26 April 1945

17th Parliament · 3rd Session

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

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– I have received from Mrs. M. A. Dennis a letter of thanks for the resolution of sympathy passed by the Senate on the occasion of the death of Mr. Samuel Dennis.

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SenatorKEANE (Victoria - Minister for Trade and Customs). - I regret to announce to the Senate the death on the 15th April of the Honorable Thomas Joseph Collins, a former member of the House of Representatives and a former Commonwealth Minister. The late Mr. Collins was elected to the House of Representatives for the Division of Hume, New South Wales, in 1931, and was re-elected in 1934, 1937 and 1940. He was a temporary Chairman of Committees from 1934 to 1940, and was a member of the Public Works Committee from 1937 to 1940.

During 1940-1941 he was Minister without portfolio, assisting the Prime Minister, the Minister for the Interior and the Minister dealing with External Territories. Hewas Postmaster-General from the 26th June, 1941, to the 7th October, 1941. Ho was also Minister assisting the Minister for Supply and Development from June, 1941, to August, 1941. I move -

That the Senate expresses itsdeep regret at the death of the Honorable Thomas JosephCollins, former member of the House of Representatives for the Division of Hume and Commonwealth Minister, places on record its appreciation of his meritorious public service and extends its sincere sympathy to his widow and members of his family in their bereavement.

Senator LECKIE:
Acting Leader of the Opposition · Victoria

– I second tie motion. The news of the death at a comparatively early age of the Honorable Thomas Joseph Collinscame as a great shock to all who knew him. He had a striking and pleasing personality, and many members of this Parliament, including myself, are indebted to him because of the fact that on many occasions drab moments have been brightened by his interesting and cheerful conversation. I have met only one other man who possessed personal gifts similar to those of Mr. Collins. He also had an extraordinary love of Australian poetry, and his ability to recite the works of Australian poets in a most pleasing voice was remarkable. We regard his deathas a great personal loss. Apart from his many social qualities he was a man of shrewdness and common sense. He knew the people of his electorate well, and he was well acquainted with the needs of the people of Australia. He was a true Australian, and one of those bright spirits whom this country can ill afford to lose. He took a deep interest and played an active part in public life andwas agreeable in all his personal and social relationships. I join with the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) in expressing deep regret at his passing, and our sincere sympathy with his widow and daughter in their bereavement.

Senator COOPER:

-The members of the Australian Country party in the Senate desire to associate themselves with the motion. They deeply regret the death, in the prime of life, of a man of the calibre of the late Honorable Thomas Joseph Collins. The deceased gentleman was an active member of the Australian Country party, and during his term as member for Hume he held ministerial rank. He lived in close contact with the country people whom he represented, and at all times he made it his business to be well informed in connexion with the problems which affected them. He endeavoured always to improve their conditions. The late Mr. Collins had a likeable personality, and made friends wherever he went; yet he had strong and firm convictions and was a staunch fighter for the principles which he believed to be right. As a Minister he travelled extensively, and his passing will he mourned by many personal friends throughout the Commonwealth. The members of the

Australian Country party extend to his widow and daughter deep sympathy in their great loss.

Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their places.

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Motion (by (SenatorClothier) - by leave - agreed to -

That leave of absence for two months be granted to Senator Nash on account of absence overseas on urgent public business.

Motions (by Senator Leckie) - by leave - agreed to -

That leave of absence for two months be granted to Senator McLeay on account of absence overseas on urgent public business.

That leave of absence for one month be granted to Senator Allan MacDonald on account of ill health.

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Senator LAMP:

– Will the Minister for Social Services ask the Government to introduce a national security regulation to compel insurance companies to reduce the premiums on motorists’ thirdparty risk policies, as such companies will receive considerable indirect benefits under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Act?

Senator FRASER:

– I shall give consideration to the honorable senator’s request.

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Perth Studio

Senator TANGNEY:

– Will the PostmasterGeneral ask the Australian Broadcasting Commission to consider postponing the building of its new studio in Perth until such time as the acute shortage of homes and hospital accommodation in that city has been alleviated, so that the equipment and man-power necessary to complete the Perth Hospital may be made available for that purpose?

Senator CAMERON:
Postmaster-General · VICTORIA · ALP

– This matter has already been referred to the Australian Broadcasting Commission. When a report has been received from the commission, I shall let the honorable senator have a reply.

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Trunk Calls

Senator ARNOLD:

-Will the PostmasterGeneral cause an investigation to be made of the long delays which occur in connexion with the telephone trunk line service in the Newcastle district, with a view to improving the service?

SenatorCAMERON. - I shallbe glad to comply with the honorable senator’s request, and shall let him have a reply in due course.

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Senator FRASER:
Minister for Health and Minister for Social Services · WESTERN AUSTRALIA · ALP

by leave - During the debate on the motion for the adjournment on the 7 th March last, Senator Cooper made representations in relation to the appointment to the permanent staff of the Commonwealth Public Service of certain meat inspectors employed by the Department of Commerce and Agriculture on a temporary basis. The matter hasbeen referred to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, who replied to the honorable senator by letter indicating that the policy being followed by the Public Service Board during the war is to avoid making permanent appointments. When appointments of meat inspectors are made, any suitably qualified persons will be entitled to apply and preference in employment must, in accordance with the law, be given to returned soldiers. Permanent employment does not follow as a natural corollary to temporary employment. The matter of making some permanent appointments has been noted for consideration when circumstances will permit, and it is pointed out that temporary employees retained for lengthy periods may be granted superannuation benefits and furlough in accordance with legislation enacted by the present Government.

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Visit of Acting Minister to Operational Areas

SenatorFRASER. - by leave - I desire to make a personal explanation. In the House of Representatives a statement has been made, and reported in the press, that the itinerary of my visit to New Guinea shows that I did not visit the forward areas where it was very dangerous indeed to go, thatI remained in Soraken for only 90 minutes, and that the whole of my time in operational areas seems to have been spent with generals and not with the rank and file. It w as also stated that I did not go near the troops in the Torricelli Ranges, and that I arrived at Lae three hours late and refused to interview the troops there. As t here is no truth in these statementsI desire, for the protection of my own good name, which to me is of great value, to state the facts.

It has been suggested that duringmy visit to the northern battle areas I did not carry out either the letter, or the spirit, of the Prime Minister’s message, the terms of which honorable senators will be fully aware. My conscience is quite clear that at all places which I visited I carried out to the best of my ability, both the letter and the spirit of the Prime Minister’s message. If I did not see every soldier in those areas, it was because that was physically impossible; but I saw as many soldiers as I possibly could in every area I visited. I had previously advised the General Officer Commanding the Second Australian Army that it was my desire that no formal parades, or gatherings, of troops should be arranged at any area to be visited by me, because I was aware that if such action were taken, it would be used by unprincipled persons, and for political reasons, to endeavour to prove that the evidence heard by me had been prearranged by those in authority. As the troops inthe areas which I visited can testify, I walked among them unaccompanied by staff or regimental officers, and talked with them freely about their problems. I endeavoured to create an unofficial and informal atmosphere, and from the reception given to me by the lads, I am satisfied that this was achieved.

It has been suggested also thatI arrived at Lae three hours behind schedule, and informed 300 troops who had been paraded to speak to me that it was very late and I was very weary, and that I spoke to only one soldier and went on my way. The fact is that my timetable was adhered to throughout the whole period, with the exception of my visit to Lae, when because of following winds from Atherton to Nadzab, which is the airport for Lae, I arrived ahead of schedule and with the General Officer Commanding the First Australian Army, proceeded immediately to his headquarters for lunch according to arrangement. At no time during my visit to Lae, or any other operational area, did [ state that I was weary or too tired to speak to any troops, although I may say there were many occasions when such a statement would have been quite correct. Honorable senators know full well that I have the interests of our fighting lads far too much at heart to treat them in the manner which has been indicated. As various allegations of waste and extravagance have been made regarding the headquarters at Lae, it was only natural that my first action on arrival there would be to investigate these matters. My report, which will be made available to the public, will give the results of these investigations. I was not so greatly concerned with the general conditions at Lae as with conditions in the actual battle areas. There appears to be some misconception in regard to Lae, which is the head-quarters and main base of the First Australian Army. Even by the greatest stretch of the imagination this centre cannot be deemed to be a battle area, the nearest of which - New Britain - is 375 miles distant. However, I visited a number of the base units, including the hospital, and conferred freely with the men. I also visited the men’s club at the time of the evening meal and spoke to a number of men there. Subsequently I visited the hospital and spoke to members of the Army Nursing Medical Services. Compared with men serving in actual battle areas, the men at the base at Lae are well off and should have little cause for complaint.

I wish to refer now to the allegation that I did not visit the troops in the forward battle areas. My itinerary shows that on the 10th April, I left Torokina in Bougainville, at 7 a.m. and reached the Soraken Peninsula at 12.30 p.m. This involved a five-hours’ journey over open seas in a small motor launch, and a return later on the same day when the seas had become rougher, and therefore the journey occupied a longer period. While on the Soraken Peninsula, I interviewed in the forward area a number of men of a battalion which had been in action against the Japanese in that locality only seven days previously. The evening before, .the area had been shelled and the commanding officer had narrowly escaped a direct hit. I then proceeded by jeep to the mountain battery, 7 miles distant, and this battery was in action against the enemy during the whole period of my visit. At .the 19 th Field Ambulance station adjacent to the area, I spoke to sick and wounded soldiers, some of whom had been wounded in action during the previous 24 hours, and were awaiting transport by launch to the main base hospital at Torokina. I spoke also to engineers working at the limits of the jeep line in that locality, and to members of a patrol returning after three days in the ranges. I also saw the field bakery, where bread was being wrapped in waterproof paper for native carriers to take it over the native tracks to the forward patrols a few miles distant.

It has been stated also that I did not see any of the fighting troops in the Torricelli Ranges. The itinerary itself proves this to be wrong. On the 12th April, after an hour’s journey from Lae to Nadzab, I left by Liberator for the Tadje aerodrome, arriving at 11.20 a.m., journeying thence to Aitape. After a quick lunch I proceeded by launch over the open ocean to But, some 60 miles distant, a trip which took three hours. On arrival at But, which had been in the hands of the enemy only ten days previously, I noticed signs of battle everywhere. Japanese motor vehicles were strewn beside the roadways and destroyed Japanese aircraft lying in great number, around the Tocal airstrip. After a night at But I proceeded further towards the operational areas and spoke to troops who had been in active fighting and were thus in the best position of all the troops I had visited to speak of actual fighting conditions. These men gave me their first-hand observations.

I regret that it has been necessary to make this personal explanation, because it was my desire not to speak of matters such as these, but to give my studied views on the matters which I went to the battle areas to investigate. I have the greatest respect and admirationfor our fighting troops, and I have no wish to create the impression that I have, in any way, encountered the dangers and difficulties which these gallant boys have had to face; but I have felt impelled to answer the allegations that have been made concerning my visit to the battle areas. In conclusion I say with feeling and with pride that there are no cowards in my family.

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SenatorCOLLETT asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice.

With reference to the question concerning the Western Australian crop of apples and pears asked by Senator Collett and answered on the 8th March by the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture -

As only 1,006,296 bushels of an apple crop of l,566,578 bushels were offered to the public or processed, how was the balance of 560,282 bushels disposed of?

What price per bushel was paid to growers of the apples, and did the price include bushels not offered to the public or processed ?

Senator FRASER:

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

  1. Fruit which, for various reasons, could not be marketed or processed was left on the orchards and delivery was not required to be made by the growers.
  2. Growers were paid advances on all fruit in accordance with the rates approved by the Commonwealth. These rates varied according to variety, grade and, in some cases, size of the fruit. Varieties called up for delivery in full were paid advances on quantities actually delivered to the Apple and Pear Marketing Board. Fruit in respect of which delivery was not required, was paid advances on the basis of a tree measurement of the crop.

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Alien Doctors - Mentally Affected Soldier - Tuberculosis

Senator COOPER:

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

  1. Has the Minister seen the statement in this week’s Smith’s Weekly to the effect that the Queensland Deputy Commissioner of Re patriation, Mr. Turner, had admitted that reports made by alien doctors may be used as evidence in determining the pension claims of returned Australian soldiers?
  2. If not, does the Minister know that the Australian United Council of Ex-servicemen in Brisbane has voiced the strongest objection to enemy alien refugee doctors examining returned Australians and their reports being used as evidence by the Repatriation Commission ?
  3. Will the Minister call for an immediate report, make a statement to the Senate to-day and give an assurance that no enemy alien doctors willbe permitted to examine or treat Australian servicemen ?
Senator CAMERON:

– The Minister for Repatriation has supplied the follow ing answers : - 1.Yes.

  1. See answer to No. 1.
  2. A few alien doctors have been appointed as ActingRepatriation Local Medical Officers in certain country districts, as they are the only medical practitioners available in those districts. To give the assurance required by the honorable senator would mean that exmembers of the forces who reside in such districts would be deprived of immediate and easilyaccessible medical attention. It is pointed out that, in every instance, these doctors are legally qualified medical officers according to the law of the State in which they are permitted to practise. It will be seen that it was not possible, in the circumstances, to avoid the appointment of these doctors. For the information of the honorable senatorI should state that local medical officers do not assess pensions and that their duties are primarily the treatment of war disabilities and the supply of such clinical data as is required for consideration by the department, and, especially its medical officers.
Senator COOPER:

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

  1. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to a report in the Sydney Daily Telegraph of the 1st March, to the effect that a discharged soldier suffering from loss of memory gave himself up to the Katoomba police recently, sayinghe had committed a series of big robberies, while actually he had never robbed any one, instead, during his mental lapse, some one had robbed him of his identity card and wallet containing £14?
  2. If not, and in view of the statement that this man was discharged from the Australian Imperial Force in October,1942, after two years’ active service overseas, and receives a war pension of 7s. 6d. a week, will the Minister obtain from the New South Wales authorities the papers in the case, have the matter investigated and make a statement on the subject?
  3. If the facts are as stated in the newspaper report of the court proceedings (a) will the Minister explain how a man of the physical condition of this discharged serviceman was discharged;(b) what action does the Mi nister propose to take to ensure there are no similar cases in the future?
Senator CAMERON:

– The Minister for Repatriation has supplied the following answers: -

  1. No.
  2. Yes. The ex-soldier referred to was discharged in October, 1941, on account of hysteria, and was granted a war pension. The Discharging Medical Board made no recommendation as to the need for treatment at the time, but he was notified how he could obtain treatment if he required it. This man re-enlisted in January, 1942, under an assumed name, and was discharged in September, 1942, again on account of hysteria. Since his second discharge he has received short periods of inpatient treatment. He was considered by the alienist in September last to be suffering from hysterical episodes complicated with alcohol. There is no evidence to show that this man was wrongfully discharged from the forces. Treatment is available as and when necessary,but it should be remembered that theRepatriation Commission has no power to compel an exsoldier, under these circumstances, to undergo treatment or to continue treatment.
  3. See answer to No. 2.
Senator COOPER:

asked the Minister re presenting the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice - 1.Is it a fact that a splendidly equipped modern chalet at Kenmore has been built for the purpose of taking care of tubercular soldiers?

  1. Is it a fact that the reason that this chalet has not been used is because labour and materials have not been made available to complete the nurses’ quarters?
  2. Is it a fact that the Minister was approached inJune last by the secretary of the Tubercular Soldiers Association, Queensland, asking that the chalet be opened at an early date owing to the pressing need of accommodation for tubercular servicemen cases? 4.If so, whatreply did the Minister give to these representations?
  3. In view of the urgent need for this accommodation, will the Minister direct that the necessary labour and material be made available to complete this work?
Senator CAMERON:

-The Minister for Repatriation has supplied the following answers : -

  1. Yes.
  2. Yes.
  3. The secretary of the Tubercular Soldiers Association, Queensland, approached the Minister for Repatriation in June, 1943.
  4. The Minister explained that the difficulty was one of priority, and that owing to the urgent need for defence works in Queensland it was still possible that men and materials may be diverted at any time to such works.
  5. Everything possible is being done to ensure the completion of the work as soon as possible, which it is expected will be during May of this year. The Minister wishes it to be made quite clear that no tubercular patients. have been refused treatment as a result of this unfortunate delay, and at the present time surplus accommodation for such patients is available at the Repatriation General Hospital, Rosemount.

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Tasmanian Sittings

Senator AYLETT (through Senator

McKenka) asked the Minister representing the Acting Attorney-General, upon notice -

  1. How long is it since the High Court of Australia visitedthe State of Tasmania?
  2. Why is it that the High Court does not visit Tasmania at least annually.
  3. How many Tasmanian litigants, during the lastfive years, have had to go to Melbourne or Sydney to have their cases heard inthe High Court?
Senator ASHLEY:
Minister for Supply and Shipping · NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– The Acting Attorney-General has supplied the following answers : -

  1. Sittings of the High Court of Australia were held in Hobart on 19th February, 1945. when His Honour Mr. Justice Dixon dealt with all matters set down for hearing before a single justice. In addition, His Honour made an order transferring to Melbourne for hearing the only matter in the list of business for the Full Court. That matter has since Been heard. The Full Court last visited the State of Tasmania forthe sittings which commenced on 13th February, 1939.
  2. By Rules of Court made annually by the justices, sittings of the High Court are appointed to be held at Hobart in the month of February in each year, with a proviso that no sittings will be held unless there is a substantial amount of business. There has not been in any of the past five years a substantial amount of business at Hobart, and only eight matters have been set down for hearing before the Full Court at Hobart during that period.
  3. During the last five years, six matters in which residents of the State of Tasmania were parties have been heard by the Full Court at Melbourne and two such matters have been heard by the Full Court at Sydney. In addition, eight actions commenced in the Tasmania Registry were disposed of by a single justice in Melbourne and one such action was disposed of in Sydney. As far as is known, none of the litigants in any of these matters went to Melbourne or Sydney for the hearing of any of these cases.

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Motion (by Senator Keane) pro posed -

That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn to Tuesday, the 8th May next, at 3 p.m.

Senator LECKIE:
Acting Leader of the Opposition · Victoria

– 1 realize, of course, that it is inevitable that this motion should be made and carried. In the circumstances, the Leader of the Senate (Senator Keane) cannot do other than propose an adjournment, because there is no further business before the Senate. Honorable senators are asked to show a great deal of amused toleration at the spectacle of being called together from various parts of Australia, meeting for a little over half an hour in a week, adjourning for nearly a fortnight, and in the meantime returning to their homes in the far corners of the Commonwealth. This situation displays ineptitude oil the part of the Government. Within the last hour I have seen honorable senators arriving here in hot haste ready for business, but some of them, will probably leave Canberra by this afternoon, and practically no business will have been transacted by the Senate. h that the kind of business management to be displayed by this Government? Why wore honorable senators brought back this week? Surely the Government must have known that no business would have been available for the Senate for some time. Prior to the previous adjournment we were assured that, legislative measures would await our attention upon our return to Canberra, but the net result is nhat we have no more work to do than we had when we last adjourned.

I realize that the Leader of the Senate lias no measures to put before us, and that we may as well return to our homes; but, on behalf of members of the Opposition, I protest against the treatment that we have received. Even in the present circumstances, when it was found that no business would be received from the House of Representatives, there was surely some scope for discussion in the Senate on the matters at present engaging the attention of the House of Representatives. Considering the fact that -the Acting Minister for the Army (Senator Fraser) had submitted a report to the Government concerning the equipment of the Australian troops in the New Guinea area, I see no reason why a discussion should not have been initiated in this chamber regarding that matter. Honorable senators might even have discussed the pro nouncements being made by the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) to the people of Great Britain, and might have considered to what degree his statements contrasted with the opinion held in the Senate. From whatever point of view we regard the situation, the fact remains that we have been summoned to Canberra without having any legislative business to consider, and we have been deprived of an opportunity for a full discussion on world affairs, and particularly matters connected with the war, which are exercising the minds of the people. The members of this chamber have not had an opportunity to debate foreign affairs for a considerable period, yet at this very time representatives of Australia artattending a conference overseas for the discussion of matters of great international significance. I protest against the methods of the Government which have made this adjournment necessary, and I hope that the protest, will be supported by honorable senators generally. We desire to do the work which we have been sent here to do, but we do not wish to be brought here on a fool’s errand and find that there is nothing for us to do. It is time for honorable senators on both sides of the chamber to take steps to ensure that the business of the nation is properly managed. As I have already stated, I am not blaming the Leader of the Senate personally for this predicament. I realize that he has to do what his colleagues in. the other chamber decide, but in the interests of the Senate and of the country it is important that the business of this chamber shall be carried on in a business-like way.


– I support the remarks of the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Senator Leckie). Like him, I do not blame the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) for what has occurred, but I emphasize that in respect of practically all legislation the powers of the Senate are equal to those of the. House of Representatives. The status of the Senate in the minds of the people depends largely upon its members. There are five Ministers in the Senate, and about the same number of exMinisters on the Opposition benches. There is. therefore, no good reason why more bills should not be introduced in this chamber. The present practice is for practically all legislation to be initiated in the House of Representatives. That is a disadvantage to the country. I realize that measures dealing with financial matters must be introduced in the other chamber, but that qualification does not apply to such measures as the Reestablishment and Employment Bill. Nor can it be said that there are not among honorable senators men capable of dealing with that measure. Senator Collett, for instance, was Minister for Repatriation in a previous government, and could put the view of the Opposition. In the interests, not only of the Senate but also of the country as a whole, I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs to consult with his colleagues in the other chamber in this matter, so that the Senate may fulfil its obligations as an equal partner with the House of Representatives in the legislative life.of this country.

SenatorFOLL (Queensland) [3.39].- I support the protest voiced by the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Senator Leckie), and, with him, express regret that the report which was furnished to the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) recently by the Acting Minister for the Army (SenatorFraser), following his recent visit to forward operational areas, has not been made available for discussion in this chamber, particularly as it was here that the matter was first given the publicity which led to the Prime Minister sending his colleague to make investigations on his behalf.We in this chamber are just as keen as are members of the House of Representatives that the right thing shall be done. I am confident that the Government has no desire to restrict debate in this chamber on Army matters, particularly as a Senate Minister, for whom all honorable senators have great respect, visited operational areas on behalf of the Prime Minister. I hope that when the Senate resumes its sittings an opportunity will begriven to discuss the report of the Acting Minister for the Army.

I also express regret that the Department of the Army has not made available answers to questions asked some weeks ago by Senator Sampson and myself in relation to matters which we consider to be of great importance. I know that departments generally are busy, but there has been too much delay in supplying answers to questions. After a fairly long adjournment, honorable senators were justified in expecting that answers would be supplied to all questions which had appeared on the notice-paper. I do not blame Senate Ministers for the delay, particularly as the Minister for Health (SenatorFraser) is only acting on behalf of his colleague, the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde), who is absent from Australia. I am particularly interested in the question relating to the activities of Australian fighting services abroad which I placed on the noticepaper. Every day we read in our newspapers of the doings of famous British regiments, and of the exploits of Russian leaders-

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon Gordon Brown:

– Order! I allowed the honorable senator some latitude because I thought that he would relate his remarks to the motion before the Chair. I suggest that he should leave any further comments until the motion for the adjournment has been moved.

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

in reply - When the Senate rose for the Easter adjournment, I deliberately moved that the adjournment be to a date to be fixed, because I knew that the House of Representatives would have before it certain legislation which could not be ready for the Senate if both Houses were to resume on the same day. Some progress has been made in the other chamber with the Government’s legislative programme, but, unfortunately, bills which it was thought would be available for discussion here to-day have not yet reached the Senate; I refer to theWool Use Promotion Bill and two measures dealing with income tax. Other business has interfered with the Government’s programme, and the result is, as the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Senator Leckie) has said, that the Senate is a chamber without business to transact. I have had a conference with Ministers in the other House, and can say definitely that when the Senate resumes its sittings on Tuesday week there will be some business .to transact. After that, however, there will probably be a fairly long adjournment because the legislation to be dealt with in the other chamber will involve lengthy debates. Honorable senators will realize that the discussion of such measures as the Government’s proposals for the rehabilitation of exservicemen, its banking legislation, and its proposals in respect of insurance, may occupy some weeks in the House of Representatives. I agree with Senator Herbert Hays that more legislation should be initiated in the Senate.

Senator Leckie:

– Could not the “Wool Use Promotion Bill and the two measures dealing with income tax be postponed until later?

Senator KEANE:

– No; they are urgent measures which the Government is anxious to have placed on the statutebook as soon as possible. Those bills will be ready for discussion by the Senate on Tuesday week. T agree that more legislation could be initiated in this chamber and passed on to the House of Representatives. The Minister for Health (Senator Eraser) has in preparation a bill to consolidate all social service legislation now on the statutebook; that measure will be introduced in this chamber before going to the House of Representatives. The present position arises because it has been the rule for very many years to initiate nearly al! legislation in the House of Representatives. I do not agree with that system. 1 shall take an early opportunity to discuss the whole matter with the Prime Minister. However, I was more than careful to arrange an adjournment which would enable me to have business ready for the Senate when it reassembled.

Question resolved in- the affirmative.

page 1088


Australian Army: Publication op Operational Programme ; Visit of Acting Minister to Operational Areas - Business Of the Senate - Australia House: Staff - Transport of Wives of Australian Servicemen.

Motion (by Senator Keane) proposed -

That the Semite do now adjourn.

Senator FOLL:

.- I wish to revert to the matter I raised earlier, namely, the desirability of- publicking the activities of Australian troops engaged in the New Guinea area. Owing to the publicity given to the exploits of the armies of our gallant allies, and their leaders, on the Western and Eastern fronts many of their names are becoming household words in Australia. That, of course, is very desirable. At the same time, however, no publicity is being given to the exploits of Australian troops now engaged in New Guinea, New Britain and Bougainville. This lack of publicity has a very unfortunate effect so far as Australia itself is concerned. I venture to say that as the result of thu publicity given to the activities of Marshal Zhukov and other famous Russian generals, Field-Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery, the Allied Corn.manderinChief, General Eisenhower, and Generals Patton and Bradley, the average Australian child knows more about those commanders than they do about, any leader of our own troops, with the possible exception of our Commander-in-Chief, General Sir Thomas Blarney, who ha3 figured in the press, somewhat unfavorably, during the last few months. I fail to see how security considerations should prevent us from making known the activities of various Australian units fighting in the New Guinea area. The excellent publicity given to the exploits of Australians when they captured Bardia, Tobruk, and other centres in the North African campaign, reflected considerable credit upon Australia and gained much valuable publicity for this country. To-day, however, the exploits of our troops are not being publicized either here or abroad. At the same time, we read about the exploits of specific British units, .such as the Guards Battalion, the Sherwood Foresters and . other famous regiments, of which, with the Motherland, we are equally proud. The same kind of publicity should be given to Australian units fighting in the New Guinea area. What harm can be done to our war effort simply by giving publicity to some of their exploits? Such publicity would help to build up our morale, and also provide an excellent advertisement forthis country overseas. In lastSunday’s issue of the Sydney Sunday Sun I read an interview by an Australian journalist with Colonel McCormick, the notorious American isolationist and newspaper owner. In that interview, Colonel McCormick was critical of the part being played in the war by Australian troops. I know, of course, that that gentleman is notoriously antiBritish. The point I make is that the absence of publicity concerning the activities of our soldiers gives to such men opportunities to indulge in that kind of criticism, whilst it makes more difficult the task of our friends who wish to defend our position. Our soldiers themselves are very proud of their respective units. That fact is clear from the popularity of Anzac re-unions when the men foregather with other members of their old units. Members of various units also hold independent re-unions from time to time. I know that many brigades and battalions have gained a reputation for exploits in the north. The men and leaders of our Army should be given full credit for their exploits. I am reminded that this course is followed in respect of units of the American forces fighting in the Philippines. Communiqués from that area deal separately with the exploits of sections of those forces as well as giving full publicity to the leaders of the respective sections. Our allies, obviously, do not regard such publicity as detrimental to their security. Our failure to give similar publicity to the activities of Australian troops has contributed largely to the misunderstanding which is apparent in the United States of America with respect to the part which Australians are playing in battle zones at present. I havemy own personal opinion regarding the wisdom of utilizing Australian troops in certain areas in which they are now engaged, but that is beside the point.I again urge the Leader of the Senate to bring this matter to the notice of the Prime Minister.

When the Leader of the Senate was replying to remarks made earlier, he did not say whether it is the intention of the Government to give the Senate an opportunity to debate the report presented by the Acting Minister for the Army (SenatorFraser) to the Prime Minister relating to the equipment of Australian troops in northern operational areas. In view of the statement of the Leader of the Senate that he did not expect to have very much business for the Senate upon its resumption, we should be given an opportunity to debate that very important subject. I do not suggest that we fee given that opportunity merely in order to enable honorable senators on this side to voice grievances. Such a debate would give an opportunity to the Government to clarify points raised by all honorable senators. Therefore, I ask that the Senate be given full opportunity to debate the matter when we resume our sittings.


– I draw the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Senator Eraser) to the present serious plight of the dairying industry. This matter has been brought to the notice of the Government on many occasions during the last three or four years, but it must be obvious to every one who studies the position that the industry is going from bad to worse. To-day, we find that a great primary-producing country like Australia is threatened with a very acute shortage of dairy products. Prices are the cause of the problem. Had action been taken not only by this Government but also by its predecessor to ensure that those established in the industry received a reward comparable with that received by labour in other industries, our dairyfarmers would not find themselves in their present deplorable position. The problem of an adequate supply of fresh milk is extremely urgent. Something must be done immediately to assist milk producers. In the interests of this country it is vital that action be taken. There is no substitute for fresh milk. On behalf of the dairying industry protests have been made from time to time to the Prices Commissioner and in this Parliament, but without avail. In my view the only remedy for the present position is to give to the people engaged in this industry a reward for their labour more in keeping with the return obtained from other forms of primary production. Obviously when dairy farmers find that they can obtain 100 per cent. more income with less labour by undertaking other farming activities, such as the growing of crops, they see no reason why they should continue producing milk, the return from which is much less than it was before the” war taking into consideration costs of production. Very commendably, the Government is paying a subsidy to dairy farmers, but the result has not been good enough to warrant the complacency which is exhibited by honorable senators opposite. This country is committed to send large quantities of dairy products overseas, and should the present trend continue we might well find that there will be a shortage of milk and butter for our own people. An adequate supply of fresh milk is an absolute necessity, particularly to city dwellers. The position must not be allowed to deteriorate any further. It has been growing worse steadily from week to week. We are informed now that it may be necessary in the near future to ration milk even more severely than it is rationed at. present.

Senator Courtice:

– Is the honorable senator referring to the dairying industry generally or only to milk production?


-I am referring to the dairying industry as a whole, but particularly to the supply of milk. Requests by milk producers have been refused by the Prices Commissioner on the ground that an increase of the price of milk, if granted, would automatically bring about an increase of costs of production generally. It must be clear, however, that although the Government may be able to prevent dairy farmers from securing an increased return for their products, it has no power to compel these people to continue dairy farming. The result will be that more and more dairy farmers will turn to other more remunerative lines of production and sell their dairy herds for beef. What can we do to rehabilitate and resuscitate this industry?

SenatorO’Flaherty. - What is the honorable senators’ suggestion?


– We can encourage increased production only by ensuring a higher return to the producer. To-day the main concern of milk consumers, and, in fact, of consumers of many other commodities, is not the price but theshortage of supplies. The motorist is concerned not with the price of petrol but withthe possibility of getting more of it. Consumers are not greatly interested in the price of milk because that is taken into consideration in determining the cost of living. We must take steps to ensure that sufficient milk will be produced not only to satisfy the minimum requirements of the people of this country, but also to safeguard their health. Therefore, the matter is one that must be given early attention by the Government. As I have said, the remedy is to make the industry more profitable, and so to ensure not only that farmers now engaged in this important, avenue of primary production shall continue this work, but also that others who have abandoned dairying in favour of more profitable activities will restore their dairy herds.

Senator TANGNEY:
Western Australia

. -I wish to bring to the notice of the Government a matter which is causing great concern, namely, the work undertaken at Australia House, London. RecentlyI have come in contact with many servicemen and civilians who have returned from Great Britain, and they all complain of the lack of courtesy and information at Australia House. They all agree that Australia House has become too “ Londonified “, and that those in authority at: that centre have been there too long and have lost their Australian point of view, with the result that they have little sympathy with Australians who continually are seeking information and assistance. Allied to this matter is the appointment of a new Australian High Commissioner in London. I believe that any one who has held that position for more than a decade must have losttouch with the Australian outlook. It is advisable, therefore, that future appointments should be for a shorter duration, so that the holder of that important office will not lose touch with the Australian Government and people and with Australian conditions.

That leads me to another important matter, the transport to this country of the wives of Australian servicemen.I have been informed that there are between 400 and 500 wives of Australian soldiers, sailors and airmen in England awaiting an opportunity to come to Australia. That is very bad from all points of view. Many statements have been made about the need to encourage migration, and here we have migrants of the most desirable kind - ‘those whom young Australian heroes have selected for themselves. Yet very little is being done to help them to come to Australia to make their homes. The delay is also having a bad effect on many young men who arc expecting to leave soon for northern battle areas, and who want to see their wives settled in Australia before they go. The housing shortage is acute in Australia, but, it is more acute in Great Britain. “We would do the Mother Country a service if we relieved it, of the accommodation problem created by these 400 or 500 young women who are anxious to start life in Australia. Every means possible should be used to expedite their transportation to this country. In the meantime, they should be shown the utmost courtesy and consideration at Australia House, London. If Australia is to maintain its reputation for hospitality and courtesy, the employees at Australia House should be inculcated with those virtues.

Senator LECKIE:
Acting Leader of the Opposition · Victoria

– I regret that the Acting Minister for the Army (Senator Eraser) considered it necessary to make a personal explanation in this chamber this afternoon concerning his visit to operational areas. I have not seen or heard any serious criticism of him arising from his tour. Whilst honorable senators may sometimes question the Minister’s judgment and entertain doubts as to his administrative ability, we do not question for one moment bis earnestness, honesty, or personal courage. In the circumstances, it is fitting that I should give this assurance to the Minister on behalf of the Opposition in the Senate. We regret very much that an attack has been made upon his reputation.

Senator MATTNER:
South Australia

– I associate myself with Senator Leckie’s assurance. I have had the privilege of reading the Minister’s report on his recent tour of battle areas. Whilst I differ from some of the conclusions which he formed, I wish to assure him that 1 was impressed with the amount of work that he did. He has given a complete statement of his itinerary and of the investigations which he made on our behalf. I sincerely regret that he has been treated unjustly. He did an extraordinarily good job in the time at his disposal, and he has given very good service to the Senate particularly, and to Australia generally.

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

m reply - Senator Foll expressed the hope that the Senate would be given an opportunity to discuss the subject of Aus.tralian Army equipment. Seeing that the matter arose in this chamber. I agree that it would be proper to discuss it here. Honorable senators know that I have always contended that the Senate is, if not superior to the House of Representatives, at least equal in importance to it; the business that is discussed there is also the business of thi; chamber. I shall see that the report of the Acting Minister for the Army (Senator Fraser) is tabled in the Senate and that an opportunity is provided for a discussion of it. I join with Senator Leckie and Senator Mattner in reassuring the Minister that we have no doubts as to hi* ability or his actual courage.

Senator Herbert Hays referred to the dairying industry. As he knows, a great deal of attention has been given to the industry. The colossal amount of nearly £13,000,000 has been devoted to its assistance, an award has been made for men engaged in the industry, and the Commonwealth Food Control is keeping the position under observation continuously. Senator Herbert Hays contended that higher prices should be paid for dairy products. I remind him that the Prices Commissioner must have a hand in this matter, and rightly so, particularly as the dairying industry is being raked fore and aft, both in relation to production and distribution. Its problems have caused a lot of trouble. Dairy products are now bringing the highest prices ever paid in Australia’s history. ‘Nevertheless, the. milk suppliers of New South Wales were had enough to go on strike. The Government told them that a strike would not be tolerated, and they are at work to-day. Milk suppliers in Tasmania also proposed to go on strike and action had to be taken to prevent them from doing so. I undertake to confer with the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) and Professor Copland on the points raised by Senator Herbert Hays.

Senator Tangney’s complaint regarding the staff at Australia House, London, is a matter for the Prime Minister’s Department. The transportation to Australia of British wives of Australian servicemen has created a bigproblem. It is extremely difficult to obtain passenger accommodation on ships travelling between England and Australia and between America and Australia. However, I agree with Senator Tangney that these young wives of Australian men will make excellent citizens and are the sort of people whom we want here. Senator Foll referred to delay in answering questions asked in the Senate on army matters. I shall have this matter examined immediately. I appreciate the graceful references made by Senator Leckie and Senator Mattner to the work doneby the Acting Minister for the Army.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

page 1092


The following papers were pre sented : -

Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. -

No. 3 of 1945 - Hospital Dispensary and Asylum Employees and Allied Government Officers’ Federation of Australia.

No. 4 of 1945 - Hospital Dispensary and Asylum Employees and Allied Government Officers’ Federation of Australia.

No. 5 of 1945 - Commonwealth Temporary Clerks’ Association.

No. 6 of 1945 - Commonwealth Public Service Artisans’ Association; and Fourth Division Officers’ Association of the Department of Trade and Customs.

No. 7 of 1945 - Fourth Division Officers’ Association of the Department of Trade and Customs.

No. 8 of 1945 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union; and others.

No. 9 of 1945 - Commonwealth Temporary Clerks’ Association.

No. 10 of 1945 - Arms, Explosives and Munition Workers’ Federation; Amalgamated Engineering Union; Australasian Society of Engineers; Blacksmiths’ Society of Australasia; Electrical Trades Union of Australia ; Federated Engine-drivers’ and Firemen’s Association of Australasia; and Plumbers and Gasfitters Employees’ Union of Australia.

No. 11 of 1945 - Commonwealth Foremen’s Association.

No. 12 of 1945 - Federated Clerks’ Union of Australia.

Nos. 13 and 14 of 1945 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia.

Nos. 15-19 of 1945 - Arms, Explosives and Munition Workers’ Federation of Australia.

Commonwealth Public Service Act - RegulationsStatutory Rules 1945, No. 35.

Commonwealth Railways Act and Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for railway purposes - Katherine, Northern Territory.

Customs Act -

Customs Proclamation - No.620.

Regulations - Statutory Rules 1945, No. 34.

Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1945, Nos. 29, 33, 38, 42.

Defence Act and Naval Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1945, No. 43.

Economic Conditions in United Kingdom, United States of America and Canada - Report by Professor D. B. Copland, Economic Consultant to the Prime Minister.

Forestry Bureau Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1945, No. 27.

Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for -

Commonwealth purposes -

Ballarat, Victoria.

Bulimba, Queensland (3).

Cannon Hill, Queensland.

Cloncurry, Queensland.

Collie, Western Australia.

Dubbo, New South Wales.

Elsternwick, Victoria.

Gladstone, South Australia.

Lowood, Queensland.

Mallala, South Australia.

Northgate, Queensland.

Nungarin, Western Australia.

Postal purposes -

Tintinara, South Australia.

National Security Act -

National Security (Agricultural Aids) Regulations - Orders -

Feeding Meals (Restriction of Manufacture) (No. 2).

Fertilizers and Feeding Meals (Restriction of Sales) (No. 3).

Hay, Straw and Chaff (Queensland).

Hay, Straw and Chaff (Tasmania).

National Security (Egg Industry ) Regulations - Orders - Nos. 10, 11.

National Security (Food Control) Regulations - Orders - Nos. 18, 19.

National Security (General) Regulations -

Orders -

Control of -

Essential Materials (No. 13).

Manufacture of Gas Producers - Revocation.

Manufacture of Glass (No. 3).

Manufacture of Shovels - Revocation.

Overseas Communications (Otherwise than by Post).

Overseas Postal Communications.

Overseas Postal Communications (Prisoners of War).

Prohibited Places (7).

Service Munitions (Safety Precau tions) (No. 1).

TakingPossession of Land, &c. (80).

Use of Land (12).

Order by State Premier - New South

Wales (No. 63).

National Security (Industrial Property) Regulations - Orders - Inventions and Designs (243).

National Security (Land Transport) Regulations - Order - Victoria (No. 12).

National Security (Man Power) Regulations - Orders -

Optometrists( Supplementary Information ) .

Payments to Persons Directed to Accept Employment.

Protected Undertakings (115).

Registration of Optometrists.

National Security (Meat Industry Con trol) Regulations- Orders - Meat (Controlled Areas) (Nos. 3, 4).

National Security (Potatoes) Regulations - Order -No. 19.

National Security (Prices) Regulations -

Declaration - No. 154.

Orders- Nos. 1900- 1971.

National Security (Rationing.) Regulations - Orders - Nos. 74-78.

National Security (Shipping Coordination) Regulations - Orders - Nos. 81-90.

National Security (Supplementary) Regulations - Orders by State Premiers -

New South Wales (No. 54).

Western Australia (dated 28th March, 1945).

National Security (Vegetable Seeds) Regulations - Order - Control of Sale of Vegetable Seeds.

National Security (War Damage to Property) Regulations - War Damage Commission - Report for 1944.

Regulations - Statutory Rules 1945, Nos. 26, 30, 31, 32, 36, 37, 40, 41, 44, 45.

Navigation Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1945, Nos. 28, 39.

Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory ( Administration ) Act - Ordinance - No. 2 of 1945 - Nomenclature (Public Places).

Seat of Government Acceptance Act and

Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Ordinance - No. 3 of 1945 - Motor Traffic.

Senate adjourned at 4.12 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 26 April 1945, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.