17th Parliament · 3rd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Can the Minister for Trade and Customs say what steps the Government; proposes to take to assist persons who have suffered from the recent floods in the Lismore district of New South Wales?
– The Government has had this matter under consideration during the day,andasa result of its deliberations the Department of Commerce and Agriculture will attend to the fodder aspect, with the assistance of the Army transport authorities. My department will ensure that adequate food and clothing arc made available to the victims of the floods, either with or without ration coupons, subject to adjustment later. Officers of my department and of the Department of Supply and Shipping will leave this afternoon for the district in order that adequate arrangements shall be made to meet the situation.
- by leave-I rise to makea personal explanation. Last night, in answer to an interjection by Senator Allan MacDonald, I made some references to the Causeway district of Canberra. In its issue this morning the Canberra Times was good enough to point out that, obviously, I had confused Causeway with Molonglo. My remarks were correct and justified as applied to the Molonglo settlement, but the position in relation to Causeway if different. As the Canberra Times mentioned this morning, the houses at Causeway were built for workers at the time that Canberra was in the making. They are not of the standard which I regard as satisfactory for homes for workers. Some which were in a bad condition or in an unhealthy situation have been destroyed. As part of its post-war housing plans, the Government proposes to provide better homes for workers, and some of them will be made available to Causeway residents. I take this opportunity to say that some of the most public-spirited citizens of the National Capital live in the Causeway district.I am grateful to them for making the best of the conditions which exist there; 1 know that many of the homes at Causeway are a credit to their occupants. I have thought it right to make this personal explanation, and I hope that it will be found satisfactory to all who may be interested.
Detention Camps -Staff Officers - withdrawaloflongservicetroops.
– In view of reports of alleged brutality in the Army detention camp at Albury, and the serious charges that have been made againstthe com- manding officer there, particulars ofwhich I havehanded to the Acting Minister for the Army, can the Minister now advise the Senate what action he proposes to take to have conditions at that camp fully investigated?
SenatorFRASER-. - Some time agoI intimated that it was the Government’s intention to institute an inquiry into Army detention camps generally.Some difficultyhas been experienced in obtaining the services of a judge with not only the necessary judicial qualifications but also experience as a soldier to undertake the investigation. I am desirous of having the inquiry undertaken as soon as possible, and I hope that within a week or two the Acting Prime Minister will announce the composition of the commission of inquiry.
– Will the Acting Minister for the Army cause to be dis- charged all staff officers in base jobs who are over 50 years of age and not on the permanent staff, in order to make room for fighting men who will be discharged from the Army after five years’ service and desire an opportunity to provetheir executive ability?
– As announced in to-day’s press, the Government has set up a committee of inquiry to investigate the staff position in non-operational areas.I have no doubt, that the committee will deal with the point raised by the honorable senator.
– Is the Acting Minister for the Army aware that certain troops desirous of obtaining their release under the Government’s scheme for the discharge of long service troops are being told that they will have no chance of being released because they have not served outside Australia ?Will men who have spent the greater part of their period of five years service at isolated outposts of Australia, be given the same opportunity to be released as those who have actually served overseas during that period ?
– It is nod intended that the Government’s decision shall include members of the forces who have been stationed at head-quarters on the mainland.
– What about those who have been stationed at isolated outposts?
– It is quite possible that a soldier with five years’ service may have served for only three months in an isolated area. He would not come within the category prescribed under the Government’s decision. I am more concerned about those troops who have spent the greater part of their period of five years’ service in operational areas and are at present in operational areas. They are the men whom the Government has in mind.
– Will consideration be given to the cases of men who through no fault of their own have spent their time in the far north, some of them at isolated outposts, including the islands, where conditions have been almost as bad as those experienced by troops who have actually fought overseas?
– I have no doubt that as the gradual tapering off of the forces is continued - and I refer not only to the 50,000 men whom it is proposed to release from the Army and the Royal Australian Air Force - consideration will be given to the claims of those men who have spent the last five years in the services. I remind the honorable senator that many men impressed in the service of the Allied Works Council have also spent considerable periods, in some cases aslong as five years, at isolated outposts.
Cars and Trucks
-Is the Acting Minister for the Army aware that there is a large Army parking area for surplus military vehicles located in the Nungarin district of Western Australia, and can he say whether it is true, as reported to me, that on account of the slow disposal of those vehicles, they are rapidly deteriorating, particularly their rubber tyres and tubes, owing tobeing exposed to extreme weather conditions? If so, willhe make inquiries as to the early disposal of these vehicles, either through the Commonwealth Disposals Commission or by direct sales to the public?
– It is not correct to say that the Army is holding excess vehicles merely for the sake of holding them.
– I did not say that.
– The vehicles have to be repaired before they aire offered for sale. Immediately they become surplus Army equipment they are handed over to the Commonwealth Disposals Commission. Recently, I made available to that body about 1,000 vehicles in Western Australia and a similar number in New South Wales. As difficulty has been experienced in disposing of these vehicles through the normal trade channels, in Western Australia they are now being disposed of by the Commonwealth Disposals Commission according to a system of priorities. Everything possible is being done to dispose of these vehicles as they become surplus.
– Is it not a fact that vehicles in the disposal depots are serviced regularly - tyres inflated at intervals, working parts greased regularly, and the vehicles given shout runs to keep them in working order?
– I do not know that the position is as indicated by the honorable senator’s question. These vehicles are divided into a number of categories which I am not in a position to enumerate at the moment. The responsibility of the Army ceases when they become surplus vehicles and are handed over to the Commonwealth Disposals Commission. I think that they are then repaired and any necessary spare parts fitted in order to make them ready for use.
– Has the Minister for Trade and Customs noticed press references yesterday and to-day to the
Auditor-General’s report, particularly the somewhat startling references to certain items contained therein. As the report has not yet been made available to members of Parliament, although evidently the press has had copies of it, can the Minister say when copies will be available to honorable senators?
– The earliest oppor- t unity will be taken to make copies of the report available to all honorable senators. It was tabled in the Senate yesterday.
– I wish to address a question to you, Mr. President, concerning the operations of the Parliamentary Refreshment Rooms. The annual report of the Auditor-General, as published in the press to-day, contains a statement to the effect that the Profit and Loss Account for the year 1943-44 was submitted for audit but owing to an unsatisfactory feature of a serious character disclosed by the examination, a certificate of the correctness of the account had not been given. I was wondering whether, before a wrong impression got abroad, you, Mr. President, would obtain information as to what exactly the Auditor-General refers and whether the position is so serious as is implied in the Auditor-General’s report.
– The Parliamentary Refreshment Rooms are under the control of the Joint House Committee. The President and Mr. Speaker control the staff. Occasionally, reports are made as to the conduct of the refreshment rooms.Some time ago a statement was made that there had been a diminution in gross profits. Action was taken, and certain controls were put into effect as the result of which the gross profits have again reached a satisfactory level. The phrasing of the passage in the AuditorGeneral’s Report referred to by the honorable senator is rather unfortunate, and because of that fact Mr. Speaker andI have been in consultation on the matter. We have decided to make public a detailed statement at a very early date. It may be that we shall call together the Joint House Committee which is comprised of members of both chambers so that a full and complete statement can be made to the public. The comment in the Auditor-General’s Report gives rise to all kinds of infer- ences, and, of course, as in all matters appertaining to Parliament, some individuals are always prepared to put the most unfavorable interpretation on such remarks. I shall not discuss the matter further at this juncture, because it is one, not only for me but also for Mr. Speaker and the Joint House Committee. How- ever, I assure honorable senators that the incident referred to is such as occurs in many business establishments, particularly when there is a diminution of profits. The fullest information will be given to the Senate, and when it is made available I do not think that the position will appear to be so bad as cer- tain people have inferred from the Auditor-General’s Report.
– Some time ago the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. Forde) called for a report from the celebrated conductor, Mr. Eugene Ormandy, regardthe possibility of forming a national symphony orchestra in Australia, and after receiving that gentleman’s report, the right honorable gentleman said that he would see what could be done towards helping so laudable an object. Since then the Sydney City Council has guaranteed £10,000 a year towards the cost of forming such an orchestra. Can the Minister representing the Minister for Information say whether the Government intends to proceed with the formation of a national symphony orchestra and, if so, what steps have been taken to do so ; or has the Government decided to scrap the whole project?
– I shall endeavour to obtain from the Minister for Information an answer to the honorable senator’s question and will supply the information to him later.
– In answer to a question by Senator Sampson yesterday the Minister for Supply and Shipping said that ships of 300 tons weight built in Tasmania cost £256 a ton for vessels containing refrigeration space, and £200 a ton for vessels without refrigeration, compared with about £63 a ton for ordinary cargo ships built elsewhere in Australia and about £28 a ton for similar vessels built in Great Britain. As the cost of building ships in Tasmania is about four times as much as the cost of building ordinary ships at Sydney or Whyalla, what action does the Government propose to take to prevent any further waste of public money?
– Any excess cost associated with the building of ships at the present time is justified. Ships are urgently required for war purposes and cast must largely be disregarded. That is the position also in regard to many other war requirements.
– Will the Minister stop the further building of ships?
– When the war is over and ships are no longer urgently required, the position will be reviewed.
Clothes - Knitting Wool - Tobacco - Bees
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs if it is a fact as reported in a statement attributed to the Chairman of the Rationing Commission in the press at the week-end that the Government intends to ease progressively clothes rationing? If so will the Minister consider the early reduction of the coupon rating for essential garments such as overcoats, pyjamas and other ranges of men’s, women’s and children’s warm underwear so that wardrobes might be replenished during the present winter? Further, has the Minister seen the statement made in Melbourne that unless the coupon values for woollens were revised downwards during the next few months, nearly every manufacturer would have to close his premises because piles of made-up garments were unsold because of woollens having the same coupon rating as worsted goods? If so. would he take action along the lines suggested ?
– I shall give early attention to the matter raised by the honorable senator.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and. Customs whether he will give early consideration, to be followed by early action, with a view to permitting the sale of all knitting wools to be coupon free?
– Recently, the coupon rating was reduced on knitting wools, and I understand that there has been a great demand for such wools as the result of that reduction. However, we are now confronted with a new problem. The supply of home knitting needles is now short, and arrangements will have to be made to import supplies from either the United States of America or the United Kingdom as early as possible. I shall consider the suggestion made by the honorable senator.
– I understand that the Leader of the Senate has an answer to a question asked by Senator Tangney on the11th May.
– On the11th May, 1945, Senator Tangney asked me a question, without notice, concerning the tobacco ration for convalescent and sick service personnel. This matter has been under recent consideration and it was decided that, as from the 1st June, 1945, the allowance for sick and convalescent personnel in. Australia should be as follows : -
Males -2½ oz. tobacco or 85 cigarettes per week.
Females - 70 cigarettes per week.
In addition to this basic ration, all sick and convalescent” personnel in Australia are supplied with 1 oz. tobacco or twenty cigarettes per week gratis by the Australian Red Cross Society. It is considered that the above quantities represent a very equitable allowance under the present conditions of restricted supplies.
– I should like to ask the Minister for Trade and Customs a question regarding the special issue of beer and tobacco to delegates attending the Australasian Council of Trade Unions conference held in Sydney during the week-end. Is he aware that extra rations of beer and tobacco were refused to delegates attending the annual State conference of the Returned) Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial. League of Australia now sitting at Cairns; that extra rations were refused to a Queenslandsubbranch of that league which desired to entertain members of the Royal Navy, and also to veterans of the Afghan and Sudan wars? Will he issue instructions that all conferences of the kind I have mentioned shall receive a special ration?
– I am not aware that special issues of beer and tobacco were refused in respect of the conferences mentioned by the honorable senator. Any application that is beyond the scope of the Liquor Control Order is referred to me, and ordinarily in respect of a conference I give the matter favorable consideration. I had no knowledge of the conference of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia held at Cairns, and no application was made to me with respect to that conference. Had such an application been made, I would have arranged for a special issue to those delegates as I did with respect to the Australasian Council of Trade Unions conference in Sydney. Such special issues are amply justified, because when from 300 to 400 delegates visit a city or town they have no avenues, as strangers, to obtain ordinary supplies of tobacco or a glass of ale, and if they did they would be drawing upon the ordinary supplies which should be reserved for the permanent residents. That was the reason for the action I took with respect to the Australasian Council of Trade Unions conference. Incidentally, I have been hotly criticized for that action, but I have no apology to make in that respect.
– Is the Minister representing the Acting Attorney-General aware- that because of the position in the coal industry gas and electricity supplies, especially in the metropolitan area of New South Wales are threatened? If so, what action does the Government intend to take concerning the reported stoppage to-day of 23 mines on the northern coalfields following a strike which commenced at 11 o’clock last night?
– I am aware that 23 mines are not working on the northern coal-fields to-day. The stoppages have resulted because of the action of Judge Cantor in giving what may be regarded as an open verdict on a matter which has been in dispute for some weeks. Instead of giving a decision one way or the other he returned, in effect, an open decision. An agreement had been reached by the management of the Millfield Colliery and the officers concerned that the question of the re-employment of a. deputy should br left to a decision by Judge Cantor. Because the judge did not give a decision on the matter one way or the other the miners have refused to return to work. A conference of the parties has been arranged to take place, at 11 a.m. tomorrow, and I anticipate that if the dispute is not settled to-day it will bo settled as a result of that conference.
– Is the Leader of the Senate aware that the press in its report of proceedings at the conference at San Francisco is virtually guessing as to what is happening at that conference? Is the Government prepared to make a statement on the matter instead of compelling us to wait until the return of the Attorney-General from that conference? At present we are getting a distorted account of the proceedings, and that is not to the advantage of either Australia or the Government.
– I shall confer with the Acting Attorney-General on the matter in order to see whether effect can be given to the honorable senator’s suggestion.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
asked the Minister representing the Acting Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The Acting Attorney-General has supplied the following answers: - > 1, 2 and 3. Regulation 7 of the National Security (Industrial Property) Regulations provides that the Commonwealth may use any invention in connexion with the public safety or defence of the Commonwealth. Where any patented invention is so used, the terms for the use of the invention arc such as are agreed upon, with the approval of the AttorneyGeneral, between the Commonwealth and the patentee or, in default of agreement, as are fixed - (a) by the Attorney-General; or (6) on reference by the Attorney-General of the matter to the High Court or the Supreme Court of a State - by the -court to which the matter is referred. The regulations mentioned are administered by the Attorney-General’s Department, and there is no military control of patents applied for nor is there any military assessment of compensation payable.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
asked the Leader of the Senate, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Repatriation has supplied the following answers: -
In committee: Consideration resumed from the 13th June (vide page 2941).
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 (Definitions).
– Despite the rather over-enthusiastic speech of the Minister for the Interior (Senator Collings) last night, the Opposition is entirely in earnest in seeking to improve this bill. It is our desire that its provisions shall be defined clearly so that there will not he any loopholes. We are not interested in what the Government has in mind in drafting this measure; we are concerned only with what is provided in the bill, and how it will be interpreted. In this clause, various terms used in the bill are defined, but there is one flagrant omission, namely, a definition of the words “ cessation of hostilities”. This is an important matter, because the seven-year period of preference provided for later in the bill will start from the “ cessation of hostilities “. Unless the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) is prepared to insert in this clause a definition of these words, I propose to move -
That, after the definition of “ Australia “. the following definition be inserted : - “ ‘ Cessation of hostilities ‘ means the signing of Peace Treaties with both Germany and Japan or two years after the order to cease fire in the Japanese war, whichever is the earlier “.
I am not wedded to the exact wording of that amendment, but the bill should contain some definition of those words. It has been suggested that “ cessation of hostilities “ may mean, the signing of the peace treaties with Germany and Japan, and that that might not take place until four years, five years, or six years- hence. After the last war, the peace treaty was not signed until four years after the cessation of hostilities, and on this occasion we have two wars to consider. Another suggestion is that the Government may determine the cessation of hostilities by proclamation, but that will not be satisfactory from the point of view of this measure. The Government ought to be more definite. As there is no satisfactory definition, it should accept my suggestion.
.- I do not consider that the proposed amendment is necessary. The term “ cessation of hostilities “ is used in National Security Regulations, and a definition is not needed in this bill. I shall not accept the honorable senator’s, amendment.
.- In that case, I move -
That, after the definition of “ Australia “, the following definition be inserted: - “ ‘ Cessation of hostilities ‘ means the signing of Peace Treaties with both Germany and Japan or two years after the order to cease fire in the Japanese war, whichever is the earlier “.
I cannot understand the Minister’s attitude. The meaning of the term should not be left to chance. As the bill stands, hostilities might be considered to cease next year or ten years hence. The Government must have some particular period in mind. The Minister has said that the term is used in National Security Regulations, but I point out that it has no meaning in that connexion either. There is no precedent to guide us in determining the meaning of the phrase. Senator McKenna, who has a legally trained mind, will agree that a definite meaning should be given. The term in question is used in several places in the bill, and’ it is of great importance in connexion with clause 33. Why does the Government not accept my amendment? Is it merely because the proposal comes from the
Opposition? It is a’ reasonable amendment and I did not expect that there would be the slightest opposition to it. It would have no effect on the principles involved in the bill. The Government goes too far when it refuses to accept a simple, but necessary, amendment of this kind.
.- The date of commencement of this bill will be a matter for the Government to decide. The meaning of the term “ cessation of hostilities” is a contentious matter, and legal luminaries would probably express many different views on the point. Parliament should decide when the bill will commence to operate in the light of future events. If the Government should not give effect to the legislation in the way desired by the Parliament, the Parliament, would have the remedy in its own hands.
– I oppose the amendment. It appears to be designed with a view to extending the period of preference from seven years to nine years. The meaning of the words “ cessation of hostilities “ plainly depends on a question of fact. If there should be any difficulty in defining the term on facts as they appear, one application to the court would clarify the position. The meaning of the term is clear. When hostilities ended in Europe, the Allies agreed that a public announcement should be made, at a particular minute on a particular day. That was the time of the cessation of hostilities. The fact that isolated parties might have continued to engage in hostilities without the sanction of their governments would not prevent anybody, whether a legal or judicial authority or a layman, from understanding that hostilities had ceased when the announcement wa3 made. Frankly, I consider that Senator Leckie is really concerned with extending the period of preference beyond the proposed limit of seven years.
.- I am disappointed . that Senator McKenna-
– I rise to order. I have no wish to interrupt the honorable senator’s speech, .but I cannot hear him.
I do not know whether this is due to the acoustics of the chamber or to the pitch of hig voice
– That is not a point of order.
– I am astonished at the motive which Senator McKenna bas attributed to me in presenting this amendment. Anybody with a clear mind should realize that a definition of the term “ cessation of hostilities “ is absolutely necessary. It seems that the Government in this chamber has adopted the attitude taken by the Government in the House of Representatives, namely, that it will not permit any alteration of the bill. L have no desire to extend the period of preference from seven years to nine years. The amendment would nothave that effect, in any case. I want to have a clear definition of the phrase under consideration. Senator McKenna’s idea that somebody might apply to the High Court for a definition surprises me. Who will make the application?
– Senator McKenna did not say that.
– He said that the court would have no difficulty in giving a direction. Who will appeal to the court? It will he nobody’s business in particular. The only people likely to apply for a ruling are returned soldiers, and an application would be an expensive and troublesome business. Why should they be put to such expense and delay? If the Government considers that the period of two years after the order to cease fire in the Japanese war, as mentioned in the amendment, is too long, I would be agreeable to a period of one year. Surely, the Government must have in mind some meaning of the term. If not, it has nothing in its mind at all, and that is what I suspect. I am astounded that it should refuse my amendment merely because it did not think of inserting a definition on its own account.
– I, too, oppose the amendment. I was surprised to hear Senator Leckie say that his purpose was not to lengthen the period of preference, because his second-reading speech led me to believe that the reverse was his intention. However, we must accept his assurance. His bona fides would have been more acceptable had he suggested an amendment defining “ cessation of hostilities “ in accordance with the procedure by which hostilities in Europe were terminated. In that case, the responsible authorities of the Allied nations fixed a date and time by special announcement.
– That is exactly what I propose now.
– The amendment appears to me to be likely to prolong the period during which preference will apply, although I accept the honorable senator’s assurance that such is not his intention.
Senator GRANT (New South Wales) ‘3.5S]. - I hope that the amendment will not be accepted. There is no ambiguity about the term.
– What does it mean?
– It means that there will be a time at which hostilities will be officially declared to cease.
– Who will make the declaration?
– The CommanderinChief or whoever happens to be the appropriate authority. There is no reason to believe that the war against Japan will be ended in a different way. from the war against Germany. . A few guerrilla forces may continue hostilities, but that will not affect the issue. In every war in history, hostilities have ceased officially at a specified time. I see no point in the amendment. If the honorable senator could show that there was a possibility of hostilities continuing after the official declaration, I could understand it. However, the amendment is as plain as the trunk of an elephant that “ cessation of hostilities “ means the signing of peace treaties with both Germany and Japan or two years after the order to cease fire in the Japanese war, whichever is the earlier. The honorable senator completely misrepresented Senator McKenna, who said that the meaning of the term was so plain that any man, whether legally trained or not, could understand it.
– Then what does it mean?
– I am trying to tell the honorable senator.
– But the honorable gentleman is riot succeeding.
– It is in plain English. “ Cessation of hostilities “ means the cessation of hostilities. There will come a time in Asia when hostilities will cease as they did in Europe. Why decorate the lily? I am pleased that the Minister has taken the stand which be has.
– After the last war, when repatriation benefits were initiated in Australia, a special act was passed to decide the very question which the committee is now considering, and that act supports what I have said, namely, that the declaration of the date of the termination of the present war is a matter for this Parliament. On the 28th October, 1919, Act No. 26 of that year was assented to. In that measure provision was made for determining the date of the termination of the last war. Section 2 of the act reads - (1.) The Governor-General may, by proclamation, declare what date shall be deemed to be the date of the termination of the present war. (2.) The date declared by the GovernorGeneral in pursuance of this section shall be as nearly as may be the date of the exchange * or deposit of ratifications of the treaty or treaties of peace.
Section 3 provides -
For the purposes of any provision m any Act, Order in Council, Proclamation or Regulation referring expressly or impliedly and in whatever form of words to the present war or the present hostilities, the present war shall, unless the context otherwise indicates, be deemed to have continued to, and to have ended on, the date declared by the GovernorGeneral in pursuance of the last preceding section.
Section 5 provides -
The Governor-General may, by proclamation, declare what date shall be deemed to be the date of the termination of the war between His Majesty the King and any particular State.
The correct procedure would be to accept the clause as it stands.
– The Minister has merely accentuated my opinion that the amendment should be accepted. He has told us that an act of Parliament was required in 1919 in order to lay down clearly when the last war ended, and that measure provided that it ended at the signing of the Peace Treaty. Everybody knows that, although the war was over in 1918, the Peace Treaty was not signed until 1923 or 1924. In view of all the trouble in Europe, a long time will probably be ‘taken in. arriving at a settlement. I deliberately included in my amendment a reference to the war with Japan, so that when the “ cease fire” is sounded, a couple of years will be allowed in which to sign the peace treaties. If the treaties were not signed within that period - and it is likely that they will not be - the amendment would enable the date of the cessation of hostilities to be fixed earlier than the date of the peace treaties. Therefore, instead of trying to extend the period before the declared date of the cessation of hostilities, my amendment would restrict the period and make that date as early as possible. In the circumstances the objection of the Government to define what the words mean passes my understanding. The view of the average layman is similar to that of Senator Grant, who believes that when the shooting stops hostilities will have ceased, but according to the legal interpretation that is not so. If Senator Grant believes that hostilities cease when the shooting stops, let him move in that direction.
– If General Eisenhower said that hostilities in Europe had ceased, would not the honorable senator accept that declaration?
– No, because we have a Japanese war on our hands. When a declaration is made that the fighting against the Germans has ceased, I am prepared to accept such a statement from anybody in authority, but we do not give anybody authority to make the declaration. I am amazed at the apparent objection on the part of the Government to rectify a grave omission.
– There are two points which Senator Leckie has not made clear. No peace treaty may ever be signed with either Japan or Germany, in which case there would never be a declaration in accordance with the terms of the amendment. The other point which is not clear is, “ Who is to give the cease-fire order?”. Will it be General MacArthur, the Commander of the Japanese Forces or the Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Armies? We cannot tell from the amendment when the order to “ cease fire “ will be given or who will give it. The amendment is a mere trick to make the people believe that the provision is definite, whereas it will he indefinite for a time.
– Senator Aylett cannot have considered my amendment. He has some extraordinary idea that it provides that the cessation of hostilities shall not .be announced until the Japanese have declared “cease fire”. But the commander who gives that order will be found in the victorious army, If the honorable senator thinks that the Japanese will be victorious that is not my opinion. That is not the opinion of the people of Australia. If that is likely to happen the Government has grossly deceived the Parliament and the country, because we believe that we are beating the Japanese in this war. The order to cease fire will be given by the Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Armies. I have moved my amendment in order to clarify the position, but Senator Aylett would make confusion worse confounded. I shall press my amendment to a division.
– Senator Leckie wishes to insert a simple definition of “ the cessation of hostilities”. In the last war, the cease fire was sounded on the 11th November, 1918, but it was only an armistice, as the Allied Armies were ready to continue the fight at a moment’s notice. Terms of surrender were offered to the Germans, which, if accepted by them, would result in the “cease fire” order being observed. In the operations against the Turks the “cease fire” was sounded in October, 1918. The peace treaties were of different kinds. That signed with Germany was the Treaty of Versailles. There was a separate treaty with Turkey and another with Austria. The terms of the amendment are simple. It sets out what “ the cessation of hostilities “ means. If there is delay in the signing of the peace treaty in Europe, the date of the cessation of hostilities will ,be when the “ cease fire “ is sounded in the war against Japan. That announcement will come from the general officer commanding the whole of the Allied Forces, most probably General MacArthur, who will order a “cease fire “ when the Japanese have absolutely submitted to the inevitable. When that will happen nobody can tell.
– What is the difference between a “ cease fire “ and a ‘cessation of hostilities”?
– There might be an armistice. We have had armistices in the middle of this war. In Gallipoli there was an armistice for twelve hours. That was clone to enable both sides to bury their dead. What I have in mind is an order from the commander of the victorious forces when the enemy has submitted to the will of the victors. It will be a pity if the Government refuses to accept this definition.
– .Senator Sampson has made the position more confused. He has told us that the order “ cease fire “ is sometimes given when a temporary armistice has been arranged, but he also said that he had in mind an order to “ cease fire “, given by the commander of the victorious forces when the enemy had submitted to the will of the victors. I do not think that any Commander-in-Chief would give that order without first consulting the governments of the United Nations. Senator Leckie wants us to put in the bill something which cannot be determined beforehand, and to give to it a definite meaning. Hostilities will cease when, after consultation with the governments of the United Nations, the Commander-in-Chief gives the order to “ cease fire “. But it is impossible to determine beforehand when that time will come. The inclusion of “ cease fire “ in place of “ cessation of hostilities “ would, in my opinion, make the position more ambiguous. The time will come when, acting on advice given to them by the Commander-in-Chief, the governments of the United Nations will determine that a certain situation exists, as was the case in Europe, when General Eisenhower, after consultation with the governments concerned, determined that the time had arrived to declare that hostilities against Germany had ceased. The Minister would be wise not to accept the amendment.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be inserted (Senator Leckie’s amendment) be inserted.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator B. Courtice.)
Majority . . . . 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That in the definition of “ war service “ paragraph(f), the words “an organization or part thereof which is declared by proclamation to be an organization in relation to which those provisions apply “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - “the Australian Red Cross Society, Australian Comforts Fund, the Salvation Army, the Young Men’s Christian Association, the Young Women’s Christian Association, and such other organizations having kindred objects “.
My desire is to preserve to the organizations mentioned in the amendment the benefits provided under this legislation. Clause 4 deals with service personnel. Paragraphf of the definition of “war service “ is a dangerous provision as it leaves the way open to include any organization which may be prescribed, even though its members had no war service at all. The privileges of this legislation should be confined to organizations which have rendered war service. I hope that the Minister will accept the amendment.
.- The definition of “ war service “ as set out in paragraph / was deliberately expressed in general terms so that any organization the members of which had rendered service entitling them to recognition could be included. The amendment proposes that only certain organizations, which are enumerated, shall come within the scope of the definition. I do not think that that is wise, and I cannot accept the amendment.
– The only reason given by the Minister (Senator Keane) for not accepting the amendment is that he does not think it would be wise to do so. That is no reason at all. Paragraph / of the definition of “war service “ reads - in relation to any of the provisions of this Act, the continuous full-time service of any person as a member of an organization or part thereof which is declared by proclamation to be an organization in relation to which those provisions apply.
That means that the Government may proclaim “ any person as a member of organization “ to come within these provisions.Whenthis definition was under consideration in the House of Representatives, the Minister in charge of the bill explained that the intention was paragraph / should cover such organizations asSenator Cooper has included in his amendment. The honorable senator wishes that intention to be made clear in the bill, and has moved accordingly.
SenatorFinlay. - What does the honorable senator suspect is intended by the Government ?
– The Government would have power to include any person it liked.
SenatorFinlay. - What is wrong with that?
– The whole of the bill is supposed to deal with preference to soldiers. However, that was denied last night by the Minister for the Interior (Senator Collings), who said -
Why is the Government suspect in the matter of preference to returned soldiers? . . . They (the Opposition) know perfectly well that the debate does not hinge on the question as to whether ex-servicemen should be given preference in employment or not. The real questions are, what preference, how much preference, and how can such preference be administered effectively in the interests of the men and women who have fought in this war . . If they want to make a catalogue of the fighting men and women of this war they will have to include . . . every man and woman in the community.
The Minister for the Interior said, first, that the Government believes in preference to fighting men; and, then he said that the term “fighting men” includes every man and woman in Australia. In that case, where does preference to the fighting man come in? If everybody is to be given preference, no one will receive preference. This measure, therefore, is a waste of paper.
– Why is the honorable senator wasting time talking on it?
– Because I am trying to improve it; and because we wish to let the people know the real meaning of the measure. If the Government intends that every person shall come within the bill, where is the preference to returned soldiers? The people believe that this bill is intended to provide preference to the ex-service personnel; but it does not. And the Minister for the Interior made that admission last night, although I do not believe that he intended to do so. If this definition means anything at all it moans that the Government can extend the benefits of the measure to any person. If the Government, desires to include the Salvation Army, and other kindred bodies which have been doing splendid work at the front helping the fighting forces - and we agree that they should be embraced in the measure - why does not the Government specifically define such bodies instead of making the measure a “ free-for-all “ affair, embracing every one and any one, with the result that no one will receive any real benefit under it? What is’ the objection of the Government to naming these organizations in the measure? Why does it refuse to set out its objectives in plain English? I am at a loss to understand the Government’s attitude in this respect. The Minister does not for one moment say that the definition does not mean what I say itmeans. He simply says, “I cannot accept the amendment “. That is the be-all and end-all of it so far as the Government is concerned. No logical argument will change the measure. The Government, having taken the advice of its pet advisers, has finally made up its mind on the matter. The Germans who blew down the dykes in Holland did not have to make a very big hole in order to flood the country. We are now pointing out a hole in the measure, and ask the Government to stop that hole; because if it does not do so our ex-service personnel, who have saved Australia, will be left begging for any benefits which the bill is supposed to provide. But the attitude of the Government is, “The bill! The bill! And no alteration of the bill. You can talk as long as you like “. I do not care whether the Government adopts that attitude or not. It is responsible for the bill; .but I want the people to know that we see the weaknesses and sophistries of the measure, and that under the guise of preference to fighting men of this war, the Government is offering something to them that is absolutely worthless, because it is giving preference on the basis of some silly idea that everybody is going to be equal and get a job.
– The honorable senator has said something now.
– I know that “ employment for all” is Senator Large’s favourite parrot cry. I hope that he is right. But, at the same time, even should there be work for all, ex-service men and women who have shed their blood and given the best years of their lives in defence of Australia, are deserving of the pick of the jobs, and should not be obliged to take their chance in the ruck. The meaning of this definition, I repeat, is that the Government can embrace any person, and, therefore, it destroys the value of preference.
. -The Minister (Senator Keane) in his second-reading speech, specifically mentioned the Young Men’s Christian Association as one of the organizations that might be brought under the bill. For that reason I fail to understand its objection to including kindred organizations set out in the amendment moved by Senator Cooper. I take this opportunity to renew the plea I made in my second-reading speech that the benefits of this measure should be extended to members of the Australian Women’s Land Army. Those women have been doing very important and valuable work, in many cases, under great disadvantages. I cannot understand the Minister’s objection to the inclusion of the organizations named in the amendment.
.- The definition of “ war service “ and the amendment apply only to the reinstatement and apprenticeship provisions of the measure. It is not desirable to accept the amendment as it may exclude other deserving war bodies. That is the Government’s objection to it. The Government having recognized one organization, such as the Young Men’s Christian Association, could not exclude other organizations. The amendment may leave out some deserving war ‘body, and as the result cause untold strife among the organizations concerned.
– The explanation just given by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) has made the definition still more puzzling. He said that the definition relates only to the provisions in respect of reinstatement and apprenticeship. I point out to him that paragraph / says, “ in relation to any of the provisions of this act, . . . “
– But the paragraph applies only under the definition of “ war service “.
– It would be as well to concentrate on the fact that we are dealing with only one element in the definition of “ war service”. The Minister (Senator Keane) has stated that those words are relevant only to two heads of the bill, namely, the reinstatement provisions and the apprenticeship provisions. I support him in that respect. Altogether, there are sixteen different aspects of rehabilitation set out in the measure. Reinstatement and apprenticeship are only two, and they are dependent upon “war service”. There are ten other provisions, the benefits of which are available solely to discharged members of the forces; and “ member of the Forces “ is denned separately. The remaining four provisions are available equally to discharged servicemen and to all other personnel. If there is any doubt about “war service “ in relation to the reinstatement privileges and apprenticeship privileges, I refer honorable senators to sub-clause 1, clause 12, which reads -
Any person who has completed a period o/ war service may apply to his former employer for reinstatement in employment.
Plainly, that depends upon the definition of “ war service “ ; and reinstatement would be available to any member of any organization contemplated in paragraph / 0 t, the definition of “war service “. Further, sub-clause 1 of clause 38 reads -
An apprentice who has been absent from his usual employment by reason of bie being engaged on war service may, within two months after he ceases to be so engaged, make application to an Apprenticeship Authority for the revival of the contract of apprenticeship.
They are the only two benefits which, under this measure, depend; for their incidence upon war service. Without exactly qualifying that statement, I should also observe that clause 32, which deals with preference, speaks of service “ in relation to the war “. That is quite a different matter’ from the “ war service “ specifically defined here; and when we come to clause 32 that difference can be clearly explained. Paragraph / of the definition of “war service “, the definition with which we are now dealing, has no application whatever to preference. Persons who may have rendered service in relation to the war are dealt with in an entirely different category. Paragraph / applies to members of the organizations whose names have been set out in the amendment, and who have .been accredited to, and accepted by, the defence forces. As a matter of fact a National Security Regulation already makes that very provision. I join with Senator Sampson in pointing out the desirability of giving the right of reinstatement to those women who have sacrificed their careers to do a very excellent job in the Australian Women’s Land Army. Quite a long while ago, I made representations to the Minister on that subject, and his reply was that he would give consideration to the matter. I believe that there is not anybody in this chamber who would seek to deny those women, and members of other worthy organizations, the right to reinstatement in the positions which they held before they took up work “ in relation to the war “. It has been stated that the words “ in relation to any of the provisions of this Act” extend the scope of the definition to all kinds of matters apart from the two I have mentioned. I do not share that view. The clause states - “ war service “ means - in relation to any of the provisions of this Act . . .
That means exactly what it says - that wherever the term “ war service “ appears in this legislation, it shall include “ the continuous full-time service of any persons as a member of an organization or part thereof which is declared by proclamation to be an organization in relation to which those provisions apply”. The main purpose of my comment on this amendment is to make quite clear the fact that the term “ war service “ does not play anything like a major part in indicating what persons shall be entitled to the benefits of this legislation. If honorable senators bear that fact clearly in mind, a great deal of discussion, and perhaps later confusion, may be avoided.-
.- I believe that the amendment moved by Senator Cooper is most desirable. It draws ‘attention to some of the main women’s organizations which have assisted our war effort. Specific mention is made of the Australian Red Cross Society, the Australian Comforts Fund, the .Salvation Army, the Young Men’s Christian Association and the Young Women’s Christian Association. In his second-reading speech the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) said -
Whilst the primary purpose of the bill 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 economic to use for their re-establishment the facilities set up under the bill.
The amendment would not prevent the subsequent inclusion of any other organization which also has performed valuable war work, and I see no reason why it should not be accepted by the Government.
– Acceptance of the amendment would prevent the Government from providing for the reinstatement of many men and women who have rendered good service in this war, and who are eligible to benefit under this measure as at present drafted. Senator Cooper seeks to eliminate the vital words “ an organization or part thereof “. That would mean for instance that members of the Merchant Navy who have played a very important part in the war would not be eligible for these benefits. The same thing would apply to civil airline pilots who have flown unarmed and unprotected aircraft into operational areas, sharing the risks of Air Force pilots. Also provision could not be made for members of the Civil Constructional Corps who have been working in the islands to the north of this country, possibly under fire. Surely, honorable senators opposite will not argue that all members of the Young Women’s Christian Association should be included in this measure in preference to Merchant Navy seamen, or civil airline pilots or members of the Civil Constructional Corps. If this amendment is carried it will deprive the Government of the right to declare by proclamation any member of these organizations to be eligible for the benfits of this measure.
– It is unfortunate that Senator Aylett should attempt to support Senator McKenna’s case against this amendment. Senator McKenna claimed that the definition of “ war service “ concerned only two clauses of the bill, but I contend that it concerns almost every clause. .The definition of “war service” is designed to enable the Government to declare any organization to be an organization in relation to which the provisions of the bill shall apply. It affects the setting up of preference boards, and committees of all kinds, on which one member has had war service. All that the Government has to do if it wishes to appoint a particular person to a board or committee is to declare an organization to be an organizazaztion “ in relation to which those provisions apply”. I regret that Senator McKenna has endeavoured to pursuade the committee that the definition of “ war service “ concerns only clauses 12 and 27. If he examines the bill more closely, he will realize that he is wrong. If there are other organizations which Senator Aylett wishes to include in the definition, let him name them. If he can advance a legitimate case in support of their inclusion, we shall not have any abjection to embodying them in the clause. This is a legislature; we are supposed to pass legislation which is intelligible to the community.. To provide that the Government shall have power to declare any person eligible for the benefits of this measure destroys the basic principle of thebill.
– The Acting Leader of the Opposition (Senator Leckie) said that the effect of the definition of “ war service” ran right through the bill. In actual terms, it does, but at the moment we are dealing with the definitions clause in which there are two very important terms defined namely, “ member of the Forces “ and “war service”. As I have said, upon the definition of these terms depends the determination of the class of person entitled to the sixteen benefits provided for in this legislation. The Acting Leader of the Opposition said that “ war service “ was the guiding factor, in more than two items. I invite him to name them. ‘Clause 45, which deals with the modification of conditions of entry into employment, states -
The Governor-General may make regulations modifying or suspending, in relation to discharged members of the Forces -
Honorable senators will note that the clause specifies not persons who have rendered ‘’ war service “ but “ discharged members of the Forces”. The clause continues -
Plainly, the qualification that entitles a person to the benefit of whatever may be provided in that clause is the fact that he is a “ discharged member of the Forces “, not that he is a person who has rendered “ war service “. Clause 62 sub-clause 1, relating to demobilization, states -
The regulations may provide for the preparation and administration of a scheme for the demobilization of members of the Forces . . having regard to their re-establishment in civil life.
There again, the term “ war service “ is not used. Clause 63, relating to leave on discharge, states -
A member of the Forces . . . shall, immediately prior to his discharge from the Defence Forces, unless his discharge is, in the opinion of the prescribed authority, other than an honorable discharge, be entitled to leave of absence. . . .
Again, the words are” a member of the Forces “.
– The honorable senator will note that the term “war service “ is used in paragraph a of that clause.
– True, but in that case the length of “war service” determines only whether an exserviceman shall receive 30 or 15 days’ leave. It is not the determining factor as to who shall be entitled to leave. That depends on the first words of the clause, “ A member of the forces “. Then we come to clause 71, which states - (3.) The chairman and other members of the Reinstatement Committees appointed under the National Security (Reinstatement in Civil Employment) Regulations holding office at the date of commencement of this Division shall be deemed to have been appointed chairmen and members, respectively, of the corresponding Reinstatement Committees under this Division.
Subject to this Division, a discharged member of the Forces . . . shall be qualified to receive a re-employment allowance.
There again the benefits of that allowance do not depend on “ war service “. And so I could go right through the measure. The Acting Leader of the
Opposition will find also that eligibility for re-establishment loans is confined to “a member of the Forces “. Reestablishment loans are dealt with in clause 90 and allowances in clause 100, servicemen’s settlement in clause 102, the Legal Aid Bureau in clause 104, and the moratorium provisions in clauses 108 and 116. The clauses which deal, not only with discharged members of the forces but also with civilians are clauses 47, 49, 54 and 103.
.- The effect of the definition clause of any bill runs right through the measure. Why was paragraph / inserted in the first place? I understand that the object was to include in the measure members of certain organizations apart from the armed forces, who have been doing a full-time job beside the fighting men, such as members of the Australian Red- Cross Society, the Australian Comforts Fund officials., and others. Senator Cooper’s amendment would clarify the position without conflicting with the Government’s intention. It has been submitted with a desire to improve the measure, which is the sole aim of honorable senators on this side of the chamber. Senator Cooper has specified certain organizations which have done extraordinarily good work throughout the war and, as in the case of the Australian Red Cross Society, even before the outbreak of war. We only ask the Government to mention these bodies specifically by name. The inclusion in the amendment of the words, “ and kindred organizations “ ensures that no organizations deserving of inclusion would be overlooked. The Government should be glad to insert such a helpful amendment. Surely the Minister will agree to accept it.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 5 to 8 agreed to
Clause 9 - (3.) The chairmen and other members of the Reinstatement Committees appointed under the National Security (Reinstatement in Civil Employment) Regulations holding office at the date of commencement of this Division shall bc deemed to have been appointed chairmen and members, respectively, of the corresponding Reinstatement Committees under this Division.
– I move -
That, in sub-clause (3.), after the word “ Division second occurring, the following words be added : - “ , provided the majority of such persons have rendered war service “.
This clause proposes to invest the reinstatement committees which have been appointed under National Security (Reinstatement in Civil Employment) Regulations with the authority prescribed in the bill. The object of my amendment is to ensure a strong stand being taken against Communist influence. The number of ex-servicemen seeking reinstatement will be much greater than the number of. civilian war workers. The Minister (Senator Keane) has described the bill as “ the ex-servicemen’s charter “. tn New Zealand and South Africa, the reinstatement committees are composed entirely of ex-servicemen. I agree with the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia, the Legion of Ex-Servicemen of Australia, and the Fathers’ Association, that, if the committees had a majority of exservicemen in their membership they would give, satisfaction and engender confidence.
– It would not .be wise to limit the membership of the committees to persons who have rendered war service as Senator Brand proposes, because numerous reinstatement committees will be needed and some are already in existence. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway), who will administer the provisions of this clause, has given an assurance that, where practicable, exservicemen will be appointed to these committees, and therefore I cannot accept the amendment.
– This is another example of the principle of preference to ex-servicemen becoming a “ dead letter “. The amendment should be made; there is no reason why it should not be acceptable to the Government. There is a great deal of lip-service to ex-servicemen, but, when it comes to giving them preference, there is generally a lot of quibbling. The title of this bill ought to be the “ Abolition of Preference Bill 1945”. I support the amendment.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be added (Senator Brand’s amendment) be added.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator B. Courtice.)
Majority . . . . 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 10- (3.) Where-
.- I move -
That, in sub-clause (3.), paragraph (a), sub-paragraph (i), the words “one month” be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ three mouths “.
This clause deals with the time allotted for an ex-serviceman to return to his former employment. I seek to extend the period of one month stipulated in the clause to three months. After serving for four or five years in the armed forces, a man may not wish to return to an indoor job immediately, and he may seek some other form of employment before communicating with his prewar employer. If the amendment be agreed to, a man in such circumstances will have a fair chance to decide whether he prefers a new job to his pre-war job.As the clause stands, if he extends the period of one month by even a day. and then decides that he wants to return to his old job, he will not be able to do so. A period of three months would give him a fair chance to make up his mind.
– This amendment is not necessary, and I cannot accept it. The period can be extended by the reinstatement committees, as provided in clause 21.
SenatorLECKIE (Victoria- Acting Leader of the Opposition) [5.16]. - Subclause 2 states -
Subject to the next succeeding sub-section,a person shall be deemed for the purposes of this division to have completed a period of war service upon the termination of that service for any cause whatsoever.
This provision will enable any serviceman to get the benefits of this legislation, whether his record be good or bad. The Government would be wise to insert the word “honorable” before the word “ termination “. Many members of the forces have been guilty of conduct which disentitles them to the benefits of the bill. The records of discharged servicemen are not available to em ployers, and the Government should not foist upon them discharged members of the forces who; because of their records, may be unsuitable for employment.I understand that if a serviceman had been absent without leave for six months, that fact would not be shown on his discharge card. It is well known to everybody that some members of the forces have been guilty of unworthy conduct, and I fail to see why they should be placed on the same footing as men who have received an honorable discharge.
– I am unable to accept Senator Leckie’s suggestion. The defence authorities have records of the conduct of members of the forces, and I am disinclined to insert a provision that members who have been absent without leave shall be deprived of the benefits of the measure.
– I have always .regarded the Minister (Senator Keane) as a reasonable man, but he is somewhat out of his depth in dealing with this bill. He should not get into a dither “ over a small matter of this kind. The amendment is quite reasonable. I should not complain about the Minister refusing to accept an amendment if he gave sound reasons for so doing.
– In my reply to the debate on the second reading of the bill I said that I was not prepared to accept amendments other than those moved by myself, but I stated that after the measure had been in operation for some time defects might be discovered, and then amendments would be considered. Any honorable senator could express bright ideas about the phraseology of various clauses. The term “ honorable discharge “ is not relevant to reinstatement, as sometimes an honorable discharge is withheld for reasons that should not preclude reinstatement. If a member of the forces has got into trouble and has been imprisoned for a month or two, that fact should not be held against him all his life. All war service is honorable, and therefore I cannot accept Senator Leckie’s suggestion.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 11 agreed to.
Clause 12- (2.) An applicant under the last preceding sub-section shall be made not earlier than fourteen days prior to the completion of the period of war service and not later than one month after the completion of that period . . .
.- A period of one month is totally inadequate for the mental readjustment of a returned soldier from service conditions to a civil outlook. The hardships of war service make a soldier unsettled and he should be allowed three months in which to make up his mind whether to return to his former employment or take up other work. I therefore move -
That, in sub-clause (2.), the words “‘one month “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ three months “.
– As I pointed out, in dealing with clause 10, this amendment is not necessary because the period may be extended by a reinstatement committee, as provided for in clause 21.
– The Minister is very abrupt in his treatment of honorable senators. If he considers that the period mentioned in the clause will be extended by a reinstatement committee, that is a strong reason why an amendment on the lines suggested should be accepted. If the Minister believes that three months will be allowed to enable the soldier to readjust himself to civil life I see no reason why provision to that effect should not be made in the bill.
– He has only to make application within one month after the completion of his period of war service.
– I am aware of that, but it would be unreasonable to expect an ex-serviceman to be worrying about a job within a week or two of his discharge. The ordinary industrialist Ls granted, a fortnight’s annual leave, and surely a man who has been in the fighting services for five or six years, and has probably had no leave at all in his home town, is entitled to three months to enable him to make up his mind as to what be intends to do.. That period would enable him to readjust himself to civil life, but we should be imposing a hardship upon him to require him to determine his course of action within a month. He will have to apply to some tribunal, but he may know nothing about such bodies. If he is not acquainted with legal procedure, he may require someone to represent him before the tribunal, and tell him about the various forms which he will have to fill in, and so on. These things will take time. A man who has been in the forces for five or six years will want more than a month to cast off the effects of devastating warfare.
.- I am not so much concerned about an extension of time being granted to a returned serviceman as to the period in which, ho must have his name registered and recorded with the employer. After his return from war service a man may visit relatives in a. distant State, and while away from home he may easily overlook the necessity to register for employment within a given period. If given a period of three months he would have a chance to attend to his registration and then if ho so desired he could apply for an extension under clauses 13 and 21. When this legislation has been placed on the statute-book, I hope that the Government will prepare a booklet for the guidance of men on their return from war service, so that they may know what they will have to do to comply with its provisions.
.- The clause as it stands is satisfactory. We must remember that a considerable period may elapse after the cessation of hostilities before a man will be discharged. He will have to be brought back from an operational area to his own State and that will take considerable lime. During that period he can make up his mind as to what he will do after discharge, and then he will have another month in which to make lu3 application. Should he not desire to return to his former employment, he could withdraw his application subsequently. The various arms of the services have their official journals, and between the time that the “Cease fire” is sounded and a man’s discharge, these journals could publish information for his guidance. The booklet issued by the Repatriation Department has proved valuable, and I support Senator Brand’s suggestion that advice to servicemen should be made available in booklet form. Should a man want to have a holiday after his” discharge, he could appear before a tribunal and apply for an extension of time. That should not cause any difficulty.
Senator FOLL (Queensland) [5.34 1.I should like to know what the position would be should an employee not make application to his former employer for reinstatement within a month of his discharge. His failure to do so may be regarded as evidence that he does not wish to return to his former employment in which event his position may be filled.
Should the serviceman then appear before a committee and obtain an extension of time to submit his application, what would happen? Would the person appointed to the vacant position have to be dismissed?
.- Senator Lamp made a good point, but already about 300,000 servicemen have been discharged and long before the cessation of hostilities probably another 200,000 men will be discharged. This measure will come into operation before all the men have been demobilized.
.- Most of the men will be entitled to accumulated leave on their return, and I understand that their service will continue until the leave has expired. Therefore, the month in which a man will have ro make application for re-employment will not commence until the expiry of the leave period.
.- The Government has as one of its objectives the issue of a booklet giving advice to returned servicemen. In addition, reinstatement committees will be organized on lines which will enable every discharged man to know what he should do.
.- Is the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) determined to be adamant about this clause? If the reinstatement committes are to deal with extensions of time in which to make application for re-employment, they will be overworked. Will the Minister not meet the committee by allowing this matter to stand over until he has discussed with his advisers whether or not it would be possible to extend the period to three months?
– It is not necessary to hold it over.
– Will the Minister give consideration to the proposal after the clause has been dealt with and, if necessary, have the bill recommitted?
– Yes, I undertake to do that.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 13 to 15 agreed to.
Clause16- (3.) The employment to be made available under this section shall be employment -
.- I move -
That, in sub-clause (3.), paragraph (a) after the word “ remuneration “ the following words be inserted : - “ seniority, promotion and status “.
The amendment is one which I think the Minister will accept, because it is obviously necessary to protect the serviceman who returns to his former employment in regard to not only his remuneration, but also his seniority, promotion rights and status. The amendment will provide that protection.
– In its present form the paragraph is all embracing. The inclusion of the words proposed, “ seniority promotion and status “, is not necessary ; the words would be redundant.
.- I do not agree with the Minister. If his interpretation be correct, there would be no need to include in the paragraph the words “ including any increase of remuneration “ because the serviceman must be reinstated “ under conditions not less favorable to him than . . . if he had remained in the employment of the former employer “. In many instances status is almost as important as the actual remuneration received. I want to ensure that the standing of the returned man, as well as his pay, will.be protected.
– I cannot accept the amendment.
.- I have in mind the case of two employees of a firm working on an equal basis, and should like an explanation of sub-clause 4 which reads -
Where several persons apply to a former employer to be reinstated in employment and it is not reasonably practicable for him to make employment available to each of those persons, the former employer shall make employment available to as many of those persons as is reasonably practicable and in the order which preference, as between any two applicants, to the applicant whose length of service with that employer was the greater at the date on which the applicant who first commenced a period of war service commenced that period of war service.
It seems to me that that is putting preference the wrong way round. In this case, preference is being given entirely to the man who has the longer service with the employer. Let us suppose that immediately upon the outbreak of war “ A “ joins up with the Australian Imperial Force in 1939 and serves right through the war, and then applies for his old job; whilst “B”, who was not so patriotically minded, or for other reasons, stayed in the service of the same employer until such time as he was called up for service in the Militia. Although “A” may have had three or four years’ more service in the forces than “ B “, who remained in his employment until he was pulled out by the man-power authorities, “ B “ is given preference because he joined the firm, say, three months before “ A “. The principle of preference should be applied in this clause as it is applied in respect of other provisions, that is, the employer should be entitled to take into consideration length of military service and the theatres of war in which applicants have served. I ask that the clause be amended to provide that a man with the longer military service and service overseas should be given preference over the man who is now to be given preference merely because he has been longer in the employ of a particular employer.
.- The clause as it stands is more reasonable than it would be if the honorable senator’s were adopted. Therefore, I see no reason to alter it.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 17 (Rights of reinstated employees).
– I should like the Minister for Trade and Customs to clarify this clause, which reads -
Where any person has been reinstated in employment in accordance with this Division or in accordance with the National Security (Reinstatement in Civil Employment) Regulations then, for the purposes of determining the rights of that person, as against the employer in whose employment he has been reinstated, in respect of -
long service leave or pay in lieu thereof (including pay to dependants on the death of the person) ; and
superannuation or pension (whether for himself or his dependants), the continuity of the employment of that person by the employer shall be deemed not to have been broken by his absence from employment during any period between the date upon which that person left the employment to commence war service and the date upon which he was reinstated in employment, but that period shall not, by reason only of this section, be reckoned as part of the period of employment.
What is the meaning of paragraphs a, b and c? It does not appear that the returned man will do too well out of this.For instance, he may have been in the forces for five years. Will he be entitled to ten weeks’ annual recreation leave, for instance, in respect of that period? It may be interpreted that way. A similar interpretation may be made in respect of leave on the ground of illness. The employee has rights from the day he starts in his employment in respect of leave of absence on the ground of illness. I should like these paragraphs clarified, because quite a lot can be read into this provision; and I am sure that it will be twisted considerably, probably to the detriment of the man who has just returned from service.
.- The first point raised by Senator Leckie relates to paragraph a, which deals with annual leave for recreation. This point was also raised by Senator James McLachlan in his second-reading speech. The object of paragraph a is to preserve the right of an employee to any portion of annual leave which may have been due to him prior to enlistment but which could not be taken by him before he commenced’ his war service. The explanation of the clause generally is that it preserves the rights of persons on war service to annual leave, sick leave, longservice leave and superannuation or pension which might otherwise be lost through a break in the continuity of employment.For example, where an employee who is entitled to annual leave at the end of twelve months’ service with an employer, commences his war service after nine months’ employment, he will become eligible for annual leave upon completing three months’ service with the employer after his reinstatement. However, the period of war service is not reckoned as part of the period of employment; if it were, the employer would have to pay the member while he was on war service.
Clause agreed to.
Clause18- (2.)In any proceedings for a contravention of this section, the onus shall, where the employment was terminated or varied within six months after reinstatement, be on the employer to prove that he terminated or varied the employment as required by subsection (5.) of section sixteen of this Act or that he had reasonable cause for terminating or varying the employment and, in any other case, the onus shall be on the prosecutor.
.- I move -
That, in sub-clause (2.), the word “six” be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ twelve “.
Sub-clause 2 provides that in any proceedings for a contravention of this provision, the onus shall, where the employment was terminated or varied within six months after reinstatement, be on the employer to prove that he had reasonable cause for terminating or varying the employment. It seems to me that six months is too short a term in which to enable men who have been reinstated to settle down properly in their employment. If a man has been away on active service for three, four or five years, he may not be able to regain his former skill in six months. I understand that the Government’s objective is to abolish an employer’s right to “ hire and fire “ ; but under this clause it gives the right to the employer to dismiss an employee. Certainly, the ex-serviceman has the opportunity to obtain redress by appealing to a tribunal, but he must pay the cost of that appeal. It would be far better to provide a period of twelve months in order to give the ex-serviceman a fair chance to reestablish himself. The purpose of the bill is to rehabilitate ex-servicemen in permanent employment. That being so, the Minister should agree to this amendment.
– The Government has given full consideration to the point raised by Senator Brand, and it considers that a period of six months is a reasonable period for this purpose. I cannot accept the amendment.
– The Minister has not given any reason for refusing to accept the amendment. He simply said that the provision had been considered. He did not say why the Government decided upon the period of :1X months. The criticism by honorable senators opposite of the repatriation legislation passed after the war of 1914-18, was that it did not give ex-servicemen fair preference, that they were dismissed on the flimsiest pretexts, or were not given a job because of the loophole provided by the condition “ other things being equal “. Now, when the Government which they support has the opportunity to rectify those conditions under this measure, they support a clause by which they invite the employer to sack a man who is not 100 per cent, efficient. That is the effect of the clause. If, at the end of a period of six months, an employer knows that a more suitable man is available, he may dismiss the ex-serviceman.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
.- I cannot understand why honorable senators opposite should oppose this amendment. As the clause stands, a returned soldier who resumes his former employment after a period of service overseas, will have only six months in which to measure up to the requirements of his job. If he fails to do so within that time, he may be dismissed. That is not giving a returned soldier a reasonable opportunity to reestablish himself. I am sure that honorable senators opposite could reasonably support this amendment.
.- In the opinion of the Government, six months is a reasonable period for this purpose. This clause is designed to prevent employers defeating the object of the regulations, and is necessary to provide against a very obvious means of evasion, that is to say, a technical reinstatement followed by a subsequent dismissal. In effect, the provision means that an employer cannot dismiss a reinstated person or vary his employment to the employee’s detriment, unless he has reasonable cause for so doing. Should an employer dismiss a reinstated employee or vary the conditions of his employment contrary to this measure within six months after reinstatement the onus of proof in any action will rest upon the employer to show that he had just cause for the dismissal of an employee or a variation of the conditions of his employment. I consider that six months is a reasonable period.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 19 agreed to.
Clause 20- (1.) The Minister may appoint a Reinstatement Committee in each State and Territory of the Commonwealth. (2.) Each Reinstatement Committee shall consist of a chairman, one member to represent persons who have rendered war service, one member to represent employers and one member to represent employees.
Senator FOLL (Queensland) ‘S.4]. - J move -
That, in sub-clause (2.), after the word “service”, the following words be inserted: - “ both of whom shall have had war service also.’*.
The object of this amendment is to ensure that at least the chairman of the Reinstatement Committee and the direct representative of ex-servicemen shall be men who have had war service. That is most desirable. One hopes of course that the representatives of the employers also will be men who have had war service, but in my opinion it is imperative that the chairman and the direct representative of the ex-servicemen should both be men who understand the needs of the returned soldiers. I am sure that I have only to ask the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) to accept this amendment and he will do so.
.- It is not practicable for the Government to accept Senator Foil’s amendment. I have already given reasons for that in reply to Senator Brand’s suggested amendment on clause 9. Honorable senators can rest assured that only capable men will be appointed to these tribunals. Certainly, they will not be laymen. To my mind the amendment is unnecessary, and the Government will not accept it.
– I should like the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) to explain what is meant by the words “one member to represent persons who have rendered war service”. Does it mean that the returned soldiers will have the right to nominate their representative, or does it mean that the Government will be at liberty to select whoever it wishes - and not necessarily a returned man - to represent ex-servicemen? As the clause is drafted, not one member of a Reinstatement Committee need be a returned soldier. I am sure that the Government does not intend that that should be the case, and I suggest to the Minister that the matter be re-examined. If the Government has in mind that the representative of the ex-servicemen should be nominated by it, that should be specifically stated in the clause. I point out that the clause will have to be interpreted, not only by this Administration, but also by succeeding governments.
– The field of selection is limited by clause 4.
– This clause does not so provide. It says that the committee shall include one member to represent persons who have rendered war service. It is clear that the Government could appoint any one to represent these men. The object of Senator Foil’s amendment is to ensure that at least two members of the committee will be returned soldiers.
.- I believe that this clause and clause 31 are the most important in the bill, and I congratulate the Government upon the inclusion of these provisions. I remember that when this subject was before the Senate some years ago, and the Labour party was in opposition, I asked the then Government would action be taken to appoint a Reinstatement Committee and a preference board. I pointed out that preference was not worth anything unless it was backed by some tribunal with power, to ensure that, it was enforced. This measure provides for the appointment of these bodies. Do not honorable senators opposite believe that persons who have rendered war service will select a returned soldier as their representative on the Reinstatement Committee?
– They will not have an opportunity to do that.
– There is nothing in the bill to prevent them. Exservicemen will need only to exercise a little common sense. The clause provides that one member of the committee shall be the representative of persons who have rendered war service, one member shall represent the employers, and one shall represent the employees. That means’ that virtually there will be two representatives of the employees and one of the employers. What more do honorable senators opposite want? If exservicemen do their job properly, there will be at least one returned soldier on the committee representing the employees.
.- Apparently Senator Lamp has not read the clause thoroughly. There is no provision in it for the appointment by exservicemen of their representative on the Reinstatement Committee. If the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) is prepared to say now that the representative on that committee of persons who have rendered war service will be selected by the returned soldiers themselves, the approach of the Opposition to the clause will be different. As drafted, the clause is completely at variance with the practice adopted under our repatriation legislation which permits exservicemen to select one commissioner for repatriation, and to select their own nominees for the various tribunals constituted under that legislation. In this measure all appointments are left in the hands of the Minister. “When an amendment was moved in the House of Representatives by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis), in an endeavour to ensure to organized returned soldiers an opportunity to select their representative on the Reinstatement Committee, it was rejected. Why should the principle of this legislation be different from that of the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act? Throughout this measure appointments to committees, boards, &c, are left in the hands of the Minister, and no opportunity is given to the “ Diggers “ themselves to appoint their representatives.
– I suggest that the honorable senator should read sub-clause 7 ‘of clause 20.
– Sub-clause 7 states- (7.) Panels of persons to represent persons who have rendered war service, to represent employers, and to represent employees, respectively, shall be selected in such manner as the Minister determines, and the members of a Reinstatement Committee, other than the chairman, shall be selected from the panels in such manner as the Minister determines.
There is no provision in that subclause, or in any part of this bill, for returned soldiers’ organizations to present a panel of nominees. The panels are to be selected in such a manner “ as the Minister determines “.
– There is to be a panel to represent persons who have rendered war service.
– Perhaps. Senator Finlay can inform the Senate what organization of returned soldiers will be able to present a panel of nominees. My amendment ensures that at least two members of each committee, one of whom would be the chairman, must have had war service. I shall be satisfied if the Minister will amend the bill in order that the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia and other ex-servicemen’s organizations shall be given the right to present panels of names for appointment to the committees.
– (Sub-clause 7 states very clearly that panels of ex-servicemen will be selected by ex-servicemen under such conditions as the Minister determines. The Minister will only select committee members from the panels submitted to him. Ex-servicemen are not represented by one organization only; apart from the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia there are a number of exservicemen’s organizations, and new ones are coming into being. These bodies will appoint panels of representatives from which their representatives on the committees will, be chosen under the terms and conditions laid down by the Minister.
– Sub-clause 7 specifically refers to “ panels of persons who represent persons who have rendered war service “. Those representatives need not necessarily be ex-servicemen, according to the present wording of the sub-clause.
– That is ridiculous.
– It is not ridiculous. It is the correct interpretation of the wording of the sub-clause. The word “ who “ is so placed as to make it clear that the representatives of exservicemen need not themselves be exservicemen. I believe that the Government, did not have that intention in mind.
– The exservicemen’s representatives need not have had war service, but they will be appointed from the ex-servicemen’s panel.
– That is the point which I am making.
– But they will be the choice of ex-servicemen.
– They may have no choice in the matter. The subclause provides that representatives will be selected from the panels by the Minister.
– Yes. The subclause states “ in such manner as the Minister determines “. The interpretation of the sub-clause by Government supporters is based on a misunderstanding of the English language.
– Even if Senator Mattner’s contention be correct, there is nothing wrong with the sub-clause. It is conceivable that a man, who for some reason has been unable to render war service, may be a brilliant representative of the interests of ex-servicemen. For instance, he may have been prevented from serving by disease, or the loss of a limb, but such a disability would not prevent him from being a capable advocate of the rights of ex-servicemen. Alderman Marks, of Sydney, for example, has done more for the Australian Red Cross Society, probably than ony other two or three men, as anybody who knows anything about that organization will agree. It would be in the interests of ex-servicemen to have the right to select an able, man from outside their ranks to act as their representative. Naturally, they will want to nominate a worthy champion of their cause, whether he be an ex-serviceman or not. If the Opposition’s proposals were agreed to, such men would be excluded from the right to act on behalf of ex-servicemen. From time to time, the Labour movement has had in its ranks great champions who have never done manual labour. Mr. Richard Windeyer, K.O., is a very capable man who has never seen war service, but his sons have been decorated for gallantry in action. He would be a worthy representative of ex-servicemen, and his ability would be of great assistance in determining legal problems that must inevitably arise. The Opposition seeks to preclude
Rx-servicemen from selecting such representatives.
– It is evident that Senator Grant and other supporters of the Government do not want active ex-servicemen to be appointed to these committees.
– Is the honorable senator opposed to returned soldiers appointing anybody whom they wish to represent them?
– No. We wish exservicemen to be represented by men who have actually seen combat service. The term “ war service “ has many interpretations. The Government may make it applicable to almost anybody. For instance, employees of the Allied Works Council could be said to have had war service. The Government can easily prove its sincerity by amending the clause to ensure that ex-servicemen shall be represented on the committee* by men who have had combat service. As the clause stands, the panels can be selected by the Minister.
– The honorable senator and his friends do not appoint Labour representatives to the Chamber of Manufactures.
– Sometimes we doThe Chamber of Manufactures has amongst its mem! bers some successful men who started as manual workers.
– The Minister can select the ex-servicemen’s representatives only from the names submitted by exservicemen.
– The clause does not say so.
– This is one occasion on which the honorable senator apparently does not believe in preference to returned soldiers.
– The Minister is terribly confused. He is so confused that he almost confuses me. Evidently, he has not studied the bill. Of course, it was not necessary for him to do so, because he knew that the Leader of the Senate would be in charge of the bill and would only have to say, “I will nol accept the amendment “ in order to receive the support of his cohorts. All I want to ensure is that ex-servicemen are appointed to the committees. As the clause stands, these reinstatement committees need not have a single exserviceman amongst their members. If that happened-, there would be an outcry from ex-servicemen and the people generally. This provision is in line with the rest of the bill, which extends its benefits to almost every section of the community. The Government is disregarding the interests of the men who deserve the greatest rewards. What is the mattei with the Leader of the Senate? This is not the time to say, “We must pas? the bill as it stands; there must be no amendments “. His supporters are putting him m an invidious position. If he would be reasonable and1 agree to the Opposition’s proposals, honorable senators on the Government side of the chamber would not be able to “ cruel his pit-cn as they are doing.
– Why should the honorable senator worry?
– I am worrying because I respect the Leader of the Senate. He is the most capable man in this chamber; but he is not appearing ti his best to-night
– By eulogizing him the honorable senator is doing him a lot of harm.
– I believe that many people will agree with me. Senator O’Flaherty, by his apparent amusement, seems to think that any good word said on behalf of the Leader of the Senate will not be believed. If the Minister reads the clause carefully he will see that, it is not necessary to have one exserviceman on the committee. All that the Opposition asks is that the real fighting men shall have at least one representative on the committees.
.- This is a legally drawn clause which is difficult to understand. It provides that panels of persons shall be selected in -such manner as the Minister determines to represent persons who have had war service and employers respectively. That does not give ex-servicemen a chance to elect anybody. All (hat Senator Foll wants is that ex-servicemen shall bc represented equally with the employers. I challenge the Minister to say that that is not a correct interpretation of the amendment.
.- The Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act provides that a panel of three persons shall be submitted to the Minister from specified returned soldier organizations, but in this clause it appears that only the employers’ representative can be selected. I desire the servicemen’s organizations to have an opportunity to submit a panel of five, from which two men could be selected by the Minister. No man could properly look after the interests of ex-servicemen unless he himself had seen war service. The clause should be brought into conformity with the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act.
– We are dealing amongst other things with preference to ex-service men and women. “Unlike Senator Leckie, I have read the bill. As Senator Finlay has pointed out, there are numerous organizations of ex-servicemen and the Minister would have the right to select a member of the organization having the largest membership. There are organizations’ of naval men and airmen, as well as organizations of soldiers.
– The majority are in the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia.
– No matter to what organizations they belong, the matter should be left open so that preference could be given in the matter of these appointments to the man who represented the largest organization of exservicemen in the Commonwealth.
– A panel could be provided of representatives of all branches of the services.
– Yes, and the Minister would decide who should represent the serviceman, but to say that they should not have the right to determine whether they should be represented by a serviceman, or a civilian would be to take away from them a prerogative which they have a. right to exercise.
– Another matter obtrudes in the consideration of sub-clause 10, which provides that the members of Reinstatement Committees shall be paid remuneration and allowances at such rates, if any, as the Minister determines. I am prepared to concede that the words “ if any “ imply that there may be no payment, hut I gather that the Reinstatement Committees will have strenuous duties to perform and it is certain, I should say, that remuneration will be provided. Under the preference provisions of the bill, the Commonwealth and all of its instrumentalities are bound to give preference in remunerative employment. If the Reinstatement Committees are to be paid for their services, the Commonwealth is bound under the preference provisions to give preference to ex-servicemen, and the net result will be that all of the members of the committees will in fact be exmembers of the forces. That makes clear the policy of the Government in relation to preference. I agree with Senator Grant that, if the amendment were accepted, it would negative the right of returned soldiers to nominate anybody who is not an ex-serviceman. I also agree with the technical submission of members of the Opposition, who say that there is not an explicit right to nominate ex-servicemen. Following what the Minister for Health ((Senator Fraser) has said, there should be some order in determining how the representative of ex-servicemen is to be selected. Only a responsible Minister can lay down the rules of procedure that will be necessary to ensure that representatives are properly chosen in accordance with democratic principles. So the bill provides in sub-clause 7 that panels of persons shall be selected, not by the Minister, but in such manner as the Minister determines. Obviously, when the Minister is to select an ex-serviceman, an employer and an employee, he will go to the organisations which represent the three separate classes. The procedure which be will establish will enable each of those three classes to elect its representative, whether he be an ex-serviceman or not. For the reasons I have given we are wasting time if these men are to be- paid. If the Minister would say something on that point, we should know that the Government is bound to give preference to ex-servicemen, and that the committees will be wholly composed of ex-servicemen.
.-An amazing position emerges from this discussion. At present reinstatement committees arc operating with full satisfaction to all ex-servicemen’s organizations, which nominate all the panels to represent persons who have rendered war service. That gives some indication of what the Government will do ‘ under this clause. Ministers conferred with those organizations in the drafting of this measure. The fact is that the panels will be obtained from the ex-servicemen’s organizations.
– That is, if the Minister decides to do that.
– I give an assurance that the panels will be advertised for, and applications will be invited from, the organizations of ex-servicemen.. Sub-clause 2 provides that each reinstatement committee shall consist of a chairman, one member to represent personswho have rendered war service, and one’ member to represent employers. What does that provision mean unless it signifies that the practice now in operation, will be followed? No government would be stupid enough to select men without war service to arbitrate on matters concerning ex-servicemen. The practice which has been observed in respect of representation since the last war will befollowed by the Government.
– Thisclause takes away from ex-servicemen something which they have enjoyed iu. the past, because war service means something different under this bill from what it has meant previously. Under the bill, any organization may be declared a warservice organization by the GovernmentIt could declare anybody to have performed war service, although he may have done no fighting at all. Why not amend the bill to ensure that he will be* a representative of active servicemen? The sailors, soldiers, and airmen might be out-voted by munitions workers andi others who will be brought under thislegislation. That power is given in paragraph / of the definition of “war service “ in clause 4. It would be simple toput into this clause a provision which, would ensure that one of these representatives shall be a man who has rendered active war service. If Senator McKennais right, as I believe he is, and if members of the reinstatement committee are to be paid, it would appear that all the members of the committees must have had war service of some kind. That would mean that the four of them, including the chairman, would come under the provisions of this legislation in regard to war service. The clause is not in accordance with the usual practice- in regard to legislation.
.- I believe that the present position has been caused by the disunity among returned servicemen. The position is as Mr. Theodore Roosevelt laid down years ago, when he was asked if he believed in trade unionism. He said “ Yes, because if the officials are dishonest, I can help to clear them out; and if the policy of the organization is not correct, I can help to make it correct”. By forming different organizations throughout the country, returned servicemen are doing themselves a disservice. If they would band together in one solid organization, and say to the Government that they are united and want this or that done, their representations would be given more consideration. So long as they remain disunited, I cannot see any way out. The Minister has explained that the only way is to leave it open to make the best possible selection from the returned soldiers’ organizations. If the returned servicemen would stick to one organization and make it a worthwhile body, this clause would not be necessary.
Clause agreed to.
Clause21 agreed to.
Clause 22- (1.) Section one hundred and seventeen of the AustralianSoldiers’ Repatriation Act 1920-1943 is repealed.
.- I move -
That sub-clause (1.) be left out.
My remarks in relation to this clause apply also to clause 23, which proposes to repeal certain sections of the Commonwealth Public Service Act. I am opposed to the repeal of section 117 of the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act, and sections 83 and 104 of the Commonwealth Public Service Act, because in those provisions the preference to servicemen is complete and absolute, and is not subject to qualifications or limitations. In the existing legislation, exservicemen have something of value. Under the preference provisions of the Commonwealth Public Service Act, about 21,000 ex-servicemen have been rehabilitated over a period of 25 years. Of that number 9,256 have applied themselves assiduously to study and have gained promotion and permanent status. Many of them now occupy important positions. Section 117 of the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act extends the scope of preference beyond the Commonwealth Public Service, although it is still confined to positions within the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Government. If those sections be repealed, we shall have only a worthless preference which is subject to a time limit. That means that the fighting serviceman will have to scramble for a job in competition with home-front workers. In the definition of “employer”, the Crown is an employer equally with civil employers. Should the constitutionality of clause 24 be challenged in the High Court, and judgment be given in favour of a State or States which may appeal against the repeal of their legislation providing for preference, the Commonwealth will have no legislation to give any form of preference inCommonwealth employment. The wisest course is to retain the sections which this clause proposes to repeal. It has been argued that there cannot be two preference laws operating at the same time, but why should that not be so? Should the bill now before us become law, it will supersede those sections, in the event of any. conflict between them. The Minister has said that the bill is bound up with the Government’s policy of full employment and that the interests of the ex-serviceman are interlocked with those of the civilian. In other words, both the soldier and the civilian are to sink or swim with the Government’s full employment policy. Instead of the real substance which these sections provide, the serviceman is. now offered the shadow of an economic paradise which has not yet gone beyond the blue-print stage.. I urge honorable senators opposite to vote according to their conscience and if they do these sections of the existing legislation which grant a measure of preference to servicemen will remain on the statute-book.
– I supp ort the contention of Senator Brand. Section 117 of the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act, which’ has been of great value to ex-servicemen, reads - . . preference shall in the appointment of persons to the Public Service of the Commonwealth or to the service of an authority of the Commonwealth, be given to persons who have been members of the Forces ami have served outside Australia or in any area prescribed as a combat area for the purposes of this Act aud who ure competent for the work required.
Lt would be a great pity if that provision were repealed. Honorable senators will recall that, recently, ex-Senator Digger Dunn, who graced this chamber for some years, contested, an appointment to the Australian Broadcasting Commission, and relied on section 117 of the Australian ‘Soldiers’ Repatriation Act. It is true that he did not win his case, because of a technicality, but, I suggest, that if .the section referred to be repealed, servicemen, generally, will lose something which has been of great value to them..
, - The amendment cannot be accepted, because it is essential that only one law shall operate to provide preference. The law on this subject must be clear and definite, and so the preference provisions of other acts must be repealed. Otherwise servicemen will be confused. Since provisions governing preference should be clear and beyond dispute, and, as it is obviously desirable that preference should be uniform throughout Australia and contained in one act, the Commonwealth intends that there shall be one law only in operation throughout Australia providing for preference in the employment of members of the forces and persons who have rendered service in relation to the war which may entitle them to preference. The main case for Commonwealth legislation on preference is to assure uniformity in preference for those serving Australia. Consequently, the division, apart from making express provision for preference, also repeals previous Commonwealth legislation relating to preference, and provides that State and Commonwealth laws providing for preference in employment will be inoperative while The division is in force.
– The Minister (Senator Keane) has not explained that this clause seeks to take away something from servicemen that they already have; it does not propose to give something to them. Moreover, what it will take from them will be taken indefinitely. Reference to clause 33 shows that sections 24 to 32 inclusive of this act . shall cease to operate seven years after the cessation of hostilities. But the repeal of the existing legislation for which clause 22 provides will be for all time, so that any benefit that the serviceraa.iL is now entitled to under those provisions will be lost. In other words, a privilege that servicemen have enjoyed for 25 years, and which has been of great value to then i, is to be wiped out. It would be satisfactory if the Minister would say that after seven years, clause 22 would cease to operate. It is significant that clause 33 does not refer to clauses 22 and 23. If section 117 of the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act and sections 11 and 83 of the Commonwealth Public Service Act be repealed, they will cease to operate until re-enacted, because clauses 22 and 23 will not be repealed at the end. of the period of seven years. Thus we shall take away indefinitely the rights and privileges which have been enjoyed by ex-servicemen for the last 25 years. The Government says that it is substituting something for those rights, but, at best, it is only substituting an alleged preference for seven years. I ask the Government to provide for the repeal of clauses 22 and 23 at the end of that period.
– How old will the veterans of the last war be seven years after the conclusion of this war?
– Apparently, the honorable senator is counting on all of them being dead. It is in a provision of this kind that the Government really shows its hand. It is holding up to the returned man a mere shadow, whilst, at the same time, depriving him of the substance of the existing legislation. This measure will also supersede all State laws with respect to the rehabilitation of exservice personnel. On the plea that it is essential to have only one measure dealing with this subject in operation, the Government calmly deprives exservice personnel of the valuable privileges they have enjoyed for so many years. Under the Commonwealth Public Service Act ex-servicemen have been given preference of employment in good positions in the Commonwealth Public Service, and many of those men have risen to the top of the Public Service ladder. I know that some honorable senators opposite agree with the view I am putting; but I also know that they will not say so.
– I support the amendment. I draw the attention of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) to the fact that the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) who was in charge of the measure in the House of Representatives omitted to point out that opinion differs among constitutional lawyers as to whether the Commonwealth has power to give general preference. T also recall that supporters of the Government’s proposals at the recent referendum gave that as one of the reasons for the referendum. They said that grave doubt existed among constitutional lawyers as to whether the Commonwealth Government had power to give general preference to ex-service personnel. Until that doubt is resolved clearly in favour of the Commonwealth, it will be most unwise to repeal the existing legislation under which preference is given to exservice personnel in the Commonwealth Public Service, because the repeal of section 83 of the Commonwealth Public Service Act means that those who have enjoyed the privileges of that act since 1922 will he without preference should Commonwealth legislation providing for preference prove to be unconstitutional.
– I should like to put Senator Grant on the right track. Over 17,000 ex-servicemen of the war of 1914-18 are temporary employees in the Commonwealth Public Service. Some of them have been in that employment for from eighteen to twenty years, and have been quite content to remain temporary employees either because of their age, or because they did” not care to qualify by examination for permanent appointment. When work in the Postmaster-General’s Department becomes slack, as it does during the winter months, some of those employee? are temporarily put off, and should the existing legislation be repealed, as is proposed under this clause, no obligation will rest upon the Postmaster-General’s Department or any other department, to re-engage them after the period of seven years provided for under this measure expires.
– I am amazed that the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) does not make any attempt to explain the Government’sattitude on this matter. Surely, he will not be content to say once again that the amendmeent is “ not acceptable “. We are getting a little tired of that reply.
– I have already given the Government’s reasons for insisting on the retention of this clause.
– I urge the Government to realize the seriousness of this provision. Senator Brand, when moving his amendment, did so in a reasonable manner. He was not aggressive in any way; and I have already shown that under this clause the privileges which ex-servicemen have enjoyed for the last 25 years will be repealed permanently upon the expiration of the seven-year period. The Governnent seek.’ to take away those privileges under the guise of giving to the ex-serviceman what one might describe as. a short-term loan. I cannot imagine that any government would calmly take away such rights and privileges from ex-service personnel without offering something worth while in their place. Yet, the Government pose, as the friend of the returned man. I have never heard of anything more ridiculous. One can imagine the view which the ex-service man and woman and their friends and relatives Will take of this provision. ITo honorable senator opposite has denied the facts given by Senator Brand in support of his amendment. He has pointed out that under the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act over 17,000 ex-servicemen have benefited under the preference provision by securing employment in the Postmaster-General’?
Department alone; and the position 13 much the same in other government departments. But the Government is calmly depriving .those men of their rights not only under existing Commonwealth legislation but also under State law. Further, the benefits of this measure will be made available not only to ex-service personnel but also, according to the Minister for the Interior (Senator Collings) in a statement he made last night, to every man and woman in the community, because, he said, every man and woman belonged to the fighting f orces of the Commonwealth. Should the Government insist on retaining this clause, it will be sounding its own death-knell.
– The remarks made by honorable senators opposite on the clause can be classified under three headings. They say, first, that this legislation should operate simultaneously with the existing legislation. That, of course, would bp impossible. We could not have one measure providing preference for ex-service personnel in the Commonwealth Public Service, and, at the same time, implement this measure, which covers not merely fighting personnel, as the existing legislation does, but also all ex-service personnel in all categories. We are forced to do that on this occasion because this war is a total war. Regardless of the merits of either measure, it would bo impossible to operate both of them at the same time. Secondly, I point out to honorable senators opposite that seven years after this war finishes ex-servicemen of the war of 1914-18 now in the Commonwealth Public Service will be, on an average, at least 62 years of age. And I understand that under the Commonwealth Public Service Act no applicant can be appointed to the Commonwealth Public Service at that age. The third point was made by Senator Brand, who said that should the Postal Department, for instance, experience a slack period and be obliged to put off some ex-servicemen, who are employed temporarily, they could not be re-engaged if this clause bo retained. That is not so. This measure covers not only ex-service personnel who saw active service, but also many others, and because of the fact that they pre viously held those positions they would be entitled to preference in respect of re-engagement. Therefore, I see no reason for the amendment. No honorable senator opposite has answered the objection explained by the Leader of the Senate that it is impossible to operate this measure and existing legislation simultaneously. Assuming that, on the average, men who served in the last war were 22 years of age when they enlisted, and that this war continues for another two years, those ex-servicemen will be at least 62 years of age at the end of the period of seven years .provided in this measure. Therefore, Senator Leckie is merely holding up a straw and knocking it down. I hope that the Government will not accept the amendment.
– Senator Grant apparently is still counting on the expectation that all the returned soldiers of the last war will be dead by the time this seven-year period has elapsed. He does not seem to realize that this clause together with all the other preference clauses, will cease, and therefore that the returned soldiers of this war, most of whom will still be young men, will be deprived of its benefits.
– The whole circumstances will be reviewed at the end of seven years.
– Thai; is a poor argument. The preference provisions of this measure are largely for returned soldiers of the present war. Returned soldiers of the last war have enjoyed preference benefits for 25 years. On this occasion,- however, ex-servicemen will be deprived of these privileges at the end of seven years. I contend that exservicemen of this war should at least enjoy the same benefits as were extended toreturned soldiers of the war of 1914-18. Honorable senators opposite are alwaysclaiming that returned soldiers of the last war were treated very badly. That has been the gospel of discontent on which they have lived. The fact is however that 17,000 of these men were temporary employees of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department alone. I want returned soldiers of this war to have similar opportunities for employment. Ti” is unfortunate for the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane), that some of his supporters frequently place the wrong interpretation upon his remarks and force him into a position which he does not relish. I believe that he would have agreed with almost everything that I have said to-day, had he been permitted to have his own way. I am not fighting for anything that is unreasonable. My view is that whatever modicum of preference this measure envisages, should be available to members of our fighting forces without limitation. If that is too much to ask, then I leave the responsibility with the Government.
– There is one point that has been overlooked. Section 117 of the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act, to which this clause relates, became operative for the first time in 1943 when this Government did not have a majority in this chamber. Despite assurances given by the Government that if the Senate did not insist upon the inclusion of this provision, a preference measure of the kind which we are now considering would be brought down at some later stage, the Senate insisted on the insertion in our repatriation legislation of what is known now as section 117. I advert to that point, because it has been said that section 117 has been of inestimable benefit to returned soldiers for very many years. I repeat that section 117 has operated only since 1943, and I should imagine, has affected very few returned soldiers.
– Thousands of returned soldiers have gone into the Commonwealth Public Service.
– The Commonwealth Public Service preference provisions are dealt with in another clause which we have not yet reached, and no doubt the discussion which has taken place on this clause, will save time when the other clause comes before the committee. I wish also to controvert the statement that this Government is taking something substantial away from returned soldiers and is not putting anything in its place. Again, I remind honorable senators opposite that during their long term of office they did not seek to extend the principle of preference to returned soldiers to private enterprise. This Go vernment is now extending that principle over the whole field of industry. When honorable senators opposite speak of the great benefits conferred upon returned soldiers by the preference clauses of earlier legislation, I point out that that preference was available only in a narrow field. Of course, it was of benefit to those who were able to participate in it; but I emphasize that the benefits of those provisions were insignificant compared with the advantages which ex-servicemen will now enjoy. I repeat what I said in my second-reading speech, namely, that this is not the final word on the matter. The passing of this measure merely disposes of the problem for seven years. At the end of that time, the government of the day, which may not be a Labour government, will be able to examine the situation in the light of the circumstances that are then apparent. The problem will have narrowed down considerably, and whatever government is in power will have to determine whether preference as a principle shall be abandoned completely, retained in some form under Commonwealth legislation, or left entirely to the State legislatures. Even if the Commonwealth vacates the field entirely at the end of the seven-year period, the question of preference will not be disposed of finally. The States may take it up, although quite frankly I believe that it is a national problem, and that it will be the duty of this Parliament, at the end of the seven-year period, to review the operation of the preference provisions of this legislation and decide whether the principle of preference is to be discarded or retained in some modified form.
– I submit that repatriation as it should be understood is quite distinct from preference. When section 117 was inserted in the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act, I pointed out that it was practically meaningless. The concluding words of. sub-section 1 of that section are “who are competent for the work required “. If that means anything at all, it means that in the case of an appointment to the Postal Department the Postmaster-General, or those acting in his name, would be the judges of whether or not a returned soldier were competent to do a job. If in the opinion of an officer representing the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, or of a contractor acting for the department, a returned soldier was not competent to do a job, they would not be under any obligation to employ him. Therefore, that section of the act is so much “ eye-wash “ designed to mislead the returned soldiers. There is no provision in. the act for an appeal. If, for example, Senator leckie were a returned soldier, which he is not, and was an applicant for a position, if be felt that he was being treated unjustly, or that an employer was discriminating unfairly against him, he could not appeal to any other authority. All the power to say whether or not a returned soldier shall be employed is vested in the employer.
– And there is no penalty for failure to give preference, either.
– That is so. Under that section of the act, the employer is a law unto himself. He can say that he does not like the colour of the returned soldier’s eyes, or that the man is likely to cause trouble, and that will be sufficient ground for the employer to say, “You are incompetent. Therefore, under section 117 of the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act, I am under no obligation to employ you “. The Government is doing the proper thing ^ by repealing that section and including an appropriate provision in this bill. It is not taking anything away from the ex-serviceman, as Senator Leckie contended, because the exserviceman never had anything under that section. It is hypocrisy, eyewash, and word-spinning to assert that something is being taken away and that nothing is being put in its place. Preference means nothing to returned soldiers if they do not, in fact, get preference in employment. If a number of returned soldiers apply for one job, the one who is selected receives preference and the others do not. There are limitations in section 1.17 of the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act which make it practically meaningless. Lt is one of those word structures which are used’, effectively I regret to say, to mislead men who are entitled to a much better deal than they have received in the past.
– I acknowledge Senator McKenna’s reproof that although the amendment relates to clause 22, our comments were directed, in the main, to the succeeding clause, which relates to the Commonwealth Public Service Act. I was edified by the way in which the Postmaster-General (Senator Cameron) jumped to the assistance of the Leader of the Senate (Senator Keane). He was suddenly awakened from his repose and he leapt into . the fray like an old war horse. I recall what happened when section 117 was inserted in the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act in 1943.
– There was a decent sort of brawl.
– Yes. The _ PostmasterGeneral then waxed indignant about the new section, and the Senate generally was very upset because the Opposition party held a majority in this chamber and compelled the Government to do the right thing, which was something new in its experience. The House of Representatives, realizing that right was on our side, agreed to the amendment which we forced through the Senate. I fear that the PostmasterGeneral has not forgotten that battle and is pleased, now that the Government has a majority in this chamber, to reverse the previous decision. The Government has done this merely to punish us for something that we did in 1943, but, in fact, Lt will penalize all ex-servicemen.
– That is- not worthy of the honorable senator.
– It is not worthy of the Government. The honorable senator does not mind imputing discreditable motives to the Opposition, but when the Opposition gets some of its own hack he squeals like a stuck pig. The unfortunate thing is that honorable senators on the Government side of the chamber are not revenging themselves on us, but are making ex-servicemen suffer. I well recall the impassioned speeches made 0n this subject in 1943 by the present Postmaster-General. Hp did not want to give anything to the returned soldiers.
.- If section 117 of the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act served no other purpose it at least acted as a springboard from which the Government could launch this measure. One honorable senator has suggested that we did not go far enough in that section and that we should have included private enterprise in the provisions for preference to ex-servicemen. Nobody knows better than honorable senators opposite that there were doubts as to whether we could legally pass preference laws dealing with private enterprise under the terms of the Commonwealth Constitution.
– There are 3till grave doubts on that point.
– Yes. That is why the Government held a referendum. Unfortunately, it included the preference proposal with thirteen or fourteen racialist schemes, and, naturally, the proposals were rejected by the people. Had the Government presented the preference plan separately, it would have received the full approval of the electors. By failing to do this, the Government showed that it was not so sincere as it claims to be. Had it taken the right course, the power which it sought in relation to preference would now ‘be in its hands.
– I direct attention to the outstanding fact that neither Senator Leckie nor Senator Brand has made any attempt to disprove my statement that section 117 of the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act does not compel employers to engage returned soldiers but leaves the decision to the employers. The words in that section speak for themselves. The. term “who are competent for the work required “ i3 a qualifying phrase which allows the employer to decide whether preference shall be given, and which deprives the ex-serviceman of any rights at all. Senator Leckie and Senator Brand very conveniently ignored those words. This section of the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act, in common with laws passed by the State Parliaments, contains the proviso that, “ all things being equal, returned soldiers shall receive preference “. What is meant by “ all things being equal “ ? Those words are included for the purpose of misleading ex-servicemen. Honorable senators opposite support section 117 of the act (because it gives to employers, who need not be ex-servicemen, the right to decide whether ex-servicemen shall have preference. They have all the rights and ex-servicemen have no rights at all. In spite of all this honorable senators oppo site say in indignant terms that the Government is taking away from the exservicemen something which, in fact, they have never possessed. A returned soldier has no rights under that section. Provided that he is competent he will receive preference in any case. Let us assume that Senator Leckie is an employer. I imagine him employing the man who, in his judgment, is the most competent applicant for appointment. Why would ho do that? Simply because that man would .be the most profitable employee from an employer’s point of view. The honorable senator would not employ him because he liked him, but because he offered the prospect of providing more profit from his labour than an incompetent man. All the sentimental sob-stuff in which the Opposition indulges means nothingThe ex-serviceman will not get the deal to which he is entitled unless it be guaranteed to him in the bill. If the welfare of ex-servicemen is left to the employers after this war, as after the last war, they will be forced either to work for a dole or starve.
– In reply to the Postmaster-
General (Senator Cameron) I point out to him that paragraph c of sub-clause 3 of clause 27 provides that in determining whether reasonable and substantial cause exists for not engaging in employment a person entitled to preference, the employer shall consider the qualifications required for the performance of the duties of the position. If that provision is not on all fours with what the Minister has condemned T shall be delighted to hear him explain the difference.
.- First the Postmaster-General (Senator Cameron) stated that the preference provision in the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act means nothing at all, and then he said that because it meant nothing we were taking something away from ex-servicemen. Had hesaid that it did mean something, no doubt he would have thumped the table with both hands. As Senator Mattner has pointed out, this bill perpetuates a provision which the Minister condemned with the full strength of his voice. The position of the returned soldier will be much worse under this clause than it was under the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act. If the existing preference provision is worth nothing at all, why is he so anxious to have it repealed ? I could understand him saying that it is of great benefit to ex-servicemen and therefore should be repealed; but, when he says that it is of no benefit to them, and therefore we should repeal it, I cannot understand his logic. This clause would have been passed some time ago had the Postmaster-General not made a stone-walling speech. Section 117 of the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act should be retained, or provision should be made for it to be re-enacted at the expiration of seven years after the cessation of hostilities.
– (Senator Leckie has asked why the Government wishes to repeal section 117 of the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act. I object to any honorable senator trying to mislead ex-servicemen, as members of the Opposition have always done since the last war. What is to be done in the interests of ex-servicemen should be stated in the bill in plain language, without qualifying “ifs” or “buts”. Under the bill they will have rights which are not provided by section 117. If an ex-serviceman has reason to believe that he has been unjustly discriminated against, or that his employer has been influenced by bias or prejudice, or has tried to make more profit out of one man than another, he has the right to appeal to a magistrate; but under section 117 he has no rights at all. All the rights under that section are those of the employers. There are two reasons why that section should be repealed.
Repatriation is one thing and preference in employment another. Section 117, which deals with preference, should have no place in the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act. Its proper place is in the bill now before us.
– The Minister who has just resumed his seat has submitted an amazing proposition. As an employer, I should certainly engage the best men I could get. It is difficult to understand the Minister’s mentality. Ex-servicemen regard section 117 as of some value. When the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act was under consideration they wanted the preference provision badly, and we were told at the time that they were being given something which was of value. They still think that that section should be retained.
Question put -
That sub-clause (1.) be left out (Senator brand’s amendment).
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator B. courtice.)
Majority . . . . 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
The following papers were presented: -
Defence Act-Regulations - Statutory Rules 1945, No. 86.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for - Commonwealth purposes -
Postal purposes -Moe, Victoria.
National Security Act -
National Security (Rationing) Regula tions- Order- No. 86.
Regulations- Statutory Rules 1945, Nos. 88, 89, 90.
Senate adjourned at 10.2 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 14 June 1945, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1945/19450614_senate_17_183/>.