17th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I present the report of the Public Works Committee on the following subject: -
Proposed erection of a hostel at Canberra.
Senator JAMES McLACHLAN.Will the Minister for the Interior inform the Senate whether there is any truth in the report that an old-age pensioner in Canberra has recently received an order from the Commonwealth Government, calling upon him to vacate his home immediately? If so, will the Minister inform the Senate who signed the order, and the reasons for such action?
- Mr. H. Dunne is one of several old-age pensioners located at the old Duntroon labourers’ camp. The Department of the Interior provides the camp with water, including a shower room, and sanitary service, and charges the residents1s. a week to cover these services and undisturbed occupancy of the land on which their huts are built. This payment of1s. a week is the only charge made, and it amounts to £2 12s. a year. Mr. Dunne’s accumulated arrears are £23 4s. 6d. From this fact alone it is obvious that he has been most sympathetically treated. Most other pensioners are making an honest effort to meet the extremely small charge. Mr. Dunne refuses to pay current charges. He also refused to make any attempt to reduce his arrears, even on the basis of fid. a week, which has been suggested. The notice to quit has been served in order to compel him to make the same contribution as others similarly situated. The allegation has been made that I, as Minister, together with the Secretary of the Department of the Interior and other officers, recently visited the camp on a rent collecting mission, and that I personally endeavoured to collect rent from Mr. Dunne. That statement is utterly false. I have not seen or spoken to Mr. Dunne for at least twelve months. I did meet him, accidentally, more than a year ago, during the course of a general inspection of departmental activities in Canberra, and had a friendly chat with him and other residents of the camp. The inspection in which I was engaged was not in any way connected with the collection of rent, but was made with the sole intention of obtaining first-hand knowledge of the many departmental activities in Canberra. The newspaper reports are not even accurate in reporting Mr. Dunne’s age. He is 80 years of age, not 84, as alleged.
– Will the Leader of the Senate obtain a report on the experiments conducted by the Government in the erection of pre-fabricated houses or its experiments with regard to other types of house construction which the Government has been carrying out, with a view to giving information to honorable” senators as to the progress being made with its housing scheme?
– The information sought by the honorable senator will be supplied as soon as possible.
– I present the report of the Broadcasting Committee, dated the 12th July, 1944.
Work for Disabled Ex-Servicemen
– Will the Leader of the Senate state which department is responsible for providing work for partly disabled returned soldiers, who are not physically fit to resume their former occupations but could do light work?
SenatorKEANE. - That is a matter for the Repatriation Department, in conjunction with the Department of Labour and National Service.
– Ilay on the table the following paper: -
Employment Policy. - White Paper regarding the proposed post-war employment policy, presented to the Parliament of the United Kingdom in May, 1944.
I remind honorable senators that the Commonwealth Government’s plans for post-war reconstruction, aimed at high employment with rising standards of living, are now well advanced. In particular fields - housing, public works and vocational training, for instance - statements of Government policy have already been published, but a consolidated and up-to-date statement of policy would undoubtedly prove useful to honorable senators. The Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) proposes shortly to lay before Parliament a document broadly comparable in scope with the British White Paper. It will outline the general approach being made by the Commonwealth Government to several major phases of reconstruction policy. The paper now being tabled has been re-printed by permission of the British Government, and copies are available for the information of honorable senators.
SenatorKEANE (Victoria - Minister for Trade and Customs). - I lay on the table the following paper -
Censorship Committee. - Interim report of the Parliamentary Committee on Censorship, dated 14th June, 1944.
The Government has approved the recommendations made in the report, and instructions have been issued to the Commonwealth departments concerned to take the necessary action.
asked the Leader of the Senate, upon notice - 1.Is it a fact that the High Court has decided that the owners of blue peas acquired by the Government in 1942, at 15s. per bushel, are entitled to the full market value at the time of acquisition?
– The answers to the honorable senators questions are as follows -
“Vote- Yes” Badges - Votes of Service Personnel.
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senators questions are as follows -
My offer of yesterday still holds. If the honorable senator desires any further information on the subject I shall be glad to see him in my room and supply to him any further details that I may have.
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
In connexion with the forthcoming referendum - 1. (a) Is it a fact that the taking of the votes of members of the fighting forces was commenced during the first week of this month; (b) if so, what is the authority for such action?
What steps are to be taken to ensure that the votes of the lighting forces are allotted to the constituency or State where each person enlisted?
What measures are to be adopted to ensure that members of the fighting forces are entitled to vote and, also, that they vote once only?
Will every member of the lighting forces be afforded the opportunity to vote?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: - 1. (a) No. (b) Under the provisions of the Electoral (War-time) Act, members of the forces in the States vote on polling day only, but in the Northern Territory and outside Australia they may vote at any time subsequent to the issue of the writ and after the receipt of the requisite material. In no case, however, was the requisite material available in those areas within the first week of this month.
Wages of Employees
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Munitions, upon notice -
– The Minister for Munitions has supplied the following answers : -
Increments and Promotions of Service Personnel
asked the Leader of the Senate, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : - 1 and 2. So far as the Public Service Board is aware no statutory increment or automatic promotion has been withheld in the case of an officer of the Commonwealth Public Service serving in the fighting forces. If the honorable senator will indicate any Commonwealth Department or instrumentality in which an instance such as that suggested has occurred further inquiry will be made.
asked the Leader of the Senate, upon notice -
When is it proposed, in accordance with the Prime Minister’s promise made fifteen months ago, to introduce a bill giving preference in employment to active servicemen and women?
– The Government now has under consideration a bill for an act for submission to the next sittings of the Parliament with regard to preference matters.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
SenatorFRASER. - The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs -
What coupons are required in England for woollen or part-woollen goods, socks, pyjamas, underwear, or skein wool?
– Inquiries are being made and a reply will be furnished to the honorable senator as early as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping, upon notice -
– The Minister acting for the Minister for Supply and Shipping has supplied the following answers : -
– I have received letters from the Leader of the Senate and from the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate nominating, in accordance with Standing Order 36a, Senators Aylett, Large, Nash, and Tangney and Senators Cooper, Herbert Hays and Allan MacDonald, respectively, as members of the Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances.
Motion (by Senator Keane) - by leave - agreed to -
That a Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances be appointed, to consist of Senators Aylett, Cooper, Herbert Hays, Large, Allan MacDonald, Nash and Tangney, such senators having been duly nominated in accordance with the provisions of Standing Order 36a.
Debate resumed from the 18th July (vide page 88), on motion , by Senator McKenna -
That the following Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General’s Speech be agreed to: -
May it please Your Excellency :
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
.- In the debate which took place yesterday a good deal was said regarding the number of regulations which have been issued. It was mentioned then that it is within the power of either House of the Parliament to move that any regulation shall be disallowed. Figures reveal an amazing contradiction between the facts and the allegations of honorable senators opposite that the Government has abused its regulationmaking power, that is, if one can draw any conclusion from the failure of the Opposition to direct attention to a substantial number of these regulations. From the 3rd September, 1939 to the 17th July of this year, 1,701 Statutory Rules havebeen passed as follows: 1939, 101; 1940, 296; 1941, 327; 1942, 557; 1943, 317 ; and 1944, 103. In the Senate, sixteen motions have been moved for the disallowance of regulations, and one motion for the disallowance of an order. Five of those motions were agreed to, and three were discharged or withdrawn. In the House of Representatives, thirteen motions were moved for the disallowance of regulations, but three of those motions dealt with regulations in respect of which similar motions were moved in this chamber. Three of those motions were agreed to. Thus, out of a total of 1,701 regulations, the Opposition has moved for the disallowance of only 27 in both chambers. The only conclusion one can draw from that fact is that the necessity for practically every regulation passed by this Government was obvious to every member of Parliament.
In the course of my remarks last night, when dealing with the Government’s referendum proposals, I said that many of the men who framed the Constitution were intellectual giants. However, I do not admit that all the great men produced by this country lived at that time. This generation has produced men just as able and competent. However, the framers of the Constitution included several great men. I mention, for instance, Alfred Deakin. Dealing with the Constitution he said -
Let the Constitution be what it may. It, in any respect, it fails to meet the needs of the people of Australia, they will have the right, and certainly should be specially endowed with the power of moulding it from time to time more and more in harmony with their desires.
That objective was ako reiterated by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), who, as honorable senators know, will take an active part in the forthcoming campaign in support of the Government’s ‘proposals. Thus, to-day, we witness the extraordinary spectacle of the Government being supported by some of the leading members of the Opposition in this Parliament. Bearing that fact in mind, I submit that the Government’s referendum proposals should be considered entirely apart from party .politics. The issues involved are too great to bc subject to party political prejudice. Of course, individuals have their rights. However, at the Constitutional Convention held in Canberra nearly two years ago, all delegates, with the exception of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) and Senator Sampson agreed to a draft bill to be submitted to each of the State Parliaments. That undertaking appears now to have .been a trick which certain State representatives succeeded in “ putting over “ the Convention. The handling of that draft measure by the Upper chambers in Western Australia and Tasmania, and, worst of all, the change of attitude towards it by the Premier of Victoria, is, to say the least, deplorable. Despite the fact that both chambers of the Victorian Parliament agreed to the measure, the Premier of that State, with his usual snide methods, inserted a dragnet clause to the effectthat Victoria would implement it when all of the other States had agreed to it, knowing at the time that there was as much hope of the measure being agreed to by the Upper House in Tasmania as I have of learning lion-taming; and that is most improbable. When Parliament adjourns, honorable senators will no doubt take part in the referendum campaign. We shall find that many members of State Parliaments, on behalf of vested interests, will oppose the Government’s proposals. It will be appalling to see some honorable senators urging the people to vote against these proposals, which have been framed as the result of calm deliberation in this Parliament and agreed to by an absolute majority as demanded by law. That absolute majority, I confess, was just sufficient to secure the passage of the bill.
– Surely, we can say outside what we have said in this chamber.
– ‘Yes; but the honorable senator wants it both ways. The majority rule should operate at least in a British community. Every phase of the Government’s proposals was considered in this Parliament, and as the result of that deliberation Parliament decided that a referendum should be held.
When I was speaking last night I expressed regret that the statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin in the House of Representatives on Monday concerning his visit overseas had not been read concurrently in this chamber. I have now prepared an extract from the Prime Minister’s speech and I ask leave to read it. (Leave granted.’]
The Speech delivered by His Excellency the Governor-General was predominantly devoted to the war, its present stage and the broad picture of what the future can be expected to hold. Australia’s participation in the war is threesided. Australia declared war as a sovereign nation and as a member of the British Commonwealth and carries on its war effort in accordance with a plan followed by the United Nations. The future war effort of Australia has been the subject of a good deal of thought by the Government and it is proper that I .should report to the Senate on discussions and consultations which the Prime Minister has been engaged upon in Britain and the United States and wilh the Commander-in-Chief of the South-West Pacific Area in Australia. The conference held in London last May was convened for a personal exchange of views between Prime Ministers, and not for the purpose of taking decisions on the extensive and varied field of important subjects which were discussed. These, broadly, fell into two main groups : The conduct of the war, in which the measures necessary for the defeat of Germany and Japan were considered, in order that the Government of each part of the British Commonwealth could review its war effort in relation to the strategic plans; and post-war problems of an empire or international nature. The discussions also included questions of procedure on future courses of action.
The Prime Minister’s visits to the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Canada enabled him to convey to the heads of the Governments a message from the people of Australia, expressing our admiration of their war efforts and sacrifices, and our deep gratitude for the aid which has been extended to us in our struggle in this part of the world.
In December, 1941,’ Mr. ‘Churchill and President Roosevelt made the momentous decision in global strategy for the defeat of Germany first. The marshalling of the strength of the United Kingdom and the United States to strike a decisive blow in Western Europe, in conjunction with the Russian advance from the east and the assault in Italy, has been a prolonged and prodigious task. In the meantime, it has been necessary to overcome the submarine menace, to destroy or neutralize the main units of the German surface fleet, and to eliminate the Italian Navy. Command of the sea has been vital to sustain the war effort of Britain and to enable the man-power and material strength of the United States to be brought into the line of battle in the European theatre. It has also been es- sential to establish air supremacy over the enemy and at the same time reduce his war productive capacity, and damage and disrupt his transport system. During this lengthy period of preparation for the offensive in Europe it was necessary to maintain the ring around Germany by the operations in the Middle East. The unfolding of the Allied plans commenced in the offensive in North Africa. It has continued with the advance through Sicily and Italy, where it has been greatly to our advantage to fight and destroy the German armies there, rather than receive a walk-over by their withdrawal to the eastern or western front.
The great decision taken at the Teheran conference was to launch the attack on Western Europe. During the conference in London the Dominion Prime Ministers were acquainted with the gigantic preparations which had been made, and realized the almost intolerable burden imposed on Mr. Churchill and other leaders of the United Nations, and the commanders, by the momentous importance of the success or failure to the Allied cause of the initial phase of the operation to establish a foothold in Europe. Notwithstanding anxieties about the weather, tactical surprise was attained, and it is a matter for deep thankfulness that casualties were mercifully on a much lower scale than had been anticipated.
I offer no opinion on the speedy end of the struggle in Europe. No one knows the period for which the Germans can continue to resist under these conditions, or whether they may collapse or resist for a longer period by contracting their fronts. The primary aim of the United Nations is the destruction of the German forces, and this will be unrelentingly and remorselessly pursued. It ‘has been said that no one can command success, but we can do everything to deserve it. Having done so, we can only wait on events, with confidence that victory is certain, whether it may be a long or short time in coming.
The plans for the war against Japan were discussed with General MacArthur before the Prime Minister left Australia and on his return. While abroad, he had discussions with Mr. Churchill, President Roosevelt, the combined Chiefs of Staff, and the United Kingdom and United States Chiefs of Staff.
Mr. Churchill discussed with the Prime Minister the part to be played by United Kingdom forces in the ultimate defeat of Japan. Though the transfer of the main British effort must await the defeat of Germany, large and powerful forces will become available this year, and the planning of the whole British effort is being rigorously pursued.
The Prime Minister discussed with Mr. Churchill, President Roosevelt, the combined Chiefs of Staff, and General MacArthur the future part to be played by Australia in the war against Japan. There was general agreement, in both London and Washington, as to the lines our effort should take in the shape of fighting forces, the economic basis of the direct military effort, the contribution to he made towards the maintenance of forces in the Pacific and the provision of food for Britain. It was emphasized in both London and Washington that, as the Australian people wish to have a voice in deciding how the Pacific Area is to be managed, they realize that the extent of their power will be in proportion, not to the quantity of wheat, meat or clothes they produce to support the forces of other nations, but also to the fighting they do. There is, therefore, a minimum fighting strength below which Australia will not go. There is also a maximum strength for the Australian forces, beyond which they cannot go, and it is the balance between these limits which the Government is seeking to fix.
The Advisory War Council has agreed to certain recommendations for the review of the Australian war effort. After the Defence Committee has reported on the aspects relating to the future strengths of the forces, the Production Executive, in consultation with the War Commitments Committee, will consider the allocations of the balance of the man-power and woman-power. The total position will then be considered by War Cabinet and the Advisory War Council.
It is, of course, impossible to traverse in detail and in public the highly secret discussions on foreign policy, as they are closely related to the conduct of the war. In broad terms, the aims of British foreign policy in war are -
To give all possible support through the diplomatic channel to the fight ing forces in the conduct of operations. In occupied countries, this means support of those elements that are fighting the enemy. It also involves an assurance that, when the war is over, the people of each country shall have a free chance to express their views, whether by elections or otherwise. In neutral countries, foreign policy must be employed as an instrument to support military operations by seeking to deny to the enemy aid which he might secure from these sources, and, if possible, to divert it to our own war efforts.
To maintain unity among all the Allies in order to achieve victory and to lay the foundations during the war for future co-operation for the maintenance of peace and the promotion of international collaboration.
To prepare the terms to be imposed on the enemy, when defeated, and the machinery of control. The European Advisory Commission, comprising representatives of the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Russia is at present engaged on this task.
There is, however, one cardinal aspect of foreign policy which I desire to mention: it is the vital importance to the future of the world of collaboration between the British Commonwealth, the United States of America and Russia.
One of the remarkable achievements of the war, for which too much credit cannot be given to Mr. Churchill and President Roosevelt, is the high degree of friendship and co-operation which has been created between the British Commonwealth and the United States of America. It has been of fundamental importance to the successful conduct of the war, and, if what has been demonstrated to be possible in war can be maintained in peace, a notable contribution will have been made to international relations of the future. The realization of it should be a corner-stone of our foreign policy.
Of parallel importance is the collaboration achieved with Russia in military operations, and in the Moscow declaration for the building of an international organization at the end of the war. This too, must be maintained and developed in the critical tasks that await the leaders, of the United Nations when the victory is won. It must be equally part of our policy to develop the friendliest relations with Russia.
This has been a total war. All have been called upon to serve, and many to suffer. This spirit of service and sacrifice has created a widespread resolve that an age of peace and a .better social order, leading to a fuller and more abundant life, must supplant an era of war, of social indifference, economic insecurity, and want. The hope of better things to come has been the inspiration which has sustained the peoples of the United Nations, and the source of their determination to see the struggle through until victory is won.
Conditions of social betterment are not attainable without a lasting peace, and a durable peace is not possible until those causes of war, which have their origin in wrong social and economic conditions, are corrected. After the scourge of two world wars, and an uneasy peace which was little more than an armistice, all the dictates of reason and humanity demand that the leaders of nations should not fail to achieve the vision of a happier, better, and secure future for the human race. When this has been realized, the victory of arms will have been crowned by a still greater victory for mankind.
The critical question that faces the United Nations is the creation of the appropriate machinery for the maintenance of peace to enable these ideals to be realized in the realms of national policies and in the sphere of international relations where national policies make contact with each other. In London, the Prime Ministers discussed the principle of the machinery for the preservation of peace and international collaboration, but it would be premature for me to attempt to outline a blue-print of the organization.
Until the ideas of the Four Powers are available for consideration by the other members of the United Nations, I can mention only certain broad principles which, in my opinion, are fundamental to any scheme adopted. The first is that the organization must include all the Great Powers within its membership. We must avoid a repetition of the mistake that occurred with the League of Nations when some of the Great Powers stood out. When dealing with questions of global strategy during the course of the war, even though the decisions might not have agreed with our views, I have always maintained that, as the Great Powers had the greatest responsibilities and resources, they had the right to make the major decisions regarding the conduct of the war. It follows equally that we must look to the Great Powers with their resources to ensure the preservation of peace, until a permanent and effective system of security can be established. The Great Powers are obviously the nucleus of any world council that might be created.
There is also the important principle of regionalism, through which the lesser nations could contribute effectively to the working of the world organization. Last December, the Prime Minister referred to the supreme importance of the world system of collective security being buttressed by regional arrangements and plans, and mentioned that the defence of the strategical area in which Australia was located involved co-operation with the United Kingdom, the United States of America, New Zealand, and certain European Powers with territories in the Pacific. In another realm of regional interest, the Australian-New Zealand Agreement provides for the establishment of a South Seas Regional Commission directed towards the advancement and well-being of the native peoples of the Pacific. Finally, there are functional bodies of a technical nature, such as those relating to labour, health, and transport, which will require to be related to the world organization. The Prime Minister said last December that the evolution of the British Commonwealth had exemplified the manner in which autonomous nations co-operate on matters of mutual interest, and he made certain suggestions for improved machinery for Empire consultation and co-operation.
During the Conference, the Prime Minister put forward the following proposals : -
The aim of all machinery must be to provide for full and continuous consultation. This consultation must be consistent with the sovereign control of its policy by each government.
No machinery which may be established can be superior to, or more satisfactory than, the periodical conferences of Prime Ministers of the various parts of the Empire, provided they are held frequently. The place of meeting should not necessarily always be in London.
The meetings of Prime Ministers should be supplemented and reinforced by meetings of other Ministers of the British Commonwealth as occasion may require, to deal with important questions of mutual interest, such as. trade and communications. Again, these conferences need not necessarily be held always in the one place.
There should also be meetings at the official level between officers from the various parts of the Empire to deal with technical matters or to carry out exploratory discussions, with a view to their subsequent consideration by governments.
The procedure to be followed in London between conferences of Prime Ministers should be monthly meetings of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, the High Commissioners of the Dominions, and the daily meeting of the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs and all the High Commissioners, which is the present established practice.
In addition, there is the ordinary daytoday machinery for dealing with the three groups of important questions - foreign affairs, defence, financial, economic and social questions. The External Affairs staffs in the respective High Commissioners’ offices are in close contact with the Foreign Office and each Dominion would create such machinery and employ such methods as appear desirable, in the light of its own circumstances. All the Dominions have their service representatives in the United Kingdom. The position of individual
Dominions differ so greatly that the machinery and procedure must be appropriate to the circumstances of each.
During the war, there has been a great increase of co-operation on financial, economic and social questions. It is desirable that this co-operation should be maintained and further increased. It was suggested that so much individual co-operation had now been established that the time was opportune to bring it under a central direction. It was proposed that an examination be made by a small committee, representative of the United Kingdom and Dominion Governments, as to whether some centralization of effort was desirable. Mr. Churchill readily expressed his willingness to have monthly meetings with the Dominion representatives in London and the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, and this met with general agreement. The Dominion Prime Ministers undertook to consult their Governments on the Prime Minister’s other proposals, and certain additional suggestions that were made during the discussion.
The discussion of colonial questions by the Prime Ministers was focused primarily on the establishment of regional bodies along the lines of the South Seas Regional Commission provided for in the Australian-New Zealand Agreement. General agreement was expressed with the value of such bodies as an aid to colonial administration and giving effect to the doctrine of “ trusteeship “ which has as its aim the welfare of native peoples and their social, economic and political development. There were also discussions on economic, social and transport questions. Discussions on a technical level regarding the scheme for an international monetary fund have been proceeding for some months, and the conference reviewed the stage which had been reached at the date of its meeting. A further conference is at present in progress in the United States of America. Any proposals formulated will be referred to the governments concerned for their consideration. There was also a discussion on commercial policy, which had been considered earlier in the year on the official level, but the matter has not been advanced sufficiently to enable a public statement to be made at the present time.
The conference was furnished with an outline of the plans of the United Kingdom Government for the allocation of man-power between the forces and industry during any interim period between the end of hostilities in Europe and the defeat of Japan. This, and wider aspects of the United Kingdom Government’s policy, are covered in detail in the White Paper on Employment Policy which is being tabled for the information of Parliament.
The conference agreed to a proposal by the United Kingdom Government for an examination at the official level of possible arrangements for migration, on the understanding that the results would be submitted to the various governments for consideration.
The conference reviewed the stage which had been reached in regard” to post-war arrangements for civil aviation. As they are still the subject of international discussion, it is not possible to make any useful public statement at present.
The conference discussed a post-war shipping policy, and agreed on certain principles as a basis for further intergovernmental discussions as the occasion arises.
The Commonwealth Government has pledged itself to share with the United Nations the tasks of relief and rehabilitation. Australia’s contribution to the relief and rehabilitation policy will be based upon our national income. The approximate figure is not less than £10,000,000. A bill on this subject will be submitted when Parliament reassembles later in the year.
There are great tasks confronting the people of this country. The immediate and most important consideration is the exertion of our complete capacity for war. There are no bloodless roads to victory, either in Europe or in the Pacific, and it is clear that every strategica’l concept underlying the conduct of the war by the United Nations involves war in the Pacific after the war in Europe has ceased. Therefore, there can be no early abatement of our concentration upon the struggle, which, but yesterday was on our doorstep, to- day is some distance from our mainland, and eventually will be fought at the very heart of the Japanese Empire. The sacrifices which our fighting men have still to make and the devotion they have yet to proffer, must be matched by the readiness of the civilian population to bear its part without any limitation. However, it is sound policy that, from time to time, there shall be a re-assessment made of what is essential to hasten victory, and the changes that should be made. In 3942, last year, and for the greater part of this year, it was inescapable that every man that could be available to the fighting services should be so allocated. Our war effort during the period in which we were resisting invasion was reinforced by the contributions of our Allies, but those contributions had to be set in motion. They were limited by the demands of other theatres, and governed by the overriding considerations of global strategy and the nature of the direction given to the Commander-in-Chief in this theatre. Until the strength which our Allies could allocate to us had reached at least a given dimension, the paramount responsibility to maintain the fighting services in resisting the Japanese devolved on ourselves. Furthermore, on the civil population devolved the duty not only of maintaining on an austerity standard the physical needs of our people, and of equipping and supplying to the uttermost of their capacity our own fighting forces, but also of meeting the needs of Allied servicemen in this theatre, as well as making contributions to other theatres. All this we have done. It has been done well. Its purpose has been vindicated. The enemy no longer marches towards us; he retreats. And the forces of the United Nations now march towards his heart to strike the mortal blow. As has been indicated in the discussions which the Prime Minister had with Mr. Churchill, President Roosevelt, the combined Chiefs of Staff, and the Chiefs of Staff of the United Kingdom; and of the United States of America, it was arranged for steps to be taken to reallocate the man-power resources of Australia. There is a fighting contribution which this country should make, and will make, until the enemy has been completely defeated. There are, however, leeways in the economic life of Australia which we should commence to overtake. Some part of the physical equipment for the maintenance of our war effort has to have strength added to it. I do not here intend to particularize. I merely say that the strength of our fighting services has been the subject of a mutual understanding with our Allies. This will enable more, but not unlimited, manpower to be allocated to the economic services of the nation. The Prime Minister has also arranged what shall be the extent of the production of this country which shall be allocated for export. This is a part of the understanding that has been reached. Two considerations enter into this matter. One is the realization of the total nature of the Australian war effort, and the other is the capacity to supply the transportation required for that part of our production which other countries require and can take. The problems of the diversion of our man-power from the tasks of peace to those of war were not simple. Neither is it a simple matter to re-allocate to the civil economy that portion of the man-power hitherto engaged in war, and now required in the essential industries of the nation. It has to be done deliberately and on a commonsense basis. A knowledge as to the total requirements, must govern what is to be done. It would be a mistake for anybody to assume that all demands can be satisfied. There are orders of priority applicable to this problem as there are to every phase of production and industry in time of war. The very fact, however, that this country has reached the stage where this reassessment is now practicable is evidence that the enemy’s plans of conquest have grievously failed. Where he sought to conquer the world, he now faces what I believe to be a futile endeavour to avert signal and overwhelming defeat.
Whilst sacrifices have been general on the part of the peoples of the United Nations, the first claim on our gratitude is that of the fighting men . and their dependants. It is the supreme duty of governments to see that this debt is discharged, but the people as a whole deserve, by reason of all the sacrifices’ they have made and the tribulations they have undergone, surcease from strain. Those who have the responsibility of government must so discharge our high duties as to ensure that the freedom for which they have struggled and the peace for which they hunger will be a freedom-giving security in the economic requirements of their personal lives. Thus only will security and peace be assured
.- I thank the Leader of the Senate (Senator Keane) for presenting to the Senate the statement that he has just made. It is certainly belated, and I am not in a position to discuss it fully immediately. Reference was made in the press to the subjects which he has mentioned, and therefore honorable senators were already aware of its contents. If the Government had only that to tell ns, in addition to the short speech delivered by His Excellency the Governor-General, why was it necessary to summon Parliament at all? There is nothing in the statement just read by the Minister which has not already appeared in the newspapers. The statement affords no news at all ; it merely reiterates what has been said in this Parliament and in the press for many months. A similar criticism could be levelled at the speech delivered by the Governor-General. It merely tells us, with regard to the war, that instead of the Allied Nations being on the defensive they are on the offensive. It recounts that we have secure a victory in Africa. That, of course, occurred some time ago. The speech refers to various advances that we have made, and we are all pleased and proud of those successes ; but why did the Government consider it necessary to summon Parliament merely to regale us with stale information of that kind? It seems to .me that this is another instance of the Government having brought members from all parts of Australia, to a futile gathering in Canberra, at which no government business will be done, except that we have listened to a few government statements, most of which have no significance. Never have so many been brought so far for so little. In the Governor-General’s Speech, there was a note of sadness. We are saying good-bye to His Excellency
Lord Gowrie, a well-loved and respected gentleman, and I believe that the respect and esteem of the people generally are reciprocated by His Excellency. All governments that have worked under him will always have a kindly feeling for the departing Governor-General and his wife. Cf the Government had brought us here merely to say good-bye to His Excellency, there might possibly have been some justification of its action, but it did not offer even that reason for the summoning of Parliament. A long statement has been made as to what the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) did overseas, and we have heard a few general observations about global strategy. It is stated in the second paragraph of the speech that the war continues to be the predominant and outstanding occupation of His Excellency’s advisers. That is what it should be, but [ doubt whether that is the predominant and outstanding occupation of Ministers.
– The GovernorGeneral said so.
– He was, no doubt, advised that that is so, but I am not sure that the outstanding occupation of his Ministers is related altogether to the war effort.
– Does the honorable senator think that His Excellency is an accessory after an untruth?
– If the address had been written by the Governor-General personally-
– How does the honorable senator know that it was not? He may have written it himself.
– I have heard many addresses of this kind, and Ministers, cannot induce me to believe that the Governor-General’s Speech was composed entirely by himself and without the knowledge of the Government, I prefer to believe that the words used by His Excellency were put into his mouth.
I was interested in the speeches of the new members of this chamber. One should not condemn an honorable senator because one does not agree with what he has said, but in almost every speech by new senators there was a note of hopelessness. They had done their best, and could not do more. They did not see any hope for mankind, and for Australia par ticularly, unless the policy of the Labour party was carried out in its entirety. When criticized in the slightest possible way, their sole retort was, “ Tell us what you would do.” They are completely bankrupt of ideas. The Government is supposed to be governing the country, and it should know what policy it intends to carry out. Senator Grant said that the trade unions were in this war in order to fight fascism. That was a most extraordinary statement, because the opposite is true. The unions are fighting for fascism. The war is being fought because there are two schools of thought in the world; the first school teaches that the citizen is the servant of the State, the second school teaches that the State is the servant of the citizen. Among those who belong to the first school are Hitler, Mussolini, Dr. Evatt and Mr. Curtin.
– And Senator Leckie !
– The advocates of the second school of thought include such men as Mr. Churchill, President Roosevelt, Mr. Menzies and, if I may say so, myself. Senator Grant also said that, unless certain things happened, we on this side of the chamber and others who think as we think would be praying for the mountains to fall on us. The honorable senator exhibited a frenzied enthusiasm similar to that which is so characteristic of the Minister for the Interior (Senator Collings). I was disappointed to hear Senator O’Flaherty preach the doctrine of class hatred in a speech in which he urged that there should be no party propaganda. He said that the people of Australia were divided into two classes - the workers and the exploiters. I cannot understand how any honorable senator can say that men who provide jobs for others - men who by their energy and enterprise have established industries in this country which have contributed much to the defence of Australia - are exploiters. I suppose that the honorable senator had in mind particularly the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, which has frequently been denounced by representatives of the Labour party. He probably regards that company as consisting of exploiters, notwithstanding that it has delivered to the people of Australia iron and steel at less than half the price charged for such materials in other parts of the world, gives employment to thousands of Australian -workers, and shares its dividends among a large number of shareholders.
– The men employed by the company make the steel.
– Evidently the Minister for the Interior agrees with Senator O’flaherty that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited is an exploiter because it employs men at good wages to make certain products.
– I did not say so, but I do want credit to be given to the men who do the work.
– I regret that an honorable senator should preach the doctrine of class hatred in his first speech in this chamber. The honorable senator who did so is of better calibre than his speech would indicate; he should be more careful in his choice of words. Senator Sheehan, who, for personal reasons, I am glad to see back in this chamber, had some difficulty in restraining his exuberance. When the honorable senator addressed this chamber on former occasions he sat on the Opposition benches, and from his place there he was eloquent in denouncing the government of the day. Now he is a supporter of the government, and he finds his new role difficult to fill. When honorable senators on this side criticize the Government we frequently hear from the government benches such interjections as, “What would the honorable senator do? “ or “ What is the honorable senator’s opinion? “ Honorable senators will notice that the question is not “What did previous governments do when in office? “ but “What would the Opposition do if now in office?” Such interjections reveal a bankruptcy of ideas on the part of the government supporters and an acknowledgment of their impotence. No self-respecting government would appeal to others for ideas, if it h.ad ideas of its own.
– Non-Labour governments appealed to the Labour party to join in forming a national government.
– It would appear that many Government supporters believe that the panacea for all ills is the filling-in of a form. If the Government had its way, it would turn the people of Australia into a nation of form-fillers. I admit that there has never been an entire absence of forms to fill in, because every birth, death or marriage has necessitated the filling in of a form. In respect of births and deaths, the form necessarily had to be filled in by some person other than the one whose name appeared on it, and it can be said that even a marriage certificate was, for the most part, filled in by the officiating clergyman. The idea underlying many of the forms in use seems to be that the more complicated the form the better. From time to time, members of the Labour party have a good deal to say about the advantages of education, and I visualize the time when some Australian university will have a Chair of Form-Filling, and perhaps at the same time there will be at street corners form-filling agents, who will fill in forms for a modest fee. Then, after it has been filled in, one will go away feeling happy. In this way the Government obtains full particulars about each individual, including his age, his religion, and the secrets of his business. The Government cheerfully subscribes to that system, and appoints bureaucrats who are engaged for most of their time in the arduous task of devising forms which will be still more difficult to complete. I can only say that the Government is losing its sense of proportion. Within the last few weeks I listened to a news broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The announcer concluded the broadcast by saving. “ These are the head-lines of the news”; and he proceeded to enumerate such items as, “ The fall of Cherbourg i3 assured and will be brought about within a few days - the Russian armies are advancing 20 miles a day; Minsk is just a/bout to fall - in Italy our army has advanced to a point 100 miles north of Rome - at Saipan in the Marianas the American forces are closing in on the last of the garrison “ - and the final gem was, “ Mr. Forde appeals to the miners to go to work”. At that time the right honorable member for Capricornia (Mr.
Forde) was Acting Prime Minister, and he visited the coal-fields to beg the miners to work. His visit to the coal-fields was listed as head-line news in a national broadcast and bracketed as being of equal importance to the people of Australia with such events as the conquest of Normandy, the successes of the American forces at Saipan, and the advance of the Allied armies in Russia and Italy. Surely, a little more common sense can be exercised in matters of this kind.
– The national news is not broadcast in the form set out by the honorable senator.
– I have correctly described the broadcast to which I listened a few weeks ago. The tin-pot activities of certain Ministers should not be glorified in news broadcasts from the national stations and proclaimed as epoch-making events.
I was very disappointed with the reply made by the Leader of the Senate (Senator Keane) to a question asked by Senator Herbert Hays concerning a certain decision of the High Court. The Leader of the Senate said that the High Court would have to be looked at. He implied that it had no right to make a decision which was not in agreement with the policy of the Government. If the attitude of the Government towards the High Court is that it will have a “ look-at “ the court when it makes a decision which the Government does not like - and I suppose by “looking-at” the High Court the Minister means that the Government should either abolish the court or compel it to give a decision at the dictation of the Government - all I can say is that justice in Australia is in for a sorry time. Later, I shall have something more to say about the partial administration of justice in this country. The Minister’s statement, if it meant anything, meant that the Government would have a good look at the High Court with the object of altering its procedure and makins it not a court of justice but a court of “yes-men” for the government of the day.
The Leader of the Senate also referred to the man-power problem. I acknowledge that it is a difficult problem ; but it is capable of solution. I pro pose to deal with only one aspect of it. When we have 750,000 men in the fighting services and only a portion of three divisions are actually engaged in operational areas, a layman is driven to the conclusion that the administrative staffs of the Army and Air Force are altogether out of proportion numerically to the numbers who are actually engaged in fighting. I ask the Government to give attention to this matter. I have been led to believe that the administrative staff of the Army, and to a still greater degree, that of the Air Force, is top heavy. Thousands of men on those staffs could be released for essential civilian work.
– A special committee has been examining that aspect for some months past.
– If that is the case, the results have not been commensurate with the scope of the inquiry indicated by the Leader of the Senate. In addition, work in munitions factories is now slackening off. The sooner persons who can be released from such work are returned to their ordinary avocations the better it will be for the community as a whole.
I come now to the statement just read by the Leader of the Senate as an extract from that made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) “ in the House of Representatives on Monday. As I have already said, I am unable to comprehend why the Prime Minister felt obliged to hurry back from Great Britain to submit this statement to Parliament. If a Prime Minister goes from Australia to the other side of the world and confers with leaders there, Australia must benefit. Mr. Curtin’s visit overseas was belated. I think that he should have gone earlier. I do not know why he did not. Possibly, he had internal troubles with his Ministers and others that I do not know much about, or which were only hinted at. There is a partial description of what he did overseas in the statement that has just been read to us by the Leader of the Senate, but so far as I can see we were already made, acquainted with all that it contained through the press some months ago. The greatest event of our generation was happening on the other side of the world when Mr. Curtin was in Great Britain. For two or three months final preparations had been going on in Great Britain for the invasion of Western Europe. We were receiving notice daily that the invasion was imminent, and we realized that it was to be the biggest event in our history, and that on its success or failure our future depended. I thought when Mr. Curtin went to London, “Well, he has chosen his time pretty well, he is going to be there right in the middle of things, he should be able to see at first hand these great invasion preparations and the great invasion itself. He will be at hand to applaud and approve what is done and to share in the joys and sorrows of the people of the Old Country”. Although he was in the inner councils and must have known to the day of the invasion, he suddenly departed from London a few days before and hurried back to America and to Australia. Why did he do that? Was there an urgent cable from his Ministers here that they were in difficulties and wanted him back in Australia? Did they send for him hurriedly? Why did he come back? Fs there any man in this chamber who, knowing that that great event was to take place, would not have waited days and weeks so that he could witness the most important event of his generation? T. do not know why he came back. Hp did not return to make a statement to the Commonwealth Parliament. He has not given us any information at all.
– What is the honorable senator suggesting?
– I am suggesting that I am very disappointed that the Prime Minister of Australia did not remain to share, if necessary, in the glory of that great occasion and to represent Australia at the biggest event that has ever happened in our time. Therefore, I wonder why he returned in a hurry.
– Did some one push him ?
– If he was pushed, who pushed him? Did he receive a cable stating that certain events were occurring in Australia which were greater than the war, greater than anything tha* was occurring on the other side of the world, and that his personal attention to them was absolutely necessary?
– Why did not Field Marshal Smuts stay there?
– All I can say is that Mr. Churchill stood on the beaches of Normandy, His Majesty the King visited the Allied forces in France, Field Marshal Smuts was there, and Mr. Fraser, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, went to Italy to see his fighting men, and then returned to London while the flying-bomb attacks were still going on. It was some comfort to the people of London to know that the representative of one of their dominions, at any rate, was with them in their time of trial and tribulation. Therefore, I and the people of Australia noted with sorrow that our representative on the spot did not wait a few extra days to witness this great event on the other side of the world. Why did he hurry back? Was a cable sent to him stating that some of the Ministers that he had left behind were making a holy mess of things? Did he return in a hurry to see that the “ snoopers “ whom he had set up were doing their job properly?
– What is a “ snooper “ ?
– A man who listens in to telephone conversations, or who opens private letters, or does other things of that kind for the benefit of the Labour policy. Things are coming to a pretty pass when Mr. Jackson, the Chief Commissioner of Taxation for the Commonwealth, asks the people of Australia by means of a broadcast to spy on their neighbours and to send anonymously to him the name of anybody who they think is breaking the taxation laws. I do not know where we are leading. Is such a practice really connived at by the people of Australia.
– Does the honorable senator approve of tax dodgers.
– Does the honorable senator agree that the highest taxation official in Australia should appeal to people to spy on their neighbours, to set up the Gestapo business in Australia, to encourage whispering campaigns, to create a position such as exists in Germany and France, where people are afraid to speak in the presence of their own. families because somebody may betray them?
– The right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) supported that sort of thing when he returned from overseas. He said that Hitler was a fine fellow, and he approved of quite a lot that was taking place in Germany.
– Senator Grant has talked enough nonsense in this chamber already without adding to it. He knows quite well that Mr. Menzies never said anything of the sort. Can I take it that Senator Grant is in favour of this “ snooping “ business, of people sneaking round and disclosing the private affairs of their neighbours and friends and even of their own families, so that we may be turned into a nation of sneaks? That is all we shall become if that system is followed here. I cannot imagine that the Leader of the Senate would advocate anything of that kind. I cannot imagine that you, Mr. Deputy President, holding your high office, and possessing, as you do, some sense of British fair play and justice, would approve of such conduct. Australians are advised to become a nation of “ snoopers “ and to seek to discover all the secrets of their neighbours so as to have them imprisoned or heavily fined. Did the Prime Minister return in a hurry because sufficient public funds were not being spent on party propaganda? Did he discover that the Ministers he left at home were too modest in their demands? Did he return because insufficient of the taxpayer’s money was being used for party political purposes?
– He came back to sell half of Australia to the Japanese, as the honorable senator’s party did in the case of the “ Brisbane line “.
– The honorable senator knows that what he says is not true. He knows that the Prime Minister did not come back to sell half of Australia to the Japanese.
– That is what the honorable senator’s party did.
- Senator Grant distinctly stated that the Prime Minister came back to do it.
– I was merely endeavouring to be humorous, but appa rently the honorable senator does not understand humour.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Courtice). - Order! Interjections must cease.
– Why does the honorable senator not speak on a dignified plane instead of resorting to “guttersnipe” tactics?
– An accusation of “ guttersnipe “ tactics does not come very well from the honorable senator who has just interjected. Although I am Scotch myself-
– One half Scotch and the other half soda.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- I ask Senator Leckie to continue his speech and not to antagonize other honorable senators.
– It is not my intention to antagonize anyone. Apparently the honorable senator who has been interjecting is supersensitive because he has the conscience of the Prime Minister in his pocket, and believes that he must be very careful of it. I ask again was the Prime Minister asked to return to this country because public funds were being used for party propaganda? Did he come back to put a stop to this disgraceful state of affairs ?
– He came back to do his job in this country.
– And what is his job? Is it to see that more funds shall be employed for party propaganda, or to ensure that public money shall not be used illegally in that way. Did he return to Australia because he heard that justice was not being administered impartially, but was being meted out on a party basis ? I can readily appreciate that he might well have hurried back for that purpose. I could understand his desire to return to this country if he believed that the Ministers whom he had left in charge of affairs here, and government officials were being unduly influenced by party bias and were acting with blatant partiality. Had I been in the right honorable gentleman’s place I should certainly have hurried back in these circumstances.
– The honorable senator will never have the chance to go overseas.
– I am at liberty to go whenever I choose. You asked me, Mr. Deputy President, not to be provocative, but I point out that the honorable senator who has just interjected is doing bis best to be insulting.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order! Senator Grant must cease interjecting.
– Did somebody in this country cable to the Prime Minister some facts about the maladministration of justice in. this country, particularly in regard to the withdrawal of certan prosecutions for serious offences, and the imposition of heavy penalties upon female employees found guilty of such minor offences as absenteeism? Perhaps the right honorable gentleman, was informed that three sisters residing at Kew, Victoria, were each fined £6, with costs, for declining a man-power direction to accept employment in a mental asylum.
– There would be ample work for mental asylum nurses amongst honorable senators opposite.
– I assure the honorable senator that he is quite wrong. We should not be put into a mental asylum, but into a gas chamber for which the gas, just as poisonous and fatal as any devised by German chemists, would be supplied by the honorable senator himself. Did the Prime Minister hurry back from Great Britain to ensure that private letters should not be opened by censorship officials, or to ensure that more such letters should be opened? Did he hurry back because he learned that a large percentage of prosecutions for rationing offences had resulted from information obtained from private letters from girls and wives in this country, to friends or husbands in New Guinea or elsewhere ?
– We shall continue to do that. Individuals who break rationing regulations will be dealt with.
– The censorship authorities will continue to open those letters?
– Absolutely; every one of them. I do not favour a “square off “ on rationing offences.
– Surely the Leader of the Senate must realize where all this will lead?
– The honorable senator knows that cases have been discovered in which soldiers have been selling all their coupons to women.
– Information upon which rationing prosecutions have been based has been extracted from letters written in endearing terms by wives and sweethearts of soldiers fighting overseas. Apparently the Government does not have any scruples about opening these letters and permitting their contents to he disclosed not only to the censor, who, perhaps, may be looked upon as a “ Father Confessor”, but also to various departments. Also, the Government does not seem to have any scruples about opening business letters, stealing formulas from them, and passing these formulas on to the Department of Munitions and other departments. We could all understand the Prime Minister’s rapid return to this country if it were for the purpose of stopping these disgraceful evils.
I shall read to the Senate an extract showing the extent to which the censorship authorities are appropriating or misappropriating business secrets. It is an order issued under Regulation 59 of National Security (General) Regulations, dealing with the manufacture of refrigerators. The Minister for Munitions (Mr. Makin) has already announced to Australia that government factories will undertake the manufacture of refrigerators and various types of agricultural machinery after the war.
– If it obtains the necessary power at the referendum.
– Yes. One reason given for the undertaking of this work by the Government is that employment will be provided for members of the fighting services when they return to this country.
– Is there anything wrong with that?
– It is quite wrong. The point is that all the jobs that oan be offered by munitions factories are now filled, and no positions will be available for returned men.
– There will be if the Government be permitted to trade with, the public.
– No. These factories are already fully staffed with engineers, tradesmen and operatives of all classes, and will be unable to offer employment to ex-servicemen. On the other hand, private concerns which hitherto have engaged in the manufacture of such articles as refrigerators and agricultural machinery and have guaranteed to re-engage former employees when the war is over, will be unable to do so because they will be forced out of business by government competition. So the Government will be penalizing the men at, the front in both ways. The suggestion that the continued operation of government munitions establishments after the war will increase avenues of employment for ex-servicemen is false and dangerous.
– I remind the honorable senator that the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Menzies) has stated that even if , all our soldiers were released from the Army there would still be insufficient man-power to do the job that confronts this country.
– Of course he said that. I believe that after the war there will be work for everybody, but I repeat that there will not be any jobs for returned soldiers in munitions factories.
– Who has said that the Government will undertake the manufacture of refrigerators?
– The Minister for Munitions.
– Contingent upon the Commonwealth receiving additional powers.
– That is so. The order issued under regulation 59 merely shows how the Government intends to go about it. It states, inter alia -
That, by itself, in war-time might not he significant, but, when it is considered in conjunction with a statement by the Minister for Munitions that the Government intends to utilize government factories for the manufacture of civilian goods, the order has a sinister appearance. It implies that the Government proposes to go into all factories engaged in the making of refrigerators and take possession of all their documents relating to methods of manufacture. It could take copies of their dies, jigs, and patterns, so that when the time came to put its intentions into effect it could not only put the private manufacturers out of business but “ collar “ their documents.
– What does the Government require their documents for, unless to set up the manufacture of refrigerators, either as a monopoly or in competition with private firms ? It wants to have the whole of the secrets of the refrigeration business, and get them for nothing. It will then be in a position to say, “ Private enterprise cannot manufacture these things, because we have collared ‘ their blueprints “.
– Refrigerators being regarded as a luxury line, no material is available at present for their manufacture, so we ban their production, except by a certain department.
– Were it not for the statement by the Minister for Munitions, this action might have been excusable, but it would not be fair to take from private factories the whole of their trade secrets.
– The order to which the honorable senator has referred does not imply that.
– It seems to me to have a very sinister significance. If the Government desires to manufacture only refrigerators-
– What about plastics?
– The Government “collared “ the formula for them. Secret information was sent . by a firm in the United States of America to a certain private factory in Australia, and private letters were abstracted from their mail and sent to the Minister for Munitions and others, so that the latest information could be obtained with regard to plastics.
– That is not .altogether correct.
– I know quite well that that occurred.
– The formula was never used by the Government and could not be used, except with the consent of the owner.
– I do not know about that. I did not say that the formula was used. I said that it was taken out of private correspondence between two firms and sent on to different departments in Australia.
I arn perturbed at the Prime Minister hurrying back from Great Britain from a job which I suppose he carried out worthily.
– The honorable senator only supposes.
– I know that he failed to do some of the things which he set out to do. Some of those things were not altogether wise. I think that he started with the good intention of binding the different parts of the Empire more closely together, but I am afraid that in trying to obtain material ties he lost sight of the spiritual ties. The ties of Empire could be bound so tightly that the blood would not run through the arteries. The ties of Empire are bonds of blood. That fact was shown not only in this war but also in the last war, when Australia wholeheartedly stood behind the Mother Country in the defence of the Empire. Those are the strongest bonds that we can have. Even in his latest attempt, which was honestly made, the right honorable gentleman was mis taken in thinking that he could draw the different parts of the Empire together by merely formal means, such as the setting-up of councils or conferences. The bonds of Empire between Australia and the Old Land are too strong to be broken, and we should not artificially strain them. The blood should flow through the arteries quite freely. I agree with the honorable senator that the referendum campaign should be carried out in an atmosphere free of party politics, but, unfortunately, supporters of the Government do not always act as they speak. It does not seem right that government funds should be used in support of a “ Yes “ vote, and that lower rates should apply to advertisements in favour of the Government’s proposals than to those in favour of a “ No “ vote. That is the reason why I placed on the notice-paper a question about advertising rates. I submit that equal opportunity should be given to each side to present its case to the electors. Obviously, the more money expended in support of certain views the more likely is it that the electors will accept those views. It is now probably too late for me to refer to the pamphlet setting out the opposing views regarding the referendum in order to point out that, although about the same number of words was printed in support of each case the “ Yes “ case was embellished with head-lines and was given more space than was given to the “No” side. I realize that the Government played a smart trick on the Opposition.
– The Government showed ability in presenting its case.
– It showed ability to depart from the principle of ordinary fair play.
– Opponents of the Government’s proposals were so ashamed of their arguments that they did not wish to make them too conspicuous.
– The doctrine of the survival of the fittest is a hard doctrine, but it is the law of nature. The present Government, however, has attempted to establish an even harder law, namely, the survival of the slickest. I appeal to the Government to retrace its steps and to follow a policy of honesty of purpose and fair play. The people of
Australia have been reared in an atmosphere in which honesty and fair play have been regarded as noble qualities. They have inherited from their British -forefathers a tradition of fair dealing. The Government first agrees to certain things, and then it attempts to sidestep its obligation by adopting some smart or unscrupulous trick. By so doing, it will only succeed in defeating its own ends. I do not desire to criticize the Government or its policy unduly, but I do wish to condemn things which I do not think are fair. Should the Government alter its methods and act fairly, it will find that in its endeavours to bring the war to a successful ‘ conclusion and to establish a lasting peace in which the people of this country will live happily and in, contentment - a state of affairs in which there is work for every one, and an opportunity for the exercise of initiative and enterprise - it will find in me an ardent supporter. But the basis on which these happier conditions must rest is fair play, British justice and “ playing cricket”. I am sorry that in some matters the Government has departed from some of the most sacred ideals, and has descended to such low tactics as the opening of letters, “snooping”, the encouragement of whisperers, and the betrayal of neighbour by neighbour. “Such conduct is un-British and unAustralian and should cease. The Government’s majority in each House of the Parliament is sufficiently large for it to ignore petty things, and I appeal to it to retrace its steps in some directions, and to follow its natural instincts, and be fair rather than adopt “smart Aleck” tactics in the belief that it does not matter how the other side is beaten so long as it is beaten. I hope that, with :a new mind and a new heart, the Government will go ahead to bring the war to a successful conclusion and to make Australia a truly free country.
– I support the motion for the adoption of the Address-in -Reply to the speech of His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, which was so ably moved and seconded by Senators McKenna and Grant, respectively. At the outset, I wish to add my tribute to what has -already been said -regarding the valuable work which the retiring GovernorGeneral has done for Australia. He has been a most able representative of HiE Majesty the King, and has, indeed, done an excellent job as the representative of the Crown in Australia. With other honorable senators I hope that he will be spared to enjoy the even-tide of life in an atmosphere of peace and contentment.
I was greatly impressed by His Excellency’s reference to the part that Australia has played in the present war. As His Excellency addressed us my mind went back to the time when Australia was in a chaotic condition, and unprepared to meet the oncoming foe. Consequently, I was astounded to hear the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) charge the Government with lack of courage. If there is one attribute for which the present Government should be given credit, it is that of courage. In all sincerity I say that for a Government consisting, for the most part, of men untrained in the administration of national affairs to take over the administration of this country under such conditions, and in the course of less than three years so change the state of affairs that His Excellency was able to speak so confidently regarding the future, is a wonderful achievement.
Let us examine the reasons for the success of this Government. Upon assuming office it realized that it had no alternative but to regiment the nation for .a total war effort. In order to do so, it had first to win for its plans the support of the industrial army of this country, because it looked to that army to supply not only the armaments, but also the majority of the personnel of our fighting forces. On the other hand, the preceding Government had failed to organize a total war effort, because it had lost the confidence of the workers whose goodwill was indispensable to the prosecution of the war, but who, at the same time, were prepared to sink everything they prized in order to achieve victory. It took a great deal of courage on the part of the present Government to ask the workers to sacrifice the most cherished advantages and privileges which they had gained after years of striving in the industrial field. When the history of this war is written the story of the great sacrifices made by the industrial movement in this country will fill many glorious pages. Any government would require a great deal of courage to ask the workers to agree to conscription of labour for industry, partial conscription for military service overseas, the pegging of wages and the dilution of skilled labour. But the workers of this country voluntarily accepted those measures in order to help the government to initiate a 100 per cent, war effort. Notwithstanding these facts, honorable senators opposite criticize the wonderful part played in this conflict by both the industrial army and our army in the field. Their charges are totally unfounded. The industrial movement will continue to co-operate with the Government as it has done in the past. The criticism levelled by honorable senators opposite against the coal-miners prompts me to examine the position existing in industry in this country prior to the present Government taking office; and on this point I present some illuminating figures to honorable senators. In 1940, 899 establishments were involved in strikes, involving 178,939 workers, and resulting in the loss of 1,507,252 working days and wages estimated at £1,716,121. Contrast those figures with the corresponding figures in 1942 after the present Government took office. In the latter year, working days lost owing to strikes were reduced to 378,195, and the loss of wages involved was only £456,090. I can best answer the criticism of honorable senators opposite by quoting corresponding figures in relation to the coal-mining industry. In that industry in 1941, 286 strikes occurred, involving the loss of 1,371,382 working days and wages amounting to £1,595,234, whereas in 1942, the miners produced a record output of coal, and the loss of wages due to hold-ups amounted to only £268,868. All of us realize that governments in every Allied country have failed to prevent strikes in the coal-mining industry. The real reason for the criticism of honorable senators opposite with respect to this industry is, of course, that the Government refuses to control it as they themselves would wish to see it controlled. The primary objective of the Government, on the other hand, has been to get coal.
Senator James McLachlan complained that during the last twelve months the Senate sat for only six days. Although I have just taken my seat in this chamber, I realize that the work of a member of Parliament is by no means confined to the participation in parliamentary sessions. Indeed, if honorable senators attended to their duties outside parliament as zealously as the people they represent would like them to do, they would find that they could ill spare the time which would be involved in attendance at lengthy sessions of Parliament.
– Senator James McLachlan was not correct when he said that the Senate sat for only six days during the last twelve months.’ In that period, the Senate sat for 29 days.
– That is so. Some very serious problems still confront the Government, and we should all be concentrating our attention upon the problems of post-war reconstruction. The war is being driven farther and farther into enemy territory, and the day is not far distant when Australia will probably be called upon to wage a much greater effort in providing the necessary foodstuffs to feed the peoples of the countries that are being won back by our Allies from the German oppressor. I feel sure that the rural industries and the workers will respond to every call that is made upon them to do so. As regards rural production my experience tells me that whatever can be done by the Government to make available the necessary labour to supply foodstuffs ought to be done as soon as possible. I fully realize that this country, with a population of 7,000,000 people, called upon as it has been to wage total war, has accomplished something of which it is entitled to be proud. In supplying the necessary manpower to develop industry as it has never before been developed in this country, furnishing our troops with all the equipment and munitions required to prosecute the war, and producing all the foodstuffs, clothing and other things for our own armies and those of our great American ally, this country has, in the two years or more that the present Government has been in office, done a work which deserves great praise. I feel honoured to be associated with it, and I think that some preparation should be now made in regard to post-war reconstruction and the settlement of our soldiers on the land after the war is over. There are, however, certain pitfalls which the Government would be well advised to avoid. These were revealed in the settlement of our soldiers on the land after the last war. It may be contemplated to settle quite a. number of them in areas that require irrigation. If so, I earnestly desire the Government, whichever it may be when peace is declared, to make certain that, before men are settled on areas which it is necessary to irrigate, the requisite drainage system shall be installed. We find by bitter experience that the old diggers of the last war who were placed particularly in fruit-growing areas have now lost acres upon acres of their valuable land, and that their trees are all dead, because of the salt that rises through the soil as the result of irrigation. It is now the responsibility of the Government to provide the necessary drainage system to leach that salt away, but, unfortunately, quite a lot of the land has gone so far that it cannot be further utilized for fruit-growing. One of the axioms that the Government should have deeply embedded in its mind is that, when settling returned soldiers from this war in rural industries, wherever irrigation is necessary provision must be made for the proper drainage of the land.
As regards secondary industries, quite a lot will have to be done by the Government to prepare for the employment of the great army of people who will be called upon to work in them. It will be necessary to develop our secondary industries in a manner which has hitherto been unthought of in Australia. This war has taught us that we are a nation which is quite competent to undertake the manufacture of any article whatsoever. One of the greatest avenues of employment to be found for the working class after the war will be the motor industry, which we hope will be so developed that the complete motor car will be manufactured here. I have already been advised by the Government’s representatives and by other interests that every support will be given to the development of that industry, but in that development I want to make sure that provision will be made for open and equal competition in the manufacture of the complete motor car in Australia. To ensure this, it will be necessary for the Government to repeal the Motor Industry Bounty Act and also the Motor Vehicles Agreement Act, which embodies a contract with Australian Consolidated Industries Limited creates a monopoly in the building of the complete motor car here. I feel that in this direction open competition should be provided, and 1 have been assured that immediately the Government is able to submit to the motor interests its requirements in post-war reconstruction, those interests are fully prepared to co-operate. They assure me that they would be able to produce the complete car here in a price range within the reach of the average working man. The price range to-day is totally outside the sphere of those who are employed at a tradesman’s rate of wage, but I am assured that, without any bounty, a light car can be produced in Australia for £250. That being so, I urge the Government to have a full investigation made into the matter. I do not want it to wait until the war is over before steps are taken, by the companies which are prepared to manufacture these vehicles, to enter into the necessary arrangements for tooling and development, so that, as the troops are released from the war and the armies of workers are released from munitions factories, they can be transferred into these industries without any undue holdup. I feel confident that that can be done without the necessity for the Government to offer to any manufacturer any inducement whatsoever in the form of a bounty. I want to see that sufficient ls bour is made available as early as can possibly be arranged for the development of the objective of building the complete car in Australia, so that the production side of it may be established and labour provided immediately the war is over.
In regard to the referendum proposals, I, like others, very much regret that it is necessary to conduct a referendum in a time of war, but I am also conversant with the reasons which have forced this necessity upon the Government. It is regrettable that, when it is essential to clothe this Parliament with additional powers to provide for the rehabilitation of the soldiers and workmen in industry, there should be any controversy as to what powers should be allocated to the Government for the purpose. If there is the slightest doubt as to whether the Government has the power, then I should say that the onus is on every rightthinking Australian to make sure that that doubt is eliminated by enabling the Government to go straight ahead with its programme of post-war reconstruction. In asking for increased powers the Government has nothing to fear from the people of Australia. Only a few months ago, the Government was returned to office to carry out a certainjob, and if it finds that it is unable to give effect to the promises which it made to the people at the elections, I am certain that the people will be prepared to confer upon it, sufficient authority to go ahead with the vital task of post-war reconstruction.
– I wish to pay a tribute to the Governor-General for his well-merited popularity in this country. It has been very pleasing indeed to hear so many complimentary references to His Excellency from both sides of the chamber. In paying these compliments, honorable senators are merely expressing the feeling of the people of Australia, who, I am sure, wish Their Excellencies every possible success and happiness in whatever sphere of activity they may be engaged. We all wish them well.
In my opinion, the Commonwealth already has all the powers necessary for the prosecution of the war and for postwar reconstruction. Even if it did not possess some of these powers, there would still be plenty of time to obtain them. The Commonwealth is adequatelyclothed with authority under the Defence Act, and there is no reason why precipitate action should be taken in the immediate future. My view is that there should be a representative constitutional convention to deal with this matter on a non-party basis, and to draw up and place before the people a list of powers which, in the opinion of all political parties should be conferred upon the Commonwealth.
I have no doubt that if such a course were adopted, the people would agree. The referendum measure which was passed through Parliament last session shows evidence of hurried drafting its most objectionable feature being that the powers which it is proposed should be conferred upon the Commonwealth are not to be put to the people individually but collectively, so that voters must either accept or reject them asa whole. That is most undesirable. The electors should have an opportunity to vote upon each of the seventeen powers and I am confident that in its present form the referendum will not be carried. Pew people understand what the present proposals actually involve. As one can read them over and over again without really understanding them, it is safer to vote “ No “.
The main matter towhich I wish to direct the attention of the Government is the state of the dairying industry. I bring up this matter with the intention of being helpful and in order to show clearly exactly what is happening in this country. Dairying is one of our most important industries, but production is declining alarmingly. The entire industry provides employment for a large number of people, and in addition produces wholesome food. It is in danger of partial extinction. A few nights ago, the Tasmanian Minister for Agriculture, Mr. J. L. Madden, gave a most interesting broadcast talk upon the decline of dairy production. As I was unable to record accurately the illuminating figures which he quoted I communicated with Mr. Madden asking if they would be made available to me. In reply I received a telegram from the secretary of the department, Mr. Smith, containing some very interesting information. The telegram stated that the number of dairy cows in Tasmania had declined from 93,819 in 1940 to 80,559 in March, 1942. In addition, the number of dairy heifers had declined from 35,132 to 22,883 during the same period. It was stated also that the advice given by the chief dairy officer was that a considerable further decline had occurred since that date. These figures, applying to a small State like Tasmania, are worthy of a great deal of thought. They show that in approximately eighteen months, the cow population in Tasmania had declined by 13,260, and what is even more important, the number of heifers, - the potential milk producers - had declined by 12,249, making a total decline of approximately 25,000. These figures coming from such a source can be taken as absolutely authentic.
– The price of meat is still high.
– That is so, but that is no reason why fanners should be killing their cows in such large numbers. The reduction can be explained in one of two ways - either that there is a serious lack of man-power, or that the milk production is not a paying proposition. I am inclined largely to favour the latter explanation. My opinion, and one which is shared by a great many practical men, is that milk and butter have always been too cheap. The dairying industry in this country started more or less as a side-line, has been carried on by farmers and their families, and although production has expanded manyfold, I consider that dairymen have never been paid an adequate remuneration for the work they do. Something will have to be done to make the remuneration of dairyfarmers more in keeping with that received in other industries. I have said before in this chamber that if the dairyfarmers were paid on the same basis as industrialists generally, the price of butter would be 2s. 6d. a lb. or more. People engaged in many other industries are making less than other people, despite the war, and dairymen cannot see why they should be expected to work for nothing. A dairyman in Tasmania who has a large herd of cows and sells milk to city residents informed me recently that only his desire to be patriotic has prevented him from selling his herd immediately and replacing the cows with sheep. Many farmers who are producing vegetables for dehydration, so that they may be sent to the forward areas for the troops, are making a fair living by that means. It has been said that the prices which these farmers receive for their vegetables has resulted in many farmers selling their dairy cows and changing over to the production of vegetables. I do not believe that the Government or anybody else considers that the vegetablegrowers should receive a lower return for their product than they do at present.. They have been working hard for a longperiod, often against adverse conditions, and deserve all they get, but something should be done without delayto raise the dairymen’s income to a fair standard. That could be done only by giving to the dairy-farmers a price that: would compensate them for the work, they do.
– Are they not subsidized ?
– I give credit to the Government for the substantial subsidy that has been provided. . It isequivalent, I believe, to a little less than 4d. a lb. on butter, but that has not brought the dairy-farmers to a financial position equivalent to that of people in other rural industries, such as those engaged in grazing or cereal production. Nor has it made their position in any way comparable with that of those employed in secondary industries.
– That variation applies throughout all industries.
– The people in other industries are doing well, and can afford to pay high wages.
– .Since 1942 the wages of the workers have been pegged.
– Everybody knows that in secondary industries, such as the manufacture of munitions, theworkers are doing well; but the dairying industry stands out prominently as one in which the producers have not received a sufficient return for their labour. Dairyfarmers would not sell their cows if they could make a living out of them. They are born and bred as dairymen, and they would not get rid of their herds if their industry were profitable. I give all credit to the Government for the subsidy that has been granted, but it should realize the seriousness of the fact that dairy herds are being disposed of. This industry will be badly needed after the war, because Australia is now experiencing a boom period, and the trend must be towards normal conditions, under which we shall need every industry that we have. Reference was made by Senator Finlay to the value of the motor car industry. Its value to the community .cannot be challenged, but I maintain that we must preserve other industries, and dairying is one of the most important. If a farmer gives up buttermaking and sells his cows, years may «lapse before the gap in the industry is filled. Dairymen who supply milk to city residents must have higher returns if the industry is to be profitable to them, because the cost of living and the cost of farm .requisites is very high. The Government should tackle this problem with a view to ensuring that the returns of dairymen will be comparable with those of the people engaged in other industries. It is a serious matter that in the small State of Tasmania, in a little over twelve months, 13,260 cows have gone out of production. They have either been killed or turned out in paddocks to rear calves. This matter is of great importance to the people of Australia. I know that the Government has considered it, but it should act promptly in order to prevent the alarming reduction of our dairy herds.
By the encouragement of vegetable production, the Government has not only helped our troops and in some cases civilians, but it has also rendered valuable ‘service to the farmers. Dehydration factories have been erected in various parts of Australia, and one has been built in my own district. Mistakes were inevitable in the establishment of the new industry, but one can take a lenient view of that. A good article is being produced at the factory in my district. I visited the premises recently and was supplied with small samples of dehydrated potatoes and cabbages. These were used at my home and were found to be of excellent quality. They could not be distinguished from fresh vegetables. I am very pleased with what is being done at this factory, and there is no reason to believe that other factories are not as good, but in conversation with men who recently returned from forward areas I have been, told that the dehydrated vegetables served to the troops are of uniformly bad quality. One young nian who was in a position to express a reliable opinion on the matter, said that, rightly or wrongly, they had * bad name. It appears to be that the cause of the trouble is the method used in transporting or packing them. I know how to grow vegetables, but I know nothing about preserving them for transport over long distances. It has been suggested to me that the vegetables are sent forward in tins in which air is sealed with the vegetables. I have been told that if they could be packed in a vacuum the difficulty might be overcome. Some process to enable this to be done should be easy to discover. After the war, at least some of the dehydration plants should be kept in operation. I understand that a local market would be obtainable for dehydrated vegetables, because they would be freely purchased by persons living in flats in the cities. I suggest that the Government should instruct some of its officers in forward areas to return packages of dehydrated vegetables for inspection. The cost would not be great. I suggest that a few cases of vegetables be taken at random from the bulk stock, and that some of them be sent to the factories in which they were prepared and that the remainder be forwarded to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research for examination. That would enable the managers of the factories, who are anxious to do their best in this sphere of activity, to know how their products stand up to varying climatic conditions and indicate any improvements which may be necessary or desirable. By such means authoritative data could be obtained. Should the results show the samples to be satisfactory, the public should be so informed. If this industry is to continue after the war, even in a small way, a good article must be produced at a price which the people can afford to pay. Buyers want to know how the goods they purchase will stand up to all sorts of conditions and treatment. Recently, I spoke to a factory manager who said that the vegetables processed by his establishment were sound when they left the factory, but that that was all that he knew about them. He did not see them again. Accurate knowledge of the keeping qualities of dehydrated vegetables under varying climatic conditions should be an important factor in the stabilization of the industry.
In the sale of goods much depends on the cost, as that in a large measure determines the price to be charged. It will probably be found that the cost of dehydrating vegetables varies in different factories. I have been told that there is a disinclination to make the costs public, but I do not know whether that is so. I suggest that the Government should publish the cost of production in various factories, as that would cause healthy rivalry between the various managements. Cost and price .are important factors in the establishment of any industry. I think that the Government is acting along right lines in the dehydration of vegetables, and I wish the industry to succeed, so that when the war is over, there will be not only additional avenues of employment available but also an outlet for the products of our farms. I make these suggestions in good faith, and shall be happy to give to the Government the benefit of any experience or knowledge I have in these matters.
– I associate myself with the congratulatory references that have already been made to the speeches of the mover and the seconder, respectively, of the Address-in-Reply, Senators McKenna and Grant. In this connexion I should also like to include those other honorable senators who have made their maiden speeches in this chamber: each of them delivered an excellent speech. It can be said truly that most of the constructive thought so far has come from honorable senators sitting on Government benches. In his speech, His Excellency the Governor-General gave to the people of Australia some indication of the success which has attended the strategy of the United Nations: he made special reference to the successful invasion of Normandy. Nevertheless, those Opposition senators who have spoken have attempted to decry His Excellency’s Speech almost as if it were so much piffle. Some honorable senators have described it as merely a recapitulation of statements which have appeared from time to time in the public press. It may be that the speech did not contain anything new, but the fact remains that it constitutes the official document presented by the King’s representative in this country to the National Parliament, and that as such it is the only document on the subject with which honorable senators should be concerned. I regard the Governor-General’s Speech as a valuable and historic document which contains a record of the sacrifices that have been made by not only the people of Australia but also our kinsfolk in Great Britain and our Allies in other countries, in the interests of freedom and all that true democracy stands for. To say that the speech is scarcely worth reading is to insult the King’s representative. 1 take strong exception to the insinuation of Senator Leckie that the speech was not the speech of the Governor-General. In effect, the honorable senator accused His Excellency of being a mere puppet of the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) or some one else. His remarks were both discourteous and disloyal. Australia is fortunate in having as its GovernorGeneral a man of the highest integrity, who would not associate himself with a document the contents of which he knew to be incorrect. The utterances of some honorable senators opposite, are a clear indication that they are entirely bereft of constructive ideas in regard not only to the prosecution of the war but also the problems of the immediate post-war period.
Sitting suspended from 5.50 to 8 p.m.
– On behalf of the people of Western Australia, I convey to His Excellency and to the Lady Gowrie very best wishes for their happiness in the future. I assure them that the people of Australia fully . appreciate the very great work which they have accomplished during the sixteen years His Excellency has represented His Majesty in this country. In the main. His Excellency’s speech deals with the achievements of our Allies .in the various theatres of war. During the last session I expressed the view that as the result, of Allied military successes at that time the people of Australia would possibly become complacent so far as the war effort was concerned. For instance, it seemed that up to within a few days of the closing date of subscriptions, the last loan would not be fully subscribed. Fortunately, it was fully subscribed; and
I hope that the next loan will be oversubscribed. Parliament should impress upon the people that whilst we are enjoying brilliant successes in all theatres of war to-day, the fact remains that we are not out of the wood, and must continue to prosecute a 100 per cent, war effort until victory has been won.
Paragraph 28 is probably the only part of His Excellency’s speech which does not deal directly with the war and our war effort. That paragraph reads -
The concert that has marked the common purposes of war is one that all will fervently hope will flow over into the transition period to peace for the service of the true welfare of mankind, thereby ensuring a security that will not make the sacrifices of war vain things.
All of us share that hope, which, in my view, summarizes the future policy of the Government. I anticipate that when Parliament next assembles it will be asked to consider a comprehensive programme of social legislation which will be in the best interests of the country. That leads me to a consideration of “the Government’s referendum proposals. Honorable senators opposite have taken “the opportunity afforded by this debate “to voice their determination to persuade the people generally to refuse to grant “the powers being sought under the Government’s proposals to the National Parliament. Such an outlook on the part of honorable senators opposite is undemocratic. Representatives of all parties in this Parliament agreed to the “Government’s proposals, and therefore all members should now abide by the majority decision.
– We had nothing to do with the framing of those proposals. Our representatives at the Constitution Convention could not move amendments to the draft bill.
– The Government and Opposition parties in the Commonwealth and State Parliaments were equally represented at that Convention. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) and Senator Sampson declare that they dissented from the decisions of the Convention. I have here a copy of the official record of the proceedings at the Convention. I note that when the draft bill was presented in open session, the Leader of the Opposition said -
I wish to record my opposition to approval of the bill by the Convention. I approve of the bill being submitted to the State Parliaments. I do not approve of it as a member of the Convention.
The report shows that the motion was agreed to, Senator McLeay dissenting.
The draft bill was then considered in committee, and the official record of proceedings at that stage, dated Wednesday, the 2nd December, 1942, shows that all members of the committee were present with the exception of Senator Keane and the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Menzies). I can only assume that both Senator McLeay and Senator Sampson were present when the committee considered the draft bill clause by clause. The official record shows that every clause with the exception of paragraph (£>) of clause 2 was agreed to without dissent, whilst in respect of clause 2 Mr. Watts moved that after the word “ employment “ the words “ not including the fixation of wages and conditions of employment “ be inserted. That is the only instance in which the official record reveals that any attempt was made to alter the draft bill at the committee stage. The record shows that the preamble and title were agreed to, and that the bill as a whole was agreed to. I can find no indication in the official record that when the draft bill was under consideration in committee, and when it was approved as a whole, either Senator McLeay or Senator Sampson expressed dissent although they were presentTherefore, I can only conclude that they supported the Government’s proposals at that time. We now hear much hypocritical talk concerning the Government’s referendum proposals. Let us recall for a moment the views expressed by leading members of the Opposition on the subject in the past. In a broadcast address which he delivered on the 2nd October, 1942, the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, dealing with the Constitution, said -
Short of unification, there is much room for constitutional change by increasing the powers of the central government. My own ininti has steadily developed in favour of increasing Commonwealth powers. I do believe that full nationhood requires great power at the centre, for great responsibility cannot bc discharged without it.
In 1938 the same right honorable gentleman said -
There is an instinct in the average man to feci that his primary loyalty is to his State. This produces all too frequently the question, “ Why should we hand over our powers to the Commonwealth? As if the Commonwealth were a foreign power, and not just as much an instrument of the electors as the State itself.” lt is unfortunate that our constitutional outlook lias too frequently been provincial, so that we have regarded our primary loyalty as being to our State and have given only our secondary loyalty .to the nation. Time and again we have put the question, “ Should we hand over these powers to the Commonwealth?”; as if we were voting as citizens of a State. Why do wc not reverse the process and say, “ Why should we take over these powers as a nation, for we are the same voters, Commonwealth and State?”
I do not need to remind honorable senators that the right honorable gentleman is one of Australia’s leading legal authorities, and has a thorough knowledge of the Constitution. However, that was the opinion he expressed. Why this sudden change of opinion on his part ? It is also interesting to read the remarks made by the right honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Fadden) at the conclusion of the Canberra Convention, when he said -
On behalf of the Opposition in the Commonwealth Parliament, 1 desire to thank you, Mr. Curtin, for the sentiments and the thanks that you have expressed. I alao am pleased to have been associated with such a historic gathering. I think the bill that we have just passed can bc accepted as a monument of co-operation, and as evidence of unselfishness and compromise on the part of every one, particularly those who have represented the States here. We must appreciate that the States, -w-ho comprised the ma]or portion of the drafting committee, have compromised to a great extent, as is shown by the terms of the bill. All this goes to show that when Australians are required to get together and do a big thing for their country, they are prepared to exert every possible effort to achieve the result which is best calculated to serve the interests of the nation. Just as it is said that a bad compromise is better than a good lawsuit, so the compromise that has been agreed to by the States is far better than a referendum. I hope that the willingness that has been shown on all sides to arrive at an agreement, and the unselfishness displayed by the States, will culminate in the bill going through every House of Parliament in Australia and becoming law. Built upon that basis, I hope that Australia’s post-war reconstruction will have the advantage of every possible help that every Australian citizen can give it. Those of us whom are on the federal side of politics must recognize that, these results could not possibly have been achieved had it not been for the spirit of harmony and unity that has been exhibited by the States. I hope that those qualities, will be further demonstrated in the respective Houses of the State Parliaments in such a way that our efforts will not have been in vain; and that u legislative document willbe brought into being, conferring adequate and indispensable powers upon the Commonwealth and enabling the National Government to bring about sensible and proper reconstruction in the interests, not only of our own nation, but also of our Allies and of the civilization that we have been fighting to preserve. I thank you and the State representatives and all who have been associated with me in this effort. We came here with one desire only, namely, to create an instrument and find a method that would be acceptable to the people. I considered that that could be best achieved without a referendum, and the correctness of that view has been amply demonstrated in the bill that has been agreed to to-day.
I submit that when the right honorable member for Darling Downs made those remarks he did so in all sincerity. He knew that in the best interests of the people of this country those powers were essential, and he anticipated that as the result of the unanimity between the representatives of the various .State governments, those governments would honour the decision of the convention and thereby obviate the necessity of a referendum in war-time - a subject about which so much is now being said.
I say, definitely, that the whole responsibility for the referendum to-day rests not upon this Parliament but upon the conduct of the States throughout Australia, and the vacillating -attitude of certain politicians associated with this chamber and the House of Representatives. We all know, and it is all “ balderdash “ to say otherwise, that this Parliament does not possess all the powers necessary to do the work required of it for the reconstruction of the nation in the peace period. Therefore the only sensible thing that this Parliament can do isto say to the people, “ We know what is required, we want to do what is necessary in peace-time, -but the States will not concede to us voluntarily for a period of fiveyears the powers which we desire. Therefore we ask you, the people of Australia,. in your own interests to make available to this Parliament the powers that are necessary.” That is the position in a nutshell.
I have quoted two members representing parties opposed to the Government in this Parliament. Now let us hear what Mr. Playford, the Premier of South Australia, had to say on the hill -when he presented it in the South Australian Parliament - a suggestion has been made that the bill should be defeated out of hand. I hope honorable members will not adopt that course. [ trust the House will pass the second reading. X think we shall discover when in committee that the bill will be not only acceptable to Parliament but will also be of benefit to the people.
Why the change to-day? Mr. Dunstan, the Premier of Victoria, discussing the bil] in the Victorian Parliament, said -
If we are to be able to deal with post-war reconstruction and if we are to avoid the blunders of the past we must transfer power to the Commonwealth.
He also said–
I now earnestly commend the bill to the House in the knowledge that the work to bc done during the post-war period will be immense and important, and that it can bc done only by national planning controlled by a single directing authority.
Why the sudden change? Why tell the people at this stage that what he said on that occasion was entirely wrong?
– Big interests!
– I am not going to say what interests are involved, but they are patent to anybody who likes to think.
I have heard certain remarks in this chamber about the Prime Minister not visiting the troops which invaded the continent of Europe. I also read in the press that when Mr. Churchill visited the battlefield in Normandy he was asked by a soldier, “ When we have done this job are we coming back to the dole ? “ Mr. Ernest Bevin, Minister in the British Government, referred to that incident in the House of Commons. Both he and Mr. ‘Churchill said, “ No, you are not coming back ito the dole “. We all recollect what happened in Great Britain prior to the last war. We all know the unemployment that existed there at that time. We know what took place in America and in Australia.
– And in this chamber.
– In this chamber also. We know that in Australia in 1939, immediately preceding this war. approximately 250,000 people were out of employment, yet honorable senators opposite say that if the power to deal with employment and unemployment is given to the Commonwealth Government it will be impossible for the Government to employ one additional man. Another suggestion is that private enterprise in this country will be able to absorb the unemployed people who will be available when the war ends. It simply means one thing or the other. Either this country goes forward on a progressive policy of economic stabilization, or we go back to the system that obtained in 1939.
– To industrial conscription
– Industrial conscription is purely a canard put about by interests which are opposed to the true welfare of the people of Australia.
– What is being done now?
– What we do now is the result of war requirements. If it is necessary to maintain restrictions or controls, regimentation or whatever honorable senators opposite like to call it, in the interests of the war effort, then so far as I am concerned they will remain. I have no hesitation in taking up that attitude, because after all the destiny of this country as a democracy is more important to me than the controls or any other aspects of our economic life that have to be applied as the result of war conditions.
The Leader of the Opposition referred to the coal industry. It is always the coal industry. It seems to me that in the opinion of honorable senators opposite no other workers in the Commonwealth could be guilty of such offences as those alleged to have been committed by the coal-miners. I believe that the coal-miners of Australia could and should do a better job by the people of Australia at the present time, but I do not place the whole of the blame on them. The very background of the coal-mining industry not only in this country but also in Great Britain has to be taken into account.
The conditions in that industry in days gone by were so heinous that the aftermath of all that inhuman treatment of working-class people is reflected in some of the actions that are taking place to-day.We are told that the Government should take its courage in its hands and deal with the position. We are not given one constructive method whereby that can be done with success.
– The Government has a majority in both Houses.
– That is not going to put the coal-miners to work. The Government has endeavoured to improve the position by all possible methods. It is still endeavouring to obtain the required results, but as one who has had a long association with the industrial workers of this country I know that one can do things with workers by negotiation and helpfulness that one cannot do by force or by putting them in gaol. That is therefore only a barren proposition.
– Then the honorable senator gives up the job and says that nothing further can be done?
– I do not say that nothing can be done. We must keep on doing our best by negotiation with these people. I go so far as to say as a member of this Parliament that if it is necessary to amend the legislation to bring about results we should do so.
– What legislation ?
– The Coal Production (War-time) Act. I am concerned that at the moment Opposition senators are telling the people that the position in the coal-mining industry to-day is worse than it has ever been, despite the fact that in 1942 a record production was achieved. I have figures which will indicate what the position of the coal industry was when a Labour government was not in office and the parties now in Opposition had things all their own way. In 1938 there were 314 disputes, 928,860 working days were lost, and the estimated loss of wages was £973,659. In 1939 there were 362 disputes, 291,067 working days lost and an estimated loss of £335,044 in wages. That is the year in which war began. In 1940 we were in a bad way so far as the defence of Australia was concerned. In fact, at that time the condition of this country may have been far more serious than it is at present. In that year there were 286 disputes, and 1,371,382 working days lost, the loss of wages being estimated at £1,595,234. That happened when a government composed of the parties which honorable senators opposite represent had an opportunity to use the “big fist “ as members of the Opposition would have the present Government use it now. The figures which I have quoted are not my own; I have obtained them from the Commonwealth Year-Book. In 1938, of the total number of disputes throughout Australia, about 73 per cent. occurred in the coal-mining industry, mostly in New South Wales. In that year, the loss of wages in the industry in New South Wales was estimated at £243,975, or 40 per cent. of the total wages lost throughout Australia, namely, £506,745. In the following year, 1939, 84 per cent. of all disputes occurred in the coal-mining industry, mostly in New South Wales, and wages lost amounted to £768,799 or 59 per cent. of the estimated total loss of wages throughout Australia, namely, £1,303,820. In 1940, 87 per cent. of all industrial disputes occurred -in the coalmining industry, and wages lost in that industry amounted to £318,577, or 70 per cent. of the total estimated loss throughout Australia, namely, £455,716. In 1941, the percentage of disputes in the coal-mining industry had risen to 82 per cent., and the loss of wages was estimated at £1,356,768, or 79 per cent. of the total estimated loss for the whole Commonwealth, namely, £1,716,121. As the Curtin Government did not assume office until October, 1941, the figures that I have quoted for the year ending 30th June, 1941, apply entirely to the period when anti-Labour governments were in office. There we have in black and white, evidence of the achievements of governments supported by honorable senators opposite, compared with the results obtained by the present Administration.
– What does the honorable senator suggest should be done?
– We must endeavour to the best of our ability to impress upon the coal-miner3 the serious need for coal in Australia to-day. Increased production cannot be secured by threatening to put the miners in gaol, or by passing legislation such as the “ Dog-collar Act “ which was applied by an anti-Labour government to the waterside workers. One would gather from the speeches of honorable senators opposite that the coal miners are di -10.val ; but I have every reason to believe that in ‘he coal-mining districts the ratio of enlistments in the fighting services of Australia is as great as it is in any other community throughout the Commonwealth. To-day, many thousands of mothers and fathers in the coal-mining areas have sons and daughters in the fighting services.
– Is the honorable senator trying to justify strikes?
– I am merely endeavouring to clear up the position. The Government is urged by honorable senators opposite to taka its courage in its hands and do something. What is there to do? Neither the Leader of the Opposition nor any of his colleagues has been able to make one constructive suggestion as to what should be done to solve this serious problem.
– The Government will know all about it next week when coal rationing is introduced.
– I do not object to rationing, particularly when I know that tho rationing of foodstuffs in this country enables the people of Great Britain te get better meals.
– I am speaking of coal.
– It is all part of the rationing plan.
The Leader of the Opposition made a great song about the state of rural industries to-day, and stressed the necessity for the allocation of increased man-power to those industries. Senator J. B. Hayes expressed the opinion that the Government should make more labour available to the dairying industry. I agree wholeheartedly with the honorable senator, and* I trust that the Government will do all that it possibly can to meet the needs of that important industry.
– Some of the farmers a:e not prepared to pay reasonable wages when they do secure employees.
– It is essential that reasonable wages should be paid. I ask. honorable senators opposite what government imposed the blanket restriction upon the call-up of employees in primary industries for military services Certainly it was not a government of which they were supporters; it was a Labourgovernment. The fact is that governments formed by the parties to which honorable senators opposite belongseriously depleted man-power in rural industries because they did not impost* any restriction upon, the call-up of men from those industries; yet now the Opposition blames this Administration for the serious difficulty that has arisen to-day. The Government, is doing al! that it possibly can to remedy the situation. Do honorable senators opposite suggest that we should, deplete our armed forces to such a degree that this country would be vulnerable to the enemy? 3 am confident that the Government will endeavour to alleviate the position so far as possible.
Senator Foll has announced that he intends to ask the people of Queensland to vote “ No “ at the forthcoming referendum. I am prepared to believe that he will do that. Apparently, like other honorable senators opposite, Senator Foll does not believe in adhering to parliamentary decisions; yet he talks of democracy !
– The honorable senator speaks only as a caucus member.
– The Opposition does not even have a caucus; it has only a corroboree.
– I speak as a citizen of Australia, and as good a parliamentarian as the Leader of the Opposition. Once a decision has been made by Parliament it is the duty of every individual to uphold that decision. That is the way democracy should function.
Senator Sampson claimed that the fourteen points had not been accepted unanimously, but the records are quite clear on that point. The honorable senator also read an article written by a person named Paton whom he claimed was the president of the Western Australian Constitutional League. I do not know who the members of that league are, but I know that there are one or two anti-referendum organizations in Western Australia. I have here a letter which indicates that in at least one important town in Western Australia, a solid “Yes” vote is expected, and I am confident that the people of Western Australia generally will give a majority decision in favour of granting the additional powers to the Commonwealth.
– Is the honorable senator prepared to back up that statement ?
– I am prepared to go all over Western Australia urging the people of that State to cast an affirmative vote. In fact, I have been actively engaged upon referendum work ever since Parliament adjourned at the end of March. I am not afraid to express my views and opinions to the people whom I represent in this chamber, and that is the whole of the people and not merely one section of them. The Mr. Paton to whom .Senator Sampson referred was not present at the Constitution Convention held in Canberra in 1942, yet he is quoted as the best authority that the honorable senator has been able to find, in support of the “ No “ case. Senator Sampson said that there was no hurry for the referendum. I point out that a White Paper has been tabled in this Parliament, and although T have not had an opportunity to examine it fully, its basis is postwar reconstruction. Great Britain is being advised what to do in that regard. We should remember that there are more than 44,000,000 people in Great Britain yet there is only one supreme authority - the British Parliament. In this country we have seven parliaments governing 7,000,000 people, and we find that certain individuals are prepared to deny the National Parliament sufficient authority to do all that is required in the interests of the people of Australia after the war. We are told that the States will be able to carry out the task of post-war reconstruction just as well as the Commonwealth.
– In cooperation with the Commonwealth.
– We are asking for co-operation. We are asking the States for power to do certain things, and also for power to do certain other things in co-operation with the States; yet honorable senators opposite say that the Commonwealth should not be clothed with this additional authority because itwould not be in the interests of the people of Australia ! In effect, that is a plea for six Parliaments, arguing at cross purposes, and having no coordinated policy. That can hardly be described as a national out-look. The future happiness of the people of this country depends on the proposed increased constitutional powers being granted. It is foolish to say that the existing powers are adequate. The most eminent legal authorities disagree with that contention. Among them are the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), the ‘ honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender), the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Menzies) and Sir Isaac Isaacs. Honorable senators who oppose the Government in this matter show no concern about’ the future of Australia when they tell the people that this Parliament has ample powers at present to do all that is required in the post-war period. Let us be honest with ourselves and try to prepare for the task that will be demanded of us when half a million people are released from the fighting services and many civilians will have to be transferred from war-time occupations to the paths of peace. We should be in a position to say to them, as Mr. Bevin said to the British troops in Normandy, “ You will not go back to the dole “. Unless the requisite powers are ‘ conferred on this Parliament there will certainly be a return to the dole system in Australia, because private enterprise and State governments alone will be unable to carry out the work that will have to be done. It is of national importance that the people should say to this Parliament, “Get on with the job, and do not permit a repetition in this country of the conditions under which there were normally 250,000 people out of employment”. I shall not stand for that. My voice and all the energy that I have will be used to the best of my ability to bring about an affirmative vote at the referendum.
Senator James McLachlan stated that the government of this country is carried on largely by regulations and not by parliamentary decisions. I admit that legislation by regulations is resorted to extensively at present. That practice is unavoidable, but, as the Leader of the Senate has already indicated, very few of the many regulations that have been promulgated have been contested. Every member of this Parliament has the right to submit motions for the disallowance of regulations to which objection is taken. During the last sittings of the Senate, such a motion was made by Senator Wilson, who sought the disallowance of a regulation relating to a certain trade being carried on in South Australia. If this country has been governed too much by means of regulations, honorable senators should have challenged them. During the evening my name has been associated with those of other honorable senators who have been appointed members of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee. I read in the Western Australian press not long ago a statement that the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) had appointed a special committee for the purpose of reviewing regulations as they are promulgated. Personally, I emphatically disapprove of that action. The Senate appointed a regulations committee representative of both sides of the chamber for the purpose of making recommendations as to whether regulations promulgated were injurious or otherwise. Up to the present, that body has not done particularly useful work, because it considers that it should have the advantage of the services of a legal man. The members of the committee hope that some person with legal training, not necessarily a member of Parliament, will be made available for the legal interpretation of certain regulations.
– That is being accomplished.
– I am pleased to know that; but I am not at all glad to know that, by a decision of a Minister of the Crown, a committee of a similar character has been constituted almost wholly of persons not associated with the elected representatives of the people.
– But they cannot override the decision of the Parliamentary Committee.
– I know that they can merely make recommendations, but the necessary legal assistance should be given to the Parliamentary Committee. Government by regulations should not be resorted to more than is necessary, but, as it seems essential to promulgate regulations, the work should he supervised in the way that I have suggested.
I was disgusted at the remarks of Senator James McLachlan when he referred to the visit of the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) overseas. He deplored the hurried nature of the right honorable gentleman’s trip, and complained that he had not visited the troops participating in the invasion operations in Normandy. If the right honorable gentleman had to make a hurried visit overseas, he no doubt acted in the best interests of Australia. If the press reports be correct, he at least visited Australia House and talked to Australian airmen. At no time has he had any desire to slight any section of the Allied Forces. As a matter of fact, the members of the fighting services in Australia know that their best friends are the Prime Minister and the other members of the Commonwealth Government. The argument advanced by the honorable senator was both cowardly and discourteous. It was certainly cowardly to say that the Prime Minister was like a chameleon - that when in England he was an Englishman, when in America he was an American, and when in Australia he was an Australian. Statements of that kind are most unworthy. The honorable senator did a disservice to this chamber, and to parliamentary institutions throughout Australia, in referring to the number of days on which the Senate had sat during a given period. He said that it had met for six days of so many hours a day since the last general elections, whereas it has actually sat for 29 days. I know that my work is much harder when Parliament is not sitting than when it is in session. When I come to Canberra I do my work to the best of my ability, irrespective of the number of days on which the Senate sits. I regret that Senator James
McLachlan has made an observation which amounts to a depreciation of the work of parliamentary institutions. Do we desire that the method of government in operation in Australia shall be replaced by some other system? If we do, we shall go the right way to achieve that object by remarks such as fell from the lips of the honorable senator. Such statements are not in the best interests of the nation.
– Particularly when they are untrue.
– Quite so. I heard no constructive criticism from members of the Opposition. No reference was made bythem to the passage by this Parliament during the last sittings of the Unemployment and Sickness Benefits Bill and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Bill, which will be put into operation in due course and afford a tremendous social uplift to the people. Those measures are interwoven with the proposals for increased constitutional powers for this Parliament. The Government and its supporters wish to make Australia a place worth living in, and that calls for unanimity and honesty of purpose amongst ourselves in this chamber, so that we can speak to the people with one voice and not with the voices of Babel, as in the past. Had time permitted, I should like to have had a tilt at Senator Leckie, but I shall leave that to some other member of the chamber.
Bound up with the subject of post-war rehabilitation is the control of this country’s financial resources. I hope that in due course the Government will introduce legislation to amend the Commonwealth Bank Act in order to restore that institution to its original position as a truly national bank. In saying that, I am aware that under war-time authority the private banking institutions are in a different position from that occupied by them in times of peace.
As a representative of Western Australia I travel extensively in order to become acquainted with the needs of the State as a whole. Recently, with other parliamentary representatives, both Commonwealth and State, I visited the Esperance district. Esperance has one of the best harbours in Australia; there is deep water, and a jetty which cost the State Government about £60,000. The port is connected with Kalgoorlie by rail and is capable of serving a considerable hinterland, but shipping does not now call there. I hope that, in accordance with its policy of decentralization, the Government will give favorable consideration to the provision of a regular shipping service to Esperance. The rainfall over an area extending as far inland as Salmon Gums, which is about 60 miles from the coast, averages about 14 inches a year; at Esperance it is about 25 inches a year. The district is eminently suitable for the settlement of either returned soldiers or immigrants. In my opinion, an effort should be made to obtain as immigrants considerable numbers of children from Britain, because they would quickly develop an Australian outlook and become useful Australian citizens. I was. interested to read in the West Australian of Wednesday the 5th July, the following article: -
Reductions ofup to £200.
HOBART, July 4. - A recent income tax order reduces the taxation of federal members of Parliament by amounts up to £200 a year. The order is printed in a supplement to Butterworth’s Income Tax Law, which was received in Hobart this week and applies to the income year ended June 30 last.
That incorrect statement has been printed with the deliberate intention to influence the minds of the electors against members of the National Parliament. The Commissioner of Taxation, Mr. L. S. Jackson, has denied the charge. A newspaper report on the subject reads -
The Commissioner of Taxation, Mr. L. S. Jackson, said to-day that the statement in some sections of this morning’s press to the effect that there had been a recent amending order relating to allowance of expenses by federal members of Parliament was not in accordance with fact.
It was true that the expenses that members of Parliament had to meet from their parliamentary allowance were measured according to zones, having regard to the area served in the various constituencies and the availability of railway connexions to serve the needs of the electorate. There were a very limited number of electorates in which the maximum amount of £450 had been conceded.
Under State Income Tax Acts, the expenditure allowed to State members of Parliament was, generally, fixed by law at certain specific amounts, but in the case of the federal Income Tax Act no specific amount was provided for in the act, but it was left for the Commissioner’s determination in accordance with the circumstances of the electorate.
Mr. Jackson said that his predecessor had reviewed these amounts with a committee of the House many years ago and his predecessor’s basis of deduction still stood and had been subject to no recent revision or amendment.
If there were any insinuation that there has been any recent revision designed to give members of Parliament relief from heavy wartime taxation as compared with other members of the community, that insinuation was without foundation. 5th July, 1944.
I draw attention to Mr. Jackson’s statement because I believe that it is my duty to protect members of this Parliament against malicious and untrue statements-
.- It is .pleasing to see among the new arrivals in the Senate two - I refer to Senators Finlay and Nicholls - wearing the badge of a returned soldier indicating that they rendered service and made sacrifices in the Great War of 1914-18. Both honorable senators served in good front-line units and although we may have some slight differences as to the road to be travelled towards the development of this country, there is no difference between us when the interests of ex-servicemen are concerned. It was in order to watch those interests that, on my retirement from the Army, I sought a seat in this chamber. My colleagues from Victoria know where my sympathies lie when those interests are at stake.
When speaking on the bill to grant additional powers to the Commonwealth Parliament I said all that I wanted to say about the forthcoming referendum, but there are some things that I should like to emphasize. I regard myself as a tolerant man, but I cannot understand why it should be necessary for more power to be granted to the Commonwealth in connexion with the reinstatement of those who have served in a theatre of war.
– There is no Commonwealth act giving preference to returned servicemen.
– Section 42a of the Repatriation Act gives sufficient power to grant preference. If a stranger from overseas were to arrive in Australia and read that it was necessary tohave additional powers for the purpose mentioned, he would probably conclude that Australia had treated shabbily its servicemen of the last war. Had such a gentleman met me and asked me about it, I should have said that recently the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Frost) had stated that the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act was the most generous repatriation legislation in the world. I should have told him that the expenditure on the rehabilitation of soldiers of the last war, and some who had returned .from the present war, amounted to nearly £300,000,000 to the 30th June, 1943. I should be happy ito tell him that that legislation was favoured by all parties in the Parliament. I would then prove by official figures what had been done without any necessity for extra powers. Statistics compiled to March, 19441, show that the number of ex-servicemen and their dependants receiving pensions or allowances in respect of the war of 1914-18 was 202,990 and that in respect of the present war the number was 48,991. I would tell him also that 37,057 discharged men from the last war were either provided with new homes or assisted to purchase existing homes. I could also tell him that 27,083 men, for the most part under 21 years of age, were given three years’ tuition under a vocational scheme of training. If he inquired regarding soldier land settlement, I should have to admit that many thousands of pounds of public money had been thrown away on various unsatisfactory projects, but I would not admit that soldier landsettlement schemes had been a total failure, because I know that there are some outstanding successes. As one who is always prepared to give credit where credit is due, I point out that within the last week the Government has adopted certain proposals of the soldier settlement section of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia by which it is hoped that the mistakes of the past will not be repeated. There will be no objection by the general public to grant money for the purpose, provided the prospects of successful rehabilitation are fairly assured. Success is possible only if markets for surplus production over and above requirements of the home market are available. Even if every breadwinner in the Commonwealth were fully employed and receiving at least £10 a week, Australia could not absorb the whole of its production. It would not pay settlers to produce for the home market alone so long as Australia’s population does not greatly exceed 7,000,000. Overseas markets are essential for successful land settlement. On the day before the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) left for overseas I said in this chamber that the best result of his visit overseas would be an agreement with the British Government to take our surplus primary products, exclusive of wool, for the next fifteen years, at an approximate value of £1,000,000,000. Such a long-term contract would stabilize primary production and enable us to settle ex-service personnel on the land. However, I have not heard that such an agreement has yet been made. I am becoming increasingly convinced that the excuse that these powers are being sought in order to enable the Commonwealth Government to rehabilitate ex-service personnel is merely a tactical smoke-screen to hide the Government’s real intention, which is to introduce socialism and experimental economic schemes. If the Government now has power under the Constitution to make laws for the security and protection of the Commonwealth, and under that power has diverted men and materia] from civil life for war purposes, surely the National Parliament can use the same power to effect the re-transference of members of the fighting forces to civil life. Should the necessity arise, the Government -can ask Parliament to extend the period of operation of the National Security Act until such time as it has completed this transfer. During this transitionary period a certain degree of control over manpower and material must be retained by the Commonwealth. It is foolish to think that such controls should cease immediately upon the cessation of hostilities. If that were so, the big man with sufficient money and influence would be able to corner more than a fair share of the man-power and material available, whilst the small man would be squeezed out of industry. The Government must retain a certain degree of control in the immediate post-war period, in order to ensure a fair distribution of material and man-power, and that control should gradually be relinquished. Likewise, the Government must retain control over the prices of certain commodities in order to prevent profiteering in the immediate post-war period. The Opposition agrees with such proposals. However, no law in itself can create permanent employment for every one; neither can any specific constitutional power do so. Production is the governing factor. During 1938-39, of 3,160,000 bread-winners in the Commonwealth, 12 per cent, were employed by the Governments, whilst the remaining 88 per cent, were in private employment. In the immediate post-war period there will be no shortage of manpower or employment. For instance, the Housing Commission has indicated that it will take ten years .to make up the leeway in the building of homes. In this work full employment will be found for carpenters, bricklayers, plasterers, painters, and tile-makers, &c. Considerable renovations and structural additions will have to be undertaken. An official survey has revealed that approximately 120,000 new motor cars and tractors will be required to restore transport to normal. This is apart altogether from accessories and repairs to vehicles. Undoubtedly, there will also be a ready market for such household articles as refrigerators, wireless sets, and electrical appliances, whilst a vast volume of employment will also be provided in the replacement of government rolling stock and replacements in public utilities such as tramways. Our cotton, woollen and textile factories will have to work overtime to cope with orders which will undoubtedly flow in during the immediate post-war period. Ready markets will also be available for furniture, whilst much work in the way of improvement to properties, suspended during the war, will have to be undertaken. The total savings in the Commonwealth Savings Bank has been doubled since the outbreak of war. Every one who has put aside money for the purpose of improving hia home when times return to normal will be anxious to attend to that work.
Instead of experimenting with socialistic schemes, the Government should now be looking for markets overseas, otherwise our producers will be left in the lurch. Pre-war markets should be recaptured for our surplus primary products, and every endeavour should be made to retain the markets which we have won overseas for our secondary products. Boots of the very best quality manufactured in factories at Collingwood, Clifton Hill and Carlton have been shipped in large quantities in recent years to overseas markets. The same is true with respect to cotton and woollen goods produced in factories throughout the Commonwealth. “We should make it our business to maintain the commercial contacts which we have established during the war. To this end the Government should send abroad, not a discredited politician, but a man with the necessary business training to obtain orders for our factories in the immediate post-war period. It is obvious that in peace-time overhead coats will play a vital part in enabling us to compete on overseas markets. What chance would a government controlled factory with its extravagant overhead expenditure have in competition with private enterprise on such markets? Private enterprise by its efficiency and skilled management can alone survive under such conditions.
With regard .to the question of Australia’s responsibility for the protection of the South-West Pacific territories, in conjunction with our Allies, I will not commit myself as to whether the personnel so required should be on a voluntary or compulsory basis. If on a voluntary basis, the pay of all ranks will have to be considerably increased on the present war-time rates.
Senator Sheehan, in his forceful speech, blamed the State Government of Victoria for the unsatisfactory coal position in that State, but gave only one side of the picture. As a former secretary of the Victorian Railways Union, he knows that Wonthaggi coal is not as suitable for the powerful long-distance engines as the Newcastle coal, that long before the deposits of brown coal at Yallourn were tested and proven for generating electric power, the Railways Department had established a black-coal power plant at Newport for the electrification of Melbourne suburban railways. He must know that to change over from black coal to brown coal would necessitate a complete readjustment of the plant, with a consequent dislocation for a period, at least, of Melbourne electric railways - the largest and busiest, in the southern hemisphere. The current for the electric trams is supplied by the City of Melbourne electric power plant, using black coal. To effect this change-over in the railways, man-power and the requisite installations have not been available for the past three years. It is true there alt deposits of brown coal at Altona, a short distance from Newport. To work these deposits, to extract the moisture content and prepare briquettes, special highly technical machinery is required, machinery which no doubt would have to be imported. There are small brown-coal deposits at Bacchus Marsh, at Yan Yean, and in the Otway ranges. The greatest deposits in Australia are in Gippsland, extending from Yallourn for over 200 miles eastward, with open-cut seams between 20 and 40 feet high. Here is an opportunity in the post-war period for the exploration of these huge brown-coal deposits as a substitute for Newcastle black coal. I understand that the Victorian Railways Commissioners are testing out, on a small scale, brown coal for railway power. Until these tests prove satisfactory, it is idle to talk about the extensive use of brown coal for general railways purposes. Even now, at Yallourn, the output is restricted until additional plant can be installed. This cannot be effected until the war is over.
Both Senator McKenna and Senator Grant, the mover and seconder respectively of the motion now before us, have lived up to their reputations as fluent speakers. The former is an acquisition to the debating strength in this chamber. When the war is over and the electors return to normal, and the Opposition regains its vitality, I have no doubt that ex-Senator Spicer will regain his seat in this chamber. Most people appreciate a member of Parliament who, whilst having the courage of his own convictions, is prepared to listen .to the other fellow’s views with tolerance. When measures which bristle with legal technicalities come before this chamber in the future I foresee very interesting tussles between Senator McKenna and John Spicer. I am afraid that I shall have to study Senator Grant’s speech in Hansard in order to assimilate his points, because his flow of language and his Aberdeen accent somewhat took my mind off the substance of his remarks. That accent was accentuated as he warmed up to his subject, particularly when he was dealing with profiteers. However, he embraced in that category all persons who make profits legitimately. I readily support his attack upon the profiteer as such. However, it would not be wise to destroy the incentive of legitimate profit in industry and business, because such a policy would react to the detriment of employees. Where do the profits earned by the ordinary manufacturing business go? A percentage is returned to shareholders in the form of dividends. The bulk of the profits are paid to a reserve fund to be used for the further development of the business. Thus, increased employment is provided. Portion of the profits is used to purchase machinery and raw material. A fair percentage of profits is paid in the form of tax, and eventually profits generally play no small part in providing pensions for the aged and invalid. Some establishments pay a definite percentage of the profits into an employees’ provident fund. Dunlop Rubber Australia Limited in Victoria, just before the outbreak of war, proposed to expend £2,000,000 in transferring its works from residential districts in Melbourne to a site at Beaumaris, near Blackrock. Those plans provided for the construction of modern homes for employees and the provision of recreational amenities for the families of employees. Any one who thinks that free enterprise has failed in the past, and that some new economic order on socialistic lines is the remedy for all our troubles should think again. I prefer to stick to the old order and bring it up to date, with all the possible reforms that will make us happy and ensure prosperity. It can be improved. Recently when a member of the British Parliamentary
Delegation slipped over to Melbourne to see a friend I happened to meet him. He was about to join the party and go to New Zealand after having been all round Australia with them. I said to him, “Well, old chap, what do you think of our country ? “ He said, “ I am astonished at the development’ of your continent in about 100 years, and the remarkable war effort on the industrial side “. To what has that developmentbeen attributable? To free enterprise in a democratic country, and not to some socialistic scheme. The free enterprise was that of our pioneering people, and with that I couple the skilled artisans who made possible our splendid war effort. 1. am not referring only to the men on top. I include every man and woman who h: s worn an overall. Why is it necessary to throw overboard something that has stood the test, and for nearly 100 years developed and made this country as good as it is, and substitute some harebrained experimental socialistic scheme, of which we cannot know the possible effects on the further development and prosperity of our young nation ?
– It should be obvious to’ the merest tyro in politics that when the Government was appointed to office in 1941, and when it was returned to power in August of last year, it inherited a system known as capitalist economy based upon production for profit. The Government, realizing the disorganized state of the country due to the enforcement of that system, accepted it under duress rather than attempt to abolish it, or to implement Labour’s policy as laid down. Personally, I always made it perfectly clear that, in the times through which we are passing and the great danger to which the country was exposed, I would much rather take any risk with our political opponents than take the slightest risk with the enemies beyond our shores. So the Government has been giving effect to that policy with very necessary modifications, which have made it possible to improve the position of the country almost beyond recognition as compared with the state that existed when this Government first took office. It was as we all know a minority Government, but it was appointed because the majority in this chamber and the other House could not agree among themselves. They were quite incapable of the team-work which is necessary in time of war, and we came into office because of their failure in that respect. Included in the ranks of the then Government were men who claimed high prestige, men of great experience in commercial and other spheres, yet they lacked the necessary capacity to do that team-work which the country required to be done in a time of extreme danger. Hence the present Government was appointed, and did so well that subsequently the. people returned it to power. The state of affairs which I have outlined cannot be denied. Before the war the enforcement of the capitalist economy of .production for profit was responsible for reducing hundreds of thousands of our citizens and their dependants to the level of paupers. They were forced to work in return for the dole. The reason was that there was not the purchasing power among the people necessary to buy all the commodities that were offered for sale. Senator Brand said in effect that what we required was more production. No one would disagree with that contention, but unless we have greater power to purchase or consume, increased production does not benefit the people. In fact, increased production minus the necessary purchasing power leads to the conditions which, before the wai’, brought about increasing unemployment, poverty and destitution. That fact is either not realized or ignored by our opponents. The effect of the capitalist economy in time of war even to-day is to place the whole burden and cost of war on the shoulders of the working and fighting forces of this country. Nobody else rnakes any sacrifices, and none of the others contributes anything worth-while. The working forces support society as a whole. They provide the wherewithal for the fighting forces and for themselves, and also for that large section of the community which does not ‘ contribute anything to the useful work of the country. The fundamental cause of this position is that the labourtime required for each unit of production is a diminishing factor to the extent that we mechanize industry and improve our methods of production. In consequence of this, the purchasing power of wage-workers is also a diminishing factor, because wage-workers are paid for the time required to produce commodities of all kinds, and it follows that the less la bour- time required the less wage-workers receive in wages. When I speak of wages, I refer to real wages, measured in terms of gold value or in terms of the commodities which the workers can purchase with them. As I have said here previously, if the basic wage were increased to £10 a week, and if that £10 would not enable the recipient to purchase any more than was purchased for £5, there would be no increase of real wages.
That is how the scheme of things under capitalist economy has worked, and that is how it has created the state of affairs to which I refer - in times of peace increasing unemployment, poverty and destitution, and in times of war the imposition of the whole burden and cost on the shoulders of the working and fighting forces. The effect of all that is to generate among the people a feeling of resentment, a growing sense of dissatisfaction, which at opportune times is expressed through the medium of the ballot.box by the rejection of most of those who stand for that economy, and the election of those respectable representatives of the people who sit on this side of the Senate. .
Reference has been made by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) and other members of the Opposition to the number of industrial disputes that have arisen since the Government has been in office, particularly in the coal-mining industry. I wish to pay all the tribute that is due to the workers for the magnificent effort they have made in providing the wherewithal for the fighting forces to conduct the successful defence of this country. Although they have been working under what is erroneously called a political democracy, they have still been subjected to very provocative conditions. Despite all that, they have done wonderful work. The industrial disputes to which I have referred have been caused mainly by provocative conditions. If conditions were improved sufficiently there would not be any industrial disputes. Anybody who has studied this question as it should be studied, impartially and dispassionately, cannot come to any other conclusion.
The Leader of the Opposition referred to certain extremists in the coal-mining industry. In my opinion, by implication he meant certain miners who opposed existing working conditions. But let us examine the position thoroughly: Coal is vital to the nation and the coal miners have to risk their lives every day to get it. They have to work under conditions which in many respects, are just as dangerous as conditions operating on the battlefront; but what is the position of the coal mine owners? In New South Wales there are a few small groups of powerful and wealthy coal mine owners working at cross purposes. The more powerful groups are seeking either to force the others out of existence, or to force them to merge with the larger interests. So far as I am aware, the coal mine owners have never offered to place their entire resources at the disposal of the Government for war purposes. They have never said in effect, “ We shall place our managerial and working staffs at the Government’s disposal, and we shall stand aside. We shall forego the enormous profits that we have been making out of this war, and so far as possible, we shall assist to make the conditions under which the miners work, more congenial and more acceptable generally, thus assisting increased production “. Rather have the coal mine owners said, “ We are at war ; but we still demand our peace-time rights, and not only our peace-time profits hut also increased profits “. To-day a considerable quantity of man-power is wasted in the duplication of managerial staffs. If the various groups of coal mine owners were prepared to merge, at least for the duration of the war, they could- reduce considerably their overhead costs and at the same time make man-power available for other work. Consider how costs could be reduced if profits were reduced ! But the coal mine owners have never attempted to make such a generous gesture. Had they done so, it would have been a shining example to the miners whom they claim to be always in fault. Apparently the owners are above suspicion. One never sees criticism of them in the press, no doubt for the very good reason that the press is subsidized by the mine owners and other industrialists. What I have said of the coal mines may be applied generally to all secondary industries. Under the present system there may be perhaps 600 separate contractors to one Government department, whereas the number could be reduced easily by 75 per cent., with a corresponding reduction of overhead costs. That should be done in the interests of the nation, but no step has ever been taken in that direction. On the contrary, every advantage has been taken of the opportunity to increase profits and to build up individual prestige, individual power, and individual bank balances; yet these are the individuals who point the finger of scorn at the miners. It is they who are at least partly responsible for the shortage of man-power to which frequent reference has been made in the course of this debate. Why not merge these undertakings as they could be merged, and so economize in production costs, man-power and machinery? To the degree to which the Government, driven by the exigencies of war, has succeeded in bringing about mergers, increased production has resulted. Senator Aylett referred to the fact that, despite a reduction of approximately 140,000 in the working personnel of primary industries, primary production had increased. That has been achieved by the application of improved -methods of farming and mechanization. Similar economies could be effected, but to a much greater degree in secondary industries, particularly the coal-mining industry, but no offer has been made by the coal mine owners to co-operate in the interests of the nation, and little assistance has been received from the press. On the contrary, every endeavour has been made to discredit and, if possible, destroy the Government, despite the fact that this Administration has succeeded in doing what its anti-Labour predecessors failed to accomplish. Those antiLabourgovernments failed for the simple reason that their members owed allegiance to the coal mine owners and industrialists generally.
Many of them had capital invested in the coal mines and in other industries, and they were afraid they might lose it if there was any degree of co-ordination or co-operation to increase production; yet they now have the audacity to suggest that this Administration is not performing the task that it has undertaken. T say quite dispassionately that the longer the war lasts, the more will private industrialists be forced to merge, and to pool their resources in the interests of the nation. The question is will these people wait until they are forced to act, or will they set a good example to the workers whom they are so prone to describe as unpatriotic strikers? The man who offers his services to the armed forces says, in effect : “ Here I am ; train me as you wish, and send me wherever I am required. I am prepared to carry out whatever orders you give me and to risk and, if necessary, sacrifice my life.” Compare that man with the industrial entrepreneur who poses as a superintellect and super-patriot. What is he sacrificing ? Absolutely nothing by comparison; yet, he is the one who points the finger of scorn at the coal miner. What kind of a life does the coal miner lead? He toils thousands of feet down in the depths of the garth, running the risk of disease and injury. He is worn out before his time. Is there any .member of this chamber who would be prepared to do the job of a coal miner in preference to the one he is doing now? T venture to say that there is not. If we wish to make an intelligent approach to the problem and to rise above petty personal and political prejudices, we must demand that those individuals who hitherto have made no contribution to the war effort shall do no now. When the Leader of the Opposition refers to extremists amongst the coal miners, I ask him to remember that there are also extremists amongst the coal mine owners and other controllers of industry. Compare the contribution that the coal miners and other industrial workers are making to the war effort with that of the capitalists. The coal miner hews coal from the depths of the earth, the ironworker forges heavy steel ingots under the steam hammer and the aircraft worker produces intricate parts for the
Beaufort bomber and Beaufighter. What the mine owners and industrialists are doing is negligible compared with the achievements of the workers and members of the fighting services. If honorable senators opposite are to make invidious comparisons, we also shall make comparisons. -The capitalists are merely fighters and workers by. proxy - lip-serving patriots, and by no means men of substance or integrity. They permitted this country to drift into a dangerous state, and have not raised a hand to save it. I admit, of course, that there are honorable exceptions, but, primarily, the industrial disputes to which reference has been made have their origin in the system of control. If we desire better results, we must take steps to ensure that more government control shall be enforced.
All credit is due to the workers of this country. I have been privileged to accompany visitors from the United States of America, Great Britain and the Netherlands East Indies and other overseas countries on tours of inspection of Australian workshops. Those men, who held high government positions, were trained observers, and they expressed amazement that so much had been done in Australia in the comparatively short period that had elapsed since the outbreak of war. In the year in which war was declared very little progress had been made in Australia in the construction of aircraft, but to-day, where there was formerly vacant land, we find modern factories equipped with the most up-to-date machinery and a stream of aircraft coming off the assembly lines. The workers of this country have built the workshops, installed the machinery, and trained 95 per cent, of the personnel of those workshops. We are producing aircraft equal to, and in many respects superior to. those made overseas. I could cite, for example, the manufacture in this country of gun turrets and Beaufort bombers. It was said that Australian workmen would take two years to build a gun turret, that the work was too intricate, and that our men could not be expected to do the job, yet within six months they not only built a gun turret, but produced one superior to that which came from overseas. That statement can be verified by competent overseas experts. Yet, on listening to the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition one would imagine that Australian workmen had hardly done anything worth mentioning. Nothing is to be gained in an assembly such as this by reflecting adversely on the workers, when all the results go to show they have done even better than workers employed elsewhere in similar circumstances.
The Leader of the Opposition said that the speech of the Governor-General was barren of policy. That is a matter of opinion. The honorable senator directed attention to paragraph 2 of the Speech, which states -
The war continues to be the predominant and outstanding occupation of my advisers and measures essential to its full prosecution are the paramount concern of the people.
In those lines we have all that it should he necessary to say to men who pose as judges, because members of the Opposition know as well as do members of the Government and their supporters what has been done and what the war policy is. Those who have had considerable military experience realize that policy changes from day to day. What one decides to do to-day, one may resolve not to do tomorrow. Everything depends on the circumstances, which frequently alter from day to day. The Governor-General’s Speech deals in chronological order with the war situation. What more could be required? It is not a long statement from which very little information can be gained. It is clear, concise and convincing. Reference has been made to paragraph 26, which states -
Since the Parliament adjourned, my advisers have arranged to submit to the people the legislation passed by the Parliament in respect of additional powers for the Commonwealth Parliament. The date for .the referendum of the people is 19th August.
Every member of the Senate knows exactly what the existing constitutional powers are, and what powers the Government is seeking. If a dozen pages had been written on that aspect of the matter, the Government could not have informed honorable senators to a much greater degree than they are already informed. I do not intend to deal with the merits of the proposals submitted by the Government. The real opposition is not to the proposals themselves. Honorable sena- tors opposite, and those who agree with them, desire to discredit, and, if possible, defeat the Government. The Opposition is opposed to the Government exercising the proposed additional powers in accordance with its policy.
As I have said, we are working under what is erroneously described as a political democracy, but what is practically an economic dictatorship. By that I mean that we have .private monopoly ownership and control of the essential means of production, and the right of the wealthiest among the shareholders, as directors, either to increase or restrict production or to hire or “ fire “ workers whom they employ. In other words, the essential means of production are controlled by monopolists. As Senator Grant has said, in effect, either an economic dictatorship will control this Parliament in its own interests, as it has already done in the Fascist countries, or the Parliament will control the dictators. They cannot run in double harness. The winning of the war does not necessarily imply the defeat of Fascism. It is possible that, as the outcome of this war, international Fascism will be established. Under such a system the leading powers would control world affairs, and try to do what Hitler did in Germany and what Mussolini did in Italy. It is well for us to keep that possibility in mind. If, in our day and generation, we forget the lessons of experience, and believe what is said in the name of the Allied Nations by people who are Fascists, and who wish to establish a greater degree of economic dictatorship throughout the world, we shall pay the price. That is the price that has been paid by the people generally in Axis countries. It is necessary to keep these things in mind, and that is one of the reasons why I support the Government’s proposals. I am not prepared to allow the dictators to do after this war what was done after the last war. Hundreds of thousands of people in this country and millions of people in the Allied countries were reduced to the level of paupers after the last war, not because there was any scarcity of man-power and materials to produce the commodities which they needed, not because any drought had occurred, but simply because it was not profitable for those in control that production should be increased in the interests of the people. It was not profit-‘ able that the purchasing power of wageearners should be increased, but rather that it should be reduced to the level of the dole. That is what is intended after this war. One has only to read the leading financial journals, and particularly the statements of men who pose as great economists, to discover that they have in mind the setting up of a financial dictatorship for the purpose, as they will tell us, of the establishment of international peace and goodwill among the people. But to the degree that we give up the right of self-government to these people we shall have to pay the price. I shall support the referendum proposals because, if adopted, they would confer on the people a greater measure of selfgovernment than they have to-day. The powers that will be asked for are already possessed by the Parliaments of the States, but for reasons which should be obvious, those Parliaments are not exercising them. First, anti-Labour governments in the States will not exercise them in the interests of the workers, and, secondly, the State authorities are divided, one State being pitted against another. There is a continual chorus of State premiers about this and that matter, but they never agree among themselves, and nothing is done. We read long statements and reports which mean nothing. I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted’; debate adjourned.
Members of Parliament with the Armed Forces - War Pensions - Taxation Administration.
– I move -
That tho Senate do now adjourn.
On the 22nd March, Senator Tangney asked the following question: -
Will the Minister supply the Senate with the names of members of the Federal Parliament serving, or who have served, with the armed forces, together with the amount of pay and allowances drawn from the services in addition to parliamentary allowances?
The Minister for Defence has now furnished the following reply: -
There are no members of the Federal Parliament who are serving or who have served with the Naval Forces of the Commonwealth.
Acting Sergeant A. Al. Blain, M.P. ( prisoner of war, Singapore) - Present rates of pay and allowances are as under: - -Active pay, 12s. 6d. per day; deferred pay, 2s. per day; dependants’ allowance, 3s. Od. per day. Total deferred pay to 24th March, 1944, £117 6s.; dependants’ allowance to 24th March, 1944. £170 2s.; credit earnings to 24th March, 1944, £517 12s.; allotment to 24th March, 1944, £140 14s.; total, £945 14s.
Major the Hon. A. fi. Cameron, M.P. - This officer performed part-time duty as a General Staff Officer, 3rd Grade, at District Base Headquarters, Adelaide, from 1st July, 1939, to 30th June 1940, for which period he received a total remuneration of £22 10s. From the 8th November, 1940, to the 16th September, 1941, he performed part-time duty totalling 106 days (comprising eleven broken periods) with Intelligence Section, Southern Command. During this period he received pay of rank as a major ( at that date, 30s. per day ) . On the 22nd December, 1941, he commenced full-time duty, with the rank of major, as VX1 14034, and has since taken 22 periods of leave without pay. His actual days of service from the 22nd December, 1941, to the 16th February, 1944, total 594, and he was on leave without pay at the date of compilation of these particulars. His present rates of pay and allowances are as under: - Active pay, 26s. 6d. per day; deferred pay, 6s. per day; field allowance. 3s. per day. Pay and allowances as VX114034 - Credit earnings to 16th February. 1944. £468 3s. 6d.; allotment to 16th February, 1944, £297; dependants’ allowance to 10th February, 1944, £134 12s. 0d.; deferred pay and interest thereon to 10th February, 1944, £1 25 0s. 10d.; total £1,024 10s. lOd. Total remuneration - As staff officer, 3rd Grade, District Base Head-quarters, Adelaide, £22 10s.; As major, Intelligence Section, Southern Command, £249; As major, VX1 14034, £1,024 10s. 1 0d.- £1,290 0s. lOd.
Lieutenant-Colonel ihe Hon. P. C. Spender, M.P. - This officer has not received any pay or allowances for any military duties which may have been performed by him.
Major-General 0-. J. Rankin, D.S.O., V.D., M.P. - At the outbreak of war, Major-General Rankin was General Officer Commanding, 2nd Cavalry Division, and he continued to hold this appointment until the 12th February, 1942, when he was placed upon the unattached list. As General Officer Commanding, 2nd Cavalry Division, he received £250 per annum (payable quarterly) except when actually in training camps, when he received pay of rank of a major-general. Between the 15th January, 1940, and the 4th January. 1942, he attended a total of 349 days in training camps (in seventeen broken periods). His remuneration whilst holding the above appointment, from the outbreak of war to 12th February. 1942. was as under: - Allowance as General Officer Commanding, 2nd Cavalry Division, £417 10s. Paid in training camps - Pay of rank as a major-general (£3 5s. 9d. per day until 6 th November, 1941, thereafter £3’ fis. 9d. per day), £1,149 10s. 9d.; dependants’ allowance (3s. per day until 6 th November, 1941. thereafter 3s. Cd. per day), £54 lis. - £1,622 3s. 9d. The above variations in pay and allowances were due to a general increase in such for all ranks, effective on and from 7 th November, 1941.
From the 23rd March, 1942. to 1st February, 1.944, he again served as V375033. During this latter appointment ho received Colonel’s pay at rates as under - Active pay, 38s. 6d. per day; deferred pay, 9s. per day; field allowance, 3s. per day; credit earnings, £724 6s. 2d.; paid to allottee as allotment and dependants’ allowance, £238 9s.; deferred pay and interest thereon, £135 4s. Id.; total, £1,097 19s. 3d. Total remuneration - As General Officer Commanding, Second Cavalry Division, £1,022 3s. 9d.; as V375033, £1,097 19s. 3d.; total, £2,720 3s.
Captain the Honorable E. ‘J. Harrison, M.P. - This officer served with the Australian Military Forces for a short period, during which time the total amount received by him was £62 2s. Of this sum, £36 19s. 2d. was refunded to the Department of the Army, the balance (£25 2s. 10d., representing cost of uniform) being retained by him.
Honorable H. E. Holt, M.P. - Mr. Holt commenced full-time duty on 22nd May, 1940, and was discharged on 20th October, 1940. Throughout his service he received pay at the rate applicable to the rank of Gunner (i.e., 5s. per day), but no dependants allowance or deferred pay. The total pay received bv him amounted to £34 10s.
Wing Commander the Honorable T. W. White, D.F.G., V.D., M.P. - On first appointment on 9th April, 1940, his daily rate of active pay was 22s. 6d. and dependants’ allowances 5s. His present daily rates are active pay 31s. 6d., dependants’ allowances, 7s. Od. and deferred pay, 8s. Cd. His total credits to 221id March, 194.4 (allowing for 95 days leave without pay) are - Active pay, £2,182 5s.; field allowance, £101 2s.; exchange allowance, £113 10s. 8d. ; dependants’ allowances, £435 14s. Od.; deferred pay, £378 8s.
Pilot Officer S. M. Falstein, M.P.-On first appointment on 1 8th July, 1942, his daily rate of active pay was Os. and dependants’ allowances 8s. His present daily rates are active pay, 17s. Od. ; dependants’ allowances, 9s. 6d. ; deferred pay 3s. His total credits to 22nd March, 1944 (allowing for 234 days leave without pay and certain pay forfeitures) are - Active pay, £195 10s.; dependants’ allowances, £179 Ob. lid.; deferred pay, £20 17s.
Leading Aircraftman T. P. Burke, M.P. - On first appointment on 16th January, 1943, his daily rate of active pay was 9s. and dependants’ allowances 8s. (id. At 11th October, 1943, the date of his transfer to the Royal Australian Air Force Reserve, his daily rate of active pay was 9s. Cd., dependants’ allowance 8s. 6d. and deferred pay 2s. His total credits during his service on the Active List (allowing for 77 days leave without pay) were - Active pay, £8(1 13s. 6d.; dependants’ allowances £81 12s.; deferred pay, £1 2s.
– Senator Brand asked the following questions, upon notice: -
The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
– Some time ago a good deal of publicity was given in the press to the seizure by the Taxation Department of about £1,000 from a taxpayer who, it was alleged, had evaded the payment of income tax. The revelation that bank deposits were liable to be drawn upon without the sanction of .depositors in order to meet outstanding taxes came as a great shock to many people. In respect of the taxpayer referred to, who was described as Madame X, the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) subsequently made a statement. Later, after the taxation authorities were interviewed the press published the following statement : -
The taxation authorities claim that Madame X had not paid tax for many years, and that persistent efforts to get her to reveal her income and its sources had been fruitless. They state that the arbitrary assessment powers of the Commissioner were put into operation only when all approaches to the alleged defaulter had failed.
The publicity given to the case of Madame X prompted the secretary of the Herberton sub-branch of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia to write to me in connexion with a case which concerned a soldier who wa. in Malaya in 1942. He enclosed a letter which his sub-branch had forwarded to the head-quarters of the league at Cairns asking that the matter be inquired into. His letter to that body was dated 11th June, 1943, and was as follows: -
A mother of a member of the Second Australian Imperial Force has complained to the sub-branch that her son has been badly treated by the Commissioner of Taxes, and she has given us the following information.
Her son, Driver Roland George Smith, QX15239, 3rd Reserve Mounted Transport Co., D Section, Australian Imperial Force, enlisted 7th August, 1940, landed in Malaya 24th April, 1941, left Singapore a few days before the surrender with his company. The last message his mother had from him was that hie company had disembarked in Java, and like many others, he has since been posted “ missing “. In February of this year, the local postmaster sent for his sister, Miss Smith, and asked for his Commonwealth Savings Bank hook. She told him her brother had been missing for some time. The postmaster said he was aware of this, but the book was required for the purpose of adding -interest. When the book was later returned, it was noticed that £14 16s. 4Jd. had been deducted on 17th February, with the words “ paid to order of the Commissioner of Taxes”. So far, his mother has not even received a receipt for this amount from the Taxation Department. Mrs. Smith knows of no demand ever having been made on her son prior to his enlistment or since, and it came as a great shock to her, especially as the loss nf her son has caused her great suffering.
Smith was employed as a driver by the Herberton Shire Council prior to his enlistment. From the 27th March, 1939 to 0th April, 1940 his total earnings were £298 12s. 2d. net. At that time, the new stamp tax had noi come into force. As far as we know. Smith may have owed the Commissioner certain taxes, but we take strong objection to the way money was filched from his savings by the Taxation Department while he was serving his country overseas. We hope that the Far Northern Council will take strong action in this matter, as by doing so, tha league may stop this kind of thing happening to other members of our fighting services.
The matter was taken up by the league which sent the details to the executive council in Melbourne, which, in turn, approached the taxation authorities, with the result that on the 27th December. 1942, the department replied in the following terms : -
I am directed to refer to your letter of 31st. August, 1942, (and enclosures) in relation to the method of collection of income tax owing hy members of the forces, particularly in the case of Driver R. G. Smith of Herberton, Queensland, who has been reported “ missing overseas “.
The Commissioner of Taxation has advised that inquiry in this case reveals that on 13th April, 1941, notification of liability for Federal and State Income Taxes amounting to £14 IBs. 2d. was addressed to Driver Smith, ‘ care Australian Imperial Force, Miowera. As the Notices of Assessment (Federal and State) were not returned unclaimed it was presumed by the Taxation authorities that they were delivered, either to the taxpayer or to someone on his behalf.
No reminders regarding the taxpayer’s taxation liability were sent prior to the exercise by the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation, Brisbane, of his powers of collection of the amounts due under the State and Federal Acts. This procedure was adopted because the Deputy Commissioner was unaware of the taxpayer’s whereabouts at the time and also in the light of his previous experience of complaints made by members of the forces to whom reminders are issued.
The letter concerning his tax assessment was sent to Driver Smith on the 13th April, 1941, when he was supposed to be in camp in northern Queensland. On the 21st April, Driver Smith was stated to have landed in Malaya, so that on. the 13th April, he was probably on the high seas.
– What action did the honorable senator take when the letter from the taxation authorities was received in December, 1942?
– The letter to me is dated the 21st June, 1944. It was sent after the case of Madame X had been given so much publicity. The taxation authorities stated that action against Madame X was taken only when all approaches to the alleged defaulter had failed, but in the case of Driver Smith that was not so. The department took no steps even to get in touch with his mother. ‘Such action against a man who is fighting for his country, and is reported missing, is serious. I do not say that the tax was not due, but I do say that the action of the taxation authorities was callous. I ask the Leader of the Senate (Senator Keane) to look into this matter. The man in question is still reported as missing, and probably his affairs have not been wound up. His mother is placed in an embarrassing position.
.- in reply - The complaint of Senator Cooper will have my early attention. As the honorable senator rightly said, the case of Madame X was entirely different and the action of the department in that case was justified. Any individual who is able to pay histax, but dodges payment, is a blackmarketeer, towhom no sympathy should be shown. The case mentioned by Senater Cooper seems to warrant an inquiry, if only to prevent a recurrence of such treatment of any man absent with the forces.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Lands Acquisition Act, or Lands Acquisition Act and National Security (Supplementary) Regulations - Land acquired for Commonwealth purposes - Coniston, New South Wales.
National Security Act -
National Security (General) Regulations - Orders -
Press and broadcasting censorship.
Taking possession of land, Ac. (06).
Use of land (4).
National Security (Man Power) Regulations - Order-Control of Pharmaceutical chemists.
Northern Territory - Report on Administration of the Northern Territory, for year 1942-43.
Senate adjourned at 10.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 19 July 1944, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1944/19440719_senate_17_179/>.