17th Parliament · 3rd Session
The President (Senator theHon. Gordon Brown) took the chair at 3 p.m.. and read prayers.
Acknowledgment by His Majesty the King.
– I have received from His Royal Highness the GovernorGeneral the following communication in connexion with the Address-in-Reply : -
I desire to acquaint you that the AddressinReply, at the opening of the Third Session of the 17th Parliament, was duly laid before His Majesty the King, and I am commanded to convey to you and to honorable senators His Majesty’s sincere appreciation of the loyal message to which your address gives expression. (Signed) Henry,
Message received from the House of Representatives intimating that it had agreed to the amendments made by the Senate in this bill.
Message received from the House of Representatives intimating that it had agreed to the amendment made by the Senate in this bill.
Assent to the following bills re ported : -
Motor Vehicles Manufacture Legislation Repeal Bill 1945.
Wool Tax Bill 1945.
Wool Use Promotion Bill 1945.
Income Tax Assessment Bill 1945.
Income Tax Bill 1945.
– I regret to announce to the Senate the death in Melbourne on the 17th May of the Honorable Sir Arthur Robinson, K.C.M.G. The deceased had had a lengthy career in the Victorian Parliament and wasalso a former member of the Commonwealth Parliament. In 1900 he was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Victoria, for the electorate of Dundas. In 1903 he was elected to the House of Representatives for the Division of Wannon, and he held that seat till 1906. He entered the Legislative Council of Victoria in 1912 as the representative of the Melbourne South Province, and was a member of that council till 1925, when ho retired. The late Sir Arthur Robinson was Minister without office in the Government of Victoria from 1915 to 1917. He was Solicitor-General and Minister for Public Works and a vice-president of the Board of Land and Works from March, 1918, to October,1919, and AttorneyGeneral and Solicitor-General from October, 1919, to July, 1924, when he resigned. In 1923 he was created a Knight Commander of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George. In 1926 he was appointed a royal commissioner to investigate certain matters in connexion with the British Phosphate Commission. I move -
That the Senate expresses its deep regret at the death of the Honorable Sir Arthur Robinson, K.C.M.G., former member of the House of Representatives and Victorian State Minister, places on record its appreciation of his long and meritorious public service, and extends its sincere sympathy to his widow and members of his family in their bereavement.
– On behalf of the Opposition, I support the motion. I do so with considerable personal regret be- cause for over 50 years Sir Arthur Robinson and I were firm friends. I have always had the greatest respect and admiration for his many excellent qualities. Apart altogether from the short period during which he was a member of the Commonwealth Parliament, he had a distinguished career in the Parliament of Victoria. He was largely responsible for the Yallourn electricity scheme which is of such value to Victoria; that undertaking stands as a monument to his foresight and ability. Sir Arthur Robinson was an excellent citizen, who had great love for his old school. He worked day and night in its interests, and his benefactions, to it were many. The cause of education in Victoria owes much to him. I join with other honorable senators in expressing regret that a man of his outstanding ability and great achievements should have passed from our midst, and in expressing sincere sympathy to his widow and family.
– The members of the Australian Country party desire to be associated with the motion. The late Sir Arthur Robinson, and, indeed, the Robinson family generally, are well known throughout Australia, particularly in connexion with many big industries which have done so much for this country’s war effort. As the Leader of the Senate (Senator Keane) has said, the deceased gentleman left his mark on the political life of Victoria : he was also, for a short period, a member of the Commonwealth Parliament. His activities as a citizen are well known and Victoria is the poorer for his passing. To his widow and family we extend our sincere sympathy in their bereavement.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their places.
– It is with regret that I announce to the Senate the death on Sunday last, the 3rd June, of a former member of the House of Representatives - Major-General Sir John Gellibrand, K.C.B., D.S.O.
The late Sir John Gellibrand was elected to the House of Representatives for the Division of Denison, Tasmania, at the general elections in. 1925, and represented that division till 1928. He had a distinguished military career. He served in the South African War in the Lancashire Regiment, and was awarded the service medal with two clasps. He was appointed a captain in the Australian Imperial Force in the last war, and embarked in October, 1914, as a major in the 1st Division. At Gallipoli in 1915, he was appointed to command the 12th Battalion. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order in December of that year. In March, 1916, he was promoted to colonel and later was appointed temporary brigadier-general commanding the 6th Infantry Brigade. In May, 1916, he was wounded. He was appointed to temporary command of the 2nd Australian Division in February, 1917. In that month he was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath and was awarded a bar to the Distinguished Service Order. In November, 1917 he commanded the 12th Infantry Brigade, and in June, 1918 he was appointed to temporary command of the 3rd Australian Division with the rank of major-general. He was created a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in June of that year. Ho was the recipient of the Croix d’Officier and also the American Distinguished Service Medal. ‘The deceased gentleman also received the Croix de Guerre in 1919. He was eight times mentioned in despatches. In 1920 he was appointed Public Service Commissioner in Tasmania and later that year became Commissioner of Police in Victoria, a position which he held until 19.22. I move -
That the Senate expresses its deep regret ut the death of Major-General Sir John Gellibrand, K.C.B., D.S.O., former member of the House of Representatives for the Division of Denison, 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.
– The Opposition supports the motion. We mourn the death of a distinguished soldier, who, during a period of many years, rendered conspicuous service to this country. Although in many respects unorthodox, he was a remarkable and lovable personality. I know well the beautiful spot to which he retired, and I hope that his declining years were gladdened by the memories of his achievements on behalf of his country, and by the delights afforded by the beautiful surroundings in which he lived. Major-General Sir John Gellibrand was a man of outstanding ability and we honour his memory.
– The members of the Australian Country party in this chamber associate themselves with the motion. The late Sir John Gellibrand was a very gallant soldier whose passing will be deeply regretted by his old comrades. I and my colleagues express our deepest sympathy with his widow and family in their bereavement.
– I desire to he associated with the motion. Having known the late Major-General Sir John Gellibrand for 33 years, I can testify to his sterling qualities as a man and soldier. He was one of Nature’s gentlemen. It is exceptional to find an army officer who is both a good staff officer and a successful leader of troops in the field. Sir John Gellibrand, when a major, was associated with the late Sir Brudenell White in drawing up the plans for the landing on and later the evacuation of the-Anzac Corps from the Gallipoli Peninsula. Efficient though he was as a staff officer, he was even more efficient and successful as a brigade and divisional commander.
While the second battle of Bullecourt was see-sawing during the early days of May, 1917, his 6th Brigade. hung on to the portion of the Hindenburg Line on the Australians’ front. It was vital that the break made in that formidable line should be held and consolidated. General Gellibrand in the thick of the fighting inspired the men of that veteran brigade, which in turn inspired the troops on the flanks. A leader with less courage, or less determination to see things for himself, might have lost that important battle. Before the war ended, he became commander of the 3rd Division. His quiet unassuming and unconventional manner won for him the same respect in which he was held by his old brigade. The deceased gentleman was Chief Police Commissioner in Victoria for & period, but relinquished that officebecause he could not make any headway with certain reforms for the betterment of the police force, particularly in regard to the pay of junior officers. Subsequently, he represented the Tasmanian electorate of Denison in the House of Representatives for one term. When I asked him if he had considered contesting the seat at the next election, he said, “Too much talk and not enough action and quick results “.He preferred to lead a quiet life - almost a life of a hermit. He will be remembered most as the founder of the Legacy Clubmovement throughout Australia. These groups of professional and business ex-servicemen undertake the self-imposed task of looking after the children of soldiers of the war of 1914-18 and of the present war, who have paid the supreme sacrifice. Many a war widow has been grateful to Sir John Gellibrand’s farsightedness in establishing this movement, the members of which have taken, and still take, the place of a deceased husband and father. I support the motion, in which our deep sympathy is extended to his widow and children.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their places.
Motion (by Senator James McLachlan) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave of absence for two weeks be granted to Senator Collett on account of ill health.
– Reports have appeared in newspapers during the last two or three days regarding the lifting in Great Britain of certain controls and restrictions on industry in preparation for a return to civil production. These reports culminated yesterday in a statement to the effect that the organization controlled by Lord Nuffield proposed to manufacture 100,000 motor cars within the next twelve months. Can the Minister for Trade and Customs say what steps are being taken by the Government to remove controls on Australian industry so that this country shall not be left behind when the war ends?
– I undertake at an early date to furnish a full statement in regard to both the lifting of import restrictions and the encouragement of our export trade.
Promotions - Disposal of Surplus Motor Vehicles and Tyres - Tobacco Ration for Troops - Equipment - Use of Flame Throwers - Damage to Private Property
– Is it a fact that members of the permanent military forces of this country who, during the war have been promoted to higher ranks than those which they occupied previously, will revert to their former status when the war is over? If so, will the Acting Minister for the Army make a statement clarifying the position so that there shall not be any misapprehension on the part of the soldiers or of the general public?
– I shall endeavour to comply with the honorable senator’s request.
– I ask the Acting Minister for the Army whether it is a fact that, when a motor vehicle tyre owned by the Department of the Army has a slight cut which makes it inadvisable to continue using it, the tyre is cut in half to make sure that it is not used again? If so, and in view of the fact that that department is now disposing of a large number of motor vehicles, will the Minister ensure that, as far as possible, serviceable tyres are made available to the public?
– The answer to the first part of the question is “ No “. With regard to the second part of the question, I shall have inquiries made. The Army is continuously disposing of surplus stocks of motor vehicles through the War Disposals Commission.
– Is it a fact that prisoners of war in Australia receive a greater issue of tobacco than Australian troops engaged in fighting?
– It is not correct to say that internees receive a greater issue of tobacco than soldiers, but I have taken this matter up with the Minister for Trade and Customs since my return from operational areas, and I hope that an additional ration of tobacco will be issued to troops in operational areas. The Minister for Trade and Customs has the matter under consideration.
– Has the Acting Minister for the Army read the statements made in the House of Representatives by the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) regarding the alleged paucity of the equipment of the Australian fighting forces, and are those statements correct?
– I have made a searching inquiry as to the accuracy of the statements made by the Leader of the Australian Country party, and it may be advisable for me to give to the Senate some information on the matter. I can best do that by reading the following statement which will be made in the House of Representatives this afternoon by the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) : -
On the adjournment of theHouse on the 1st June, 1945, the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) asked the Government to institute a searching inquiry into further allegations of what he termed to be the unsatisfactory equipment position of the Australian forces in the battle areas north of Australia.
Mr. Fadden described a series of photographs which he stated he had received from an officer of the Australian Military Forces serving in New Guinea, several of which showed a large number of natives hauling a heavy grader made from bush timber obviously levelling an area for a landing strip.
I listened to Mr. Fadden at the time, and was so impressed by his statements that I directed that an immediate searching inquiry should be made. I am now in a position to report to the House that the airstrip depicted” in the photographs displayed by Mr. Fadden has been identified as the landing ground situated 5 miles south of Maprik. This airstrip is 56 miles by the most direct air route from the base at Aitape, and is over 100 miles over the narrow native tracks which follow the mountain spurs and river beds, which, as all honorable members know, are impassable by wheeled transport of any description.
This airstrip was first captured by Australian troops on the 21st April, 1945, nine days after the visit of the Acting Minister for the Army (Senator Fraser) to Aitape - when it was still in the hands of the Japanese.
As earth-moving machinery of even the lightest type could not be moved by the land route, and could not be taken in by air until the strip was serviceable for the landing of a laden plane, block and tackle and other such devices were dropped by aeroplane on to the area and local timber resources were then utilized to construct crude earth-moving and other types of equipment.
The only available motive power, apart from the troops, was natives who were able to traverse the native mountain tracks, rising over the Torricelli Mountains and then down the valley to Maprik, impassable to mechanical transport. As soon as they arived at the landing strip after its capture on the 21st April, 1945, they were used in the manner indicated in the photographs displayed by Mr. Fadden and the landing strip became usable on the 14th May, 1945.
The Australian Military Forces include among its ranks some of the most eminent of Australia’s engineering experts, and they are most emphatic in their statements that no army in the world with all the weight of available mechanical engineering resources at their disposal, could reasonably have adopted any method other than that used for the clearing of the emergency airstrip landing at Maprik, which was the subject of such criticism by Mr. Fadden.
Photographs are not an indication of either a lack or an abundance of equipment. That fact has been demonstrated from time to time by photographs published in the press; for instance, that of an Australian war correspondent, who was portrayed recently as dressed partly in American uniform and partly in an Australian uniform.
– Those pictures were sent from the front by an Army officer.
– That allegation was made, but I have no confirmation of the statement. The airstrip referred to is about 60 miles over the Torricelli Mountains. Native carriers had to traverse that distance, and the necessary block and tackle for servicing the airfield had to be dropped by aeroplane, because members of our. own forces had put it into such a state of disrepair that some means had to be adopted to make it serviceable. Immediately that had been done, light mechanical equipment was flown onto the airstrip. That, I think, is an effective answer to the statements by the Leader of the Australian Country party.
asked the Acting Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
asked the Acting Minister for the Army, upon notice -
With reference to question No. 2, in the name of Senator Collett, on the Senate noticepaper of the 8th May, 1945 -
Will the Minister afford the Senate the information asked for by items 3. 4, 5, 0, 7, 8 and 10?
Is the answer beginning “1. (10) “, given to Senator Collett, on the 8th May, 1945, to bc considered as a Anal rejection of Mr. Oath’s claim?
If so, and despite such rejection, will the Minister direct the appointment of a board of inquiry, such as may be provided for by the Regulations and Orders for the Australian Military Forces, to ascertain the full facts associated with the alleged damage to Mr. Coath’8 property; if not, why not?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Information any information to supply to me in answer to the series of questions which I asked some time ago arising from a speech by Mr. G. J. Rankin, M.P.
– The information which the honorable member sought hah not yet been obtained.
– Has the Minister for Supply and Shipping seen the report published in yesterday’s newspapers to the effect that several tons of camouflage paint which were dumped in a tip at Portland, South Australia, had been recovered by certain individuals, who were able to sell it at rather high prices? Will the honorable gentleman tell us whether there is any truth in the report, and, if so, what action he proposes to take ?
– I have seen the paragraph in the newspapers. I have already asked for a report on the matter and when it is supplied to me I shall furnish the information to the Senate.
– Some time ago I asked the Minister for Trade and Customs if he would have an investigation made to ascertain, whether the Prices Commissioner had noted the fact that, at some auction sales of surplus Government stocks, some commodities have realized prices representing from 200 to 300 per cent, of their normal value. Is the Minister yet in a position to give me any information on the matter?
– I shall see that an answer is given to the honorable gentleman to-morrow.
– Has the Leader of the Senate seen a paragraph which appeared in the press two days ago to this effect -
San Francisco, Thursday. - Australia’s insistence upon inclusion of a” full employment “ clause in the new world charter raises a strong presumption that the delegation is seeking to amend the Australian Constitution at San Francisco. The sustained and determined light being put up by the Australian delegation on this subject has bored most of the delegations and has taken a great deal of time and debate.
Does the honorable gentleman agree that for Australian delegates to bore the rest of the world is the greatest crime that could be committed against Australia, and, if so, is any move being made to bring the delegation back from San Francisco so that it will not continue to bore other delegates?
Question not answered.
.- I lay upon the table the following paper: -
Full Employment in Australia: - Government Policy. and move -
That the paper be printed.
This paper on “Full Employment in Australia “ is a declaration of the Government’s intention to do all in its power to achieve and maintain full employment in Australia in the post-war period, and constitutes, I believe, an important development in the social and economic history of this country. Ever since the 1850’s, which was a time of rapid expansion in our population, there has been a tendency towards a shortage of jobs rather than a shortage of men to fill them. This state of affairs can and must be reversed. Unemployment, such as we have experienced in the past, can not be tolerated, because for the people of Australia this has meant less capital development, fewer houses and a standard of living considerably below the maximum possible.. For the businessman it has meant less than the maximum demand for his products, idle equipment, unstable business and lack of confidence in the future. For many individuals, it has meant a loss of self-respect, a feeling of despair and bitterness against the system in which it seemed that he or she was not wanted. No one need ever again experience the evils of poverty and insecurity. There should be a demand for the services of every one able and willing to work.
Full employment will benefit all sections of the community. As the paper points out, to the worker it means steady employment, the opportunity to change his employment if he wishes, and a secure prospect unmarred by the fear of idleness and the dole. To the business or professional man, the manufacturer, the shopkeeper, it means an expanding scope for his enterprise, free from the fear of periodic slumps in spending. To the primary producer, it means an expanding home market, and, if a high and stable level of employment is maintained in other countries, better and more stable export markets. To the people as a whole, it means a better opportunity to obtain all the goods and services which their labour, working with necessary knowledge and equipment, is capable of producing.
The paper not only states that full employment is a fundamental aim of the Government, but also indicates the methods by which it is proposed to achieve that aim. Full employment depends on the volume of expenditure by all sections of the community. Private consumption expenditure will be stimulated to the limit set by available goods and services, and the social policy of the Government will ensure that it is more equitably distributed than in the past. Private capital expenditure will be encouraged in order to develop Australia’s resources. Government expenditure will have three main objectives: It must provide efficiently the necessary level of public services and for the rapid development of our national resources; it must redistribute income in order to ensure that those who are unable to work shall be fed, clothed and housed at a reasonable minimum standard; it must at all times be sufficient to ensure that the total of private and public expenditure will be adequate to employ all men and women seeking work. The carrying out of a policy of full employment will, of course, require close collaboration between Commonwealth and State Governments, and between governments, employers and trade unions. I do, however, believe that every section of the Australian community wholeheartedly supports the policy of full employment and will co-operate with the responsible authorities to achieve that end. In particular, there is need for close cooperation and agreed action by Commonwealth and State Governments. Already, many post-war problems have been considered at Premiers conferences, and action is being taken in collaboration with the States to implement policy in respect of housing and soldier settlement determined at these conferences. The Commonwealth Government is anxious to expand this machinery for consultation and joint administrative action, and to this end it proposes to invite State governments to participate in more frequent conferences of Premiers and Commonwealth and State Ministers.
I emphasize that the Government realizes that full employment will raise problems which may not be important in an economy in which there is considerable unemployment. If the Government is to ensure that total spending is sufficient to maintain full employment, there is always the danger of an inflationary rise of prices, which experience suggests may affect adversely the welfare of workers and others with low incomes. There are also the dangers of inefficiency, and of a lack of enterprise and initiative by businessmen in developing new opportunities, and by workers in transferring to expanding occupations which offer a better reward for their labour. The paper outlines possible means to combat these and other dangers, should they threaten the success of the full employment policy.
Although this paper is primarily an expression of long-term economic policy and the means to implement it, reference is made to the problems of the changeover from a war to a peace economy. The most urgent problem will be to find employment, which is both socially necessary and in accordance with the wishes of those seeking work, for all men and women discharged from the services and those who are no longer required in war production. This emphasizes the importance of the measure to be introduced in the Senate for the re-establishment and employment of service men and women, which is an important contribution to the welfare of demobilized service men and women and to the solution of the major tasks of the transition. Other problems are to ensure the speediest possible increase of production for civilian purposes, and so to make possible a rapid and substantial rise of living standards. It is also the intention of the Government to expand the rate of construction of dwellings far above the prewar level, in order first to meet the needs of those who have been denied a home by the exigencies of the war, and later, to raise the general standard of housing in this country.
Domestic full employment in Australia will benefit not only the people of this country but also workers in other countries, because the high level of employment and income here will maintain the highest possible demand for the products of other countries. In current international discussions, the Government has proposed that an employment agreement should be concluded whereby each country would undertake to do all in its power to maintain employment within its own territories. The essential value of such an agreement is to ensure the widest possible extension of the benefits of full employment and make the greatest contribution to the aim of the United Nations to secure universal freedom from want. From the viewpoint of Australia, it is undeniable that full employment in the main countries of the world would stimulate a high demand for our exports; would be of immense benefit to our export producers ; and would make an invaluable contribution to the stability of expenditure and employment in this country. Finally, I emphasize that full employment should not be regarded as an end in itself. There will be no place in a full employment policy for schemes designed to make work for work’s sake. Full employment is the most important means to high and rising standards of living, which will reach the maximum only when men and women seeking work are fully employed in producing in the most efficient manner goods that are wanted. Only by efficient production will our living standards increase to the greatest extent possible.
Debate (on motion by Senator Leckie) adjourned.
– Does the Leader of the Senate propose to announce full particulars of the Government’s recent decision to release 70,000 men from the three fighting services and will he inform the Senate what will be the duties of the three civilian committees which are to probe the various aspects of the services with a view, I understand, to finding out whether there is duplication of work and whether unnecessary personnel is employed ? Is it also intended to give to the Senate an early opportunity to debate the matter?
– I undertake to have a statement in reply to the honorable senator’s request prepared and submitted as early as possible.
Lease of Factory at Rutherford.
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– These questions should have been addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, by whom an answer is being prepared.
asked the Minister for
Trade and Customs, upon notice -
What developments have taken place so far in connexion with the Government’s decision to establish the aluminium industry in Australia?
– The administration of the Aluminium Industry Act has been transferred to the Department of Munitions. The personnel of the commission has been appointed and it held its first meeting at Hobart on the 12th May, 1945. The commission is now examining the means of giving effect to the act. and will formulate its plans accordingly. It is a task of magnitude and involves investigation and test of raw materials and determination as to methods of treatment of the plant, and it is estimated that at least twelve months will be occupied in planning.
Alien Doctors - War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunals
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
With reference to the question askedby Senator Cooper on the 26th April and the reply given by the Minister on that date regarding the employment of enemy aliens as repatriation doctors, will the Minister take action to ensure that immediately a medical officer, other than an enemy alien, becomes available in any district, the alien medical officer will be withdrawn from the position of Acting Repatriation Medical Officer for that locality?
– The Minister for Repatriation has supplied the following answer: -
Whena suitable medical practitioner becomes available in a locality where an enemy alien is acting as Local Medical Officer, the Repatriation Commission will take action to terminate the temporary appointment of the enemy alien medical practitioner.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Repatriation has supplied the following answers: -
As at the 30th April, 1945, the position was -
Appointment of High Commissioner for Australia
asked the Minister representing the Acting Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
Does the Government propose to take steps at an early date to establish closer relations with the Union of South Africa by the appointment of a High Commissioner for Australia in that dominion; and if not, why not?
– The Acting Minister for External Affairs has supplied the following answer: -
Favorable considerationhas been given to the proposal for an exchange of High Commissioners with the Union of South Africa, and itis hoped to put it into effect as soon as circumstances permit.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
No subsidies are at present being paid for the carriage of mails between Tasmania and the mainland. First-class mails, i.e., letters and postcards, are carried by air and other articles by sea.
Payment for the carriage of mail by air is made at the rate of . 0375d. per poundmile and the cost to the Commonwealth for the six months ended December, 1944, was £12,567. The airline company is Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited, and the conditions under which the service is flown are laid down in a contract between the Commonwealth and the company. The contract conditions specify the company’s obligations in regard to the carriage and handling of the mail, the operation of a safe and regular service, the rates of payment and penalties for breaches by the company.
Regarding the carriage of mails by sea at the time of the requisitioning by the Commonwealth of the two vessels which operated between the mainland and Tasmania (March, 1942), mails were carried under a contract between the Postmaster-General and the Tasmanian Steamers Proprietary Limited. This contract commenced as from the 13th March, 1935, and was for a period of ten years, thereafter being terminable by either party on twelve months’ notice. Under this contract the company was paid £52,604 per annum, £30,000 being borne by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department and the balance by the Prime Minister’s Department.
From March, 1942, to May, 1944, payment was made to the Shipping Control Board on a pro rata basis for the trips actually completed. Since the 1st June, 1944, the contract has been suspended and payment made at regulation poundage rates, viz. -
First-class mail -1s. 4d. per lb.
Other classes - 2s. 8d. per cwt.
The company has now given notice of its desire to terminate the agreement, and has been advised that it will be deemed to terminate at midnight on the 12th April, 1946.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Keane) read a first time.
.- I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The bill will promote primarily the civilian re-establishment of the members of the armed forces and certain auxiliaries. I do not need to emphasize its national importance, which is obvious. However, I stress its urgency. Since the bill assumed parliamentary shape, onehalf of the global war in which we fight has been won. This achievement has released enormous Allied strength for concentration upon the other half.We cannot doubt that this concentration will bring the ultimate end much nearer. But in so doing, it will shorten the time available tous to make ready at all points for the tasks of demobilization and civil reabsorption which the bill contemplates. Therefore, the Government desires that the legislation be enacted with the utmost expedition in order to let all concerned know just exactly what Parliament has empowered and enjoined the Government to do, and enable the Government to proceed with its plans.
It will be apparent to honorable Senators that the bill covers much ground. Nevertheless, it deals only with certain aspects of the needs of ex-service personnel, leaving much to be covered .by other legislation, some of which is already in force, and some in course of preparation. As was pointed out in the House of Representatives, the full programme of care and assistance for men and women released from the services falls into two parts. The first part involves long-continuing national responsibilities such as are implied in pensions, medical attention in all its forms; the conduct of hospitals and special institutions; the provision of surgical aids ; the welfare of dependants, including facilities for the education and vocational training of children of the fallen and the totally incapacitated; assistance in the acquisition of dwellings and land holdings - these and kindred matters make up the first part. These, with the exception of dwellings and land holdings, are covered by the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act. Dwellings are primarily the concern of the War Service Homes Department; whilst farms and other forms of rural holding will be covered by legislation giving effect to land settlement agreements with the States. Bills covering these aspects will be introduced1 later.
The second part of re-establishment consists of the many and various forms of provision considered necessary to assist the transfer of the many hundreds of thousands from war tasks back to normal living and work in the civil community. The requirements of this second part form the subject-matter of the bill now before honorable senators. As will be seen, its provisions are chiefly of economic significance derived from the Government’s full employment policy and from measures specifically dealing with the requirements of the reconstruction period. If this legislative division of the field to be covered is recognized from the outset the second-reading discussion on this measure may be accomplished in less time and with more cogency.
The majority of benefits provided for in the bill may be made available to all members o.f the Australian forces - sea, land and air - who have served on continuous full-time duty for a minimum period of six months, as well as to members of the forces of the United King- dom and other of the King’s Dominions who were resident or domiciled in Australia before commencing their service. Certain of the benefits, however, are available only to limited classes of service personnel who are specified in relevant parts of the bill. Provision is also made for extending benefits to exservicemen who may have served in the forces of our allies .and who may settle in Australia under reciprocal reestablishment plans that may be entered into with those countries. Whilst the primary purpose of the hill is the re-establishment of ex-service personnel, the provisions have been so drafted as to be used also for the benefit of certain non-service groups associated throughout with the forces, for example, the Young Men’s Christian Association, and other specified groups of civilians, where it is reasonable and economical to use for their reestablishment the facilities set up under the bill. I shall be able to speak more precisely about these groups when we are considering the eligibility clauses in committee.
What measures are necessary to ensure the effective re-establishment of the service man and woman? First, let us deal with the employed man; then we can pass to the employer and selfemployer. In the first place, the Government and the country recognize as a primary obligation the necessity to ensure that those servicemen who wish to return to their pre-war jobs shall be reinstated and not penalized because of the period during which they have been absent on military service. It is estimated that a very high percentage - perhaps 50 per cent. - will wish to resume their former employment if this be practicable. The Government has revised, carefully, the re-instatement provisions which were introduced by National Security Regulations in 1939 by the previous Government - both the regulations dealing with apprenticeship and those concerned with straight-out employment.
In recent months, it became clear that the existing provisions were no longer adequate to deal with a period when substantial numbers would be discharged from the forces. Also, experience had disclosed very serious weaknesses in the regulations which had been working to the disadvantage of servicemen. Accordingly, a thorough overhaul was undertaken as part ofl the preparations to draft this bill. In December, last year, new regulations were gazetted and these latter provisions appear in the bill. They set out specific reinstatement procedure to ensure that servicemen who wish to return to their jobs shall not be defeated in their desire by technical defects. At the same time, the provisions also particularize the employers’ obligations in these matters. After five years of war, many employers have almost completely new staffs, and have been faced with applications for reinstatement in positions which have been held during the past three or four years by war-time employees. The reinstatement provisions now make it quite clear that such an employee must give way to the serviceman. Employers are also told that where several servicemen apply for reinstatement in the same position, the man primarily entitled to reinstatement in the job is the man who first began a period of war service. If an applicant for reinstatement can not be reinstated in the job which he occupied before war service, whether because of disabilities which render it no longer possible for him to perform the duties of that job, or some other such cause, the employer and the applicant may agree on some other position which the applicant can occupy or, in the event of their disagreement, a reinstatement committee may investigate the matter and determine it for the parties. These reinstatement committees in every instance will be composed of an official chairman, and a representative each of employers, employees and servicemen. Not only must the employer reinstate the former employee in his former job under conditions as favorable as those which previously existed, but also he must grant to the serviceman upon reinstatement, a salary which shall include any increases to which the serviceman would have been entitled had he remained in the employment of that employer during the whole period during which he was absent on war service. But, however important it may be to many servicemen to be assured of getting their old jobs back, there will be many more who, by choice or necessity, will have to be concerned with a. new job, often involving the acquisition of skill in another calling, or skill of a higher order, and some priority in selection. Hence, they will be most interested in training as a preparation for employment, and in preference to increase the assurance of special consideration for jobs of whatever sort.
The preference scheme of the Government is notable for two things: First, it is the first nation-wide scheme of general preference attempted by any government in this or any other country, during this or any other war. Sufficient credit has not been given to the Government for this contribution. Secondly, and this is an even more important point, the” preference scheme is not some hastily contrived and half-baked scheme. It has been thought out very thoroughly, and I have no doubt it will be workable In this, it differs markedly from the preference that has operated or failed to operate in this country in the past. This is an important point, for preference is not a simple matter which can be dealt with shortly by vague general phrases. From some opponents of the present measure, one would gather that the word “ preference “, itself, was self-explanatory; but preference is only a word, and any preference scheme must be defined carefully. We emphasize that the preference problem cannot be shelved by resounding but empty statements of principle. It is essential to take a little trouble to work out an effective scheme. In the first place, it is necessary to define what we mean by preference, and this the Government has done, particularly in clause 27 of the bill. We must state at some length what we mean by preference, and we must set out the conditions under which it is to be granted. In other words, we must give to employers a clear indication of the persons to whom preference is to be granted and the conditions under which it is to be granted. If we do not take trouble to make our intentions clear in this way, the preference obligation will be evaded and the whole scheme will be still-born. The Government has stated that preference is to be granted unless reasonable and substantial causes exist for not granting it. It has gone further as it must, and has indicated what these words “ reasonable “ and “ substantial “ mean. I should hare thought that these steps were common sense.
I turn now to the time limit on preference. Doubts have been raised whether this period is long enough for the disabled to re-establish themselves. Members of all parties have agreed that disabled persons certainly should be afforded sufficient time. No one disputes that the disabled must be protected and assisted, and that their re-establishment will take much longer than that of the serviceman not suffering from disabilities. The Government fully shares this view; but for the first time in this country, the Government has already made special provision for restorative treatment and for full preference in employment for the disabled. I refer to Part IV. of the bill. These provisions deserve closer attention than they seem to have received. After ensuring restorative treatment for the disabled men, they go on to assure them employment. Individual employment is assured in each special case, and hence lasting and permanent preference is afforded. Honorable senators will notice also that as the re-establishment of the disabled will take longer than in the usual case, there is no time limit to Part IV. I might also mention that the” disablement provisions will apply to all servicemen, whether their disability is or is not caused by war. It seems, therefore, that provided special provision is made in this way for the re-establishment for the disabled, little real fault can be found with the limitation of preference to seven years. The consensus of opinion seems to be that this is a reasonable period for the re-establishment of the fit. Preference will be available to members of both the war of 1914-18 and the present war. Central and regional preference boards will administer the preference division of the bill.
I come now to training. The scope and pattern of the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme has been well defined, and the machinery for its operation has been in working order throughout the Commonwealth since February, 1944. It has been endorsed not only by the education authorities, including the universities, but also by employers’, employees’ and servicemen’s representa- tives. There seems to be a general impression that the scheme is open only to those who enlisted or were called up before their twentieth birthday. That is not so. Mem.bers of the forces, whose training has been interfered with by the war, may apply for professional, industrial or for rural training. The groups entitled to apply for full-time training are -
Those who, because of incapacity, suffered before discharge, are unable to return to their pre-war occupation.
Those who began war service on or before their 21st birthday and are suitable for professional or vocational training.
Those who require a short refresher course, or who desire to complete a full-time professional course interrupted by war service or who contemplated such a course prior to their war service and are suitable therefor.
Those who either have been selfemployed prior to enlistment and are unable to resume their former activities, or possess vocational skill now in over-supply, and who, in either case, can be suitably trained for reestablishment in another occupation.
Those who displayed, during their war service, conspicuous ability and are suitable for professional ot vocational training.
Consequently, honorable senators will see that the training scheme is available to those members of the forces whose training was interfered with by the war. Moreover, the groups of those entitled to training are constantly under review, and entitlement will be extended where shown to be necessary. Honorable senators will agree, however, that it is necessary in the interests of the service men and women themselves - particularly those whose discharge has been, or will be, delayed - to grant priority in training to those whose training has been interfered with by the war. Otherwise, the men most deserving of opportunities for training might not obtain the benefit to which they are entitled. However, as I have said, entitlement to training under the scheme will be enlarged whenever the need arises.
For example, the department is now considering the best way of affording training to those whose careers were interfered with first by the depression and then subsequently by war service.
I pass now to another important aspect ‘ of the training scheme, namely, the excellent co-operation that the unions and employers are giving to the Government. The trade unions and the employers have adopted the scheme with enthusiasm. Their representatives are members of the central and regional reconstruction training committees. They are also members of the trade committees, and I can assure honorable senators that every soldier trained under the scheme is welcomed into the unions. Let there be no doubt upon that point. Furthermore, in spite of the high degree of dilution that has occurred in the dilution trades during the war, the unions have agreed to admit to those trades, up to the limit of their absorptive capacity for profitable employment, servicemen who have received training and experience in those trades while in the services. This is a grand gesture of the unions to the servicemen.
The Government has given special attention to the problem of expanding the facilities for training in technical schools. Over £250,000 worth of additional buildings erected for Commonwealth training purposes have been made available, and surveys of buildings available for training purposes and suitable for annexes to technical colleges have been made in respect of all technical college training centres in the Commonwealth. If Commonwealth training commitments are to be met, it is essential that a large technical school-building programme be undertaken as early as possible, especially in those centres where it has been found, after exhaustive surveys, that leased or transferred buildings will not be available. A similar building programme is also being considered for university and rural training. “Whether trained so that they may undertake suitable employment, or be eligible for re-instatement, or whether seeking to take advantage of the reference scheme, many service mtn and women will look to the Government for assistance in finding appropriate employment. Accordingly, the Government, in co-operation with the States, intends to set up a very widely decentralized employment service. The service will be in touch with local conditions and responsive to the local atmosphere. Its principal function will be to provide facilities to aid servicemen to become suitably employed. It will be of assistance for civilian placement as well. The service will also facilitate the general administration of the Unemployment and Sickness Benefits Act, and likewise the administration of the re-employment allowances which are to be made available to servicemen who may happen at any time within twelve months of discharge to be seeking suitable employment or who may have temporarily fallen out of employment. The Government has decided that the employment service shall be established within the Department of Labour and National Service. It is intended that it shall be developed out of the existing National Service Office organization. That organization must, for the duration of the war, continue to discharge functions under the Man Power Regulations. It is inevitable that the controls which those regulations sanction must remain in force in one form or another for the duration of the war if the most effective use is to be made of the nation’s man-power resources, but it is hoped that, even during the war, we shall be able to relax the existing controls progressively. However, we intend to use every opportunity from now on to develop and mould the existing organization into one which will be able to carry the burden of demobilization and transfer of war workers. A special organization has been established within the Man Power Directorate and through the National Service Office system to deal with ex-servicemen. I refer to the rehabilitation sections at national service offices staffed by exservicemen. Ancillary to this special organization, sections have been established to deal with problems of the disabled and the nucleus of vocational guidance facilities which it is proposed to extend as fast as suitable qualified personnel can be secured or trained.
A particularly pressing moral obligation applies with regard to the disabled men, of whom there will no doubt be a considerable number to be placed in employment. This will embrace servicemen whose disability may be the result of war service or otherwise and also civilians. Irrespective of other provisions on behalf of disabled servicemen, such as pensions, it is desirable that employment should be found for them which is not only within their impaired abilities, but which will give them the satisfaction of earning their living as fully productive members of the community. The full re-establishment of these men will depend upon the rebuilding and maintenance of their self-respect and 3elf-confidence. The provision of employment at rates of pay or under conditions savouring of charity would fail to achieve this purpose. The men will expect employment on worthwhile jobs under normal conditions of remuneration. During the period of preparation for employment provision is made under the bill for disabled persons to be paid expenses and prescribed living allowances for a period of three months, which may be extended to six months. In order to ensure that disabled persons, so prepared, will in fact be given employment, the bill will provide that any class of employer may, by regulation, be required to employ a specified number of disabled persons or a certain number of disabled men proportionate to the total number of employees on his pay-roll. This provision is in line with the provisions of similar legislation in Great Britain. It is designed to meet the reluctance of those who need to be convinced that disabled men and women can, under appropriate conditions, do a wide range of work at award wages with satisfaction both to themselves and to their employers. The bill therefore provides for the establishment of committees of advice to advise the Minister on matters relating to disabled persons. Employers, in co-operation with the Government departments concerned, are giving careful consideration in advance te the jobs which they can make available to employees suffering from various disabilities, such as the loss of one or more limbs, blindness, and the like. Investigation of these matters by various employers in the past has revealed a surprising number of avenues in which disabled employees can be absorbed with advantage to both parties. An interdepartmental report is to be submitted to Cabinet on the organization of a common rehabilitation scheme for service personnel and civilians alike, who are disabled. Another re-establishment provision available to the man or woman seeking employment is the important provision for the modification of conditions of entry into certain employments, so as to enable, for example, reconstruction trainees to enter employment for which they are trained.
So far, I have dealt with provisions which are to be made available to assist service men and women to obtain suitable employment. I turn now to measures proposed in the bill to assist the service man or woman who was normally a worker on his or her own account, or an employer before the war, to re-establish himself or herself in business, including agricultural pursuits. It is proposed that loans of up to £250, or £1,000 in the case of agricultural pursuits, should be made available to persons wishing to re-establish themselves on their own account. The limit of £250 may be raised to £500 if the Government, on the basis of investigations of the requirements of certain forms of business activities, believes that £500 would be a more appropriate limit. In order to qualify for this assistance, the applicant must be in need of financial assistance in order to establish or re-establish himself satisfactorily in civil life, and he must also satisfy the administering authority that the business is such as will enable him to repay the loan within a reasonable period - that is, the economic prospects of the business, as well as the applicant’s capacity, will be decisive. These provisions for business loans will replace the more limited provisions at present existing under the repatriation regulations. The agricultural loan, which will supplement advances obtained in the ordinary way from a credit institution, is designed to assist servicemen returning to their own farms, which have in many cases deteriorated owing to war conditions. Servicemen who do not wish to apply for holdings under the soldier settlement scheme, but who wish to obtain farms privately, will also be assisted under these provisions. As the amount of capital normally required for farming is greater than in most types of small businesses, the limit of the loan has been raised to £1,000. The principles agreed to in the soldier settlement scheme will be applied in granting these loans, particularly in regard to the qualifications and experience of the settler, and to the economic outlook and market prospects of the industry in which he wishes to re-establish himself. Until adequate returns are coming in from the business ot farm, a person in receipt of loan, or who would have received a loan had he not had sufficient capital of his own for the business, may apply, in addition, for a business or farm re-establishment allowance. The rate of the allowance is not to exceed the re-employment allowance provided for under Part VI. of the bill or, for agricultural pursuits, the training allowance. As I have pointed out, the self-employer’s agricultural loan will be closely connected with the scheme for soldier settlement. The Government will bring down separate legislation on settlement, but, meanwhile, this bill reaffirms the Commonwealth’s intention to grant financial assistance to the States to aid land settlement projects for servicemen. The bill provides that the Commonwealth may, in accordance with any agreement entered into with any State, make advances to enable that State to acquire, develop and improve land and to settle servicemen on the land.
Ranking equally with employment in the mind of servicemen is shelter. The War Service Homes Act will deal specifically with homes for servicemen, but in addition the Commonwealth will enter into agreements with the States for the allocation among members of the forces of quotas of houses erected under Commonwealth-State housing schemes. Since the early days of the war, provision has been made by the National Security (War Service Moratorium:) Regulations to give protection to members of the forces and their dependants in cases where enlistment has made it difficult for servicemen to meet financial commitments entered into previously. It is now proposed that these provisions shall be incorporated as part of the statute law.
During 1942, the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) established a Legal Aid Bureau for the purpose of furnishing free legal advice and assistance to members of the forces and their dependants. At the present time, a bureau is operating in each of the State capital cities. The bureau advises members of the forces and their dependants on legal matters generally, but represents them in court only on matters arising either directly or indirectly under National Security Regulations. In other cases, the bureau puts the member of the forces in touch with a solicitor who will act for him in the ordinary way. The bill now gives statutory recognition to the bureaux, and provides, not only for their continuance, but also for the establishment of additional bureau offices at such places as are necessary.
I have now covered in general terms most aspects of the scheme of reestablishment benefits contemplated in the bill. It must be understood, however, that its provisions will not be fully applicable until general demobilization is entered upon, and that will not be until hostilities cease. The Government has adopted a demobilization system under which men and women will be released from the services primarily according to their length of service, with suitable weighting for their age, and their marital status; that is, the older and married men and those with longer service will be discharged before the younger men and those with shorter service. Exceptions will be made in respect of certain key persons whose discharge is considered essential at the time on occupational grounds, or for training. It is sometimes advocated that the existence of definite jobs to go to should be made the guiding principle in determining priority for discharge. But the Government holds that to do this would cause extreme dissatisfaction among men not fortunate enough to have employment to go to, or to have been able to arrange for employers to provide it. The system of release according to availability of employment was found unworkable from British experience of demobilization after the last war, and was discarded at the outset of demobilization. It is not a practicable scheme. Broadly, demobilization should be based on the fair and reasonable principle of “ first in, first out “ modified by family responsibilities and the age of the member. Another demobilization measure is re-establishment leave. This will be available as a breathing space to those discharged during general demobilization.
The administrative set-up in Australia is fundamentally similar to that obtaining in Great Britain Canada, South Africa, New Zealand and the United” States of America. It particularly resembles the New Zealand pattern, which has been mentioned with much approval in Australia. In all countries a central authority attends to general policy, with the Government utilizing the facilities of all government departments, and regional or local bodies to furnish the administrative facilities. To carry out the reestablishment programme will naturally place a tremendous load on the administrative resources of the Commonwealth. In fact, it will greatly strain these resources. Consequently, we must not only utilize to the full our existing administrative machinery, but also provide for its expansion wherever necessary. Furthermore, since re-establishment matters are the concern of the whole community, the Government is anxious so to organize the administrative scheme that it will be possible to keep closely in touch with public opinion by drawing at all points on the advice and experience of the various bodies interested in public affairs and in the welfare of servicemen.
It has been suggested that a superdepartment should be established to administer all matters of concern to servicemen. From its own experience, reinforced by rather unhappy results with single veteran departments in other countries, the Government is convinced that this is a completely wrong approach to the problem to-day. It is true that after the last war it was found expedient to concentrate the administration of practically all ex-servicemen’s entitlements in one authority. The exceptions were in respect of War Service Homes and Land Settlement, the latter being treated as an affair of the States as the owners of the lands. That way of dealing with the exservice problems worked well in some ways and not well in others. What we have to recognize, however, is that the problem confronting us to-day is radically different from that of twenty-five years ago. Then, we had only to re-establish servicemen in a civil economy that had been little disturbed by the war. Now, we have to re-establish, not only a vastly greater number of servicemen, but also a great number of civilians, in an economy which has suffered much distortion.
Apart from pensions and medical benefits, the matters which concern servicemen to-day happen to be also the concern of civilians, and whilst particular emphasis must be given to the needs of servicemen, there are points at which these needs, for example, in the vital matter of employment, coincide with those of the general body of civilians. The assurance of this employment is bound up with the general Government policy of full employment, which in turn is the concern of several departments. Moreover, it is of definite advantage to the serviceman to be placed in the main stream of the administration of this policy rather than to be dealt with in isolation. Sound administrative practice counsels the separate administration of matters concerning classes of persons, only when the entitlements are specialized as in the case of the Repatriation Commission and its administration of pensions and medical benefits. Even if all this were not so, no single department could possibly deal adequately with the numerous and diversified benefits and services already provided for or contemplated by the Government for ex-service men and women.
Owing to the complexity of the problem and the impossibility of having it dealt with by a single department, coordination becomes of first importance. It is not so much co-ordination within any single department as co-ordination among almost all of the departments of the entire government machine. Particularly concerned are the Repatriation Commission, the Department of Labour and National Service, including the Man Power Directorate, the Navy, the Army, and the Education and Rehabilitation Sections of the Department of Air, the Universities Commission and the Department of Post-war Reconstruction. That department is finally responsible for ensuring that any gaps in policy that may emerge from time to time are filled in, and that the complete programme of reestablishment is unified as fiar as possible and fully co-ordinated. It acts through administrative machinery set up by the Government to pool the departmental knowledge and experience available to the Commonwealth, notably the Reconstruction Training Committee and the Reestablishment Committee.
The Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme affords an excellent example of how this co-ordination can be achieved. The scheme is illustrative of co-ordination and co-operation on three levels: first, between the Commonwealth and the States, which have placed their training facilities, and the services of the heads of their technical education - systems, at the disposal of the Commonwealth; secondly, between the Commonwealth departments which are concerned with training; and thirdly, between Commonwealth departments and organizations of ex-servicemen employees and employers.
The Central Reconstruction Training Committee is responsible for organizing the training which is to be made available as part of re-establishment and for reconstruction purposes. It comprehends vocational, professional and rural training. On the committee are brought together representatives of the Commonwealth and State agencies concerned with training, namely, the Department of Post-war Reconstruction, which is finally responsible for planning and principles of policy; the Repatriation Commission, which is concerned particularly with the training of war-damaged persons who are not in a position to take advantage of training by normal methods; the Industrial Training Division of the Department of Labour and National Service, which is the training .authority for technical-type and industrial training; and the Universities Commission, which is the training authority for universitytype training. Then there have been added ‘to the committee representatives of the Departments of the Navy, the Army and Air, and experienced men with know- ledge of ex-servicemen, and of trade and industrial matters, namely, representatives of ex-servicemen’s associations and of employers’ and employees’ organizations. In this way, full use is being made of both departmental and nongovernmental machinery. The training under the scheme is decentralized, and committees, with the same pattern of membership, are already operating in the States, where the head of the technical education system acts as Deputy Director of Industrial Training. Similar arrangements have been made for rural training.
The machinery set up to co-ordinate and organize the training scheme has so far been remarkably successful. It is intended to develop similar machinery to co-ordinate general re-establishment matters. Here a slightly different pattern is necessary, with emphasis on the Central Re-establishment Committee for policy and general co-ordination, and on the widely decentralized rehabilitation section of the employment service for detailed administration. A special information and inquiry service for exservicemen is to be developed. The Repatriation Commission will provide a central inquiry office, or “Man in Grey”, in the State capitals, and the Rehabilitation Section of the Commonwealth Employment Service will continue to develop the facilities already established to deal expeditiously, and through one centre, with problems of employment significance which involve a number of departments.
I hope that I have succeeded in conveying to honorable senators a general idea of the broad purpose of the bill and its principal provisions. The measure touches the lives of upwards of 1,500,000 of our people directly and all of our people indirectly. This being the case, there is room for legitimate differences of opinion at many points. Notwithstanding the echoes of some harsh notes without, which may have reached our ears, I feel certain that the measure will be received by the Senate in a generous spirit and considered with the solicitous care its subject-matter deserves.
Debate (on motion by Senator Leckie) adjourned.
Federal Members’ Rooms, Melbourne - Stock Exchange Prices - Senate Attendants’ Uniforms - .Statements by Mb. G. J. Rankin, M.P. - Land Transport Regulations.
Motion (by Senator Keane) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I call the attention of the Minister for the Interior (Senator Collings) to the congestion that prevails at the Federal Members’ Rooms in Melbourne. Members from Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania, who usually spend a day in Melbourne an route to Canberra, are inconvenienced by the fact that only one common room is provided. It is difficult for them to enjoy any privacy when members of a particular political party desire to discuss various matters. Even in the only room available, writing materials are not provided. Eight or nine members were in that room recently, and I think that the Minister for the Interior will agree that more provision should ‘be made for members’ comfort and convenience. Two rooms would be sufficient, but writing materials should be provided.
– I draw your attention, Mr. President, to the difference between the uniforms supplied to Senate attendants and those worn by the attendants in the House of Representatives. The coats worn by Senate attendants button up at the neck and resemble a policeman’s jacket, whilst the coats of the attendants in the House of Representatives have lapels and look smarter. I hope that action will be taken to provide Senate messengers with more attractive uniforms.
.- I draw attention to the action of the Government in continuing the pegging of stock values on the Australian stock exchanges. Controlled prices of stocks and shares were fixed by the .Government largely to protect people against themselves and prevent them from being exploited, or against panic selling owing to the threat of invasion by
Japan. The object was also to control any inflationary tendency with regard to other stock values. That action was taken about three years ago, and Australia is now probably the only country where the pegging of prices on the stock exchanges still prevails. I believe that the Government, by maintaining the controlled prices, is not only doing grave injustice to many stock-holders, but is also losing revenue. Individuals suffer because their assets cannot command their fair value. I claim that public competition in the stock markets is the best way to ascertain the true value of stock. Stocks and shares in deceased, estates, have often to be sold and only the ceiling prices can be obtained, although the real value may be much higher. Consequently, not only do beneficiaries suffer considerable loss, but the Government also is a loser, because, if the stock could be sold at its true value, the Government would receive a higher sum in probate tax. Now that conditions have eased, and there is no likelihood of panic buying and selling, I urge the Government to allow a free market in these transactions. I believe that the Government, as well as individuals, would benefit by the removal of the restrictions.
According to a recent decision of the High Court certain regulations relating to travel priorities were ultra vires the Constitution. Previously numbers of persons had ‘been prosecuted and fined for breaches of those regulations. I should like to know whether the Government now proposes to refund the fines inflicted on persons for contravening those illegal regulations, and whether compensation will be paid to those who were wrongfully prosecuted.
– .Some time ago I asked the Minister representing the Minister for Information a number of questions to which I have not yet received a reply. I do not think that the facts are in question. I asked whether the Minister was aware of a speech delivered in the House of Representatives hy the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin), who holds the rank of Major-General, in which he said that Americans are selfish and grab everything for themselves, leaving to others only what is left. I inquired whether it was a fact that the statement of the honorable member had been broadcast over Japanese-controlled radio stations, and whether he had any information as to how it had :been transmitted from Australia. I also asked whether steps would be taken to ensure that statements detrimental to relations between Australia and the United States of America would not again be sent out of Australia. I have waited to hear members of the Opposition parties repudiate the statement made by their colleague. From time to time references are made to members of Parliament abusing their parliamentary privilege by attacking individuals who cannot defend themselves in the chamber. No person with any claim to decency would take advantage of his position to attack another person who was unable to defend himself. I admit to many faults, but I would not descend to such tactics unless I was performing a public service and was prepared to make the same statement outside. Japanese radio attributed the statement to a major-general of the Australian Army, and no doubt the impression created would be that an active majorgeneral had spoken disparagingly of Australia’s Ally in the war. I am indeed astonished that the Liberal party has not repudiated the statement. Had it been made by a member of the Labour party, I am confident that the Leader of that party, as well as individual members, would have repudiated it. The injury which such a statement may cause cannot be overestimated. Fortunately, General MacArthur scorned to take notice of it, but it does not require much imagination to realize the harm that might have been done. Recently, both in the press and over short-wave stations, Major-General ‘Gordon Bennett said that if he was to be blamed for having left Singapore, General MacArthur was equally blameworthy for having left Bataan. I do not criticize Major-General Gordon Bennett for his action in leaving Singapore, as I do not know the facts, but I do know that General MacArthur left Bataan, not of his own volition, but because he was ordered to do so by his Commander-in-Chief, the late President Roosevelt, who said that it would be an irreparable loss for General MacArthur to be captured by the Japanese. Again, it is fortunate that General MacArthur refused to take any notice of the statement. Members of the American Forces who are now fighting under the worst, possible conditions at Okinawa will not be pleased to hear that an Australian major-general, speaking in this Parliament, has described them as selfish and out to take everything for themselves. If such statements are not “ fifth column “ propaganda, I do not know what is. Some time ago a statement attributed to the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) in connexion with “ the Brisbane line “ caused a good deal of discussion, but his remarks were not nearly so likely to do harm, as are the statements to which I have referred. There was, however, an agitation for the appointment of a royal commission, the object being to censure the Minister for Transport for what was called an attempt to undermine Australia’s war effort. A few weeks ago the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Menzies) said that Australia’s part in this war was not comparable with that, of the American Forces. His colleague, the honorable member for Bendigo, says that the Americans claim everything for themselves. I repudiate that statement, and am sorry that the press of Australia has not done the same. It is true that some reference to it was made in the columns of the Sydney Morning Herald, but there were no leading articles saying that the dignity and prestige of Parliament had been lowered thereby. When references were made to some person connected with the Civic Reform party in New South Wales, which is associated with the Liberal party, the press of Australia had much to say against the wrong of attacking an individual who could not. defend himself. I claim that the statement by the honorable member for Bendigo has lowered the prestige of Parliament because it was not true. I believe that had it not been for the help given by the Americans, Australia would now be under the heel of the Japanese. I am confident that I speak for all my colleagues on this side of the chamber when I say that we appreciate what the Americans have done. It may be that in defending Australia they were defending America, but the fact remains that they saved Australia from invasion. Such a statement coming from an ex-soldier member of this Parliament would be gladly availed of by our enemies. I urge the Government to broadcast through short-wave stations that the honorable member forBendigo spoke only for himself, and that his remarks are repudiated by every other member of the Parliament, regardless of party allegiances. I hope that honorable members opposite will dissociate themselves from the remarks of the honorable member for Bendigo.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The fallowing papers were presented : -
Air Force Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1945, No. 79.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator,&c. -
No. 21 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. 22 of 1945 - Common Rule re Accidents.
No. 23 of 1945 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
No. 24 of 1945 - Fourth Division Officers’ Association of the Department of Trade and Customs.
No. 25 of 1945 - Commonwealth Public Service Artisans’ Association.
No. 26 of 1945 - Commonwealth Public Service Artisans’ Association.
No. 27 of 1945 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association; and others.
No. 28 of 1945 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
No. 29 of 1945 - Professional Officers’ Association, Commonwealth Public Service.
No. 30 of 1945 - Commonwealth Legal Professional Officers’ Association.
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointments - Department of -
External Affairs - F. H. Stuart
Health - C. Farnbach, A. C. K.
McWhinney, W. E. Martin, W. F. Rice.
Customs Act - Customs Proclamations - Nos. 621-625.
Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1945, Nos. 61, 68.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for -
Cooper’s Plains, Queensland.
Darwin, Northern Territory.
Eagle Farm, Queensland.
Eagle Farm (Meeandah), Queensland.
East Sale, Victoria.
Enfield, South Australia.
Geraldton, Western Australia.
Hornby Head, Watson’s Bay, New South Wales.
Port Augusta, South Australia.
South Guildford, Western Australia.
Postal purposes -
Spring Hill, Queensland.
Victoria Park East, Western Australia.
Mount Lofty, South Australia.
National Security Act -
National Security (Aliens Control) Regulations - Order - Aliens (Queensland Curfew ) - Revocation.
National Security (Emergency Control) Regulations - Orders - Military powers during emergency (2).
National Security (Fish) Regulations - Order - Fish priorities.
National Security (Food Control) RegulationsOrder - No. 20.
National Security (General) Regulations - Orders -
Control of footwear (Styles and quality) (No. 6).
Manufacture of domestic furniture (No. 4).
Restrictions on new manufactures - Exemption.
Restrictions on new manufactures - Exemptions - Revocation.
Taking possession of land,&c. (27).
Use of land (3).
National Security (Industrial Property)
Regulations - Orders - Inventions and designs (138).
National Security (Land Transport) Regulations-Order - New South Wales (No. 6).
National Security (Prices) Regulations - Orders- Nos. 1972-2071.
National Security (Rationing) Regulations - Orders - No. 81-83.
National Security (Shearing of Sheep) Regulations - Orders - Exemptions (2 ) .
National Security (Supplementary) Regulations -
Statement of Australian Banking Statistics for the five quarters ended 31st March, 1945.
Orders by State Premiers -
New SouthWales (Nos. 50, 55).
Tasmania (No. 10).
Victoria (dated 2nd May, 1945).
Regulations- Statutory Rules 1945, Nos.
63,64, 66, 67, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77,78.
Papua - Suspension of Civil Administration - Report of Commissioner (Mr. J. V. Barry, K..C.) appointed under the National Security Regulations.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act -Ordinances -
No. 5 of 1 945 - Police Superannuation.
No. 6 of 1945 - Australian Mutual Provident Society.
Senate adjourned at 4.40 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 5 June 1945, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1945/19450605_senate_17_182/>.