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Wednesday, 26 June 1946

Mr BLAIN (Northern Territory) . - We are debating " A bill for an act to grant and apply a sum out of the Consolidated ' Revenue Fund for the service of the year ending the thirtieth day of June, One thousand nine hundred and forty-seven ?'. Never before in my experience in this House have I considered it so necessary to stress the need to place the method of the expenditure of money on a par with the method of allocating it. That was impressed on me by my recent visit to my vast electorate. My experience during this period of the session is one of the most interesting and extraordinary of my life. I have been away from Australia and this House so long that renewed observations of its proceedings have a freshness for me which probably they have not for other honorable members who have had the misfortune to be here all the time. I am particularly interested in and dismayed by the remarkable, change that has occurred since my departure in December, 1941, in the standard? and thoughts of the people of this country. The change is one that we who went away in 1941 could not have conceived. T would not have believed then that the country would have become so craven and abject under the influence of repression and government by regulation that it would have submitted to the conditions of black-out and scarcity which at present rule in this country. [ could not have believed that in the four years, when . tens of thousands of young men were fighting, without leave, in the trenches, that this place would become so sport-minded that horse and dog racing and league football would become the main obsessions of the population of the cities and the major industry, to which some newspapers are compelled, by public opinion to devote, sometimes, as much space as they do to the whole of the world's affairs, to the exclusion of the effective reporting of Parliament. Obviously, a journalist has no right of personal expression. He must practise his profession directly as a means of livelihood.

I could not have believed that, a speech like that made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) on the Indonesian question last week would not have rocked the Government on its feet, and made its position precarious. Yet it rolled off this Government like water from a duck's back. I could riot have believed that such a duel as that between the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) and the Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Lazzarini) on the question of disposals, would not have . been regarded as the baring of a gross public scandal. Those charges were countered by a shockingly inadequate defence by the Minister. The speech of the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) on finance a few days ago would have destroyed any other government against which it was directed, if' an effective answer had not been made to it.. No effective reply has yet been made from the treasury bench.

Accusations against the Government of the grossest extravagance and deception have become such common daily incidents that are scarcely even news. Quite recently, for instance, the Government appointed one of its henchmen in Tasmania as High Commissioner for Australia in New Zealand. It1 was a someWhat hurried appointment. When it was made, the very dogs in Tasmania must have been barking the exploits of the gentleman involved, and he must have heaved .a great sigh, of relief when, by his appointment, hewas transported beyond the 3-mile limit.. With equal suddenness that gentleman, was replaced recently by a young Victoria Cross winner. For that ' gentleman I have the greatest personal admiration, and for his gallantry somethingapproaching awe. But he was merely a young university student beforethe war. He has neither the training nor the qualifications m to servethe country as a high commissioner. The reason for his appointment was only apparent, when it was discovered thar this political henchman, whom the Government had aided, I am sure unwittingly, in getting beyond the 3-mile limit,, had been convicted by a royal commission of bribe-taking in the most flagrant manner. It then must have been apparent to everybody that the appointment of a Victoria Cross winner,, otherwise unqualified for his position,, was merely designed by the Government to enable it to take coverbehind his well-earned decoration. I do not: blame him for accepting the position. I have a very high opinion of him. in every way. But I am sure that had he known when he was offered the position that the Government was paying him the doubtful compliment of askingfa im to succeed a bribe-taking scoundrel! who was afraid to go into the witness box to defend himself lest he become incriminated and find the police waiting for him outside the inquiry room, he would have punched the Minister who made theoffer to him. It. is time the Government made a statement on this d' Alton case. I should like to know what steps it is takingto ensure that, that corrupt scoundrel who represented this country in New Zealand at the expense of the Commonwealth is brought to justice. In view of some of the evidence given before the royal commission on the scandals in the Tasmania^ timber industry I should like to know whether the Commonwealth knows whether its recently employed officer is tobe prosecuted by the Tasmanian Government or whether, in the light of some of the evidence, the Tasmanian Government is reluctant to take action for fear of what may be disclosed concerning some of his Labour colleagues in Tasmania, if Mr. d'Alton is compelled to go into a witness box. This is one incident which shows how deadened public opinion is in this country - how craven is this Government in not making an honest statement.

In my own electorate things are happening which nobody could believe if they did not know them to be true. I was in Darwin on Victory Day and I can assure honorable members that the whole atmosphere would shock the public of the South if it knew the position. While a thanksgiving service was being held at Darwin on Victory Day the Commonwealth Disposals ' Commission was so unmindful of its duty and the fitness of things as to hold a sale, which was attended by a collection of buyers from the south, who, no doubt, thought that the residents had gone to the service in order that they should have " an open go " at the sale. I am disappointed to think that such a disgraceful thing could happen. And what is happening at such sales up there? I flew to Darwin in the company of an old " geyser " and, by a stroke of misfortune, I found myself sharing an hotel room with him. He bored me by his boasting about how he and hiscronies do things at the sales. Yes, it was a. lovely war for the " gum tree soldiers " and the holders of the home front. " Oh no ", he exclaimed, " we do not bid against each other. We arrange beforehand that one buys the lot and we split it up later ". Why are Ministers failing to stop that sort of thing. I am not the only honorable member of this House who has directed attention to these matters. The honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons), in her vigorous speech, ako directed the attention of the Ministry to the system under which small buyers are excluded from the possibility of buying goods disposed of by the Commonwealth Disposals Commission because not only trucks but everything else handled by it are put up for auction in bulk lots. They are purchased on behalf of groups by their nominees without competition. Three Ministers are now interested in the Northern Territory - the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Johnson), the Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Lazzarini), and the Minister' for Supply and Shipping (Senator Ashley), _ who directs the Commonwealth Disposals Commission. Surely they could ensure the apportionment of the equipment that is being disposed of at auction in such a way that equipment needed by the small men for developmental purposes should be available to them! I pay the Minister for Supply and Shipping the compliment that, when I directed his attention to the manner in which compressors were being disposed, of by the commission, he did everything he could to rectify the position, but it was then too late. I have also been informed that when Postmaster-General, he was the only Minister who would do anything for the Territory. Compressors are needed by miners at the Tennant Creek gold-field, where we have a prospector field, not big mines. When those miners sought to buy compressors they found that someone else had scooped the pool. There are compressors at. Darwin now which ought- to be made available for the development of mining, but the Army is using them, to pump up the tires of motor vehicles. Let the three Ministers confer on this matter. Let them publish a list of the goods to be disposed of by the commission that might be of service in developing the Territory. If they will not do that themselves, let them tell me, because I would willingly distribute the particulars amongst the people who I know would be interested. It is a pity that there is so little coordination between Ministers. At Adelaide River, 75 miles from Darwin, a pastoralist cannot water his horses and cattle because a 1^-mile .section of -a creek has had dumped into it all kinds of unused parts of motor vehicles. I saw what has happened, and, had I a camera with me, I would have taken photographs to back up what I am saying. A pastoralist said to me, " Come over here and I'll show you a theodolite, one of the things that you use ". I said, " Don't be ridiculous ", but he assured me that he was speaking the truth. Unfortunately a freshet had occurred in the creek, and we could not find it, but I do not doubt bis word. Fancy a theodolite being dumped like that ! That man told me that he intended to sue the Commonwealth 'Government for compensation because it has destroyed his waterhole. I invito Ministers to go to Adelaide River to verify the truth of what I have said.

Aa I pointed out during the last sitting, "somewhat briefly, the whole of Darwin has been seized, without affording any safeguards to the owners of the property which has been acquired. Church property has been grabbed as ruthlessly as the rest. Church doors have been barred against worshippers. Residents' have been swept from the positions which they have been occupying for years and are to be dumped into a miasmic, mosquito ridden area at the back of the town so that the commissars may live on the high and breezy peninsula which has been reserved, ostensibly, for ' defence purposes. I wish the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Makin) were present to hear ray views on how the future of Darwin is being affected by the ill-advised -departure from the ideal Mclnnis plan for its development. I suspect dirty work at the cross-roads in that respect. A fine hotel that must have cost about £80,000 to build is on the sea front. The syndicate of Adelaide people that owns it does not bother about renewing the liquor licence. Of course, it made a great fuss about it, and the Minister for the Interior had a special ordinance enacted in great haste about two months a'go. The residents inform me that the syndicate is not interested in renewing the licence. The syndicate made substantial profits as the result of renting the hotel to the services. Now, the building has been taken over by the department. To make this new plan effective, those interests had to convince some person in the Department of the Navy regarding the necessity for resuming a substantial area of land - indeed, the choicest part of Darwin - and use the frontage for the civic centre. That is the sine qua non, and the hotel is the crux of the matter. The Government now "holds the baby", because it has acquired the whole building, and these interests will be able to scotch the Mclnnis plan, provided the Department of the Navy will take all the best land. But it is common talk that the Navy does not require the land. A few days ago, I heard that the Royal Australian Air Force will maintain' only a moderately sized establishment there, and' that the Navy had never asked for the land and does not know what to do with it. To make their alley good, these interests took the Anglican church and established a naval sick bay in the rectory next door/ They " pegged their claim ". All this is a sinister synchronization of facts. The plan was altered at a time when the hotel-keepers desired to get rid of their building, and were not anxious to obtain the licence again. They even did not . put up the notices for the other two hotels they had leased, as they were requiredby law to do, but the old residents of Darwin - the owners - hurriedly complied with the regulations to protect their interests. The Department of the Interior had to prepare a special ordinance in the interests of certain hotelkeepers of Adelaide who have a grip on Darwin. This is most sinister, and i shall not allow the Mclnnis plan to be scotched before demanding the appointment of a royal commission to ascertain who first recommended the abandonment of the plan.

Mr Pollard - Who is Mclnnis?

Mr BLAIN - He is the most outstanding town-planner in Australia. He is one of three men who hold the highest town-planning certificate in the world. He is a member of the Town Planning Institute of London, a licensed surveyor, and a Fellow of the Queensland Institute of Surveyors. He planned Greater Brisbane. I recommended him to the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) to be placed in charge df the Greater Sydney scheme, which is now coming to fruition. Because of his outstanding ability,- the Government of Tasmania . appointed him Planning Commissioner - the highesthonour that any planner can be given in Australia. Yet the architects in the Department of Works and Housing pretend that they have greater qualifications than has Mr. Mclnnis and the SurveyorGeneral in Darwin, Mr. Miller, both of whom have 30 years' experience. For nine months, they gave close attention to the planning of Darwin, and made an exact survey of every detail. Now, their plan is to be scotched because of the opposision of some architect in the Department of Works and Housing. The substitute plan violates every principle of town pfenning, the basis of which is that the people should be consulted in the planning of their city. The residents of Darwin were not. If the Mclnnis plan is abandoned, I shall demand the appointment of a royal commission. The Minister informed me that I could read the evidence of the departmental committee taken on 2nd February, 1943, but he instructed the department not to deliver the Mclnnis plan to me unless I promised that I would not use it. What audacity ! However, I flew to Tasmania to obtain the plan from Mr. Mclnnis himself, and I have >a copy of it in my office. As I stated, I shaM demand the appointment of a royal commission before I shall allow the Mclnnis plan to be scotched in the interests of certain hotelkeepers of Adelaide. I shall not allow the Minister for the Navy to throw dust in the 'eyes of the people. If he were here, I would tell him that he was a liar, and ask him to defend himself. In his reply to me of a few days ago, he said that the Department of the Navy required this land for pur- ' poses. I know that the department does not require the land, and I heard that, it never asked for the site. A,ny defence works in that part of Darwin would be a bull's eye for any attacker.

After the bombing of Darwin in 1942, many of the residents of the town were driven to the south and were enslaved like cattle by the- Allied Works Council. No one was immune unless he was a favoured constituent of the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) or some hill-billy who could pull strings in order to evade service. Those residents of Darwin, who were evacuated, have not yet been permitted to return even, to search for their stolen property, unless they can pay their own fare, or unless they are prepared to do what no proud Australian would do, namely, declare himself a pauper. Only by those two means can my constituents return to Darwin at present. It is a disgrace to the Anglo-Saxon race that the residents of Darwin, who after the bombing arrived in the south like stray cows, .shall be permitted to return only under those conditions. Would the Government gr the United States of America impose such conditions upon its people in similar circumstances? It would not. It would transport them ito their homes. The attitude of the Commonwealth Government in this matter is a positive disgrace to Australia.

Industrially and politically, this vast area which forms my electorate is no longer subservient to the Parliament of the Commonwealth. It is governed by the secretary of the North Australian Workers Union - the organization which gives the Minister for the Interior h'is orders. Recently, I submitted a proposition for the planning of Darwin, and presented a petition to this House. Previously the Minister had declared at Alice Springs that he would not, meet the people there because they constituted a Communist cell. It was nothing of the kind. Their views represented Central Australian opinion. But the Minister declined to meet them. To use a Central Australian expression, he' " dingoed :" on them. He declared that he would not, be trapped by a Communist cell. Yet when T presented in this House a petition signed by all the land-owners of Darwin and warned the Minister that another would be forthcoming, the honorable gentleman deliberately used a petition from the "Commos" of Darwin to rebut my petition. He knew that it was signed by the " Commos ". What can we do with a Minister so ignoble as that? Three months hence, many Australians will declare in no uncertain manner that they are " fed up " . with all this nonsense.

The secretary of the North Australian Workers Union is one of a long line of Communists who has been sent from -the south to occupy that office. He understands the job of bullying Ministers and workers. Mick Ryan was the champion sprinter of the Darwin raid, and McPhillips was secretary of the organization when the Minister for Transport discovered him and recommended him to his friend Thornton, a member of the Communist Central Committee. He brought McPhillips south to become assistant secretary to that other Russian agency, the Ironworkers Union. This little runt of a man, this Communist McPhillips, came to Darwin in 1940 as secretary of the North Australian Workers Union. That happens whenever an election is in the offing. The official is secretary for three months, and then becomes organizer. He travels vast distances in the union's motor car, and the good honest unionists - the salt of the earth - have to foot the bill and pay for any damage to the vehicle. Darwin has become a sovietized section of Australia in which the only people who are immune from interference are the commissars and the great corporations, some of which have been able to tie up for 30 or 42 years areas as large as Belgium on which to graze cattle, while exservicemen who are eager to settle on the land are unable to obtain holdings in the Northern Territory.

Mr Lazzarini - What Government; tied up those areas? .

Mr BLAIN - This Government has not done anything to loosen the ties. I refer to the great organization of Vesteys and all its subsidiaries throughout Queensland.

Mr Pollard - Who gave those big corporations their leases?

Mr BLAIN - I ask which government confiscated the land in Darwin and did not have the intestinal fortitude to take the land held by Vesteys in Darwin or one square mile of it outside the city. Of course, the people of Darwin are defenceless and Vesteys are not. That is the explanation. The Government must combat the great corporations,' instead of exerting its authority against the weak; namely, the residents of Darwin. The great corporations have all the money and, of course,- money talks. I am anxious to know when the Government proposes to produce a plan to break this monopoly. As my word regarding these matters seems to be doubted, I shall refer to. some of the evidence which was forwarded to the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) before I was able to resume my parliamentary duties. The honorable member asked the Minister for the Interior about the pastoral areas. In reply, the Minister stated that it was proposed to make a number of blocks available for pastoral leasing before the 30th June, 1946. Full particulars, he. wrote, would be published in the Commonwealth Gazette. He mentioned that certain lessees had appealed against the resumptions in 1945 and proposed resumptions in 1947 and stated that the cases had not been finalized. Exservicemen will not be heartened by the news that appeals- will be- made against resumptions of land for them. I have a map of the Barkly Tableland district and on it is shown Alexandria Station, with an area of. 10,600 square miles or more than 6,000,000 acres. The area is greater than that of Belgium. It is the largest station in the world. When I was about to embark- for Malaya, a resident of Orange, New South Wales, wrote to me stating his disgust at his inability to obtain one of the resumptions from Rocklands Station, which I, as Land Commissioner in 1932, resumed, in preparation for resumptions in 1945. He had £10,000 in cash, .but the Administrator said that that was not enough for 400 square miles of country. He wrote again and offered £16,000, but still it was not regarded as sufficient. When he wrote to me about the matter 1 replied, " We shall fix that up when 1 get back from the war ". Now I find from the map before me that the same area of 400 square miles has been allocated to Alexandria Station, although exservicemen are waiting for land! The former Administrator, Mr. Abbott, has seen fit to rush into print in Queensland Country Life. He says that he has had a report , and that he is satisfied that £15,000 is needed to develop 1,000 square miles; yet, in 1941, he said that £16,000 was not enough to develop 400 square miles. He further declares that all the talk about the cutting up of leases in the Northern Territory is so much hot air. I do not know whether he is referring to me. I thought that he would have had enough sense to remain quiet after he left the Territory. I want to know who gave that land to Alexandria Station'. The lease will continue for 42 years, that is, until 1984. This Government must rescind that lease and give it to exservicemen, or there will be another royal commission. This happened in 1942, when I was away from Australia. I suppose it was thought that the watchdog of the Northern Territory would never come back to Australia, but my voice is just as vibrant to-day as it was iri 1940. Who is responsible for this action, the Minister for the Interior or the former Administrator? These matters cannot be regarded lightly by the Government.

At the northern end of the Northern Territory we have almost a sovietized State. The life of Darwin has been sovietized, and, if comrade Stalin decided to take it over to-morrow, all he. would need to do would be to issue a commission of appointment to Mr. " Yorkie " Walker, the local union secretary, and send down a. little ammunition for the first batch of executions of alleged Fascists like myself, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Darwin and the Anglican Bishop of Carpentaria, whose church property has been grabbed with all the ferocity of the Kremlin at its worst. That is all I have to say about the internal position, except that I understand that the Government, has carried its communization of the territory so far that the central' Australian Labour party executive, sitting in Melbourne, 3,000 miles from Darwin's misery has even had the impudence to issue orders that I shall be opposed and beaten at the next elections at any cost by somebody chosen in Adelaide. The candidate appeared promptly, and being a Labour candidate, he is naturally a well-known leftist, one who had intended some time ago to cross swords politically with the honorable member for Barker, but he was so far to the left that even the Labour party in Adelaide could not " stomach " him.

Now I come to the external position, and I -shall refer to the Government's treatment of our gallant- Dutch ally. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) made a most apt speech last week on that subject, which appeals more vividly to us of the north than to residents of the southern portions of Australia. I remind honorable members that the heavy bombing of Darwin was done from Ambon, which is loyal to the Dutch, as all the islands of the East Indies are, except for parts of Java and Sumatra where Japanese influence has made itself felt. I would remind the " democrats ", too, who are holding up Dutch ships in Australia, that some of the chief supporters of the Indonesian cause against the Dutch are those horrid fellows whom democrats and Communists profess to hate so much, the medieval sultans who have maintained their rights and their harems in those islands. Without the support and encouragement of these hereditary Fascist-minded tyrants, the cause which the democrats of the Wharf Labourers Union and the Seamen's Union support would be dead, despite all the money and arms made available to propagate it by the Japanese. It is essential to our defence to have a stable Europeanised government immediately north of Australia. We must realize that we are now dealing with an awakened Asia, but the present government does not seem to realize it. We in the north know what the Dutch did. They wanted tq fight to the last, and in the end they agreed to the Allied evacuation only at the specific request of the Commonwealth Government. I have been reliably informed that the Dutch agreed to the evacuation only on the condition that they be allowed to stay in Java and fight to the death. The admiral stated that they were going out to fight. They did, and they went down with their guns blazing. He considered that they would be doing a good job if they lost ship for ship with the Japanese,, because they would thus shorten the duration of the war because of the superior industrial potential of Great Britain and the United States of America to replace the Dutch ships, as compared with the ability of the Japanese to replace theirs. That was heroism to the limit!

The honorable member for. Henty (Mr. Gullett), in his maiden speech last week, gave some interesting up-stage information with regard to the Dutch and his association with them. He fought with them in Holland and travelled with other Dutch soldiers to fight in the' islands. He said that out of 140 ships that the Dutch used to' fight the Japanese, thereby helping themselves and helping Australia, only 30 vessels now remain. Still our Indonesian democrats in Australia, that is the " commos " who support the present government, prefer to support these murderers who beheaded our unfortunate Australian sailors from the Perth who swam ashore to Java after their ship had been sunk in the Sunda Straits. If the " commos " in the Government want further evidence let them read a book I hold in my hand written by Rohan D. Rivett, son of Sir David Rivett. It is an. epic story which should be read by every Australian, and is entitled BehindBamboo. I can vouch for the truth of its contents, because I have had similar experiences and worse. It is the story of an Australian who escaped from Singapore and travelled in a cockle-shell of a boat with six companions to Java. He touched at the island where Australian nurses were murdered. He was away in the jungle for seven days, and then he stole a boat from the Japanese. He and his companions then went to the Sumatra coast, passing 40 Japanese vessels in the Sunda Straits. These men were at one time within 60 yards of a Japanese crew. Desperate and beleagured, they landed on the Java coast, where they were met by the Javanese and were bound and handed over to the Japanese. This what Rivett says in chapter eight, at page 76 -

Within ten minutes, my arms from wrist to shoulder were bound with about thirty yards nf rope, so tightly that my shoulders began to ache immediately with the pressure, and within half an hour my bare arms were galled as with fire. Everyone having been secured, they started to drive us forward. Many shouts of " Nippon " and' gestures of shooting and throat-cutting indicated quite clearly the particular picnic that lay ahead.

On page 77, he says -

Then the native who appeared to be the leading spirit in the round-up came alongside us with his bicycle. Ho had not been on the beach when we were seized, but was apparently the chief fifth columnist and Japanese agent along this section of the coast. We soon learned that he had served for some years with the Shanghai police and knew a good deal of English.

Rivett says that the monologue of this Indonesian went somewhat like this -

Now Nippon come, Dutchmen all finish. Soon Nippon take all Asia. Hitler take Britain. Soon all British become coolies. We are masters. We have many hundred Europeans working coolie for us. Very good, no? . . .

Hong Kong finish, Singapore finish, Batavia finish. Many white men already dead bangbang. Maybe tomorrow morning you get shot, too. You no like to be shot? Nippon shoot all white men verree quick, verree quick . . ." And so on ad infinitum, ad nauseam.

This is a great joke to honorable members opposite, who did not have to go through that sort of thing. This is. what Rivett has said in regard to members of H.M.A.S. Perth,, who, covered with oil, swam ashore -

Another large party who got ashore on the beach after burying some of their comrades, struck inland in an attempt to contact Allied forces. Most of them had lost all their clothing or had it ruined by the oil fuel, and were clad only in sarongs, loin cloths and other odd garments obtained from the natives. This party, footsore and hungry, finally reached a village near Pandeglang, where they were seized by the natives and handed over to the Japanese, who looted them and allowed a clamouring mob of natives to beat them with sticks and bamboo rods before taking them on trucks to Serang.

At least two of the men washed up on the west coast of Java are known to have been beheaded by the Sundanese with their Parangs, and this may have been the fate of others.

I urge every honorable member and, indeed, every Australian, to read this hook. In view of what it contains, will this Government treat the Javanese with the respect with which it has been treating them? Do honorable members opposite propose to allow themselves to be regarded as a joke by the " wharfies who also despise them ?

Mr Sheehy - Honorable members opposite supported them a little while ago.

Mi-. BLAIN". - We have been demanding the observance of decent humanitarian principles. Our aim has been to prove that we are superior to the mongrel Japanese. Are not honorable members opposite proud of the fact that they are superior to these wretched Japanese and Indonesians? Are they ashamed of their English, Scottish and' Irish, blood? Do they regret that they are Anglo-Saxons?

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