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Wednesday, 25 February 1942


Senator BRAND (Victoria) .- When Darwin was bombed the comment was : " This should wake Australia up ". It has done so to a great degree. Unfortunately, the people's hitherto complacent attitude is giving way to a de featist attitude. Many citizens, including politicians, have " the wind up ", to us 3 a Great War expression. There is no need for alarm. Japanese activity in the near north is a clarion call for a greater war effort, with a background of calm confidence that we not only " can take it " but also " can give it ". We all deplore past governments' indifference towards adequate, well-equipped, welltrained sea, land and air forces. The nation is now paying heavily for thai folly. But commendable progress has been made, since war was declared, to make good our shortcomings. The Axis powers have, in actual combat, acquired the greatest respect for the offensive fighting qualities of our sailors, soldiers and airmen. The time is fast approaching when our home forces too will have an opportunity, in conjunction with our latest ally, to show their mettle. When the time comes for them to strike, the enemy must be hit hard wherever he may be. The old Australian Imperial Force won all its battles by taking the offensive. A purely defensive attitude is the next step to a withdrawal, and finally defeat. The static, or position warfare during the greater part of the 1914-18 struggle, engendered a " dug-out" complex, so that ii became necessary to carry out night and even day raids against the enemy. Only when a grand offensive was launched, was the road to victory cleared.

I stress the importance of offensive action because I fear that the Curtin Government has a defensive complex; many Government supporters, I believe, favour a " last ditch " defence. There is not mi ex-service man in either the Advisory War Council or the War Cabinet. A leavening of men with war service would be an advantage. When tlie time is opportune to strike there must be no legislative obstruction to hinder co-operation with our Allies. At present Australia can use her home forces to clear the Japanese out of our mandated territory, but cannot despatch one Militia man to remove the menace in Japaneseoccupied Dutch or Portuguese territory closer to Darwin and the north-west of Australia. If we allow United States troops to do this job for us, we will be discredited for all-time on the other side of the Pacific. Section 13 a of the

National Security Act, which allows only voluntarily enlisted men to serve in territories other than those under the control of the Commonwealth, must be amended as soon as possible.

I.   draw the attention of the Government, to r.he danger menacing Australia as the result of the unrestricted liberty of enemy aliens. The wholesale and retail fruit and vegetable trade in this country is almost exclusively controlled by enemy or naturalized aliens. They are benefiting by the enlistment and call-up of Australia's manhood. They are extending their productive holdings. Short supplies and consequent higher prices are playing into the hands of these sheltered aliens. More first-class land is coming under their control. They constitute an internal enemy force of some thousands, which would cause a great deal of trouble if Australia were invaded. Prompt action is needed to deal with the man-power problem in rural districts. It is so acute that it is impossible for Australian producers to obtain starts and maintain production. Alien producers have no man-power trouble.* with which to contend. I understand that these aliens have formed the workers of each holding into a sort of company, which escapes the provisions of wages boards, and the employers' payroll tax for child endowment. They are so organised that they can transfer their countrymen to any given point at any time in order to work alien holdings. Behind all of this organization are master minds who have in view the capture of the whole of our fruit and vegetable trade. A sinister ring is thus in operation. While Australians are fighting and dying for love of country, and while Australian producers are being forced off their holdings, these aliens are making large profits and consolidating their position. What is the solution? The Government should exempt those called up for military training who are engaged in those avocations. It should fill the vacancies so caused in the Army from the hundreds of men who have been granted exemption on the flimsiest pretext that they are doing essential war work - work that could be done by women - and men not liable to be called up. The Government's policy of compulsorily registering aliens and allotting them to work of a national character is a step in the right direction. Many of these conscripted aliens could be employed growing vegetables in the proximity of our biggest camps for the troops.

The Government is to be commended on its decision to intern enemy aliens in north Queensland. But why only in that part of the Commonwealth? A general round-up of naturalized aliens with axis sympathies is long overdue.

Recently a weekly newspaper contained a scathing article concerning the absence of Public Service clerks from Victoria Barracks, Sydney, during weekends. I made it my business to inquire if the same applied at Victoria Barracks. Melbourne. As expected, I found that the article was true in some respects. In each section of the administration, military clerks work side by side with civilian clerks, both doing almost identical duties. The uniformed men have no specified hours for Sundays or week-days and draw no overtime. The civil clerks' hours are specified in the Commonwealth Public Service Regulations or arbitration awards. Overtime for thom has recently been abolished, mainly because. the practice was abused. The system is all wrong. In these critical times the Public Service statutory hours should be made more elastic. No one expects a man in uniform or plain clothes to work continuously every week without relaxation or recreation. The senior official should have authority to grant time off as he thinks convenient, but under the regulations, the civil clerks must " clock off " when the statutory hours per week have been worked. In war-time, particularly with the threat of invasion hanging over us, there should be a continuous service. The most important events requiring urgent attention usually occur during week-ends, when half of the clerical staff is away. I do not blame the individual who, in the mass, is loyal and anxious to give the maximum service. It is the system which is all wrong. Hidebound regulations are clogging the wheels of our war effort. When will somebody in authority take action to remove these obstacles?







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