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Wednesday, 21 September 1949


Mr MCLEOD - The Lyons Government killed the tobacco industry in Australia.


Mr RANKIN - There was a little patch of tobacco-growing country in the Wannon electorate. It was so poor that blue mould killed the crop. It appears also to have had a serious effect upon the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. McLeod). Throughout the war the experts of the British-Australasian Tobacco Company Proprietary Limited valued the leaf that was grown here. They were afraid not of the mahogany leaf, but of the good leaf that is produced in Queensland, the Gwydir electorate, my own electorate and Western Australia. They were afraid of the better type of tobacco leaf that was being grown here because they knew that when the war ended it would constitute a danger to the cheap, nigger-grown tobacco from Virginia unless something was done to discourage Australian tobacco-growers from growing it. This Government allowed the company to insist that Australian tobacco leaf should be graded into 38 or 40 different categories, which is a complete impossibility. The company paid Australian tobacco-growers only a half-penny per lb. more for the good leaf than it paid them for the mahogany leaf of which it was not afraid. The Government allowed the company to crush the Australian tobaccogrowing industry in my electorate, Queensland and Western Australia. It is only recently that Australian tobaccogrowers have received anything like a reasonable price for their product. If honorable gentlemen opposite are in favour of socialization, why did not they socialize the British- Australasian Tobacco Company Proprietary Limited and give the tobacco-growers of this country a fair go? The company was a foreign monopoly and, in my opinion, somebody received a " cut " from it. I do not think that there is any doubt about that.

The honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Hadley) has stated that, owing to the activities of the Government, our primary industries are in a wonderful position. What action did the Government take to assist the dairying industry? It sold our first-grade butter at a shilling a pound less than the ruling world price at a time when Britain was prepared to pay the world price for butter that it obtained from other countries, even for fifth-rate butter, in casks, from Bolshevik Russia. Honorable gentlemen opposite talk of what they have done for our primary industries. In my opinion, it is not a question of what the Government has done for those industries, but of what it has done them for. It has " done " them for more than Ned Kelly took from the bank at Jerilderie.

Except in time of war the world has never been in a greater state of instability than it is to-day. I think that it will be admitted that Russia is our potential enemy. The Russians have a philosophy that is completely opposed to ours: There are millions of fanatical persons in Russia who believe that they have been put on this earth in' order to force their views down the throats of the rest of the peoples of the world, and they are prepared to wade through blood to do so. Russia has 178 divisions on a war footings, and is manufacturing 10,000 or 12,000 tanks and 18,000 fighter aircraft a year. What is Australia doing? We are spending a very large sum of money upon the guided weapons project in South Australia. I believe that a large proportion of that money is being provided by the British Government. I have no objection to the guided weapons project, but I must point out that it will not be of much use to have long-range missiles if we do not have an army that is capable of defending the sites from which they are fired or an air force that is sufficiently strong to prevent enemy aircraft from bombing the sites. It will be of little use for us. to spend large sums of money upon experiments in connexion with long-range missiles if we do not take steps to ensure that we have land, sea and air forces that are adequate for the defence of Australia. The target strength of the Regular Army is 19,000. According to the latest figures that I have seen,, the army is approximately 4,000 men short of requirements, and the number of discharges is much greater than the intake. The Navy is a very good organization as far as it goes, but it is very small. I believe that it is extremely short of men. The air force is short of pilots. The piloting of fighter aircraft is a job for young men, and the well of fighter pilots who served in the last war is beginning to dry up owing to the fact that the men are becoming too old to be efficient fighter pilots. Apart from the aircraft and the battalions that we have in J apan, we have not a squadron or a battalion that is fit to engage a modern air force or army. We have not sufficient men who have been trained in the use of modern weapons and modern methods of communication. At least four-fifths of the men in our Regular Army at present are office personnel and members of the transport services. They are necessary to ensure the efficiency of the Army, but the men who are most essential in war are the front-line infantrymen, with their rifles and bayonets, artillerymen, tank crews, fighter pilots and the naval men who maintain our sea communications. We must have forces in this country that will give us a chance to defend ourselves against a sudden attack which, if it were successful, would destroy our war potential and smash our great industries and centres of population almost overnight. The Government knows that we must have those forces, but it is not prepared to secure them for us because the Communist-controlled unions such as the Waterside Workers Federation, the Miners Federation and the Ironworkers Federation are opposed to compulsory military training. While every country in the world that is opposed to the " red " element is calling up its man-power for compulsory training, Australia alone is ignoring the needs of the moment. In New Zealand recently an overwhelming majority of about seventoone of the: electors voted in a referendum for compulsory training. That referendum was taken because the Labour Government in New Zealand did not have the courage to introduce compulsory training without taking a referendum. Trance calls up its nationals for two years' compulsory service, and England for twelve months' compulsory service. The United States also calls up a very large section of its man-power for twelve months' compulsory service. How dare we stand out and expect others to defend us? Are we to stand back and wait for America to come to our assistance should we be attacked? It is perfectly obvious that in the event of a war Britain would be completely occupied with the defence of its own territory. Britain itself is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world. If the people of this country ever become slaves working in the rice-fields, if their womenfolk are ever the playthings of a brutal savage soldiery of a different race and with a different outlook, then it will be because we have been too cowardly, as this Government is, to face the facts and introduce compulsory training so as to teach our men to defend our country, our people, and our liberties. If we fail, the blood of many innocent victims will be upon our heads.

I turn now to the very serious devaluation of sterling. That devaluation was so great that I believe that even those who were exponents of the idea were shocked when they saw the degree to which sterling had been devalued in relation to the dollar. I believe that the Australian Government took the correct attitude when it decided that devaluation of the Australian pound must take place concurrently with the devaluation of the pound sterling. Britain is our greatest market. The British people are related to us by blood, ideals, and by everything that we cherish. I do not know whether the Prime Minister in his discussions with the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Stafford Cripps, favoured or otherwise the degree to which devaluation occurred. My own opinion is that devaluation was a bad mistake, and I consider that it was made necessary very largely by the mad, socialistic experiments of men like Sir Stafford Cripps, who said that the British socialists intended to continue with their socialistic policy and experiments, even if it meant the end of the British Empire as we knew it. They have achieved the end of the British Empire as we knew it. They gave away the Indian Empire. I believe that the Indians had reached a stage where they should have been granted a large amount of self-government, but I do not believe that the British Government was entitled to take its controlling hand entirely from India, as it did, and leave the country to be a prey to the massacres, misery and starvation which resulted from the British withdrawal. That withdrawal left two sections of that great subcontinent completely opposed to one another in religion, casts and races, like two tigers, each ready to leap at the other's throat. The British Government sent Lord Listowel into Burma to investigate whether that country should have self-government. Lord Listowel met a few dozen people in Burma who had been to some university in Mandalay, or England or some other country and he reported to the British Government that those men were quite capable of governing the country. He said that there was no need for Great Britain to take any hand in the government of Burma. Those Burmese whom he met had a certain amount of culture and education, but the backbone of that country is the peasantry, the Karens, who are the greatest body of rice-growers in the world. Those Burmese gentlemen, who are like a lot of the long-haired gentry that we have in this country, advised the Burmese Government that the Karens should produce food for nothing, and that they were not entitled to the same conditions of life as were people living in Mandalay. The Karens naturally objected to that idea, and so commenced one of the bloodiest wars that Burma has experienced. The army of the Karens penetrated even into the outskirts of Mandalay. I would not doubt that Australia as well as other nations supplied this one little section of the world, that used to belong to the British Empire, with arms and munitions. The Burmese Government managed to drive the Karen rebels out of Mandalay, but the rebels still hold the great ricefields in the north, and they will continue to hold them, because they are the people who own the land and have the courage to fight for it.

The British Government also gave Egypt to the Egyptians. Our own troops have fought in that country in two wars, and the traitorous dogs of Egyptians were 'behind us waiting to see if we were going to be defeated so that they could rush in and attack us in the rear, provided there were a thousand of them to every one Australian. By handing Egypt over to the Egyptians the British Government also handed over the great waterworks on the Nile, as well as the great improvements in production methods that were due to government officials like Kitchener and Wolseley. Before Great Britain went into Egypt the Egyptians were such a poor lot that they were defeated by the negroes of the Sudan. Great Britain went in there and established the Egyptians as a nation. It built great waterworks, railways and public works of every kind. Yet now Great Britain owes Egypt vast sums for the food and other supplies that British armies purchased from the Egyptians during the last war. But the Egyptians made no payment for those great works that Great Britain had established in the country and that were handed over by it to the Egyptians. Those works, particularly the great waterworks and irrigation projects, have been of tremendous value to Egypt, yet, I repeat, Great Britain now owes Egypt huge sums of money as a result of the last war. The British Government has allowed those people to force Great Britain out of the most strategic area in the world, the area that includes the Suez Canal and Palestine. It has lost for Great Britain the control of Haifa and the great supplies of oil in Asia Minor. That loss is one of the excuses, if excuses can be made, for the Australian Government's present policy of petrol rationing. Cripps and his friends in the British socialist Government did not want those oil works to start operating again. That is part of their policy. In my opinion Sir Stafford Cripps is a very dangerous individual. I believe that he is a traitor to the British Empire and to the British people. That is my firm and considered opinion, and I do not see how anybody can read his history and have any other view. The British socialists say that they must socialize everything. Although the steelworks of England were producing at a rate previously unknown, the socialists nationalized them. British socialists also say that they must have production. The fact of the matter is that wherever the dead hand of the public servant is laid upon industry, production is reduced. Some of the members of the present Government say that they do not want extra production. We on this side of the House and sensible members on the Government side believe that our only hope in this country is to increase production, to provide the goods and services that the people and the welfare of the country require. But does the Postmaster-General (Senator Cameron) agree with that view? On one occasion he said -

Workers have nothing to gain and everything to -lose by increasing production beyond what would he necessary to maintain themselves and their families.

Increasing strike action, however, by workers nowadays in most countries in the world would indicate that the dangers of producing surpluses is being realized by them where the necessary provision is not being made to raise their standards of living and to provide for co-operative and peaceful trading among the nations.

Coal-miners, for example, have few, if any, illusions about the matter.

Recently, the Government was forced into a position where it had to put troops into the coal mines, because the coalminers, under their Communist leaders, would not produce coal. I believe that the trade unions are now going to cast out the Communists from their ranks. The workers learnt a bitter lesson from the recent coal strike when over 500,000 men employees in other industries in New South Wales were thrown out of work and people living in the capital cities suffered bitterly. Consequently, there is now ,an intense reaction on the part of the people against the Communistcontrolled unions of their leaders. Honorable members opposite must not forget that fact. However, even the Prime Minister has talked of this sort of thing. On one occasion in this House he said -

The honorable member for Balaclava (M.T. White) also referred to the socialist schemes of the Government. I remind him thai the Government has a mandate from the people, a political platform, principles and convictions. It proposes to carry out those principle* and its political platform irrespective nf the views of the honorable member for Balaclava.

On another occasion the right honorable gentleman said that communism wa> only another political philosophy and that the Government did not intend to declare the Communist party ari illegal body. He added -

The Government does not propose to place bans on any class of political philosophy or thought.

No one can deny that the aim of the Communists in Australia and- in every other country in which they have reared their heads is to destroy any one who is prepared to work and save in the interests of his family and to keep himself and hi 3 wife in old age. That is the philosophy of the Communist. I recall that when it was suggested in this House that the Government should assist the workers i» purchase homes the Minister for Postwar Reconstruction said that the Government was not interested in making little capitalists out of workers. 1 believe that Sir Stafford Cripps is a dangerous man. Mr. Ivor Thomas, a well-known and highly respected public man in Great Britain who parted with the British Labour Government over its proposals to nationalize the steel industry, had this to say about him -

Since 1947 Labour has been hell-bent on doctrinaire socialism at the expense of the nation's key interests, and has bitterly disappointed millions of non-party electors, who voted Labour immediately after VE Day.

The fact that the party has called itself the British Labour Party, not the Socialist Party, or even the Social-Democratic Party, had encouraged the hope that it was not socialist in the Continental sense.

Many electors on reading Labour's 1945 manifesto thought that while socialism was the ultimate goal, it was not the election issue.

But experience has proved that Labour in office is bent on achieving " socialism in our time ", and the brand of socialism to which the party is committed is Marxist socialism.

That is the kind of socialism that made the Russian leaders believe that they were justified in murdering over a million kulaks in the Ukraine and Volga River areas in one year in order to enforce the acceptance of collective farming. That is the sort of socialism that made the Russion leaders believe that they were entitled to put war widows into compounds and force them to work in war factories. I do not think that in this country we have treated our war widows very generously. Their pension is a mere pittance, barely sufficient to enable them to subsist, particularly if they are obliged to pay rent. However, in this country we did not put war widows into compounds and force them to work in factories for the benefit of the Government. But that is the kind of socialism that Sir Stafford Cripps advocates. Mr. Ivor Thomas continued -

When the Attlee Government finally decided to nationalize the steel industry, its labour relations were excellent. Output, both total and per worker, was greater than ever and the price was only about 70 per cent, above the pre-war figure despite the doubling of wages and a 150 per cent, increase in the cost of coal.

The speech by Sir Stafford Cripps on the Iron and Steel Bill was marked by one characteristic - lust for power.

That is, lust for power over his fellow men. The same lust for power makes some members of this Government say that the Government is entitled to direct labour in this country. Some honorable members opposite claim that the Government is entitled, for instance, to say to people working in Melbourne, " We are undertaking a project in Central Australia and we are going to draft 10,000 of you people up there. Whether you like it or not we will take you away from your homes and families ".


Mr McLeod - During the depression the anti-Labour governments did that to workers; they sent them into the forests.


Mr RANKIN - That is a complete misstatement ; it is a cold-blooded untruth. The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. McLeod) knows that during the depression no workers were forced to go anywhere. They went of their own accord to districts where they could obtain work. Yet, honorable members opposite who said that they do not believe in conscription in any circumstances-


Mr McLeod - An anti-Labour government introduced conscription.


Mr RANKIN - No. Non-Labour governments have never had any need to introduce conscription, because in both world wars they were able to' attract sufficient volunteers to the defence forces. They did not introduce conscription, but this Government which objected very strenuously to the formation of the second

Australian Imperial Force in 1939 and to service personnel being sent to vital battlefronts during the recent war conscripted man-power in 1941 after honorable members opposite had had a nasty touch of the " breeze " and had been given a really good fright by the approach of the Japanese. I make no bones about the fact that I believe in conscription in war-time because I cannot see why men who have the courage to defend their country should fight for the loafer or the coward. The forces are entitled to be given the support of every fit and able man in the country. However, this Government conscripted not only young men but also men of all ages, and the halt and the lame as well, to load coal and work on the wharfs because the "wharfies" were too lazy, or too disloyal, to make their contribution to the war effort. At that time, honorable members opposite were too weak to force them to do their duty. When trouble arose on the waterfront or on the coal fields during the recent war the Government should have taken 200 of the ring-leaders and sent them not to the front line, because they would not fight in any event, but to forward areas and employed them in the transport and handling of munitions. Had the Government done that we would not have had so much trouble on the wharfs during the war because once the ringleaders in such disputes had got a touch of the jungle and had experienced a little bombing there would not have been any more applicants for jobs of that kind. Make no mistake about that. They would have been perfectly satisfied. Honorable members opposite eventually conscripted servicemen although such action was contrary to professed Labour principles. Fear restored common sense to the Labour Government. It realized that we had to fight to preserve this country.


Mr McLeod - Anti-Labour administrations conscripted workers into labour camps in peace-time.


Mr RANKIN - That is not true. The only people who ever suggested that are the members of the socialistic Labour party.


Mr Duthie - Nothing of the sort.


Mr RANKIN - Hansard will bear me out. Labour speakers have said that no government can carry out its duties properly unless it has the right to direct man-power. If that is not conscription of labour, I do not know what is.


Mr Duthie - No government would direct man-power in peace-time.


Mr RANKIN - Labour supporters long for power with the same lust as possessed 'Sir Stafford Cripps when he introduced legislation to nationalize the steel industry in Great Britain. Unfortunately, they also have the same lack of decency, and loyalty to their country.


Mr Duthie - We are limited by a Constitution; Sir Stafford Cripps is not.


Mr RANKIN - We have a Constitution, it is true, but that will not prevent honorable members from introducing bank nationalization if they are returned to office at the next general elections.


Mr Duthie - But that is in the Australian Constitution.


Mr RANKIN - It is not, but Labour would get round that difficulty easily enough.


Mr Sheehy - How?


Mr RANKIN - The AttorneyGeneral has explained how.


Mr McLeod - What would the Opposition parties do with the Commonwealth Bank if they became the government?


Mr RANKIN - I had an account with the Commonwealth Bank at one time, but when the Government sought to compel local governing authorities and even individuals to deal with the Commonwealth Bank, I took my account to a private institution. With so many rogues and vagabonds around I would just as soon put my money in a tin and bury it as put it in the Commonwealth Bank.

I have mentioned some of the ills of this country which the Government has failed to remedy. It has failed also to reduce taxes to give an incentive to increased production. It has denuded vital primary industries of manpower. Honorable members opposite boast of what the Labour Government has done for Australian secondary industries. I am aware that many of those industries hare made remarkable progress and I am in favour of assisting secondary industries within reason, but there is a black day ahead of this country if wool gets back to 2s. per lb., butter gets back to ls. 6d. per lb., and wheat gets back to 5s. a bushel or less.


Mr Duthie - That will be when an anti-Labour government gets back.


Mr RANKIN - That may be so. Inevitably the people of this country must awake from their present slumber and realize just how much damage the Labour Government and its sanctimonious supporters have done to the community. Overseas prices of Australian primary products must eventually fall, because younger generations now growing up in other countries will soon restore production in those countries to normal. The population of Japan proper is increasing by 1,000,000 each year. Similar increases are taking place in China, India, and other Asiatic countries. Obviously those people cannot afford the fantastic prices now being charged for Australian products. Their standard of living is such that they cannot pay £25 for a suit and £2 2s. for a pair of boots that nobody would want to wear in public anyway. When Australian manufacturers can no longer get these high prices, thousands of men will be glad to get four or five acres of land to grow food for their families. The Government need not imagine that this country can carry a vast additional population solely on expanded secondary industries. I wholeheartedly support the objectives of the Minister for Immigration. If the population of this country can be increased to 20,000,000, thus substantially expanding home markets, our secondary industries may be on a safe and sound basis; but to-day Australia, like the honorable member for Wannon, is on the sheep's back, and Australia will be in exactly the «ame position as the honorable member will be should the price of our wool decline to 15d. or 20d. per lb. The honorable member will be scratching once again. He will not be in a position to pay the taxes that he now contributes to the national revenue. Similarly, Australian governments will not be in a position to expend the colossal sums that the present

Administration is expending. Should Labour be in office, we may then see legislation for a so-called compulsory loan which will amount to confiscation of at least portion of the capital built up over generations by Australians who have worked to make this country the great and wonderful land it is to-day.







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