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Friday, 29 March 1946

Mr CHIFLEY (Macquarie) (Prime Minister and Treasurer) . - The request made by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) for the inclusion of representatives of the Australian Women's Land Army in the Victory Contingent to .be sent to London was also made by a Government supporter earlier this week. I said then that the request would be considered. The original decision regarding the composition of the Victory Contingent was made by Cabinet. Since it has been announced, various requests have been made for the inclusion of representatives of the Australian Women's Land Army and a number of other organizations which gave valuable service during the war. For instance, one request was on behalf of the merchant navy. As the honora'ble member will appreciate, it is very difficult to decide this question, because many organizations which gave magnificent war service have claims to representation. .Somebody has suggested that members of the Allied Works Council, who were conscripted towork under very arduous and inconvenient conditions in the Northern Territory, ought, to be represented. There is an almost endless array of people with claims to be considered. I do not detract in any way from the splendid work that was done by the members of the Australian Women's Land Army, -but, personally, I am not hopeful of the contingent being increased in any way. The original intention was that the contingent should include only enlisted personnel, and- 1 believe that a majority of members of the Ministry still adhere to that view. However, I have promised that consideration will be given to requests that have been made and that will be done. '

The matter raised by the honorable member for,- Eden-Monaro (Mr. Fraser) relates to a rather unfortunate incident in p. country town. The position is that the Security Loan organizer at Bowral, working in conjunction with the local municipal council, which is the loan committee in that .area, arranged a Sunday afternoon concert for children. It also arranged for the concert to be broadcast from station 2KA. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro sent me a telegram regarding the protest, and later spoke to me personally. It was hoped that harmony could be secured by means of a conference of the church representatives who protested and the municipal council, but I understand that the conference failed in this respect. Usually, such small differences are settled locally, but I was called on to make a judgment, as on a number of other occasions, notably in the case of loan broadcasts on Anzac Day, against which there were many protests. I could not foresee any great harm to the morals of the community arising from holding a concert on a Sunday, provided that the entertainment was not held during church hours and the script of the programme was revised to see that it contained nothing irreverent or in any way likely to desecrate the Sabbath. After the conference, the matter was further considered by the municipal council. I look upon " civic fathers " as being the quintessence of respectability in the community, having had long association with them, and theref ore having first-hand knowledge of their outlook on social -and moral questions. I have to depend upon the council, as the local loan organizing committee, for active assistance in that district, and therefore I concurred in its decision. Furthermore, I realize that the concert can be held only if the parents of the children concerned approve of it. I believe that the parents will have due regard for any moral questions involved. Balancing one side against the other, I decided that no harm would arise from holding the concert on Sunday, whereas much good would be done. I realize that the protest was made by people who are very sincere and strong in their convictions about the observance of the Sabbath, and I have great respect for their opinions. Nevertheless, I consider that the concert ought to be held, and I have given instructions to that effect.

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