Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 25 June 1941

Senator CAMERON (Victoria) . - I agreeintotothat the Government should be assisted in every way possible to organize a total war effort. A total war-time effort means at the very least that all who are capable should bear an equal share of the burden, and that nonessentialindustries should not be allowed to operate to the detriment of the war effort. At ajoint meeting of senators and members of the. House of Representatives, I asked what was intended to be done in that direction, and I was sup- . plied with an answer which did not convey any idea of the intentions of the Government-. We are asked to say now, in effect, that we accept in good faith the promise of the Government that it will do all that we think it should do. Although we have had 22 months of war, many of the things that should have been done have remained undone. For example, it has been said that there is a scarcity of labour necessary for building operations required so urgently for defence purposes. At the same time, however,, we find, that in almost ever.y capital city and country town of any importance in Australia palatial buildings of all kinds are being erected, absorbing the labour power and materials that should he used for defence purposes. That has gone on. ever since the war started, and it is going on today. .We are asked in this bill to 'agree to the appointment of additional Ministers. If it could be shown that' the work that should be done is being done, and if we were given the assurance that further efforts would be, made in the. directions that are so necessary, we could acquiesce- in the passage of this bill ; hut that is not the position. In every capital city and country town in 'Australia we- find services being duplicated and multiplied in every direction. If appropriate action were taken an enormous amount of . labour-power and, -millions of pounds- worth of materials could heutilized to far better advantage. In company with fellow senators and members of another place', I visited the Small Arms Factory at Footscray and found, to my amazement, that many machines in the key machine shop were idle. I asked the manager, Mr. Statton, what was the reason for that, and he said that private enterprise was taking-, his key men. In other words, the Munition Department is being sabotaged by private enterprise, and the Government is doing, nothing to help it. That is the only construction that I could place upon his words. I asked him if I wore at liberty to mention his name in this matter, and he consented. That ia why I mention it now. I sought' to ascertain the reason for this. The only answer that suggests itself to my mind is that private enterprise has so much capital invested in non-essential .and luxury industries that it is not prepared to make the sacrifice that is so necessary unless it can he actually .forced to do go. That is the position that has existed in England. If honorable senators read the reports that come from other sources, they will .find that for all practical purposes the British Government and private enterprise supporting the Government have been virtually bombed into acquiescence' or to improving on their war effort.

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. J. B; Hayes): - The honorable senator is departing from the- principle of" the bill.

Senator CAMERON - The object of the bill is- said to expedite, our war-time effort, and for. that purpose it. provides for the appointment of additional Ministers. I am endeavouring to show that, with all the. power at- their disposal, Ministers have, not, up to date, done what they should have done. It has been said that, we have made a good joh of our war-time effort. I agree that it is. good up to a point; but it is not' as good- as it should be. Thousands and thousands of men and millions of pounds worth of: material could be used to far better advantage than they are being used to-day. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) has' said that Ministers should be paid their full salaries. I agree ; but what is that salary ? Is it in excess of their requirements? If it is, I suggest that it should not be. paid. If it is just sufficient for their requirements, then' it should be. paid, However, at this time, when people are: going' from door to door asking men. and women to make contributions to all sorts of funds, such as comforts funds, it is incumbent on members of Parliament to be prepared to make some sacrifice.. I do not think it is quite a legitimate proposal in time of war that, if additional Ministers are appointed, they should be paid in excess of their actual needs. I do not know what Ministers actually receive, but I assume their remuneration is much in excess of what they actually need. In these circumstances, I. do not believe that the people should be called upon to provide the additional amount required to meet the Government's proposal in this bill.

A t least in a time of war Ministers should bear in mind that our men at the front are receiving only 5s- a day, and that' the purchasing- power of that sum is con- siderably less to-day than it was during the last war, and during the South African War of 1901-1002. They should also bear in mind "that the purchasing power of those who are engaged in the manufacture- of munitions' is considerably less than, it was before the outbreak of the war. When 'the people are being asked to make sacrifices Ministers should be prepared to set a, good example. ' We cannot- justify paying' the same ' salarie's to Ministers in a time of war as in prewar days. . 'We ' should be prepared to carry on with '-the very least'- we require for our needs.

Senator E B Johnston - Would the honorable senator apply that observation to every one ?

Senator CAMERON - The honorable senator will remember that when we were discussing the last budget proposals I " urged that no man, or woman, receiving less than £500 a year should be taxed until all persons in the community in receipt of more than that sum were taxed to the degree by which their income exceeded that figure. If that were done, the Government would have so much move purchasing power at its disposal, and could use that money to far better advantage than it is- being used at present. I do not advocate that people should at all times be obliged to live according to their bare needs; but in a time of war, not only members of Parliament but also all persons receiving considerably in excess of £1,000 a year should be prepared to accept the very least on which they can live. Until that is done we cannot claim that we have' equity -of sacrifice, or that we are organizing a total war'.effort. Consequently, a bill of this kind which does not make provision for that sort- of thing should be opposed. Any member of Parliament -'iri receipt of £1,000 a year should be prepared to serve in. any capacity, either as a Minister, or as a member of a committee, without any additional remuneration- whatever, provided it can- be shown that he is not being put to any additional expense while working in those capacities. I am not suggesting for' one' moment that any member of Parliament, or any person outside, should unnecessarily make himself or herself a martyr; but I urge that members of Parliament should, so far as it is humanly practicable, set an example to the nation in this respect. If we propose to continue to pay salaries to Ministers at the same rate as before the war, plus all of the allowances they have hitherto received, and- at- the same time, we tell the people that they are to be reduced to the lowest possible, minimum, we are not ' setting a good example. We "know that prices' are rising, and that every 'increase of prices reduces the purchasing power of those upon whom the prosperity of the nation principally depends, namely, the workers in the factories, and our soldiers in battle. If we are sincere in preaching equality of sacrifice, and in urging the greatest possible war effort, we should be the first to set an example to the people whom we desire to follow us.

Suggest corrections