the Constitution Alteration (Post-war Reconstruction and Democratic Rights) Bill. I fixed the call of the Senate for a certain day and hour, and said that I would see that every honorable senator had an opportunity to speak. I think that I carried out that promise. It was also expected that there would be a long sitting. I do not like all-night sittings; but as a day and hour had been fixed, and as I had in mind other factors which the leader of a House must consider, it was thought that the hour fixed on Thursday was suitable. The debate on the bill has been concluded, and it is now the responsibility of honorable senators on both sides to help to facilitate the submission of the proposals involved to the electors.
– by leave - Last night I asked the Leader of the Senate (Senator Keane) to give me an opportunity to discuss a matter of some importance before the Senate adjourned to-day. I anticipated that it would adjourn at about the usual time, and the Minister suggested that half-past three might be an appropriate hour. When the state of business resulted in the motion for adjournment being submitted much earlier to-day, the Minister told me that, if suitable to me, the time between half-past twelve and quarter to one to-day was available.
I informed the Minister that I was not ready to go on at half-past twelve to-day, and that I preferred to bring up the matter on Tuesday next. No discourtesy has been shown to me in the matter.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
National Security Act -
National Security (Exchange Control) Regulations- Order - Sterling areas.
National Security (General) Regulations - Orders -
Control of Fibres and Jute goods (No. 3).
Cordage and Fibre.
Senate adjourned at 12.45 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 24 March 1944, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1944/19440324_senate_17_178/>.