17th Parliament · 3rd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Motion (by SenatorSampson)- by leave - agreed to -
That leave of absence for two months be granted to Senator James McLachlan on accouut of ill health.
SenatorFINLAY. - Following the reply given by the Minister for Supply and Shipping to Senator Aylett yesterday, with respect to the quality of petrol, will the Minister use every endeavour to have the petrol sold to the public raised from 70 octane to 80 octane instead of increasing the present petrol ration to offset the decrease of mileage resulting from the use of present low-quality petrol, which represents an increase of cost of petrol to the public of from 20 to 25 per cent.?
– My department does not determine the octane rating of petrol. This is determined in relation to the requirements of high-quality petrol for aircraft and mechanical transport for the services. The reduction of the octane rating of petrol for sale to the general public has been caused mainly by the shortage of tetra-ethyl lead, a constituent used in the production of high quality petrol. I stated yesterday that all aspects of the matter were being examined, and that particular attention would be given to the claim made by motorists that their mileage has been reduced by from three to five miles a gallon as the result of the reduction of the octane rating from 80 to 70. The quality no doubt will be raised when adequate supplies of essential constituents become available.
– Will the Minister also review the price of petrol?
– That is a matter for the Prices Commissioner.
Statement by Mr. G. W. Martens, M.P.
Senator ALLAN MacDONALD.Has the Leader of the Senate read a report in this morning’s Sydney Daily Telegraph of a scurrilous attack made upon Scotsmen generally, in the House of Representatives yesterday, by the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Martens), who is secretary of the parliamentary Labour party? Is he aware that a large percentage of the Australian population consists of Scotsmen and their dependants, and that at the landing on Gallipoli in 1915 a large percentage of the original 1st Division of the Australian Imperial Force were Scotsmen who then proved their worth by the number of awards which they gained for gallantry, just as Scotsmen have proved their worth throughout British history? Is he aware that a substantial portion of the constituents of Herbert are Italian, or persons of Italian descent, although the honorable member for Herbert made no mention of deporting them?
– I have not read the report referred to by the honorable senator; but as an internationalist I deprecate any criticism of any people at all whether they be white, brown, black or brindle.
– Seeing that the statement referred to by Senator Allan MacDonald was made by an honorable member occupying a high office in the Ministerial party, will the Leader of the Senate take steps to see that an appropriate apology is made to the very worthy people whom the honorable member insulted ? If not, will he see that no steps are taken in accordance with the honorable member’s statement to deport Scotsmen, because that would involve expulsion from the Senate of at least three members of this chamber, including two Ministers
– I call the attention of the honorable senator to Standing Order 416, which reads -
No Senator shall allude to any Debate of the current Session in the House of Representatives or to any Measure impending therein.
Honorable senators will not be in order in referring further to this matter.
– I ask the Minister for Supply and Shipping how many pits are idle to-day in New South Wales? What is the state of coal stocks? Is it necessary that power and light services be rationed, and what authority determines such rationing?
-I am pleased to be able to inform the Senate that all coal mines in New South Wales are now operating with the exception of the South Clifton Colliery, in which work is held up owing to a fall of earth. With respect to the rationing of power and light services, a conference of representatives of the State governments and local governing bodies was held in Sydney to determine the plan of rationing to be implemented, because the stocks of coal on hand at Sydneyare sufficient to meet the demand for only a few days. The need for rationing arises owing to diminishing stocks and the greater demand for coal for war purposes. For instance, we are now exporting coal to the Philippines, whilst coal consumption generally for war purposes has increased considerably. An additional reason is that for a number of years we have not been able to build up stocks. Any decision with respect to rationing of services as the result of the shortage of coal is a matter for the State government concerned. The coal available is distributed equitably between the States.
I take this opportunity to correct a report published in to-day’s Sydney Morning Herald of my reply to a question asked by Senator Sheehan yesterday, with respect to the coal position in Victoria. That newspaper reported -
Senator Ashley said he had not seen reports about train reductions in Victoria, There wasas far as possible an equitable distribution of coal among the States, but the shortage in Victoria was intensified by the long haul to that State.
I did not say anything about “ the long haul to that State “. The reply I gave was -
The shortage of coal in Victoria is intensified by the fact that Yallourn works are not in operation. As a result the commission is now supplying to Victoriaan additional 3,000 tonsof coal weekly. I do not think it would be right for the Commonwealth to determine how many trains should be run in Victoria,
Western Australia or any other State. Coal is allocated for certain services, and if more inconvenience is suffered in Victoria than in New South Wales, itis not the result of the allocation of coal by the Commonwealth. Owing to diminished stocks, there is a prospect of rationing of power and light in New South Wales being introduced.
Probably, had I made some reference to Scotsmen, or Communists, I would have been correctly reported.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Navy has supplied the following answers : -
The press report also alleges that “ Permanent Base Officers, especially those stationed at Flinders Naval Depot, comprised the nucleus of the officers on board “. Contrary to this, only four officers came from Flinders Naval Depot, and only one of. these has not had sea service in this war. In any case, it is a mistake to assume that “because an officer or rating is at Flinders Naval Depot, he has never been to sea or in action.
A point disregarded in the press report is Mint H.M.A.S. Australia is going to waters which are no longer hostile. For that reason, some of her personnel - for example, some of the higher gunnery ratings - were not required for the voyage. It is essential to maintain a reserve of this class “of personnel to meet any emergency that may arise. Apart from these, some of the personnel withdrawn were token out of the ship at their own request, others because their demobilization from the Navy had been approved, and only seven because they were regarded as unsuitable.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Air, upon notice -
Is it a fact that the Royal Australian Air Force personnel, on escort duty to Canada in 1942, were given an amount of money to cover expenses whilst away, and despite the rendering of a full account for this money, have now been debited for about half the amount, by way of refund?
– The Minister for Air has supplied the following answer : -
The rates of travelling allowance are fixed by Treasury at so much per day to cover cost of rations, accommodation, &c. When personnel are provided with any of these items at public expense, the amount of the allowance is reduced proportionately.
Early in 1942, the living conditions encountered by personnel on escort dutyin Canada were not fully known, and it was therefore necessary to issue advances to such personnel to the extent of 75 per cent. of their anticipated travelling allowance entitlement computed at the “ not accommodated or rationed “ rate.
All such payments were solely in the nature of advances, which were subject to adjustment on the members return, when each member was required to furnish an itinerary and full particulars, and claim for travelling allowance to enable his actual entitlement to be assessed.
Some drafts went direct to Canada, while others disembarked in the United States of America, and it was found that, in many instances, escort personnel Were accommodated and/or rationed whilst travelling through the United States of America and in Canada. As a result, the entitlement whilst in the United States of America for such personnel was, in accordance with the principle in Air Force (War Financial) Regulations, payable at twothirds of the full rate when accommodated but not rationed, and one-third of the full rate when rationed but not accommodated. If rationed and accommodated, no allowance was payable. A reduced entitlement in much the same ratio was effective under Canadian rates, where it was established that personnel were accommodated and/or rationed whilst in Canada.
In some instances, the original advance more than covered a member’s entitlement and recovery of the balance was therefore necessary, whilst, in many cases, the reverse position applied, in that personnel were paid the difference where it was found that the member’s actual entitlement exceeded the amount advanced on embarkation.
Whilst a member may, in his opinion, fully account for all moneys advanced to him, it is necessary to ensure that such expenditure is admissible as a charge to public funds, in accordance with regulations. In this regard, claims have been received for such items as amusements and sight-seeing trips, personal cables, telegrams, private phone calls, haircuts, &c. These items, not being admissible as a charge to public funds, were necessarily deleted, with a resultant debit to the member concerned.
Message received from the House of Representatives intimating that it had agreed to the amendments made by the Senate in this bill.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Motion (by Senator Keane) proposed -
That the bill be now read a first time.
Debate (on motion by Senator Leckie) adjourned.
.- I move -
That thebill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this measure is to provide £27,000,000 out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund for the payment of invalid and old-age pensions. Bills seeking appropriations of this nature are submitted to Parliament periodically to enable amounts to be paid to a trust account to permit pensions to be paid therefrom at rates already approved by Parliament. The unexpended balance of the existing appropriation will meet pension payments to the end of June, and Parliament is asked to appropriate £27,000,000, which is approximately sufficient for next year’s expend iture. However, the amount will not be withdrawn from revenue immediately, as payments to the trust account from revenue are made only as required to meet the periodical payment to pensioners.
This bill has no relation whatever to the rates or conditions under which invalid and old-age pensions are paid, but merely seeks the provision of funds to enable payments to be made on the basis already approved by the Parliament.
– This is a formal bill, and the Opposition will not oppose it. In his second-reading speech, the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) said that this measure sought to appropriate £27,000,000, which would be approximately sufficient for next year’s expenditure on invalid and old-age pensions. The legislation which will follow this bill provides for an increase of the invalid and old-age pension, involving an additional annual commitment of £4,440,000 In view of the proposed increase, I should like to know why £27,000,000, which is the amount expended in the current year, will be sufficient. Does it mean that the number of pensions to be paid next year will be less than the number paid this year?
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendmentor debate; report adopted.
– I move -
That the hill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to give effect to the Government’s decision, announced in February last, to increase the maximum rate of invalid and old-age pensions by 5s. 6d. a week, from 27s. to 32s. 6d. a week. The proposed new maximum rate is the highest ever paid since the introduction of invalid and old-age pensions, and I am sure that the Government’s action in this regard will meet with general approval. The new rate will accord with that payable in the Dominion of New Zealand, with which country, in1 943, we established reciprocity in connexion with invalid and old-age pensions and invalid and other benefits.
The rate of pension payable to inmates of benevolent institutions will be increased from 9s. 6d. a week to l1s. 6d. a week. Payments made to pensioners in institutions are in a different category from those made to persons outside who have to meet the full cost of their maintenance out of the pension. In the case of inmates of institutions, the cost of maintenance is borne almost entirely by the institution, and the pension payment made to the inmates is more in the nature of pocket money to enable them to purchase tobacco and other comforts not provided by the institution. The cost of maintaining inmates of institutions throughout the Commonwealth varies, but the average cost would be from £80 to £90 per annum.
The present number of invalid and old-age pensioners is 310,501. They will all receive the full increase of 5s. 6d. a week, at a cost of £4,440,000 per annum. The cost of the increase in respect of 4,930 institutional pensioners will be £70,500 per annum. The total addition to the annual liability will, therefore, be £4,510,000. As all honorable senators will appreciate, these increases make a heavy demand on departmental administration, and it is desired, therefore, to have this bill passed as soon as possible. Later during this session the Government will introduce a bill to consolidate all social service legislation in one act, and I give honorable senators the Government’s undertaking that when that measure is before the Senate they will have an opportunity for a full discussion of all phases of pension legislation. Therefore, I ask honorable senators to give this bill a speedy passage.
.- This measure raises certain questions which are rather alarming. Expenditure on invalid and old-age pensions will jump this year from approximately £27,000,000 to approximately £32.000,000. This increase is a matter which requires some scrutiny.
– The increase is included in the amount of £27,000,000.
– In 1919-20, there were 134,000 invalid and old-age pensioners in this country. In 1939-40 there were 332,000, but this year there are only 310,501. The Minister has now stated that the number of invalid old-age pensioners who will come under this measure is 310,501.
– That is a decrease.
– That is so, but the Minister has not attempted to enlighten the Senate as to how that reduction has been brought about. I expect that one reason is that there has been more work available for pensioners.
– About 12,000 pensioners have gone back to industry since the beginning of the war.
– The Minister might have imparted that information to the Senate during his second-reading speech. Many old-age pensioners have been working during the war period and receiving wages as well as their pension. The question arises whether old-age pensioners should be allowed to work. The general opinion is that they should not be allowed to do so, but many men of 65 years of age are capable of doing at least half a day’s work, and some have no difficulty in doing a full day’s work. It is wrong that a provision should be contained in any old-age pension legislation that a pensioner should not be allowed to earn more than a certain amount in addition to his pension.
– A married pensioner can earn 12s. 6d. a week and his wife can earn a similar amount, but the joint income must not exceed 25s. a week.
– But he cannot earn anything above that amount.
– The honorable senator was querying whether a pensioner should be allowed to earn anything.
– That is not so; I consider that a pensioner should be allowed to earn all he can. In order to justify the increased amount involved in the pensions increase the Minister compared the Australian scheme with that of New Zealand and said that the bill would bring Australia into line with that dominion. That is true only up to a point. I suppose that Australia and New Zealand can be congratulated on the fact that they have the largest number of old-age pensioners in any country in the world, but when the Minister compares the Australian scheme with that of New Zealand he conveniently and significantly forgets that the New Zealand scheme is on a contributory basis and that every person in the dominion pays ls. in the £1 into a fund in order to provide an old-age pension .when he or she reaches the eligible age.
– I did not forget that fact, but the New Zealand system is different from the Australian system. Reciprocity with New Zealand has been established and the rates payable under the dominion act are the same as those proposed in the bill. Every one knows the New Zealand scheme is different so far as contributions are concerned.
– The vital difference to which I draw attention is that in New Zealand every one contributes directly to the scheme, whereas in Australia there is no direct contribution. The New Zealand scheme is independent, and, as I have already stated, every worker pays ls. in the £1 into a fund to provide for an old-age pension.
– That is if they are earning.
– In Australia the scheme is a tax upon general revenue.
– About £6,000,000 was paid from the New Zealand Consolidated Revenue to assist the old-age pensions scheme in that country.
– I maintain that the New Zealand and the Australian schemes are different. Some years ago a scheme of social service was passed by this Parliament to provide for sickness, old-age pensions and other matters, under which every one was to contribute. That scheme was violently opposed by members of the present Government and it was never placed on the statute-book.
– Why did not your Government place it on the statute-book?
– Your Government bad a majority in both houses, but it was not game to bring in the scheme.
– The scheme was violently opposed by Labour party members in both houses and I expect they would object to any national scheme that involved a contributory system. If the Government is consistent it will not hold up the New Zealand scheme as something to be copied.
– We did not mention it ; the honorable senator dragged that up !
– I referred to the rates because an agreement has been arrived at with New Zealand concerning reciprocity.
– The Minister said that the new rate would accord with that paid in the Dominion of New Zealand, with which country Australia had established reciprocity in connexion with invalid and old-age pensions. In making that statement the honorable gentleman naturally invited comparison between the Australian and New Zealand schemes. Without mentioning it, however, he wants the people of Australia to understand that Australia has a scheme on all fours with that of New Zealand, but it is well to point out the vast difference between the two schemes: While contributors in New Zealand are entitled to the old-age pension, people in Australia have not the right to expect that benefit, because they have not been contributing. When we consider this proposal and other proposed social services that will be established - not on a contributory basis - involving the payment of about £100,000,000 a year out of the taxpayer’s pocket, it will be seen that the Government is building tip an expenditure that will take 7,000,000 people some time and some trouble to meet, in addition to the immense sums that have, to be provided for soldiers’ pensions, war expenditure and other commitments. The Government, however, seems to be willing to go on cheerfully spending money to an extent that would have been considered almost impossible a year or two ago. 1 suppose the Government considers that the Banking Bill which will be considered later will provide a source of revenue which, like the widows cruse, will never be exhausted. I am assuming, however, that the funds for social services have to be paid out of taxation. The people of Australia must realize that they will have to tighten their belts for many years to come if these services have to be provided on other than a contributory basis, honorable senators on this side of the chamber would support a system under which workers would independently contribute to an old-age pension fund. However, the responsibility for the scheme contained in the bill rests upon the Government.
– Governments supported by the honorable senator did not increase pensions.
– If the Minister wants me to discuss who established oldage pensions and who increased or reduced them I shall do so gladly, but I would remind the honorable gentleman that it was a Labour government which reduced them.
– With the support of the honorable senator’s party.
– Order! Interjections are becoming far too frequent. On many occasions I have said that interjections cannot be suppressed altogether because naturally senators, in the ebullition of their mental spirits, cannot help interrupting. There must be a reasonable limit to interjections, however. I must be able to hear the honorable senator addressing the chamber. I do not wish to take extreme steps but I shall be forced to do so if interruptions persist.
– I did not think that I was particularly provocative today, Mr. President, but apparently my criticism of the Minister’s speech was responsible for causing honorable senators to interject more frequently than they usually do. He asked for the passage of the bill, butthe first thing he did was to interrupt members of the Opposition in such a way as to induce them to allude to a matter which otherwise they would have been willing to overlook. The parties forming the Opposition have sponsored more increases of the invalid and old-age pensions than has the Labour party. The only big reduction was made under a bill introduced by a Labour government.
– Under duress.
– As my statement is correct, that interjection is unnecessary. If the Opposition were in office it would provide a proper scheme of social services, embracing all necessary benefits, and the people would be called upon to make provision themselves for their old age. At present the thrifty section provides for old age by making sacrifices privately, and I am not sure that the banking and other legislation introduced by the present, Government will not rather sabotage the efforts of private individuals in making provision for their later years. Such legislation is gradually reducing the purchasing power of savings built up over the years in order to provide against a rainy day.
.- The Acting Leader of the Opposition (Senator Leckie) has not fairly informed the mind of the Senate with regard to the bill. He has tried to draw a comparison between legislation in operation in the Commonwealth and in New Zealand in respect of social services. In New Zealand, the people are paid a certain allowance at present, and the Commonwealth Government wishes to provide a reciprocal rate. That allowance is subject to a means test, but Senator Leckie has become confused with regard to thecontributory system under which the people in New Zealand will become entitled to superannuation on a full scale in 1968. At present, they receive ?12 or ?14 a year under that scheme, which in no way compares with the proposals of the Government under this bill. The question whether the money required for the paymentof invalid and old-age pensions should be raised by means of a contributory scheme or by a graduated tax on income, has been debated in this chamber on previous occasions, and the consensus of opinion has been overwhelmingly in favour of 8 graduated income tax to provide pensions. It is equitable that those persons having the largest incomes, should be required to contribute to the support of their fellow men, and Australia has adopted that method of providing funds for the maintenance of the poorer members of the community. The National Welfare Fund, which was established at the instance of the present Government, provides a definite amount of revenue annually, and when the Government gives consideration to the introduction of a consolidating bill dealing with its social legislation, I hope that it will be possible to state the amount expended on social services and the amount paid into Consolidated Revenue.
– The Minister (Senator Fraser) is to be congratulated upon the introduction of this bill, which I heartily support. One of the promises contained in the policy speeches of Government supporters was an increase of the invalid and oldage pensions, and in conformity with that undertaking, this measure has been introduced. When I heard the news that the bill was to be presented, I had hoped that many anomalies that have arisen in the administration of the principal act would have been corrected. I noticed that, in his second-reading speech, the Minister in charge of the bill gave an undertaking that the Government would bring down a further measure dealing with social services generally.
Senatorfraser. - This bill merely makes the increased payment effective as from the 1st July next.
– I do not disbelieve the Minister, but the best time to make provision for the correction of anomalies is when a measure is being prepared for submission to the Parliament. I shall refer to several anomalies, in the hope that they will be considered later. Great controversy has arisen throughout Australia regarding the means test which is applied in respect of invalid and old-age pensions. The opinion is growing rapidly that the time is not far distant when the means test may have to be abolished. One of the major factors responsible for that widespread feeling is the present high rates of income tax. Owing to war conditions, the people are being heavily taxed, and the increasing burden is making them think differently. Thrifty people are beginning to ask themselves, “ If I pay these increased taxes, with very little prospect of a reduction, why should I not enjoy a pension when I reach a certain age?”. I am continually being asked that question, especially by bodies which have contributory superannuation schemes under which the members on retirement get a small payment, which in many instances does not exceed £3 a week, and in other cases is as low as £2 a week. I have received requests along these lines from the Diocesan Council of the Church of England in Western Australia, from the Civil Service Association, from the Pensioners’ League and from kindred associations. Under the Church of England diocesan superannuation scheme, many of the elderly superannuated ministers and others receive no more than £2 a week, after having given almost a lifetime in the service of mankind. We should ask ourselves whether something should not be done to alleviate their position.
There are other anomalies which I have mentioned in this chamber in the past. One to which I have for years drawn attention, is that of a widow or elderly man who is still making regular payments in respect of a small life insurance policy, the surrender value of which for pension purposes is taken as capital. The payment of premiums in respect of that policy sometimes impose a heavy burden on elderly people, and. the only way by which they can obtain the full pension is to surrender their policies at a loss and disburse the proceeds in the purchase of a house, or extra clothing or in some other way. We also have the case of the elderly spinster who has been asking for recognition, and who desires to receive the oldage pension at the age of 50 years as does the widow. Many elderly spinsters have devoted the whole of their lives to the nursing of sick parents, and have thus lost opportunities for marriage.
The contention is made that the funeral allowances paid to pensioners should be made available to all pensioners, including widows.
– How does the honorable senator connect his remarks with the bill?
– I am asking the Minister in charge of the measure to make a note of my suggestions, so that when the time comes for the preparation of the promised consolidating bill, to which reference was made inhis second-reading speech, they may be considered. Another matter to which I draw attention is that of deductions made from war pensions when the pensioner reaches the age at which he can claim the higher rate of old-age or invalid pension. The Minister should consider whether war pensions should be regarded as sacrosanct, as was urged under another bill dealt with yesterday.
There is a widespread claim for the abolition of the means test in respectof invalid and old-age pensions. We already recognize the great burden that would be imposed on the revenue of the Commonwealth if that request were acceded to, but there is a feeling abroad that, in view of the heavy income tax and the high rate of sales tax on household requisites, this request should be granted. I understand from the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) that the abolition of the means test would involve an increased cost to the Commonwealth of £35,000,000 or 4.0,000,000 annually whilst in another t years the increase would amount to £65,000,000. These are colossal figures to consider when the money is being raised. If the National Health and Pensions Insurance Scheme introduced by the Lyons Government, under which benefits were provided on a contributory basis, were in operation, we should be able to get over the difficulty associated with a means test. I put these proposals forward now in the hope that something will be done to remove existing anomalies associated with invalid and old-age pensions. The present Government has been in office for nearly four years, so it cannot be said that I am rushing in with these suggestions. I am sure that the Minister in charge of the bill is as concerned with the fate of pensioners as are honorable senators on this side of the chamber. I look forward to the introduction of a measure to consolidate and improve our social service legislation, and provided that the Minister’s requests are reasonable to promise him all the help within my power.
– The statement of Senator Leckie that, in effect, every person in New Zealand pays for his pension whereas that is not the position in Australia, is not correct. In New Zealand, the payment is paid both directly and indirectly; in Australia it is paid only indirectly. That is to say, that, in the majority of instances, the recipient of an invalid or old-age pension has paid indirectly into Consolidated Revenue a great deal more than he will receive as a pension. The reason for that statement is obvious. Most old-age pensioners were wage-earners in their younger years, but they did not receive the full value of their services. What they received in the form of wages was based on the cost of subsistence. Especially where production was carried out under highly mechanized conditions, they received less in proportion to the values that they created than in other industries. The difference between the value of their production and the amount of their wages has been appropriated in the form of rent, interest and profits by those who were privileged to appropriate the excess wealth produced by others. The community is taxed on a graduated scale, and the taxpayer who pays income tax merely pays back a portion of what he was previously able to appropriate. In effect, the recipient of an old-age pension receives back a portion of the wealth which he helped to create as a wage-earner. Therefore, it is not correct to say that every person does not pay for his pension, except in the sense that the only people who do not pay are those who do not contribute to the useful work of society. The worker who is engaged in production provides for the needs of society as a whole. Pensions are paid from a pool which is created by the earnings of wage-earners in excess of the actual amount that they receive as wages. I submit, therefore, that Senator Leckie argued from false premises and entirely ignored the true position. If we go into this matter closely, we shall find that, on the average, the old-age pensioner is not receiving anything like what he paid indirectly into Consolidated Revenue in the form of taxes. In other words, he has more than paid for his pension, and is entitled to receive a great deal more than the Government is prepared to give to him at the moment. I said that workers create all the wealth of the community. Those who are not actually engaged in production, and yet are receiving salaries or incomes considerably in excess of their needs, are people who are practically living on the potential old-age pensioner. I am amazed that that position does not appear to be understood by Opposition senators. I repeat that it is not correct to say that every pensioner does not pay for his old-age pension. All those wage-earners who are engaged in production, particularly those who have worked for many years, have paid indirectly into Consolidated Revenue a great deal more than they will, ever receive as pensions.
.- Like other honorable senators on this side of the chamber, I support the bill. During the time that I have been a member of the Senate I have seen the bill for invalid and old-age pensions increase from about £4,000,000 to about £27,000,000 a year. During that period the rate of pension has increased, but, unfortunately, the cost of living has also increased, with the result that probably the pensioner is not a great deal better off to-day than when the weekly pension was much less. Nevertheless, the fact remains that payments for social services are reaching enormous figures. I sincerely hope that the economic condition of this country will continue to make possible the social service benefits :now enjoyed by the community. At thb :moment, Australia is experiencing a boom period because of unnatural conditions associated with the war and the fact that our internal economy is strong as the result of high prices and an eager demand for the commodities that we produce, but we must have regard to the fact that Australia is subject to seasonal fluctuations and also to price fluctuations in respect of the commodities which we produce. I look forward to the day when there will be in operation a proper scheme of superannuation for all, so that the means test will not have to be applied. Senator. Leckie said that the Government of which he and I were members placed on the statute-book a scheme of national health and pensions insurance which subsequently had to be abandoned. That abandonment was most unfortunate, but if honorable senators knew all the facts they would realize that it could not have been avoided. It was partly due to international conditions. I am sorry that the scheme was postponed, because the wage-earning capacity of the people under war-time conditions would have provided a trust fund of considerable proportions on which to draw.
Senator Leckie said that certain limitations are placed on individuals in respect of the amount of money that they are allowed to earn while receiving an old-age pension. I hope that the day is not far distant when pensioners will not have to augment their pension from other sources, but that the pension will be sufficient for their needs. A sound pension scheme should enable a man to retire from active employment without having to supplement his pension by engaging in any form of other employment. But we must take into account the financial position of the country. So long as the Treasury is enjoying huge revenues, as is the case to-day, all may be well; but existing conditions will not continue indefinitely. I remember the time when the present Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Menzies), as Treasurer, introduced for the first time in Australia’s history a budget providing for an expenditure of over £100,000,000 a year. At the time the Government was warned that the increasing expenditure would have to be carefully watched. But, owing to war conditions, that record budget was soon surpassed by many hundreds of millions. If the Government intends to build up social services in the belief that its revenue will be maintained at anything like the present high level under war conditions, both the Government and the people will be sadly disillusioned. I warn the Government in that respect. No one can study world affairs in relation to finance without experiencing cause for concern. At present, our position with relation to wool is sound, because we have a ready market. Our wool cheque is substantial because Great Britain is paying a high price for our wool.
– I ask the honorable senator to confine his remarks to the question before the Chair.
– I warn the Government not to imagine that it can maintain its revenue at the present high level. Therefore, it would be unwise to build up social services on the basis of what, after all, is an artificial level resulting from war conditions. I agree with the Acting Leader of the Opposition that it would be better to provide social service benefits upon a contributory basis as was provided in the National Health and Pensions Insurance Act, passed by the Lyons Government which, as T have said, was not implemented owing to circumstances beyond Australia’s control. It would be far better to finance all social services from a fund to which all recipients would be obliged to contribute. That is done in New Zealand. The Postmaster-General (Senator Cameron) argued that because all people paid taxes indirectly, if not directly, they, in fact, subscribed towards social service benefits, and thus became entitled to such benefits, including invalid and old-age benefits. If the Post alm aster-General argues not only that present taxes represent the community’s contribution, not merely towards the cost of the war, but will also be continued as contributions towards the cost of social services to be provided in the future, it is clear that taxpayers, including those on the lower ranges of income, cannot hope for any relief. Therefore, it is useless for the Government to promise that taxes will be reduced as soon as possible. We cannot have it both ways. I raised this very point when the lower incomes were brought within the income tax field. At that time, the Government said that those incomes were being taxed in order to finance social services which the Government then had in mind. If income tax is to be regarded as a contribution towards the cost of social services, and such services are to be financed by that method rather than by a flat rate in the £1 per capita, as is done in other countries, there can be no possibility whatever of any class of taxpayer obtaining any relief from taxes. I supported the establishment of the National Welfare Fund, because I believe in the principle of such a fund in order to provide for the cost of social services; but the day will come when, regardless of party, the government of the day willbe obliged to re-establish such services on a contributory basis, and under such a scheme abolish the means test. If that is done our people will be relieved of the anxiety of saving every penny in order to make provision for their old age. Perhaps, one result of such a provision will be that the purchasing power of the commiunity will be maintained at a high level. However, one natural result of such a state of affairs will be that thrift, as we have known it in the past, will disappear. I support the measure, but I believe that the Government cannot afford to treat the problem of social services lightly.
It must keep a watchful eye on expenditure in this sphere, as upon all its expenditure, because I am positive that present boom conditions cannot last for all time. Therefore, we must obviate the necessity for another Premiers plan.
– Honorable senators opposite say that they will support the measure, but judging from their remarks they entertain some reservations on the matter. I appreciate the difficulties of implementing a scheme of pensions which will meet adequately the requirements of all sections of the community. For instance, people who are eligible for the old-age pension are of very many types. Senator Allan MacDonald said that persons in receipt of superannuation would not be eligible for benefits under the measure. As one who has had considerable experience with respect to the old-age pension, I advise him to have another look at that point. The people to whom he referred will be entitled to participate in benefits to be provided under the measure. With the additional pension a married couple will have an income of at least £3 5s. per week. They are also permitted to own their home, and furniture. They are also allowed to own other property up to a value of, approximately, £400, whilst each of them is allowed to have £60 in the bank before any reduction of their pension is made in respect of bank deposits.Such reductions are made at the rate of £1 a year in respect of each £10 over £50 deposited by pensioners in the bank. Thus there are various ways in which pensioners can supplement their income without in any way incurring a reduction of pension. I am pleased that the Government has decided to award the full increase of 5s. 6d. a week to pensioners in all categories. The invalid pensioner, of course, is a different problem from the old-age pensioner. In order to become eligible for the invalid pension a person must be 85 per cent. incapacitated. Such pensioners are not allowed to earn any money at all in addition to their pension. Therefore, they are in a worse position than the old-age pensioner. However, the Minister has indicated that the Government proposes to introduce legislation to liberalize the benefits now available to invalid pensioners who to-day are obliged to expend a substantial portion of their meagre pension in meeting medical costs. I hope that that measure will be introduced as soon as possible.
If there is one thing I dislike about the measure now before us, it is its title. I do not like the term “ old-age pensioner”. To me it is reminiscent of the days when the Labour movement forced the Government of the day to recognize the nation’s debt to our pioneers, who, out of their small earnings, were unable to maintain themselves in reasonable comfort during their declining years. The Labour movement forced the government of the day to recognize the duty of society to help that section of the community; but there was a stigma attached to the old-age pension. When a recipient of this benefit died he was always referred to in death notices as “ old-age pensioner “.
– No; if an aged person left a few possessions which had any value at all, and the occupation of the deceased was shown as that of an oldage pensioner, it was the task of the curator of intestate estates to divide them up. I believe that the present appellation should be abandoned, and a new name substituted for this social service. When a judge of the Supreme Court or a highly placed public servant retires, he is not referred to as an old-age pensioner. His retiring allowance is not a pension, but superannuation. Citizens, who in their declining years find it necessary to depend upon this benefit, should receive it in a manner quite different from that in which it is regarded to-day. I believe that, the time is not far distant when it will be’ possible for the whole community to contribute to a scheme in which, no matter what position a person may occupy in a community, when he reaches a certain age, he will receive superannuation.
A pleasing statement by the Minister for Health and Social Services (Senator Fraser) was that there had been a decrease of the number of invalid and old-age pensioners in recent years. That shows conclusively, that because of war conditions, many persons who normally would be dependent upon a pension are remaining in their occupations. Although many citizens, who prior to the war were receiving the old-age pension, have gone back into industry. I remind honorable senators opposite who have warned the Government of the ever-increasing burden imposed upon the finances of this country by invalid and old-age pensions, and by other social services, that there is another factor which must be considered, and that is the economic conditions of the community. Owing to the improved economic conditions our state of society to-day iE better than it was previously. I do not suggest that that has been brought about merely because a Labour government has been in office - we all know that better economic conditions have resulted from the increased spending power in the community resulting from the war - but I do say that should the Labour Government continue in office, legislation will be passed which will tend to maintain the present high degree of prosperity, with the result that there will not be the same demand upon social services as there has been hitherto, and honorable senators opposite will find that the fears which they have in their minds to-day, will not be well founded.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that citizens who have reached the retiring age should continue in employment?
– What I am suggesting is that a decrease of our social service payments can be accomplished only by maintaining prosperous economic conditions.
– In other words, the more we spend the more prosperous shall we become.
– Of course. We can organize the wealth of this community to such a degree that there will be an abundance of the necessaries of life for all. Of course, that philosophy is different from that expounded by the honorable senator opposite who has just interjected. His idea of the organization of the economy of the nation is that the great bulk of the country’s wealth should be in the possession of a privileged few.
I congratulate the Government upon the introduction of this measure, and I trust that, as the days go by, the economic life of the people of Australia will reach a stage of development in which it will not be necessary to measure out in terms of shillings the amount of money that can be given to those members of the community who made Australia what it is to-day, but that every citizen who is no longer able physically or mentally to earn a living will be able to retire on a remuneration adequate to give to him in his declining years all the comforts that he will require. I commend the measure to the Senate.
– I support the bill. The increased pension will provide security and extra comfort for those citizens who are not able to stand up to the battle of life as well as others who are in full possession of their health and strength. During the war years, the cost of many commodities which are by no means luxuries, has increased considerably, and in some cases these goods are beyond the reach of men and women who have spent their lives building up this country. However, I am looking even further ahead, and wondering just how our social service schemes are to be financed. All wealth comes from production, and if a substantial proportion of our wealth is to be expended on the care of aged and invalid people in order that their future should be secure, we should endeavour to ascertain just how that money will be provided. When the invalid and old-age pension was first introduced in 1908, the annual cost to this country was £1,500,000. The pension was then 10s. a week. Now, the annual cost is nearly £28,000,000. Figures given by the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) recently show an estimated annual Commonwealth expenditure of £297,000,000. Of that sum approximately £73,000,000 will be spent on social services, excluding medical services and free hospital accommodation, the cost of which is estimated at a further £20,000,000. Therefore, expenditure on social services will be nearly £100,000,000 a year. War commitments and future defence expenditure bring the figure to approximately £300,000,000. From certain powerful groups within the Labour organization of this country there are strong representations for a reduction of tax. It is generally expected that there will be an early reduction of taxes after the war; hut the expenditure to which the Government is already committed allows for no such reduction. Does this mean that expenditure on war commitments, defence, or social services, will have to be reduced t Taxation to-day is at saturation point,, and we cannot expect any higher revenue from that source in the future. When the Government brings down social service measures it should ensure that they are framed on a sound financial basis. I support the bill, and I consider that the members of the community whom it is designed to assist are deserving of the best the Government can do for them.
.- I should like the Minister to explain how much an old-age pensioner may earn before his pension is affected. I knowthat an individual pensioner’s earningsare limited to 12s. 6d. a week, and that it is possible for a married couple to increase that amount to 25s. If that is so,, an aged couple receiving the old-age pension and earning 25s. a week would have a total income of £3 10s., and would be in a better position than an unmarried pensioner earning only 12s. 6d. a week.
– The total income not taken into account is 25s., provided it isearned by husband and wife.
– If the husband earns only an extra 12s. 6d., and they have an income of 12s. 6d. from some other source, the position would be the same. . A person who has no income should be able to earn the same amount as the person whose total weekly income, other than pension, is 25s. Then the husband could earn 25s., and the wife need not work. Otherwise, an unmarried pensioner is. placed in a false position compared with the married1 couple. I do not like the earnings limit of 12s. 6d. I know many old-age pensioners who are willing to work, but as soon as they have earned 12s. 6d. they stop, because they know that an equivalent of any further earnings will be deducted from their pensions. I have had people working for me to whom I have offered 30s. a week and keep in return for odd jobs about my place, but as soon as they have earned 12s. 6d. for the week they have ceased work.
– They must be rare!
– They are not rare.
– Sometimes pensioners exploit their position, and a maximum of 12s. 6d. has been prescribed to prevent that.
– Many old people who are capable of working do not take employment because of that limitation. Another anomalous position is that of people who were living on the interest from their savings when interest rates were high. Since those rates have been reduced, however, their income from that source has not beeen sufficient. They have found that while they retained their capital they were not entitled to the pension, and in order to secure sufficient income from that source they had to dispose of their savings. In order to have a reasonableincome from interest, one would require a capital of approximately £5,000. A man of 65 years of age is capable of extensive service, and others who are older are willing and capable of undertaking useful employment. In the last three or four years they have dropped their pensions and returned to industry, and the result has been a reduced number of pensioners. When employment becomes scarce, however, they will again return to the pension list.
– Under this legislation a husband and wife will be able to receive a total weekly income of £4 10s. If they have their own home they will be in a fairly comfortable position. The husband will be able to earn 25s. provided his wife does not earn anything.
– I support the bill because it represents a great step forward in the solution of the difficulties confronting pensioners who have hitherto tried to exist on 27s. a week - or even less in earlier years. I welcome the suggestion of the Minister that later in the session an opportunity will be given to discuss the whole of the social services legislation. The scheme of pensions will then be found to fit into the complete pattern providing for social security. In common with my colleague, Senator Sheehan, I deprecate the use of the term ““old-age pensioners”. There is an odium associated with that expression which is unnecessary; it recalls much that we would like to forget of the Dickens era and other times when the dole and the workhouse were regarded as an unsatisfactory, but a necessary part of the social structure. The remarks of the Opposition lead me to believe that their main point of disagreement with the bill is the method of financing the proposed increase of pensions. The additional sum of £4,500,000 involved, represents an equivalent of present war expenditure for two days and thirteen and a half hours. The proposed expenditure for pensions, however, would be spread over the whole year. In the last five years, enormous sums have been raised for war purposes, and no questions have been asked, but now that a proposal is brought forward to spend an extra £4,500,000 to bring a little happiness and comfort into the lives of the pioneers of our country, and provide them with a sense of security, doubts are expressed as to the legality of or the necessity for the expenditure.
A comparison has been made with the New Zealand legislation, but when one goes to the root of the matter, little difference in the method of taxation can be found - except that a certain portion of New Zealand taxation is specially earmarked for social services. This Government went to the country two years ago with the declared intention of setting aside some millions of pounds from taxation for the purpose of giving effect to a programme of social legislation. That decision was endorsed by the people, and by the proposed method of financing the legislation, the burden will be equitably borne by all sections of the community. Those who are in happier circumstances, with bigger incomes, and do not, unfortunately, fall into the category of invalid and old-age pensioners, will be able to help these less fortunate members of the community.
There is much in our pension legislation that I would commend to the Minister for review. I refer particularly to unmarried women between the ages of 50 and 60; they are on a different level from widows of that age. Many people correspond with me on this subject and refer to women who have given up their lives to the care of aged and invalid parents. Now, at the age of 50, both their parents having died, they are thrown on to the unemployment market, they are practically unemployable, and they find that they do not come within the pension rate provided for women who have married and become widows. In the meantime, this attempt by the Government to increase the invalid and old-age pension rate from 27s. to 32s. 6d. a week should have the support of all honorable senators. It is a foretaste of that social security which we hope will be given to all sections of the community when the full social legislative programme of the Government is carried into effect.
– I think that Senator Gibson is labouring under a slight misapprehension. The bill provides that a husband and wife can earn 25s. a week without their pension being affected. If the husband is the sole worker in the family he can earn up to 25s.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Debate resumed from the 19th June (vide page 3233) on motion by Senator Keane -
That the bill be now read a first time.
– Yesterday and last week I directed attention to the inadequacy of the shipping service provided between the eastern seaboard of Australia and Western Australia. The authorities at the port of Albany have apparently been advised of the discussion which has taken place in this chamber. I have received a telegram to-day from the town’ clerk of Albany and I desire the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Senator Ashley) to give further consideration of the matter. The telegram reads -
Understand you are complaining re shipping to and from Western Australia. Congested state of Fremantle Harbour due to concentration of all shipping there seems responsible most delays. Albany has three deep water berths hardly ever used and could greatly relieve position. Have repeatedly urged use of out-ports to authorities with no result. Can you ascertain reason for failure to use Albany in view of admitted congestion at Fremantle Harbour?
I said yesterday that too little use was being made of the ports of Albany and Bunbury, and possibly Geraldton, in relieving the congestion which continues at the main port of Fremantle. If a move were made by the Department of Supply and Shipping to give some help to the consignees awaiting the transshipment of the goods held up, in so far as extra cost would accrue through bringing the goods by rail from Albany to Fremantle and Perth and other areas where they are required, the congestion at Fremantle would be greatly relieved.
I have referred also, by means of questions, to the scarcity of elastic. I should like helpful consideration of this matter by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane), because the shortage of that commodity has caused discomfort and some embarrassment to the women of Australia. I hope that the Minister will take steps to see that red-tape methods are not indulged in to excess with regard to the importation of goods urgently required from the United Kingdom. A communication which I have had indicates that such methods may have to some degree militated against the flow of goods from the United Kingdom to Australia. I have received a letter from a firm in these terms -
We received a cable from our principals in theUnited Kingdom on the 5th June advising us that they had procured a small parcel of elastic and asking for a cabled licence number. We contacted the Department of Import Procurement in Sydney immediately and were instructed to fill in the necessary forms in sextuplicate and were also advised that a letter had to accompany these forms signifying our willingness that when the goods arrived they would be subject to the control of the Department of Supply and Shipping. Our application was only one of at least 30 of a similar nature. This would represent a large amount of elastic and to date no answer has come from these applications.
At the present time we feel that no consideration has been extended to either ourselves or our principals, and we have advised the Birmingham Company fully as to what has happened and mentioned that, if their efforts on our behalf are to be directed by a government department when the goods arrive, as far as we are concerned it would be better for them to save their time and money and place the goods where regulations are more lenient.
-When was the application made?
– On the 5th June. There is great danger of these red-tape methods restricting the importation of supplies that are urgently required. I hope that the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) and the Minister for Supply and Shipping will investigate the possibility of preventing the importation of these goods from being restricted by red-tape procedure. Some bureaucrats have a tendency to regard rules and regulations, and the dotting of “ i’s “ and crossing of “ t’s “, as of greater importance than making necessary commodities available to the people. Everything possible should be done to such officials to give them a “ rap over the knuckles “, so that as few restrictions as possible shall be imposed on the importation of supplies of ordinary household commodities from the United Kingdom and other countries. As the war in Europe has now ceased, the manufacture of many commodities of which the people have been deprived for a long period has been resumed, and I hope that the people will soon be able to get some of the goods for which they have been waiting for years.
– This bill deals with expenditure already incurred, and in that respect it is different from the Supply Bill which I understand will follow it. In considering a proposal for the appropriation of the sum of £20,000,000 which has already been expended, the Senate is handicapped because only a few copies of the AuditorGeneral’s report have so far been produced, and a copy has not yet been placed in our hands. Honorable senators should have had that report some time ago. I have seen one or two paragraphs in the report, and they cast grave doubt as to the wisdom of the way in which some of this expenditure has been incurred. The people are entitled to an assurance from this or any other government that the money taken from them in taxes shall be spent to the best advantage, that none of it shall be wasted and that nobody shall get it who is not entitled to it. I am hoping to have a glance at the Auditor-General’s report before the Supply Bill reaches us. The report contains some stringent remark? on matters such as ship building, the construction of tanks, the expenditure on Labour conferences, and certain expenditure by Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S. Rosevear) and Mr. Thornton. It also contains a few remarks about money wasted in removing cattle from the Northern Territory to Fremantle and to Queensland. The Auditor-General has spoken plainly; he has said that this expenditure was not authorized, and that he cannot get the information that he requires about it. Such a report coming from the Auditor-General will doubtless lead the people to think that there has been gross carelessness in the expenditure of public moneys, and that some funds have been expended in ways not authorized, or even anticipated, by the Parliament.
– What if needed is a Scottish Treasurer.
– Even a Scottish Treasurer would be only one man among other men who may be disposed to take things into their own hands. They may regard him, not as a guide, but as an instrument to serve their purpose. What is needed’ is a strong Treasurer, and also a strong, Auditor-General. We are fortunate indeed that the AuditorGeneral hastbeen fearless in expressing his views. He has drawn attention to weaknesses in the public accounts.
– That is what he is there for.
– So far, his charges have not been answered. The AuditorGeneral, however, can deal only with the accounts that are submitted to him for examination; he has no control over policy, such as the wisdom of engaging in certain forms of shipbuilding. He can only report on the expenditure incurred in the building of ships; yet it may be that excessive costs are being incurred and that the taxpayers’ money is being wrongly used. In answer to a question, the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Senator Ashley) said recently that wooden vessels of 300 tons which were built in Tasmania cost £200 a ton if not provided with refrigeration and £256 a ton if refrigeration space were provided. When we compare those prices with £63 a ton for cargo vessels of 9,000 tons built elsewhere in Australia, we can see that there is room for some difference of opinion as to the wisdom of building wooden ships in Tasmania. No ship costing £256 a ton could compete successfully with other vessels in world trade. Even the cost of £63 a ton for Australianbuilt cargo vessels is greatly in excess of the £28 a ton which similar vessels built in Great Britain cost, but the Auditor-General has no control over that sort of thing. The Minister for Supply and Shipping, who, I suppose, is responsible for shipbuilding policy, did not seem to be greatly perturbed at the high cost ofbuilding these vessels; yet he must know that eventually about four-fifths of their cost will have to be written off. I doubt whether vessels of 300 tons willbe of any great value after the war except, perhaps, for use in a limited capacity in the coastal trade. Nor has the Auditor-General any control over the building of tanks, except to report on the accounts that are presented to him. He cannot say, for instance, that about £7,000,000 was thrown away owing to some one’s bad judgment. He cannot even allocate the blame. But the people of Australia should know who made the decision to build tanks, and who was to blame for the expenditure of a large sum of money in connexion with tanks which were never built, but for which factories were erected and machinery purchased and installed. All that the Auditor-General can do is to ensure that the expenditure is debited against the proper accounts. When the Appropriation Bill was before us last year, no one in this place thought that some of the money then appropriated wouldbe expended in paying the expenses of delegates to a Labour conference. When the people hear that money has been so expended, they will wonder whether other sections of the community who may wish to attend other conferences will be able to charge their expenses to the Commonwealth Government. Apparently, the Government regards such expenditure as a legitimate charge against Consolidated Revenue, instead of against the organization concerned. The Auditor-General also madesome caustic remarks about expenditure incurred by Mr. Speaker in his capacity as Controller of Leather and Footwear. He said -
Claims for £1,233 in 1943-44 were made against the Department of Supply and Shipping for expenditure on transport for the Honorable the Speaker for the period the 1st July, 1943, to the 19th March, 1944, and for £1,229 for the period the 20th March to the 31st December, 1944. Mr. Rosevear (Hon. the Speaker) is Controller of Leather and Footwear.
Though the Department of Supply and Shipping met the account for £1,233 from 1943-44 votes, payment of the subsequent charge for £1,229 was refused for the reason that - “ The mileage represented by these accounts. cannot be regarded as transport undertaken by Mr. Rosevear as Controller of Footwear and the acceptance by this department of debits from the Department of the Interior would result in our appropriation being debited with amounts which were not incurred on ‘ the business of this department ‘ “.
The Auditor-General also had something to say regarding the expenditure of public moneys in connexion with the referendum. In his report he said -
An expenditure of £5,256 was charged to Division 164c, Item 2 - Post-war educational campaign - and from the information available was incurred in informing the electors of theaffirmative case for constitutional amendments embodied in the referendum. Correspondencehas taken place with the Treasurer regarding this expenditure and also the expenditure of” £43,050 to the end of January in the present financial year.
In the examination of expenditure accountsthe Auditor-General is required by the provisions of the Audit Act to “ ascertain whether the moneys shown therein to have been disbursed were legally available for and applicable to the service or purpose to which they have been applied “.
Does the Government say that an expenditure, ostensibly in connexion with a post-war educational campaign, could legitimately be used in connexion with a referendum campaign, not to inform thepeople of all the facts, but to induce them to vote “ Yes “ ? In that instance, thetaxpayers’ money was used by a political’ party for its own purposes; yet the Government brazenly, and without a blush, charged it against post-war education..
These comments by the Auditor-General relate to moneys which have already been expended. When we are called upon to deal with measures relating to moneys yet to be expended, we should take cognizance of these things, and do what we can to ensure that those moneys shall be expended only in proper ways. Evidently the Department of Supply and Shipping realized that this was being done and refused to pay the second amount of £l,229. Another way for paying the account had to be devised; and the amount was met from division 9, item I, in respect of the conveyance of Members of Parliament and others.
The Auditor-General continued -
Regarding the accounts for £1,233,I have expressed the opinion that this debit in 1943-44 to the votes for Supply and Shipping was incorrect. In the circumstances, the vote in question was not available and applicable to meet the claim accepted by the department in 1943-44, for expenditure on transport for the honorable, the Speaker. No advice has been received of any action proposed to correct the position.
The position was that the Department of Supply and Shipping paid the first amount illegally, and when it discovered that fact it refused to pay the second amount of £1,229. The account was then passed on to be met from the vote in respect of the conveyance of Members of Parliament. The Auditor-General says that that was wrong also. When the Auditor-General calmly points out these things and says, in effect, that the sum of about £2,500 has been expended in a case in which it would be reasonable to expect the expenditure not to be more than from £300 to £400, people get the idea that much of their money is not being expended legitimately Taxpayers do not mind paying taxes in order to meet war expenditure. They accept that position cheerfully; indeed, so cheerfully as to’ be almost amazing in some instances. They have at the back of their minds the idea that the money is being used to meet war expenditure; but when they are told that a fair percentage of this money is not being used in a legitimate way, but in a one-sided way, and some of it for the benefit of a political party, one cannot wonder if people not only look into past expenditure, but also raise the question as to whether future expenditure will be made along the same lines. This money has been expended already, and the manner of its. expenditure has been dealt with partially by the AuditorGeneral. But up to thepresent the Government has not made any explanation with respect to the charge made by the Auditor-General against it. For the Government’s own sake, and for the sake of the honour of Parliament, some explanation should be given as to the reason for much of this expenditure.
– Yesterday I asked a question dealing with the future policy of the Government with respect tothe development of Australia’s tourist facilities. This is a very important subject, and action should be taken with respect to it immediately. The problem can be approached in two ways. First, the correct publicity should be given to what we can offer to tourists; and, secondly, we must consider the maintenance and development of proper tourist resorts throughout the Commonwealth. Every part of Australia can offer some special attraction to tourists. The matter as a whole should be approached from a national viewpoint with a view to de veloping facilities which will attract both overseas and Australian tourists. The Department of Information is well equipped to handle the publicity side. Let me mention, for example, the important road which has been constructed from. Darwin to Alice Springs. Here is something which with proper publicity would be a strong attraction to Australians generally, and would possibly attract many people from overseas to what one could well describe as a land of adventure - Centralia. But very little is being done in this matter from a national viewpoint Each State is responsible for developing its own tourist resorts, but up to the outbreak of war each State was struggling for money and, consequently, has done little in that direction. I mention the snowlands of Kosciusko, which spread across the Victorian border to Mount Buffalo and Hotham. The Kosciusko tourist facilities are controlled by the New South Wales Railways Department which consistently refused to reopen those facilities to the general public until the end of last year. Even then that department opened only the hotel, but did nothing about the chalet, which is equal to any other chalet overseas, until within the last two or three weeks, when the Acting Premier of New South Wales visited that area and was so struck by this waste of a good asset that he ordered it to he reopened. I understand that the chalet was not reopened previously hecause the Railways Department said that it could not provide a tractor to keep the road clear from the hotel to the chalet, [f the chalet had been under Commonwealth control, a small problem of that kind would have been quickly overcome, and the expansive snowlands thrown open to Australians, our servicemen, Allied servicemen and British naval men who are now in this country. The Kosciusko snowlands, which are situated within 100 miles of the National Capital, are much greater in area than the snow country in Switzerland or Austria; yet in those countries the snowlands are the Mecca of world skiers. But the only facilities so far provided at Kosciusko are the hotel, which accommodates approximately 150 persons, and the chalet, which can accommodate 110. Those snowlands should be dotted with small chalets situated within convenient distance of each other in order to enable skiers to move from one to the other and thus spend an enjoyable hut cheap holiday. To-day, there is no greater attraction for the tourist than the snowlands. That is one aspect to which the Commonwealth should give the widest publicity. The development of that tourist field should be undertaken on a national basis after the war so soon as adequate money, man-power and materials are available. Then we have the tourist attractions offered by North Queensland with its mb-tropical and tropical climate. That area could be converted into a playground for world tourists if we would only tell them of the beauties of the Barrier Beef, the wonderful climate of those regions and the attractions of the Atherton Tableland. But what are the facts? Even people from the southern States who visit the north .find that the hotel facilities are not such as to induce them to return. If there is one time when a man, or woman, wants the utmost in comfort and luxury it is when he or she is on holidays. They are prepared to pay the cost. A person at such places as Magnetic Island, although provided with the best fishing in the world under the most enjoyable climatic conditions, will still want modern hotels with dance floors and first-class orchestras, so that when the day is over the only thing to do will not be to go to bed. Tourists should be able to spend all their time in true holiday fashion.
– And they want to be able to get a drink after 6 p.m.
– Yes. All of these facilities should be brought under the control of a special Commonwealth Minister. There is no comparison between the famous Waikiki beach at Honolulu and any of the beaches which face the Pacific from Sydney up to Cairns; yet, because the Waikiki beach is served with magnificent, modern hotels, where all the glamour and appurtenance* of successful entertainment, are available to the tourists, Waikiki has become a household word throughout the world. But 1 repeat that the natural attraction offered at Waikiki does not compare at all favorably with the attractions which can be offered at any beach on the coast of New South Wales or Queensland. I believe that the tourist traffic in Australia could be developed to very great proportions, because we have the natural attractions for tourists. When I was in Canada in 1943 I ‘was informed that in the (previous year 13,000,000 Americans crossed the border to ‘Canada in that year. One cannot enter a tram-car even in Sydney without seeing pictures of the flamboyant, glamorous Royal North-West Mounted policeman. ‘Canada has sold the Mounties and the Rockies to American tourists. Just imagine the amount of capital brought into Canada by those 13,000,000 tourists in one year. That capital is most important, because it can be got without expense and so easily; and it stabilizes the national, currency to such a degree that it becomes an important factor in the nation’s economic set-up. To-day, London depends for 60 per cent, of its prosperity upon the tourist traffic. Nine out of tcn people in London are visitors having a look through .what they regard to be the central city of the world. There are two angles to this problem. We must .publicize our natural tourist attractions and develop them. Only this week a film entitled “Sun Gods of the Surf “ has been released through the Film Division of the Department of Information. It depicts the exploits of members of the surf clubs in New South Wales. It shows them shooting the breakers, and handling their life-saving boats in the surf. It is a most attractive picture, and is an example of the kind of publicity that should foe undertaken in this sphere. Short films should be made of Australian snow fields, the Great Barrier Reef, big game fishing on the South Coast of New South Wales, and other tourist attractions. Secondly, money should be spent on the development of tourist facilities. There is no limit to the attractions that could be provided if we set ourselves to this task. With solid long-range planning and the provision of adequate funds, there is no doubt that the project would be worth while. I do not suggest that the Commonwealth should encroach upon a province of the States, hut I believe that the efforts of the States should be co-ordinated on a national basis. The States should be able to come to the Commonwealth Government for financial assistance. This is not a State problem but a national one. The tourist traffic in this country could be made a great national industry if it were handled in the right manner.
– I wish to refer to certain aspects of vegetable growing in Tasmania. .Again this year a large area of that State is being used for vegetable production. The scheme is progressing well, but the growers in some districts complain that payments by the Commonwealth Government for the vegetables grown under contract, are not as prompt as they should be. Whilst I realize that it is not always possible to make such payments expeditiously in view of departmental routine which has to be observed, I point out that the growing of vegetables is an expensive undertaking - much more expensive to-day than in normal times. The price of machinery and agricultural implements is high, and labour costs also are considerably above normal level. In these circumstances it is only natural that the farmers should want their money as early as possible, and I hope that the Government will be able to do something to accelerate these payments. Such action would be greatly appreciated.
Proportionately to its area, Tasmania produces considerably more vegetables than any other State. The large scale production of vegetables in Tasmania is a comparatively new development necessitated by large government contracts, particularly for the Army. To fulfil these contracts, growers have had to purchase expensive machinery such as tractors, potato planters, potato diggers and cultivating machinery. Had these implements not been purchased, production would have been far short of the targets set during the war years. It is true that the woman in the Australian Women’s Land Army have been of great assistance, and to some degree at least, have compensated for the shortage of farm labour. When the history of the war on the home-front is written, these girls should have a special chapter. I live close to a centre in which there is a Land Army hostel, and I can say from personal experience that the girls are industrious, well behaved, and that every body speaks most highly of them. However, even with the assistance of the Land Army, the efforts of the farmers to meet the demands made upon them for vegetables would have been unavailing had they not had modern machinery. On this machinery the Taxation Department allows depreciation of 10 per cent. I point out that in most cases this machinery has been bought solely to maintain essential war-time production, and that ite use after the war will be limited. Last year, Tasmanian farmers grew vegetables on ],951 acres excluding peas and potatoes. This year, according to information which I received in answer to a question, the area planted will be only 780 acres.
– Does that include potatoes ?
– No. It may include green peas but certainly it does not include blue peas. I contend that the rate of depreciation allowed by the
Taxation Department upon agricultural machinery used for the production of vegetables for government contracts should be 20 per cent. instead of 10 per cent. I have discussed this matter with farmers, and they have expressed the opinion that the depreciation of the value of the machinery will be considerable, much of its having been bought at prices much higher than those ruling in normal times. An increase from 10 per cent, to 20 per cent. would not have much effect upon the revenue of the Taxation Department, because after all, it is only possible to write off a total of 100 per cent., no matter how long it takes. I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) to bring this matter to the notice of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture and the Taxation Department.
Sitting suspended from 5.53 to 8 p.m.
– After hearing the remarks of Senator j. B. Hayes I should like to quote some statistics relative to the production of vegetables in Tasmania so that members of this chamber may not be misled. In connexion with the production of beetroot, cabbage, carrots and parsnips - vegetables which Tasmania has been asked to grow extensively during the war, it is true there has been a definite and substantial reduction, not, only in Tasmania but also in all States. Cinder the first scheme drawn up by the Food Control authorities, Tasmania suffered more severely than other States. Its production was lowered from 22,675 tons to a little more than 6,000 tons to be grown this season. During the past ten days, I have made representations to the Minister and the Food Control authorities and I am glad to say that the Tasmanian quota will now be raised to the same ratio as that of other States, and the increase of vegetables to be grown will represent almost 100 per cent more than the 6,000 tons first allowed. We could not ask for any more. As for other lines of vegetables, such as potatoes, the area in Tasmania planted with potatoes increased from 30,000 acres in pre-war days to about 90,000 acres last season. I understand there is to be no appreciable reduction in potato produc tion, therefore, that State will have to produce large quantities. The area under peas increased from 10,000 acres to 30,000 acres but it will be most fortunate if based on that increased area production will be achieved next year. Owing to the drop in demand, it was as, much as we could do to maintain the acreage we did last year.
– I quoted figures supplied by the Minister in answer to my question.
– I am quoting figures supplied by the Department of Commerce and Agriculture and the Food Control authorities, on which tonnages are based. As to the reduction of taxes, I would remind the Senate that farmers have received good treatment during the war. Nobody defends the farmers more willingly than I do. Last session pressure was brought to bear on the Trea surer (Mr. Chifley) by all political parties with the result that a considerable concession was given to farmers in the shape of a deferred depreciation allowance. The Income Tax Assessment Act was amended, and I draw attention to the explanatory note on section 53a (2) which states -
Under this sub-section, it is a condition to deductability of the estimated costof deferred maintenance that the taxpayer shall apply in writing to the Commissioner of Taxation for the allowance of the deduction and shall furnish details of the deferred main tenanceand the estimated cost thereof. It i.necessary also that, when making the application, the taxpayer shall deposit with the commissioner a sum equal to the estimated cost of the deferred maintenance.
That amendment was made because owing” to the shortage of labour and materials, farmers were at a disadvantage in paying income tax on their full income during the war years, whilst their farms, machinery, fences and buildings were deteriorating. The amendment en-: ables a farmer to deposit with the Commissioner of Taxation an amount equal to the estimated cost of maintenance and after the war he will be able to apply for a refund of that sum and thus be enabled to proceed with his maintenance work.
– Deferred maintenance has nothing to do with whatI said.
– Deferred maintenance relates to machinery as well as fences, pastures, buildings or any other items on a farm which need to he maintained. I understood the honorable senator to deal specifically with machinery. Some of the farmers in Tasmania have spent considerable sums in purchasing new machinery. In recent years they have been prosperous, and whereas it was difficult for them a few years ago to pay their instalments on motor cars costing £200 or £300 they are now able to go to the same firm that supplied their motor care and buy, for cash, rotary hoes and tractors and other modern machinery. Farmers who have not been in a position to do so, or whose holdings were not large enough to warrant such expenditure, have co-operated with the State Agricultural Department’s system under which the department provides the machinery and loans it to the farmers. Instead of half a dozen farmers each owning a certain machine, one machine can serve half a dozen farmers, with a consequent saving of expense. That system is operating most successfully and will continue to do so. There should be more co-operation between the farmers and the government departments.
I cannot help but view with a certain amount of concern the situation which will face farmers after the war. It is well known that during the war agricultural land which was highly productive has been exploited to its full extent, and as a result of the heavy drain upon it, its fertility has deteriorated. No farmer can expect to take crops from the same land year after year and produce the same quantity or quality of produce. If contracts for primary products were let for the next ten years they could not be fulfilled, and the special machinery purchased for cultivation purposes would lie idle simply because the farms wouldbecome worked out and useless. There must be a rotation of crops to keep land fertile, and areas must be given a rest before being planted with root crops. The farmers will have to purchase artificial manures to restore their land to its former fertility if they are to get the best results from their soil. That is where deferred maintenance held by the Commissioner of Taxa tion will prove to be of great advantage to them, but I am looking even farther ahead then the years immediately following the war. It is said that if one thinks a thing long enough he will believe it himself, and if he repeats it often enough his colleagues will also believe it. To-day the Government has not the power to control primary production and prices and unless some system is evolved to establish control nothing but chaos will face the Australian farmers.
SenatorKeane. - The Government must have power before it can introduce such a scheme.
– I agree, andI do not blame the farmers entirely for refusing to give to the Commonwealth Government the powers it sought for this purpose in the last referendum. The hopeless outlook for farmers is obvious to every thoughtful person, and if they continue to produce at the same rate as the last few years the price of potatoes will fall from £13 15s. a ton to about £2 10s. a ton; and the same thing will happen in respect of the prices of other vegetables. Should that happen farmers of every description will be coming to the Government, for assistance. The immediate problem is how to avoid such a situation.
Another anomaly relates to Government subsidies which have been granted to secure an increase of primary production. Much has been said in support of subsidies for the production of butter, milk, cream and other primary commodities and these have been granted year after year, increasing as time went on. When the first subsidy was granted, a good dairy cow could be bought for £10 but later members of Parliament representing farmers, and farmers’ associations, argued that when the cost of the land and the price of cows was taken into consideration the subsidy was insufficient to cover the cost of production. An increase was granted, and when further representations were made, the subsidy was raised again. In competition with one another farmers have increased the price of good dairy cows from £10 to £30 a head, and probably the value of the land that they are leasing has been enhanced by a similar ratio. Now they are saying that the price for butter-fat is too low to enable them to make ends meet. If this Government or the State governments do not control prices the farming industry will end in chaos in the not distant future. I should like the Government to initiate another referendum in the near future in order to secure control such as I have suggested. It would be the only way to avert inevitable disaster and such a move would receive support from both sides of the House.
– Does the honorable senator mean control of primary production generally?
– I make no qualifications; I consider that the production and price of all commodities should be under Government control. It may be necessary to look further afield to absorb our people in profitable employment, not only because of the cessation of work at the munitions factories, but also because a large number of rural producers will be thrown out of employment. The latter must be absorbed in other avenues of industry until the demand for primary products will enable those farmers who have left the land to return to it. Every avenue for the establishment of new industries should be explored.
Much has been said regarding the shortage of food. There is still a shortage in Great Britain and on the continent of Europe, but the waters of Australia teem with fish. I do not agree with those who contend that Australia has not sufficient fish for export. That is entirely incorrect, because the ocean teems with shoals of fish from Western Australia to the eastern coast of Australia including Tasmania. The existence of these shoals has been discovered by means of a system of aerial observation introduced by Mr. F. Fowler, and this method has been copied in the United States of America. By this means the army and air force of the United States of America have been assisted considerably in obtaining supplies of fish.
Senatornicholls. - Could helicopters be used?
– Observations from helicopters have proved to be unnecessary; ordinary aircraft can supply the information desired. Not only are shoals of fish located by this means, but the depth at which they are to be found can be determined. Every portion of the fish is marketable, for even the offal can be satisfactorily processed. Australia is losing one of its best opportunities for the development of the fishing industry. Here is an important avenue for expansion in the post-war period. We should not only thus provide employment, but we should also enable Australia to compete in overseas markets in supplying a product that is in keen demand. As this country needs export trade, this avenue shouldbe fully explored.
Certain honorable senators and some members of the House of Representative have contended that there is an over supply of aluminium throughout the world, but nobody should make assertions of that kind unless they are sure asto the extent to which this metal could be used. In the United States of America recently, the first railway carriage with the whole of its bodywork constructed of aluminium has been put into use. One company has an order for the construction of nine railway cars, to be built of aluminium. Bridges constructed wholly of aluminium have come into use in Europe during the war. Attention should immediately be paid to the possibilities of the aluminium industry in Australia, so that, when large numbers of workers are discharged from munitions factories, other useful employment may be found for them. We should dismiss all fear that there will be no demand for aluminium products. I am convinced that the demand will be greater than it ever has been in the past. In America it is considered that there is an outlet for 60,000 new firms to supply goods made from aluminium and magnesium.
Another enterprise which couldbe developed in the (post-war period, and one which would prove highly remunerative, is the rabbit industry.
– Rabbits are as hard to catch as fish.
– In Tasmania, 8,000,000rabbits are caught annually, and in that State alone about 20,000,000 rabbits could be processed for food. There is a good market for canned and frozen rabbits, and the market will continue for many years. In Europe, the supply of stock, such as cattle, horses and sheep, has been severely depleted during the war, and some years will elapse (before normal conditions return. Therefore, a good opening is available for an overseas trade in rabbits, and Australia should capture that market.
It might be well for the Directorate of War Organization of Industry to investigate thoroughly applications for the establishment of now industries. If the directorate does not feel disposed to grant permits immediately, it should grant them on the condition that they should operate when the necessary labour and materials are available. The directorate should ascertain whether the firms interested in new industries will be prepared to establish them as post-war enterprises.Some firms are prepared to ongage in new projects at the conclusion of the war if they can obtain permission to do so. They should receive all possible encouragement, because as little as possible of the burden of post-war reconstruction should be thrown on the Government. Private enterprise should be allowed to carry its share. Owing to the verdict of the people at the last referendum, the Commonwealth authorities have not all of the powers that they require in these matters.
I point out to the Senate, and particularly to the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Senator Leckie), that on several occasions, by a vote of 26 United Australia party andCountry party members against ten Labour members, social services have been reduced. The invalid and old-age pensions were reduced at the instance of a non-Labour government from £1 to 15s. a week, and not until the number of Labour representatives in this Parliament was increased have the pensions show a steady upward movement. Yet honorable senators opposite say that the Scullin Government reduced old-age pensions. The inconsistency of the Acting Leader of the Opposition is shown by the fact that yesterday he supported an amendment to the Re-establishment and Employment Rill, providing for the increase of the re-employment allowance to members of the services to £3 5s. a week. Yet to-day he was alarmed at a proposal to pay an allowance to another section of returned soldiers of 32s. 6d. a week. There is no consistency in his attitude. If he believes in democracy, let us have true democracy, and say that if one man should be paid £3 5s. a week, another is entitled to at least 32s. 6d. a week, especially when both may be exservicemen. In Australia, we have drifted very far from democracy.
In 1943, we had 10,000 inhabitants in. the Northern Territory, which is probably one of the richest parts of this continent, but the population of that territory has not proper representation in this Parliament. It representative in the House of Representatives is denied a vote. If we are to retain the territory, we must develop it, but we are hindering that process by not, giving the representative of the territory a vote regarding the affairs of the nation. Something will have to be done to ensure the granting of a form of local government in the territory or a vote in this Parliament to the representative of the people of that rich area. We cannot expect members from other States to pay special attention to it, because the whole of their time is taken up with the problems of their own States. In the Australian Capital Territory about 10,000 people are disfranchised. That is not democracy. Although previous governments neglected to do anything in this matter, I suggest that the present Government would be wise to grant representation to the people of this territory and of that great undeveloped area in the northern part of the continent which is so vital to Australia’s future prosperity.
.- In the course of his speech, Senator Armstrong made some practical and constructive suggestions regarding the future of tourist traffic to Australia. The honorable senator is to be commended for keeping this matter before the Parliament, and I hope that his efforts will soon be crowned with success. When we consider the hundreds of millions of dollars spent by Americans in visiting European countries before the war and reflect that in the near future the inducement to visit Europe may not be so great as in the past, we should take steps now to attract tourists to Australia. Proper organization now may divert to Australia a great deal of tourist traffic from America. But if that result is to be obtained, better facilities than now existmust be .provided. Although I do not expect, any great influx of migrants from the United States of America to Australia, it is most desirable that the friendly understanding which has grown up- between the peoples of the two countries as a result of their close cooperation in war, shall be continued in the years ahead. I was concerned to read recently that the people of Great Britain appear to be of the opinion that Australia is ready to receive large numbers of migrants. According to a cabled report which appeared in the press recently, Australia House is being inundated with people seeking information about migration to Australia,, but that there was not sufficient staff to deal with them. People who have recently arrived in Australia from Great Britain have told me that officials at Australia House have their time fully occupied in dealing with matters associated with the war. It is desirable that as soon as possible the staff at Australia House, should be strengthened, in order that persons who are clamouring for information about Australia may be given what they seek. Publicity about Australia, not so much by officials at Australia House as by State Agents-General, has been responsible for attracting to this country many who have proved to be excellent Australians. In my boyhood days there were attractive displays of Australian products in the Strand and other parts of London, the result of which was to induce numbers of young Britishers to migrate to this country. It may be said that it is premature to talk of migration, seeing that Australia is still at war and that large numbers of Australians are fighting on various battle fronts, but I point out that other countries which are not so greatly in need of increased population, are making efforts to attract migrants. In this matter Canada is most active, and Chile and other South American republics are already inaugurating migration schemes with a view to attracting suitable migrants from European countries. If we embark earnestly on a comprehensive migration scheme, we may have to look outside the British Empire for migrants. The gruelling experience which the people of continental Europe have had during the last six years, and the bitter hatreds that exist among the nationals of European countries, may result in large numbers of persons seeking a means of escape by emigrating to a young country like Australia. It seems to me that a great opportunity exists to obtain migrants from Europe. Many northern Europeans who came to this country 40 or 50 years ago have proved to be excellent settlers. We should get busy now in this matter, so that we shall not be unprepared when the war ends. The Dominions do not offer the same attraction to the young people of Great Britain as in the past, because conditions in the Old Country have improved considerably on what they were. I do mot expect a big rush of people from the Mother Country seeking fortunes in Australia.. Migration and development are closely associated. In spite of the fact that the people of the United States of America are actively engaged in the Pacific war, there was in that country an animated, discussion of fiscal policy about six weeks ago with the result that the import duties on many items were reduced in order to encourage trade with other nations. It was realized that the United States of America had suffered from high tariffs and a policy of isolation. Our own Associated Chambers of Manufactures recently suggested a relaxation of the controls of industry. The representative of the Chamber of Manufactures in Canberra recently issued a circular in which he said that, even if the relaxations in Australia were equal only to what has already been done in New Zealand and Canada, much encouragement would be given to industry to get back to peace-time production. Such a relaxation would help greatly in the transition from war production to peace-time production.
Most honorable senators have, no doubt, been approached by constituents regarding the delays associated with the obtaining of permits from the Directorate of War Organization of Industry. In addition, I have had experience recently of the delays that take place in connexion with transfers and sales of property. Only a few days ago I was told of a returned soldier who had recently been released from the forces on medical grounds and desired to secure a block of land. He had made arrange-! ments to purchase it without government assistance, but, although nearly eight weeks have elapsed since he had completed the various documents, the matter has not yet been finalized by the Federal Treasury.
– In what State does he wish to acquire land?
– In New South Wales.
– The delay is the fault of the State.
– This young returned soldier wants to get settled on the land, but matters associated with his application have been held up for about two months. It may be true that the fault lies partly at the door of the State, but these delays are disheartening to a young man who wishes to settle down after his war service. Similar delays occur in connexion with permits to start new businesses. If decisions were made more quickly, people would know where they stood and would be able to make their arrangements accordingly. One reason is that there has been such a huge buildup in some departments which has caused overlapping. Every one knows that the Division of Import Procurement has had a very difficult and sometimes unpleasant task, but that division itself has come up against a stone wall in many of its dealings with the Directorate of War Organization of Industry which has now been absorbed in the Department of Post-war Reconstruction. In many cases in which the Directorate of War Organization of Industry was prepared to give licences for importations, applicants have been obliged to go to other departments, and incur long delays until gome one in that department found out whether the industry proposed to be established was a new industry, or whether or not the item proposed to be manufactured had been manufactured before. We are now reaching the climax of the war. We are well upon the road to victory. It will be only a matter of time before the Allies deliver their knockout blow. In addition, many men have been discharged from the forces.
In these circumstances it becomes necessary to speed up departmental decisions and to relax some of the controls exercised by the Department of Post-war Reconstruction. In trade matters I should give the greater degree of authority to the Division of Import Procurement. In spite of the criticism of that department I believe that it has done a very difficult job, particularly in view of the shortage of shipping. On the other hand, the Directorate of War Organization of Industry grew to a size which no one anticipated when it was formed. It was formed when the Menzies Government was in office; but I venture to say that had a Labour government not been in office, that department would not have grown to one-fifth the dimensions which it has reached under Labour control, because the main reason for its establishment was to assist industry to organize itself. It was never intended that it should develop into a huge army of public servants with a complicated system of filling in forms as a means of enabling individuals to purchase even the most trivial things, or to set up in business. I myself wanted to buy an electric iron, and went to a firm which had one available; but I was told that I could not buy it until I got a permit, and the firm was given permission to sell. The manager of the firm at the time told me that in any case I would he given permission to buy, and the firm would be given permission to sell, but that both would have to go through the procedure of filling in certain forms, and wait until the permits were issued.
– How long ago was that?
– That was a few months ago. I am aware that electric irons are not now controlled; but the point I make is that these controls should be lifted in respect of many other articles. Such complicated machinery has been set up that it will be difficult to get some people to realize that that kind of control can be done without. Man-power control could also be relaxed in many ways. Many persons wish to take jobs but cannot do so without the permission of the man-power authorities, even when, in many cases, they are the only persons available who are suitable for particular jobs. Recently I had brought to my notice the case of a wife of a soldier who was anxious to work two or three days a week in a nonessential industry. As the wife of a soldier, the man-power authorities could not call her up, or direct her to employment. She wished to take a job in order to supplement the allotment from her husband. She applied to the man-power authorities for permission to work for two or three days a week in this job, but she was refused permission on the ground that the industry was not protected, and, therefore, had no priority. Because she did not wish to work full-time, she replied that she would not work at all.
– I should be reluctant to accept that statement.
– The Minister for Health and Social Services (Senator Fraser) will find that industries which are not essential are not allowed to employ without the permission of the man-power authorities even personnel who cannot be directed by those authorities.
– Why does not the honorable senator give the reason why the man-power authorities would not give that permission?
– The man-power authorities simply state that the industry is not essential.
SenatorO’Flaherty. - Was not the reason that some essential industry might require that labour?
– Essential industry cannot get that labour, because, as I have said, this woman, as the wife of a soldier, could not be directed by the man-power authorities.
-And there are many people who, because of their age, cannot be directed by the man-power authorities.
– That is so. Even a woman without children, or dependants, cannot be directed by the man-power authorities, if she is the wife of a soldier.
– She does not need a permit.
– But the firm with which she wishes to work, and which wishes to employ her, must obtain a per mit before it can increase its staff. I can supply the name of the firm to which I refer. Forty members of its staff are now serving in the forces, and, no doubt, those men will expect their old jobs back after the war. Therefore, we should do everything possible to help those firms carry on in the meantime. That is the point I emphasize. Many other anomalies of this kind exist in various departments. I go so far as to say that the position is such that when the aid of honorable senators is sought in such matters they start off by assuming that each department will say, “ No “. Experience has shown that right at the start one comes up against a stone wall, and then one has to start agitating to get redress. Departments should be ready to help right from the start, particularly with a view to keeping industry going so as to facilitate the re-employment of ex-servicemen.
I now wish to deal with recent announcements made by the Minister for Air (Mr. Drakeford) concerning the reduction in the establishments of the Royal Australian Air Force. I am aware that the Minister has just announced that a committee has been set up to investigate this matter. However, many youngsters who have been desirous of joining the Royal Australian Air Force, and for that reason have been studying assiduously for two years in the Air Training Corps, have been greatly disappointed by announcements made during the last few months. First, it was suddenly announced that all intake for air crew would be cancelled, and many air crew personnel, who had done half their requisite number of hours of training, were told that they would have to transfer to ground staff, or were given the opportunity to transfer to the Australian Imperial Force and, in some cases, to accept discharge. That announcement caused widespread disappointment. A little later it was announced that the intake of air crew would be restarted, but two or three days ago the Minister for Air again announced that all recruiting for air crews would cease. I have been particularly interested in the activities of the Air Training Corps in the area in which I reside. I know of many boys in the corps who have given up two or three nights a week, and almost all of their week-ends, in order to prepare themselves for entry into the Royal Australian Air Force when they reach the age of eighteen. By that time they would have completed their cadet training, and would then qualify as competent members of the Royal Australian Air Force. At present these lads do not know where they stand. Recently, an announcement was made that although there would not be any further intake for air crews, the Air Training Corps would continue. Obviously, these lads are not going to continue to sacrifice two years studying in the air corps, if there is not going to be anything offering to them at the end of that period. It is not merely a case of their giving up their leisure to undergo this training. Many of them would prefer to use their spare time in technical studies if they knew that their training in the corps would only lead to a deadend. A few weeks ago I was present at a send-off given by 200 members of the Air Training Corps to the commander of their flight, and at that function I was inundated with questions by those boys as to what would be their future in the Air Training Corps. Their commander, who was an honorary wing commander, had given voluntary and honorary service as officer in charge of that flight right from the formation of the Air Training Corps. However, he was merely notified that his flight was to be attached to another flight, and that his work was finished and that some one would take over from him. To that notification not one word of appreciation was added in respect of the valuable services which he had rendered in the interests of the Air Training Corps. For many years he had practically given every night to that work in order to maintain the efficiency of his flight, and at the end of it all he was simply told that his job was finished. His reward was the work that he did for his country, but we are all a little human, and a letter of thanks from the commanding officer of the State, from the Minister for Air - I realize that it would only be necessary to draw the Minister’s attention to this matter to have it rectified immediately - would have made all the difference. Each unit of the Air Training Corps has had associated with it a welfare committee composed of the mothers and sisters of members of the corps and other patriotic women. In many cases, these committees furnished the meeting halls, and provided training equipment with many pounds and amenities such as musical instruments. They have also done whatever catering has been necessary and have carried out other services necessary for the proper care of Air Training Corps members. The only indication that these people have had of changes of policy in regard to the Air Training Corps, has been occasional notices in the press. I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) to bring these matters to the notice of the Minister for Air. If the Air Training Corps is to be continued a clear statement to that effect should be made.
I wish to refer now to the recent decision by the Government to release members of the Australian Imperial Force who have served for five years or over. Apparently, there has been a great deal of misunderstanding of the Government’s proposals. Most honorable senators have been inundated with letters from mothers and other relatives of Australian Imperial Force soldiers who expected that there would be an immediate release from the Australian Imperial Force of all men who have served for five years or more. Recently, by way of a question, I brought to the notice of the Acting Minister for the Army (Senator Fraser) the position of certain Australian Imperial Force personnel who have been serving for a number of years in remote parts of the Commonwealth such as the Darwin area. They have lived an isolated existence, and the conditions which they have endured have placed a severe strain upon them. They have not been able to secure a transfer to New Guinea or to any other overseas operational area. Recently, I talked with a member of a travelling film unit which stages picture shows for troops, and he informed me that some of the men, who have led an isolated existence for a number of years are showing serious effects. These men should be given consideration when releases of soldiers who have had five years’ service or more are being effected. I do not suggest for a moment that first consideration should not he given to the man who has actually been doing the fighting, but many of the men to whom I have referred, have been kept in this country against their own wish. Most of them would welcome the opportunity to serve in New Guinea, Borneo, or in any theatre of war in which the Australian Imperial Force is engaged. Some members of these units have already been released for medical or other reasons, but in spite of their long service, they are unable to wear a campaign ribbon or a returned soldier’s badge. It should be possible to move units around in such a way as to give all personnel an opportunity to serve overseas. No soldier worthy of the name wishes to end his military career without having served overseas. I hope that the committee which has been set up to comb out Army base establishments will give consideration to this matter, and ascertain to what degree personnel may be interchanged, so that all physically fit soldiers will have an opportunity to serve in forward areas. Men who, despite requests to be moved to forward areas, have been retained in isolated parts of the Commonwealth and have become a lost legion. I am looking forward to good results from the investigation by this committee. A comb-out of Army establishments is long overdue. Overseas service means a lot to a soldier if he is worth his salt.
I urge the Government to give sympathetic consideration to the matters which I have raised because I feel very strongly on them.
– In urging the early lifting of war-time controls and restrictions, Senator Foll re-echoed the propaganda which hat been carried on in the press and in this Parliament for some months’, particularly since the termination of the war in Europe. I assure the Opposition that the retention of controls does not give the Government any pleasure. If honorable senators opposite were in occupation of the treasury bench, I am sure that they would not be foolish enough to take the untimely action which they now suggest. No government would continue to impose restric tions upon the people if they were not absolutely necessary.
The Acting Leader of the Opposition (Senator Leckie) dealt with that portion of the Auditor-General’s report which refers to the use of a motor car by Mr. Speaker- (Mr. Rosevear).
– I only quoted the Auditor-General’s report..
– Yes, but the honorable senator inferred, at the very least, that Mr. Speaker had used the car extravagantly. The honorable senator also queried the action of the Department of Supply and Shipping in paying portion of the transport expense incurred by Mr. Speaker.
– No. The AuditorGeneral did that.
– The first issue involved is whether or not the use of a car by Mr. Speaker is -justified. I do not think that that privilege will be questioned by any honorable senator. The second issue is how the cost of Mr. Speaker’s transport should be dividedThe use of a car is a privilege which is extended to Mr. Speaker and the President of the Parliament of every dominion. I point out that this is the first time for 25 years that a Speaker in this Parliament has been a representative of a New South Wales constituency. Previous Speakers have been mainly from Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania, and have not had occasion to use cars to transport them to and from their homes. I am sure that the use by the. present Speaker of a car for transport between Canberra and Sydney in the course of his official duties, and also in his capacity of Controller of Leather and Footwear, will not be questioned. In the Estimates for 1943-44, because of the infrequent use of a car by the then Speaker, the vote for the transport expenses of Mr. Speaker was set at a low figure. However, a new Speaker assumed office, and. when the transport accounts had to be paid after consultation with the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin), it was suggested that thi Department of Supply and Shipping, which had engaged the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) as Controller of Leather and Footwear, should bear a proportion of the cost.
The Auditor-General did not question whether the controller was justified in using the car; the only question in his report was whether it was regular for the Department of Supply and Shipping to meet the cost. In dealing with the manner in which the car was used, I shall indicate to honorable senators what the position of Controller of Leather and Footwear involves. Fie controls the manufacture of boots in Australia, which is the second largest manufacturing industry in the Commonwealth, employing 14,873 operatives in 300 factories. The controller has fo supervise the entire tanning industry, which tans 1,000,000 hides a year and 1,000,000 skins and pelts, employing 3,900 people. He also has control of the distribution of all leather and footwear manufactures, all civilian supplies and repairs, maintenance of defence footwear for our own and Allied services, and control of leather manufacture orders, from leather coats to a wristlet watchband. With 2,000 fewer employees in factories, a record production has taken place since the controller has been connected with the industry. In 1938, the production of boots and shoes was 13,878,654 pairs and 7,704,292 pairs of slippers. In 1939, 13,573,050 pairs of boots and shoes, and 8,169,498 pairs of slippers were made. In 1940-41 the production of boots and shoes amounted to 12,478,363 pairs and that of slippers to 8,325,205 pairs. For the six months’ period from the 1st July, 1942, to the 31st December, 1942, 6,037,637 pairs of boots and shoes and 4,099,824 pairs of slippers were manufactured. For the. calendar year of 1943, production of boots and shoes was 14,072,100 and that of slippers 6,388,600 pairs respectively. For the calendar year 1944, 13,368,400 pairs of boots and shoes and 6,237,400 pairs of slippers were made. That is an indication of the extent of the manufacture of articles of that kind during the war period and just prior to it. Despite the fact that in 1943 there were 2,000 fewer employees in the industry production increased. . The controller nas to supervise the many types of footwear that are manufactured for the services. In the Australian Army these number 23 ; in the Royal Australian Air Force, 10 ; in the Royal Australian Navy, 17; in the Indian Army, 3; in the American Army, 11; for munitions 19; for the Australian Women’s Land Army, 3; for the Netherlands employees forces, 3; for the Fijian forces, 1; and for certain French forces, 1, making a total of 91 types. The controller also acts as chairman of the Post-war Planning Footwear Committee attached to the Secondary Industries Commission, and he is also a member of the Hides and Leather Board. The controller works six days a week and on Saturday mornings is in attendance either at his Sydney office or at Parliament House. If an outsider were employed to do this work, the Government would not be able to secure the services of a suitable person for a salary lower than £1,500 a year, but the controller is giving his services free. Had the Acting Leader of the Opposition been acquainted with the facts, and the details of the enormous task the controller performs in connexion with the leather footwear industry, he would not have selected the item in the Auditor-General’s report for criticism.
– I did not criticize the controller; it was the AuditorGeneral.
– A royal commission inquired into the quotas in Sydney, and after hearing evidence the commissioner congratulated the controller on the fact that there was sufficient footwear available to fill substantial quotas. He also expressed his warm appreciation of the healthy state of the industry, despite the adverse comments that had been made before the inquiry opened. The controller admits that it would be difficult to define the various ways in which the car is used in connexion with his duties as Controller of Leather and Footwear and those of Speaker. In his latter capacity he is called upon to attend various important functions in New South Wales, and no honorable senator would suggest that he should travel by tram or any other public means of transport. It is only in keeping with the” dignity of his position and the reputation of this Parliament that he should travel to his appointments by motor car.
– He should be placed in the same position as any Minister of the Crown.
– Yes. Had the Acting Leader of the Opposition been acquainted with the facts he would not have implied that the controller had made extravagant use of the car. He could have spent his time to his own advantage in the same way as other honorable senators had he not been engaged in the duties of Controller of Leather and Footwear.
I regret that I was absent from the chamber when Senator Allan MacDonald refered to the shipping position in Western Australia. I dealt with this matter last night. In support of bis remarks, Senator Allan MacDonald produced a telegram he had received from the town clerk at Albany, and which he handed to me this afternoon. When a matter of this nature arises, the town clerk of any city or country town has a duty to communicate with the powers that be in an effort to bring trade to that centre or secure every benefit possible. I do not blame the town clerk for what he did in this instance. When I was engaged in local government affairs, I had the privilege of making representations to members of previous governments in my capacity of mayor. The statement that there are three deep-sea berths available at Albany is not very hopeful, because sufficient rail transport is not available between Albany and Perth. Perhaps goods consigned by boat to Albany could be unloaded at that port and forwarded from that centre by rail. However, I shall have the situation examined by the Director of Shipping, and inquire whether it will be economical to send portion of a cargo to Albany when it is destined for that or surrounding districts and the remainder taken to Fremantle.
Senator Allan MacDonald also referred to a letter he had received concerning the importation of goods, and the red-tape and delay involved before a reply was given. When I questioned the honorable senator this afternoon he said the letter was written on the 6th June. To-day is the 2lst. I probably received it on the 8th June - I am not certain whether it was addressed to Sydney or not - and for warded it to the department for investigation and report. The honorable senator knows the procedure in connexion with correspondence, but I assure him that any mail I receive is dealt with promptly.
– The letter was not addressed to the Minister but to the department.
– If the honorable senator can give me particulars I shall institute inquiries concerning it tomorrow. Reverting to the matter of sea transport, a major trouble is the congestion on the Fremantle wharfs. That it common in New South Wales and Queensland just now because of a shortage of wharf labour. Six weeks ago there was a surplus of 500 wharf labourers in Queensland, but to-day I received a report stating that there is now a shortage there. That situation has arisen frequently and it is hard to maintain a regular balance of labour. Provision was made to bring wharf labourers from Queensland, as there was a surplus in that State of 400 or 500 men. The reserve labour ordinarily available on the wharfs is unsuitable, because the men do not understand the work. There is such a lack of skilled labour and the reserve is so inefficient, that it is well worth bringing men from Melbourne or from Queensland ports, and accommodating them in camps, so that they may be employed on the wharfs in Sydney. Provision has been made in that direction.
.- It is not my usual policy to refer in the Senate to the grievances of individuals, but as a case in Tasmania has been receiving attention for almost twelve months, I now bring it to the notice of the Acting Minister for the Army (Senator Fraser). There is only one woodcutter to serve the small towns of Perth and Longford. There is a fairly large hospital in the locality and also several bakers who need to be supplied with wood; but Mr. Eberhardt, who has worked himself almost to death in meeting the wood requirements of the local hospital and bakeries, is now ill in the Launceston General Hospital. Nearly a year ago, when the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) visited Tasmania, this matter was brought to his notice by
Mrs. Eberhardt and myself. The Minister was most sympathetic and agreed that Mr. Eberhardt’s son should be released from the Army in order to take bis father’s place. The Minister instructed his secretary to make the necessary arrangements for the lad’s release. I have been negotiating with the Army authorities ever since, but his release has not been effected.Young Eberhardt was called up at the age of eighteen years and was employed in an unessential job at Wagga. This case has been personally investigated by me, and has also been inquired into by a municipal councillor residing in the district, by a minister of religion, and by the local branch of the Australian Labour party, all of whom recommend the lad’s release. At present he is on compassionate leave, and is required to return to the army on the 10th July, After that date there will be nobody to carry on the work of supplying necessary wood to Perth and Longford. I appeal to the Acting Minister for the Army to allow this lad to continue in his father’s footsteps. “We have asked the man-power authorities to supply the necessary labour, butthey have been unable to do it. I make a special appeal to the Minister, so that the local hospital and bakeries shall not be deprived of wood supplies.
– I listened to the reply by the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Senator Ashley) to comments regarding the Auditor-General’s annual report. The Minister was perhaps somewhat halting in his statement, but a bill of over £30 a week for a motor car involves a “hefty” sum, and we should have some details as to the expenditure.
I have before me a copy of the report of Mr. J. V. Barry, K.C, who was commissioned by the Government to conduct an inquiry with regard to the suspension of the civil administration in the territory of Papua, in February, 1942. It is a most interesting document. Members of this chamber receive a great deal of printed matter of all descriptions, and find it difficult to read, let alone digest, the whole of it. What amazes me with regard to what transpired in Papua is that Mr. Barry seems to relieve the Army command at Port Moresby of all responsibility for the conditions prevailing there early in 1942. The civil administration is exonerated, and so is the Army. That is truly astonishing, when we read on page 24 of the report about the looting and stealing which took place at Moresby at that time.
It would appear from the report that the troops concerned got clean out of hand. There was hardly any semblance of discipline, and yet Mr. Barry exonerates the Army from all blame. The commanding officer, irrespective of the size of his command, must be held responsible for the conduct of his officers and men. That is his job. One might agree with the commissioner that the man on the spot was provided with very indifferent tools with which to do the job. That is true enough, because one reads in the report of the untrained condition of one battalion which was sent there. I am not now discussing whether the troops were well or ill equipped, but there is no doubt that they were practically untrained. One wonders what they were doing during the months when they were in Australia, before embarking for Papua. I am surprised that the commissioner practically claims that the commanding officer is not to be held responsible for the officers and men under his direct and immediate control. The inference can be drawn that the blame, if any, is put on the shoulders of the civil administration, which is undoubtedly grossly unfair. The administration and its officers were under orders at that time to return to Australia and leave everything in the hands of the military authorities. There was a general call-up for military service of all ablebodied white men in Papua. The native constabulary and other natives were also called up. It was a great mistake to use the Papuans as infantry, instead of for guerrilla work for which they are eminently suited.
The report shows how this Parliament and the people of Australia neglected one of their most important duties in the period between the last war and the present war. At one time we said that the corner stone of British policy was to lead the nations in collective security. One can see by the condition of the troops who went to Moresby that they were either untrained or ill trained, and were entirely lacking in discipline. Immediately after thebombing of Moresby they were an absolute rabble.
– I am open to contradiction, but I am guided by the report of Mr. Barry, which contains 70 pages of closely typed matter. That is the finding of the commissioner, particularly whenwe read from paragraph 69 onwards with regard to the looting by troops which took place at Moresby.
– I think that is a little unfair.
– I take it that Mr. Barry is capable of sifting evidence, and he says that “the troops were entirely lacking in discipline. That was not the fault of the individual men. The responsibility should be pinned on the right person, whether it be the then Chief of the General Staff or the General Officer Commanding the particular command from which these troops were sent to Papua. The observations by General Sir Thomas Blarney which are contained in this document are most scathing, and should cause us to ponder. In his memorandum of the 13th September, 1943, General Sir Thomas Blarney mentioned the state of the Army as he found it when he returned to Australia about the end of March of that year, six weeks or so after these occurrences at Port Moresby. I bring this matter up now because one of the most vital problems that we shall have to consider when the war is over is the future defence of the Commonwealth - what form it shall take and how effect, shall be given to it. We failed badly in 1929 when universal compulsory military training was abandoned ; and, later, another government failed when it neglected to do the right thing. Had that government decided to do the right thing I believe that there would have been such a howl, particularly by those who smashed our defence system in 1929, that it would have been thrown out of office at the next general elections. Between the two wars there was a fairly general opinion that, by creating some international organization, collective security would be provided and future wars avoided. The same kind of talk is going on to-day. I believe that unless a nation is prepared to spend time and money in training its young manhood in the art of war, and in instilling the spirit of discipline into its youth, we shall again be faced with the same grim prospect as we faced when this war came upon us. To send untrained, ill-equipped youngsters into battle is to commit a crime; it is murder, not war. Yet such was the state of affairs in February, 1942, when the happenings which are described in the report of Mr. Commissioner Barry occurred at Port Moresby, that that is what might have happened. This report will be of very great value if we profit by the lessons that it teaches.
– I am amazed that an honorable senator should stand in his place in this chamber and quote from a report which is a condemnation of the Militia. I do not believe that Australians would go into any place and commit acts of looting suchas have been mentioned here to-night.
– Has the honorable senator read the report?
– No. I am not concerned with the report, but I shall not stand here and allow any one to say that the members of the Militia who went to New Guinea and played a noble part in saving Australia in the early days of 1942 - a job equal to that performed by the soldiers of any other country - were thieves and burglars, an undisciplined crowd, an unruly mob. I cannot understand any Australian, especially an honorable senator who himself has served in the Army, speaking of Australian fighting men in such terms. That Senator Sampson should condone such a statement is bad enough, but that he should amplify it is beyond my comprehension. He may emphasize what happened in February, 1942, in an attempt to discredit the present Government, but we know that although it came into office in October, 1943, it did not have a majority in the Senate until many months later. The men who were sent to New Guinea were as well trained as was possible in the limited time available to train them. The main body of our trained men had been sent to the Middle East. They were well trained, but the men who were sent to New Guinea had better equipment than was supplied by a previous government to the troops who served in the Middle East. From the Middle East they were sent to Greece and Crete. People of the calibre of the honorable senator have tried to exclude members of the Militia from joining the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia. I remind such people that hundreds of militiamen will never return to Australia, their bodies lie in New Guinea.
– It is utterly untrue to say that I tried to exclude them from the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial of Australia.
– I said that the honorable senator was like a lot of people who attempted to ridicule the Militia and to discredit it.I repeat, that the Militia played an important part in the war. I resent such utterances against any section of our fighting forces. Such statements are not in the interests of harmony among the troops. Does the honorable senator want to see pitched battles or common brawls in our streets when the men now with the forces are demobilized, because one body of men maysay to another group, “We were in the Australian Imperial Force and you were only in the Militia “. I do not think that Mr. Barry was wise to include in his report such terms as thieves and vagabonds. Such statements hurt me, because I knew many of the men who fought in New Guinea.As I have said, numbers of them will never return. The honorable senator has been guilty of a dirty, filthy insult to these men when he referred to them as a lot. of thieves. Something should be done about it. In my opinion, a royal commission should be appointed to examine the statement. I do not believe that it is true. No government should allow such statements to go abroad. They would be pounced upon by the McCormick press and people of other nations, and may be used later against Australia. “When, in the future, matters are under discussion between nations there will be some people only too willing to hold up Mr. Barry’s report and say that Australian troops consisted of a mob of thieves and irresponsibles.
Recently, there have been press reports of a proposal to broadcast the proceedings in this Parliament. That is something that I have advocated for some time, because I believe that the broadcasting of the speeches made here would be a complete answer to the distorted reports in some of our newspapers, and would enable the people of Australia to know exactly what takes place within these walls. Tie practice of broadcasting parliamentary speeches has been in operation in New Zealand for a number of years, and I understand that it is an important part of the broadcasting programme provided by the broadcasting authorities there. I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Fraser) read a first time.
The following papers were pre sented : -
National Security Act -
National Security (Agricultural Aids) Regulations - Order - -Hay, straw and chaff (Victoria) (No. 2).
National Security (Army Inventions) Regulations - Order - inventions and designs.
National Security (Food Control) Regulations - Order - No. 21.
National Security (General) Regulations - Order by State Premier- Victoria (No. 61).
National Security (Industrial Property) Regulations - Orders - Inventions and designs (94).
National Security (Rationing) Regulations - Order - No. 92.
Standardization of Australia’s Railway Gauges - Report by Sir Harold Clapp,
Senate adjourned at 9.59 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 21 June 1945, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1945/19450621_senate_17_183/>.