28 February 1945

17th Parliament · 3rd Session

The President (Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.


The PRESIDENT. - I desire to inform the Senate that I have received a communication, dated the 17th July, 1944, from the President of the Congress of the United States of Venezuela, Caracas, enclosing the text of a resolution passed by the Congress on the 7th June, 1944, referring to the invasion of Europe by Allied armies, and containing expressions of sympathy with, and wishes for the victory of the cause of, the United Nations. The communication hasbeen suitably acknowledged.


The PRESIDENT.- Pursuant to Standing Order 38, I hereby appoint the following senators to be the Committee of Disputed Returns and Qualifications: Senators J. I. Armstrong, R. E. Clothier, J. S. Collings,W. G. Gibson, E.W. Mattner, S. W. O’Flaherty and B. Sampson.


The PRESIDENT. - Pursuant to Standing Order 28a, I lay on the table my warrant nominating Senators S. K. Amour, J. J. Arnold,W. E. Aylett,W. J. Cooper and Herbert Hays a panel to act as Temporary Chairmen of Committees when requested so to do by the Chairman of Committees, or when the Chairman of Committees is ahsent.


Motion (by Senator Clothier) - by leave - agreed to-

That leave of absence for four weeks be granted to SenatorLamp on account of ill health.


Resignation of Chairman.

Senator GIBSON. - I address a series of questions to the Minister for Supply and Shipping with relation to the Australian Broadcasting Commission, and my reason for submitting them to him instead of to the Postmaster-General is that Senator Ashley is the only person who could make the submission to the Broadcasting Commission at the period to which I refer. My questions are as follows : -

  1. Is ita factthat Mr. Clear y has resigned from the Australian Broadcasting Commission?

  2. What reasons are given for the resignation?

  3. Was the matter of programmes submitted to the Broadcasting Committee by the Minister for consideration?

  4. If not, what power had the committee to ask a member of the commission to give evidence on programmes?

  5. Does not the Australian Broadcasting Act provide that only matters submitted by the Minister may come before the committee for consideration ?

Senator ASHLEY. - The first two questions shouldbe referred to my colleague, the Postmaster-General. As to the third question, I, when PostmasterGeneral, made no specific reference to the committee, but I point out that the subjects that might be discussed by the committee would be dependent on the matters under consideration at that time.For instance, one of the matters to which consideration has been given by the committee is the restoration to it of the 1s. from each listener’s licence-fee. Matters affecting programmes would be within the scope of the committee’s inquiries. However, I am not in a position to say what took place, or whether the action of the committee is, or is not, in order.

Obviously, the answer to question 4 depends on the scope of the inquiry which the committee is now conducting, and on the provisions of the Australian Broadcasting Act, section 84 of which provides that the powers and privileges of the committee, and of its members, shall be those determined by the Parliament and its committees.

As to question 5, the answer is that the committee may consider any matter affecting broadcasting in Australia or any of the territories of the Commonwealth which either House of the Parliament by resolution refers to it, and upon every other matter referred to it by the Postmas ter-General .

Senator COOPER.- Is it a fact that Mr.W. J. Cleary has resigned as Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, and, if so, will the PostmasterGeneral make a frank statement to the Senate giving the circumstances associated with his resignation?

Senator CAMERON. - It is a fact that Mr. Cleary has resigned as Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, but I am not in a position to make a statement on the subject. Mr. Cleary has not given any reasons for his resignation.

Senator LECKIE. - Does the Minister for Supply and Shipping say that because a specific subject has been referred to the committee by the PostmasterGeneral it can call evidence and give consideration to questions not in any way related to such reference?

Senator ASHLEY. - I am sorry if Senator Leckie has misunderstood my reply, which I thought was clear. There have been various references to the Broadcasting Committee.

Senator Leckie. - How many?

Senator ASHLEY. - I cannot give the exact number, but under some of them the committee would be entitled to inquire into programmes or any portion of them.

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

– I lay on the table the following paper : -

Sugar - Protocol relating to the Inter national Sugar Agreement (signed in London, 31st August, 1944).

The Protocol, which was signed by representatives of the Governments of the Union of South Africa, Commonwealth of Australia, Belgium, Brazil, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Republic of Cuba, Czechoslovakia, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, the Netherlands, Peru, Portugal, the Union of Socialist Soviet Russia, the United’ States of America, including the Philippines, and Poland, extends the International Sugar Agreement, which originally operated from 1937, for a further period of one yearfrom the 1st September, 1944.

Owing to the war, it will be realized that the operation of certain portions of the agreement relating mainly to the quota obligations of importing and exporting, countries have been merely nominal, and the opportunity has been taken in this Protocol to declare such portions inoperative during the extended life of the agreement.

Accordingly, the main purposes of the renewal of the agreement are to maintain the central machinery for the adjustment of international sugar supplies in the period immediately following the end of the war and to gain time for the conclusion of a wider scheme to meet the longterm problems of the industry.

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Senator McLEAY:

– I ask the Minis ter for Trade and Customs if it is a fact that a member of the Prices Commission has increased the rate paid to nurses by £11s. a week, and has stipulated that this increase shall apply only in New South Wales? If that is correct, does he think it fair that nurses in Victoria and other States should be excluded from the benefit of this decision?

Senator KEANE:

– I am not aware that the rate referred to by the honorable senator has been increased ;but I shall inquire into the matter and give an answer later.

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Senator LECKIE:

– Is the Leader of the Senate in a position to inform honorable senators of the likely sittings of’ the Senate in order to enable them to make their private arrangements? Obviously, we shall not have much to do until business is transmitted to us from the House of Representatives. It would be convenient to honorable senators to know when the Senate is to adjourn. I also ask the Leader of the Senate to inform us whether we shall reassemble before Easter. This information is of vital importance to honorable senators whose homes are in distant States.

Senator KEANE:

– In order to meet the wishes of honorable senators, I shall make a statement on the matter at an early date.

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SenatorCOLLETT asked the Minister representing the Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, upon notice -

What is the position in respect of experiments for the eradication of rabbits?

Is the Minister able to say whenthe rabbit virus will be released for use?

Senator KEANE:

– The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction has supplied the following answers : -

  1. . The question no doubt relates to the work of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research on the virus of rabbit myxomatosis. A full report on this work is given in the council’s journal for May, 1944, since which time no further work on the material has been done. Briefly, the results show that myxomatosis cannot be used to control rabbit populations under most natural conditions in Australia with any promise of success. Nevertheless, it seems possible that in some parts of Australia under special conditions, including the presence of insect vectors in abundance and the absence of predatory animals, the disease could be used with some promise of temporary control of a rabbit population.

    1. The Director-General of Health granted permission for the virus to be brought into Australia for the experiments andfield trials of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The virus has remained under the quarantine restrictions imposed by the Director-General. He has decided that it shall remain under his control, but the council has undertaken to maintain it and not to supply it to any person or institution, except with his approval.

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asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon, notice -

  1. What is the number of wheat export sales which have been cancelled?
  2. What were the quantities (in bushels) ?
  3. At what price were the sales made?
  4. What is the total quantity of wheat now held in Australia?
  5. Are new growers’ licences issued only for the season 1945-46?
  6. Can the recipients of these licences prepare land for following seasons with safety to growers?
  7. What amounthas been applied for, for stock-feed?
  8. How much wheat will be made available for stock-feed per month from the present date onwards?
Senator FRASER:

– The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has supplied the following answers: -

  1. Two. 2. (a) Up to 4,000,000 bushels; (b) 5,500,000 bushels of wheat as flour. 3. (a) At the current price from time to time of shipments to United Kingdom ; (b ) 5s. 2d. a bushel. Another order for 1,332,000 bushels was converted into an order for the equivalent amount of flour at the corresponding flour price.
  2. 86,000,000 bushels at the 10th February, 1945.
  3. Yes. All licences are issued annually.
  4. An announcement covering next season will be made before the normal period for preparing land for sowing.
  5. The figure is not available as sales are made daily through a large number of distributors.
  6. For the season, the 1st December, 1944. to the 30th November. 1 945,38,000,000 bushels, plus a special sheep feed allocation, is available. The rate of release is varied from time to time so as to provide the best use of supplies.

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Senator FOLL:

asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. ls it a fact, as stated in the press recently, that there is a likelihood of 200,000 Italian workers being introduced into Australia?
  2. Will the Government give an assurance ‘ that no foreign enemy citizens will be included in any scheme of migration to Australia?
Senator KEANE:

– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers : -

  1. No.
  2. The matter is one of policy which is receiving the consideration of the Government.

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Motions (by Senator Keane) agreed to-

Standing Orders Committee

That a Standing Orders Committee lie appointed, to consist of the President, the Chairman of Committees, Senators Cameron, Crawford, Herbert Hays, Keane, Lamp, McLachlan and Sheehan, with power to act during recess, and to confer with a similar committee of the House of Representatives.

Library Committee

That a Library Committee be appointed, to consist of the President, Senators Armstrong, Collett, J. B. Hayes, Lamp, Sampson and Tangney, with power to act during recess, and to confer or sit as a joint committee with a similar committee of the House of Representatives.

House Committee

That a House Committee be appointed, to consist of ‘ the President, Senators Amour, Aylett, Brand, Cooper, McLachlan, and Nash, with power, to act during recess, and to confer or sit as ‘a joint committee with a similar committee of the House of Representatives.

Printing Committee

That a Printing Committee be appointed, to consist of Senators Arnold, Cooper, Courtice, Gibson, J. B. Hayes, Allan MacDonald and Tangney, with power to confer or sit as a joint committee with a similar committee of the House of Representatives.

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Debate resumed from the 22nd February (vide page 38), on motion by Senator Nicholls -

That the following Address-in-Reply to His Royal Highness the Governor-General’s Speech be agreed to: -

May it please Your Royal HIGHNESS

We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious

Sovereign, to extend to Your Royal Highness a welcome to Australia, and to thank Your Royal Highness for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.

Senator McLEAY:
Leader of the Opposition · South Australia

– Members of the Opposition join in expressing their great pleasure on the safe arrival of His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester and members of his family in Australia. I have said before that we commend the Government for this selection of a Governor-General, and I would like, personally, to express appreciation of the fact that His Royal Highness agreed to come to this country in order to render what I consider a good service. I believe there was never a period in our history when it was more desirable than it is to-day that the ties that bind Australia to the Mother Country should be strengthened. I think also that every effort should be made that will strengthen the ties that bind the Empire together, and I sincerely hope that in the future all sections in this Parliament and the people of this country will do all in their power to bring about that objective. The presence of His Royal Highness in Australia will help considerably in that direction.

Members of the Opposition pay tribute to the splendid performance of General MacArthur, and his gallant fighting men, in their return to the capital of the Philippines. I am sure that his outstanding success is a source of great satisfaction in all allied countries. We also appreciate the fact that Great Britain has sent to Australia a powerful section of the British Fleet. We are very pleased with the progress that is being made by our gallant Allies in this war, and we express to all of them our best thanks for their successful efforts.

The first part of the Governor-General’s Speech deals with the war and outlines proposals in that regard for the future. Many people in this country, and particularly those whose sons are on the fighting front, or are prisoners of war,, feel much dissatisfaction at the part now being played by the front-line members of our fighting forces. We appreciate the action of the Government in the early stages of the war, in placing the armed forces of Australia under the control of

General MacArthur in the South-West Pacific Area. The Prime Minister has 9aid that the Government accepts full responsibility in that regard and that it was done after full consultation with Mr. Churchill and President Roosevelt. The Prime Minister has also stated that as recently as June last, after a conference with Mr. Churchill and President Roosevelt, he agreed, on behalf of the Government of Australia to further ‘commitments as far as our fighting forces are concerned.

Some time prior to the end of the last parliamentary sittings, we were promised a secret meeting, but owing to the absence of the Prime Minister through illness that was not held. Secret sittings of members and honorable senators and meetings of the Advisory War Council have their advantages, but they also have great disadvantages, because matters discussed at .those gatherings may not be raised in open Parliament. In fairness to the people, matters of high policy should bo ventilated in the ‘Senate and Blouse of Representatives. Just as the Prime Minister has the right to decide in consultation with his Ministers where the Australian fighting forces shall operate, I think that the Opposition has a duty to make suggestions on matters on which it considers it is desirable for the Government and particularly the Leader of the Senate to give the public of Australia all the information possible in keeping with all necessary precautions which security reasons demand. It was most disquieting to many people to read an important statement by an ex-Minister, and a member of the Advisory War Council, that he is not satisfied with the part being played by Australia’s fighting forces to-day. For the sake of accuracy, I shall quote the exact “words employed by him only .last week. He said -

Side by side with the handing over of authority to General MacArthur there is an obligation on the part of the Government^ to assert its views, and to insist on Australian forces ‘being used to the best advantage. I anl .not satisfied that that is the position in respect of the Australian .Army to-day. I ian not satisfied that all the Australians who are under arms are being used to the best advantage. I know of many instances Of men in .both the Army and the Air Force who are doing nothing, not because of their inability or unwillingness to serve, but because they have not been properly directed.

That is an alarming statement, coming from a responsible member of the Commonwealth Parliament, who has the privilege of sitting on the Advisory War Council and receiving information which other members of the Parliament do not obtain. I contend that the statement calls for a reply from the Government. In order that there shall be no’ misunderstanding as to where the Government’s responsibility regarding this important matter begins and ends, I propose to quote from a statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) last week. The right honorable gentleman remarked -

I accept entirely the principle that the disposition of the Australian fighting forces is the political responsibility of the government of the day. There can be no argument as to the duty of the Australian Government to determine where Australians .shall fight in any war . . . The Australian Government has made the decision that all Australian ground troops shall be assigned to the command of General Douglas MacArthur in what is known as the South-West Pacific Area. It made that assignment subsequent to its concurrence with other governments in a directive given to the Commander-in-Chief, whose appointment also was made in the same way in agreement with the other governments.

I entirely support what the Prime Minister has said and done in the matter, but I also draw attention to statements made by responsible Ministers regarding the altered position which has arisen in the South- West Pacific Area, and which gives everybody cause for great satisfaction. It was stated by the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Forde), in November, that the fighting forces of Australia would soon be in action in the Philippines, yet it was said by the Prime Minister last week that the reason why the front-line fighting forces of the Australian Imperial Force were not engaged in the Philippines was that General MacArthur’s successes had been greater and had been achieved more quickly than had been anticipated. We are all very pleased, of course, to hear that. I suggest that the ‘Commonwealth Government should give immediate consideration to the existing position, and that, if possible, men who were trained for service in the Philippines should be sent to the rescue of Australian, prisoners of war in Burma, Singapore, Malaya, and the Netherlands East Indies. I regard this as a matter of extreme urgency. If the Government has already come to a decision regarding it, or has considered it at all, a statement to that effect would give great satisfaction to a large section of the people. Obviously, it was never intended that men who were trained for service in the Philippines should be used in “ mopping-up “ operations on islands which the Australians have taken over from the Americans. In saying that, I wish to make it clear that I regard the task of “ mopping up “ as a most difficult and hazardous undertaking; I do not regard it as an easy job.

From time to time, reports are received that men at the front are not satisfied with the equipment provided for Australian troops engaged in fighting on Pacific islands, and that such equipment is far inferior to that used by the American troops when they were there.

Senator FRASER:

– The equipment now provided is better than that supplied by previous governments.

Senator McLEAY:

– Military equipment has improved immeasurably since the early days of the war. I hope that it will not be the policy of any Commander-in-Chief to ask Australian men to fight on Pacific islands, where the conditions are most difficult, without proper equipment, if it is available. I do not know whether or not these reports are true, but it is a serious matter, and should be investigated. In the early stages of the war suitable equipment was not available; but the war has continued for five and a half years, and there is now no excuse for our fighting troops not being supplied with equipment equal to the best that is available in any part of the world, even if we have to pay for it. I hope that during this debate Ministers will deal with this matter.

Man-power problems have been increased by the devastating drought which has befallen Australia, but, notwithstanding the difficulties, I protest against the muddling and procrastination that is all too evident.. Probably every member of. this Parliament has received reports from trustworthy people that in Munitions establishments and various government departments therehas been tremendous waste of man-power since the demand for munitions began to decline. I have raised this matter on other occasions, but very little improvement has taken place. I do not propose to go into details this afternoon, because the matterhas already been given a good deal of publicity, but honorable senators have doubtless heard reports that at Lithgow and other places men employed in munitions factories were retained and paid when there was little or no work for them to do. When we realize the urgent need for man-power in essential industries, it is somewhat galling to find that in various government establishments men are tumbling over one another trying to find jobs to do. The fault is not with the employees, but with those in charge of the administration. I realize that in the early days of the war, when the demand for munitions was great, man-power problems presented great difficulties; but now that the demand for munitions has fallen, the problem of dealing with men who have been trained in the making of munitions, and are not anxious to undertake other lesscongenial work at lower rates of pay, arises. I shall give one example to illustrate the kind of complaint that is being made. I have received a report from a reliable man who was employed in the munitions inspection branch as late as January, 1945. Summarized, his complaint is that a military set-up was superimposed upon the Civilian Army Inspection Branch, and that a number of new positions were created, including an Inspector-General of Munitions, and Controllers in New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia. The staff of the Controller in South Australia consists of a lieutenant-colonel, a captain, a sergeant-major, a sergeant, four privates, and one member of the Australian Women’s Army Service. The complaint is that those appointments were made in spite of the fact that the inspection staff had been reduced by over 50 per cent. He claims that the superimposing of that additional staff on the personnel already employed was a misuse of man-power and a waste of the money of the taxpayers. In my opinion, this matter is so important that the Government should appoint a special committee of three experienced administrators, one of whom should have had experience outside the government service, to go through every government department and comb out men who could be better employed elsewhere. That is not an easy job for any government to undertake, but it is a job that the Government should face courageously.

Senator Keane:

– The Government is seeking 45,000 men and cannot obtain them.

Senator McLEAY:

– The Minister knows that Australia has had to produce food for not only members of the Australian fighting forces and the civil population, but also men of the forces of Allied nations, and also that production has fallen off considerably because of the drought. It is regrettable that people in Great Britain, who have been fighting against great odds for five and a half years, should be short of butter, meat, and other necessary food. We are now short of shipping; but at one stage when sufficient shipping was available we did not have the goods to despatch overseas. It is useless to quibble about what happened in the past, but in order to increase supplies of foodstuffs, the Government should immediately release from the Army and munitions factories men capable of engaging in primary production. If something is not done along these lines, our position will become desperate, with the probability that when adequate shipping is again available we shall not have sufficient foodstuffs to send abroad. We have witnessed a sorry spectacle in the rationing of wheat after one dry year. This is deplorable, particularly when we remember that last session we approved a grant of £750,000 to Western Australia in order to compensate that State for deliberately curtailing wheat production. To-day we have to ration it. Should the presentdrought continue - and we must prepare for the worst while we hope for the best - we shall find that we shall be unable to fulfil our contracts for the supply of foodstuffs to our allies. Ministers will admit that the quantities actually supplied to date are considerably less than are specified in those contracts.

Senator Keane:

– Due to lack of transport.

Senator McLEAY:

– Yes, and to other causes. As soon as the war ends, huge quantities of foodstuffs will be required in countries devastated by war.

When that time comes we shall have a tremendous job to do on the food front. The Government should tackle this problem now. It must take its courage in its hands and act immediately. The Acting Commonwealth Statistician estimated that in June, 1944, 100,000 men had been transferred from rural industries to other industries, whilst up to the same date the number of civil employees in the Commonwealth Public Service had increased from 68,000 to 194,000. While man-power in rural industry was reduced by 100,000, civil employees in Commonwealth departments increased in the same period by 126,000. To-day, the danger to Australia has lessened considerably. If, in these circumstances, we are unable because of the shortage of shipping, or for any other reason, to utilize immediately all of our trained personnel in the fighting forces, I cannot understand why during the last twelve months the Government has refused to release temporarily for urgent work in food production soldiers who are now idling their time. Last week in the House of Representatives ‘the Minister for Air (Mr. Drakeford) was criticized because trained men in the Air Force had been asked to do fruit-picking. If for certain reasons we cannot fully utilize all personnel in the armed services we should make numbers of them available temporarily for work in primary production. I know of hundreds of soldiers who would be delighted, to return temporarily to their farms to help their parents in the dairying, cheese, wheat, cattle and other industries. However, like all government departments, the Army retains those men in idleness when they could be released temporarily to do urgent work. In this respect, I do not blame Ministers personally, because it is impossible for any Minister to keep in touch with every detail in the administration of his department. However, it is disgusting to find that whilst over 600,00.0 men have enlisted in the fighting forces, approximately 60 per cent, of them have not been outside of Australia. It would be interesting to know how many of those men have engaged in actual fighting during the last twelve months. Yet, whilst most of these men are forced to idle their time, primary producers are disposing of their stock because they are unable to carry on their farms, and cannot obtain experienced man-power to help them. The Government is merely fiddling with the problem when it releases about 20,000 men for temporary employment in rural industry over a period of twelve months. The problem is so urgent that 50,000 men should be released from the armed forces immediately for such work. In that case they would be enabled to render a service to the nation’s total war effort. I sincerely hope that the, Government will not “ dilly-dally “ any longer with this problem, because the position is growing worse.

I am somewhat disappointed to find that the Speech of His Royal Highness, which sets out the policy of the Government, makes no reference to the rehabilitation of service men and women. Up to date, no plan has been submitted to the Parliament with respect to the Government’s proposals in this matter. Housing and soldier settlement are primarily the responsibility of the National Government in any plan of post-war reconstruction. Already, thousands of men have been discharged from the armed services. I realize that it is not easy to work out the details of rehabilitation. I also note with disappointment that, during the last session, when the Government was discussing these matters in detail with the State Premiers, no opportunity was given to the Senate, which is the States House, to examine these problems; and, up to date, they have not been referred to either chamber.

Senator Ashley:

– They will come hefore us in due course.

Senator McLEAY:

– My fear is that we shall witness the same muddling in this matter after the war as is apparent to-day. - Parliament should insist that when it. is committed to expenditure in respect of these important matters of rehabilitation, it should be given an opportunity to discuss such proposals in detail ‘before the Commonwealth enters into any agreement with the States. That is only fair. After all, honorable senators are intimately acquainted with the problems of their respective States. To-day, however, this chamber is treated merely as- a rubber stamp; and it has been the practice of the Govern ment to place it in the position of having either to approve or reject such agreements.

Senator Ashley:

– Has the honorable senator no faith in the Premier of hia State?

Senator McLEAY:

– The States should co-operate with the Commonwealth on matters of this kind. What I object to is the Government’s treatment of this Parliament. I repeat that Parliament should be consulted in respect of reconstruction proposals before the Government enters into any ‘agreements with the States, particularly in respect of housing and soldier settlements.

Senator Clothier:

– Houses are being constructed now.

Senator McLEAY:

– The Commonwealth has so far confined its activities in this matter to talking .about the subject. Only the States have actually undertaken construction of houses. The lack of concentration on the part of the Government on these matters is His Royal Highness, in his Speech, said -

Whilst military victory against our enemies can no longer be doubted, it would be foolish to expect that either Germany or Japan will give in easily. It has been estimated by Mr. Churchill that it will take eighteen months to defeat Japan after the war in Europe has been won. It is evident that a great task lies ahead and the call is for willing and unselfish service until final victory has been achieved.

That would suggest that the immediate task confronting this Parliament is to concentrate on winning the war both on the fighting front and on the home front, and that the next job is to ensure that plans shall bc ready for the rehabilitation of members of our fighting forces when the war ends. But what do we find? Although important matters such as, where our soldiers are to fight, man-power shortages, repatriation, and so on are awaiting decision, members of the Government party spent five days discussing whether the banks should be nationalized or at least brought under some form of political control - five clays on that matter and not five days on immediate problems. Apparently this state of affairs will continue. The Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) has announced that the first legislation to be brought before this Parliament in the present session will be that, dealing with political control of the banks. Everybody knows that the banks of this country have done an efficient job in this war. The Commonwealth Government has had complete control over them under its war-time powers, and will have that control for several years after the war ends; but because of political pressure, this Parliament is to be asked to debate these matters which are entirely matters of party politics, whilst the urgent matters that wc should be discussing immediately will be kept in the background. For instance, there is no suggestion that legislation will bc presented to Parliament on housing. So far, we have not had an opportunity to consider the Government’s proposals in regard to the all-important problem of preference to returned soldiers, despite the fact that the war has now reached its sixth year. Already thousands of men have been discharged from the armed services, and the only knowledge that honorable senators have of the Government’s repatriation plans has been obtained from press reports which indicate that because of political pressure from outside organizations, the Government will merely trifle with the problem and introduce legislation which will be of no real value to ex-service personnel. However, I shall not go into details of that matter but will reserve further comments until the legislation is before this chamber.


– That is the proper thing to do.

Senator McLEAY:

– I hope that the Minister for the Interior (Senator Collings) also will do the proper thing and appreciate that repatriation of our fighting men should come before the nationalization of banks, or the imposition of political control, centralized in Canberra, on Australian interstate airlines. I cannot understand the mentality of a government which seeks to proceed with socialization measures at this stage of the war, when already it has all the power that it requires to ensure a maximum war effort.

According to the Governor-General’s Speech, promises made by members of the Government do not matter.On the eve of the last elections electors were told that the Government would not socialize any industry in wartime. The Speech delivered by His Royal Highness indicated that the war might last for another two years; yet the Government already has announced its intention to socialize interstate airlines and place the banks in a political straitjacket. I plead with the Government again, even at this late hour, to postpone until after the war consideration of provocative and controversial matters which can serve only to destroy the faith of the investing public of this country. Let us first make our repatriation legislation complete, and tackle other immediate war problems. Then, if the Government still feels that it must satisfy the Australian Labour party executive, that may be the appropriate time to bring forward these proposals.

There is another point that I wish to make in connexion with the Government’s civil aviation policy. Here we have the sorry spectacle of a government setting out to defy the will of the people of this country. It will be recalled that during the regime of the Lyons Government, a referendum was held on the question of civil aviation powers, and was defeated. Again at the last referendum, similar proposals were placed before the people, and by an overwhelming majority the citizens of this country said, “No, we are not in favour of nationalization and centralized control in Canberra”. Yet, despite the fact that .the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) claimed that the Commonwealth Government did not have power to nationalize the interstate airlines unless the Constitution were altered, these proposals are to be brought forward now. One of ‘ their most dangerous effects will be to discourage from coming to this country people who have capital, initiative and enterprise. Recently, I met an Englishman, who said that his special mission to this country was to find out just what the Government proposed to do in the direction of nationalization.

Senator GRANT:

– Did the honorable senator tei! him?

Senator McLEAY:

– I did,

Senator Collings:

– How. did the honorable senator know?

Senator McLEAY:

– Because I accepted the word of responsible Ministers who have made pronouncements of government policy. I told the Englishman what had been announced by the then Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Forde), and he said that his company would not be prepared to extend its investment in Australia if that was all the security that could be promised by the Government. This Governments plans, if given effect, will change the whole economic set-up of Australia. I believe that unless this Parliament asserts itself, and declares that it stands for initiative and enterprise by free men, which has been the traditional policy of the British Empire for many decades, Australia will not make the progress that it should make, and is destined ito make. The course upon which the Government has embarked will be harmful and perhaps fatal to this country.

I shall deal’ now with the extremists who are causing so much unrest in the industrial world. Early in the war, the Menzies Government decided to take action against certain extremists who styled themselves “ Communists “. These people were anti-British, but when Russia entered the war, they sought, as the right honorable member for Kooyong then said, “ to parade on the backs of the Russian soldiers “, and claimed to be loyal supporters of the war effort. The Menzios Government declared the Communist party an illegal organization, but for some unknown reason, the Labour Government, on the eve of an election, decided to remove the ban. What has happened since then? We have had strike after strike, brought about mainly by these extremists ; and if my friends of the Labour party will only he true to themselves, they will realize that this element within their party is doing more to injure it and also the economic life of this country than anything else could possibly do.

Senator Large:

– We do realize that.

Senator McLEAY:

– A few weeks ago, the trade union movement in this country selected a certain person to represent it at the great congress of world representatives of trade unionism in London. T refer to Mr. Thornton, a lead ing agitator and an extremist. It is he who represented the great trade union movement of Australia.

Senator Large:

– He was the third in the selection when one representative was required.

Senator McLEAY:

– lt was a bad selection. I cannot understand why a man of his political calibre, an avowed Communist, should have been chosen to go out of Australia in order to represent the trade union organizations of this great country. It was no advertisement for Australia. It is the duty of this Government, and equally of. the Opposition in this Parliament, if we are really anxious to improve our economic position, to do all we possibly can .to bring about and retain peace in industry. We have the Arbitration Court, it is true, but that institution has not quite solved the industrial difficulties that constantly arise. In speaking as I do on this matter, I do not suggest that the faults are all on one side;- that is to say, the employers must play their part. In fa.ct, all those who have the interests of Australia truly at heart must adopt a different policy in the post-war period from that which exists to-day. I should like to see a change of heart brought about on the part of some of the employers. I should like to feel that there was a more genuine interest on their part in the welfare of the decent employee. He should be given greater encouragement to do his best. The employer should see to it that his employee shared as far as was proper in the profits made by the firm when it was successful. As for .the policy that seems to have been adopted in Australia of allowing extremists in the industrial ranks to cause all the trouble that we have seen, I sincerely hope that this Parliament will, in the post-war period, do everything possible to bring about a better state of affairs between employer and employee. Only by such cooperation can we hold our place in the world economically when the nations have settled down perhaps two or three years after the war has ended.

I am convinced from my study of the whole problem that one of the most serious problems confronting the Leader of the Senate in his particular ministerial capacity centres on the reduction of the costs of production in Australia. There have been severe controls in that matter, and I appreciate that controls have been necessary. I pay the honorable gentleman the tribute of saying that in many instances he has exercised those controls fearlessly. At the same time, I submit that, in certain directions, there has been unnecessary control, although on broad, policy his administration has ‘been right. However, too many people have been allowed to consider that they have the right to get for themselves as much as possible for as little as possible. If that kind of thing were permitted to continue, every section of the people would feel it and would suffer eventually. I sincerely trust that the war will end this year and that the new order will follow upon our tackling the great problems confronting us on a higher plane than that of a party-political struggle.

There is only one other matter ‘ upon which I wish to touch. I appreciate .that the Prime Minister has interested himself in a proposal that I and other honorable senators have advocated, namely, that the time is ripe for the setting up of an all-party committee on international affairs. I hope that the Leader of the Government will do all that is possible to bring about that objective, for he must appreciate that our situation has changed considerably since the outbreak of the war. In speaking of this matter, I have no desire to criticize the Government party. I do not wish to point out the weaknesses of the Labour party or of my own party. I do wish to stress, however, the utmost importance of the defence of Australia and of our relationship to international problems. I am pleased that the Prime Minister has been able to get some sections of the Labour party to see the light so far as this vital matter is concerned. The right honorable gentleman himself has changed the views he held in 1938. We all realize to-day that Australia, because of its strategic position, is destined to play a very important part in the defence of this part of the world. Within a period of five years, we have changed - whether we liked it or not - from a people amongst whom was a large section of isolationists, a section that was not prepared to do anything involving any part of the world three miles beyond the limits of the Commonwealth. I repeat that within the past few years there has come about a very great change. Citizens of this country who previously had no real appreciation of their obligations in connexion with Australia’s defence now find themselves being plunged, so to speak, into the international world. They have coane face toface with realities. If, in the establishment of a Standing Committee on International Affairs, this Parliament can select men who will concentrate on the great problems that must arise and will place themselves above party politics, it will eventually be said that from this year onwards Australia made a great advance in the realm of high policy, in matters of international concern as well as in the defence of this great country. Then we can offer some hope to the next generation; we can provide some future for the children in the years to come.

Honorable senators will recall the excellent speech delivered toy Lord Gowrie in his farewell to members of the federal legislature. On that occasion he uttered words that must have impressed themselves upon all who heard them. He said, as honorable senators will recall : “ This country was saved by a miracle. By a miracle it was spared occupation by the Japanese and all the misery that would have followed.” And he emphasized this message to us : “ May the memory of that miracle never fade”. I hope that both the Government and the Opposition in this legislature will put national problems first, will forget party politics, and that we will not be caught in the deplorable position in which our people found themselves when Japan entered the war.

Senator GRANT:
New South Wales

. - I desire to say at the outset that I share the sentiments expressed by the previous speaker with respect to the tennis of the motion. I propose .to speak later as a member of the Labour party on what the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) termed high -policy and international affairs. First, however, I propose to refer to two subjects that are dealt with in the policy speech of the Government. One of these is the matter of the interstate airlines of Australia. I should take ‘this opportunity, before dealing with specific matters that I have in mind, to say that we are all pleased to see our friend, the Leader of the Senate, (Senator Keane) amongst us again after his visit to the United States of America. While he was in that country, he did a very fine job in making known to the American people the wonderful work that has been done by Australia in this war. Doubtless, he picked up a great deal of knowledge while overseas that, in good time, he will place at the disposal of this House and the country.

When the subject of the control of interstate airlines was first mentioned Senator Foll waxed eloquent about the injustice that was proposed to be done to the poor pioneers of the industry. He implied that a callous Labour government, which believed only in state socialism, and did not favour individual initiative, was about to deprive the interstate airline companies of their widow’s mite. I ask the honorable senator if he included amongst the pioneers such men as Hinkler, one of the greatest flyers of all time, who gave his life in the Italian Alps when providing an advertisement for a great oil magnate. Would he also include such men as Sir Charles Kingsford Smith or Ulm? I do not know who then owned the airlines of Australia, hut my general knowledge of capitalism lead me to the conclusion that they were in the hands of the same vested interests as those who control shipping and banking. I find now that the poor unfortunate Huddart Parker Limited owns 74,999 shares, the Union Steamship Company of New Zealand Limited a similar number, W. Holyman and Sons Proprietary Limited, and the Adelaide Steamship Company Limited 75,000, and the Orient Line of Steamers 74,998. Persons named Webb, Souter, Johnson and Shane each have one share. At a time like the present the interstate airlines should not be under the control of monopolists whose interests are mainly in the making of profits. When the legislation necessary to place the control of those lines in the hands of the Government is submitted to this Parliament, the Government will have no difficulty in proving beyond doubt that, in view of present world developments, it has decided on the right course of action.

Senator Foll:

– Does the Government also propose to take over the control of the shipping-lines ?

Senator GRANT:

– I do not know, but I recall that a government which was supported by the honorable senator practically gave awa.y the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers.

Senator Foll:

– It saved much money by giving them away.

Senator GRANT:

– The best answer to the honorable senator’s interjection is supplied in a motion picture called “ Shipbuilders “, which, deals with the Scottish shipbuilding yards. When the war broke out there was a shortage of ships, and most of the skilled workmen in the Scottish yards were lost to the shipping industry.

The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) remarked that the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) had promised that no socialization of industry would take place during the war. The Leader of the Opposition obviously does not know the difference between socialization and nationalization. Sir Frederic Eggleston has written a book on conditions in Victoria, which he described as second only to Soviet Russia as a socialized State. He remarked that the Government of that State had £200,000,000 invested in various industries, from. which it drew interest to the amount of £25,000,000 a year. He wrote that this was not socialism, but state capitalism. This, he said, was the best investment in Victoria. De Gaulle realizes that private enterprise can do nothing for France, and therefore, the railways, the airlines and all heavy industries have been taken over by the Government, because private enterprise had almost bled France to death. De Gaulle knew that the best way to rehabilitate France was to nationalize its key industries. Nobody would dream of calling him an extremist.

I consider that the Minister for Air (Mr. Drakeford) did good work for Australia on his recent visit overseas. A leading member of the Opposition in the House of Representatives implied that the Minister had no right to suggest that international airlines should be placed under government control, but that Australia’s policy shall conform with that of Great Britain. Although the Minister did not succeed in his objective, it must be realized that, in order to maintain the peace of the “world, air traffic must be controlled internationally, otherwise once more the struggle for world supremacy may be transferred from the economic to the military sphere. We must admit that there are occasions when the interests of Australia are not identical with those of Great Britain. In fact, there are times when Great Britain’s interests are diametrically opposed to our own. If it were suggested! that every representative of Australia who goes abroad should agree to everything proposed by Great Britain it would be waste of money for him to go overseas at all, as it would be much simpler to settle matters by cable communication.

According to the Leader of the Opposition, politics should not be associated with banking legislation. Does he think that members of the Communist party are to be found among the directors of the banks? Politics have always been associated with banking. Mr. L. J. McConnan, chief manager of -the National Bank, tells- us that the purpose of banks is to look after the money of the people. That was the position at one time, but by a system of legerdemain the position is different now. Me states that the people should not imagine that the banks are controlled by big capitalists, as the shareholders are ordinary Australians and there are about 80,000 of them. He points out that the income received by the average shareholder from his or her bank is £27, or a little over 10s. a week. That may be se, but what we really require to know is how many shares the big pastoral companies hold, and what interest Broken Hill -Proprietary Company Limited has in the banks. The time will come when future generations will look back on the days when the purchasing power of the people was determined by private individuals as we look upon the days of chattel slavery. By what code of ethics should any body of individuals have power to control the banks of this country? Their interests are not the welfa re of the people;- their first concern is to allow as little interest as possible on deposits, and to lend money out at as high a rate as possible. What patriotism was shown by the Australian banks, when the Labour party of New Zealand introduced its social legislation ? All New Zealand assets they could possibly freeze were frozen, and they sabotaged the people who desired to do business with New Zealand. If we are to have a new order, the first and most important thing to do is to take the control of purchasing power out of the hands of individuals who call themselves bankers.

Reference was made by the Leader of the Opposition to matters of high policy, and I regret the nature of the speech made in the House of Representatives recently by the Leader of the Opposition in that chamber (Mr. Menzies). He could not have chosen a worse time for his remarks. I do not know whether he was trying to give a boost to the new Liberal party, which has the name and policy of its grandfather. It is a sad commentary that he should have spoken as he did at a time when the representative of General MacArthur, at the Unrra conference at Lapstone, stated on his behalf that Australia’s war record was nothing short of miraculous. Does he imagine that General MacArthur and the Prime Minister have not discussed such matters as - the disposition and use of Australia’s fighting forces? He said he was not in a position to know. He would have been in a far better position to know had he not run away from the Advisory War Council.

Senator FOLL:

– He never got any information there.

Senator GRANT:

– If anybody gave information to the honorable senator it would, like the scent of a sweet-smelling flower, be wasted on the desert air. The Leader of the Opposition in this chamber presented his arguments in a much more tactful way than did the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives; I have no complaintwhatever to make regarding the method by which the views of the Opposition were presented in this chamber. I wonder whether the Leader of the Opposition in the other chamber imagines that 100,000 or 200,000 Australians can be sent to Malaya or the Philippines without ships. In his speech this afternoon the Leader of the Opposition admitted that the provision of ships presented a great problem.

It has been said that half the American Pacific fleet is standing by at Iwo Jima to assist in the taking of an island 5 miles by 2 miles. It is impossible to carry on such gigantic and hazardous operations without proper co-ordination of sea, land and air forces. Rather than make such remarks as were made in the other chamber on the occasion referred to, it would have been better had something been said to express admiration for the American lighting men who had done such a magnificent job, and sympathy with those who had lost loved ones in the struggle. I cannot conceive of anything more uncalled for, more untimely, or more likely to be detrimental to Australia’s interests than the speech which was delivered by theright honorable gentleman in the House of Representatives a few nights ago. The task confronting Australia in this war is tremendous; yet the right honorable gentleman spoke of “ moppingup “ operations on Pacific islands as if they presented no great difficulty. I therefore draw attention to the statement of an English general who had been in Burma for several years and recently went to New Guinea. He said that those who had fought in Burma believed that the conditions there were the worst in the world, but having seen the conditions which existed in New Guinea he could not say whether New Guinea or Burma presented the greater difficulties. I know that Australians will be in the thick of battle bef ore long, and that a colossal task awaits them. On previous occasions in this chamber I have said that, in my opinion, the recapture of the Philippines would bo made easier because of the assistance that would be given to an invading force by the Filipinos. My prediction has been proved true; the Filipinos, remembering how well they had been treated by the Americans in past years, gave to them every assistance in their power, I know something of the Philippines - its educational system and its problems. I have discussed many matters affecting the Philippines with many of its people, and I know that the tenacious Filipinos were heart and soul with the Americans. That that is so, recent events have shown clearly; but the position in Malaya, Manchuria, French Indo-China, Burma, Thailand, and the

Netherlands East Indies, will be different. Honorable senators may not know that the area of the Netherlands East Indies, including the waters in that area, is as large as the United States of America and 50 times that of Holland. Japan has a population of 70,000,000 people, Manchuria. 35,000,000, French Indo-China 25,000,000, occupied China 150,000,000, Burma 16,000,000, Thailand 14,000,000, Netherlands East Indies 70,000,000, and Malaya 5,000,000.

Senator Foll:

– The people of the Netherlands East Indies will not be hostile to the Allies.

Senator GRANT:

– The people of those islands were not prepared to fight against the Japanese for the conditions that they had existed under.

Senator Foll:

– They did not have the equipment with which to fight.

Senator GRANT:

– I shall not say anything detrimental to Dutch administration of that territory. The territories that I have mentioned have to be conquered, and there is no doubt that Australian fighting men will have a share of the task when the time for action has arrived. That will not be before all arrangements for co-operation have been completed. I repeat that the speech of the right honorable gentleman was most ill-timed. In it he referred to Poland, and said that the Poles had been let down, in that they had been promised that their territory would be retained by them, but that it appeared that that would not be so. I am prepared to admit that the Russians had a diplomatic win at the recent conference, but let us look at the position which had to be faced. Before the war of 1914-18, there was no such country as Poland, although there were German Poland, Austrian Poland and Russian Poland. After that war, Poland again became a nation. But Poland was one of the first nations to break treaties that had been entered into; Polish armies invaded other territories, and when its people thought that the time was opportune, Poland waged war on Russia. When the Russians seemed to be winning the war, Lord Curzon submitted certain proposals, and later what has become known as the Curzon Line was established as the eastern boundary of Poland.

Subsequently, a French imperialist, General Weygang, drove the Russians back, and a new line was established which existed up to the time of the present war. As Mr. Churchill pointed out recently, the Curzon Line gave to Poland territory 200 miles greater in depth than existed under the Czar. If the Allies want the Russians to fight in Asia, surely the Russians have a right to say that, before engaging in battle with the Japanese, they shall have a protected western frontier. I do not know how the United Nations will defeat the Japanese without the aid of Russia. Look at the map and study the resources at the disposal of Japan. Let us consider the coal, the iron, and the foodstuffs that Japan controls in Manchuria and Korea. If we examine the map we shall see that the Japanese have a land-line of communications from Korea to Manchuria and as far south as Malaya. Before Japan can be defeated, Japanese armies must be driven out of China. The only way those armies can be attacked on land on a big scale is by the Russians. Russia will not engage in war with Japan merely to further the interests of Britain and America ; Russia is looking after its own interests. This war is a war of power politics, and we must do the best that we can in the light of the facts. We do not know the facts sufficiently well to criticize the war policy of the “Big Three “. I am not here to say what the Government should do, or what General MacArthur should do, or that Australian troops would be better employed in Malaya than where they are. I am not criticizing world policy, because we in this chamber do not know all the facts. En his speech in the House of Representatives last week, the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) said that he deplored the lack of interest in foreign affairs displayed by members of this Parliament. He went on to say that his remarks had special application to the Labour party. We may all deplore the insufficient interest taken by honorable members generally in foreign affairs, but the honorable member was wrong in attributing a greater lack of interest in the subject to members of the Labour party. Man for man, and party for party, the Labour party knows more about world affairs than do members of the Opposition. The present Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) has done more to put Australia on the map than did all his predecessors in office during the last twenty years. When the present war broke out, Australia was hardly known in many other countries, but that Minister has brought Australia to the notice of the peoples of other nations. At various conferences, and in other ways, he has presented the Australian point of view to the world. Every two months the Department of External Affairs issues an informative periodical, which is circulated widely. If honorable senators have not read it, that is no fault of the Minister. ‘Let us consider the situation that existed .before the present Labour Government came into office. A little over five years ago, I attended a meeting in support of the candidature of the present Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward). The Minister for External Affairs was the chief speaker ; I also spoke. The meeting took place soon after the second “ sell-out “ in Czechoslovakia, concerning which the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives said : “Thank God for Mr. Chamberlain. He has given us time to prepare.” I can understand a man saying that after the first “ sell-out but not after the second “ sell-out “. The facts were that Hitler had lied to the world for ten years. If Mr. Menzies and Mr. Chamberlain believed him, they were not sufficiently acquainted with the facts to justify them retaining their positions. The German Social Democrats believed Hitler, and they were wiped out. The trade union movement of Germany did likewise and it was wiped out. The Catholic Church formed a concordat with Hitler and it proved to be not worth the paper on which it was ‘written. Von Papen went to Schussnigg and said, “Hitler is a devout Catholic like us, and if you come to Berlin to talk to him he will look after Austria’s interests “. Schussnigg went to Berlin in all good faith, but when confronted with Hitler the latter said, “ You Jesuit dog, sign this “. Yet after all this and much more, the leader of the anti-Labour forces in this country thanked God for Mr. Chamberlain and the signing of the second Munich pact! Five years ago, when in the East, I met Mr. W. II. Donald, who has been in the news recently. At that time I was a member of the New South Wales Parliament, and I was interviewed by representatives of the press. They asked me what I thought of things and I told them of an interview I had had with Mr. W. H. Donald. He asked me to obtain the utmost publicity for wha,t he had to say; and what he said on that occasion was exactly what he said in an interview published in the Sydney Sun a few days ago. Incidentally, I compliment that newspaper on having such a good representative in Manila. Mr. Donald told me that he had been continuously in touch with Australian Prime Ministers when he was advisor to the Chinese leader. He said that he had written to the late Mr. Lyons, when he was Prime Minister, pointing out that the Japanese were in north China and would soon be in south China, and that they had violated every treaty they had signed. He pointed out to Mr. Lyons that the Japanese would soon enter southern China, and that when they did so, southern China would he the front line for Australia. He urged the late Mr. Lyons to tell the facts to the people of’ Australia. If he did so, they would be sufficiently humane to support the Chinese. As the Japanese had violated five treaties for the protection of China, he felt sure that the Australian people would have sufficient sense to recognize that, by assisting the Chinese, they would be assisting Australia. I asked Mr. Donald if he would come to Australia, and he replied: “No, I do not want to see the country again”. When I asked why, he added -

I was born in Australia, but I do not want to see the country again so long as a government like the present Government is in office. I know what happened in Nanking: and. .1 know that nine-tenths of the armaments and war materials required by the Japanese for waging war was supplied by the British Empire, the United States of America and the Butch. I know what happened at Port Kembla. I do not want to see Australia again while such a government is in office.

I then said that 99 per cent, of Australians were pro-Chinese, and loved the Chinese. He replied : “ That is all very fine, but if Australians are 99 per cent. pro-Chinese, tell me why they keep in office a government which is 99 per cent. pro-Japanese”. I bowed my head in shame. Yet to-day we hear honorable senators opposite talk about the mess which the Labour Government has made. If governments which they supported had remained in office, there would be no Australia to-day for any government to make a mess of. Mr. Donald, in the interview published in the Sun, described how he travelled from island to island until, in 1.941, he reached New Zealand. When relatives tried to persuade him to go to Australia, he said -

I would not go back to Australia, because that would have meant entering into a controversy with the existing Government on its stand of appeasement of Japs.

Members of the Labour party, who are students of international affairs, knew that war was inevitable with Japan. Sir John Latham, on returning from Japan, when he was Australia’s Minister to that country, stated that there would be no war with the Japanese. At that date, however, Swatow had been bombed by the Japanese, and British ships had been lying there for weeks waiting to unload. In other cities, British women were stripped and spat upon in the streets by Japanese. The events of that time were events of war. Only a declaration of war was wanting. Despite those facts, Sir John Latham said, “ There is not going to be any war with Japan “. Mr. Donald had pointed out that ever since 1863, when the Japanese began their machine development, they were getting ready to wage war. Therefore, it ill behoves honorable senators opposite who supported governments that ignored these events .to criticize this Government with respect to the disposition of our fighting forces at a time like the present.

I believe that there is too much optimism in the air in Australia to-day. I do not think that Germany is nearly beaten yet. I base that conclusion on my knowledge of fascism. Raucschning. who was President of the Senate in Danzig under Hitler, wrote a book entitled Germany’s Revolution of Destruction. It is the most informative work I have read on the subject. He pointed out that the Germans would burn everything to ashes, that the gangsters leading the Germans had nothing to lose, and that the whole of

Europe would go down with Germany. To-day, the Allies are facing great difficulties because of lack of shipping. Before evacuating territory, the Germans burn everything, and the task of rehabilitating the inhabitants falls upon the Allies. This process is being carried out on all fronts. At the same time, Germany’s lines of communications are shortening. The Russians have been held up during the last few weeks on the Eastern front, and the Allied advance in the West has not been as expeditious as press reports might convey to the average reader. In these circumstances, the strain on the Allies is terrific. The Germans will be beaten, but they are not beaten yet; and after we have beaten them, we must still defeat the Japanese.

Senator Keane:

– And the Germans are still bombing London.

Senator GRANT:

– Yes. As some honorable senators have lost sons in this war, and others have relatives living in the Old ‘Country, I do not wish to deal sentimentally with these matters. The point I stress is that whatever the Germans have done it is nothing compared with what the Japanese have done. In the walled city of Manila they killed most civilians and destroyed everything they could lay their hands on. They will carry out the same policy in Malaya, Indo-China and the Netherlands East Indies. Nothing like the looting carried out. by the Japanese in those countries has been witnessed since the days of Genghis Khan. The Allies will be confronted with the task of rehabilitating those countries. I remind those people who criticize the Government with respect to the disposition of our forces at present, and who suggest ‘that our armed services are not doing enough, that the day is not far distant when our hearts will be heavy with the loss of many Australians. In the past,- the Australians have been used principally in the role of storm troopers. They have suffered losses out of proportion to their numbers. However, this is an all-in war, and some armies will suffer disproportionate losses compared with those of other Allies. However, I know that wherever Australians are called, upon to serve in the future, they will give a good account of themselves. I repeat that we have still a long way to go. The present Government has done a very good job in co-operation with the Americans. Without the aid we have received from the United States of America, I have not the slightest doubt that we would not have been able to hold this country. It is up to us, there.fore, to express appreciation of that aid in every possible way; and when Australians will again be making the greater sacrifices in proportion to their numbers, I am certain that the American people will extend to us the same sympathy and support which I am sure we extend to them to-day.

Senator FOLL:

.- All of us agree entirely with Senator Grant that at this stage of the war we should not tolerate complacency or undue optimism, despite the fact that we believe that ultimate victory is beyond doubt. The fact is that great difficulties still lie ahead of us. I propose to deal first with the criticism voiced by Senator Grant regarding certain utterances by the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Menzies) and the Leader of the Opposition in this chamber (Senator McLeay), with regard to the disposition of the Australian armed forces’. It is a mistake for any honorable senator to take the view that Parliament should not discuss matters relating to the disposition of our armed forces, or criticize our commanders when we think that such criticism is justified. There has been an attempt to Stime discussion of military matters in this Parliament, probably to a greater degree than in any other Allied country. There has been a wrong conception of the position which Parliament occupies in relation to the part being played by our armed forces. I have read very candid criticism of commanders in Congress with respect to the disposition of troops, and the work being performed by American forces, whilst in the House of Commons in Great Britain somewhat violent criticism was voiced concerning certain aspects of the North African campaign, and later the invasion of southern Italy. We on this side of the chamber have repeatedly requested the Government to arrange a secret session in order that we as representatives of the people, including the fighting men themselves, might have a heart-to-heart- discussion and >be given an opportunity not only to express out views, but also to learn from the Government, with its greater knowledge of the facts, whether suggestions we make with relation to the disposition of troops are warranted. However, we have been denied the opportunity to discuss important matters affecting the war on that basis. I intend to speak quite frankly with respect to the use now being made of Australian forces in New Guinea. Those forces are not in all cases being used to the best advantage. We know that when the Americans moved farther north, it became necessary for other troops to occupy the posts they vacated. Those posts were taken over by Australians. Undoubtedly, large numbers of Japanese are still in possession of certain parts of New Guinea. However, no attempt was made by the American forces to annihiliate those enemy forces, the view then being expressed .by Allied commanders that those forces could be by-passed and cleaned up at a future date. General MacArthur, for whom I have the greatest admiration, and whose achievements in this war have been astounding, expressed this view of the situation. However, during the last war loan campaign, an entirely different view was expressed by General Sir Thomas Blarney. He spoke about thousands of Japanese occupying certain parts of New Guinea, and said that such forces were fully armed, and were colonizing those districts. On that basis, he urged the need for mopping up those forces. I do not deny that those enemy forces are fully armed. But I emphasize that they are besieged troops, and many valuable Australian lives will bc lost in exterminating them, whereas this work could be postponed, because it is quite obvious that those forces can never be relieved by the enemy.

Senator FRASER:

– The honorable senator is implying that Australian troops are being sacrificed unnecessarily in New Guinea.

Senator FOLL:

– My point is that those besieged Japanese forces cannot possibly be relieved. The fact that the American fleet has been able to sail almost within shooting distance of Japan, and to assist in the landing of troops on the island of Iwo Jima, only 750 miles south of Tokyo - an operation which, unfortunately, has been costly for our Allies - shows clearly that Japanese troops isolated in New Guinea and the Solomons cannot expect relief.

Australian troops have had what may be termed a rest period. This period of inactivity, during, which huge numbers of troops were congregated in Australia, gave rise to considerable discontent amongst the troops themselves. This discontent was reflected in the large number of absences without leave - mostly for short periods but some for long periods. In fact, the unrest was such that questions were asked in this Parliament and in the press. The Government was asked what was to happen to the Australian Military Forces. We heard speech after speech from the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde), and also from the CommanderinChief, General Sir Thomas Blarney, who echoed his Minister’s utterances. We were told that the Australian Imperial Force was poised for action, ready for the call, and would participate in the Philippines campaign. However, the next thing we knew was that instead of accompanying the American forces on the road to Tokyo as had been suggested, Australian troops in large numbers were fighting besieged enemy garrisons in New Guinea. What Senator Grant has said about conditions in New Guinea is quite true. The conditions under which our men have to fight are foul. I have a little knowledge of some of the more accessible portions of New Guinea where conditions are- very much better than they are in the more remote areas in which our men are fighting. Even in those parts no resident magistrate or officer of the New Guinea administration, unless compelled to do so, would think . of sleeping in the open exposed to filth and danger of disease. There are government rest houses at every village, and government officers always seek cover in those houses at night. The lot of our fighting men can well, be imagined. The revelation that Australian troops were fighting against isolated Japanese garrisons in New Guinea and in the Solomons was made by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender), a member’ of the Advisory War Council, whilst visiting the

United States of America. It was most extraordinary that although fighting in these areas had been going on for some time, the first official news of it was given to the Australian public only about two days after the statement by the honorable member for Warringah. Almost immediately, news bulletins were released for publication telling of the gallant exploits of our soldiers in New Guinea and the Solomons. A controversy resulted in which the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) defended his department by saying that it was not responsible for the lack of news, and that the responsibility lay with the Army Public Relations authorities. I may say that I do not blame the Minister in the slightest degree for making an announcement in defence of his department. However, immediately he was in effect called a liar hy General Sir Thomas Blamey and so far as I am aware that gentleman has not been reproached for his utterance. He said that the Minister’s statement was a direct lie, but the Minister did not answer’ back, and no reproach came from the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) or any one else for the use of such language to a Minister of the Crown. This state of affairs cannot be regarded by the general public as satisfactory.

Senator FRASER:

– I have heard the honorable senator called worse names than that at times.

Senator FOLL:

– The Minister for Health (Senator Fraser) will agree that statements of members of a free parliament - men with strong views and differing ideas - are quite different from an utterance by the Commander-in-Chief of our armed forces, who, after all, is a public servant and surely should not be permitted, unreproached, to call a responsible Minister of the Crown a. liar.

Senator Armstrong:

– Without even being asked to withdraw!

Senator FOLL:

– That is so. It is no use .the Minister for Health, who is also Minister representing the Minister for the Army in this chamber, seeking, by introducing a spirit of levity into this matter, to pretend that the public of this country is satisfied with General Sir Thomas Blamey as Commander-in-Chief.

Senator FRASER:

– He was appointed by a government of which the honorable senator was a member. I asked the then Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) if he was satisfied that his choice of General Sir Thomas Blamey to lead the Australian Imperial Force was a good one, and he said that he had every confidence in him.

Senator Collett:

– As a divisional commander.

Senator FRASER:

– That does not matter. The Prime Minister was satisfied.

Senator FOLL:

– General Sir Thomas Blamey was appointed by a government of which I was a member to lead the Australian Imperial Force overseas. When the 6th Division was formed, we did not know whether more than one division would go overseas. We did not know what action would be taken by the other Axis partners, Italy and by Japan, and we could not lose sight of the possibility that both those countries would join Germany in the war. We had to find a soldier to lead the Australian Imperial Force overseas and there were many soldiers in Australia, including the then Chief of the General .Staff and certain members of the Military’ Board, whom we could not spare because of the necessity to carry out plans for the defence of this country. On the other hand, General Sir Thomas Blamey was not on full-time military duty when he was appointed to lead the Australian Imperial Force. I go so far as to say that the then Government would not have appointed him to the position of Commander-in-Chief of the Australian Armed Forces, the position which he now holds. We should not, have put all Australia’s eggs in one basket as they are at present. We believed that it was necessary to have some one leading our expeditionary force, and also to have a very senior officer in charge of the home command.

Senator Collett:

– General Sir Thomas Blamey had a first-class record in France in the last war.

Senator FOLL:

– I shall not dispute that. I regard him as a gallant soldier with a good record, but to-day the general public has very little faith in him as the Commander-in-Chief and the Army itself is seething with dissatisfaction. One has only to discuss this matter with members of the public or members of our fighting services - including some senior officers - to realize that there is a widespread feeling of dissatisfaction and a lack of faith in General Sir Thomas Blarney. In fact, such is the surge of feeling against him that the best service he could render to Australia would be to resign from his position us Commander-in-Chief, For a short term I was a member of the first Australian Imperial Force, and I say emphatically that I never heard discussions on leaders of that force, such as Monash and White, of the type that one hears of General Sir Thomas Blarney amongst the troops in this war. If a man had talked as freely about leaders of the Australian Imperial Force in the last war as soldiers do about our present Commander-in-Chief, his comrades would have lynched him. I realize that I am speaking plainly and perhaps not pleasantly for every one; but someone has to say these things. I am not making a personal attack by any means. No doubt I shall be criticized for my utterances, but I believe it is my duty to take this action. I am firmly convinced that Australian troops could be better employed than they are at present.

Senator Finlay:

– What grounds has the honorable senator for saying that?

Senator FOLL:

– I know the orders that have been given to soldiers who have been sent to New Guinea, and I know the type of work they are expected to do there. I suggest that when the next meeting of the Labour party caucus is held honorable senators opposite should ask the Prime Minister to supply them with particulars of the orders that have been given to our troops now fighting in New Guinea and the Solomons and the jobs that they have been instructed to do.

Reference was made by the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Menzies) to the future disposition of the Australian armed forces. In spite of what Senator Grant has said, I hope that our forces will play a substantial part in the relief of the Netherlands East Indies.

Senator Grant:

– I did not say that they should not.

Senator FOLL:

– No, but the honorable senator had certain criticisms to offer of those countries.

Senator FRASER:

– He said that the task would not be an easy one.

Senator FOLL:

– I admit that. Everybody is aware that the task will not be easy, and I would far rather see Australian troops held in this country until it is possible for them to do an important job like that, than see them whittled away on a more or less “ face-saving “ task. I disagree with Senator Grant that these questions are merely matters of military concern, and should not be discussed in this Parliament. I believe that they should be discussed here, so long as they are discussed without personal bias or heat. In the British Parliament, talks are permitted on the disposition of armed forces so long as speakers do not infringe national security measures, and so far as I am aware nothing has been said this afternoon which would prejudice national security in the slightest degree. What is the use of our pretending, as public men, that the people of Australia are satisfied with the present state of affairs? They are not. Unfortunately, the name of General Blarney is not held in that respect, either by the public or by the soldiers, that it should be in the case of the Commander-in-Chief of the whole of the Australian forces. However, I do not want to go over that again or over the treatment of some of our other senior men. That has all been thrashed out previously in Parliament. But there are a. few names that come to my mind. I shall refer to a man who was virtually thrown out of this country’s service by the Commander-in-Chief; that is Lieutenant-General Rowell, whom, I may say at once, I do not know personally. I do know, however, of his record. I know what a brilliant soldier he was, and I know, further, that when he was discarded by the CommanderinChief of the Australian forces his services were very gladly availed of by the British War Office and that he played a leading and vital part in connexion with the landing of the Allied forces in Europe on D-Day.

Senator Mattner:

– His going was one of the greatest losses that have yet been sustained in our fighting forces.

Senator FOLL:

– That is so. One could quote the names of other men, and 1 shall mention again LieutenantGeneral Sir John Lavarack, who was Chief of the General Staff. I remember very well the work that he performed and 1 know something of the experience that he gained, in the course of his career.

Senator Collett:

– He is a very highly trained and efficient soldier.

Senator FOLL:

– Yes. There is scarcely a man in the Australian Army who had more money devoted to his training, and who came through that training with higher honours and a greater reputation, both in the chief Staff colleges of England and in India. Yet, because of a personal disagreement, apparently, between General Lavarack and the CommanderinChief, that man had to be sacrificed. He was sent to Washington, to a job that he should not have been called upon to take, to a work that was not of the type for a fighting soldier of his qualifications. As for LieutenantGeneral Gordon Bennett, no one can doubt his fighting qualities, yet he was never given a chance, as others were, to go back and attack his old foe. I must mention still one other name - that of Major-General Robertson-, who was known so well as a. dashing commander in the Middle East and was loved by his men, who dubbed him. “Bed Bobbie”. He was sent home a nd put on the shelf, never to lead his men in action again. What is the use of pretending that all is well with our Army in the light of all these things? The man in the street - the soldier in the ranks - everybody knows it. All is not well. The country is seething with feelings of dissatisfaction and questioning; everybody is discussing the matter at every street corner, in every officers’ mess, in every sergeants’ mess, and in every camp. What is the use of the Government blocking its ears and pretending that this state of affairs has not arisen in connexion with the administration of our Army?

I have dealt previously with certain other matters of maladministration, and I do not want to reintroduce them to-day in connexion with the motion before the Chair. There are various’ matters referred to in the Speech of His Royal Highness that could well become the subject of full debate, and undoubtedly they will be thoroughly discussed when the- bills having to do with them are brought- forward. I have seized this opportunity to say things that I consider it necessary to say, and I can only hope that my views and criticisms will prove to be of value to this country.

Senator MATTNER:
South Australia

, - I would like at the outset to say how deeply I appreciate the remarks both of Senator Nicholls and Senator Sheehan when they moved and seconded, respectively, the Address-in-Reply motion. Perhaps we all hope to attain the same end in life. The only aspect as to which we may differ will perhaps be upon our methods. It is in this chamber, I take it, that we must decide and determine those methods. I want to say how much I appreciate Senator Grant’s exposition upon the Pacific theatre of war to-day. I fully agree with his appreciation of the situation in China. I agree with him entirely when he says that he believes this war will be long and bloody and that our forces will be engaged in terrific fighting. We must not lose sight of the fact that our fighting forces are going to incur severe casualties. However, the very arguments that Senator Grant so well propounded this afternoon have strengthened me in what I shall have to say upon one or two matters in particular arising from the Speech of His Royal Highness. All honorable senators will agree, I feel sure, that there is not a family in Australia that has- not, or has not had, one of its members in the fighting forces. Their welfare and future impose tremendous obligations upon every one of us.

We are very deeply concerned also with respect to the task that has been allotted to our fighting men. For some considerable time that task has been a passive one. During this period we hoped that our troops were being rested and were being re-equipped with the most modern weapons of war. Our men demand those most modern weapons and have a right to them. Our army comprises the finest offensive and defensive fighters that the world has ever seen, and in saying that I stress the word “ defensive “ because our men have that quality of tenacity which has always enabled them to hold any position they have won. I sometimes express with vigour my disagreement when I hear it said that the Australian soldier is only an offensive fighter, that our men are only shock troops. They are more than that. They have as well the indomitable courage that marks the true soldier and makes them stick on when the other fellow falls off. Our troops have that quality in the highest degree.

In the Speech of His Royal Highness there is outlined the future role of the Australian forces. In that matter, public opinion may be critical; indeed, it may view with the greatest feeling of misgivings the use of our troops in the proposed operations. The blanketing of much real information m’ay have contributed somewhat to these’ doubts and may have led us to look for some of the reasons that have caused concern amongst our people both on the home front and in the ranks of our fighting men. I would set forth these reasons in this way : They are, first, the lack of employment of our armoured formations. These contain some of our finest men, and they have not yet seen active service ; they have not really been utilized. In making these comments I do not hold myself up as an expert; at the same time, I do not think I have ever said anything publicly that might have an ill effect upon our war effort. The second of the reasons which I have in mind has to do with the type of employment allotted to our three Australian Imperial Force divisions. These are being so bandied about throughout the length and breadth of the country - and this is my third reason - that approximately only 40 per cent, of our enlisted personnel have seen service outside Australia. I realize that the task of the Government is a difficult one and that it is easy to criticize. Not least among the many worries of the Administration is over the question of discipline in an inactive army. The best disciplined troops are those possessing a good fighting record; those who have traditions and a pride in their formations. The Government must satisfy Parliament and the people that the best use is being made of the man-power allotted to the Army, that the fighting forces are well equipped and provided with the best and most modern weapons, that they are properly trained and properly led, and that good discipline is maintained.

Let us face to the absent without leave problem - the troops call it “ Ack Willie “. Fighting soldiers have expressed their thought to me in this way: There is no British Army in our area of operations. Our equipment does not dove-tail with American Army supplies. We are to all intents and purposes an appendage - something tacked on - a foreign but friendly appendage to our American allies. We are never likely to form an integral part of the American war machine. The terrific humbug of two standards of equipment in one force must be apparent to all. This develops 4+ r tragedy at the front line, where it is most essentia] that all equipment be interchangeable. Soldiers reason these things out for themselves, and it is only natural that our Australian soldiers should look to the British Army for employment. Our equipment is similar to that of the British soldier. Then, too, soldiers must have an ideal for which to fight - some-‘ thing that they believe to be correct and On the highest plane. Our lads are not just cold-blooded murderers; they are filled with the ideals of patriotism. There is no soldier on earth who hates slaughter more fiercely. What ideal and inspiration can we give our men to fight for? Moppingup operations will not inspire them. The great urge that surges in the breasts of our men is to free their “ cobbers “ of the 8th Division. To keep them from that task can only give them a feeling of frustration. It is this feeling that is causing the discontent on the home front and amongst the fighting men themselves. The mopping-up work in New Guinea will entail an enormous loss of life. It will also result in much sickness and broken health.

In the strategy developed so far with great success, the Japanese trapped in New Guinea cannot cause grave concern regarding our future operations, and could he left to be dealt with at a later stage. Mopping-up operations may not even be necessary if unconditional surrender is to be one of the peace terms. Should the lives of our fighting men be sacrificed for the elimination of the possibility of a small increase of the number of half-caste Japanese? That, to me, is the crux of the position. We know that some half-caste Japanese will be added to the population in the islands, but the war will not last much longer, and that increase will not prove of serious consequence. If precious lives must be lost, let that loss be incurred only in a way that will render the greatest service to the homeland. No man wishes to die, yet the soldier is prepared to sacrifice the great gift of life so that we may live. Therefore, let us preserve his life, if possible, and use it where it will give the greatest service. I shall read one or two extracts from letters which I have received from men with excellent fighting records, who have seen service in almost every theatre of war. My first quotation will be from a letter written on the 13th January by a front-line soldier. He writes - 1 have seen a bit of the United States forces, and really our equipment compared with theirs is farcical. We have come to calling ourselves the “Pauper Army”, and closely resemble the “wallahs” of Egypt in that we go about picking over Yankee rubbish dumps to see what we can get. American rejections are better and more suitable than our own. The method of track making here has changed back to the pick and shovel style. Our forces will never bo able to keep pace with our Allies in speed of advance, but a lot of guts and courage will be expended in trying to do so. Supply will always bc dragging behind.

Another letter received by me is dated the 25th January, and portion of it reads as follows : -

The Yaqnks we hu vo met here are a good crowd, and have been very generous. They are, however, dumping and destroying a lot of used equipment which we could well “do with, and they consider it not worth their while transporting to other theatres. Rumour is that our crowd won’t take it at lease-lend prices, so it is destroyed. The United States objective was, of course, the Philippines, and all the operations to date they regard as nothing more than stepping stones on the way. They’re right, too, because the mopping up will not affect the end of the war one whit. Actually, our forces could not possibly hope to keep pace with the Yanks in any operation, because their engineer resources, equipment and service of supply just outstrips us. Tasks previously done in this area with modern machinery are now back to the pick and shovel method. Either our Army is run by men with eighteenth century minds, or the Government refuses to sanction the cost of equipment which make a modem army. More and better machines is the need and in the long run it is the most economical method.

Senator Finlay:

– How did that pass the censor?

Senator MATTNER:

– There is nothing in that statement by a front-line soldier which would not be passed by the censor. No soldier is supposed to know whether the price of lease-lend supplies is too high. I am not happy to read these letters. I do so because I consider it to be my duty. I think that every honorable senator desires to rectify any position which he considers to be wrong. I am not quoting from this correspondence in a carping spirit. A letter dated the 4th February contains the following statement : -

We have had heavy rains here lately which have washed away many bridges and generally played bell with communications. The “ ducks “, or amphibious trucks, which the Yanks have are the things for overcoming such difficulties, but we don’t own such things.

That constrains me to ask the Government why our forces have not that equipment. Figures have been published regarding the large expenditure that has been incurred on war equipment, but we do not know what equipment has been obtained. Apparently some of it does not reach the troops in the front line where it is most needed. We are lead to believe that it remains at some mainland base. Speed ‘ of construction, together with the most economical expenditure of labour, is vital to the building of our lines of communication. To do this work effectively and quickly, our troops must have all the necessary mechanical equipment at their disposal. Battles are won by the maintenance of communications and supplies.

I now approach the subject of the leadership of Australia’s fighting forces. I did not know that this matter was to be referred to this afternoon, but I make no apology for discussing it, because the time has come when certain things must be said. We find that the CommanderinChief is charged with the responsibility of conducting operations on the fighting front and also controlling our forces at home. This seems to me to be a stupendous task, for he cannot be at the battle front, where he ought to be, and at his home-front head-quarters at the same time. There is only one place for a fighting commander. The closer he gets to his job the better it is. and the greater will be the respect of his troops for him. He should not have to rely on second-hand information. Present-day warfare demands the presence of the CommanderinChief at the front. This is a young man’s job to-day. “We have heard about the great difficulties that have to be overcome, owing to climatic conditions, and that is one of the strongest arguments in favour of having as CommanderinChief a young and experienced man who has seen service in this war, and is gains; enough to go to the front and see for himself what is taking place. Presentday warfare imposes a terrific strain on any man, and we should place that burden on a young commander. I believe that the danger of invasion has passed. Ahead of our forces lies an offensive role which calls for a commander free from all homefront worries, a man who can be where the battle rages and who knows our requirements at first hand. I have -given this matter deep thought, and I ask the Government to give careful consideration to the duties of the CommanderinChief. Most respectfully I ask it to weigh the merits of my suggestion that a talented young soldier should carry this great responsibility. I make this plea to the Government, because I believe that the matter overshadows all of our other war problems to-day. The people of Australia axe worried” about it, and the members of the fighting forces themselves are not, happy about it.

New South Wales

– I offer sincere congratulations to Senator Nicholls and Senator Sheehan respectively, who submitted and seconded the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to the Speech of the Governor-General. The improvement of the standard, of debate in this chamber since the advent in recent years of several young men is most gratifying. If the Senate continues to improve in that regard, this so-called second chamber will take its rightful place in the legislature of this country. Australia has a great part to play in world affairs, but whether it is occupying its proper place to-day is open to argument. In my opinion, it is not doing so. If we have not the ability and the determination to make the name of Australia known and respected, this country will not occupy in world councils the place that it deserves. The first step in bringing about a proper recognition of Australia’s place among the nations of the world is to make Australia and Australians known in other countries, so that the people may appreciate what we have done, and give us credit for our achievements. I do not think that Australia should be knocking at the door, asking to be allowed to collaborate with Mr. Churchill, Marshal Stalin and President Roosevelt. We should not have to ask for admission to the councils of the great nations when world policy is being decided. Our place among the nations will depend largely on the place that this Parliament holds in the minds of the Australian people, and on the personality of our leaders of to-day and of the postwar period. We must give to Australia its proper place in the world now; if we wait until after the war is over, and then try to force ourselves forward, we shall find that some other nation has taken Australia’s place. That brings me back to a subject to which I have referred on other occasions in this chamber, namely, the need for greater publicity abroad concerning Australia. It is in that sphere that we must become active immediately; and if we do a thorough job there we shall occupy our proper place in world affairs. What is the present position? Every Australian who travels abroad is struck by the ignorance of Australia exhibited by those to whom he speaks. He does not know whether to laugh or to weep at such ignorance; but whether he laughs or weeps, he walks away a chastened man. Before I went abroad I thought that Australia meant something to people of other lands, but in the United States of America I found that the average middle-class American knew very little about Australia. The responsibility lies with us. I do not blame the Department of Information for the lack of knowledge concerning Australia shown by the people of other nations. There is need for the expenditure of large sums of money in advertising Australia. It is sometimes said that the only great advances that have taken place during the war have been in connexion with weapons of war. Before the war began rocket aeroplanes, without propellers, capable of travelling at 600 miles an hour, were not thought of ; to-day, modern science sends V bombs and “ dooblebugs “ over Great Britain. But the developments in the scientific field are not the only developments that have taken place ; the advances that have been made in the art of propaganda are as great as have been achieved in the field of war. We must keep up with other countries in the propaganda field; and that means that more money must be expended in advertising our country. Let us consider what is happening in South America. Millions of pounds are being poured into Argentina by Germans. Their propaganda is so effective that all the efforts of Great Britain and the United States of America to woo Argentina from the Axis camp are without avail. The Nazi propaganda agents have done their work well. Even after the’ war began, the only propaganda service in London on behalf of Australia was administered by a part-time officer who was paid £3 to work two days a week at Australia House. What could he do under those conditions ? I saw that man in Australia recently and I asked him whether Australian publicity in Great Britain had improved. He replied that the position was much better than it had been because more men and more money were employed on Australian propaganda but he said that Australia still had a long way to go. At the present time the best field for Australian publicity is in the United States of America; the opportunities there are better than in either Great Britain or Canada. But the job is one for trained men. I suggest that officers of the Department of Information should interview every Australian who proposes to go abroad before he leaves Australia, and impress on him Australia’s story, and ask him to avail himself of every opportunity to place that story before the American public. I do not think that there are any people who occupy so high a place in the thoughts of the average American citizen as do Australians. When an Australian meets an American in the United States ofl America the first reaction on the part of the American is an attitude of reasonable cordiality. He believes the Australian to be a Britisher, and he is cordial; but when he realizes that the person to whom he is talking is an Australian, he opens the door of his home and the door of his heart, and does all in his power to entertain him as a friend. An Australian in the United States of America can practically write his own ticket. In that country there is a wonderful field for Australia to exploit and explore, but, unfortunately, very little is being done in the matter. Every public man from Australia who has visited the United States of America during recent years has been an outstanding success. I have received personal reports on the visit to the United States of America of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) which leave no doubt that he made a most favorable impression on the American people. In this Parliament, and in Australia generally, it is customary to criticize our public men, but those who have gone abroad have compared more than- favorably with their opposite numbers in the United States of America, Canada and Great Britain; they have more than held their own with the men with whom they have had to deal. By sending public men a’broad we can do much to tell Australia’s story to the people of other countries. In the United States of America there is a field for public lectures about Australia that the people of this country do not understand. Almost every week Australian business men leave this country to make war-time arrangements, or post-war arrangements, with the leaders of industry in other countries. They should be asked to do their utmost to advertise Australia wherever they go. It is difficult to get paragraphs about Australia into American newspapers; the American people want to read about America and Americans. They think that the Americans are winning the war. That is because the American newspapers do not devote much space to people who are not Americans. We cannot do the impossible; we cannot break into the columns of American newspapers with paragraphs dealing with Australia alone. But American newspaper proprietors will accept paragraphs which tell of the doings of Americans and Australians. A story which is 60 per cent. American and 40 per cent. Australian will be published in the American press. We mud get men who can write such stories. In the Australian armed forces there are many men capable of supplying articles of the right kind for inclusion in the American newspapers. Their services could be availed of without great cost. I suggest that a number of young men should be chosen and given a twelve months’ contract, and sent to the United States of America to write stories setting out the Australian point of view in a form which will be acceptable to American editors. They should he asked to keep a record of the paragraphs and articles which they have succeeded in getting published of the lectures on Australia that they have delivered, and the results of their efforts. If at the end of twelve months the result does not appear to he satisfactory, their fares back to Australia should be paid, and they should be brought home. If clever writers can submit stories telling of American and Australian men in action together, or of American flyers ‘being picked up ‘by Australians after having baled out, the American public will read them eagerly, and there will be no difficulty about Australian publicity in the United States of America. But those who think that it is an easy matter to break into the columns of the American press with stories that- are solely Australian are greatly mistaken. The trouble is that the Government is parsimonious in regard to expenditure on publicity for Australia. Such an- attitude is almost criminal. Those who do not understand the need for the expenditure of considerable sums of money on such propaganda should compare our efforts with the efforts of the American people.

Sitting suspended from 6 to S p.m.


– Before the sitting was suspended, I was comparing the effort made by the Australian Government with that of the American Government in terms of the amounts expended in publicizing the respective countries. The most interesting comparison can be made by examining the set-up of the American Office of “War Information in Australia. This department has been set up in this country by the United ‘States of America, not for the purpose of collecting Australian hews to be circulated in the United States of

America, but specifically to place the American point of view before Australians. Officers employed in this department peruse all American news, and circulate in this country through our press so much of that news which will be of interest to Australians. Information of all kinds is available to callers at the office of the department, where an extensive library on America is also available to the Australian public. In its office in Sydney, it employs eight American citizens, and three in its Melbourne office, whilst the total personnel employed by the organization in Australia, including Australians, is 50. I repeat that the primary purpose of the American Office of “War Information in Australia is not to gather a single item of Australian news for circulation in the United States of America, but to disseminate American news in Australia. This department also has an office in New Zealand, where it employs a staff of four persons who do exactly the same job. This is a distinct department with no connexion whatever with other publicity departments established by the United States of America in this country, such as the Office of Psychological Warfare, the staffs of which compile pamphlets, and messages to be dropped over enemy lines, urging the enemy to surrender. It has no connexion with American diplomatic or consular offices in Australia, or with staffs controlling trade publicity, or army or navy correspondents. It is a distinct organization. Let us now see how our efforts in this field compare with that organization. I have been informed by the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) that the number of Australians employed in our various Australian legations total two in the London office, three at Washington, four at Chungking, eight at Moscow, three at Ottawa, six in India, and four in New Zealand. I suggest that it is up to us to learn the lesson set for us by the American approach to this matter. Although this Government has made great strides since it assumed office in 1939, we have advanced only a short way along the road. I am- aware that many people will not agree with my advocacy on this point. However, I cite the activities of the Vacuum Oil Company as another example of the value of publicity. Although the product of the Vacuum Oil Company is sufficiently well known to sell itself, that company circularizes among municipal and shire councils, progress associations and similar bodies offers to provide sufficient films to provide a complete night’s entertainment. This material consists of first-class shorts and films of unusual interest; and the only condition upon which the company makes it available is that those accepting it will include in their night’s programme a short film, lasting from eight to ten minutes, dealing with some phase of the company’s activities. The point I emphasize is that this company, whose product, as I have said, is sufficiently well known to sell itself, incurs so large an expenditure in providing films under these conditions. It does so because it realizes the value of publicity through the screen. Australia should make itself better known abroad. A surprising example of ignorance concerning this country is the film entitled “ The Man from Down Under “, which was shown in this country recently. That film starred the famous British actor, Charles Laughton, and told a story about Australia which one would not expect to find even in a book of fairy tales. The background of the film was entirely wrong. It conveyed no Australian point of view, and it is obvious that those responsible for it believed that there was no city in Australia with a population of more than 5,000. The film depicted scenes in a bush town which was supposed to have been invaded by the Japanese, and the climax of the story was the saving of the town by a few Australian, or English, nurses. The effect of the film on an Australian was painful. Nevertheless, the company producing it must have expended from 300,000 dollars to 400,000 dollars on it. It is apparent that no one was available in Hollywood who was capable of advising the producers on Australian life and conditions. The actors in the film did not know how to wear the “digger “ hat; and there was no kink in the hat at the top. Fundamentally, whoever advised the company from the Australian point of view knew absolutely nothing about conditions in this country. Our answer to such a film should be to tell the world the real Aus- tralian story. In this respect we are very lucky at the moment to have in this country two big overseas film units making films. First, the Ealing Studios of London have sent their ace director, Mr. Harry “Watt, to make a film which is to be known as “ The Overlanders “. This man was in this country six months before he even decided upon the story to be used as the basis for a film. Probably, he travelled over a greater portion of Australia than most Australians have visited. He went to Wyndham, Broome, Perth and Darwin, and he eventually decided upon a story dealing with the driving of cattle from the Kimberleys across the north to Queensland at the time when the Japanese were bombing Broome. He came to this country at the invitation of the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin), who offered to place every facility at the disposal o£- his company in order to enable him to do a thorough job. Also in this country at the moment is a unit of the Columbia Company of America, who are making a film dealing with the life of the late Sir Charles Kingsford Smith. That company has asked David Nevin, the British actor, to play the part of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith in the film. If those films are a success they will find a place in the overseas market which is the best medium of propaganda for any country. At present, we ourselves have not the trained technicians to produce films of sufficient standard to sell on that market. Certainly, we can make films like Charles Chauvel’s “Rats of Tobruk”, which, of course, will sell well in Australia because of the exploits of the 9th Division. But it is problematical whether that film will be ofl sufficient interest to obtain screenings in any theatre outside this country. Consequently, a film of that kind has no propaganda- value. Only films which will make an appeal to the peoples of other countries are of value in that respect. That is why the two companies I have mentioned are bringing their own trained personnel to this country. I sincerely hope that both their ventures will succeed, and that their films will be widely circulated in British and American theatres. It is through the silver screen that the best impression can be made upon the public mind to-day. The screen is by far the most effective propaganda medium. All honorable senators, perhaps, have heard of the English film personality, Mr. Arthur Rank, who is the biggest man in films in England to-day. With the assistance of the British Government he has undera taken to ensure that British films will in the near future be shown throughout the world in British-owned theatres. Up to date, the American producers have followed this policy, the language used in all of their films being translated- into various languages and shown all over the world. Now Great Britain proposes to claim a share of that market. Despite the urgent need to conserve sterling, the British Government has made available to Mr. Rank 3,000,000 dollars in sterling for the purpose of buying the Odeon circuit in Canada. The great majority of theatres in that country are owned ‘by American circuits, and, generally speaking, there is very little British money in the picture industry there. Under this scheme, British films based on the British point of view, and British culture and tradition, will be shown on one of the largest circuits in that country. Is it not possible for us in a small way to make films which peoples in other countries will pay to see? If “The Overlanders” is a success it will show to the rest of the world an aspect of Australian life which should prove a great advertisement for this country. And should the film based on the life of Kingsford Smith prove a success, it will be a marvellous boost for Australia. I believe that not one American in 10,000 knows that it was an Australian who first flew the Pacific, and pioneered the track which to-day American Liberators are using. That is the sort of advertisement which Australia needs in the eyes of the world. We must give to the peoples of other countries an idea of our great men, and we must present, this propaganda in a form that is readily assimilated. I have shown that our effort in this field pales to insignificance when compared with the activities of the American Office of War Information. It is also worthy of note that 45 nations have consular representatives in Australia whilst we have only a handful of such representatives overseas. I was pleased to read the announcement by the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) recently of the appointment of Mr. McGregor as Minister at Large in South America. He will have his head-quarters at Rio de Janeiro. However, nearly all of the South American countries have consulates established in this country. How will those countries know what we have to sell unless we are adequately represented there? In order to be able to play our part in the post-war world we must develop an extensive export trade with those countries with which we have not done much business in the past. In this respect South America is practically untouched., and its exploitation along the lines I have indicated should provide golden dividends in return for any money expended in that direction. I am pleased to note that the Minister for External Affairs has promised to extend our consulate service overseas. At present we have visiting Australia an agriculture delegation from Great Britain, and a trade delegation from India. Such a notable personality as Lord Nuffield is also in this country. We now have amongst us also Mr. Herbert Sutcliffe. My information is that he is out here as an unofficial representative of the British Board of Trade, and, as such, enjoys a travel priority higher than that given to members of the services. What is he here for? He is here to do a job for Great Britain. I do not know the precise details of that job, but apparently he is on an important business mission for the Old Country. That shows the degree to which Great Britain is prepared to make certain that its interests shall be protected, so far as possible, .after the war. It is up to us to follow this example. I understand that when the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) was on his way back to Australia, from the United States of America he found that several hundred Australians were waiting at San Francisco for a passage back to this country.

Senator Keane:

– Six hundred.


– The shipping position to-da.y is such that these people are having the greatest difficulty iri obtaining transport home. I am informed that the reaction of many people in this country when informed of this state of affairs was : “ If there are so many Australians in the United States of America waiting to come hack to Australia, we must let fewer go over there “. That is thinking in reverse. “Why should this Government not run its own transpacific air service to cater for the needs of Australians wishing to travel to and from America? What is the position to-day? If we wish to have secret or ministerial documents transported from this country, we have to depend upon the ii.ii- service of another nation to do the job. That is not right. If we are to take our proper place in the post-war world we must have a correct view of our own importance. I believe that we could develop our own trans-Pacific service. A few weeks ago Captain Ted of the Royal Air Force Transport Command, flew from San Francisco to Sydney in 40 hours 50 minutes, and with two stops en route. In addition to freight, Liberator transport, aircraft can carry many passengers. Heavy luggage can bo sent by sea. If a service were operated with aircraft of this type, there would be little, difficulty in meeting the requirements of Australians who wished to go overseas, and of others who at present are in America and are unable to obtain a passage home. At present the chief means of transport is a steamship service operated by Swedish ships carrying an average of 22 or 24 passengers, and sailing once every two or three weeks. Surely this country is advanced enough to operate not only its internal airlines but also international lines, the first of which, logically, should be the route across the Pacific Ocean pioneered by Sir Charles Kingsford Smith. Not in any circumstances would I reduce the number of Australians leaving this country at present. Every Australian citizen who goes overseas is a potential ambassador. Given proper instruction in the value of propaganda, and acquainted fully with facts about this country, he could do a good job for Australia, and therefore should be encouraged to travel overseas.

Briefly, my view is that we should spend more money on, and apply ourselves with more vigour to, the job of publicizing this country overseas. There is no other field from which better results can be reaped. No nation in the world to-day has a better selling story than Australia. General MacArthur’s message to the Unrra conference at Lapstone, New South Wales, was that Australia’s war effort had been one of the miracles of the war. That is the type of propaganda which should be disseminated overseas. The same may be said of another statement by General McArthur, made in October, 1944’, to the effect that no nation was making a more supreme war effort than Australia. Very little is known in the United States of America about what has been accomplished in this country, or by members of its fighting services. Americans know that one division of United States troops fought in New Guinea, but they cannot imagine that anybody else was there. It is up to us to spend money on this job. We must publicize Australia if we are to expect immigrants after the war. If people overseas do not know anything about this country they will not come to it. They will not take a chance ‘by coming here without some prior knowledge. We must “sell” this country with the right kind of publicity. Every migrant who comes here is a tangible asset. There is one school of thought amongst Australians which says, “ We are not good enough “. These people are defeatists. Another group says, “ After all, what are we. We are unknown. Nobody knows about us.” As the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt) has said, in future years this country will either be a meeting place or a battle ground. Our future is determined for us by our geographical position. Even on a population basis we are not such a small nation. It is surprising to learn how many European countries have populations similar to or smaller than ours. They include Norway, Sweden, Finland, the Baltic States, Portugal, Greece, and Bulgaria. In Central and South America there are only four countries with a greater population than Australia. They are Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Colombia. So, even from the point of view of population, we should not be stepping backwards because we believe that we have not enough people for whom to speak. At the various conferences to which Australia has sent representatives, including those held at

Bretton Woods, Dumbarton Oaks and. Philadelphia, our delegations have been swamped by the representatives of South American and other countries, the populations of which are no greater than that of Australia. The quality of our delegations has been excellent. We have sent men who have more than held their own with their opposite numbers from other countries, but their numbers have been insufficient to ensure full consideration of Australia’s views. For instance, to the Philadelphia conference we sent the then Minister for Supply and Shipping (Mr. Beasley), the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard), Mr. P. J. Clarey and Dr. Burton. These people had the assistance of only the secretary to the Minister for Supply and Shipping. The result was that the Australian party was outnumbered by the delegations of smaller countries which were able to be represented on each of the various subcommittees. Our representatives were overwhelmed by sheer weight of numbers and could not keep in touch with what was happening at the conference. I hope that our delegation to the San Francisco conference will be properly supported by ministerial secretaries, public servants, or rank-and-file members of Parliament, who are able to give advice on all the matters to be discussed. I trust that the Government will not adopt the parsimonious attitude and reduce the number of delegates merely to save a few hundred pounds. Money spent in “ selling “ Australia abroad is the greatest investment th at we can make to-day.

Senator BRAND:

.- About two years ago a parliamentary committee rendered good service by its investigation of repatriation matters. Time has shown, however, that there are still many matters which could be probed best by a similar but smaller committee. The grievances come mainly from discharged service personnel of this war. Some time ago a deputation of returned soldier members of this Parliament urged first, the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Frost) and later the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin), to appoint such a committee to ascertain how real these grievances were and to make recommendations for improving the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act. The reply which I received as leader of the deputation was that the Repatriation Commission saw no necessity for such a committee. That was not the answer the deputation expected. There is nothing so undemocratic as to deny a body of men an opportunity to state their grievances in the right quarter, particularly if such grievances are the result of service to their country. A few days’ sittings would be sufficient to gather all the evidence required as to whether the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act needed any amendment or whether a review of the regulations would ensure that only one interpretation could be placed upon any particular provision. My information is> that repatriation officials, and medical officers are not always unanimous as to the real purport of a particular regulation. In fact, I understood that the Commonwealth Crown Solicitor’s opinion was sought in respect to regulation 47. The wording of a regulation should be so simple that a child could understand it. The Austraiian public does not desire any obstacles to be placed in the way of any ex-serviceman who suffers a disability arising from his war service, obtaining compensation in accordance with the extent of that disability. Before embarking for front-line service inside or outside Australia a soldier is subjected to most searching medical tests. If he is discharged later because he has fallen below the required medical standard, surely he is entitled to be given the benefit of any doubt that may exist as to whether or not that lower standard was due to war service. There may be a few cases in which misconduct was responsible and could be proven, but I am not concerned with them ; it is the majority who should be given the benefit of the doubt, and paid suitable compensation. It should not be obligatory for any Government to accept the advice of the Repatriation Commission or any other department, as to whether or not <a committee ought to be appointed temporarily to inquire into certain matters. Anomalies still exist and must be ironed out. I understand soldier psychology well enough to know that some men can never be satisfied, but the grievances of the majority of soldiers who are dissatisfied with the Repatriation Commission’s decisions are genuine. More often than not decisions are adverse, because of some flaw in the act or the regulations. A committee such as I suggest will find ample opportunity to improve the lot of ex-service men and women.

Towards the end of last session’ I suggested that the Government should arrange for a secret meeting of senators and members’ at which we could receive confidential information on matters which could not be discussed in open session. 1 drew a blank - a. blank stare from the ministerial bench. Ministers are too security-minded. . They have not the background of military war experience to enable them to differentiate between what could be made public and what should not. No member of Parliament would ask for detailed information as to where our land forces were to be actively employed in the future. Japanese Intelligence officers know only too -well where the Royal Australian Navy, and certain units of the Australian Imperial Force and Royal Australian Air Force, are operating, but Tokyo would like to know the future role of the Australian Imperial Force. When that information is disclosed by contact with the enemy, communiques from time to time should be issued from Australian Imperial Force Head-quarters as distinct from those issued by the CommanderinChief of the South-West Pacific Allied Forces. The communiques should be clear and concise and not be coloured by war correspondents. Flamboyant reports arouse the sarcasm of the troops participating and tend to further increase the complacency now too much in evidence on our home front.

There is much adverse comment as to the wisdom of using our best fighting troops in trying to drive the Japanese out of every foxhole in New Guinea and the neighbouring islands. The chief arguments for continuing this slow, arduous, and costly operation are to maintain Australian prestige in the eyes of the native population and to hasten the reintroduction of civil administration with its accompanying pre-war production. There is nothing wrong with that in principle, but the. same result would be obtained by a smaller and less aggressive force, because the peace terms, when they are drawn, will surely demand that all Japanese nationals be returned to their homeland. According to some members of the Senate who have expressed themselves on the matter, the number of half-castes requiring to be dealt with would not be sufficient to fill a ship. Most senators have a fair idea of the approximate strength of the Australian Imperial Force engaged in these misnamed “ mopping up “ operations. We know, too, that fresh units are and must be always kept in reserve to relieve the weary units periodically. Some time ago the Minister for the Army stated that there were more men in uniform in this war than in the war of 1914?-1S. I ask, where are they? In the last war Australia had five infantry divisions on the Western Front and one and a half light horse divisions in Palestine, continually employed in the battle area, with an occasional spell of a week or a fortnight away from the sound of the guns. The casualties of those divisions were twice as great, according to latest figures, as the whole of the three fighting services - Navy, Army, and Air - in the present war, including the division in enemy hands. Where are these men now in uniform? It is true that a fair proportion are engaged in lines of communication duties, defending specific localities, and performing other essential tasks. These are what may be called back-arms troops, all necessary to maintain frontline combat troops. What is the strength of these combat troops? They cannot all be reserved for “ mopping up “ operations. For what reason, then, are they being held, on the Australian mainland? These are the questions which a secret meeting would divulge.

It is a principle followed by all nations that a commander in the field should never be hampered by politicians if disaster is to be avoided. The Government concerned provides the personnel and equipment and leaves it to the Commander-in-Chief as to how and in what strength such personnel is to be used - subject, of course, to Allied grand strategy. Who is Australia’s adviser? Do Mr. Churchill, Mr. Roosevelt, and Marshal Stalin know that only a small proportion of our Army is at present engaged in active operations? Perhaps they do. It may be that the future role of the Australian Imperial Force was decided at one of their periodical conferences, on the recommendation of the Curtin Government, acting on the advice of General MacArthur. A secret meeting would enlighten us. The relatives of the mcn of the 8th Division now languishing in Japanese prisoner-of-war camps would feel relieved to know that the Australian Imperial Force at the appropriate time will be in. the relieving force. That, of course, involves the provision of the necessary shipping for transport. What would it matter if Tokyo had that information? I hope that a secret meeting can be arranged before this session ends. I understand that confidential information is periodically made available to the House of Commons, setting out the British Army’s overseas and home front strength, the number of reinforcements in training, recruits at certain ages coming forward, and generally how the man-power allotted to the Army is disposed. Similar information with respect to our own forces ought to be made available to the members of this Parliament confidentially. I know that regularly every month there are returns coming into Army head-quarters from which those figures could be obtained at very short notice. The pamphlet, Facts and Figures of Australia at War, issued periodically by the Department of Information, is serving a useful purpose, even if it does tell the world the numbers of rabbits killed and of Australian brides married to United States servicemen. I have sent copies to friends living in America who are thirsting for information as to what Australia is doing in this war. The press over there gives scant space to our war effort and. the deeds of our fighting services.

Facts and figures are necessary for propaganda purposes within and without the Commonwealth, but, unlike deeds in the face of the enemy, they are soon forgotten. Deeds are our best propaganda. Deeds keep Australia in the news. Deeds of the fighting armies form a basis for discussion at the peace conference table. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) who was then Prime Minister used very effectively at Versailles in June, 1919, the deeds of the First Australian Imperial Force. When the question of mandates in the Pacific caine up for discussion the late Mr. Woodrow Wilson was inclined to support Japan’s claim for a mandate over islands much closer to Australia than the Carolines. Mr. Hughes, in a force fill speech, and with characteristic gestures, no doubt, reminded the United States President that even if the war of 1914-1S was a war to end all wars, Australia did not desire an ambitious foreign nation sitting on its front doorstep. “Did Australia’s 60,000 fatal casualties go for nought?” was his stinging retort. That decided the question. What a position Australia would have been in at the beginning of the present war had Japan been given a mandate over New Britain ! That island would have been secretly fortified as were the Carolines and other neighbouring islands. I recall that historic occasion because, when peace is declared and Australian interests in the South-West Pacific Area are under review at the conference of the Allied Nations, it will be the deeds of Australian servicemen in the face of the enemy that will be to our advantage.

I turn now to another war - to what I shall describe as “ the farmers’ paper war “ - the war against the numerous returns demanded by State and Federal departments. The irritation at having to render so many returns, sometimes duplicated, is best summed up by an irate farmer’s reply to one long list of queries; about his activities with respect to productivity. This is what he wrote across the face of the return and sent back to the people who had forwarded it: “ Come and find out for yourself ; I’m too busy producing food for the forces”. I do not know what happened on receipt of that advice. The farmers claim that these forms could be substantially reduced in number or abolished. The payasyouearn income tax return, they contend, could bc abolished.. At present the fanners have to complete forms showing income tax deductions from their employees’ pay, either in cash or by the purchase of stamps. It is considered that this matter could be attended to by the employees themselves purchasing their own stamps at the local post office and affixing them to their books or documents provided for the purpose. Primary producers claim that they are set too many tasks in respect of documentary forms. There is a strong feeling developing among farmers against this method of administration. Perhaps the Minister representing the Treasurer will interest himself in this justifiable complaint, with a view to his affording some measure of relief.

Senator AYLETT:

– Commenting upon the subject-matter of the motion submitting an, addressinreply to the Governor-General’s Speech, I would like to say at once that that speech was one of the most informative of its kind that I have had the privilege of listening to since I became a member of the Senate nearly seven years ago. Most of the debate that has taken place so far would seem to h ave,been delivered on the plane of war strategy. Evidently, according to the nature of the debate this evening, we have more strategic generals in this House than there are in the Army. However, I am not going to buy into this business of war strategy, and I do not propose to place myself with the strategic general who has been seeking to guide the destiny of the forces engaged in this war. I wish to emphasize, however, that according to the information furnished in the Speech delivered by His Royal Highness, Australia has played a magnificent part in this war, including the part played by the men at home as well as those in the Navy, the Army, and the Air Force. As to those strategic generals who have been telling us where the great body of our forces should be employed, I may remind them that our men have been engaged already in the Philippines. In confirmation of that fact I would invite them to examine the casualty lists in connexion with the Royal Australian Navy. They might look into the question as to where certain of our airmen have been, and probably they would find in the course of their investigations that members of the Australian Imperial Force have been up there also. It is not true to say that they have not been there. Australians have played their gallant part in that fighting area. In fact, they have been in the forefront in almost every battle area in the course of the war, but just because there has been a lull in the movements of our troops, our political opponents are crying out, “Why are the Australians not being used as shock troops in other battles?” Let us leave it to our own fighting generals to decide where their men can best serve. If we do, I am convinced we shall get the best results from, our forces.

I think I am correct in saying that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) suggested this afternoon that our forces should all be up in the front lines, fighting and mopping up at the same time. They should all be at the front; none of them should be here at all; every one of them should be in action. But it was the Leader of the Opposition who made one of the most moving appeals I have ever heard in the House for the release of troops in the interests of private production. He mentioned that 50,000 men should be released from the armed forces. That was the figure he suggested, but I think he meant that 200,000 or 300,000 should be released for that purpose. He quoted the number that had been taken out of primary production, but he did not quote the number that had been put back into primary production by release from the forces and from the munitions and other war industries. With respect to my own State, I do not say that we are not still short of labour; the products that we are called upon to grow and deliver call for an ever-increasing volume of labour, yet it is a fact that Tasmania has as great a number employed in rural production to-day as it had prior to the war. Australia is still short of the men required to produce foodstuffs to the value of £100,000,000 per annum for our fighting forces. In normal times that quantity of foodstuffs would supply an army of 2,000,000 men. The cost now works out at about £2 8s. a week for each member of the forces. The calculation includes foodstuffs lost through enemy action such as the explosion of mines and sinkings by submarines, as well as food dropped by parachutes but not received by the forces for which it was intended. Australia is producing food for not only the civilian population and. the members of the fighting services, but also the allied and other nations and the allied forces in the Pacific Area. That is no mean job, and considering the chaotic condition of affairs in Australia when Japan entered the war, it certainly reflects great credit on the men and women of this country, as well as on those responsible for the major war policy of Australia.

If, as stated’ by the Opposition, our fighting forces have not all the equipment which they need in New Guinea, many reasons may be advanced for that fu et. Fortunately, time has operated in our favour, and with the assistance received- from the United States of America, we have been able to stave off i lie enemy; but Australian manufacturers have been unable to supply all of the mechanized equipment required for our forces. It would be idle to attempt to compare the productive capacity of Australia, in the matter of mechanized equipment, with that of our American Allies. I was amazed to hear an honorable senator opposite state that the Americans were destroying mechanized equipment rather than let the Australians

Iia. ve it. That is not in accord with what I. have heard from Australians who have come in contact with forces of the United States of America. The honorable senator remarked that, because Australia had not taken over certain lend-lease supplies, the Americans were destroying them rather than allow the Australians to use them.

Senator Mattner:

– I merely said that Australians had resorted to picking over abandoned American dumps.

Senator AYLETT:

– The honorable senator spoke of complaints about Australian forces being ill-equipped mechanically. He said that they were making roads without suitable mechanized equipment. If these statements be correct, they will not do any harm.

Senator Keane:

– If our forces require bulldozers they should get them.

Senator AYLETT:

– Of course. I am sure that the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) will pay heed to what Senator Mattner has said. Nothing would please me better than to accompany the honorable senator to New Guinea in order to ascertain whether his story is correct.

Senator Mattner:

– The honorable senator could have accompanied me in 1942.

Senator AYLETT:

– I have been kept busy in carrying out my work on the home front. It may be true that our forces are not yet supplied with all necessary equipment, but supplies may be held up owing to the lack of shipping facilities. One of our greatest drawbacks in this war has been the shortage of shipping, and we should take steps as soon as possible to remedy that position. I am not in accord with the Opposition in claiming that we should not trouble about post-war problems until the war has been won, and that banking policy and post- war industrial development should stand over until ex-service personnel have been reinstated.

Senator McLeay:

– The honorable senator puts banking policy first.

Senator AYLETT:

– The proposals of Canada with regard to banking control have been in operation for over a year and are probably on identical lines with those which may be brought forward by the Commonwealth Government. The trade policy of the United States of America is also over twelve months old, yet the Opposition claims that we should not. trouble about problems of that kind until die war has been won. “We are already lagging a year behind the United States of America and Canada and honorable senators opposite would have us continue to lag behind until after the war.

The shipping problem is one of the major difficulties with which Australia must deal. In parts of Australia, food is actually going to waste because the ships needed to lift it cannot be obtained. If the United States of America and Great Britain are as short of food as the Opposition would lead us to believe, those countries should make shipping available to Australia in order to prevent the waste of food. The Commonwealth Government should never again be caught short of shipping facilities. Irrespective of the quantity of shipping constructed in Great Britain and the United States of America, Australia must build its own vessels.

Senator Herbert Hays:

– They would all have been under one control now.

Senator AYLETT:

– Australia once had some ships under its own control, and the primary producers were saved £5,000,000 in freight in a short period. But the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers was given away by an antiLabour government. In future we must build our own ships and be independent of British monopolies, so that we may be able to dispose of our produce in any part of the world. I have seen men taken off ship-building and set to work on less important jobs. They should be returned to the ship-building industry as soon as possible.

Senator Keane:

– Australia is short of 45,000 workers for essential industries.

Senator AYLETT:

– That supports my argument that the workers available should be employed on high priority jobs. Up to the present Australia has given excellent service to the cause of the United Nations, but we cannot afford to have any man required for urgent work employed on jobs of minor importance.

Reference was made in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech to the rehabilitation of ex-service personnel, and to housing and other problems. All that ex-service personnel require is reinstatement in the jobs for which they would have been fitted had they not gone to war, and, as it is the duty of any government in power in the Commonwealth to ensure the rehabilitation in civil employment of the members of the fighting services, there is no necessity to talk of preference in employment for them. The duty of any government would be to see that every member of the forces was reinstated in a suitable occupation. The Government’s scheme for apprenticing men who have missed opportunities to qualify for various trades will have to be put into operationas soon as possible. It is said that the provisions for the reinstatement of ex-service personnel will be embodied in a separate measure but will be based on the regulations under the National Security Act. But I ask for more than that, because the present regulations do not go far enough. They may meet the case of a man discharged completely from the defence forces, but I desire legislative protection for men who are discharged in order to take high priority jobs, and who can be called upon for further service at a few hours’ notice. These men should have their civil positions kept for them until the end of the war. Cases have come under noticewhere men have been released from the forces to enable them to work on high priority jobs, and they have been given notice to make up their minds immediately to return to their former civil occupations.

The housing problem will present another major difficulty for the Government. Lack of materials and man-power difficulties make it impossible for us to launch any big housing scheme at the present time. In some towns in Tasmania families are living in tents because they cannot get houses, but with the approach of winter it is obvious that they cannot continue to live in tents. At various times since the war began the Government has commandeered buildings, including hotels, to house American service personnel : and, if necessary, it would take similar action again to accommodate men of the British navy, or of other allied powers. I see no reason why it should not do the same for the civil population who need houses.

Senator O’Flaherty:

– Are there any hotels in Tasmania which have accommodation which is not used ?

Senator AYLETT:

– I am not an inspector of hotels and I cannot say what the position is. The town to which I refer has only one hotel and its accommodation is fully utilized. In other parts of the State I believe that there are hotels which could provide accommodation for people who need it.

The Speech of His Royal Highness deals with the subject of land settlement. On other occasions this subject has been debated in this chamber, and I trust that the result will be that the blunders which were associated with land settlement schemes after the last war will not be repeated. I hope that the scheme of land settlement which the Government has in mind will provide ex-servicemen with reasonable opportunities to make good on the land. If a serviceman who was not previously a farmer wishes to take up land after the war he should be paid at award rates while learning how to run a farm, and when his training is complete he should be placed on a fully equipped farm with no financial millstone around his neck. If we are to rehabilitate exservicemen by settling them on the land, we must see that they go on to their holdings free of debt; otherwise we cannot hope for much success.

I compliment the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) on his outspoken utterances during his visit to the United States of America. He told the people there hard, cold facts in good Australian language, and did more to enlighten the American people concerning Australia than any other Minister has done. He said that if Britain was not prepared to allow some of its people to migrate to Australia, this country would have no alternative but to seek immigrants from America. A good deal is said about Australia’s declining birthrate, but all that the Government can do to rectify that position is to guarantee security, and make provision to meet family needs in the event of ill health. Something more than an improved birthrate is necessary if Australia is to have a population sufficient to keep Australia white. I say without hesitation that we need a much bigger white population in this country, and that the best immigrant’s are young people, even children. If they come here when young, and are reared as Australians, they will become true Australians. In addition, we should encourage overseas manufacturers to establish factories in Australia. Already the trade war between Great Britain and the United States of America, Russia and other countries is in progress. Australia has markets at its door, but this country has not a sufficient population to manufacture the goods required to supply those markets. If we can induce British and American capitalists to establish industries here and transfer some of their workers to this country, we shall be helping to increase Australia’s population.

The Australian wool industry has great possibilities, but we are not doing a great deal about the matter, except to encourage trade agreements with other countries to which we hope to sell raw wool. Is there anything to prevent Australia from making its own textiles of all descriptions and exporting the manufactured goods to the markets which exist almost at our door? In my opinion, there is no reason why Australia should export one ounce of raw wool, because it should be possible to manufacture locally all the wool grown in this country and find a market for it. What is needed is more initiative on our part. If other countries are unwilling to supply the capital to set up factories in Australia, the Government should establish its own industries. In so doing, it would not be under the control of foreign bankers, because the Government, intends to amend the banking laws, so that industry shall not be dependent on capital from outside Australia. We must develop the wool industry not only by increasing the production of wool, but also by manufacturing the raw material into goods which are wanted by people in Asia and the Pacific generally. In India there is a market for all the light woollen goods that Australia can manufacture. Unless Australia develops its textile industry, we shall continue to sell our raw wool to other countries which will manufacture it into goods which will be exported to markets which Australia should supply. There is no need for Australian wool to be sent to Britain or America as raw materia], and brought back again as manufactured goods for which Australian citizens have to pay all the charges associated with transport.

SenatorO’Flaherty. - As well as brokerage charges.

Senator AYLETT:

– Those charges can be avoided if we take the initiative. Such a policy would help to solve the problem associated with the future of war factories which will not be required when hostilities cease. The building up of a big export trade in textiles may take years, but every big enterprise must make a start. I appeal to the Government to give serious consideration to this matter, because the wool industry is the foundation of Australia’s prosperity. Instead of exporting raw wool, let us export manufactured woollen goods, and build up a big world trade in this sphere.


– Before dealing with the matters to which His Royal Highness referred in the Speech which he delivered to the Parliament, I join with the mover and the seconder of the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply in expressing good wishes to Australia’s new Governor-General, and the Duchess of Gloucester and their family. We are grateful to His Royal Highness for consenting to act as Governor-General of this important dominion, and I hope that the presence of Their Royal Highnesses in Australia will knit more closely the bonds which unite us to Great Britain and the other members of the British Commonwealth of Nations. We are proud of our membership of an Empire which five years ago stood alone against the world and to-day is on the brink of a victory which will free the world from tyranny. The British Empire deserves tie gratitude of all the freedom-loving people of the world. I trust that we shall again enjoy the benefits of peace before our royal visitors return to the Motherland.

The Speech which His Royal Highness delivered outlines the Government’s legislative programme for the coining session. If the Government thought that a long Speech would impress the people, I fear that its hopes will not be realized. Of the 53 paragraphs of the Speech, two-thirds were devoted to a recital of facts which the people have read in their newspapers during the last twelve months. The Speech foreshadowed certain legislation designed to give effect to the Government’s ideas concerning a “new order”. It would appear that we are about to begin an era of socialism and nationalization, but, in my opinion, no great good can come from either form of government. For some years citizens have been subjected to a great measure of regimentation and government by regulation. They have submitted to these curtailments of their liberties because of the nation’s need, but they believe that the law should apply equally to all sections of the community. His Royal Highness, referring to the shortage of shipping, said -

It is unlikely, therefore, that the Commonwealth can expect any great increase in help from the United Nations’ pool of shipping. It is anticipated, nevertheless, that by careful planning and with the co-operation not only of officers and crews, but also of those responsible for the loading, discharging and repairing of ships, it will be possible to meet all these demands.

That is simply window dressing on the part of the Government. We expected that we were going to have some law and order in industry, but after hearing that statement I have come to the conclusion that we shall see no improvement in this respect. I received a little more information on this point two days after His Royal Highness delivered his Speech, when several questions were asked in the House of Representatives relating to the loading of meat on certain vessels in Sydney. I take the following from a press report: -

The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin) asked questions in the House of Representatives to-day on recent Sydney strikes.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) said that he had issued directions that the services should be authorized to procure their own requirements from the Homebush abattoirs cold store when civil employees went on strike because of a dispute over the smell of packing cases.

Mr. Curtin said that other action would be taken whenever practicable to keep essential supplies moving when they had been held up by strikes.

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition : Does that apply to coal?

Mr. Curtin: Yes.

The Prime Minister, in reply to a question by the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott), then said that instructions had been given to Australian naval men in the circumstances mentioned by the honorable member. He regretted that this had to be done, but it would be done whenever it was necessary.

Senator O’Flaherty:

– What is wrong with that?

Senator JAMES McLACHLAN.Apparently, we have now solved this problem. Men of the British navy, and our own armed forces, are to be pressed into labour gangs while the Government and. the union bosses are arguing the point. Men who enlist in the Navy do so, not in order to form labour gangs, but to defend this country; and on joining the Navy they undertake not to disobey commands. They realize that should they disobey some commands, the penalty prescribed is death. Even if they have a. union ticket they cannot alter that rule. Therefore, it is most unfair that these men should be pressed into labour gangs in this way, and have no chance to refuse to do such work. Presumably the Government believes that the olfactory organs of a naval man are not so keen as those of a civil workman, because it is a fact that when naval men did this work they did not detect any offensive smell. Although much public money has been expended in training air force personnel, pilots who enlisted in the Air Force with the object of defending this country, have ‘been sent out picking fruit. I suppose that they were chosen, for this work because they were used to going up in the air. One of the pilots put on to this work has 1,300 hours flying time to his credit. These pilots were given four choices : First, they could give up their wings and rank, and remuster as members of the ground staff at half air crew rates of pay; secondly, they could agree to temporary ground staff postings as clerks in the accounting and pay sections; thirdly, they could remain at the Personnel Depot, retaining their rank, but working on the wharfs and doing sentry duty ; or, fourthly, they could agree to go pear-picking. These were the conditions under which these men decided to pick pears ; yet the Minister for Air (Mr. Drakeford) has said that the men volunteered for this work. Perhaps, in these circumstances, it is not so strange that the Prime Minister is now able to assure us that we shall nol have any more industrial trouble. He has said that whenever a strike occurs members of the fighting services will, wherever necessary, be called in to do the work.

I have received a letter from the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) setting out the procedure to be followed in applying for the release of men from the armed forces. Every honorable senator has been requested to support applications of this kind. Although I do not agree that the procedure set out by the Minister is entirely satisfactory, I shall hope for the best,- and trust that it will reduce the inconvenience and annoyance to which honorable senators have been put in. the past, in sponsoring such applications.

His Royal Highness, referring to drought conditions, said -

Unhappily, many areas of Australia have been laid waste by drought. Crops have failed and fodder reserves depleted to a dangerous level. For the first time since 1914. the Commonwealth is importing grains. It is my fervent prayer that rain will soon relieve the gallant men and women in the stricken areas. In the meantime, my Government is doing all possible to alleviate the position.

I hope that that fervent prayer for rain will be answered, because I fully realize the devastation caused by the drought. But the drought is not wholly responsible for the plight in which primary industries find themselves to-day. To that prayer we might link another, that we be relieved of the Government which has bungled food production in this country. The Government must bear the major share of the responsibility for our present serious plight, because it restricted production. It restricted the production of wheat. The lack of adequate supplies of fertilizers has contributed to the decrease of production; but the Government considered itself omnipotent and sought to dictate to Nature, when it should have realized that droughts are not unusual in this country. Our production of foodstuffs decreased, first, because the Government restricted production. Secondly, the Government aggravated the problem by its reckless handling of the foodstuffs which were actually produced. Thirdly, it denuded primary industry of man-power. Indeed, it made a grant of £750,000 to the wheat-farmers in Western Australia as .compensation if they refrained from sowing wheat. Australia has done a wonderful job in feeding not only our own forces and allied forces, but also millions of, people overseas; but that job has been done in spite of the Government’s actions mainly because the parents of soldiers, although advanced in years, resolved to carry on with the aid of the school children left on the farm. They achieved this production by working long hours. Incompetence on the part of .departments has contributed largely to bungling on the food front. To-day, I asked whether new wheatgrowers’ licences are issued only for the season 1945-46; and secondly, whether recipients of these licences can prepare, land for the following seasons with safety to growers. The answer to the first question was, “ Yes. All licences are issued annually “ ; and the answer to the second question was, “An announcement covering next season will be made before the normal season for preparing land for sowing “. The merest tyro realizes that a grower requires to know his programme twelve months before sowing time. Every farmer knows that it is impossible to grow more wheat this season because the fallow is not ready for it. Therefore, the position is that new licences are being issued too late to enable farmers to prepare adequately for next season. The total acreage of crops declined from 20,400,000 acres in 1941-42 to 15,900,000 acres in 1943-44. Wheat acreage declined from 12,000,000 to 7,900,000, barley from 784,000 to 443,000, rye from 33,000 to 16,700, maize from 301,000 to 282,600, industrial crops from 502,000 to 470,000, and fruit from 266,800 to 262,150. That represents a decline of about 32 per cent, throughout Australia. A similar state of affairs existed in the dairying industry.

Senator Keane:

– The dairy-farmers are to receive a total subsidy of £18,000,000 in eighteen months.


– It is true that a subsidy is being paid, but whilst subsidies are very useful, unfortunately, they cannot bring dead cows back to life. Man-power has been so restricted in the dairying industry that many of our dairy herds have been sold as beef. It was stated in Sydney a few days ago that 300,000 cows had gone out of production in New South Wales, and that butter production in that State had fallen by 17,000 tons. These are hard facts. It is because of this all-round decrease of production that so many commodities are in short supply to-day. To a large degree bungling on the part of the Government has been responsible for this state of affairs. We have heard a lot from government spokesmen about how production is to be increased, but unfortunately many of these statements are ill-founded. I do not blame Ministers entirely for that, because they do not always understand their departments thoroughly. They may be good organizers, but unless they have the support of well-trained and efficient officers they are apt to fall into errors. Recently the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) made an astounding statement in regard to pasture improvement. It was quite obvious that he did not know anything about the matter, and was merely quoting a report prepared by one of his officers. The Minister said -

On a farm at Burbrook, Meadows, treated soil is carrying a beautiful set-up with prime fat lambs, Black Poll cattle, and beautiful rye grass pastures. Outside the boundary fence* the poverty of the soil was such that it would grow less feed than would support a bandicoot.

My South Australian colleagues who know something about the Meadows country will agree that the Minister’s statement is most misleading and reflects little knowledge on the part of the officer who made the report. The country in and around Meadow’s is amongst the most fertile in South Australia, and has been subject to top dressing and pasture planting for years. Much of this land has been producing fat lambs and other stock and has never been in a condition in which it would not support a bandicoot. Like all good rainfall country it has increased in productivity and value, and should the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture or the officer who advised him in this matter, wish to settle in that district they would have to pay approximately £20 an acre for a holding. That is an illustration of how matters such as this are handled by Ministers.

I shall not go into details of the Government’s repatriation proposals because I shall have an opportunity to discuss the legislation giving effect to these proposals in the near future. Howover, there is one matter to which I wish to draw attention. In South Australia and, no doubt, in other States, farming properties are frequently sold by auction. At these sales the highest bidder does not necessarily obtain the property at the price which he offered. Frequently, although bidding has risen to perhaps £14 or £15 an acre, the Government steps in and says, “ This land has been valued at £12 an acre and must be sold at that figure “. I suggest that if at such a sale there is a returned soldier who is. willing to pay the price fixed by the Government, then, no matter what bids have been made by others, the returned soldier should have preference.

We have heard a good deal about housing, and reference has been made to the speed with which homes oan be built. South Australia, which incidentally leads the Commonwealth in regard to housing generally, also has some good records in this regard. A few years ago a contractor, Mr. S. B. Marchant, built a concrete house of four rooms, and an enclosed back verandah, in 96 hours, with six tradesmen and two labourers. That house ia still standing and does not show any sign of cracks. I think that ‘ihe foundation stone was laid by Sir Edward Lucas who was once Agent-General for South Australia. The same contractor built 25 houses for the State Savings Bank of Victoria, one of them being erected in 28 hours. An account of that work, together with a photograph, appeared in the Melbourne Herald of the 24th December, 1944. Mr. Marchant lias patented a concrete-mixing process on which he has spent a considerable sum of money. “Whenever he submits a tender for a job an endeavour is made to find out what that process is, but he will not give the formula away. He has tried through members of the State Parliament to secure recognition by the Government of his building process, but he is blocked every time because he is not a registered architect. However, whether he is a registered architect or not, his method should be given the fullest consideration at a time like this when houses are in such urgent demand.

One hears talk of soil erosion every time a drought occurs in this country. Whilst I admit that measures may be taken to reduce the menace of erosion in the inner areas such as the Mallee country of South Australia and Victoria, all this talk of stopping soil erosion in the hinterland does not make sense. Any one who has travelled the road from Farina to Innamincka, and Mr Hopeless, or from Marree to Birdsville and across the Simpson Desert, knows that there are vast tracts of country on which vegetation never grows, and which are the source of the huge dust clouds which blow to the eastern portions of the continent. It will never be possible to grow crops in that type of country which consists mainly of shifting sand hills; yet people attribute soil erosion to overstocking. The railway line from Peterborough, to Broken Hill has been fenced securely for 50 years, yet to-day there is more green growth outside the fence than inside it. Let any one who talks about overstocking as the cause of soil erosion explain that. When Koonamore station was owned by Wilcox and Hamilton, they fenced in a square mile of country as an experiment. To-day that enclosure is just as bare as any other part of the land. When the last drought occurred in 1930, I travelled between Oodnadatta and Ernabella, where the mission station is. At that time, the Ernabella country was unoccupied, but was being opened up by the South Australian Government, which offered to any man who could find useful water on it £200 and a lease of 100 square miles of land. Some men, who had been engaged on “ dogging “, tried their luck, found small wells and took up the land. We inspected what had been done under that scheme. We travelled from Marilyan to Ernabella, a distance of 85 or 90 miles, and found that the land did not have a vestige of growth on it. Now, what of all this talk about trying to stop soil erosion?

Senator Ashley:

– Kangaroos and emus might have eaten that country out.


– I did not see kangaroos or emus in such large numbers as to suggest that that might have been so, although there were some dead emus there. It does not matter whether one stocks that country or not; when it comes adrift it drifts. But it would help considerably if we could only get rid of the rabbit. Tn a dry season he goes even underneath the soil and destroys the herbage by attacking the roots. I trust that the Commonwealth and State Governments will combine to see that something is done that will be of material assistance in these districts of which I have spoken. But I would add this warning, “ Do not spend money when you get outside of Goyder’s rainfall line “.

Senator Large:

– Was not the honorable senator going to tell us something about socialization?


– I must do so; I am glad that the honorable senator has reminded me. The whole of the Governor-General’s Speech savours very much of socialization and nationalization. The air lines and the banks are all to be embraced. We are setting out upon a venture in bureaucracy that, in my opinion, will ruin a most beautiful country. This is a policy that has proved to be suicidal in any state at any time. Sometimes we are able to draw lessons from history. Things have happened that are worthy of our pondering over. We have heard a lot about the new order that is to be brought about when the war is over and all the banks and all the airlines have been turned into socialistic institutions. I propose to read a quotation from a book entitled The New Deal inRome, by H. J. Haskell, and it is a very interesting production. It states -

Most of these Plans for continued State Control - these “ New Order “ schemes, are exactly the same as ancient Borne adopted when it began to decay. They are all “ Decay Schemes “. And this ought to be made widely known. History repeats itself. Every prosperous nation has to light for its life against dictators or against demagogues, officials, and parasites.

This is a startling fact that ancient Rome, when it began to go down, had the same sort of Government Departments that Great Britain, Australia, and the United States have to-day.

It had a Farm Debt Conciliation Committee, a Resettlement Administration, a Public Works Administration, a Food Relief Scheme, a Home-owners’ Loan Corporation, and Agricultural Adjustment Administration, a. Farm Credit Administration, a PriceandWage Act, and so on.

The “ profit motive “ was attacked. There was a “ Price Control Act “ in A.D. 301, when the end of the Roman Empire was near. Prices wore set too low, and at once there was a shortage of commodities.

Rome was eaten by Doles and Subsidies. At one time, 320,000 people were on the dole for wheat. To keep the masses quiet, they were given “ bread and games “. They were pauperized by State help.

As many as 200,000 were given free bread - 2 lb. of bread a day. Also, they were given pork, olive oil, and salt every now and then. The Government became a Giver.

The dole attracted to Rome the vagrants and the lazy people. They attracted the Gorman tribes, too, and they began to filter into Rome. And most of the enterprising, self-reliant men left Rome and went elsewhere.

The soldiers and the Government employees clamoured for more and more money. They made incessant raids on the Treasury. As ft result, taxation steadily increased until it became intolerable.

Then the currency was inflated by a flood of new money-

We hear something of that kind to-day -

This inflation destroyed the rich and middle classes. Almost all private enterprise came to an end, and the whole nation came to a standstill and decayed.

Rome fell because of internal decay. The heart was taken out of enterprising men. The masses were taught to expect something for nothing-

That is being taught here to-day -

Rome become totalitarian. The Government set out to control everything-

That is what this Governmment is setting out to do to-day -

As a result, there was soon not much to control-

That will be the position here soon -

The controlled industries became extinct.

Just before Rome collapsed, half of the people were on the public pay-roll–

Just about half of our people are there to-day -

And there was not enough money to pay them, as the taxpayers had been bled to death-

That is what will happen here, too -

At the height of its power, Rome had a population of 1,000,000, and ruled 70,000,000 people. But in the year 1400 it had only 20,000 and no Empire. It went back to pasture land, and cows and sheep wandered about in it.

The Romans were the greatest and wisest people in the world for 400 years. Then a rot set in. Then came degeneracy - a degeneracy that still exists, as we have seen in recent years. From Marcus Aurelius to Mussolini is a tragic drop from the heights to the lowest depths.

Rome had a “ Golden Age “ under the “ five good Emperors”. It lasted for 84 years. It was the peak of ancient civilization.

During this period, taxes were low. Private enterprise was encouraged, and business men were in high positions. There was real “ social security “ for all industrious people.

Then came the Planners, and the whole shining structure of Roman life was broken down. The story of how Rome fell should be taught in all English-speaking countries.

Debate (on motion by Senator Keane) adjourned.

page 150


The following papers were pre sented : -

Australian Broadcasting Act - Parliamentary Standing Committee on Broadcasting - Report to Governor-General for the Second Session of the Seventeenth Parliament.

Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act -

Repatriation Commission - Report for year 1943-44.

War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal - Report for year 1943-44.

Commonwealth Inscribed Stock Act - RegulationsStatutory Rules 1944, No. 186.

Commonwealth Public Service Act-

Appointment - Department of the Parliamentary Library - S. E. Barr.

Regulations - Statutory Rules 1945, No. 15.

Customs Act - Customs Proclamation - No. 619.

Income Tax Assessment Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1945, No. 12.

Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Commonwealth purposes -

Laverton, Victoria.

Mile End, South Australia.

Saddleback Mountain, Kiama, New South Wales.

National Security Act - National Security (General ) Regulations - Orders - Prohibiting work on land, and use of land (3).

Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Administration) Act - Ordinance - No. 1 of 1945.

Northern Territory - Report on Administration for year 1943-44.

Superannuation Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1944, No. 181.

War Service Homes Act - Report of War Service Homes Commission for year 1943-44, together with statements and balance-sheet.

Senate adjourned at9.52 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 28 February 1945, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.