1 March 1945

17th Parliament · 3rd Session

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

page 207


Senator LECKIE:

– Is the Minister representing the Attorney-General in a position to reply to the question Iasked last week as to whether an amending Patents Bill would foe introduced during the present sittings ?

Senator ASHLEY:
Minister for Supply and Shipping · NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– Only yesterdayI made inquiries regarding that matter,and I expect the answer at a later stage.

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

by leave - As previously announced, the Ministers to attend the United Nations’ Conference at San Francisco will be the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. Forde) and the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt). The Australian Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the United States of America, Sir Frederic Eggleston, will be in attendance, as will also the head of the Australian Service Mission, Lieutenant-G-eneral Sir John Lavarack, the Air Member of that mission, Air-MarshalR. Williams, the Naval Attache of that mission, Commander S. H. K. Spurgeon, and the Assistant Secretary, Department of Defence, Mr. P. E. Coleman. The Prime Minister has also invited, as assistants to the delegation, Senator the Honorable G. McLeay, Senator R. H. Nash, the Honorable J. McEwen, M.P., the Honorable R. T. Pollard, M.P., Mr. H. A. M. Campbell, Mr. J. F. Walsh, M.H.A., Mr. O. D. A. Oberg, Dr. Roland Wilson, Mr. W. McMahon Ball, Mr. E. V. Raymont, and Mrs. Jessie Street.

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Senator LECKIE:

– What time does the Postmaster-General consider should normally be taken in obtaining a telephone connexion between Canberra and Melbourne? Is it one, two, or three hours? If it be two or three hours, will the Minister make an effort to improve the service?

SenatorCAMERON. - I shall inquire into the matter, and endeavour to obtain the information desired by the honorable senator. If any undue delay is experienced in. obtaining telephone connexion between Canberra and Melbourne, I shall endeavour to have the fault rectified.

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Sleeping Accommodation on Trains.


– Can the

Minister for Supply and Shipping say when coal stocks are likely to he sufficient to enable sleepers to be restored to the railway transport system of Australia?

Senator ASHLEY:

– I shall have inquiries made, and will let the honorable senator have a reply.

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Senator COLLETT:

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

  1. What was the total yield, in bushels, of lastseason’s crop in Western Australia of - (a) apples; (b) pears?
  2. What proportion of this crop was offered for sale to the public?
  3. What proportion was processed?
  4. Is any limitation placed on the quantity that may be purchased at the one time from retail shops in Perth; if so, why?
  5. What explanation can be offered in respect of thehigh prices for this fruit at present ruling in Perth?
Senator FRASER:

– The desired information is being obtained and wall be furnished as soon as possible.

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Senator COLLETT:

asked the Minister for Health and Social Services, upon notice -

In the scheme for the improvement of the health of the nation, said to he under consideration by the Government, is it proposed to make provision for the establishment and maintenance of blood banks or, inthe alternative, to subsidize those already in existence?

Senator FRASER:

– The permanent plans of the Government have not yet advanced to the stage when an item such as blood banks has been considered. The Commonwealth is already subsidising blood banks on a considerable scale in connexion with the defence services.

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Senator COLLETT:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Works, upon notice -

Having regard to the outstanding lessons of this war -

Is the unification of the gauges of the Australian railways included in the government programme of national works?

If so, what is the anticipated approximate date of commencement of this work?

In any event, will priority be given to Western Australia’s obvious and urgent need inthis respect?

Senator KEANE:

– The question is one for the attention of the Minister for Transport, who has supplied the following answer: -

  1. The Government has alreadygiven consideration to the question of the standardization of railway gauges, and has instructed Sir Harold Clapp to prepare a report on the matter which it is anticipated will be available by the 31st March. 2 and 3. It is not possible at this stage to indicate what work is involved in the project except that it is a very big programme and involves heavy expenditure of labour and material.

At the appropriate time the Government proposes to discuss the matter with the States to arrive at an understanding as to what work is to be proceeded with and under what conditions.

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Senator COOPER:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -

  1. Is it correct, as stated in the Sydney Daily Telegraph of 27th February, that “All coal-mines in Western New South Wales may close down next month for want of explosives “f
  2. Is it a fact that the explosives used in these mines are supplied by Nobel Explosives Company, Melbourne?
  3. It is a fact that the company has applied to the man-power authorities on repeated occasions to have women released for work in its factory in order to keep up the supply of explosives, but has been unable to get such releases?
  4. If so, why has the Government not made sufficient labour available to produce such an essential commodity ?
Senator ASHLEY:

– The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following statement : -

I hope that no coal-mine will have to cease working because of the shorta’ge of gelignite. The present situation is a delicate one and must be carefully handled, but the fact is that the position has been grossly exaggerated. According to the evidence which has come before me in the last few days, there is no doubt that stocks arc lower now than they were a year ago, and the difficulty lies in getting the right kind of women to work in the ‘Nobel and Imperial Chemical Industries factories where the gelignite is made.

Between 300 and 400 employees were put oft by the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation in October lust, and the explosives manufacturing firms were given first preference in the selection of employees from amongst these displaced workers. The firms needed only 20 or 25 workers, but all those who had been displaced refused engagements. We sent a female manpower officer, and also a female officer in the employ of one of the firms concerned, to persuade some of these women to undertake the work. They refused for a variety of reasons, some of which were that the work was dangerous, that- they would be isolated, and that they would have to pay high fares to and from their place of employment.

We are doing our best to meet the situation. During the last six or seven weeks, twelve women nave been sent out and twelve have left. Only yesterday three were Bent.

These firms make gelignite which is used, not only for coal-mining, but also for goldmining, and it may be that they make sporting cartridges. I am going to ask them to transfer some of the labour engaged in the making of explosives for other purposes to the making of explosives for use in the coal-mines.

Some very reckless statements have been made in the press on this subject. The representative of one of the firms concerned stated yesterday morning in Melbourne that the firm was in no way responsible for’ the press statement, and was, in fact, satisfied with the results of the conference which had been held with the man-power authorities this week.

We hope to be able to arrange for the production of sufficient supplies of explosives to keep the mines working.

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Senator COOPER:

asked the Minister for Supply and Shipping, upon notice -

  1. Is it a fact that the Disposals Commission intends to sell surplus used army cars and trucks to distributing agents exclusively and that those agents will then repair and re-sell them at a profit through the usual trading channels ?
  2. As Australian taxpayers had to find the money to purchase these vehicles originally, will the Government consider instructing the Disposals Commission to sell such vehicles as they stand by auction or tender, and both singly and in small batches, direct to approved buyers, with priority to operate in accordance with essentiality of use?
Senator ASHLEY:

– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -

  1. The Disposals Commission’s policy is to release surplus service vehicles through the normal trade channels. Discounts allowed on the sale of these vehicles have been determined by the Prices Commissioner who is perfectly satisfied that the margins are reasonable. The margins are certainly much less than it would cost the Commonwealth if the Commission were itself to set up retail marketing depots throughout the Commonwealth.
  2. The Disposals Commission considered the practicability of disposing of the vehicles by auction but quickly realized that this would promote or facilitate black market. The ordinary buyer would not be able to travel to the comparatively few centres throughout the Commonwealth where the vehicles are assembled and speculators and unscrupulous persons would gather there and buy the vehicles in big lots to black market them at high prices to the public. The Government could not permit the release of the vehicles as they stand. The majority of them need repairs and many major repairs. Every buyer of such a vehicle would find that ho could not get the vehicle registered until the repairs were made and there would be chaos in the repair shops if thousands of vehicles were suddenly released in a broken-down condition. At the express direction of the Commission preference is given to people in rural areas and all the vehicles are sold within priorities 1 to 6.

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Senator COOPER:

asked the Leader of the Senate, upon notice -

  1. Is it a fact, as reported in the press of 13th February, that the Leader of the Government in the Senate suggested certain reforms in Australian liquor laws?
  2. If so, will the Minister indicate the nature of the reforms he had in mind, and state whether it is his intention to bring before Cabinet the question of approaching the States with a view to securing the reforms mentioned ?
  3. Has the Minister seen a communication addressed to the Acting Prime Minister by the Liquor Reform Society of Queensland suggesting the appointment of a competent independent authority, uninfluenced by cither liquor trade or prohibitionist interests, to report upon the practicability of introducing a lighter beer?
  4. If so, what decision has been reached by the Government in the matter?
Senator KEANE:

– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -

  1. Yes. 2. (a) The reform advocated is in the nature of more suitable hours for the distribution of liquor and greater conveniences for the supply of food whilst liquor is being consumed; (b) It is intended to have the matter listed for discussion at the next Premiers’ Conference. 3 and 4. Yes. The question of the introduction of a lighter beer is still under consideration, but many difficulties have to be overcome before such a reform could be introduced generally, the principal of which is the spoilage of beer when transferred over long distances under extreme climatic conditions necessitated by the scattered nature of the Australian population.

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Senator COOPER:

asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -

  1. Is it a fact that an order issued under the National Security (Prices) Regulations was gazetted recently fixing the maximum prices at which goods, mainly groceries, may be sold in New South Wales by retailers in areas within various distances of the Sydney General Post Office?
  2. Has any similar order been gazetted governing the retail prices of similar commodities in Canberra?
  3. Have any complaints been received regarding prices charged for goods in Canberra by retailers in which it has been alleged that unduly high prices have been charged in comparison with those prevailing in Sydney and Melbourne ?
  4. If so, what action, if any, has been taken and what was the result of such action, giving details of individual cases?
  5. If no order fixing maximum prices of goods sold by retailers in Canberra is in existence, will the Minister instruct the Prices Commissioner to issue an Order similar to that operating in New South Wales, or, taking into account the distances from Sydney and Melbourne, make the order affecting New South Wales applicable to the Australian Capital Territory ?
Senator KEANE:

– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -

  1. Yes.
  2. Prices Regulation Order 1956, relating to Now South Wales, also covers the Australian Capital Territory.
  3. Yes - many types of allegations accompany complaints, including allegations of disparities between prices in Canberra and other capital cities, but allegations are not proof of the circumstances alleged.
  4. All complaints are investigated and the action taken is based on result of investigation. On account of the Secrecy Provisions of the National Security (Prices) Regulations, it is not possible to give the details sought.
  5. See answer to 2.

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

  1. What was the number of primary industries subsidized before the 3rd September, 1939?
  2. What were they, and the cost?
  3. What is the number of subsidies to primary production at the present time? 4.What are they, and the cost? 5.Was there any increase in the weight of butter fat following the subsidy to the dairying industry?
  4. If so, what was the increase?

SenatorFRASER. - The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture states that the desired information is being obtained and will be furnished as soon as possible.

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Debate resumed from the 28th February (vide page 150), on motion by Senator Nicholls -

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

We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, 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 KEANE:
Minister for Trade and Customs · Victoria · ALP

– His Royal Highness the Governor-General referred in his Speech to my recent visit to North America. Some of the results achieved during my visit to Washington and Ottawa have already been given publicity in the press, whilst other aspects of the talks were of a nature which must remain secret for security reasons. I believe, however, that it may be of some interest to honorable senators if I take this opportunity to survey the main objectives of my mission and to outline briefly the outcome of the discussions.

As Minister responsible for the administration of lend-lease arrangements with the United States of America, the chief purpose of my visit to that country was to discuss questions relating to the continuation of lend-lease aid to Australia, and of reciprocal lend-lease aid by Australia to the United States forces. Another subject which engaged my’ attention in Washington was the working out of detailed procedures to enable a final financial settlement to be reached between governments of the United States of America, the Netherlands East Indies a.nd Australia in respect of tEe refugee cargoes which were diverted to Australia to escape capture by the Japanese early in the Pacific War. I also took the opportunity to make a personal examination of Australian supply representation in Washington. My stay in Ottawa was necessarily very brief, but I was able to discuss with Canadian Ministers and officials, matters of common interest relating to the operation of the mutual aid scheme under which Canada has furnished assistance to Australia on a generous scale in the form of goods and services needed for the prosecution of the Avar against Japan.

In reviewing these matters in more detail, I shall deal first with the discussions in Washington. Official discussions between the Governments of the United Kingdom and the United States of America on the question of continuation of lend-lease in stage II., which means the period between the defeat of Germany and the defeat of Japan, were initiated at the conference between Mr. Churchill and President Roosevelt at Quebec in September, 1944. At the time this conference took place it was hoped that the war against Germany might be brought to a successful conclusion by the end’ of 1944. As soon as the war in Europe ends, the United Kingdom Government will divert as much as possible of its resources to the war against Japan, but, because of transport limitations, a certain amount of military and industrial demobilization will bo inevitable. The United Kingdom Government plans to use the resources made available by this demobilization to mitigate some of the severest hardships suffered by the British population and to take at least some preliminary steps to rehabilitate United Kingdom export trade. Therefore, the purpose of the discussions begun at Quebec was to reach an agreement on “the changes in existing lend-lease arrangements that would be necessary to give to the United Kingdom greater freedom in export trade and, at the same time, ensure continuation of lend-lease aid on a scale which would permit the United Kingdom to play its full part in the prosecution of the war against Japan.

As a result of the talks at Quebec, a top-level joint committee was set up to consider the whole question of lend-lease in stage II. and, in order that concrete decisions might be reached., it was agreed that the United Kingdom should present a detailed programme of its requirements under lend-lease during the first year of stage II. The United Kingdom Government consulted the Australian Government on the method to be adopted for presenting Australia’s requirements .and the procedure agreed upon -was ‘that the Australian programme would form a separate chapter in the United Kingdom’s presentation of the case. Prior to my .arrival at Washington, the preliminary work on this matter was carried out through the Australian Minister, Sir Frederic Eggleston, the Director General of Australian War Supplies Procurement, Mr. L. R. Macgregor, and the Director of Reciprocal Lend-Lease Finance, Mr. W. E. Dunk. Although Australia was not directly represented on the top-level committee, the Australian representatives were afforded full opportunity for a direct presentation of the Australian programme and of the underlying reasons supporting it. My own task was greatly facilitated by this preliminary groundwork and it was not long after my arrival in Washington with the Director of Import Procurement, Mr. A. C. Moore, that I was able to report back -to the then Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Forde) the complete acceptance by the United

States authorities of the Australian programme. The strong point in the Australian case was, of course, that the Australian effort is ‘based primarily on the Japanese war’ and that it will not be diminished to any appreciable extent by the end of the war in Europe. We found a ready disposition on the .part of both American and British representatives to recognize the magnitude of Australia’s contribution in the prosecution of the war against Japan, and this general attitude assisted greatly in the detailed substantiation of the Australian programme of requirements.

For practical reasons the calendar year 1945 was used for the purpose of estimating requirements in the first year of stage II. However, by the time the negotiations were completed it had become obvious that there was no prospect of realizing the earlier hopes of defeating Germany by the end of 1944. The German offensive in the west had changed the picture completely and had postponed indefinitely the prospects of partial demobilization in the United States of America and the United Kingdom. However, this change in the war situation did not materially affect the Australian case since the basic assumption on which the Australian programme had been drawn up was that Australia would continue a full-scale war effort until the end of the war against Japan. Thus the programme accepted by the United States authorities for supply to Australia during the calendar year 1945 has not required any major revision.

Details of the programme cannot be made public for security reasons, but I can assure honorable senators that the flow of lend-lease supplies to Australia will be maintained on a very substantial scale. The actual dollar value of the war equipment and other supplies to be shipped to Australia under lend-lease during 1945 cannot be forecast accurately because changes in the war situation may materially affect the allocations to the various theatres of war and the whole programme is, of course, subject to the appropriation of the necessary funds by the United States Congress. I am hopeful, however, that the Washington negotiations may result in Australia’s receiv- ing lend-lease aid to a total value of something like $500,000,000 during the current year.

As a corollary to this arrangement, the Australian Government has pledged the continuation of full scale reciprocal aid to the United States. Forces. Foodstuffs represent a high proportion of Australia’s reciprocal aid programme and our capacity to supply food to the American forces has been affected, to some extent, by the drought conditions which have prevailed throughout eastern Australia this summer. We shall, however, continue to supply the American forces to the greatest extent possible having regard to our obligations .to supply the British forces in this area and our own fighting services, to maintain exports to the United Kingdom, and to. preserve at least minimum nutritional standards for the Australian civilian population.

Honorable senators may be interested in having the latest available figures on lend-lease and reciprocal aid. The presidential reports to Congress give total figures for lend-lease aid to all countries and some analysis of this total figure to show the distribution of lend-lease supplies by broad geographical areas. There are considerable practical difficulties in obtaining up-to-date official figures on lend-lease aid to individual countries. However, an unofficial provisional estimate puts the total f.o.b. value of the lend-lease supplies which have arrived in Australian ports from the inception of lend-lease to the 31st January, .1945, at $977,000,000. At the pegged rate of $3.2&8 to the Australian £1, “this is equivalent to £A,3O3,000,000.

In considering this figure, honorable senators should bear in mind that the f.o.b. value of the goods shipped to Australia under lend-lease does not represent the sum total of lend-lease aid received by Australia. There are various other forms of lend-lease aid - for example, ocean and air transportation - which would add substantially to the figure I have quoted. On the reciprocal aid side, expenditure has been maintained at a high figure despite the changed disposition of the American troops. From the first arrival of United States forces in Australia up to the end of December, 1944 - the latest date for which figures are available - expenditure on goods and services supplied by Australia under the reciprocal aid plan totalled £A.223,000,000.

I found in all sections of the United States administration a lively appreciation of the assistance Australia has furnished to the United States as reciprocal aid. Comments made to me on the reciprocal aid programme were most complimentary. Great appreciation was expressed not only of the magnitude of the supplies and services provided by Australia, but also of the simple and effective administration of reciprocal aid by the Australian departments concerned. The goodwill which has thus been established has already proved of the highest value to Australia, and the Government will do everything possible to see that it is maintained.

In addition to the talks on the stage II. lend-lease programme, discussions took place with officials of the United States Foreign Economic Administration regarding the detailed procedures followed in processing Australian lend-lease requisitions. All of these requisitions are submitted to the Foreign Economic Administration Mission in Australia and to the lend-lease representative of the Commander-in-Chief, South-West Pacific Area, for examination and approval by them before the requisitions are filed in Wellington. When they reach Washington they are subjected to further screening by the Foreign Economic Administration, the War Production Board and other interested agencies of the United States Government. As a result of the discussion in Washington, there is every prospect that these procedures will be expedited in future. At the conclusion of the talks, the American officials said that they had been greatly impressed by the picture presented to them of the very thorough war-time controls operating in Australia to ensure that all available resources, both of. manpower and of materials, were concentrated on the war effort. They undertook that these considerations would be kept fully in mind in dealing with Australian lend-lease requisitions, and in weighing Australian needs against the needs of other areas.. The supply position in relation to various specific com modities, including paper, synthetic rubber, bichromate of soda, arid other chemicals and textiles, was also discussed with the appropriate American officials., and, although the full quantities required by Australia were not in all cases available, the talks resulted in expediting the flow of these commodities to Australia.

Honorable senators will have seen from press reports that the United Kingdom Government has recently completed arrangements with the United States Government for the hulk purchase of all machine tools which have been supplied to Great Britain under lend-lease. This deal was arranged primarily for the purpose of giving the United Kingdom authorities greater freedom in planning the use of available machine tools both in the immediate future and in the postwar period. By paying cash for the tools, the United Kingdom has acquired a clear title to them, and they have ‘been removed from the provisions of the lend-lease agreement, which provides that the United States Government may require the return of lend-lease articles after the war. The Anglo- American negotiations on machine tools were in progress during my stay in Washington, and I took the opportunity to discuss with the United States Foreign Economic Administration the possibility of negotiating a similar purchase of the machine tools supplied to Australia under lend-lease. The United States officials expressed their willingness in principle to accept this proposal, and an examination of the detailed aspects of such a purchase arrangement is now taking place. I am hopeful that I may be able to make an announcement of the completion of the negotiations within the course of the next few weeks.

As honorable senators are aware, a number of American and Dutch ships bound for various ports in the Far East were diverted to Australia, with their cargoes, in the early days of the Pacific war to avoid the risk of capture by the Japanese. When these cargoes reached Australia, they were requisitioned by the Australian Government under the terms of an arrangement reached with the Governments of the United States and the Netherlands. A large part of the cargoes was owned by the Netherlands Government, and consisted of war material and other vitally needed supplies originally designed for use in the defence of the Netherlands East Indies. These supplies had almost all been purchased in the United States by the Netherlands Government. Most of the remainder of the cargoes was also of American origin.

Under the arrangements reached with the Netherlands and the American authorities, it was agreed that the Netherlands Government should retain any of the Netherlands-owned cargoes which it required for its own use, and that, in the distribution of the rest of the cargoes., first choice should be exer cised by the United States forces, which had at that time just begun to arrive in Australia. Some of these American troops had been destined for the Philippines as reinforcements for General MacArthur’s army in that area, and they had arrived in Australia without full equipment. After the American authorities had made their selection, the Australian service departments selected any equipment or materials of use to them, and the balance of the cargoes has been distributed through the Division of Import Procurement under the general direction of the Requisitioned Cargoes Committee. Only a very small portion of the cargoes remains- undistributed. Most of the goods still in store are those which, because of their nature; are difficult of sale in the Australian market.

The broad principles of the financial settlement between the three interested governments were agreed upon at the time the cargoes were requisitioned. So far as the cargoes owned by the Netherlands Government were concerned, the United States Government undertook to repurchase these goods from the Netherlands Government, provided they were distributed to the United States forces, or were goods of a lend-leasable nature taken by Australia for use in the common war effort. “Where the goods were not owned by the Netherlands Government, it was agreed that Australia would pay compensation to the owners, but would be reimbursed by the United States Government in those cases where the goods were delivered to the United States forces or were used by Australia in ihe war effort.

The United States Government desired that all American owners of the cargoes should be compensated in United States dollars, and it was recognized that Australia would be confronted with exchange difficulties in making these payments. For this reason the United States Government agreed to make lend-lease funds available for items which the Australian Government took over for use in the war effort. In view of this arrangement, the Australian Government was able to give an assurance that all American owners of the requisitioned cargoes would receive full compensation on the basis of the c.i.f . cost of the goods, .and that they would be paid in United States currency. This assurance was, of course, conditional on the goods being marketable in Australia, and on their having been landed in a sound and merchantable condition.

Although these general principles were agreed upon, early in 1942, and although the Australian Government has since paid out several million dollars in compensation to American owners of the cargoes, it has not been possible, because of various unforeseen complications, to arrive at a settlement between the three governments. The complications which have prevented an earlier settlement arose principally because of the emergency conditions in which the cargoes were unloaded in Australia, and because of the absence in many oases of adequate documentation establishing the ownership and value of the goods.

As a result of several weeks of intensive negotiations in Washington complete agreement has now been reached with the American and Netherlands authorities on the detailed procedural steps to be followed to achieve a final financial settlement between the three governments. The detailed side of these discussions was very efficiently handled by Mr. H. R. Woodrow; of the Division of Import Procurement, and Mr. A. C. Nolan, of the Australian Customs Representative’s Office in New York. Memoranda have been drawn up setting out the basis on which the settlement is to be effected, and it is hoped that the final payments will be made during the current United States fiscal year ending the 30th June, 1945. The Division of Import Procurement is at present working on the preparation of the documents to be filed in Washington, and settlement will be made after these documents have been presented to the United States Foreign Economic Administration.

The total value of the requisitioned cargoes distributed to the United States forces is estimated at approximately $20,000,000. Under the terms of the settlement, the United States Government will release Australia, as the requisitioning authority, from financial responsibility for these goods. In addition, the United States Government has agreed to assume financial responsibility for goods to the value of about $34,000,000 of a lend-leasable nature, taken by Australia for use in the war effort. I take this opportunity to express the gratitude of the Australian Government to the United States Government for its generous attitude in relation to these refugee cargoes. These goods arrived in Australia at a most critical stage in the war, and the arrangements made with the United States and the Netherlands authorities enabled them to be put to the best use in the war effort. Many of the items went straight into the hands of the American and Australian fighting forces, and there is no doubt that they played a part in turning the tide of Japanese invasion.

During my stay in Washington I made a thorough survey of the whole set-up and organization of the Australian War Supplies Procurement Office. This office has done, and is doing, a most important job for Australia. It has been instrumental in the ‘procurement of the very large quantities of war equipment, fuel, raw materials and other supplies which have been shipped from North America, to Australia during the past two years. The staff of the organization lias given devoted and loyal service to Australia, and, on the whole, the office has worked with a high degree of efficiency. The actual work of preparing detailed programmes and requisitions is, of course, carried out in Australia by the Division of Import Procurement and the other procurement departments. The Washington office, however, has a most important function to perform as the channel for filing the programmes and requisitions in

Washington, and for presenting the Australian case before the combined boards, the United States Foreign Economic Administration and other agencies concerned with the allocation of supplies. Success in the procurement of supplies depends upon close team-work between the departments in Australia and the Washington office. In view of the fact that criticism has been voiced from time to time regarding delays and inefficiency in the procurement of our war-time imports from North America, I mention that both British and American officials it.- Washington spoke to me in high praise of the general, procurement set-up established by the Australian Government. I was told that the Australian supply organization compared move than favorably with those established by other countries. I found that the strain of his heavy war-time responsibilities had affected the health of the DirectorGeneral, Mr. L. B. Macgregor. Accordingly, I arranged for him to take an immediate vacation for health reasons, and also decided to bring him back to Australia for consultation with the Government. As honorable senators know, the Government has since decided to appoint Mr. Macgregor to the newly created post of Minister at Large to the South American Republics. In his new sphere, Mr. Macgregor will be able to do much useful work for Australia, and he will be relieved from the strain inevitably associated with the day-to-day administration of a large war-time supply organization.

There are at present five combined boards operating in Washington - the Combined Munitions Assignment Board, the Combined Production and Resources Board, the Combined Food Board, the Combined Raw Materials Board, and the Combined Shipping Adjustment Board. Australia is not directly represented on any of these combined boards. As a general rule, the Australian viewpoint is presented through the United Kingdom representative, but Australia has direct representation on some of the committees of the Combined Food Board. As a result of our discussions in Washington, the United Kingdom representatives have agreed to support any application which

Australia may make for representation on any of the committees of the combined boards in which Australia has a special interest. Follow-up action is now being taken by the Acting Director-General Australian War Supplies Procurement, to secure representation on all committees where Australia has a direct interest in the subjects under discussion. This represents a distinct advance in Australian representation in Washington, and will ensure that the Australian viewpoint is fully considered before decisions are taken on matters affecting Australian interests.

During my stay in Washington I paid calls on the senior officials of the State Department, the Navy Department, the Department of Labour, the War Department, and the War Production Board. I was received everywhere with the greatest cordiality, and the officials whom I met displayed a keen interest in Australia and in the Australian contribution to the common war effort. I also conferred with prominent American Labour leaders, including Mr. Phil. Murray, of the Congress of Industrial Organization, Mr. William Green, of the American Federation of Labour, and Mr. John L. Lewis, leader of the coal-miners’ unions.

I also took the opportunity to visit some of the major war plants, including Willow Run aircraft factory, the Chrysler and Cadillac tank arsenals, factories producing military vehicles, Swift’s meat- works, the International harvester works, and the naval shipyards at Philadelphia. A personal inspection of such plants as these gives an impression which cannot be gained in any other way of the magnitude of the American war production effort and of the amazing results produced by American organizing capacity and mass-production methods. The miracle of American production is, perhaps, the strongest impression I carried back with me of my visit to the United’ States of America. American industry has not only supplied and maintained the largest army, navy, and air force in American history, but it is also producing an amazing quantity of war supplies for the armed forces of the other United Nations. In addition, American productive genius has been

Senator Keane. able to continue production of nonmilitary goods on a scale which has enabled the American civil population to come through the war period with far less, privation than the civilians of other less-favoured countries.

Whilst Australians generally are conscious of the large-scale assistance received from the United States under the terms of the lend-lease legislation, the degree of ‘Canada’s contribution through the operation of the Canadian Mutual Aid Act is not, perhaps, as widely appreciated as it should be. For a nation with a population of 11,500,000, Canada’s contribution to the general war effort of the United Nations has been outstanding. Its armies have won distinction in the battlefields of Europe wherever the fighting was fiercest; its navy, expanded to many times its pre-war size, has played a notable part in the battle of the Atlantic; and its air squadrons, after sharing in the battle of Britain, have added their very considerable weight to the support of the allied armies in Europe and to the pounding of strategic targets in Germany. Canada has also made an outstanding contribution to the war in the air as the home and centre of the Empire Air Training Scheme. On the production front, Canada’s perfor- ma race has been even more remarkable. Despite the withdrawal of man-power for the fighting services, the output of Canadian farms and factories has increased greatly during the war period, and Canada ranks fourth among the United Nations as a producer of war supplies. Although, in accordance with the master strategic plans of the allied leaders, Canada’s main effort has been concentrated on the European theatre of war, Canadian war equipment and supplies have played a noteworthy part in carrying the offensive to the Japanese in the Pacific. The Mutual Aid Act which became law on the 20th May, 1943, was designed to ensure that the flow of supplies from Canada to its Allies should not be impeded by financial difficulties arising from the shortage of Canadian dollars. Under the terms of that act, Canada has, since April, 1943, assumed the whole cost of training Australian airmen in Canada. This was previously a substantial item of Australian overseas expenditure. By taking over these charges for the past two years, the Canadian Government has eased both our budget and our overseas exchange difficulties. As Australian airmen are no longer being sent to Canada for training, this particular form of aid will terminate in the near future, but we shall not forget the Canadian Government’s generosity in this matter, nor the friendliness and warmth of the hospitality extended to the many thousands of young Australians who have passed through Canadian instruction centres. The first shipments of equipment and supplies to arrive in Australia under the terms of the Mutual Aid Act reached Australian ports in November, 1943. Since that date, Canada has despatched mutual aid supplies to the value of many millions of dollars across the Pacific as a free Canadian contribution to the conduct of the war in this area. Most of these supplies have been transported free of charge in Canadian Government-owned ships. The goods supplied cover a very wide range and illustrate the wealth and variety of current Canadian production. Among the more important items are military motor vehicles, guns, ammunition, explosives, aircraft components, medical supplies, and general military and naval stores. Notable items in the industrial and construction field are timber, agricultural machinery and tools, asbestos, special steels and ferrous alloys, electrical equipment, chemicals and textiles. Up to November, 1944, the Canadian Mutual Aid Board estimated the value of goods and services supplied to Australia under mutual aid at about $60,000,000. During my brief visit to Ottawa I took the opportunity to express to members of the Canadian Government the great appreciation of the Australian Government and people of the generous measure of assistance afforded by Canada during the war years. I found Canadian Ministers and officials particularly eager to learn more about Australia’s share in the Pacific war and about war-time conditions in Australia.I spent the whole of my time in Ottawa in discussions with members of the Canadian Cabinet and their official advisers, and reviewed in some detail the programme of Australian requirements from Canada for 1945-46.

I was ably assisted in these talks by the Director of Import Procurement, Mr. A. C. Moore, and the Treasury Representative, Mr. W. E. Dunk.

We put our needs frankly before the Canadian authorities, and stressed that in requisitioning supplies from Canada we were seeking only the bare minimum of the requirements needed to supply our fighting forces and to meet the most essential needs of the Australian wartime economy. On the completion of the talks, the Canadian Ministers were good enough to say that they had been most impressed by the presentation of the Australian case, and they undertook to do their utmost to fill Australia’s requirements and to expedite the flow of supplies. My visit to Canada was in the depths of the Canadian winter and I experienced temperatures as low as twenty degrees below zero. However, I shall never forget the warmth of the reception given to me by the Canadian Government and people.

My visit to North America was brief, occupying only eight weeks, including travelling time to and from the West Coast. I am convinced, however, that more can be achieved by direct personal talks with the leaders of other countries than can ever be accomplished by long distance communications. The trip was of interest and value to me, personally, and I feel that the results achieved will prove of real and lasting benefit to Australia. On the financial side the benefits to Australia include the acceptance of the lend-lease stage II. programme for 1945 which, as I mentioned earlier, may reach a figure of $500,000,000. There is also the benefit derived from the assumption by the United States Government of financial liability for the $34,000,000 worth of goods from the refugee cargoes taken by Australia for use in the war effort and $20,000,000 worth that were delivered to the United States forces.

I am not able to quote definite figures on the benefits that may be expected to flow from Canada under the mutual aid plan, but, subject to the necessary appropriations being voted by the Canadian Parliament to provide for a full-scale continuance of the mutual aid scheme du ring the next Canadian fiscal year, I am certain that we can count on Australia continuing to receive her full share of mutual aid supplies. I do not wish to say anything more at this stage because, as honorable senators are aware, there is likely to be general election in Canada before the next mutual aid appropriation comes before the Canadian Parliament.

I have already mentioned that I was deeply impressed by the miracle of American production and of the part that massive production is playing in carrying the offensive to the heart of both Germany and Japan. The recent war news from the Pacific area emphasizes the magnitude of the effort the United States has put into the war against Japan despite the heavy claims of the European theatre on both its manpower and material resources. We in Australia, must be specially conscious of, and grateful for, the energy and drive with which the United States has prosecuted the war against Japan since that day in December 1941 when the Japanese struck their treacherous blow at Pearl Harbour. In flying the Pacific I was greatly impressed by the evidence I saw of the huge military and naval establishments set up by the Americans at every strategically important point from the United States west coast right across the Pacific. To see some of these establishments which have undoubtedly stood as the bulwark between Australia and Japanese invasion was an experience I shall never forget. The warmth and cordiality of the welcome I received everywhere in the United States has borne home to me the close kinship between the peoples of the Englishspeaking world. Never in history has the relationship between the British Commonwealth and the great republic of the United States been closer than it is to-day and there is an obligation on all of us to see that the mutual understanding and trust that has been built up during the war period is preserved and maintained in the post-war period.

I appeal to all sections of the Australian community, to members of Parliament, leaders of industry and commerce, the trade union movement and in particular to the press to do everything pos sible to foster good relationship and better . understanding with the United States of America. There is a tendency for niggardly and carping criticism on either side to be played up to a degree which altogether exaggerates and distorts the incidents on which the criticism is based. Those who lend themselves to distortions of this kind or who spread malicious rumours are rendering a grave disservice to their country and to the future of the English-speaking world. I hope that the American press and leaders of thought in America generally will also weigh the consequences of ill-advised and unfounded statements which may have the effect of poisoning relations with the countries of the British Commonwealth. Frank and constructive criticism is helpful and we need not fear such frankness as it must lead to a better understanding between us.

On our part, we should do everything possible to encourage two-way travel between Australia and the United States of America and our sister dominion, Canada. Air transport has reduced the travelling time between Australia and North America to about 40 flying hours, and this development, when war-time restrictions on travel can be removed, should be of immeasurable benefit to us. We must see that every opportunity is provided for leaders in Government and business circles to move freely across the Pacific to strengthen the bonds of friendship that have been forged in our comradeship in arms during- the war. I am convinced that the whole future of mankind rests on close co-operation and understanding between the peoples of the English-speaking world. If we of the British Commonwealth and the United States of America can reconcile our viewpoints and move forward in harmony with Soviet Russia, China and the other United Nations, I believe that there is a brighter hope than ever before in history for the growth of an international order that will bring a new era of welfare and progress for the whole human race.

I join with the mover and seconder of the motion in extending a cordial welcome to their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester. During the last week I had the opportunity when representing the Prime Minister to meet their Royal Highnesses on several occasions in

Victoria, and I am able to say as one who lias lived in that State all my life that I cannot remember so cordial a welcome being extended to any other notable visitors. The warmth of the welcome augurs well foi- their Royal Highnesses during their sojourn in this country.

Despite what many people may say to the contrary, I found during my visit overseas that the popular feeling of the people in the United States of America and Canada towards Australia is 100 per cent. I looked for evidence of antiBritish feeling but failed to find any. At various places at which I spoke in public J. outlined Australia’s war effort and the difficulties, including the present drought, confronting this country. Usually I concluded by expressing our determination to help Great Britain to the utmost, and I always reminded my audience that before any other country was in this war at all Great Britain held the fort for the world. 1 noticed that that portion of my speech was always better received than any other remarks I made, and I took it as the best -barometer of the feelings of my audiences towards Great Britain. We can appoint diplomats overseas and arrange all the conferences we like, but I contend that the hope of the future of the world lies in Great Britain-, the United States of America and Russia getting together, firmly resolved to prevent another war, and policing the world with that objective in mind. These three great nations have the men and women with the requisite organizing -ability, and they have all the material required to fulfil that task. The men I met in Washington came from stock representative of every nation, and they were the cream of those nations. To meet them was ohe of the outstanding experiences of my visit overseas. I hope that as the years go by, not only other Ministers but also private members in this Parliament will, when the opportunity presents itself, proceed overseas as members of joint delegations to Great Britain, the United States of America, Canada, and other countries. Such a visit will give them some ide’a of the tremendous task which confronts this country, and, particularly in war-time, will be an eyeopener. Indeed, it is the best way io appreciate fully the work being achieved by the United Nations. In Canada, for instance-, I saw how they were handling 436,000,000 bushels of wheat annually, whereas in Australia in our best season we are not called upon to handle more than 162,000-,000 bushels. It is an experience to visit the factories at Willow -Run and to see a Liberator machine, with a wing span wider than this chamber, coming off the production line at the rate of one an hour; and a Mustang being produced every 20 minutes. The achievements in those factories beggar description. My visits to such plants disabused my mind of the idea that this tremendous production placed a severe strain on the workers engaged in them. Due to perfect organization, all onerous manual work has been practically eliminated. The day when working men almost wore out their hands and became permanently stooped physically as the result of doing beastly work has gone. In these huge plants modern methods relieve the working man of physical strain. All heavy loads are transported and shifted mechanically, -and outside workers, such as railway men, are supplied with the latest equipment to protect their hands and their health. Our own workmen, of course, are not so fortunate. Out of their low wages they have to buy all personal equipment such as gloves, &c, for themselves, and under rationing conditions take their chance of being able to secure such articles. I repeat that I should like to see more private members of this Parliament take the opportunity to go overseas and see these tilings for themselves. If they do so they Will realize the long road we in this country have yet to traverse. The trade unions in the United States of America are organized oh a basis which differ.? from that operating in Australia. The representatives of the unions in the United States of America seem to get nearer to the employers than is the case in this country. Whether the explanation is that compulsory arbitration has not proved the success we hoped it would, I do not know; but in the United States of America, under a system of collective bargaining, the representatives of unions and employers meet in conference, and seem to be able to solve their problems to their mutual satisfaction.

The point I wish to make is that I was able to travel all over these large workshops without walking a yard. All heavy goods are carried on trolleys. Some lads even get around on roller skates to save time and energy. The organization is amazing. Another most interesting undertaking which I visited was a huge meat-works atChicago, employing a staff of 78,000. It was a revelation to see the conditions under which the slaughtermen worked. Hot-water hoses are laid on so that after a man has done a particularly dirty job he is able to hose himself clean. Working conditions are such that not only is the lot of the employees vastly improved, but also production is increased, and relations between employees and employers are more cordial. Recently President Roosevelt decided that more coal had to be produced. Immediately he sent for Mr. John L. Lewis, who represents unions with a total membership of 730,000 and with 120,000 members on active service. Mr. Lewis called a conference of 1,000 delegates, and that convention reached an agreement which provided that normal production of coal would be paid for at the ordinary rates, but that excess production would be paid for at higher rates. That was a private agreement between the mineowners and the miners themselves. In the United States of America there is a thoroughly disciplined miners’ organization and its members will abide by the decision of the conference. If a lodge were to break away from such an agreement, it would be disciplined immediately.

There are many aspects of American industrial life which are truly astounding. As a former railway man I was amazed at the size of American rolling-stock and the efficiency of ‘the railway system. Transport undertakings in the United States of America are subject to all the disabilities which have been encountered in this country, but they are doing a remarkable job. American locomotives are as big probably as any in the world. Whereas in this country we run eightcar mail trains, they run nineteen-car trains, and whereas we may run a rake of 40 trucks, they run 100 trucks. The whole organization is so complete that as a former railwayman I was amazed. As has been the case in this country, railway employees in America have not been involved in industrial troubles throughout the war, despite the fact that they constitute one of the hardest worked sections of the community. No section of industry has been placed under such a great strain due to war conditions as the railway employees of America, Great Britain and Australia. They have had to be on the job to keep vital transport running.

It was a most pleasing experience for an Australian-born Minister to visit the American and Canadian people and talk to them as freely as I am speaking now, knowing that the men who founded these nations were of the same blood as the men who founded this country - men who left their native land to found a new nation, and an excellent job they have done. Although the United States of America has a population of 130,000,000 and Canada 11,500,000, compared with Australia’s 7,500,000, as Senator Armstrong said yesterday we are by no means an insignificant nation; but Australian publicity in the United States of America is inadequate. The American people know little of our achievements. I investigated that matter and I found that American newspapers appeared to cater solely for American needs, therefore they confined themselves largely to American news. Whether news from this country is actually reaching America or not I do not know, but certainly not much of it is published. However, I was given excellent press publicity whilst I was in America. If we cannot secure more publicity in the United States of America our efforts to improve the status of this nation overseas will be about as useful as a man making eyes at his girl in the dark. Australia should be talked about more than it is. We have a great country, with a wonderful climate and immense potentialities. We should endeavour to carry out in this country water conservation projects such as those which have been carried out in the United States of America. There, water conservation projects completed, in the course of construction, or in contemplation, provide far the settling of 40,000,000 people on the land and the establishment of 350 new towns. This country has large rivers and huge tracts of country capable of development by water conservation and irrigation. We must carry out these works to make our land fit to receive immigrants. It is no use putting people on the land now, because the land is not ready for them. Our immediate task is to get it ready. The men who have been responsible for the development of America’s natural water supplies have done a magnificent job, and I believe that we should bring some of them to this country to show us what can be done here. In this regard, of course, Canadians are fortunate people because their country is a land of lakes and rivers. We must emulate other nations which have given the lead in these matters. We must send legislators from our National Parliament to see these great schemes for themselves, to meet the men who have been responsible for them, and to absorb the atmosphere of big undertakings.

I do not share the easy optimism of those who believe that there will be an early end to the war. Peace is still a long way off. The attitude of many people in this community is appalling. They moan about the rationing of essential commodities and about insignificant restrictions on their activities. Let them go on moaning! There are 250,000 Japanese troops living in 250,000 foxholes in territories by-passed by the Americans. These fanatics do not know the meaning of the word “ surrender “, nor do they have much knowledge of military tactics; but they are prepared to die where they are. Our men will have to dig them out, and many of them will lose their lives doing it. In view of this prospect, how can anybody talk of a reduction of taxes, or a relaxation of regulations. Such talk is most untimely. We still have a long way to go.’ America and Canada are still drafting troops and marshalling man-power. The people of these countries realize that the Allied Nations are still confronted with the task of crushing the fascist hordes of Europe, and, having done that, still have to conquer one of the most difficult foes the world has ever known.

Senator COOPER:

– I greatly appreciate the speech delivered by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) relating to his recent visit to the United States of America and Canada. I firmly believe that the friendly relations which have always existed between Australia and the countries which the Minister visited have been enhanced by his personal contact with the people of those nations. I am confident also that he was able to place clearly before the Governments of Canada and the United States of America the problems and difficulties with which this country has had to contend during the war and will have to face when the war is over. It is to the advantage of Australia that our representatives should travel to other countries and meet their counterparts as the Minister did in the United States of America and Canada. It will be pleasing also for us to have in this country some of the citizens of friendly nations in which our representatives have travelled and who are anxious to obtain information about Australia, our way of living, the opportunities which this land offers, and the types of goods and materials that we produce .or require. It is evident that our lend-lease agreement with the United States of America and the mutual aid arrangement with Canada, have brought the three countries very much closer than would have been possible in ordinary circumstances. If this spirit can be carried on into the peace I see no reason why there should not be some type of organization set up. The Leader of the Senate mentioned that upon the British Commonwealth of Nations, the United States of America, and Russia would be the task of keeping and enforcing the future peace of the world.

T look upon the address that was given in this chamber by His Royal Highness the Governor-General on the 2lst February as an historic event. It will be remembered for very many years to come as the occasion on which a member of the Royal Family opened this, the third session of the Seventeenth Parliament, in the capacity of Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia. The Speech delivered by His Royal Highness can be divided, I think, into two parts.

The first part dealt with the war position as at the present time, and with the many and varied achievements not only of our own servicemen, but also of the fighting forces of our Allies of the United Nations on every front in the world. The second part provided a picture of the measures that the Government intends to place before Parliament in the course of this session. His Royal Highness referred to the part that Australia has played, not only on the battle fronts but on the food front, and on the industrial front as well. Owing to the success of the Allied arms and the valour displayed by our fighting forces, the general situation in this globalwar is infinitely brighter than it was twelve months ago. Especially have we reason to be grateful that the actual danger which overshadowed this country about two years ago -the menace of invasion by the forces of Japan - has receded farther and farther away. In part that has been due to the courage and fighting capacity of the service personnel of this country. It has been due in part also to the work of the civilian population, maintained over the last three years in all our industries in order that our forces might be suitably equipped both with respect to the accoutrements of war and in the provision of food and other requisites for carrying on. the conflict. Not only have we supplied the food requirements ofour own fighting personnel ; we have been able also to furnish supplies for our Allies whenever and wherever we have been called upon to do so. In the words of General MacArthur, the CommanderinChief of the forces in the South-West Pacific Area, the effort made by Australia during the war years has been miraculous. We are also grateful for the timely aid which the United States of America afforded this country in the early stages of the war with Japan. Without that aid Australia would doubtless haveexperienced all the throes and perils of invasion. During the last few months our American Allies have pushed the danger of invasion farther and farther away by their magnificent achievements in the Pacific, culminating in their recapture of the Philippines, and bringing them now to the very shores of Japan itself.

Unfortunately, there is a section of people in this country who believe that, now that the danger of invasion has receded, the war is practically over. These people, most unfortunately, are developing what I may call a complacency complex. Others are disrupting industry by strikes and by employing go-slow methods. Nothing could be more dangerous, because I believe, with the Leader of the Senate, that the war is very far from being over. True, we have gained many strategic victories in the last twelve months, but there is still a tremendous area of territory to the north of our country that remains in the hands of ourenemies. At present our own troops are fighting in Australia’s island territories off the northern mainland. Perhaps the operations being conducted there at the moment are not being regarded as spectacular shows. They are not such as bring forth prominent press headlines throughout the world, but those of our men who are engaged in those operations are facinga well-equipped and determined enemy who is fighting in country that has been described as one of the most difficult battle areas in all the world Conflict to-day. They are taking chances; they are braving all the risks of wounds and disease, and are facing death 24 hours of every day. It appears to be obvious that from the viewpoint of the High Command this unspectacular job is a very necessary one. I consider that the great majority of Australian men and women and of the fighting services, too, sincerely feel that we have an obligation towards the men of our fighting forceswho are prisoners of war in Malaya and elsewhere in the territories to the north of Australia. In the first onrush of the Japanese forces they were trapped in Malaya and in Borneo and other islands, and made prisoners of war. The great majority of the men and women of this country, including our fighting forces, desire Australia to be in the forefront of any major operation designed to recapture the territories occupied by Japan, and wish to assist in setting their brother Australians free. I do not pretend to be a master of strategy, but I hope that the Government and the High Command will give careful consideration to allowing the Australian forces to take part in any such operations. Our Navy and Air Force have been fighting with distinction with our Allies in all major theatres of war throughout the world.

On the Australian food front greater production than ever before is necessary. Increasing numbers of service personnel are arriving in this country from Great Britain, and provision has to be made for them. Although our allies, the Americans, have moved farther north, we still have to supply them with food to carry on their work in the Pacific, and the difficulty of doing so increases as their lines of communication lengthen. We have also to make provision to enable us to carry out arrangements entered into with Unrra to supply aid, which to a large degree involves the supply of food, to countries in the South-West Pacific Area. This work will be superimposed on our commitments with ‘Great Britain. Any section of the community which could look with complacency on the present war position could not have given serious thought to the grave and mounting difficulties with which we are faced on the food front alone. Now is the time when every effort is needed on all fronts in Order to obtain final victory speedily.

Yet some people are taking advantage of conditions created by the war for their own profit and selfish ends. Regulations and restrictions have been imposed on the community, and other slightly irritating measures have had to be adopted for the sole purpose of winning the war. I maintain that these restrictions have not been too severe.

Senator Gibson:

– Not if properly applied.

Senator COOPER:

– Difficulty may be experienced in applying them fairly. I am dealing with a section of the community which is taking advantage, for its own profit, of the disadvantage of those who are bearing their hardships cheerfully. I refer to the growing band of racketeers - the black market gang. They are public enemy No. 1. The worker with a complacency complex is bad enough, but the black market racketeer is considerably worse. These parasites have become a real menace, and they are appearing in every large city and in all States of the Commonwealth. They rob service men and women as well as civilians. They hold up, and prevent a fair distribution of, goods. This is causing bad feeling among various sections of the community.

Irrespective of our political convictions, I am sure that all honorable senators will agree that it is our duty to terminate the operations of these racketeers as early as possible. At present the various departments which are endeavouring to clean up this mess are working individually. We have authorities dealing with pricefixing, rationing, customs and excise, and there are also the State police and the Commonwealth peace officers. All of these are working independently in an effort to obtain convictions against this band of criminals. Despite the enthusiasm of many of those officials in their work, they are not fully trained for the job of obtaining the evidence necessary to secure convictions. The work pf dealing with black market operators should be entrusted to one Commonwealth authority. The Commonwealth Security Branch might be able to take over the work. It could enlist the services of a body of experts accustomed to obtaining the evidence required for convictions. All offenders should be tried in a Commonwealth tribunal in each State, and not in the State courts, where, after arrests have been made, and the Commonwealth has been put to a great deal of trouble and expense, the courts are often dissatisfied with the evidence and the charges are dismissed.’ In some cases appeals have been made against convictions, and the sentences imposed in the lower courts have been quashed, with the result that black marketeers have escaped scot free. If we had a Commonwealth court and a single authority throughout Australia to deal with the racketeers, there would be a better chance than at present of convicting the offenders. If they were dissatisfied with their sentences they would then have to appeal to the High Court of Australia. That would result in a reduction of the dimensions of the evil.

The second part of the Speech of His Royal Highness referred to proposals to bring certain measures before the Parliament during the present session. Some of this proposed legislation is of a highly controversial nature, such as that relating to the nationalization of banking and government control of interstate airlines. A large section of the people considers that the Government has not received a mandate for its nationalization proposals, although it has the necessary numbers in both branches of the legislature to force the measures through the Parliament. If it did that, its action would not tend to foster that unity among the people which is essential at present, since we desire a speedy victory. I shall have more to say about the proposals when they are brought forward. Certain bills proposed to be introduced, such as that dealing with the rehabilitation of ex-service personnel, are necessary. I am sure that the bill relating to the rehabilitation of our fighting forces will be welcomed, and full consideration will be given to it in order to assist the Government to make it a satisfactory measure.

Among other proposals of a beneficial nature is one in which I am particularly interested, that designed to provide finance for intensive research regarding wool production and the manufacturing side of the wool industry. Briefly, it is proposed that the wool-growers be asked to levy themselves at the rate of 2s. a bale on all wool produced, instead of the present levy of 6d. a bale. The Government proposes to provide a similar contribution, and that would establish a fund amounting to about £600,000 annually for research and propaganda work. After the war, Australia, which is the greatest wool-producing country in the world., must be fully prepared to meet intense competition from synthetic fibre. In 1942-43. our wool production amounted to 3,500,000 bales, which was derived from 12-3,000,000 sheep. The value of the wool alone was £74,000,000. The value of the sheep industry, including mutton and lamb exports and residue, was £25,000,000, making a grant total of £99,000,000. In a normal pre-war year Australia’s exports of wool, mutton and lamb represented about one-third of our total exports, showing clearly the importance of the wool industry to Australia’s economy. Since the war, the whole of the Australian wool clip has gone to Great Britain; to the 30th June, 1945, approximately £450,000,000 will have been paid to Australia by Great Britain for wool alone. No doubt the Minister for Trade and Customs when in the United States of America heard favorable comments regarding Australia’s finances. Our satisfactory financial position in both the United States of America and Great Britain is due entirely to sales of wool under the agreement with the United Kingdom Government. But that very fact constitutes « threat to the wool industry, because for a number of years there has been a guaranteed price for the whole of Australia’s wool clip. We may have a false sense of security. During the war period no other fibre has seriously competed with wool in this country, but when the agreement with Great Britain comes to an end one year after the war Australian wool will have to be sold in the open markets of the world in competition with synthetic fibres.

Senator Gibson:

– The Government is subsidizing the manufacture of synthetic fibres.

Senator COOPER:

– I understand that the Government has taken steps to subsidize an Australian firm to engage in the manufacture of synthetic fibre. In my opinion, that is a mistake, particularly when we reflect that practically 90 per cent, of the wool grown in Australia lias to be exported. Since the war began, the production of synthetic fibres has increased tremendously; it has been estimated that in 1940 the production of these fibres was equal to that of the world’s wool production. Since then great advances have been made in the production of synthetic fibres, not only in enemy countries where wool was not easily obtainable on the open market, but also in countries where wool has been available in considerable quantities. I am informed that in the United States of America synthetic fibres are being made from soya beans. One motor manufacturing company, which in pre-war years utilized soya beans for the manufacture of fibres -used in upholstery, is now using 5,000 lb. of soya-bean fibre a day in the manufacture of blankets and army greatcoats. It will .be seen, therefore, that already wool has a strong competitor, and that unless early steps be taken to meet this competition, we shall find that synthetic fibres have become well established in the world’s markets. Australia produces a quarter of the world’s total supply of wool from one-sixth of the world’s sheep; our production of merino wool is one-half of the world’s total supply. It is therefore in the interests of Australia that research into various aspects of wool production and manufacture should he undertaken. I understand that legislation will be introduced to provide fora levy on each bale of wool, to be supplemented by a government subsidy, and that the fund so established will be used for research into the production of raw wool, as well as the manufacture of woollen goods in order to make them more attractive, particularly in the direction of making them unshrinkable. Generally, it is proposed to establish an organization to combat the inroads made by synthetic fibres.

So far, I have dealt principally with the production of raw wool. Although the manufacture of woollen goods in Australia is far short of the dimensions of the wool-growing industry, we have established in Australia an efficient secondary industry which is manufacturing woollen goods of high quality. Before the war Australian woollen mills had practically supplied the needs of the home market, and therefore, any great expansion of the manufacturing side of the wool industry must come from a bigger export trade. Every effort should be made to ensure that Australian woollen mills are equipped with the most up-to-date and efficient plant, capable of supplying attractive woollen goods which will be able to meet the competition of synthetic textiles in the world’s market. Research into the best methods of manufacture and the type of goods that arc needed, and propaganda to reach the purchasing public, will greatly assist to stabilize and improve the woolmanufacturing industry. This is , an industry peculiarly suited to Australia, and I hope that it will grow until it becomes one of our greatest secondary industries, absorbing many of the men and women who will be looking for jobs after the war. Unfortunately, the wool-growing industry is suffering from the effects of a widespread drought; it is estimated that the wool clip for 1944-45 season will be 300,000 bales short of the production last year. However, good seasons will come again, and the production of wool will reach, or exceed, previous records. It is essential, therefore, that we should find payable markets for our woollen products. As wool is the life blood of Australia, we must wage war against the competition of synthetic fibres as strenuously as we now wage war against the nation’s enemies. When the other legislation dealing with general social improvements in the life of the community comes before the Senate, and the details of the Government’s proposals are known, I shall he in a better position to comment on them.

Senator LARGE:
New South Wales

– I propose to participate in the debate on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, but as I understand there is a general desire that the Senate shall adjourn almost immediately, I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later date.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.

Senate adjourned at 4.43 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 1 March 1945, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.