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Thursday, 10 September 1942

Mr MARTENS - There is a tribunal, but the proceedings occupy a considerable period. After an appeal is heard, the decision is not announced for about a month or five weeks. Other cases are : -

h.   Jj.Roati- Previously interned, appealed and released. Now re-interned. Son also. Son arrived Australia very young. Roati left Australia during last war and joined Italian Army, returning after war, now in ill-health.

He is in ill-health because of aftereffects of the last war, when he fought with the Italians, who were then Britain's allies.

F.   Pavetto- Interned at outbreak of war. Appealed and was released. Now re-interned with two sons. Active in Cane-growers Organization. Voluntarily assisted in raising money for War Savings Certificates.

B.   Parravicini- Here since 1907. Active in raising war funds with Pavetto. Considered good loyal citizen.

Many of the people who subscribed that money are interned. I do not care if they are interned, provided they ought to be, but I am doubtful whether more injustice than justice has not been meted out to them. When these men are arrested they are taken to Brisbane and confined in a place too small to hold them before being sent to the internment camps at Cowra or Barmera. They are taken from North Queensland to places where the people are prejudiced against them because of their nationality. Because Italy is at war against us, they have to suffer. It is impossible for them to arrange for witnesses to appear on their behalf when they appeal. In short, they get nothing like a fair deal. Many of them could, with advantage to Australia, be released, not perhaps, unconditionally, but under guard to undertake farm work.

Many of them do not care if they do not go back to harvest cane, but they do not think that they should be treated as they are being treated and left in internment camps. I concede that a few days ago some Italians were fined because they refused to accept certain conditions. Some people said that they should be shot, but the men concerned are not foolish, they are intelligent, and they know what their conditions should be, for they have lived under those conditions in this country for many yearsAt any rate, the number mentioned was small. The men about whom I am concerned have done nothing except agricultural work all their lives. They came here from (agricultural settlements in Italy. I should not say that they were chased out of the country by Mussolini, but, at least, they got out because they did not want to have anything to do with him, or any of his tribe. These people want to protect their assets. I say that in the teeth of people in my own electorate. Some persons have said that the internees' farms should be taken from them and given to returned soldiers, and that after the war the Italians should be sent back to Italy. The difficulty in that respect is this: There are 500 cane farms in the Ingham district. Three thousand men from Ingham have enlisted for active service. If all come back fit. there will be six men asking for each of the 500 farms. The suggestion is too absurd for words. Apart from that aspect, good use could be made of these men, and a lot of the trouble that faces primary producers, particularly in the farming areas, would be overcome, because they would have available to them men who know the job- In that respect they are different from a lot of men who are to-day serving in sheltered industries. One of them is Mr. P. Cruise, whose name has been bandied about this Parliament. Mr. Cruise is a professional punter, not for the working class, but for men like Mr. Frank Packer and Sir Sydney Snow. He invests their money for them at the race-course. This man was not only taken into the Allied Works Council in order to keep him from being called up for military service, but also promoted, and God only knows what he knows about industry.

There has been a controversy about curtailment of horse and dog-racing. For my part, I do not care whether racecourses are closed, but I realize that many people derive enjoyment on Saturday afternoons at race meetings. The Prime Minister, in pressing for a curtailment of racing, is actuated by the necessity to conserve man-power, but I put it to the right honorable gentleman that most of those out of uniform whom he will see at race meetings, are in sheltered industries. I have a friend who is very annoyed at the suggestion that there should be further curtailment of horseracing. He looks forward to a Saturday afternoon at the races. He says that the Prime Minister is making a mistake if he thinks that by closing down on the sport he will be able to ensure that those people of military age who are associated with racing shall be called into the military forces. He declares that they are all in protected industries, at Bryant House, with the Allied Works Council, or in munitions factories. I know that the books of factories are checked by inspectors and that the inspectors do their work honestly, but all they have to go on is the wages sheets, and I know three or four young bookmakers who operate regularly at race meetings, but work at. factories sometimes only for a day or so a week. They spend two days a week at the Lakes Golf Links to keep themselves in good nick for the day or so that they work at the factories and for tha Saturday afternoon that they spend calling the odds. I know that these people cannot be called up, because they have obtained for themselves positions in sheltered establishments, especially the Allied Works Council and Bryant House. Even if race-courses are closed, these men will not be called up unless they are combed out of their sheltered positions. I know one young bookmaker who spends five and a half days in khaki and Saturday afternoon in mufti, shouting the odds at race meetings. I do not attend race meetings frequently, but I know many who attend regularly and they have informed me that he is still operating. I have seen him operating myself. He is a soldier five days a week and a bookmaker at the week-end. I do not know how he manages it. I. do know, however, that there are thousands of other young men who would be called before their commanding officer if they were seen in civilian clothes, and, like " Maxie " Falstein, confined to barracks for not behaving themselves. This man appears to be privileged to change from khaki to mufti on Saturday afternoons for betting purposes.

Mr Collins - Does ,he train during the other five days?

Mr MARTENS - I do not know, but that is the position. I have in my possession information which cannot be contradicted. The man who gave it to me does not go to race meetings, but he knows a great many of ,those who do. I know of one bookmaker who is registered as an expert dyer. A friend of mine at the Bondi Bowling Club1 said in reference to this man, " It is too funny for words. He puts himself down as a dyer, and the only thing he has ever dyed is his fingertips."

Mr Paterson - I know of one bookmaker who truthfully described himself as a brass finisher.

Mr MARTENS - Doubtless he was. The information that was given to me is as follows: -

At the present time it is not the working men on small incomes that are avoiding military service. They are under control wherever employed where inspectors, unions and all employers are responsible.

The proposed further reduction in racing will not to any extent bring about big results for getting additional man-power.

The evils the Government wants to clean up arc the big city clubs and golf clubs, bookmakers and starting price men of military age, and also the number of clerks and runners they employ in the racing business. At present they enjoy exemption from service by devious means. For instance young eligible men are employed in great numbers in all types of industrial factories, also laundries and clothes cleaning concerns, anything for which exemption can be claimed as an essential industry. They are on the factory payrolls aud may only work a few hours per week. If inspectors call they are notified by telephone and stand around machinery to leave the impression that they work all day like other employees. They pay for the privilege and very often find their own salaries bo as to appear on the weekly pay-roll.

Buying small interests in industries is a racket that has been going 'on ever since the demand and combing out for more man-power.

Another favourite ruse for racing men is to join a union and get work on the wharves as tally clerks. Many other types of jobs are taken on the hourly pay basis; lots of these men work only a few hours each week. The whole idea is to bc available for the racing each Saturday.

A great number of men employed in the newly-created government jobs are favoured by friends and others, and in this way avoid military service.

The Prices Commissioner, Rationing Board, Supply Department and allied works are a few where racing men could be released from for military call up.

Ordinary inspectors have not the entry to clubs or facilities for getting in touch with men of military age who are avoiding their duty to the country, because of the money and friends to help them.

As the position now stands the Government is powerless and these men will avoid service for all time. There is a way of getting hundreds, if not thousands, of men into the Army which I will explain to you later.

The way to which he referred is, of course, pulling these people out of reserved occupations.

I have heard the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) talking about how to obtain the release of men from the Army. I should like to know how it is that the son of one farmer in a certain district has been able to obtain his release in order to assist his father, whereas the son of another farmer in the same district, who is working about the same area of ground, has been refused release. The son of the man who was released told me that another man who was released from military service was a casual worker who takes a job wherever he can get it, and is not employed in any particular industry. With all due deference to the Minister for the Army, I say that he is Minister for the Army only in name, and that actually little notice is taken of him by the " brass hats ". I was instrumental in having released from the Australian Military Forces a young man who was a primary producer operating on a large scale. He is of more use to the country outside the Army than in it, because he grows the beef and mutton which we so urgently need. The Minister for the Army said to me that, if the man-power authorities recommended this man's release, he would undertake that he would be released. After full inquiry, the man-power authorities recommended his release. An officer at Victoria Barracks, Sydney, who was formerly a 6s. 8d. solicitor and who, accordingly, knows all about primary production, said to me, " If one or two politicians are interested in a person that makes no difference to the Army". I am not interested in this person. I do not know him personally, but 1 do know what he produces and how effectively he does his job, and that he is of more value to Australia in doing that job than he would be walking around a military camp doing fatigue duties because an officer did not like him. The Minister for th« Army gave distinct instructions that that man was to be released. The Army did not take any notice of him. Eventually, the Minister had to get in touch with the man in charge of the Military Forces at Victoria Barracks, Melbourne. The officer in charge of the Ingleburn camp said to this man, " You will not get out of here if I can help it ". Why? Because he wrote to a member of Parliament. This man is now looking after five stations for his father. Every one of his overseers has enlisted. He did no try to get out until the last overseer was about to be called up for the Royal Australian Air Force. This man is prepared, without any cost to the Commonwealth, to do everything he can to assist the Department of Commerce and the Department of Supply and Development in achieving their objectives in the way of providing food for the Military Forces and the civil population. A man of that sort is of more value to the Government than any ten experts, I do not caro who they are. -

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