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Thursday, 16 November 1939


Mr Clark k asked the Minister for Information, upon notice -

1.   On what date was the Ministry for Information created?

2.   On what date does he expect that it will commence to function as a department of information ?

3.   What justification exists for the department functioning with head-quarters at Melbourne?

4.   Is he administering one department at Melbourne and another at Canberra? 5.Why does he not administer both departments at Canberra?


Sir Henry Gullett - The answers to the honorable members questions are as follows : -

1.   The 12th September, 1939. A few members of the staff commenced duty on the 9th October. 1939.

2.   The department has been functioning upon a growing scale for a few weeks.

3.   The head-quarters staff must function in Melbourne in close proximity to the Defence Department. Branches of the department will be established in all States. 4 and 5. See No. 3.

Petrol Production.


Mr Holt t. - On the 15th November the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Lane) asked whether, if the Government provided additional capital for the development of the shale oil enterprise at Glen Davis, larger quantities of petrol would be available at a much earlier date than is anticipated under the present programme.

I am now in a position to inform the honorable member that, at the request of the Government, National Oil Proprietary Limited, the company concerned, is now investigating the possibilities of rapidly increasing production at Glen Davis from 10,000,000 gallons of petrol per annum to 3.0,000,000 gallons of petrol per annum. This matter is bound up with such questions as quantities and accessibility of shale, availability of plant and capital requirements. Until these investigations are completed, it will not be known what further capital, if any, would be required by the company to increase its output.

War in Europe: Peace Negotiations.


Mr Menzies - Yesterday thehonorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) asked me whether I had been invited by the British Government or any other government to express on behalf of the Australian people their opinion upon the question of participation in any international conference for the purpose of attempting to arrive at an early and honorable peace by the process of negotiation.

No invitation has been received by me or the Government to express an opinion bearing directly on the question of an international peace conference. The Commonwealth Government did, however, have the opportunity to expressits views on the form of the reply made by Mr. Chamberlain to the proposals for bringing the war to an end put forward by the German Chancellor in his speech to the Reichstag on the 6th October, proposals which, it will be remembered, in cluded as one of their points an international conference for the adjustment of European and other problems. This reply, which was agreed upon by all the dominion governments in consultation with the Government of the United Kingdom, made it clear that we could not enter on peace discussions on the basis implied in the German Chancellor's proposals, namely, recognition of the German military occupation of Czechoslovakia and Polish territory. The reply also plainly stated that we could not treat with the present German Government until the latter were in a position to offer tangible guarantees that their future undertakings would be observed.

The Commonwealth Government was also consulted on the answer made by the King last week to the offer of mediation received from the sovereigns of Belgium and Holland. This answer was also quite definite on the point that the governments of the British Commonwealth felt bound to continue the war until the conditions laid down in the declaration by Mr. Chamberlain to which I have referred were fulfilled. The reply was as follows : -

1.   I have carefully examined, with my governmentsin the United Kingdom, Canada, Commonwealth of Australia, New Zealand and Union of South Africa, the appeal which Your Majesty and His Majesty the King of the Belgians addressed to me on the 7th November.

2.   I recall the appeal made by His Majesty the King of the Belgians on the 23rd August in the name of the heads of the States in Oslo group of States, in which His Majesty pleaded for the submission' of disputes and claims to open negotiation carried out in the spirit of brotherly co-operation. My Government in the United Kingdom as well as the French Government sent favorable replies to this appeal.

3.   I recall also the joint offer in their offices made by Your Majesty and His Majesty the King of the Belgians to my Government in the United Kingdom and to the French, German, Italian and Polish Governments on the 28th August. This offer was welcomed by my Government and by the French, Italian and Polish Governments. A few days later the German Government launched an unprovoked attack on Poland which has been overrun with every circumstance of brutality.

4.   My governments deeply appreciate the spirit of Your Majesty's offer and they would always be willing to examine a reasonable and assured basis for an equitable peace. It is, as it has always been, our desire that the war should not last one day longer than is absolutely necessary, and I can therefore at once reply to that part of Your Majesty's appeal in which you state your willingness to facilitate the ascertaining of the elements of an agreement to be reached. 5.The essential conditions upon which we are determined that an honorable peace must be secured have already been plainly stated. The documents which have been published sincethe beginning of the war clearly summarize its origin and establish the responsibility for its outbreak. My peoples took up arms only after every effort had been made to save peace.

6.   The immediate occasion leading to our decisionto enter war was Germany's aggression against Poland. But this aggressionwas only a fresh instance of Germany's policy towards her neighbours. The larger purposes for which my peoples are now fighting are to secure that Europe may be redeemed, in the words of my Prime Minister in the United Kingdom, from " perpetually recurring fear of German aggression so as to enable the peoples of Europe to preserve their independence and their liberties and to prevent further resort to force instead of to pacificmeans in the settlement of international disputes. These aims have been amplified and enlarged on a number of occasions, in particular in statements made by my Prime Minister in the United Kingdom on the 12th October in the House of Commons and by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in the House of Lords on the 2nd November.

7.   The elements which in the opinion ofmy Government form part of any settlement emerge clearly and distinctly from these declarations of the policy. Should Your Majesty be able to communicate to me any proposals from Germany of such a character as to afford real prospect of achieving the purpose I have described above, I can say at once that my governments would give them their most earnest consideration.

The honorable member asked further whether, in the event of an invitation to an international peace conference being received in the future, the House would be given an opportunity to express its views before the Government made any reply. I can assure the honorable member that bis request will be borne in mind should such an invitation be received.

Mrs. GuySmith.


Mr Perkins s. - Yesterday the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), asked the following question, without notice -

In what capacity is Mrs. Guy Smith employed by the Government, and what are the conditions of employment? What is the cost of the work upon which she has been engaged, and when is the engagement likely to terminate?

I desire to inform the honorable member that Mrs. Guy Smith is an employee of theMyer Emporium Limited, one of the firms which are performing services in connexion with the work of rehabilitation and replacements necessitated bywear and tear at GovernmentHouse, Canberra. Mrs. Guy Smith is associated with the Department of the Interior in the work mentioned above, and her activities have extended far beyond the arrangement of the furnishings supplied by the Myer Emporium Limited. Her services have been utilized in view of her special knowledge of interior decoration - a knowledge which is not possessed by any officer of the department. Her living expenses in Canberra are being paid by the Commonwealth Government. When the work is completed consideration will be given to the payment of an honorarium to Mrs. Guy Smith, whose services have been of great assistance to the department. The cost of the work is being made available in reply to another question asked by the honorable member for East Sydney. The workupon which Mrs. Guy Smith is engaged will terminate in a few weeks' time.







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