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Friday, 27 June 1941


Senator CAMERON - What is done in England has nothing to do with Australia. 'We possess sovereign rights to decide what is best for the defence of Australia. Australian officers should be in control of Australian soldiers, and the Government should not be permitted to appoint aliens, particularly if it does not require them to take the oath of allegiance. Must we adopt a policy merely because it has been adopted in England? I am strongly opposed to many acts of the British Government, particularly in relation to the military forces. Ifwe followed Great Britain's lead, Australian soldiers would be expected to fight for the same rates of pay as British conscripts.


Senator McLeay - Would the honorable senator object to Americans fighting for this country?


Senator CAMERON - No, but the Government should make it clear that aliens who desire to serve in the Australian Imperial Force must serve under the same conditions as Australians. That is a reasonable proposition and I am certain that 90 per cent. of Australians would agree with it.

I wish now to refer to the proposal of the Government to take certain drastic action with the. object of preventing strikes. As dispassionately as possible, I inform the Government that unless it is also prepared to take drastic action against profiteers and others primarily responsible for industrial trouble, disputes and strikes will continue to occur.


Senator McLeay - And the honorable senator will help them to occur.


Senator CAMERON - I would much rather no strikes occurred, and I am perfectly certain that the number of industrial disputes and strikes would have been less had the Government accepted our advice in the first instance and agreed to the panels proposed by the Australasian Council of Trade Unions, which provided for direct representation of the workshops. Under that system the first indication of a strike would have been apparent to the representatives, and the situation could have been dealt with immediately on the spot, and, if necessary, later referred to an appropriate tribunal. By that means it would have been possible to avoid a great deal of industrial dislocation. I desire the -wheels of industry to he kept movingwithout interruption. I consider it to he most important to the making of a total and successful war effort that industry shall be kept in operation. If the owners of private industry and services, and the controllers of prices, rents, and other matters affecting our economic affairs, were required to pay proper attention to the rights of the workers and were prevented from going along in their own sweet way, many industrial disputes would be avoided.

The evidence that profiteering is increasing is unanswerable. Every wellestablished monopoly is increasing its profits.


Senator McLeay - That is not true.


Senator CAMERON - If it be not true, I ask the honorable senator to reply to certain statements that I shall now quote from the leaflet published weekly by Messrs. J. B. Were and Son, one of the highest and most reliable authorities on the subject in Melbourne. I direct attention to the following information which appeared in the company's publication dated Melbourne, the 24th January, 1941-

Column "A" also shows thepresent yield in relation to cost assuming he had taken up all his rights; whilst Column "B" shows the average annual return on the original investment over the twelve years, assuming he had sold his rights and his bonus shares at the time of issue.

It will be seen from the table that a man who expended £1,600 in buying 1,000 Broken Hill Proprietary shares at 32s. at the peak of the market in 1929 and exercised all subsequent rights would now have 3.280 shares, costing him a total of £3,100. The market value to-day of his holding would be approximately £7,407, showing a capital appreciation of £4,307, or about 140 per cent.

Current dividends would give him a return of 7.9 per cent. on his cash outlay. If, however, he had retained only his original holding of 1,000 shares, but had sold his rights to new issues and bonus shares at the time of issue, his average return over the 12 years would work out at over18 per cent. per annum.

Looked at from another point of view, if the proceeds of the sale of all rights and bonus shares were used to write down the cost of the original holding of 1,000 Broken Hill Proprietary shares, the investor would still have 1,000 shares for nothing, a capital profit of £1,000 in cash and an income of £75 a year at current dividend rates.

In the case of Australian Consolidated Industries, the capital profit would bo £1,145, and the investor would hold 1,000 shares at no cost. returning him £70 a year.

If the same procedure were applied to Colonial Sugar Refinery the investor would have 50 shares valued at £2,406 in the market at a net cost of £850, giving a yield of 10 per cent. per annum.

From the above calculations, it will he seen that it has paid investors handsomely to put their money into the market leaders. With the tremendous industrial development now in progress in Australia, who can say what benefits will accrue to the holders of key stocks over the next 12 years?

 


Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - All done with the kindness of the good Australian tariff!


Senator CAMERON - I agree with the honorable senator. The workers have been wonderfully kind - much more so than I should be disposed to be. I take it that no objection will be offered to such kindness?


Senator McLeay - Why does not the honorable senator deal with the war period ?


Senator CAMERON - What I am saying cannot be divorced from the war period. The plain fact is that the Government is allowing profiteers to use the war as a cover for making profits on an unprecedented scale, and this is militating against the nation's war effort;


Senator McLeay - That is definitely untrue.


Senator CAMERON - It is definitely and absolutely true. If the profits that are being made to-day by these monopolistic concerns were being used by the Government to provide better conditions for the workers and more materials for use in our war industries, our position would be better than it is. The Government cannot have it both ways. It cannot expect to allow increasing profits to accumulate in the coffers of the monopolies and in the hands of the investors, and, at the same time, to proceed with a total and successful war effort. The Government is, in effect, an accomplice of the profiteers in that it refuses to make a stand against them.

SenatorMcLeay. - Where would this country be to-day without the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited?


Senator CAMERON - It would be in a muchbetter position if the Government were game enough to say that that concern must be declared a national utility, and that, for the duration of the war, the whole of the staff must be held responsible to the Government. All question of profit should be eliminated. What is to happen after the war could be left for later decision. The Government should say to that monopoly : " You will not be permitted to bleed the people of the country, and to militate against the country's war effort". If that were done the- Leader of the Senate would not need even to attempt to point the finger of scorn at the workers.


Senator McLeay - What happened to the industries which the Labour Government nationalized?


Senator CAMERON - They were sabotaged by the succeeding anti-Labour Government. The Labour Government in office at the time of the last war nationalized the shipbuilding industry, so that shipping could be carried on successfully during the war. It also acquired a line of steamers but immediately it went, out of office the succeeding government sold the ships. The country has never been paid for them, and there is a scarcity of shipping to-day. An anti-Labour Government in New South Wales also destroyed the shipbuilding industry that was established in that State and sold the equipment, not to British or Australian interests but to the Japanese! It would cost £1,200,000 to replace the machinery that was removed from the Walsh Island Dockyard by the direction of the anti-Labour Government.

The Leader of the Senate has shown some anxiety to know what Labour intends to do in connexion with the war effort. Let me ask what this Government is doing? It is appointing aliens as officers in our forces, it is placing profiteers in charge of our war activities so that they may bleed the country white, and it is demanding that conscription shall be enforced on the workers in order that they may be compelled to serve under alien officers and to work for profiteers.

The quotations that I have made from the pamphlet of Messrs. J. B. Were and Son show clearly that profiteering is rampant and increasing. The information that I have placed before the Senate could be supplemented by other similar details from many authorities equally as reliable as that to which I have referred. If the wheels of industry are to be kept running smoothly, as we all desire; if strikes are to be prevented, and if there is to be harmony in the relations of employers and employees, the Government must be prepared to take drastic action, not against the workers, but against the profiteers. If that be done we shall be able to use our financial resources to the maximum, and to organize our industries for a 100 per cent. war effort.

Finally, I wish to say a. few words about the new order. The Prime Minister said, in effect, that after this war the world will not be the same as it was before. That is obvious to anybody who has studied the position, but, apparently, it was not obvious to the Prime Minister when he said, at the beginning of the war, that business should be carried on as usual. As a result of the war, the monopolies to which I have directed attention will either be reduced in number by the elimination of the smaller of them, and. will 'become allpowerful, or they will have to be made the property of the people. I hope that the change will not be accomplished by bloodshed, but it remains for the Government to say whether the trial of strength to determine whether monopolies shall become national property shall take place without friction.


Senator Leckie - Does the honorable senator suggest that, if the Government does not take over those undertakings, there will be bloodshed in Australia?


Senator CAMERON - I said that I trust . that the change will be accomplished .without bloodshed. Following the last war, the establishment df dictatorships in Italy, Germany and Russia caused bloodshed, but, in Australia, the people still have the franchise and. the right, on paper, to determine their- own industrial conditions. The change which I' hope, to witness in this country will, I believe, he peacefully accomplished, and will prove highly beneficial to all.







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