17th Parliament · 2nd Session
The Senate met at 11 a.m. pursuant to the proclamation of His Excellency the Governor-General.
The Clerk read the proclamation.
The Deputy appointed by His Excellency the Governor-General, the Right Honorable Sir George Edward Rich, K.C.M.G., a Justice of the High Court of Australia, having been announced by the Usher of the Black Rod, entered the chamber, and, taking his seat on the dais, said -
Members of the Senate:
His Excellency the Governor-General, not thinking fit to be present in person at this time, has been pleased to cause letters patent to issue under the Great Seal of the Commonwealth, constituting me his Deputy to administer the oath or affirmation of allegiance to honorable senators, as will more fully appear from the letters patent which will now be read.
The letters patent having been read by the Clerk -
The Clerk produced and laid on the table the certificates of election for the following members elected on the 21st August, 1943, to serve in the Senate as senators for their respective States from and after the 1st July, 1944: -
Donald MacLennan Grant. queensland-
Sidney Wainman O’Flaherty.
Nicholas Edward McKenna.
The above-named senators, with the exception of Senator Nash, who had already been sworn, made and subscribed the oath or affirmation of allegiance.
The Deputy having retired,
– The time has arrived for honorable senators to choose a suitable member of the Senate as its President.I move -
That Senator Gordon Brown do take the Chair of this Senate as President.
– I second the motion.
– I submit myself to the will of the Senate.
– There being no other nomination, I declare Senator Brown elected President of the Senate.
The PRESIDENT, having been conducted to the dais, and standing on the upper step, said -
I thank honorable senators for the honour which they have conferred upon me. I shall discharge my duties to the best of my ability, and shall always endeavour to do justice to every honorable senator. The composition of parties in the Senate may change according to the temper of the times, but on all occasions the President of the Senate does not recognize any party as such, but constantly has before him the ideal of upholding the rights of every member of the Senate.
Senator KEANE (Victoria - Minister for Trade and Customs). - On behalf of the Government I congratulate you, sir, upon your re-election to the high and distinguished office of President of the Senate. During your previous short occupancy of the position, your demeanour was admirable and you acquitted yourself with satisfaction to every member of the Senate. I know that the term upon which you are about to enter will witness a repetition of that performance, and that the responsibilities with which you have been entrusted have been placed in most able hands.
– On behalf of the Opposition, I congratulate you, sir, upon your re-election as President of the Senate. I am confident that you will uphold at all times the dignity of that high office. We all appreciate the manner in which you discharged your functions during your previous term. Your predecessors did all that lay within their power to safeguard the rights of the Senate, and I sincerely trust that you will follow their example. In doing so, you will have the support of the Opposition.
– I thank the Leader of the Senate (Senator Keane) and the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) for their congratulations.
– I acquaint honorable senators that His Excellency the Governor-General has appointed the hour of 2.50 p.m. this day, in the President’s room, to receive the President.
– I shall suspend the sitting of the Senate to 2.48 p.m.
Sitting suspended from 11.22 a.m.to 2.48 p.m.
– I invite honorable senators to accompany me to the President’s room, where I shall present myself to His Excellency the GovernorGeneral.
The members of the Senate proceeded to the President’s room, and, having re-
– I have to inform the Senate that I have presented myself as the choice of the Senate to His Excellency the Governor-General, who was pleased to congratulate me upon my appointmentas President.
NOR-GENERAL entered the chamber, and, being seated, with the President on his right hand, a message was sent to the House of Representatives intimating that His Excellency desired the attendance of honorable members in the Senate chamber forthwith, who being come with their Speaker,
HIS EXCELLENCY was pleased to deliver the following speech : -
Members of the Senate and Members of the House of Representatives :
You have been called together to deliberate upon matters of importance to the well-being of the Commonwealth.
His Excellency the GovernorGeneral and members of the House of Representatives having retired,
The President (Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown) again took the chair, and read prayers.
Assent to the following bills reported : -
Income Tax Assessment Bill 1944.
Loan Bill 1944.
Invalid and Old-age Pensions Appropriation Bill 1944.
Entertainments Tax Assessment Bill 1944.
Entertainments Tax Bill 1944.
Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Bill 1944.
Supply and Development Bill 1944.
Unemployment and Sickness Benefits Bill 1944.
Pharmaceutical Benefits Bill 1944.
Maternity Allowance Bill 1944.
Forestry Bureau Bill 1944.
Commonwealth Electoral (War-time) Bill 1944.
Widows’ Pensions Bill 1944.
Invalid and Old-age Pensions Bill 1944.
Wheat Subsidy Bill 1944.
Wheat Tax (War-time) Repeal Bill 1944.
Wheat Industry (War-time Control) Bill 1944.
Supply Bill (No. 1) 1944-45.
Excise TariffRebate Bill 1944.
Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 1943-44.
Supplementary Appropriation Bill 1942-43.
Supplementary Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill 1942-43.
DEATH OF MR. MAURICE McCRAE BLACKBURN.
– I regret to announce to the Senate the death in Melbourne on the 31st March of Mr. Maurice McCrae Blackburn, a former member of this Parliament, who had had a parliamentary career extending over many years. In 1914 he was elected to the Legislative Assembly, Victoria, for the Division of Essendon and held that seat till 1917. He was re-elected to the Assembly for Fitzroy in 1925, and, following on the State electoral redistribution of 1926, was elected for the
Division of Clifton Hill at the general elections in 1927, a seat which he held till August, 1934, when he resigned to contest the Bourke seat at the federal elections in that year. He was Speaker of the Victorian Legislative Assembly from October, 1933, to August, 1934.
He was elected to the House of Representatives for the Division of Bourke, Victoria, in 1934, and again in 1937 and 1940. He represented that Division till 1943. The late Mr. Blackburn practised as a barrister and solicitor in Melbourne, and was widely known in legal circles in that city. He was for some years a trustee of the Melbourne National Gallery and Public Library. I move -
That the Senate expresses its deep regret at the death of Mr. Maurice McCrae Blackburn, a former member of the House of Representatives for the Division of Bourke, and of the Legislative Assembly, Victoria, places on record its appreciation of his meritorious public service, and tenders its sincere sympathy to his widow and members of his family in their bereavement.
– On behalf of the Opposition I second the motion. All who had the opportunity of knowing the late Maurice Blackburn appreciated his work in this Parliament on behalf of his country. He was a man of very strong convictions, and possessed great courage. He displayed a very keen appreciation of the rights of Parliament, and he was never afraid to vindicate them. This country is very much the poorer by the death of Mr. Blackburn. Honorable senators of this side of. the chamber wholeheartedly support this expression of sympathy to his widow and family in their bereavement.
SenatorCOOPER (Queensland).- Members of the Australian Country party in the Senate desire to associate themselves with the motion. The late Mr. Maurice Blackburn was a man of high moral character and fixed convictions. He was a scholar and took every opportunity to augment his learning. His knowledge on a multitude of subjects was profound and invariably he placed it at the disposal of his fellow citizens, including those who were not affiliated with the political party to which he belonged. Regardless of his personal views on political issues he was deeply respected by members of all parties in the Parliament. To his widow and family we express our deepest sympathy.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their places.
– Honorable senators will have read with regret of the death in Western Australia on the 20th May of Mr. John Henry Prowse, a former member of the House of Repre sentatives. He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1919 for the Division of Swan in Western Australia. In 1922 he was elected for the new Division of Forrest in that State, which he represented till 1943. He was a member of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts from 1920 to 1923 and from July, 1925 to September, 1929; Ministerial Whip from March 1923 to August 1924; chairman of the Select Committee on the effect of the operation of the Navigation Act upon Australian trade and industry and of the royal commission which inquired into that subject in 1923. He was a TemporaryChairman of Committees from October, 1927, to August, 1934; a member of the Empire Parliamentary Delegation, which visited Canada in 1928, and Chairman of Committees from October, 1934. to June, 1943. I move-
That the Senate expresses its deep regret at the death of Mr. John Henry Prowse, a former member of the House of Representatives for the Division of Forrest, and Chairman of Committees of that House, places on record its appreciation of his meritorious public service, and tenders its sincere sympathy to his widow and members of his family in their bereavement.
– On behalf of the Opposition I second the motion. I am. sure that it came as a great shock to all of us to hear of the sudden death of our old friend “ John Henry”, as we called him. I endorse all that has been said by the Leader of the Senate, and would like to add that we all appreciated the late Mr. Prowse’s very firm advocacy of the rights of the State of Western Australia and of the people whom he represented. On behalf of the Opposition, I express to his widow and the members of his family our very deep sympathy in their bereavement.
– It is the desire of the Australian Country party members of the Senate to associate themselves with this motion. The late Mr. Prowse was elected to the Commonwealth Parliament with a number of other Country party members in 1919. He was one who was responsible for the initial formation of the Federal Country party at that date, and remained a member of that party until his defeat in 1943. He was always an outstanding advocate for the primary producers. He was a primary producer himself, and, having experienced the ups and downs of the industry, was fully conversant with its many difficulties. His long term as Chairman of Committees of the House of Representatives showed the appreciation in which he was held by his fellow members. We. express our deepest sympathy to his widow and family in their bereavement.
– As one of the Western Australian colleagues of the late Mr. Prowse I should like to make some small contribution to what has been said to-day in respect of his services not only to his State but also to theCommonwealth. I think that Mr. Prowse was a New South Welshman by birth, but he went to Western Australia some 40 years ago, and almost from the beginning of his residence there he took some part in public life. He commenced by being associated with local government activities, was mayor of the suburb in Perth in which he lived, and subsequently became mayor of Perth for, I think, two years. From that position he came into this Parliament and, as those who have spoken earlier on this motion have testified, he served for a long period in the House of Representatives. In respect of the interests which affect rural residents he made a very considerable contribution towards the solution of, at any rate, some of their difficulties. I am sure that he will be missed, and I feel that some appreciation of his national service should be recorded.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their places.
Motion (by Senator James
McLachlan) - by leave - agreedto -
That leave of absence for two weeks be granted to Senator Uppill on account of ill health.
– I have received from Lady Ellen Bell a letter of thanks for the resolution of sympathy passed by the Senate on the occasion of the death of the Honorable Sir George Bell.
– I have to inform the Senate that I have received a copy of the opening speech delivered by His Excellency the Governor-General to both Houses of the Parliament.
.- I move-
That the following Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General’s Speech be agreed to: -
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
I should like to take this opportunity to express to the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) my appreciation of the compliment which he has paid to the State of Tasmania, and of the incidental honour that he has conferred upon me, in giving me the privilege of moving “this motion. It is, I may say, with a degree of diffidence that I speak for the first time in the Senate, which has been and is graced by so many able and distinguished representatives of the people. I was impressed by the prayer which you, Mr. President, recited on our behalf at the commencement of the proceedings, and I was interested to note that the Senate has for its objective the true welfare of the people of Australia. As the years go on and I remain in your midst, I am certain that we shall have differences of opinion as to how that end may be attained, but I submit that so long as we all keep that high objective well before our minds we should be able to pursue our way without undue acrimony.
As a member of the Senate, I feel keenly the responsibility that I have towards the whole of the people of Australia at large, but, as I see the position, I believe that I have a particular duty to the people of my State. As the years pass, I shall, no doubt, present to the Senate many matters on behalf of my State - there are, to-day, matters that need adjustment - and as I bring the just claims of Tasmania to this chamber, I feel confident that I shall have the support, not only of the Government, but also of all honorable senators.
I should like to draw the attention of the Government to the necessarily differential war expenditure that is operating adversely against Tasmania, and grievously affecting both its economy and its population. I am not asking the Government to embark upon extra war expenditure in Tasmania unless the unfortunate need arises, but I direct attention to the position in the hope that it will be noted, and that the Government will take it upon itself as a duty in the post-war years to do something in the way of equalizing the process. There may be other honorable senators present from the States in which the war expenditure has not been so high, who will be disposed to support the remarks I am making. “We have had the honour and the pleasure of hearing the GovernorGeneral’s Speech. When His Excellency told us that this was the last time that he would address this Parliament, and that the time had come for him to say good-bye, I think he sounded a very sad note in the hearts of all the Australian people. His Excellency has been amongst us with the Lady Gowrie for something like sixteen years, and during that period they have been through two of the three major tragedies of Australia. I refer to the depression and to the world war under the shadow of which we still live. They have shared our sorrows, our joys and our dangers. They brought to us from Great Britain the best in mind and heart and culture that it could offer. They have discharged their high duties amongst us with ability, impartiality, a true regard for the best interests of the people of this country, and a naturalness that has endeared them to everybody in the community. We in Australia have, I believe, in turn, repaid them with our respect, our liking, our loyalty, and our very real affection. I express to the GovernorGeneral and the Lady Gowrie the hope that they will live long and happily to witness the peace and prosperity that I trust will soon come to the British Commonwealth of Nations. I feel sure, too, that His Excellency, upon his return Home, will convey to theirRoyal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester the information that a right royal, loyal, and cordial welcome awaits them on their arrival in this country.
Australia to-day is confronted with major problems, which I shall deal with under four main headings: First, and, of course, of paramount importance, is the winning of the war; secondly, the settlement of the peace terms, and the establishment of some world organization to eliminate wax; thirdly, consideration of the future defence policy of Australia; and, finally, the very topical and vital matter of post-war reconstruction. It was a matter of great satisfaction to all of us that the Governor-General was able to put before us a clear and happy record of the successes ofAllied arms in all theatres of wax. However, whilst Australians may rightly rejoice, in the results that have been achieved by the Allies, and in the splendid part that this country has played in those successes, it is necessary to-day to sound a note of warning. Only two years ago the Germans and Italians had Europe at their feet, and J apan was at the height of its all-engulfing wave, which came right to the very shores of Australia. To-day the position has altered greatly. Italy has been knocked out of the war, Germany is facing defeat and disaster, the Japanese, driven back by Australian and American forces, have commenced their long trek back to Tokyo and the cities, industries and people of their homeland are in danger. These circumstances constitute a very clear warning to the people of Australia. In the short space of a further two years some great calamity may overtake this country if we are foolish enough to relax our war effort at this stage. If there can be such a vast change in the fortunes of the Axis countries in two years, the same adverse change may come upon us.
In my view, the most important statement in the Governor-General’s Speech is contained in the last sentence of paragraph 27, which reads -
There can be no relaxation of our efforts until victory is firmly grasped.
I go further than that and say that now is the time to redouble our efforts when, in the vernacular, we are in a position to go for a “ knock-out “ blow against the enemy.
Beading the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act, I was interested in the preamble, which reads -
Whereas the people of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland and Tasmania, humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God, have agreed to unite in one indissoluble Federal Commonwealth under the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, and Ireland, and under the Constitution hereby established:
I draw attention to that passage because of its inclusion of the word “indissoluble”. Two years ago, in 1942, Australia came very close to dissolution, but, thanks to Providence and. - I say this very deliberately - to the vision and vigour of the Labour Government of this country, Australia’s place in the strategy of the Pacific war was not only clearly seen, but also was urged forcibly upon Great Britain and America, whose forces came quickly and magnificently to our aid. When the history of those days comes to be written, a very honored place will be found for the name of the Right Honorable John Curtin, then and now Prime Minister of Australia. It was his vision and the force with which he put Australia’s position before the Allied Nations that led to the saving of Australia from invasion - and the horrors of an Asiatic invasion at that.
On this occasion it is appropriate that I should pay a tribute to the Allied war leaders, who by their outstanding ability, co-operation one with the other, and willingness to combine for the good of democracy and of the world, have succeeded, in producing the much happier position in which we find the world today. Particularly do I wish to pay a tribute to the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mr. Churchill, who, I believe, is typical of the spirit of his people. One cannot but have vast admiration for the courage, foresight and planning which enabled Mr. Churchill and his associates, even when bombs were raining upon them from the air in the early days of the-war, not only to protect their country effectively against further inroads by the enemy, but also to prepare for the day - a day which they knew would be many years ahead - .when the munitions and forces of the Allied Nations would not only equal those of the enemy but also would greatly outweigh anything that could be massed by the Axis forces.
I should be wanting in gratitude if I did not pay a tribute also to General MacArthur, the Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in the South-west Pacific Area. The leader of the Empire Parliamentary Delegation which recently toured Australia paid one of the briefest but finest tributes to this great soldier when he said that he had great moral and military stature. That phrase expresses perfectly our conception of General MacArthur. Bus name is one that Australia will never cease to cherish.
At the onset of hostilities, the British people were faced with the necessity to fight a war on a total basis. The Axis countries had organized themselves upon a totalitarian basis, and whatever else we may say about that system of government it gave to those countries the facility to move quickly, effectively and decisively. To counter those methods, the Democracies were forced to operate upon a basis very similar to totalitarianism. As honorable senators are aware, that was achieved in this country through the operation of the National Security Act, which conferred upon the Executive for the duration of the war vast powers which ordinarily could not have been exercised. There are of course, two effective safeguards against the abuse of that power: First, the ultimate power rests with the High Court, and, secondly, either House of Parliament may disallow any regulation made by the Governor-
General in Council. To protect this country when invasion threatened, the Government had to do desperate and unpleasant things. It needed and had the right to call upon people, businesses, and even the very lives of Australian citizens, for the effective prosecution of the war. It is obvious that the ordinary economic activities of a country must be disrupted in war-time; but I have a deep and abiding faith in the common sense of the people of Australia. I believe that they realize fully that what was and is being done is for their own advantage and security. The danger that I foresee is that, fresh from the military successes now upon us, war weary and feeling more secure, the people of Australia may relax, and therein lies the great danger. Australians to-day are subject to severe restrictions and prohibitions of all kinds, but I deliberately urge the Government not to relax any of these restrictions and prohibitions which is conducive to a full war effort, or which relieves the strain upon the youth of this country who are fighting abroad and running the risks of war. I believe that in a time of national emergency there should be a survey not only of man-power and woman-power, ‘but also of industry and wealth. It is not right that any member of the community should be called upon to risk his life unless there be equality of sacrifice throughout the community, generally. In times such as these, the Government should utilize every single element in the community for the common purpose of ending the war, with all its horrors, as rapidly as possible. I believe that the goal at which we all aim, though few of us may realize it, is peace of mind. Many business men and professional men to-day realize that that is more important than riches, fame or power. Probably, the activities of the Income Tax Commissioner have had something to do with the bringing about of that very sane outlook; but if I be right in assuming that peace of mind is our greatest goal, I point out that it cannot be achieved unless we respect ourselves, and I say deliberately that we cannot respect ourselves as good Australians if we are selfish and selfcentred at a time like this ; if we are indifferent to the fate of others, not only in this country, but also in other countries which are suffering all the carnage and horror that goes with war; if continually we insist upon our rights without thinkingor caring about our responsibilities ; in short, if we lack charity, and I use that term in its broad sense. I ask every Australian, can we respect ourselves if we refuse to lend a hand to the utmost, and if we will not make any sacrifice whilst dishonor, death and destruction ravage the world, whilst the flower of our youth is fighting, suffering and dying on land, on sea, and in the air, and whilst tens of thousands of our boys areprisoners of war in the hands of the enemy? Is there any Australian who can respect himself if he is not prepared to make sacrifices to the limit whilst these things go on? Our position to-day is such that this country demands as it is entitled to demand, sacrifices from its sons and daughters. One hears many complaints these days about bureaucracy. When we wage total war, obviously it is impossible for Ministers to encompass all the activities and functions that must be undertaken. It is necessary to create boards, committees and commissions to convert Australia’s economy to a total war economy, and I have little patience with the relatively few members of the community who voice complaint after complaint, year in and year out, about the setting up of bureaucratic controls. To complain in this way is to ignore the fact of total war and the exigencies that war creates.
I should like to pay a tribute to the members of the Commonwealth Public Service, who have rendered such signal service to this country in its hour of peril. That is particularly true of senior officers who have worked arduously and continuously, and have succeeded in speeding up Australia’s economic organization to a happy climax which has ensured the safety of this country. They have done that quietly and efficiently, and in a manner which has revealed great loyalty and ability. Many Commonwealth public servants - I am speaking mainly of the permanent officers - have suffered severely in health under the strain, and others have even died at their posts. The members of that much maligned section of temporary public servants who,I leaving their ordinary avocations, have undertaken to help in co-ordinating and conducting the Commonwealth war effort, have to do unpleasant things. They have to direct persons into this or that channel, and even have to stifle businesses and prevent their establishment. Theirs is the difficult duty of saying “ No “, and they have to say it repeatedly. These men are rendering a particularly valuable public service, for which they earn a good deal of unnecessary opprobrium, and they are playing a major part in the direction of the war effort. I do not imply that they have not made mistakes. I could, if necessary, become eloquent upon that subject, because mistakes are inevitable. When men have to act without precedent, when they are obliged to reach decisions in haste, one must expect things of that kind.
As to the second point that I mentioned it is impossible to say how and when the war will end, but I believe that the Government is seised of the vital need for establishing some kind of world organization, based on the principle of the League of Nations, that will be in a position to ensure that war will no longer ravage the earth. Such an organization will need to have power to enforce its decrees. I believe that an organization of that kind could be established,but, having regard to history, and remembering the frailties of human nature, which are always reflected in the conduct of nations, Australia should be prepared for the failure of that effort. It is the solemn duty of those who govern this country to ensure that from the end of this war Australia will be ready to ward off an aggressor, and prepared at all times to defend itself. It is not sufficient that we should go back to the basis of 1939. For too long successive governments of this country have lacked the vision and the energy to realize Australia’s position in the strategy of the Pacific, and to provide for that.
At the risk of considerable criticism,I contend that this country hasbeen developed very largely from the point of view of private enterprise. By that I mean that one man has grown wool because he could see a profit in it, whilst another has produced wheat, and another has embarked upon some form of manufacture. I do not say that private enterprise is not discharging an important and national function, but I face up to the fact that its primary objective is the making of profits. Certainly it assists the national interests in many vital ways, and it has enabled a base to be provide’.! for the manufacture of war equipment. I wish to make it clear that I have no quarrel whatsoever with private enterprise, and I do not claim that it has not helped Australia to develop, and even laid the foundations which were very useful for its defence; but, prior to the war, it did not establish in this country the very vital aluminium industry. Nor did it provide for manufacture of aeroplanes, a major industry which I .believe will continue in the post-war period, and supply our very first line of defence. Nor did private enterprise develop the northern parts of Australia. It provided no communications, no air bases and no ports. I say frankly that I do not think it was a function of private industry to do any of those things. It was the duty of the Government to do them, and that duty was neglected.
In considering the need for defence when the war is over, I am prompted to say a few words on the subject of population which- has been debated at considerable length in both branches of this legislature, and during its last sittings. We can expect no increase of the population in the best form that it can take - I refer to the natural-born Australian - while we have the prevalent and pagan outlook which views, if not with approval, at least with tolerance such things as the deliberate limitation of families, methods of birth control, and that foul crime against Australia, called abortion, although the proper name is murder. I am happy to know that the Government proposes to endeavour to eliminate the other contributing causes of the declining .birth-rate which has fallen from 36 to 15 a thousand of the population. The Government by the social legislation which it has foreshadowed, intends to eliminate material want, which is responsible to a large degree for the falling birth-rate.
In deference to the occasion I shall not say all that I should like to have said with regard to post-war reconstruction. However, I wish to address a few remarks to the Senate on the su’bject of the referendum. A good deal of criticism has been heard because of the fact that a referendum is to be taken in time of war. With a good deal of that criticism I would agree in normal circumstances, because I believe that any matter affecting the Commonwealth Constitution should be considered calmly and dispassionately, and without any party implication whatever; but we are confronted with an emergency which will be upon us immediately the war ends. The proposed alterations that will he submitted to the people at the referendum on the 19th August, however, provide, not for permanent amendment of the Constitution, but for changes which would take effect for a temporary period of only five years. I consider that the powers sought, not by the Government, but by this Parliament, are vitally necessary to the people of Australia.
– The referendum will provide an opportunity for an interesting and instructive experiment in constitutional law, and I consider that it has great virtue from that point of view. I doubt whether Australia will again be given an opportunity to make an experiment for a limited period with regard to constitutional powers. I think that the people will watch this experiment with the keenest interest, and that the result will be awaited with interest throughout the world. Much as I fear that the people may not understand all of the implications of the proposals when they vote on 19th August, I believe that they will understand them in the course of the five years following the cessation of hostilities, if the powers sought are ceded by them to this Parliament. The National Parliament must have power in the post-war period to put first things first, and that is what I had in mind when I said that this Parliament should direct private enterprise up to the point where the measures essential for our security are taken, and then give to private enterprise completely free play. That is the point I make again here. It is necessary in the jjost-war period to ensure that the people have food, shelter and clothing, and that these things are provided on an equitable basis throughout Australia. In the matter of food, of course, we shall have our commitments abroad.
I doubt whether anybody in Australia would question the wisdom of continuing price control in the post-war period. One has only to imagine what the price of motor tyres would be to-day if there were no price control. One must visualize that if there were no central control of prices after the conclusion of the war we should have varying prices throughout Australia, and, when goods are in short supply, where will they go? Will they go where there is the greatest need for them, or where the greatest profit can be made? Of course they will go where the greatest profit is obtainable. For that reason I consider that the powers sought are vital. Unless prices are controlled and carefully directed we shall experience in Australia conditions infinitely worse than any we have encountered in this war, and even worse than the conditions we knew in the last depression. I should like to draw a distinction between the granting of a power and the multitudinous ways in which it may be exercised. I propose to give two instances which illustrate my argument fairly well. As honorable senators know, when the Contitution became operative in 1901, power over marriage and divorce was granted to the Commonwealth Parliament. The States exercised similar jurisdiction, and they are exercising it exclusively to-day, by reason of the fact that the Commonwealth Parliament, unfortunately, has not seen fit to enter that field. If a State legislature, or if this Parliament, wished to-morrow to do so, it could pass a law dissolving every marriage in a State or in the whole of Australia, but everybody knows that no State Parliament nor the Commonwealth Parliament would do that. When that power was granted in the early days of federation nobody who envisaged that possibility said, “ Let us place a limitation on that power so that it cannot be exercised “. This Parliament has complete and absolute power with regard to marriage and divorce, and the people simply trusted it not to do stupid or inane things of the nature that I have indicated.
Let me give a second example. Under the naval and military defence power embodied in the Constitution, this Parliament could immediately pass a law deciding that all of the women must go into the trenches, or serve in some capacity on the sea, on the land or in the air, and that the men must remain behind to perform the domestic tasks. Although this Parliament could pass such a law nobody in Australia loses sleep over that possibility. There again we have a power that is complete and absolute. That is the essence of parliamentary power. It must be granted in its entirety, and it must be complete. It must be capable of as many applications from time to time as the people desire. Finally, it is all a matter of trusting the Government. Whether the power lies in a State Parliament or in the Commonwealth Parliament, the Parliament must be trusted to do nothing foolish, and to labour properly for the true welfare of the people generally. The democrats of Australia, I venture to say, would be far more ready to trust the Commonwealth Parliament than the non-democratic Legislative Councils that function in five of the States. Those bodies are elected on a restricted franchise. In my own State the position with regard to the distribution of seats is so unfair that Hobart with 7,500 electors has three members out of eighteen in the Legislative Council, whilst Buckingham in the adjoining suburbs, with an electorate of 7,300 has but one member. Although the franchise for the Legislative Council in Tasmania is almost entirely on a property basis, there are certain personal qualifications which entitle people to votes. The narrowness of the franchise is evident when it is realized that legal practitioners and medical practitioners are entitled to vote, whereas other professional men, such as architects and accountants, are denied a vote. Both branches of this National Parliament are elected on an adult franchise, and, moreover, sections 13 and 28 of the Constitution set out clearly and emphatically that an election must take place every three years. Accordingly, this Parliament has not the power to extend its life, as every State Parliament has. In recent years, the Parliament of Tasmania used that power and extended its life from three to five years. There is nothing in the constitution of Tasmania, or in the laws of that State, to prevent an extension of the life of the present State Parliament to twenty years. Any person who claims to be an Australian and a democrat must, I submit, vote “Yes” at the forthcoming referendum, otherwise he, in my opinion, lacks understanding of the true position. That position has been stated well by a prominent member of this Parliament, the present Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, the Right Honorable R. G. Menzies. “With the indulgence of the Senate I shall read the following extracts from a well-considered speech which he delivered when, as AttorneyGeneral of the Commonwealth, he advocated the adoption of the Statute of “Westminster -
Australia’s political history since federation indicates an almost chronic reluctance on the part of the Australian elector to grant more power to his representatives in the Commonwealth Parliament. At every constitutional alteration referendum that I can remember, orators have from a thousand platforms displayed an almost diseased ingenuity in explaining just what calamitous things a Commonwealth Parliament could do if it had power to deal with subjects A or B or C.
To say that the Parliament at Wesminster has enjoyed complete sovereignty for centuries and that the residents of Great Britain still sleep in bed of nights is to beat the air. We have a queer distrust of power and occasionally a strangely un-pioneering fear of the unknown.
The disease referred to by the right honorable gentleman is prevalent in Australia to-day. Without the powers asked for by this Parliament, there can be no effective planning for the dangerous postwar years, nor can there be any “new order “. The people do not want a continuance of the insecurity that followed the last war. If we ask them to go back to the conditions of those days, we shall be taking a retrograde step and will deprive them of hope for the future. We shall disappoint the people of Australia unless this Parliament is placed in a position to improve economic and social conditions.
I come now to the subject of housing, which is one of the big problems facing the community to-day. I realize that under present conditions this problem cannot be tackled on a large scale, but the Government has been charged with lack of planning to meet it. Any person who is disposed to support that charge should read a pamphlet entitled, We can do Better, which has been produced by the Department of Post-war Reconstruction. That pamphlet contains not only an excellent survey of the position in Australia to-day, but also an inspiring statement of the methods proposed by the Government to eliminate the distress in the community caused by unsatisfactory housing conditions. It is pointed out that by the end of next year there will be a shortage in Australia of about 250,000 houses, and plans by which the Government proposes to overtake that leeway are outlined. Those plans envisage the building of 50,000 nouses in the first post-war year, the number rising to 80,000 in the third year after the war. My only comment at this stage with regard to housing is to urge that, as soon as war conditions permit, bricks shall be manufactured, stacks of timber shall be accumulated, and the manufacture of the necessary fittings shall be put in hand. I believe that the Government recognizes that the accumulation of these materials will take time and has already taken steps to meet the position.
I had not intended to speak for so long, and I thank honorable senators for the excellent hearing that they have given to my first efforts in this chamber. With the winning of the war and, I trust, the granting of additional powers to the Commonwealth Parliament, I look forward to a glorious future for Australia, in which the people will enjoy peace, prosperity and social security.
– I second the motion so ably moved by my colleague, Senator McKenna, whom I congratulate on his magnificent first effort in this chamber. I am sure that all of us will look forward to hearing him on many occasions in the future. We were all pleased to hear His Excellency the Governor-General say that since the last time he addressed the Parliament the war position had improved considerably. It can now be said with some degree of certainty that the war in Europe will be over before long. But the termination of the war in Europe will bring us face to face with the greatest problem with which humanity has ever been confronted, namely, that of establishing a lasting peace. I do not propose to speak at length on this subject to-day, because I hope to have other opportunities to refer to the international situation, but I think that we should ask ourselves a few quesions, so that we may better understand the problems that will confront us when hostilities cease. The questions that we should consider are - ].. What are we going to do with Germany ?
Other questions requiring answers include the treatment of central Europe, Poland, the Balkan States - indeed, the whole of Europe. How are these countries to be rehabilitated, and how will their rehabilitation affect Australia and the rest of the world? Because of the system under which we live, the problems which will confront the world after the war will be tremendously difficult to solve. The European problems, although exceedingly complicated, will be comparatively simple compared with the problems associated with the Far East. North of Australia are countries containing 1,000,000,000 Asiatics. At this stage we cannot Bee clearly what is to be done with them when the war is over. What is to be done with Malaya, Hong Kong and other key places after the war; are we to revert to the statusquo? If we plan the future in the interests of the white race, and of white imperialism, we shall have a phalanx of coloured people outnumbering our white population by seventeen to one. I was glad to hear His Excellency pay a tribute to the people of China for their magnificent resistance to the Japanese during more than six years of war, hut I could not help thinking of the part which previous Australian governments had played in bleeding China to death by deliberately assisting the Japanese assassins. Other questions which will have to be faced in clude the future policy concerning IndoChina. Are we to give self-government to its people? No one seems to know the answer to this and other questions.I do not know the answers to them and I doubt that any other honorable senator knows the answers, but it is our business to apply our minds to these problems. I emphasize that if we revert to the status quo, we can confidently expect a repetition of what has happened in the past. The Labour party is fighting this war because its members realize that, although in many respects it is a continuation of the war which was supposed to have ended in 1918, there are many factors which did not exist at that time. The most prominent new factor is fascism. Winning the war is one thing, the destruction of fascism is another; yet by the way in which the interests represented by Opposition senators speak, one would think that the two things were identical. Nothing could be further from the truth ; the winning of the war could mean the continuance of fascism. In my opinion, parliamentary democracy and fascism cannot exist in the same world; we cannot be half fascist and half democratic. Either parliamentary democracy must transform the existing economic system, or the economic system will strangle parliamentary democracy. Labour is fighting this war because its members realize that, if the Fascists were to win, those institutions whereby we hope to bring about a “ new order “ would be destroyed. We do not hear so much now about the “ new order “ as we heard a few years ago. It. would seem that, as the war progresses towards victory, there is less keenness in some quarters for a new order. There is danger that in our efforts to do certain things we may bring about the very thing that we are hoping to destroy. Those who believe in trade unionism and parliamentary institutions must be brought to realize that there can be no hope for these institutions so long as fascism remains. One of the greatest weaknesses associated with the United Nations is that the spirit of Munich is still strong in the community. Some sections of the community are waging war, not against fascism, but against Germany and Japan. They are fighting to preserve, not the liberty of the people, but certain economic and imperialist interests. We want to ensure that this war is truly a conflict against fascism, and that the defeat of Germany and Japan will also mean the defeat of that terrible thing known as fascism. Honorable senators opposite admitted the .breakdown in the economy of this country after the last war, and that it was necessary to establish a new order. However, the policy which they are pursuing to-day must result inevitably in establishing conditions similar to those which brought about the great depression some years ago. To me it seems most extraordinary that they should continue to accept the philosophy of “ Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof”. Everybody knows that the last war was followed by a severe depression; but a far more terrible depression will follow this war unless we, as a nation, plan to prevent it. The depression which followed the Napoleonic wars took comparatively longer to make itself felt because the machines of production which we know to-day were then unknown to the world. For that reason there was no such thing as total war. The whole of a nation’s industry was not tied up to its war effort as is the case to-day in belligerent countries. But we do not need to read history to learn of the conditions existing in the depression which followed the Napoleonic wars. The picture of that depression has been painted for us by such poets as Hood, Elizabeth Browning, and Shelley. We know full well the conditions that existed after the last war, yet the party which honorable senators opposite represent is now pursuing a policy which must create a far more terrible depression after this war.
At the Constitutional Convention held nearly two years ago, the leading opponents of the Labour party in each State thrashed out with the leading representatives of the Labour party in this country the problem as to whether greater powers should be transferred from the States to the Commonwealth. All delegates at that convention agreed that it would be wiser to give those powers to the Commonwealth. That decision was reached unanimously not by sentimental men but by hard-headed intelligent business men. But, lo and behold, we are now told that those opponents of the Labour party are now opposed to the transfer of such powers to the Commonwealth. It is our duty to look for the reason for that change. The reason given by those gentlemen themselves is that they have discovered that certain regulations enacted by the Government under the Commonwealth’s war-time powers have been applied in a way in which they should never have been applied, and that the Government has passed certain regulations which should never have been enacted because they interfered with the liberty of the Australian people. During the last great depression which afflicted this country there was no necessity to organize the nation for war. Goods were plentiful. We did not hear any talk about liberty then, because, perhaps, no special regulations were passed at that time. No regulations were required to control the 500,000 Australians who were then out of work. They were at liberty to buy anything they liked so long as the sum total allowed to them for rent, food and clothing did not exceed 5s. lOd. a week. We heard nothing about interference with the liberty of the people at that time. All the talk we hear to-day in that strain leads one to exclaim, “ Ob, Liberty, what crimes are committed in thy name ! “ We do not need to seek far in order to find the reason for this talk. It is the same old reason which always actuates the opponents of the Labour party. Vested interests realize that the Labour party, led magnificently by John Curtin, has pulled Australia out of the fire, and that all intelligent Australians are solidly behind him. Therefore, if Labour’s opponents are ever to* get into office again, something must be done to discredit the Labour movement. They must create conditions which will be to their own benefit. If these powers ar*> not transferred to the Commonwealth it is as plain as the trunk of an elephant that chaos will result. On that point T say to honorable senators opposite that should conditions in this country become in such a state that, the Labour Government is turned out of office honorable senators opposite will call upon the mountains to cover them.
In these days we hear quite a good deal about the terrible thing called government-control. One would imagine that government-control was responsible for the position in which the world finds itself to-day, and that it was responsible for the last war. Was governmentcontrol responsible for the fact that 6,000,000 people were thrown out of work in Germany and created the conditions which inevitably produced Hitler and the Nazis in that country? Was it responsible for the fact that 2,000,000 people were thrown out of work in Great Britain, or that in the United States of America, the most highly developed industrial country in the world, employment could not be found for 13,000,000 people? No. Those conditions can be attributed to the creed of individualism which was expressed by ex-President Hoover when he said, “Let individual effort have full sway and there will be a renaissance. There will he two chickens in every pot, and one car in every garage “. But the policy of individual effort only meant the exploitation of the masses of the people. A few months after the Hoover Administration implemented that policy in the United States of America millions were thrown out of work, and only the control initiated by America’s present great leader, President Roosevelt, has remedied to some extent the terrible situation thus created. It was not governmentcontrol, but mercenary, untrammelled exploitation by private control that gave rise to the great depression experienced throughout the world after the last war. I emphasize that fact particularly to those people who are sincere in their opposition to the Government’s referendum proposals.
I do not intend to deal in detail with those proposals. They have already been capably expounded by Senator McKenna, and I have no doubt that other honorable senators also will be able to deal with thorn much more capably than I. Howover, I make this point : On all sides we arc told that there must be international planning after the war. International planning pre-supposes national planning. Let us suppose that the war is over, that the peace conference is about to be held, and Australia’s delegation to that conference is to he led by the present Prime Minister (Mr.Curtin). I presume the first people he would meet on his arrival in Europe would be the members of the delegations from various parts of the British Empire, and that the first thing they would say to him would be : “ We must face the peace conference with a united front. What is Australia prepared to do to control markets? Can you do anything to stimulate industry or control prices, because we want to ensure that your economy and ours dovetail into one another. We want to see to what degree Australia, in co-operation with us, can assist in rehabilitating the people of Europe.” Should the powers now being sought by the Commonwealth be refused our Prime Minister will have no alternative but to reply, “ We have no power as a nation to deal with those matters. It is quite true that when we won the war our National Parliament had those powers, but since then we have lost them. They are now in the hands of the thirteen parliamentary assemblies in the six States.” Undoubtedly, the leaders of the other British delegations would inquire, “ Well, if they have the powers, why did you not bring the representatives of those Parliaments here in order to see what we are going to do?” To that question our Prime Minister’s reply would have to be, “ What would be theuse of bringing them when, perhaps, the representatives of three of those Parliaments would be in favour of whatever course might be proposed, and the other three would oppose it ? “ History has shown that this nation has survived in this struggle only by a miracle. The name of Australia has been blazoned throughout the world. The members of our Navy, Army, and Air Force, some of them bearing the name of Australia on their shoulders, are not fighting for New South Wales, Victoria, or Queensland, or any one State in this Commonwealth. They are fighting for Australia. After the war, as I have already shown, this nation will still be in danger of attack from the north. The union of the Allied Nations may continue after this conflict, but history does not give us much encouragement to believe that in peace the diversity of interests of our Allies will not again break the union established in war. The United States of America, Russia, or China may not be with us after this conflict has ended. Therefore, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that the native peoples whom we intend to liberate may again find themselves under the heel of the Japanese. In such circumstances, can Australia afford to speak with six different voices? From an international point alone we must decide whether our federation really means anything at all. We must make up our minds whether we intend to make our voice heard as a nation at the peace conference. I submit that if these powers are not given to the Commonwealth, Australia will look ridiculous in the eyes of the world at any peace conference at which it is represented, and all the talk we now hear about Australia - a nation - is but so much sound and fury signifying nothing. I second the motion.
Debate (on motion by Senator McLeay) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Keane) agreed to-
That the Senate do now proceed to elect a Chairman of Committees.
– I move -
That Senator Benjamin Courtice be appointed Chairman of Committees.
– I second the motion.
– I have pleasure in accepting the nomination.
– There being no other nomination I declare Senator Courtice elected as Chairman of Committees.
Senator COURTICE (Queensland).I thank the Senate for appointing me to the position of Chairman ofCommittees. I regard the appointment as a very great honour, and I shall endeavour to carry out my duties in the position to the best of my ability, and, I hope, to the satisfaction of the Senate.
Senator KEANE (Victoria - Minister for Trade and Customs). - I congratulate Senator Courtice upon his re-election as Chairman of Committees. It is one of the most onerous positions in this chamber. However, the honorable senator has already had experience as Chairman of Committees and has acquitted himself admirably in the position. I have no doubt that he will continue to do so.
– On behalf of the Opposition I congratulate Senator Courtice upon his appointment. If the honorable senator carries out his duties as Chairman of Committees in the future as he did when he previously occupied the position, the Opposition will be quite satisfied.
Motion (by Senator Keane) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn to to-morrow, at 2.30 p.m.
The following papers were pre sented. : -
Air Force Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1944, Nos.64, 75.
Arbitration(Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitratror, &c. -
No. 11of 1944 - Arms, Explosives and Munition Workers’ Federation of Australia.
No. 12 of 1944 - Arms, Explosives and Munition Workers’ Federation of Australia; and Australasian Society of Engineers.
No. 13 of 1944 - Commonwealth Legal Professional Officers’ Association.
No. 14 of 1944 - Amalgamated Engineering Union and others.
No. 15 of 1944 - Arms, Explosives and Munition Workers’ Federation of Australia.
No.16 of 1944 - Arms, Explosives and Munition Workers’ Federation of Australia; Federated Public Service Assistants’ Association of Australia; Fourth Division Officers’ Association of the Trade and Customs Department; Commonwealth Temporary Clerks’ Association ; Victorian PublicService Association; Public Service Association of South Australia; and Tasmanian Public Service Association.
No. 18 of 1944 - Commonwealth Foremen’s Association.
Coal Production (War-time) Act - Orders -
Cognizance of disputes - Exception of certain members of Federation (dated 21st April, 1944).
Control of coal mine (Commonwealth No. 2).
Customs Act - Proclamations prohibiting the exportation of goods (except under certain conditions) - Nos. 695-602.
Dairying Industry Assistance Act - Regulations - Statutory- Rules 1944, No. 57.
Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1944, Nos. 65, 69, 71, 72, 82, 89.
Defence Act and Naval Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1944, Nos. 95, 96, 102.
Income Tax Assessment Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1944, No. 90.
Lands Acquisition Act, or Lands Acquisition Act and National Security (Supplementary) Regulations -
Land acquired for -
Commonwealth purposes -
Adelaide, South Australia.
Alexandria, New South Wales (2).
Alice Springs, Northern Territory.
Bondi, New South Wales.
Botany, New South Wales.
Broken Hill, New South Wales.
Broome, Western Australia.
Darwin, Northern Territory.
Denman, New South Wales.
Donnybrook, Western Australia.
Dorset Flats (South Mount Cameron), Tasmania.
Dubbo, New South Wales (2).
Dundas, New South Wales.
Fremantle, Western Australia.
Islington, New South Wales.
Julia Creek, Queensland.
Kalgoorlie, Western Australia (5).
Lithgow, New South Wales (4). Mackay, Queensland.
Meckering, Western Australia.
Moruya, New South Wales.
Neutral Bay, New South Wales.
Newcastle, New South Wales.
New Lambton, New South Wales.
Paranoid, South Australia.
Port Adelaide, South Australia.
Port Hedland, Western Australia.
Portland, New South Wales.
South Guildford, Western Australia.
Townsville, Queensland (3).
Wallarobba (Dungog), New South Wales.
Warnervale, New South Wales.
Whittingham (Singleton), New South Wales.
Postal purposes -
Brisbane and Ipswich ( between ) Queensland.
Liverpool, New South Wales.
Murrurundi, New South Wales.
Port Pirie, South Australia.
Spring Hill, Brisbane, Queensland.
Springwood, New South Wales.
Telephonic purposes -
Perth (near), Western Australia.
Nationality Act - Return showing number of persons to whom certificate of naturalisation were granted during the year 1943 and the countries whence applicants came.
National Security Act -
National Security (Economic Organization) Regulations - Order - Exemption.
National Security (Food Control) Regulations - Orders - Nos. 7-9.
National Security (General) Regulations -
Liquid paraffin (No. 3).
Stock foods and remedies (No. 3).
Entry on wharves and ships (2).
Heating and cooking appliances (control of manufacture) (No. 2).
Heating and cooking appliances (retailsales) (No. 4).
Manufacture of domestic furniture (No. 2).
Post and telegraph censorship.
Prohibited places (8).
Taking possession of land, &c. (517).
Use of land (38).
Order by State Premier - New South
Wales (No. 46).
National Security (Land Transport) RegulationsOrders - Nos. 18-19.
National Security (Liquid Fuel) Regulations - Order - No. 17.
National Security (Man. Power) Regulations -
Dental profession control.
Employer’s return in respect of shearing labour, &c.
Protected undertakings (174).
Registration of domestic servants.
National Security (Meat Industry Con trol) Regulations - Orders - Meat (Returns) (Nos. 8-10).
National Security (Potatoes) Regulations - Order - No. 16.
National Security (Prices) Regulations -
Declarations Nos. 135-140.
Orders- Nos. 1471-1569.
National Security (Rationing) Regulations - Orders - Nos. 40-49.
National Security (Shipping Coordination) Regulations - Order - Stevedoring Industry Commission (No. 59).
National Security (Stevedoring Industry) Regulations - Orders - Nos. 46-58.
National Security (Supplementary) Regulations -
Order- Deferment of banking business -Termination of Order dated 10th March, 1942.
Orders by State Premiers-
New South Wales (No. 47).
Queensland (dated 8th June, 1944).
Victoria (No. 56).
Western Australia (dated 22nd
Statement of Australian Banking Statistics for the five quarters ended31st March, 1944.
National Security (Universities Commission) Regulations - Order - Classes of students to be assisted.
National Security (Vegetable Seeds) Regulations - Notice - Returns of vegetable seeds.
National Security (War Damage to Property) Regulations - Order - Public authority.
National Security (War-time Banking Control) Regulations - Order - Exemption.
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1944, Nos. 56, 58, 59, 61, 62, 66, 67, 68, 73, 74, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 92, 93, 94, 99, 100, 103.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1944, Nos.63, 97, 101.
Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations -
Statutory Rules 1944, No. 91.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act -
Canberra University College Ordinance - Report of the Council of the Canberra University College, for the year 1943.
No. 5 of 1944 - Trespass an Commonwealth Lands (No. 2).
No. 6 of 1944 - Canberra Community Hospital.
No. 7 of 1944 - Trustee (Emergency Provisions).
No. 8 of 1944 - Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages.
Regulations - No. 3 of 1944 (Building and Services Ordinance).
Superannuation Act - Superannuation Board - Twenty-first Annual Report for year 1942-43.
Supply and Development Acts - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1944, No. 60.
War Service Homes Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1944, No.98.
Women’s Employment Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1944, No. 70.
Senate adjourned at 4.49 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 17 July 1944, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1944/19440717_senate_17_179/>.