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Thursday, 8 August 1946

Mr Fadden n asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice - :

With reference to a communication dated the 11 th April, 1945, from Mr, W. T. Hughes, of Brisbane,, to the late Prime Minister, con cerning members of the censorship 'staff in Brisbane, and which, matters the Prime Minister has stated were earlier fully investigated by the Department of the Army, will he (a) detail the nature of. the investigation* made regarding each allegation made by Mr. Hughes, and (6) indicate in detail what was the appropriate action taken in each case?

Mr Forde - The answer to the right honorable member's question is as follows : -

(a)   The allegations made by Mr. W. T. Hughes, of Brisbane, were investigated in March, 1944, by the Army Controller of Establishments, who was acting in a civil capacity and had been appointed to the war-time position of Controller of Civil Establishments in the Department of the Army because he had acted in a similar capacity in the 1914-18 war, and prior to the present war had occupied a very responsible post in commercial life. (&) The following information is furnished in regard to the statements made by Mr. Hughes as to the class of employees engaged in the censorship work: -

Employment of former taxi-cab drivers on the censorship staff. - This referred to a person who had ceased employment in August, 1942. Mr. Hughes advised the investigator that he had nothing to say against taxi-drivers as a class, but thought that men with better qualifications for censorship' should have .been employed.

Employment of barbers on the censorship staff. - This refers to a person who was employed at the time of the investigation as a supervisor. Mr. Hughes quoted the Commonwealth electoral roll as his authority for this person's previous employment, because th«occupation stated in the roll was given al " hairdresser ". Later this person was selling motor cars, and Mr. Hughes alleged that he sold one to Professor Stable " and was then appointed to the censorship staff and soon became a supervisor ". The investigator re* ported that both Professor Stable and the person concerned deny the allegation regarding the motor car, and Professor Stable proved that he had bought a different make of car than that which the person was selling.

Employment of a cabinet-maker on th« censorship staff. - The investigator found that the allegations made by Mr. Hughes in regard to this person were correct, and, in consequence, he ceased employment on the censorship staff -

Employment of a collector of. bad timepayment debts on the censorship staff. - The investigator found that the allegations in thi case referred to a person who had ceased employment in May, 1942.

Employment of a retired publican and saddler on the censorship staff. - Mr. Hughes, in conveying information to the investigator, expressed doubt as to - the suitability of this man for employment on censorship work. Tha investigator reported, however, that in his view the person- was performing his duty satisfactorily.

Employment of driver of a pastrycook's cart on the censorship staff. - The investigator reported that the person referred to had ceased employment on the censorship staff in September, 1943. He. advised, however, that the information available in regard to the person concerned showed evidence of a good school career and contained excellent references.

Employment of insolvent storekeeper and reputed starting-price bookmaker on censorship staff. - Mr. Hughes advised the investigatorthat this employee was an uncertified insolvent, which was denied by the person concerned, who stated that he had made a deed of arrangement with his creditors following losses resulting from a fire at Somerset Dam. Mr. Hughes alleged also that this person was associated with the Reliance Turf Agency, which allegation was investigatedby the Commonwealth Investigation Branch in Brisbane, but no evidence was found of the existence of the agency in Brisbane. The investigator considered that the person concerned was performing his duties competently.

Dishonesty of pay officer. - This refers to Mr. T. M. Smith, who was a permanent officer of the Commonwealth Public Service employed at the Censor's office. He was dismissed from the service on the 20th April, 1943, for misappropriation of funds while so employed. At the time of his appointment as a permanent officer on the censorship staff, there was nothing against him, and the embezzlements which led to his conviction and imprisonment took place after his appointment to the Censor's staff as a Commonwealth public servant in the normal way. for which the Chief Censor had no responsibility.

Employment of an " international crook " on the censorship staff. - This refers, to a Mr. Raymond, who, however, had ceased employment on the censorship staff in December, 1939. Mr. Hughes also referred to a Mr. Coombes, who had ceased employment in March, 1940, and whose "troubles " with the police occurred subsequent to his employment in the censorship branch. Mr. Hughes made certain allegations against a professional man employed on the censorship staff in relation to his separation from his wife. This he described as not creditable to censorship, but. the investigator reported that the matter of this man's divorce should not concern his employment in the Censor's office unless his conduct was such as to bring the Censor's office into disrepute. The person concerned had an appointment on the Brisbane University staff and the investigator reported that he wished to resign from the censorship office to return to his position at the university.

Investigation of applicants for employment in the Censors' office. - The investigator reported that certain of the allegations made by Mr. Hughes had been proven, but in the main the allegations had not been supported by direct evidence, and in certain of the cases vhere the allegations were proven action had already been taken to terminate the appointments of the persons concerned before the allegations had been made by Mr. Hushes. The investigator stated that it was hardly to be expected that, on the outbreak of war, when so many persons had to be employed in varying capacities in the departmental organiza- tion, certain persons would be appointed who would later be found to be unsuitable, either because of incapacity to perform their duties, or because of unsatisfactory records. He indicated that this applied not only to the censorship officers, but to all branches of the department, and advised that at the outbreak of the war there was no organized Security Service, so that a full investigation into the records of applicants for special duty - such as censorship and other like staffs - was not possible. As the Security Service became stabilized, so investigations became more intensive and as thorough a check as possible was made of applicants for employment, while information became available in regard to those already in employment, which, in certain instances, resulted in the termination of their services.

Australian Army : Discharges.

Mr Abbott t asked the Minister for the

Army, upon notice -

1.   How many men in the Army arenow in camp in Australia?

2.   What is the number who have not reenlisted andwho will be discharged?

3.   How many men are in training for the occupational forces and are not eligible for discharge ?

Mr Forde - The following are the latest figures : -

1.   68,495.

2.   45,249.

3.   9,675.

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