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Thursday, 26 June 1941

Senator FRASER -- They did not have sufficient mechanized vehicles or support from the air.

Senator Collett - I admit the insufficiency of air support.

Senator FRASER - In spite of all explanations of and apologies for our failure in Greece and Crete, I contend that . everything that ought to have been done to assist our troops was not- done. That fact is apparent from the statements made by the British officer who returned from Crete to Britain in order to give to' the British Government a review of the campaign. It is all right to say that the mistakes that marred our operations in Greece and Crete will not be repeated, but other mistakes may be made. Iam sorry to learn that Australian troops are sent intobattle merely to fill a gap.

This Government is not. doing all that ought to be done in . order to prosecute- the war efficiently. After nearly two years of warfare only now has a site been selected for the building of a small arms factory in Western Australia. If it takes as long to build that factory as it did to build the military hospital in Western Australia, the war will, be over before it is finished. Whatever the outcome of the war may be, it isessential that the factory fee built with all haste. The construction of the hospital was delayed:, because unnecessary time was occupied in drawing plans and in the selection of the site. In fact, there was a battle over the. hospital site, and I was victorious.

Senator Collett - The trouble was that the site selected was not the site the honorable senator selected.

Senator FRASER - I did not select a site, but I- did object to . the site originally chosen by the Government, because it was surrounded by the Karra- katta cemetery, the Claremont asylum, a sewage farm- and a dogs' home. That would- have been the site of, the hospital to-day had the 'Commonwealth had its way,, because, when I took a hand in the mattery the land had been purchased, and all that was required, was an agreement with the State Government. The Minister and' I battled the matter out in the press for a couple of days.

Senator Collett - And we agreed.

Senator FRASER - Yes, after the Government ' had decided that the site chosen was not the best available. I pay tribute to the Minister for the Interior (Senator Foll)' who had the whole matter reviewed', and,, but for whose intervention, a hospital, costing, only £40,000 or £50,000 as against the £150,000 structure now in existence, would have been erected.

Senator Collett - - The honorable senator is not justified in ignoring my part in the- transaction.

Senator FRASER - I do not ignore what the Minister did, but I do' say that had it not been for the Minister for the Interior taking notice of my representations, the military hospital in Western Australia would have ' been incapable of rendering the service which is expected of a military hospital. After consulting with a number of medical practitioners of high standing inWestern Australia,. I decided to make representations to the 'Government with the object of having a small swimming pool provided in the hospital grounds. As the Government proposes to placebefore us in the near future a bill dealing with physical fitness, it might have been expected that these representations would have received favorable consideration, but that wasnot the case. I made my representations to Senator Foll, as Minister for the' Interior; thinking that he would be able- to give a decision on the subject; but I found that the matter had to be referred to the Minister for the Army (Mr: Spender). My letter to the Minister, for- the Interior read as follows - 30th May, 1941.

My dear Minister,

I understand that the Military Hospital inWestern Australia will be completed at an early date and in view of that I desire to place before you a request for some additional facilities for the patients who may 'be inmates of the hospital for long or short periods.

After consultation. with. -prominent medical authorities,in Western Australia,I have come totheconclusion that an indoor -swimming pool would be of . great advantage to the patients- and' would greatly facilitate 'their recovery. In' addition, to the' medical- opinion offered, I am informed that many of the latest types of public hospitals have installed small indoor pools which are used for treatment in certain cases. ' . "-... - It is not necessary formeto go into the benefits that . would be derived fromthis innovation. I would, rather, leave that to a more competent authority than myself,' . but . the representations that I am making are founded on the best and highest -medical authorities I have consulted . with, and on their opinion.I am makingthese representations.

I hope thereforethat this will receive the f avorable consideration and decision ' of the Government.

On the 21st JuneI received the -following communication from the Minister for the Army : -

Dear Senator, Fraser,

With reference- to your letter dated 30th May, . 1941,-' addressed to Senator' the Hon. H. S. Foll, and referred by him to this Department, regarding additional, facilities at the new MilitaryHospital, Perth, I desire to inform you that the matterhas been discussed with , the . Medical Directorate, Army Headquarters. There is among medical authorities generally, some doubt as. to the necessity of a swimming pool, and recent, investigations abroad by officers of my department definitely indicate that, where hydrotherapy . is deemed essential, excellent results for. adults are being obtained by a specially designed single bath unit. Accordingly in the Physiotherapy De- partments of all new Military Hospitals in Australia' the single unit method is 'being installed.

In view of this information it has hot been considered desirable to install an indoor swimming pool in the new hospital.

Seeing that the military authorities who selected' the original site for the military hospital in Western Australia found it necessary subsequently to alter their minds, I hope that they will also be prevailed upon to alter their views in connexion with the proposal for a swimming pool at the hospital. I am quite certain that honorable senators, generally, will agree that . the men who return to Australia from the war -should be provided with every possible comfort, in order to facilitate their recovery. I am also certain that a swimming pool would contribute to that end. I hope that the last word has not been said on that subject. The physical condition of many of the men who will come back to Australia will prevent them frombathing on our surfing beaches: For that reason also I trust that however ' satisfactory the single-bath unitmay be in general hospitals, we shall at least have- a swimming pool in our 'military hospital. I request that this proposal be reconsidered.

I wish now to- refer to' petrol 'rationing, although the direct issue, in this instance, 'is price control. I have received from the secretary of a country . roads board in Western Australia- a letter,- dated the 29th May, which reads as follows:-

Dear Sir,

I enclose herewith copy of a letter which I am forwarding to the Price Fixing Commissioner by instruction, of my board, and would appreciate any assistance you may be able to give with regard to theprice of the petrol consumed by this board.

To my board it seems difficult tounderstand what relationship the semi-Government rates and the amount of petrol allowed under the consumers' licenses- when fixing theprice has to dowith the petrol restrictions.'

Any assistance you may be able to give to have the concessions in price renewed will be appreciated by my board.

The letter for warded by the roads board to the Prices Commissioner read as follows : -

Dear Sir,

RePrice of Petrol.

My board is in receipt of a communication from the Shell Company of Australia Limited advising as follows: - " In the past you have enjoyed semigovernment rates when purchasing motor spirit, this rate being l1/2d. per gallon off list rate including pump rebate.

We now regret to inform you that we cannot continue to allow this special rate, and from the 21st March, 1341, the price of motor spirit to you, delivered in the metropolitan free delivery area, will be 2s. 3d. per gallon in drums or bulk, or 2s. 2d. per gallon bulk provided you hold a consumer's licence from the Liquid Fuel Control Board for 250 gallons per month or more.

The adjustment has been made necessary by a recent ruling given by the Price Fixing Commissioner at 'Canberra. Simultaneously with the increase in price of motor spirit by 1d. per gallon on the 2.1st March the Commissioner instructed that . all special rebates being allowed must be discontinued."

And I am instructed to make a strong protest against the said action, firstlybecause my board in common with other local authorities have conscientiously curtailed their petrol consumption in accordance, with the wish of the Commonwealth Government, . which action does not appear to offer any justification for removing local governing authorities from the semi-government rates and further the placing of the smaller authorities whose consumer's licence from the Liquid Fuel Control Board is less than' 250 gallons per month' on a higher rate than those authorities having consumers' licences for over 250 . gallons per month. '

Thepricetothisboard at present is not as may be supposed 2s. 3d. per gallon but 2s. 61/2d. per gallon being an impost for freight, which is of course out of proportion to the actual cost of conveyance 107 miles from Perth- to Moora byrail.

My board trust -that you may review your decision to remove them from the benefits of semi-government rates and also . remove the special disability due to our lower consumer's allowance.

The responsibilities of country local authorities are just as great if not greater than the more favourably situated local authorities and my board are unable to appreciate the reason for differential treatment.

I ask leave- to continue my remarks at a later date.

Leave granted; debate adjourned;

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