House of Representatives
27 March 1935

14th Parliament · 1st Session

Mr. Speaker (Hon. G. J. Bell) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.

page 316



– I have to advise the House that I have received from Lady Kingsmill a letter thanking the House for its resolution of sympathy with her in her bereavement.

I have also to advise that 1 have received from the Acting Prime Minister (Dr. Earle Page) a letter conveying a copy of a letter from Visoountess Novar to His Excellency the Governor-General, expressing appreciation of the bound copy of the resolutions pasaed and speeches delivered in connexion with the death of Viscount Novar. The letter from Viscountess Novar reads -


Kirkcaldy, 22nd January, 1935.

My Dear Governor-General, 1 have to thank you for your letter of 23rd November, enclosing a letter from the Prime Minister informing you that he was sending me a bound copy of the resolutions and speeches delivered in the two Houses of Parliament on the occasion of Lord Novar’s death. This, together with the unbound copies, has now arrived, and I wouldask you to convey to Mr. Lyons, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, my most grateful thanks for their kind thought in providing me with this record of the appreciation of my husband’s services so eloquently expressed in the Senate and House of Representatives. I deeply appreciate this testimony to my husband’s memory, and they may be sure that the book in which it is embodied will be regarded as a most treasured possession by myself and those who come after me.

Yours sincerely,

HisExcellency the Right Honorable Sir Isaac Isaacs, P.C., G.C.M.G.,

Governor-General of Australia.

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– Has the Acting Prime Minister (Dr. Earle Page) received from the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) a communication concerning the proposed restriction of meat exports from Australia? If so, what is its nature?

Minister for Commerce · COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– A communication has been received from the Prime Minister stating that he has arrived in England, and that preparations are in train for the holding of a conference on the subject referred to by the honorable member.


– Has the Graziers Conference now sitting in Sydney made a report to the Government conveying its strong opposition to restrictions on meat exports? If so, what does the Government propose to do in this matter?


– Up to the present, the Government has received no request or requisition from the Graziers Conference.

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Sir Donald CAMERON:

– Has the attention of the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson) been drawn to an article published in one of Sweden’s leading newspapers, the Gothenburg Mail, on the 5th January, 1935, wherein most grave misrepresentations are made regarding the treatment of aborigines in Australia? Is it a fact that the article in question was based upon the observations of an English author, Mr. Sydney Morell, which appeared in the Sunday Express, London? In view of the most damaging effect that such inaccurate publicity may have upon Australia, will the honorable gentleman inform the House as to whether steps have been or will be taken to refute the allegations?

Minister for the Interior · GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA · CP

– I had not seen the article until the honorable gentleman was good enough to place it before me a few minutes before the meeting of the House. I have not yet had time to read it closely, but a cursory glance convinces me that very grave misrepresentations indeed occur in it. I assure the honorable gentleman, and the House that steps will be taken immediately to refute the allegation and protect, the good name of Australia.


– I ask the Minister for the Interior whether consideration has been given to suggestions made by a deputation which waited upon him on the 23rd January, under the auspices of the Aborigines League? “What action does he propose to take regarding those representations? Is it proposed to institute an inquiry into the welfare of aborigines ?


– Consideration has been given to certain aspects put before me by the deputation to which the honorable member refers, but a definite decision has not yet been arrived at. I hope to be able to make a statement on this matter to the House at a later date.

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Sister Kenny’s Treatment


– In view of the wide publicity given to Sister Kenny’s claim regarding the discovery of a cure for infantile paralysis, and the many requests that have been made to honorable members to endeavour to obtain the free treatment of sufferers by this lady, will the Minister for Health (Mr. Hughes) state the Government’s intentions in relation to the adoption of Sister Kenny’s treatment ?


– The matter to which the honorable gentleman has referred is of the very greatest importance, but I am not yet in a position to make a statement in regard to it. As honorable members may know, Sister Kenny visited Canberra, where she exhibited her film before members of the Health Council. She subsequently returned to Sydney, and has now proceeded to Townsville. On

Friday last 1 made arrangements with Dr. Galbraith, superintendent of the Orthopaedic Hospital, Frankston, Victoria, to proceed to Sydney to witness the screening of the film, investigate Sister Kenny’s claim, and report upon her treatment and its effects. This Dr. Galbraith did. I have since received from him a letter to the effect that, accompanied by another orthopaedic expert, he had a long interview with Sister Kenny, saw the film, and is preparing a report on the evidence which he will let me have in the course of a few days. I shall let the honorable member know when I have received that report, and with the permission of the House will then make a statement in regard to the matter.

page 317



Development of South-East

BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · CP; LP from 1944; LCL from 1951; LP from 1954

– Can the Acting Prime Minister advise the House of the State of the negotiations between South Australia and the Commonwealth in regard to the proposals that have been made for the development of the southeast of that State, and say whether the Commonwealth intends to take any part in the inquiry that is to be conducted by the South Australian Government into the possibilities of such development?


– A reply has been sent to the Government of South Australia advising it that there is no probability of this matter being dealt with in the immediate future.

page 317




– Can the Minister for Defence indicate when he expects finality to be reached in the negotiations between the Commonwealth and the Hobart City Council for the removal of the Sandy Bay Rifle Range to a new site?

Minister for Defence · WARRINGAH, NEW SOUTH WALES · UAP

– This is a matter for negotiation between the Hobart City Council and the Defence Department. Although certain conditions have still to be complied with, a recent communication that I have seen leads me to believe that the matter is approaching finality.

page 318




– Will the Minister for Commerce advise the House of the probable date of the appointment of trade commissioners to the East, especially Java? The commercial world is anxiously awaiting a decision on this subject.


– I have already informed the House that a. meeting of the Eastern Trade Committee will be held during April, when it is hoped that some of the appointments will be finalized.

page 318




– In view of the recent substantial increase in the price of foodstuffs, particularly in Sydney, I ask the Acting Prime Minister whether the Government will take steps immediately to increase the amount being paid to pensioners, particularly in view of the close approach of winter, when pensioners will require additional money to purchase warmer clothing?


– The Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act provides for increases in the rate of pension commensurate with any increase in the cost of living. ^

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– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs inform the House whether the report of the Tariff Board on motor body panels has been received by the Government, and, if so, whether it will be tabled before the Easter adjournment?

Minister for Trade and Customs · BALACLAVA, VICTORIA · UAP

– The House has been informed already that that report of the Tariff Board has been received; but when it will be given attention by the Government is a matter of policy, and it is not the practice to make statements of policy in reply to questions.

page 318




– Will the Acting Prime Minister inform me whether the Government has received a memorandum from the Government of Western Australia on the subject of rural rehabilitation and relating to the conference held last December in connexion with the adjustment of farmers’ debts ? If so, will he see that this communication is made available to honorable members, as a relevant document, in connexion with the bills dealing with the Government’s rural rehabilitation policy ?


– I have received a telegram from the Government of Western Australia, but there may be a memorandum which has escaped my recollection for the moment. If so, I shall give consideration to the honorable member’s request.


– Will the Acting Prime Minister inform me whether it is true that not all the State governments have yet outlined to the Commonwealth Government the methods they propose to adopt in administering the money that has been made available by the Commonwealth Government for farmers’ debt adjustment? Will the right honorable gentleman make available to honorable members, before the resumption of the debate on rural rehabilitation, any schemes that have so far been submitted to the Government in this connexion?


– Every State government has communicated with the Commonwealth Government on this subject ; but some governments have not yet finalized their schemes. Particulars of those schemes which have been finalized will he available for the information of honorable members.


– I ask the Minister for Commerce whether a Queensland scheme is among the completed schemes dealing with farmers’ debt adjustment ?


– The Queensland scheme has not yet been finalized.


– Has the attention of the Acting Prime Minister been drawn to the .report in the Queensland press to a statement made by the Queensland Minister for Agriculture and Stock describing Queensland’s share of £1,150,000 under the rural rehabilitation scheme as somewhat meagre? Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to a suggestion by the Queensland Statistician that Queensland’s share should be at least £2,000,000? Will the honorable member state how the allocation of £1,150,000 is

*Port Augusta to* [27 March, 1935.] *Red Hill Railway.* 319 arrived at? What observations hashe to make on theQueenslandStatistician's suggestion that the Queensland allocation should be £2,000,000 ? {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE: -- In making my second-reading speech on the Farmers' Debt Adjustment Bill, I set out the reasons for the Commonwealth Statistician' calculations. These can be perused in the report of my speech. The figures arrived at at the Premiers Conference were only tentative andwere subject to review at a meeting of the Statisticians which was held when this scheme was elaborated. Mr.WARD. - Does the Government propose to provide funds to enable all needy members of thecommunity to pay their creditors as is being done in the case of those engaged in rural pursuits? {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE: -- The Government from time to time will bring down various measures in order to carry out its policy. {: #subdebate-9-0-s5 .speaker-JVR} ##### Mr NAIRN:
PERTH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA -Will the Acting Prime Minister state whether representations have been received from Western Australia for an amendment of the Loan (Farmers' Debt Adjustment) Bill to enable the State Agricultural Bank of Western Australia to compromise with debtors of the bank? Has it been announced as a principle that no moneys are to be applied either to the reduction of indebtedness to governments, or in aid of State indebtedness ? {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE: -- There is nothing in any Commonwealth legislation to prevent a State from compromising with its debtors in regard to its own money, but it has been determined that Commonwealth money, under the Government's present scheme, shall be devoted to the assistance of individual settlers. {: .page-start } page 319 {:#debate-10} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-10-0} #### PORT AUGUSTA TO RED HILL RAILWAY {: #subdebate-10-0-s0 .speaker-KYH} ##### Mr PRICE:
BOOTHBY, SOUTH AUSTRALIA -- I notice that the bill dealing with the Port Augusta to Red Hill Railway is No. 7 on the noticepaper. Will the Minister for the Interior inform me whether it is his intention to proceed to Adelaide at an early date to confer with the South Australian Minister for Railways, **Mr. Hudd,** and, if so, will the Government arrange for the discussion of the bill to be deferred until such time as a better understanding exists between it and the Government of South Australia ? {: #subdebate-10-0-s1 .speaker-KXT} ##### Mr PATERSON:
CP -- It is my intention to proceed to Adelaide as soon as possible to meet **Mr. Hudd.** The discussion of the bill will be undertaken after my return. {: .page-start } page 319 {:#debate-11} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-11-0} #### PETROL COMMISSION {: #subdebate-11-0-s0 .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY:
WEST SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES -- Has the Acting Prime Minister yet received all the reports fromthe members of the petrol commission, and is he yet in a position to guarantee the House an opportunity to discuss the contents of them ? {: #subdebate-11-0-s1 .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
CP -- I have great hopes that the report of the chairman of the commission; will be delivered this week, and that the Government will have an opportunity to consider it before the Easter adjournment. {: .page-start } page 319 {:#debate-12} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-12-0} #### PEARLING INDUSTRY {: #subdebate-12-0-s0 .speaker-JPT} ##### Mr BLAIN:
NORTHERN TERRITORY -- Will the Minister for the Interior inform me how the grant of £1,000, made available to assist the pearling industry of the Northern Territory, will be allocated ? {: #subdebate-12-0-s1 .speaker-KXT} ##### Mr PATERSON:
CP -- It is intended to allocate the money to pearlers on a pro *rata* basis in proportion to the amount of pearl shell they obtained during the 1935 season, but I shall not be able to give the honorable member the exact details until later. {: .page-start } page 319 {:#debate-13} ### PETROL FROM SUGAR CANE {: #debate-13-s0 .speaker-KZX} ##### Mr GEORGE LAWSON:
BRISBANE, QUEENSLAND · FLP; ALP from 1936 -- Has the attention of the Acting Prime Minister been drawn to the following report which appeared in the last issue of the Sydney *Sunday Sun: -* {: .page-start } page 319 {:#debate-14} ### SUGAR CANE {:#subdebate-14-0} #### London, 9th March Petrol from coffee beans and sugar cane will beproduced by a new process for treating shale and vegetable products which is to be developed on a large scale in Great Britain. Extensive plant may be erected near the Wash in Norfolk, and also in Australia and South Africa. The test plant which is the basis of the new industry is the culmination of 40 years of reasearch by an American consulting chemical engineer, **Mr. N.** H. Freeman. 320 *King's Jubilee* [REPRESENTATIVES.] *Medals.* In view of this important announcement will the Government inquire into the proposal with a view to assist the great sugar cane and coal industries of Australials,? {: #subdebate-14-0-s0 .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
CP -- I shall have the matter brought under the notice of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. {: .page-start } page 320 {:#debate-15} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-15-0} #### RURAL AERIAL AMBULANCE {: #subdebate-15-0-s0 .speaker-JUQ} ##### Mr CLARK:
DARLING, NEW SOUTH WALES -- Will the Minister for Health consider the provision of a subsidy, through the Civil Aviation Branch of the Department of Defence, for an aerial ambulance for the western district of New South Wales, and seek the cooperation of the Government of New South Wales in the scheme? Will the honorable gentleman also take into consideration the recent statement of the chairman of the Ear West Children's Health Scheme, **Dr. Moncrieff** Baron, that an ambulance plane stationed at Bourke and serving Broken Hill. Wilcannia, Cobar, Brewarrina, Goodooga,Cunnamulla, Thargomindah, and Tiboobarra hospitals was urgently needed ? {: #subdebate-15-0-s1 .speaker-DQC} ##### Mr HUGHES:
UAP -- I shall be glad to make representations on the subject to the Government of New South Wales, but the constitutional powers of the Commonwealth Govennment are too limited to enable it to go beyond acting by way of suggestion, and offering to co-operate with the State Government. I shall discuss the matter with the DirectorGeneral of Health, however, and will later give the honorable member a more considered reply. {: .page-start } page 320 {:#debate-16} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-16-0} #### WIRELESS BROADCASTING {: #subdebate-16-0-s0 .speaker-KMZ} ##### Mr MARTENS:
HERBERT, QUEENSLAND -- Can the Minister representing the Postmaster-General give me any definite information as to when the relay station at Townsville, Queensland, will be completed? {: #subdebate-16-0-s1 .speaker-KIO} ##### Mr HUNTER:
Minister without portfolio representing the Postmaster-General in the House of Representatives · MARANOA, QUEENSLAND · CP -- It is expected thai that station will be in operation about, October or November. {: .page-start } page 320 {:#debate-17} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-17-0} #### KING'S JUBILEE MEDALS {: #subdebate-17-0-s0 .speaker-KK7} ##### Mr JENNINGS:
WATSON, NEW SOUTH WALES -- Will the Acting Prime Minister inform me whether itis a fact that the Government proposes to purchase a large quantity of King's jubilee medals for distribution to the children of Australia If so, seeing that these medals could be made in Australia at a reasonable cost willbe consider Australian manufacturers in this respect? {: #subdebate-17-0-s1 .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
CP -- I propose later to make a statement setting out the fact? in relation to these medals. {: #subdebate-17-0-s2 .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr WARD: -- Before the Government decides to spend any money to provide medals for school children in connexion with the King's jubilee celebrations, will it give consideration first of all to the matter of providing necessary foodstuffs for many of these unfortunate children, who are now suffering from malnutrition ? {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE: -- In all cases the Government will consider the benefit of the great bulk of the people of Australia. {: .page-start } page 320 {:#debate-18} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-18-0} #### CHAIRS FOR PERTH DENTAL HOSPITAL {: #subdebate-18-0-s0 .speaker-JVR} ##### Mr NAIRN: -- Can the Minister for Trade and Customs inform me whether he has received recently an application from the Perth Dental Hospital for the admission from Japan of four dental chairs, and whether objections to this request have been raised by a manufacturer in one of the capital cities who can supply the institution with dental chairs, but at four times the cost of the Japanese chairs? In dealing with this matter will the Minister give consideration to the point of view of benefits to the patients treated in this institution, and also to the fact that the hospital is supported to a large extent by charitable subscriptions? {: #subdebate-18-0-s1 .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE:
UAP -- A similar question was asked last week. The application is for a by-law admission, which means that it involves the waiving of the duty on these chairs. Such an application is granted only where it can be proved that the article cannot be supplied by local or British manufacturers. The application ref erred to by the honorable member has been received, but it has not yet been considered. I assure the honorable member that when it is dealt with due regard will be paid to every aspect of the subject, including the rights of suppliers and the benefits that might accrue, if it were granted, to the patients and to the institution. {: .page-start } page 321 {:#debate-19} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-19-0} #### COMPULSORY WHEAT POOL {: #subdebate-19-0-s0 .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr FORDE: -- Has the Acting Prime Minister's attention been drawn to a resolution carried at a meeting of the Riverina Divisional Executive of the United Country party on Saturday last, moved by **Mr. E.** Field, general secretary of the Farmers Settlers Union, as f follows : - *That* tike Commonwealth Government be urged *te* inaugurate a Commonwealth-wide compulsory wheat pool under the majority control of growers and that a poll be taken of all States concerned, a simple majority to secure the measure. Seeing that the policy enunciated in this resolution is in agreement with the policy of the Country party, will the Minister give it favorable consideration? {: #subdebate-19-0-s1 .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
CP -- The possibility of creating a compulsory wheat pool was referred to 'by me in my recent statement on the wheat industry. The whole question, including consideration of the report of the wheat commission and the attitude *of.* the States, has been referred to the Australian Agricultural Council. {: .page-start } page 321 {:#debate-20} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-20-0} #### GENERAL MOTORS-HOLDEN'S LIMITED {: #subdebate-20-0-s0 .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr E J HARRISON:
WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES · UAP; LP from 1944 -- In view of certain statements made in the press with regard to the report of the investigating officers in the affairs of General MotorsHolden's Limited, will the Minister permit the officers concerned to investigate statements made by the independent distributors with regard to the excessive prices charged by this firm? {: #subdebate-20-0-s1 .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE:
UAP -- The statement in the press is unauthorized. Such a report has not yet been considered by the Government, but any representations which the company or the people of whom the honorable member has spoken are prepared to make will be investigated by the Government or an officer of the department. {: .page-start } page 321 {:#debate-21} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-21-0} #### NORFOLK ISLAND, {: #subdebate-21-0-s0 .speaker-KFA} ##### Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP -- The right honorable the Minister for External Affairs, **Senator Sir George** Pearce, recently visited Norfolk Island and heard certain requests put forward at a mass meeting of residents of the island. At that meeting grave statements of maladminstration were voiced and a request was made for the appointment of a royal commission of inquiry. I ask the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs whether it would be possible to obtain the statements that were made to the Minister on that occasion, and whether the Minister himself or his representative in this chamber will make a statement so that honorable members and the public generally will know exactly what is going on at Norfolk Island? {: #subdebate-21-0-s1 .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
CP -- I - I have some doubt as to whether a printed newspaper i.-s published on Norfolk Island. {: .speaker-KFA} ##### Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP -- There is. {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE: -- If so, I doubt whether it would contain a complete report of such a deputation. However, I have no doubt that in the near future the Minister will make a full statement of the Government's attitude. {: .page-start } page 321 {:#debate-22} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-22-0} #### EMPLOYMENT OF WOMEN IN MINES {: #subdebate-22-0-s0 .speaker-KXT} ##### Mr PATERSON:
CP -- On the 21st. March, the honorable member- for Hindmarsh **(Mr. Makin)** asked me a question without notice in regard to the employment of women in mines in the Northern Territory, and the reported death of a lubra in a mine at Rumbalara. I am now in a position to supply the followinginformation supplementary to that furnished by me on the 21st March : - There is a small mine near Rumbalara owned by a **Mr. Harvey,** who works deposits of ochre. He works the mine only when orders for ochre are received. In the past seven years he has sent away only about 100 tons of ochre. **Mr. Harvey** holds a licence to employ aboriginals, but he employs male aboriginals only. The mine was abandoned on the 5th January, 1935, when the aboriginals were told not to work in it. Two aboriginals were left at Rumbalara to cart ochre already raised to the railway by camels. The lubras were apparently used in assisting the male aboriginals to fill the bags. **Mr. Harvey** was in Alice Springs when the accident occurred which resulted in the death of a lubra. The female aboriginal in question was the lubra of one of the aboriginals employed on the mine. No information is available as to why she -was in the mine. {: .page-start } page 322 {:#debate-23} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-23-0} #### PATROL BOAT IN NORTH AUSTRALIAN WATERS {: #subdebate-23-0-s0 .speaker-KEM} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN: -- Can the Minister for Defence give the House any further information concerning the launch which the Defence Department has ordered for patrol work off the Northern Territory in view of the fact that considerable misgivings have been expressed as to the adequacy of the range and cruising power of this launch to do this work successfully? **Mr. ARCHDALE** PARKHILL.Additional details have been obtained regarding this vessel, which has been especially selected by the Defence Department for the work it has to do. It is 45 feet long, with a beam of 9 ft. 6 in. At a cruising speed of 34 miles an hour, its range is 1,000 miles, while at 30 miles an hour its range is 600 miles. A crew of eight can be accommodated, and it is of approximately *1* tons, complete with a crew of eight and 500 tons of petrol. It is equipped with Marconi medium wave transmitting and receiving wireless apparatus. Generally speaking, it is regarded as the latest vessel of this type available, and as especially suitable for the work on which it is to be employed. {: .page-start } page 322 {:#debate-24} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-24-0} #### COUNTRY POST OFFICES {: #subdebate-24-0-s0 .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr JAMES: -- Seeing that appropriations have been made for carrying out new works and buildings, will the Government erect new premises in which to accommodate official post offices in thickly-populated country centres where the Government already owns sites for the purpose, instead of continuing its present policy of paying high rents for premises in which to house unofficial post offices ? {: #subdebate-24-0-s1 .speaker-KIO} ##### Mr HUNTER:
CP -- When funds are available, consideration will be given to the point raised by the honorable member. During the last year several new post offices have been built, and as more money becomes available, other buildings will be erected, so that the unofficial post offices of which the honorable member complains will gradually be eliminated. {: .page-start } page 322 {:#debate-25} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-25-0} #### STATE MINISTERS Life Railway Passes {: #subdebate-25-0-s0 .speaker-KYH} ##### Mr PRICE: -- Can the Minister for the Interior say whether it is true that any man, who was once a Minister of" the Crown in the Government of Victoria, though he may have held office for only a few hours, is thereafter, for the remainder of his life, entitled to a free pass over all railways, Commonwealth and State? {: #subdebate-25-0-s1 .speaker-KXT} ##### Mr PATERSON:
CP -- I do not know what is the rule in Victoria in regard to that matter, but I understand that the Commonwealth railways are paid for any Victorian ex-Minister travelling over them. I may be able to give the honorable member further information later, but I can tell him no more at the moment. {: .page-start } page 322 {:#debate-26} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-26-0} #### PURCHASE OF STERLING {: #subdebate-26-0-s0 .speaker-L08} ##### Mr ROSEVEAR:
DALLEY, NEW SOUTH WALES -- About a week ago I asked the Acting Treasurer a question regarding the losses sustained by the Commonwealth through the purchase of British sterling with Australian gold reserves, and he informed me that the Commonwealth Bank had been asked to furnish a reply. Has any great difficulty been experienced by the Commonwealth Bank or by his department in obtaining particulars of a matter which officials should have at their finger tips? {: #subdebate-26-0-s1 .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr CASEY:
Assistant Treasurer · CORIO, VICTORIA · UAP -- The honorable member placed his question on the notice-paper, and a reply was sent to him to-day. {: .page-start } page 322 {:#debate-27} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-27-0} #### COMPANY LAW {: #subdebate-27-0-s0 .speaker-KFE} ##### Mr GREGORY:
SWAN, WESTERN AUSTRALIA -- In view of the very large amount of company promotion that is going on at the present time, will the Acting Prime Minister state whether any consideration has been given to the bringing down of comprehensive company legislation? {: #subdebate-27-0-s1 .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
CP -- The honorable member knows very well the constitutional limits to the power of the Commonwealth. However, I shall bring his question under the notice of Cabinet. *Privilege.* [27 March, 1935.] *Privilege.* 323 {: .page-start } page 323 {:#debate-28} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-28-0} #### EXPORT OF MERINO SHEEP {: #subdebate-28-0-s0 .speaker-KLL} ##### Mr MAKIN:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA -- Is there at present in force a prohibition against the export of merino sheep from Australia, and, if so, is the Acting Prime Minister aware that a consignment of merino sheep was recently shipped to the East? {: #subdebate-28-0-s1 .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
CP -- The control of the export of such sheep rests with the Department of Commerce, and I have heard nothing about a recent shipment to the East. {: .page-start } page 323 {:#debate-29} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-29-0} #### BUTTER EXPORTS {: #subdebate-29-0-s0 .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY: -- Will the Acting Prime Minister state whether his remarks at the Bulladelah Show, as reported in the press, may be taken as an indication that the dairying industry will shortly have to face the restriction of dairy exports to Great Britain? {: #subdebate-29-0-s1 .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
CP -- I have not seen a report of my remarks on that occasion, but the statement I made was strictly in accordance with the actual position, which I outlined quite clearly. {: .page-start } page 323 {:#debate-30} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-30-0} #### TOBACCO INDUSTRY {: #subdebate-30-0-s0 .speaker-KYZ} ##### Mr RIORDAN:
KENNEDY, QUEENSLAND · ALP; FLP from 1931 -- Has the attention of the Minister for Trade and Customs been drawn to a newspaper statement that the Government has requested the honorable member for Echuca **(Mr. McEwen)** and the honorable member for New England **(Mr. Thompson)** to furnish a report to the Government regarding a suitable policy for the reduction of excise duty on tobacco grown in Australia ? {: #subdebate-30-0-s1 .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE:
UAP -- No, I have not seen that statement, and it is not a fact. I said in reply to a question here that I would at any time welcome any statements from those honorable members or from the tobacco-growers themselves. {: .page-start } page 323 {:#debate-31} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-31-0} #### QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE {: #subdebate-31-0-s0 .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
CP -- The Government does not propose to answer any further questions without notice. {: .page-start } page 323 {:#debate-32} ### PRIVILEGE {:#subdebate-32-0} #### Northern Territory Mining {: #subdebate-32-0-s0 .speaker-JPT} ##### Mr BLAIN:
Northern Territory -- On a question of privilege, **Mr. Speaker,** I desire to call your attention to a letter which I have received from the chairman of the Sydney Stock Exchange. I propose to conclude my speech by moving that the writer be adjudged guilty of contempt. The letter followed my recent remarks in the House concerning the Arnheim Land Gold Development Company's affairs, during which I made some comments on the behaviour of the Stock Exchange. You will notice that it contains a threat to use newspaper publicity if I do not apologize for my remarks, and is as follows : - {:#subdebate-32-1} #### Sydney, 20th March, 1935 {:#subdebate-32-2} #### Dear Sir, Enclosed please find copy of letter sent this day to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, together with a copy of the Sydney Stock Exchange requirements for listing of a company's shares. The committee of the Sydney Stock Exchange regards your remarks as applied to the exchange as a gross insult and shall be glad to have an apology from you. Your letters on the subject of the Arnheim Land Gold Development Company with the reports enclosed therewith were left in our secretary's office, and members were informed that they were there, and were advised to read them. As the company was formed in May, 1933, applied for quotation in October, 1933 (which was granted by the committee on 31st October, 1 933 ) , and its shares have been quoted and dealt in almost daily ever since, we are interested to know why at this late date only have you attacked the bona fides of the company. Surely if as you say " most of the statements in the original prospectus are prov- ably inaccurate " when the company was launched was the time to have ventilated the matter. Yours faithfully, {: type="A" start="E"} 0. G. Blackmore, Chairman. The letter to you, **Mr. Speaker,** of which a copy was enclosed to me, is as follows : - {:#subdebate-32-3} #### Sydney, 20th March. 1935 {:#subdebate-32-4} #### Sir My attention has been called to a speech made in the House of Representatives on Thursday last, the 14th instant, by **Mr. A.** Macalister Blain, member for the Northern Territory, with reference to mining in the Northern Territory, and more particularly to the Arnheim Land Gold Development Company. He is reported in *Hansard* dated 16th March, 1935, page 50, to havesaid that " at present nobody is making anything out of mining in the territory except a few go-getters and scoundrels, and members of the iniquitous 324 *Privilege.* [REPRESENT ATI VES.] *Privilege.* Sydney Stock Exchange, who appear to have no morals when there is a commission to be earned ". I take the very strongest exception to his remarks as applied to the Sydney Stock Exchange: they are grossly insulting to a reputable body ofmen, quite unjustified and wholly without foundation. The Arnheim Land Gold Development Company was registered in May, 1933, and **Mr. Blain's** first letter to the Sydney Stock Exchange was a year and eight months later. No member of the Sydney Stock Exchange was concerned in the flotation. In October, 1933, the company applied to the committee of the Sydney Stock Exchange for quotation on the official lists of the stock exchanges of Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane. Before a company is admitted to quotation on the Sydney Stock Exchange it has to comply with certain requirements, a. copy of which is enclosed herewith. The Arnheim Land Company complied in every respect with those requirements, and was granted quotation on 31st October, 1933, and subsequently the other exchanges similarly granted quotation. It will be obvious to you that the stock exchange cannot send an expert to inspect a company's property when an application for quotation is made; the insistence that all our requirements be complied with affords protection to the investing public which is the sole purpose of those requirements. Further, the stock exchange serves a useful purpose in making a daily market in listed shares, thus enabling holders to sell if they so desire at a fair market price. As **Mr. Blain's** speech was made in the House, and under cover of privilege, I had no opportunity of replying to his slur on the Sydney Stock Exchange and its members. I therefore intend sending a copy of this letter to the *Sydney Morning Herald,* with a request that it be published. Upon **Mr. Blain** reading the copy of this letter to you and reading the requirements of the Sydney Stock Exchange, prior to the listing of a company, it may possibly be his wish to make the *amende honorable* on the floor of the House. I will, therefore, for a few days delay sending a copy of this letter to the *Sydney Morning Herald* with a request that it be published. A copy of this letter with a copy of the stock exchange listing requirements has been forwarded to **Mr. Blain.** Yours faithfully, {: type="A" start="E"} 0. G. Blackmore, Chairman The following is my reply to **Mr. E.** G. Blackmore, chairman of the Sydney Stock Exchange : - 26th March, 1935. {:#subdebate-32-5} #### Dear Sir I have duly received your letter of 20th March. 1935. The facts are - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Inreply to your query why I did not take action in regard to Arnheim Land Gold Development Company, I was elected a member for the Northern Territory only in time to attend the last three days' Sitting of Parliament before Christmas last. I had no time before Parliament rose over the New Year to fully investigate certain phases of the Arnheim Land Company's business. The moment I had done so, I did not wait for Parliament to meet. I wrote you immediately on 3rd February last. X gave you sufficient facts in my letter to seriously alarm any body of men handling shares in the company, and cause them to make searching inquiry for the sake of their own reputations. You did not reply to my letter or even ask me to substantiate my statements. On the second day of the new session - my fifth day in the House - I raised the question of Arnheim Land Company's affairs as a matter of urgency. Your members, since my first letter to you, have continuously dealt in the shares of the company. It appears that, from 1st February to 24th March, 145,000 shares have been sold on 'Change alone by your members, irrespective of vestibule sales and private dealings. Since the first exposure of the company's affairs, therefore, your members have apparently been earning over £275 per week average in commissions on the sales of Arnheim Land shares on 'Change alone. {: #subdebate-32-5-s0 .speaker-JOS} ##### Mr SPEAKER (Hon G J Bell:
DARWIN, TASMANIA The question of privilege arises as to the letter addressed to myself, and as to what the honorable member for the Northern Territory views as a threat to himself regarding certain action which would be taken to publish the matter in the *Sydney Morning Herald* if he did not make an explanation or statement to the House. Having followed the honorable member's speech as closely as possible, I suggest that he is not in order in reading all the correspondence that passed between him and the Sydney Stock Exchange, or in attempting to justify the remarks which he made on a previous occasion in the House. The question of privilege relates only to the letter addressed to myself and the threat addressed to the honorable member. Whether or not the honorable member's statements in the House were justified is not a matter of privilege. {: #subdebate-32-5-s1 .speaker-JPT} ##### Mr BLAIN: -- The protection of privilege was granted to members of Parliament to enable them to expose abuses fearlessly. Parliament is the highest court in the land, and public delinquents *Privilege.* [27 March, 1935.] *Privilege.* 325 should no more be allowed to threaten members who do their duty than to intimidate judges of the Supreme Court. A judge would soon clap the writer of a letter such as this into gaol for his pains. I do not believe that the privilege of Parliament should be abused, and in this case I did not abuse it. What I said badly needed saying in the public interest - that the stock exchange has lent itself to a wild gamble in the shares of this dishonest company. Since February last, on 'change alone, 145,000 shares have been turned over, irrespective of vestibule and private sales. {: #subdebate-32-5-s2 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order ! I have already ruled that the honorable member cannot continue his argument as to whether or not his previous statement was justified. That matter cannot be raised on the issue of privilege. I understand that the honorable member is now attempting to make a further statement *as* to the action of the stock exchange in the manipulating of shares, and so on. If so, he is going beyond the matter of privilege. {: .speaker-JPT} ##### Mr BLAIN: -- The total number of issued shares in the company, other than promoters' shares, is 233,334. Out of " on'change " sales alone, members of the Sydney Stock Exchange have, in commission, been earning an average of £275 a. week since the 1st February on shares in a suspected company which, in six weeks have fallen in the face of exposure, from 9s. to 2s. 6d. By reference to two or three original documents, the stock exchange would prove for itself the turpitude of these people. When I first completed my inquiries, I wrote and placed the position before the Stock Exchange Committee on the 3rd February, because I did not wish to shelter behind parliamentary privilege in making statements for which I desired to take full responsibility in the interests of the Northern Territory. Though my allegations were the gravest that could be made against a company, my letter was not even acknowledged. I made further and most serious information available on the 9th February, and again there was no reply, and the Exchange showed no interest in either substantiating my statements or discovering whether its members were dealing in the shares of a crooked concern. On the 19th February I wrote specifically asking for an answer, and saying that I proposed to take certain steps in Parliament. After a week had elapsed I received a reply saying that my letters had been made available to members; but the dealing in shares still continued on a large scale, and it is still going on, to the detriment of real mining and of Stock Exchange reputations. Under the circumstances, it was my duty to say what I said. I produce the letters containing the matters of which I complain. I have also received from **Mr. John** Bailey a letter in terms which might warrant action by this House. The defence of every man who has had his wickedness revealed in Parliament, is to challenge the member concerned to repeat his words outside of Parliament. **Mr. Bailey** has done that in a letter which I have in my hand. He says that he wants to protect his good name by taking action against me. I have already said outside the House most of the things which I have said in it, in reply to attacks made by **Mr. Bailey** and his friends upon me. I might well call the attention of the House to **Mr. Bailey's** letter, which I think constitutes a breach of privilege, but instead of doing so, I have written to him a letter which I have asked him to make available to his shareholders - many of the poor ones have come to me in utter distress - and have told him that I am prepared to attend an extraordinary meeting of shareholders and put the position fully before them. I move - >That in writing a letter reflecting on the motives and actions of a member of this House, and in writing a threat, the chairman of the Sydney Stock Exchange, **Mr. E.** G. Blackmore, be adjudged guilty of contempt. {: #subdebate-32-5-s3 .speaker-JTY} ##### Mr ARCHIE CAMERON:
BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · CP; LP from 1944; LCL from 1951; LP from 1954 -- For the purpose of having the matter debated, I second the motion. Motion (by **Dr. Earle** Page) proposed - >That the debate be adjourned. {: .speaker-KFA} ##### Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP -- I rise to a point of order. Standing Order No. 284 reads - >All questions of order and matters of privilege at any time arising shall, until decided. suspend the consideration and decision of every other question. 326 *Papers.* [REPRESENTATIVES.] *Book Censorship.* I submit that the debate on a motion of privilege may not be adjourned; or, if adjourned, that the House itself must adjourn and that no other business may be taken until the matter of privilege is decided. {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr Earle Page: -- I believe the practice of this House has been to permit the adjournment of motions of this character. This matter is of such importance to the Parliament that it is absolutely essential that every honorable member should have the fullest information concerning it and should know exactly where he stands, before proceeding to deal with it. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- The honorable member for Richmond **(Mr. R. Green)** has correctly quoted the Standing Order governing this matter; but, as the Acting Prime Minister has said, it has been the practice of this House to adjourn the debate on motions of this nature. I interpret the Standing Order to mean that when a matter of privilege is brought before the House it shall take precedence over every other question, but not that it must be finalized. I therefore rule that the point of order cannot be sustained. Question resolved in the affirmative. Debate adjourned. {: .page-start } page 326 {:#debate-33} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-33-0} #### MOTION WITHOUT NOTICE {: #subdebate-33-0-s0 .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
CP -- I ask leave to move a motion without notice - Leave not granted. {: .page-start } page 326 {:#debate-34} ### PAPERS The following papers were presented : - >Census and Statistics Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1935, No. 22. > >Customs Act and Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1935, No. 5. > >Designs Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1935, No. 24. > >Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1935, No. 21. > >Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired at Geraldton, Western Australia - For Defence purposes. > >Naval Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1935, No. 27. > >Navigation Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1935, No. 20. > >Patents Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1935, No. 23. > >Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government ( Administration ) Act - Hospital Tax Ordinance - Regulations amended. {: .page-start } page 326 {:#debate-35} ### BOOK CENSORSHIP Formal Motion fob Adjournment. {: #debate-35-s0 .speaker-JOS} ##### Mr SPEAKER (Hon G J Bell: I have received from the honorable member for Melbourne Ports **(Mr. Holloway)** an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the House this afternoon for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, "Book Censorship." *Five honorable members having risen in support of the motion,* {: #debate-35-s1 .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr HOLLOWAY:
Melbourne Ports -- I move- >That the House do now adjourn. I take this action because of the growing public importance of the matter with which the motion is moved to deal. That there is a large volume of public opinion dissatisfied with the present censorship I do not think can be gainsaid by any honorable member of this House. Recent conferences of scientists and other bodies have carried resolutions expressing dissatisfaction with the manner in which the present practice is working out and intimating that, from their point of view, that practice is too dictatorial. This dissatisfaction has been growing for some considerable time. I believe it is safe to say that to-day this is a burning public question throughout Australia. I wish to make it quite clear that I draw a line of demarcation between the two groups of books and literature which come under the purview of the Censorship Board or Committee, or the Minister for Trade and Customs. With the written word or the pictorial advertisement which comes under the head of pornographic, indecent, or obscene, I am not nearly so greatly concerned as I am with the other volume of literature which deals with all branches of political economy, economic problems, philosophical essays, arts and methods of government and the changes that occur in them from time to time in different countries, and sociological questions or studies generally. I consider that the han upon the introduction of that type of literature into Australia constitutes a Very great inroad upon the mental liberty of our people. All students and thinking people generally in the community should strongly resent the determination with a mental tape measure by a Minister or a committee of the number and range of literature dealing with clean, modem, economic problems, that the people should read, study, and try to understand. All that I have to say concerning literature which is alleged to be indecent is that, to allow a Minister for Trade and .Customs, whoever ho may be, or even two or three persons, to be the guardians of public morals, imposes rather too much upon a people. Even in regard to that range of literature a method having much greater virtue should be adopted. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- What does the honorable member suggest? {: .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr HOLLOWAY: -- I want the House quite clearly to understand that my main protest is against the censorship of literature dealing with questions and problems associated with the many changes that have taken place politically and economically since the immediate post-war days. I suggest that the powers conferred by the Police Offences Acts of the different States, if used in conjunction with the advice of an officer of the Customs Department as to the types of literature he considers should be inquired into, would be quite sufficient to safeguard the people of this country from the indiscriminate circulation of indecent or obscene literature. Under the Police Offences Act all books, periodicals and magazines come within the purview of the police authorities, who are given the power to prosecute and have a fine imposed upon or imprisonment meted out to an offender. The matter complained of may be confiscated and declared unfit for circulation. The exercise of these powers has enabled Australia to be kept clean up to date. Compared with all other countries in the world, Australia is the cleanest. I make that statement deliberately, and do not think that it will be contradicted. In my travels I have seen exhibited for sale on the counters of shops in Prance, Egypt, Switzerland and other countries, books and pictorial matter that would be immediately seized and confiscated, and rightly so, in Australia. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- The honorable member would break that down. {: .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr HOLLOWAY: -- I would not. That statement by the Minister is quite unfair. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- Then the honorable member should be constructive in his criticism. {: .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr HOLLOWAY: -- I have not suggested breaking anything down. I have said that the present State laws, plus the assistance of certain officers of the Trade and Customs Department, are sufficient to safeguard the general public from unwholesome literature of the kind to which I have been referring. Our people have been safeguarded in this respect in the past. I do not think that people should have indecent literature thrust upon them, any more than that they should be forced to listen to blasphemy and cursing; but I object to any interference with their liberties in regard to any publications on current economic, historical and governmental developments in various countries of the world. Neither the Minister for Trade and 'Customs, whoever he may be, nor any two or three individuals who may be appointed by the Government for the purpose, should be allowed to deprive the people of the opportunity to read modern historical and economic literature, and no juggling on the part of customs officers or others should be permitted to prevent the circulation of such literature. Some appeal should bc allowed before any permanent ban is placed on the free circulation of such literature. We must remember that the ideas and outlook of people are always changing. Books that would have been regarded as filthy yesterday become historical gems to-morrow, and, similarly, statements regarded as treason a few years ago may, to-morrow, be regarded as pearls of wisdom. Dictatorial powers, the exercise of which may have the effect of preventing the free circulation of literature in this country, should not, therefore, be given to any individual or small group of individuals. I remember that a wise old Roman senator 328 *Book* [REPRESENTATIVES.] *Censorship.* made a statement long ago to the effect that no person was wise for each hour of the 24 in every day. The power to censor the liberty of the people is too great to be placed in the hands of any individual, or small group of individuals. A court of appeal should be open to authors and distributors in the case of books brought under any kind of ban. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- There is an appeal to-day. {: #debate-35-s2 .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr HOLLOWAY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · FLP; ALP from 1936 -An enormous quantity of general literature dealing with modern economic movements and their historical background, and with new experimental systems of government and their operations, has come from the printing presses of the world since the war, and such publications should not be subjected to any form of censorship. The people of Australia are sufficiently intelligent to judge the quality of their reading matter, and they may be relied upon to thrust aside that which is undesirable and to accept only that which is sound and for the common good. Never in the world's history have such remarkable changes occurred as those which we have witnessed since the Great War. To set up a small censorship board to determine what is truth and falsehood, what is dangerous and helpful, and what is evil and good, is entirely wrong. The weighted average of the intelligence of the community generally may be trusted to determine such matters. The weighted average of intelligence of any small body of individuals set up as a censorship board could not possibly be very different from the weighted average of the mentality of the people. We should be egotistical, indeed, if, for instance, we were to argue that the mentality of members of Parliament was very much higher than that of the populace generally. No Minister of the Crown should have the right to measure the area of the mental development of the people or of books or periodicals which they should be allowed to read, apart, as I have already said, from books regarded as obscene, indecent or blasphemous, concerning which I hold no brief whatever. I hold a brief, though, for works on economic and historical subjects which come from reput able authors or groups of authors, or from universities, whether of Moscow. Leningrad, Berlin, or elsewhere. The people of a comparatively new country are generally regarded as being progressive, and the Australian people should be so regarded; but unfortunately we are to-day trailing behind the older countries of the world in our treatment of historical, economic and educational literature. Books which are freely admitted into the United Kingdom, and afforded distributing facilities by the British Postal Department, are not allowed admission into Australia. Our people should, in this matter, be allowed at least equal facilities to those of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. I do not suggest that we ought to follow the United Kingdom blindly in everything. We have made mistakes sometimes in the past in doing so; but at least we should give our people unhindered access to educational literature of the kind that I have described, which is freely admitted into and distributed throughout Great Britain. Because I believe in freedom of thought and freedom of speech, I naturally ally myself with the growing army of people in every capital city of Australia who are gravely discontented with the censorship exercised to-day in respect of economic and historical publications. I propose to quote the views of three organizations, representative of the great majority, of the people of Australia, which have recently carried resolutions of protest against the present censorship policy of the Government. The Science Congress, which met early this year in Melbourne, and consisted of representative scientific men from every part of Australia and New Zealand, and from some countries overseas, declared itself, I think unanimously, as follows: - >Since all books are subject to the laws concerning defamation, obscenity and blasphemy, it is desirable that they should be admitted without censorship into Australia, and that, as the first step towards this end, no book on any historical, political or economic subject that is freely circulated in Britain should be subject to censorship in Australia. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- The congress evidently desires censorship of all kinds of literature to be discontinued. {: .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr HOLLOWAY: -- I hope the Minister is not attempting to entice me to say that I support, by 100 per cent., resolutions of the kind that I am now bringing under notice, for I have made my position quite clear. I do not go so far as the first part of the resolution of the Science Congress, but I go farther than the last part of it. I think that we ought to have access to educational, political and economic literature at least equal to that enjoyed by the people of the United Kingdom. I now direct attention to a resolution of a conference of the Australian Natives Association, reported in the Melbourne *Argus* on the 22nd March, 1935, as follows : - >That in Mie opinion *ot* this conference the existing method of censorship of books and publications coining into Australia is unsatisfactory. It is of opinion that bonks and publications circulating freely in Great Britain should bc admitted to Australia, and that the Minister for Trade and Customs should make public the reason for prohibiting any literature from the Commonwealth. The Australian Natives Association, as the Minister is doubtless aware, represents a very large number of Australian citizens. It is a larger body, I think, than any other similar association in Australia. The next resolution to which I shall direct attention is that of the Trades Hall Council, of Melbourne, an organization of outstanding importance in Australia. The Minister may disagree with me in this regard, because the political outlook of this organization is different from his own. Through its affiliated bodies, the Melbourne Trades Hall Council represents more people than 99 per cent, of the organizations in Australia. While I had the honour to be president of that council, I was selected to take the chair at a meeting held in the Melbourne Town Hall to welcome the International Science Congress at the opening of its first conference in Australia, and I was selected solely because the council was so thoroughly representative of the citizens of Melbourne. Its resolution on the subject of the censorship of books and publications is described in the following statement published in the Melbourne *Argus* on the 8th February, 1935 :- >Condemning the policy of banning books dealing with social and political problems, the Trades Hall Council, in a resolution passed lust night, contended that such books were allowed to circulate freely in England. The executive was instructed to take whatever action it might consider necessary, with the object of having the ban removed. The council declared that the censorship of books was a reflection on the intelligence of the people of Australia. The Melbourne Trades Hall Council, the Australian Natives Association, and the Science Congress are thus, it will be seen, unanimously of the opinion that books and publications on historical, economic and political subjects should not be subjected to censorship, but should be obtainable in Australia at least as easily as in England. *[Leave to continue given.].* The fact that some of the 150 to 160 books on the banned list were available to the public 20 or 30 years ago is responsible for a good deal of the discontent which now exists. Many of the banned books are the text books of universities all over the world. For instance there are the works of Karl Marx. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- The works of Karl Marx and Engels are not banned. The ban applies only to certain publications concerning those works. {: .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr HOLLOWAY: -- I did not mean to suggest that the works of Karl Marx are included in the banned list. Books by Marx and Engels could be read by any one. I have before me a publication entitled *The Condition of the W arising Class in Britain,* written by an Englishman, which deals with the conditions of the British workmen. For some time we have been endeavouring to deal effectively with the unemployed problem in Australia, and should have the opportunity to read such publications which may assist us in overcoming some of our economic troubles. There is also a volume entitled *The Class Struggle in Britain,* by Fox, and the *A.B.C. of Communism.* The *Communist Manifesto,* which was compiled 80 or 90 years ago, and books on the banned list were discussed nearly 20 years ago, at gatherings held at the Melbourne University on Saturday afternoons and which were attended by **Dr. Barrett;** the late. **Mr. Justice** Higgins, myself and others. It was at one of those gatherings that the formation of the Workers Educational Association was first mentioned, and when such an association was formed, the late **Mr. Justice** 330 *Book* [REPRESENTATIVES.] *Censorship.* Higgins was appointed president and I was made a vice-president. The *A.B.C. of Communism* and the *Communist Manifesto* were the 'basic principles of our economic discussions. The *A.B.C. of Communism* is on the banned list. {: .speaker-KOQ} ##### Mr McCall: -- That is in the public libraries. {: .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr HOLLOWAY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · FLP; ALP from 1936 -- Yes, and there are, perhaps, 50 other books in the parliamentary and other libraries which are also on.the list. I have books in my home, the importation of which is prohibited. Certain literature and books on the banned list are sent to me regularly, but I do not know from whom they come, which shows that the present method of censorship is ineffective. I also receive a paper entitled *Man,* advocating anarchy,but I do not know by whom it is sent. This shows the foolishness of the present system, and the necessity to review our methods of censorship. Apparently some books are banned because the author has a Russian name, or because the censor is opposed to the present system of government in Russia. At present we are denied the right to read economic essays written by some of the most brilliant professors. I have before me a volume entitled *Moscow Dialogues,* by **Dr. J.** E. 'Hecker, which has not been banned and is in the Parliamentary Library. I should like to read what an English professor has said concerning the. author, who is a leading, economist in the Moscow University and who writes a good deal of literature for the Russian University. What Professor John. Macmurray says concerning this author shows the typeof man whose books may be banned by a censor simply because the censor may be biased against Russian names,, or because of the attitude which Russia adopted during the war. Professor John Macmurray states - {: type="A" start="I"} 0. had the pleasure of meeting **Dr. Hecker** at a summer school held by the Society of Friends in Birmingham during the past summer. He was engaged in collecting material for a course of lectures on recent religions movements in Europe to be delivered, at the request of one of the institutes of the Communist Academy of Moscow. For this task he was eminently suited. Though Russian by birth he has spent a great part of his life in the United States, where he was engaged in social and literary work. He returned to Russia after the revolution as a member of a Famine Relief Mission, but owing to difficulties about his nationality he left the mission and joined the regular educational service of the Soviet Union, in which he is still employed. During his short stay in England his simplicity and frankness, his obvious sincerity and humanity, endeared him to those who met him. It was usual to hear people express their astonishment that a man with such religious sympathies and such a patently Christian character should support the Soviet system in Russia. These qualities of sympathy, simplicity and humanity, reveal themselves in his book and make it, in my opinion, by far the most satisfactory account of the theoretical aspect of the Russian revolution that we yet possess. There has never been a deeper or more profound analysis of the communisticrevolution than is contained in that book- {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- That book is not banned. {: .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr HOLLOWAY: -- No, but it is only " by a fluke " that it is not. If his name had had a Russian pronunciation it may have been. During and after the war, some persons became very panicky. Over 100,000 copies of a manifesto issued by the Australian Trades Union Congress against conscription, and for which, as secretary,. I was largely responsible, were seized by the Government, and, under the directions from **Senator Sir George** Pearce, everything with the exception of the names of the committee and the secretary was obliterated with red ink. Yet copies of this manifesto were sent to **Mr. Ramsay** MacDonald, the editor of the *Nation* and the editor of the *Manchester Guardian.* and, although it could not be circulated in Australia, every line was distributed in Great Britain. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- There was conscription in England. {: .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr HOLLOWAY: -- Not in the early stages of the was. There was no need for the authorities in Australia to exereise such a. narrow view. Surely we can be trusted to examine the contents of such books and publications. There: has never been a time in history when the need: for the free circulation of literature of this type has been greater. Since the war, we have been passing through a transition period!, and the experience of other countries under different forms of government should be available to us. Twenty years ago,, a nation consisting of 160,000,000 persons was suddenly thrown upon *its* own resources and compelled to face important economic problems; arid although it was thought that it would not be able to surmount the difficulties then confronting it. the world is to-day fascinated with the efforts it is making. Many students of high standing consider that another two or three decades will see a complete system of common ownership in operation. Numerous books have been written explaining its activities, and the information they contain should be available to us. As an Australian citizen, I object to my liberty being circumscribed by one or two individuals. I admit that indecent publications or pictures such as I would not have in my own, home should not be admitted into the Commonwealth, but works dealing with political economy and suggested solutions of economic problems should be available to all. We should have the same privileges in this respect as are afforded to the people of Great Britain. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- Can the honorable member name a single book that he has not read but wishes to read which is on the banned list? {: .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr HOLLOWAY: -- I may have in mind some books which are taboo, but I might destroy my argument by mentioning one. I do not propose to do that. There are five or six hooks which I should like to read, one of which is entitled *The Colonial Policy of British Imperialism,* by Cox. Moreover, the present system is unfair to reputable booksellers who have to provide sufficient capital to order books from London and elsewhere for sale to Australian readers and who cannot ascertain from the officers of the Customs Department whether such books are or are not on the banned list. The books arrive in Australia and sometimes months elapse before the importers are able to get a definite reply from the Customs Department as to whether the books can be offered for sale. If they are prohibited the booksellers have to incur the expense of returning them to Europe. I am sure that, a better method than that at present in operation could be devised. I know that the Minister will say that there is a Censorship Board of three persons who have been selected because of their experience and knowledge. I have nothing to say against the present Censorship Board. I have the greatest respect for **Sir Robert** Garran as a gentleman and a scholar; but in the end the board has the final say. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- There is the right of appeal. {: .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr HOLLOWAY: -- That is not correct. The Minister or the members of the board may be too busy to give proper attention to the work. I understand that **Sir Robert** Garran has admitted that he has not seen many of the books which have been banned. Sometimes he advises the banning of books, but that advice is not taken, and city business people do not know how to approach the board. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- I did not say that. {: .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr HOLLOWAY: -- At any rate I hope that the Government will recast its methods and put Australia on the same footing as Great Britain. {: #debate-35-s3 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- The honorable member has exhausted his time. {: #debate-35-s4 .speaker-JUB} ##### Sir Donald CAMERON:
LILLEY, QUEENSLAND · UAP -- I have listened with very great interest to the remarks of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports **(Mr. Holloway),** and with some of them I agree entirely, but I cannot help thinking that others of them justify the Government's policy so far as the banning of books is concerned. On the 24th April, 1926, I asked the then Minister for Trade and Customs, **Mr. Pratten,** the following question in connexion with this matter : - >In view of the statement made by Archbishop Duhig in Brisbane within the last few days, that Australia is being flooded with atheistic and immoral literature from abroad, T. ask the Minister for Trade and Customs to say exactly what power his department has to prevent the introduction of such literature, and what is being done in that direction by the department? **Mr. Pratten** replied as follows: >My attention has been drawn to the remarks to which the honorable member refers. Section 52 of the Customs Act prohibits the importation of blasphemous, obscene, or indecent literature or works. There has been drawn up by the department a fairly long list of prohibited literature, and from time to time recommendations in the direction of prohibition come to the department, and are generally acted upon. The department will welcome any help in connexion with the administration of this very difficult matter, as books and publications to the value of over ?1,000,000 are coming into the Commonwealth 332 *Book* [REPRESENTATIVES.] *Censorship.* every year. If specific publications are indicated, or other help in this direction is given by outsiders, the department will rigidly administer the law. Before that date, however, my interest had been aroused in the admission of obscene literature or publications of any kind into Australia. In 1923, when I was at Geneva as a delegate to the Assembly of the League of Nations, a conference was called by the Government of France, to which were invited representatives of nations who were members of the League of Nations, and also other nations. It was held under the auspices of the League, and its purpose was to deal with the circulation and traffic in obscene publications. The Government of the Commonwealth had accepted the invitation and appointed **Mr. M.** L. Shepherd, who was then Official Secretary at Australia House, to represent it at the conference. Unfortunately, it became necessary for **Mr. Shepherd** to return to London, and at **Sir Joseph** Cook's request, I took his place. This conference spent several weeks deliberating on this problem. By the way, I have always thought it is a good thing for any public man occasionally to test the ambit of his usefulness or celebrity, whichever way one. may describe it. Quite recently, for instance, I saw an official announcement by the Prime Minister's Department that Australia was not represented at that particular convention. I stress the tremendous difficulty of arriving at any useful decision at such a conference on a question of this nature. The convention agreed - >It shall be a punishable offence for the purpose of or by way of trade or distribution or public exhibition, to make or produce or have in possession, obscene writings, drawings, prints, paintings, printed matter, pictures, posters, emblems, photographs, cinematograph films, or any other obscene objects. Those of the contracting parties signing that convention whose legislation was not at the time adequate to give effect to it, undertook to take, or propose to their respective legislatures, the measures necessary for this purpose. The point I stress is that it was not possible really for the delegates at that conference to come to any decision as to the meaning, from an international stand point, of the word " obscene ". The representatives of some countries considered certain literature, pictures and other publications as entirely proper, whilst the representatives of other nations considered the same publications of an obscene nature. This convention was my first experience of an international gathering and it proved to me that it is a very difficult thing for the representatives of the various nations in the world to come to any common decision upon any point. I believe the Australian Government now has signed the convention, or at least is about to sign it. As the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, I believe, admits, there is no doubt that the Government should have power to prohibit the admission of certain literature into this country. I should be glad to know, however, what the Minister has to say regarding the banning of certain books in Australia which are not prohibited in Britain. I could never quite understand why books which are not banned in Britain should be banned in Australia. Mentally and morally, Australians, as a people, can claim to be equal to the people of Britain. I contend that when a book which has not been banned in Britain is banned in Australia, the general effect of the Australian ban is to createimmediately a far greater interest in the banned book than would be the case were it not banned. I could mention the titles of one or two books to illustrate this point, but honorable members are well aware of such instances. Undoubtedly, if the people are determined to read a book they are able to get it. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has referred to the committee composed of **Sir Robert** Garran, Professor L. H. Allen, lecturer in English at the Canberra University College, and Professor J. F. Haydon, lecturer in French at the Canberra University College. These gentlemen form an honorary committee, but so far as I have been able to gather, it is only on occasions that books are referred to them for an opinion. Mr.White. - That is not so. {: .speaker-JUB} ##### Sir Donald CAMERON:
LILLEY, QUEENSLAND · UAP -- I understood that, in many instances, books were banned without having been submitted to that honorary committee for its opinion. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- As a matter of fact the committee is now in arrears with its work. {: .speaker-JUB} ##### Sir Donald CAMERON:
LILLEY, QUEENSLAND · UAP -- Particularly I ask the Minister whether the Government will not consider the advisability of submitting to the committee for an opinion every book which comes into question. Often, I understand, a book, solely because it bears a nighty name, is submitted to an official of the Trade and Customs Department. The official reads through that book, marking certain passages which subsequently are referred to the Minister, and the Minister then in many instances himself decides whether or not the book will be admitted. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- That was the procedure before the establishment of the board, but now the board reads right through any book in question. {: .speaker-JUB} ##### Sir Donald CAMERON:
LILLEY, QUEENSLAND · UAP -- I am glad to know that every book is submitted to the board before it is prohibited. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- I did not say that. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- The honorable member has exhausted his time. {: #debate-35-s5 .speaker-K9C} ##### Mr GARDEN:
Cook -- I protest against the censorship of books by the Minister for Trade and Customs. It is strange that every book that deals adversely with Russia is admitted without any censorship whatever. In many replies to questions' by honorable members, the Minister has stated that there is a regulation dealing with the censorship of revolutionary literature, but it is strange that the Government admits books dealing with the possibility of the overthrow of democratic governments with the object of establishing fascist dictatorships. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- Will the honorable member name one such book? {: .speaker-K9C} ##### Mr GARDEN: -- All books written on Hitler and Mussolini, and which detail methods for the formation of fascist governments, and how to overthrow existing governments for the purpose of establishing a fascist dictatorship are allowed uncensored into this country. At any rate books of this type are to be found in the Parliamentary Library, and in every public library throughout the Commonwealth to-day. I ask the Minister to name one book on the banned list that deals with fascism. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- Let the honorable member name a book in support of his own argument. {: .speaker-K9C} ##### Mr GARDEN: -- I prefer to put the onus on- the Minister. I ask bini to name one book on the banned list which deals with fascism. There is not one to be found on the list, although many of such books actually advocate the forcible overthrow of governments and the sub.stitution of democratic governments by another form of government. Among the books which have been banned I find one which deals with the historical development of England, and another dealing with the class struggle in England. The former is a history of the development, of England before 1834, that is before the industrial revolution, up to the present time. The latter book has been banned because it is written from the point of view of the working class. The Minister might as well ban Green's *History of England.* Ralph Fox in his *Glass Struggle In Britain in the Epoch of Imperialism,* which describes the historical development of the working class in England, simply goes further than Green and gives in greater detail the incidents lightly touched upon by Green. I agree with the mover of the motion that indecent or blasphemous literature should not be allowed into this country. I do not think it should be admitted into any country. That is my opinion on books of that nature, but I do not agree with the Government's policy so far as economic works are concerned. I challenge any honorable member opposite to produce a finer work on the world position than Professor Varga's quarterly statement which is published in the International Press Correspondence. It' is praised .by Professor Giblin and others. {: .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr Holloway: -- Hitler has banned it because it is too democratic. {: .speaker-K9C} ##### Mr GARDEN: -- Yet we are not allowed to read it. Why it has been banned I cannot understand and I am sure that the two Canberra lecturers have not banned it, because Australian University professors agree that, as 334 *Book* [REPRESENTATIVES.] *Censorship.* an analysis of the world's position, it should he allowed into the country. Books of that kind are banned. Another banned book is *Marx Engels Lenin on the Irish Revolution.* Mr.White. - That is not banned. {: .speaker-K9C} ##### Mr GARDEN: -- Stalin's *Result of First Five-Year Plan* is another book which is banned, although it merely tells of the internal development of Russia, particularly in regard to agriculture and industry. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- That book is not banned. It is in the Parliamentary Library, and can be bought freely in Australia. The book dealing with the five-years plan is by another writer. The honorable member has got hold of things wrongly. {: .speaker-KOQ} ##### Mr McCall: -- Stalin's book can be bought anywhere. {: .speaker-K9C} ##### Mr GARDEN: -- The New South Wales Bookstallis not allowed to sell it as it is on the banned list. Another historical record - *The Revolution of 1905* by Lenin - has also been banned. Surely the Minister does not say that the people of Australia are not to read historical books? He may, or may not, be justified in refusing to allow the people of Australia to discuss what may happen to-morrow ; but, surely, what happened in 1905, and other events of the past, should not be kept from the people. Another banned book is *The World Economic Crisis.* {: .speaker-KIX} ##### Mr Hutchinson: -- Who was the author of that book? {: .speaker-K9C} ##### Mr GARDEN: -- It was written by O. Piatnitsky. Another book 'which cannot be purchased is *The Truth about the Moscow Trial.* {: .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr Holloway: -- Details of that trial were published in the *Melbourne Herald.* {: .speaker-K9C} ##### Mr GARDEN: -- The other side of the story of the trial, as given by Cummins, may be read. The Government bans one side of that story., but not the other. *United War against War, War again To-morrow* and *The War and the Internal,* as we'll as other books which deal with the subject of war from the point of view of the workers, are banned, but those which engender the war spirit are allowed to enter this country, and to circulate freely. Although it is merely a book dealing with theories, *Founda~ tions of Leninism and Problems of Leninism* is banned, as is also *Germany, Hitler and the Trade Unions.* Strangely enough, there is no censorship of books dealing with German or Italian fascism, It would appear that the Commonwealth Government favours fascism, because books favouring fascism are permitted to circulate freely in this country, whereas those which are opposed to fascism are banned. Lenin's books entitled *Karl Marx* and *Socialism and War* are barred, as is also Stalin's publication, *The Task ofthe Working Glass in Mastering the Technique of Production.* That book merely shows factory workers how to deal with the problems they meet in industry, but it is banned- We are told that before coming to a final decision in regard to the banning of books, the Minister submitted the books to a board consisting of three gentlemen, resident in Canberra. I suggest to the Minister that he should deal with this matter on the following *lines : -* {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- The honorable member's time has expired. {: #debate-35-s6 .speaker-KIX} ##### Mr HUTCHINSON:
Indi .The subject raised to-day by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports **(Mr. Holloway)** is by no means unimportant, because a; great many highly-educated and well-meaning people are giving seriousthought to the present censorship ofbooks.So far no honorable member who has spoken has expressed disagreement with the principle of censorship. On the contrary, each speaker has admitted the necessity for a censorship of books, with a view to banning publications which are indecent, obscene or blasphemous. It is clear, therefore, that it is in regard to the degree of censorship, not the principle of censorship, that any difference of opinion exists. Honorable members who have spoken have referred principally to books of political, historical or religious nature. In regard to such publications a clearcut decision as to the degree of censorship which should be exercisedis most difficult to obtain. It may be that a book which is chiefly historical, may contain passages which some people would regard as blasphemousor indecent, offensive to their sense of morality, or opposed to their views regarding religion. A book dealing with conditions in Russia may, possibly, advocate moral standards or views in regard to Christianity which are repugnant to most people in this country. At first sight, the books mentioned by the honorable member for Cook **(Mr. Garden)** appear to be more or less harmless, but it may be that a perusal of them would reveal that they advocate the overthrow of governments by force or violence. If that be so, they are properly banned, in accordance with a principle which has operated in Australia, and, indeed, in most countries, for many years, irrespective of the political party which happens to be in power. I take it that every honorable member, irrespective of party, stands definitely for evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, means of accomplishing reforms, and agrees that any person who, on the public platform, expounds doctrines designed to cause violence and revolution is justly liable to punishment. I see no difference between advocating such doctrines from the public platform and advocating them in books. Some honorable members contend that we should allow to circulate freely in Australia books which have a free circulation in Great Britain; but I do not agree with them. It may be that in many things Australia would do well to follow the lead of Britain; but in other matters we may be wise to depart from the methods of the Old Country. In determining the degree of censorship, we should: be guided by Australian ideas of what is right and proper, rather than by the views of people in other countries. {: .speaker-K9C} ##### Mr Garden: -- Does not the honorable member believe in tuning in to Britain? {: .speaker-KIX} ##### Mr HUTCHINSON: -- In many respects, I do; but I do not believe in following Britain blindly. We in Australia may be able to improve on British methods. {: .speaker-KYZ} ##### Mr RIORDAN:
KENNEDY, QUEENSLAND · ALP; FLP from 1931 -- Not much exception was taken by the Government to the doings of Eric Campbell or the New Guard. {: .speaker-KIX} ##### Mr HUTCHINSON: -- If either the leader or the members of the New Guard advocated the overthrow of governments by revolutionary means, they would be guilty of an offence,, and, in my opinion, should be prosecuted. I should like the Minister, when replying, to indicate, who it is that refers books to the censors. Many hundreds of thousands of books must come into this country each year, and I should like to know by what means certain books are selected for special review by the censors. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- The Collectors of Customs in the several States send the books to Canberra. {: .speaker-KIX} ##### Mr HUTCHINSON: -- How do they decide which books contain matter likely to be banned? {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- Sometimes by reading reviews of books; sometimes by lists of books banned overseas, and sometimes by complaints from readers of books in Australia. {: .speaker-KIX} ##### Mr HUTCHINSON: -- The mover of the motion said that he would not place in his home books which he would not like his children to read. This Parliament would do well to have the home in mind in dealing with the censorship of books. The welfare of the nation should be our aim, and we should remember that, while freedom should not unnecessarily be restricted, it sometimes becomes licence. It is our concern not only to give to the people of this country tha highest form of government, but also to ensure, as far as possible, that they shall conform to the highest standard of conduct. {: #debate-35-s7 .speaker-KMZ} ##### Mr MARTENS:
Herbert .- I resent an interjection by the Minister for Trade and Customs **(Mr. White),** that I represent the views of the Italians in my electorate. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- I said that the honorable member speaks for them. {: .speaker-KMZ} ##### Mr MARTENS: -- Many of them compare favorably with the Minister. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- The honorable member Ls endeavouring to twist my remark. {: .speaker-KMZ} ##### Mr MARTENS: -- The honorable member for Indi **(Mr. Hutchinson)** said that, while all honorable members agree with the principle of censorship, they hold different opinions regarding the degree of censorship which should be exercised. I agree that it is difficult to say what is indecent, or otherwise objectionable. Judged by some standards, 336 *Book* (REPRESENTATIVES. ] *Censorship.* many classical works would be regarded as indecent, and the language of the aristocracy of not many years ago, if used in this House, would be disallowed. I have read quite a lot of those works, and I do not know that I am any the worse for it. The post office in this country is in itself a very strict censor. I have here a copy of a book called *Red Medicine,* which may be had from the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library. The book was written by **Sir Arthur** Newsholme, K.C.B., M.D., formerly principal medical officer of the local board of England and Wales, and John Adams Kingsbury, L.L.B., Secretary of the. Milbank Memorial Funds, and formerly Commissioner of Public Charities, New York. Those two men were given the right to visit Russia for two or three months in order to investigate social conditions in that country, and to observe what was being done in the way of public health work. Many of the photographs published in the book have appeared in the Australian publication *The Soviets To-day.* The Commonwealth censorship cannot interfere with that publication, because it is printed in Sydney, but the post office has refused to allow it tobe transmitted by post, and any one attempting to use the post office for its distribution may be prosecuted and fined. Nevertheless, I challenge any one to point out how anything in that publication can injure any one. It is freely printed and published in Great Britain, where censorship in regard to such matters is much less strict than here. Are we to conclude that it is the desire of the Government to prevent the people, and particularly the women of this country, from learning of the work which is being done in various institutions in Russia for the people by the Government? In regard to most publications I think that we may rely upon the good sense of the public to determine what should be read and what should not. Certain Sunday newspapers are permitted to be sent unhampered through the post office, and are sold openly in the streets, though they contain more filth and indecent matter than a great many of the publications which come under the official ban. Censorship in this country works in peculiar ways. For instance, Boccaccio's *Decameron* may be had from the Parliamentary Library here, and from most other libraries throughout the country, but it is not permitted to be sold in cheap paper editions. The idea evidently is that while it is all right for those who can afford to buy expensive editions, it should not be read by the great bulk of the people. Another book upon which there is no censorship at all is Fielding's *Tom Jones,* in which there is more filth than in any other book I can think of. Yet it is supposed to be a classic. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- Does the honorable member want a stricter censorship? {: .speaker-KMZ} ##### Mr MARTENS: -- No, but we might at least have a logical one. I have read a statement by **Sir Robert** Garran that the Censorship Committee does not see a great many of the books that are banned. I can believe that, because I cannot see how any intelligent person could take exception to some of the books that come under the ban. In some cases, books that would be of real educational value to the people of Australia are prohibited, although they circulate freely in England. In respect of many things we are told that we should be guided by what is done in England, and I think that we might very well follow England in this instance. There is much greater freedom of speech and of publication in that country than there is in Australia, although I do not think it can be said that the English people are, compared with Australians, more intelligent, or more capable of excluding the bad and absorbing the good from what they read. They are good citizens, even though they are subject to these influences from which our Government so carefully protects us. Most of us in this country are the descendants of British people, and 'I think we are also entitled to be trusted in regard to these matters. **Sir LITTLETON** GROOM (Darling Downs) [5.10]. - This is a problem in which both the Commonwealth and the States are interested. The Customs Act prohibits the importation of certain classes of literature insofar as they are indecent, obsence or blasphemous, but in that respect the Commonwealth is really exercising power to assist the States in the enforcement of laws directed *Book* [27 March, 1935.] *Censorship.* 337 against the same things. The preservation of morals is the function of the States, as is also the prevention of the distribution and sale of indecent literature. I refer to immoral publications and books purporting to be medical publications which may fall into the hands of young people to their moral hurt. I do not suppose that any one who is now critizing the Commonwealth censorship would ask the States to relax their laws in regard to publications of that kind, and it does assist the States in the enforcement of those laws for the Commonwealth to take steps to prevent the entry of such publications into the country. The action of the Commonwealth supplements the action of the States. {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr Prowse: -- The Commonwealth is usurping the power of the States. {: #debate-35-s8 .speaker-KFK} ##### Sir LITTLETON GROOM: -- No member of the Commonwealth Parliament should say that. "We have been authorized by the people of Australia as a Parliament to exercise those powers. I think everyone will agree that the complete abolition of censorship is impossible. Some control must be exercised over the sale of so-called historical and other works and quasi-scientific publications which do as much to undermine morals as anything else. Ever since Federation the Customs Department has been exercising its powers in this regard without there being any serious complaint, or any suggestion that the law should be altered. It has been suggested that the powers of censorship should not be exercised in respect of works which possess literary value, no matter what their nature. J have heard it said when the morality of a work was questioned - " But see how beautifully it is written !" Beautiful writing does not justify indecency underlying any work. Literature to a greatextent depends for its merit on its purity, truth, and beauty, and upon the nobility of thought which inspires it. No literary dressing up of immorality can make it into literature that is worth while. {: .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr Holloway: -- There is a good deal of that in Shakespeare. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- It is not the main theme. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Sir LITTLETON GROOM: -- Reference has also been made this afternoon to publications dealing with political matters, and I think it will be conceded that writings which merely discuss political ideals and principles have never been censored in the Commonwealth. Moreover - and I speak with some knowledge on the subject - the speeches and actions of men in this country, even during the most trying times, have not been subject to control when confined merely to the criticism of the existing political system, or to the description of conditions in another country, or the advocacy of a change in the social system. {: .speaker-L08} ##### Mr Rosevear: -- Has the honorable member seen the list of banned books? {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Sir LITTLETON GROOM: -- I have heard the titles read, and I have seen the list in part. If a man steps beyond the bounds of fair and reasonable criticism as regards existing law, and advocates straight-out revolution and the overthrow of constituted authority by force, he brings himself within the law, and is liable to prosecution. Therefore, it would be ridiculous if we prosecuted such a man, and yet freely admitted to our shores literature which advocated the same thing. Accordingly, the censorship is justified, even if only designed to protect Australia from publications advocating the use of violence. Nor do I think that the administration of the law is to be condemned. We have in our library dozens of books which freely discuss and criticize the so-called capitalistic system - which is the system that has grown up over a prolonged period - and other works which describe and criticize the Soviet system, Fascism, Hitlerism, &c. We may disagree politically with those systems, and yet we admit books dealing with them. Every system of government of any value at all should stand the test of criticism, and stand or fall by the judgment of the people. It is better to err on the side of admitting a book if there be any doubt about it, than to err on the other side. The test comes when the principle is set up that, if one cannot get what is desired by argument, it should be obtained by force. That is contrary to the system of government generally accepted throughout the British Empire. As regards the basis of administration, it. rests with the Government to see that the claims of every literary work receive fair consideration. After all, a book is often an expression of the life-time experiences of an individual, and is entitled to a fair trial. Every inquiry should be made to ascertain whether the circulation of particular books would be injurious to the community before they are condemned. If the Minister finds that the present method is not working satisfactorily, let it be improved ; but it seems to me that the general principles upon which the law on this subject has been administered in the past are sound and wise in the interests of the Australian nation. {: #debate-35-s9 .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr WARD:
East Sydney -- I endorse the opinions expressed by other honorable members as to the need for banning indecent and obscene literature; but, so far as the discussion has proceeded, it has been demonstrated that some relaxation of the law is necessary to prevent the banning of books that deal with economic problems, the forms of government prevailing in various countries and criticisms of their political economy, and that every opportunity should be afforded to honorable members and the public to peruse works of this nature. The Minister for Trade and Customs **(Mr. White)** has challenged a number of speakers in regard to particular books to which they have referred. Not only have these works been banned; honorable members have also the greatest difficulty in obtaining from the Ministry even a list of the books that are prohibited from time to time. I attempted to obtain a list, and was told that the only person who could give authority for supplying such information was the Minister himself. We have the spectacle of 74 members, the elect of the Commonwealth, being prevented from reading certain books, presumably because of the effect it may have upon their political views. We cannot even obtain a list of the books that are banned. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- Did the honorable member not obtain the information which he asked for to-day when I was in Cabinet? {: .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr WARD: -- I desired to know which books had been banned for political reasons, being considered seditious, but the only information I received was that in the last twelve months 35 books had been banned on the ground that they were indecent, and 43 because they were considered seditious. I wished to know, not only the number, but also the names of the books. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- The honorable member's request was made at a late hour. {: .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr WARD: -- On numerous occasions, members of this chamber have pressed for a list of the names of banned books, and for the reason why their circulation has been prohibited. I disagree with some honorable members as to what comprises revolutionary action. I claim that every honorable member is entitled to study books, dealing with political happenings in other parts of the world, and the methods adopted in endeavouring to change forms of government and reconstruct society. If we believe that certain changes are necessary to give the people the right to determine their own destiny, we are at least entitled to ascertain, by the reading of books, the experience of the inhabitants of other countries, and whether in Australia, by means of subterfuge, the masses are induced to believe that they enjoy real democratic government, based on the authority of the people. By studying the particular forms of political economy operating in various countries, we may probably come finally to the conclusion that in Australia, where we claim to have a democratic form of government, the authority of the government is supported only by armed forces of the State. {: .speaker-JTY} ##### Mr ARCHIE CAMERON:
BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · CP; LP from 1944; LCL from 1951; LP from 1954 -- That is true of every country. {: .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr WARD: -- I do not deny that; but the point is that the authority of this Government is based on, and maintained by, force in the interests of the privileged few. If a man participates in revolutionary action, and is unsuccessful, he continues to be regarded as a rebel, and meets the fate of all rebels; but, if he happens to be successful, he is looked upon as a patriot. Abraham Lincoln - and surely no member of this chamber will suggest that he was a revolutionary *Book* [27 March, 1935.] *Censorship.* 339 - said that the people had the constitutional right to change their government or the revolutionary right to overthrow it. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr Brennan: -- Nothing succeeds like success. {: .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr WARD: -- That is true. If the people were given the opportunity to change their system of government, and obtain real political power, without the use of force, I agree with honorable members opposite that anybody who advocated other than peaceful methods should be treated as a lunatic and imprisoned. But there are members of this community and of others who believe that the existing form of government, here and elsewhere, serves a privileged few, and does not operate in the interests of the people. It is maintained by force and can be destroyed only by force. If we find that, although the people are given the right to record their votes at the ballot-box, they have no opportunity to obtain real political power through their representatives, it cannot be said that they' enjoy democratic government. We on this side, who believe in the platform of the Labour party, are entitled to read of the experiences of people in other parts of the world, and to examine the methods which they have employed for the purpose of securing political power. No sane member of the community approves of bloodshed, unless there is a necessity for it. Honorable members opposite, during the last war, supported a policy which meant bloodshed, on the ground that there was no alternative for it. The same principle is maintained by many persons in regard to changes in forms of government. Many books of the class to which reference has been made, including those mentioned by the honorable member for Cook **(Mr. Garden),** are freely circulated in Great Britain. Australia places greater restrictions than does Great Britain on the opportunities of the people to visit other lands, and particularly those countries of whose forms of government the British authorities disapprove. A large number of tourists enjoy free entry into the Soviet Republic every week. Anybody who is able to pay the fare can go to Russia to learn for himself what is happening there; but here, in Australia, a minister has evidently set himself up as the authority who shall not only dictate to the people as to what they shall read, in order to widen their knowledge of world affairs, but also tell the 74 elected members of this House- {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- Action in respect of censorship is not taken by the Minister. A proclamation has been issued under the act, and, therefore, the Minister is merely carrying out the law. {: .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr WARD: -- The Minister happens to be a member of a government which, at least, has the support of a majority in this chamber. The Government could alter this state of affairs, if it believed in the necessity for a change. I do not desire to make this a personal matter; but why should the Minister, or anybody else, set himself up as an authority to decide what literature an honorable member of this chamber shall have access to? Although the Minister may claim to be the author of an obscure book which has not been widely circulated or read, I suggest that he is not qualified to decide which books should be banned. If we examine the activities of reactionaries in Australia and other countries, whether members of governments or other public men, we find that the reactionary elements have always opposed the spread of education amongst the people, because they realize that knowledge is power, and they desire to retain power for themselves. When they could no longer prevent the people from being educated, they attempted to control education. In the various States this matter is supervised by the State governments. Ministers controlthe curriculum of State schools, and the pupils are taught only the subjects believed to be good for them. They are never allowed an opportunity to examine political happenings from the working-class view-point. The history taught in schools to-day deals largely with battles that have been won, in which many people were slaughtered; but the children are not taught thereal meaning of the struggles that have taken place. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- The honorable member has exhausted his time. {: #debate-35-s10 .speaker-JTY} ##### Mr ARCHIE CAMERON:
BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · CP; LP from 1944; LCL from 1951; LP from 1954 -- The subject under discussion is a most important and delicate one. I am in favour of the censorship of literature of all kinds, -whether imported or published in our own country. I do not believe that the law on this subject should be as lax in Australia as it is in the United Kingdom. When we compare our own regulations in regard to aliens with those in operation in Great Britain, it is seen that we cannot afford to follow the Old Country in all respects in permitting the inculcation of ideas which may be promulgated in certain foreign countries. I have no objection to plain statements regarding political developments in other countries being circulated in Australia, but I definitely object to literature which has a seditious or blasphemous purport or intent. Any government is obliged to comply with the demands in this respect of probably 9S per cent, of the population. Literature affords many examples of some of the statements which should not be circulated. I propose to give one or two illustrations of the contents of some books on the subject of religion. Statements such as the following should certainly not be published in this country : - >The idea of Cod which stands above all religions is also becoming dim with time, even in religions minds. They find it impossible to reconcile the hard facts of life with the idea of a heavenly Father, and each year sees a new system of apologetics, the object of which is to rationalize thu God idea. But all the theology is futile. God has gone west, and no amount of theology will ever resurrect Him in the minds of the toilers. The God idea to-day is of propaganda value only: it lives in the minds of our masters because of its utility in the class struggle. Men have ceased to believe in God, but they continue to use Him. Here is another one comparing Lenin, the Russian dictator, with God, to God's disadvantage. This is it- >There is n saying in Russia that they now have two kinds of time - standard or God's time and daylight saving or Lenin's time, and they say that as Lenin is the greater man of the two they follow his time. Then, as regards the origin of Christianity, we have this gem from another publication, headed " Socialism and Catholicism ". I am not able to vouch for the statement. I simply give it as it is printed - >A Catholic priest of Scotland, a **Dr. McQuillam,** stated in a lecture on " Can a Catholic be a Socialist " that " Socialism was first introduced by the illegitimate son of a Scottish nobleman who got in touch with a French lassie. Why do you leave the Catholic church to go after theories concocted by bastards?" The good priest is confusing socialism' with Christianity which did originate in this manner, but it was hushed up because Joseph " did not want to make her a public example, &c." People who live in glass houses ought not to throw stones. A statement of that sort should not be permitted in this country by this or any other Government. {: .speaker-KF9} ##### Mr A GREEN:
KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936 -- Or in this chamber. {: .speaker-JTY} ##### Mr ARCHIE CAMERON:
BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · CP; LP from 1944; LCL from 1951; LP from 1954 -- This is the place in which to thrash these things out. {: .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr Ward: -- They go all over the Commonwealth in *Hansard.* {: .speaker-JTY} ##### Mr ARCHIE CAMERON:
BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · CP; LP from 1944; LCL from 1951; LP from 1954 -- I cannot help that. {: .speaker-KLL} ##### Mr Makin: -- You can help it. You are the one that is saying it. {: .speaker-JTY} ##### Mr ARCHIE CAMERON:
BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · CP; LP from 1944; LCL from 1951; LP from 1954 -- The following is another gem, headed " The Slave Religion " : - >The fact that many workers still believe that religion is necessary to the world gives the Black International of priests the opportunity to servo their earthly saviours by poisoning the minds of the workers and their children with dead doctrines. "Suffer little children to come unto me " has been the slogan of the Black International for two thousand years. Millions have gone to them- and while capitalism deformed their little bodies the priests deformed their little minds. I am quoting those things for a deliberate purpose, because they are published in this country, and bear the signature of a person who is sitting in this House - one J. S. Garden. {: .speaker-K9C} ##### Mr Garden: -- That is a lie. I rise to order. I ask that the honorable member be ordered to withdraw his statement. {: .speaker-JTY} ##### Mr ARCHIE CAMERON:
BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · CP; LP from 1944; LCL from 1951; LP from 1954 -- I shall make no withdrawal. The honorable member may stake his life on that. {: .speaker-K9C} ##### Mr Garden: -- I ask that the statement be withdrawn, because it is personally objectionable to me. Sentiments such as those quoted by the honorable member have never been uttered by me. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- I have ruled from time to time that no honorable member is entitled to ask for the withdrawal of a statement merely because it is untrue, although he is entitled to rise in his place *Book* [27 March, 1935.] *Censorship.* 341 to refute it or make any explanationhe wishes relevant to the statement to which he takes exception. {: .speaker-K9C} ##### Mr Garden: -- I say that it is offensive to me. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- The honorable member for Barker **(Mr. Archie Cameron)** is attributing a certain type of literature to the honorable member for Cook **(Mr.** Garden). That is not an unparliamentary remark whose withdrawal can be insisted upon. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr Brennan: -- I rise to order. I submit that if a statement which an honorable member disowns and regards as a gross reflection upon himself is made, he is entitled to call for its instant withdrawal so far as it affects himself. I suggest that that is what has occurred here. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- In the first place, the honorable member for Batman **(Mr. Brennan)** has not raised a fresh point of order. He has simply argued that my ruling is not correct. I and others who have preceded me in this chair have ruled from time to time that the mere fact that a statement is not correct is not a valid ground for asking for its withdrawal. Honorable members understand perfectly well what has happened. The honorable member for Barker has quoted certain literature, and has named the author, who, he says, is a member of this House. {: .speaker-JTY} ##### Mr ARCHIE CAMERON:
BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · CP; LP from 1944; LCL from 1951; LP from 1954 -- I named the publisher. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- The honorable member for Cook **(Mr. Garden)** has denied that he is the author. He is entitled to deny it, but he cannot ask the Chair to order its withdrawal merely because it is not a fact. A personal explanation may be made when the honorable member for Barker has concluded his speech. {: .speaker-JTY} ##### Mr ARCHIE CAMERON:
BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · CP; LP from 1944; LCL from 1951; LP from 1954 -- All these statements can be checked in the library. They are taken from *The Communist* of the 10th February, 1922, the 24th February, 19:22, and the 26th May, 1922. There are quite a number of others which I have no time to read now. Stuff of the type I have already read proves the necessity for some form of censorship in this country. I do not suggest the exact degree of censorship to be applied, for I do not claim to be a great authority on books and literature; but I do urge that that authors of literature of this description, coupled with incitements to civil war and to armed opposition to the forces of the British Crown in the event of this country again becoming involved in war, should be put behind prison bars. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- The honorable member is now going beyond the legitimate discussion of thebook censorship. {: #debate-35-s11 .speaker-JTY} ##### Mr ARCHIE CAMERON:
BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · CP; LP from 1944; LCL from 1951; LP from 1954 -- There should be a definite understanding among honorable members - and this applies to the Australian Labour party as well as to those who sit on this side - not to countenance any attempt to subvert the established government of this country by the advocacy of revolutionary actions. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- The honorable member has exhausted his time. {: .speaker-K9C} ##### Mr Garden: -- I rise to make a personal explanation. The honorable member for Barker **(Mr. Archie Cameron)** asserted that I was the author of a certain statement. {: .speaker-JTY} ##### Mr ARCHIE CAMERON:
BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · CP; LP from 1944; LCL from 1951; LP from 1954 -- Publisher. {: .speaker-K9C} ##### Mr Garden: -- The honorable member said I was the author, but whether he suggests that I was the author or the publisher, if he only knew the facts regarding the period to which he is referring, he would be aware that at that time I was in Great Britain. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr E J HARRISON:
WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES · UAP; LP from 1944 -- That might not prevent the honorable member leaving the articles behind him. {: .speaker-K9C} ##### Mr Garden: -- I did not leave the articles behind me either. As regards religion, I perhaps attend more to my religious duties than the honorable member for Barker has ever done in his life. At the time he was referring to, I was holding a mission in the North of Scotland, and for doing so I have been condemned by members on the opposite side of the House. I do not object to other people having and expressing their own views, but I do object to an honorable member attributing to me views which are diametrically opposed to the training of my whole lifetime. The honorable member for Barker has been trying to bring forward these statements ever since he entered the House. They are a complete tissue of falsehoods. It would be possible for a man to be a publisher and not to see all the matter that he publishes ; but, 342 *Book* [REPRESENTATIVES.] *Censorship.* as regards editorials, I have had the courage to sign my name to every article I have written, and I challenge any one to prove the contrary. I suffered the penalty imposed by the law for signing my name to articles in which I believed. The honorable member for Barker has introduced these matters simply for the purpose of using them as political propaganda against myself and the party to which I have the honour to belong. {: #debate-35-s12 .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE:
Minister for Trade and Customs · Balaclava · UAP -- I am pleased that the adjournment of the House has been moved to discuss the book censorship; but I regret that the time for my reply is so short. I wanted to hear a full debate, and if, after I conclude my remarks, the House will agree to extend the time for the debate, an opportunity will be given to other members who are opposed to the censorship to express their views. I think every one will admit that this is a contentious and difficult matter, regarding which there has been a good deal of misunderstanding, and some misleading propaganda in the press. I have listened carefully to all the arguments put forward to-day, and have asked questions to obtain further information. It appears to me from this debate, and from the discussions and objections outside, that the criticisms of the censorship group themselves under the following heads: - {: type="a" start="a"} 0. That there should be no form of censorship whatever. That has been advocated from time to time in to-day's debate - {: type="a" start="b"} 0. That any books or periodicals published and circulating in England should be admitted into Australia without censorship ; and 1. That State laws might be allowed to operate in any required censorship instead of federal supervision at the Customs. I want to state at the outset, definitely and emphatically, that book censorship is not a repressive measure usable at the whim of the particular Minister for Trade and Customs of the moment, but is the law as embodied in section 52c of the Customs Act. Some form of censorship operates in most civilized countries, and it remained for one of the founders of our Constitution, in the person of **Mr. C.** C. Kingston, to embody this provision in the first Customs Act. Almost precisely similar provisions exist in the statutes of New Zealand and the United States of America. Under this section of the act, goods considered indecent, blasphemous or obscene are prohibited imports, and these goods can include books and films. In addition, a proclamation and regulations under the same section have been set up to prohibit the importation of seditious and revolutionary literature. The actual wording of the section is as follows : - {: type="1" start="52"} 0. The following arc prohibited imports: - {: type="a" start="c"} 0. Blasphemous indecent or obscene works or articles. Under the proclamation and regulations, the following are included in goods the importation of which is prohibited except with the consent of the Minister : - >Literature wherein is advocated - > >The overthrow by force or violence of the established government of the Commonwealth or of any State or of any other civilized country; > >The overthrow by force or violence of all forms of law ; > >The abolition of organized government; > >The assassination of public officials; or > >The unlawful destruction of property; or > >Literature wherein a seditious intention (as defined by section 24a of the Crimes Act 1914-1932) is expressed or a seditious enterprise advocated. With certain modifications the proclamation has been in force since 1921. That last section was brought down in the proclamation of 1932, which restored it to what it was before the last Labour regime. I assure honorable members that the act and the proclamation are carried out in as broad and national a manner as is possible within the law. To those who imagine that no prohibition whatever is wanted, I point out that very often licence is mistaken for liberty. Some people feel that they should have the licence to do just what they choose, instead of the liberty to do as they ought. Will anybody say that there should be perfect free will and liberty to every individual to do exactly what he pleases? {:#subdebate-35-0} #### Book [27 March, 1935.] Censorship. 343 Surely the honorable member for Melbourne Ports **(Mr. Holloway),** who talks freely on the subject, would not assert that all articles should be admitted. Would he say, for instance, that imitation bank notes, hypnotic and gazing crystals, dangerous weapons, opium, pistols and other objectionable goods, which, though desired by the few, would be detrimental to the many, should not be excluded? It may be argued that no one wants things of that kind to be admitted; but the act prohibits their importation, and certain gentlemen who work at night would like pistols to be more freely obtainable, whilst other gentry would be glad to have imitation bank notes put more freely into circulation. All these matters have to be covered by the Customs Act. Honorable members will remember the outcry which took place when the censorship of films first came into operation under the same section of the Customs Act; but who will now deny that the film censorship has not only been accepted, but is also universally approved? If it were not for the censorship provision in the Customs Act it is certain that the films which are now being exhibited in Australia would not be of their present high standard. On first thought the proposal that all books and periodicals published and circulated in England should be admitted into Australia without censorship might sound reasonable and a fitting Empire gesture, but the fact is, that in the enormous output in Great Britain there are produced some of the worst examples of obscene and indecentliterature. Realizing that a decision as to what constituted indecent and seditious literature was a matter of great national importance, requiring careful and broadminded consideration, the Lyons Government, in 1933, set up a board with scholarly and enlightened men of broad reading and wide knowledge to examine books held by the customs and to recommend whether or not they should be released. Consideration since then has therefore been given under a broader basis than previously, and the board, presided over by that very eminent citizen, **Sir Robert** Garran, is doing onerous work voluntarily. It takes into account the theme of the book and gives every credit, if any, to the book as literature, so that now it is only when obscenity and indecency are the dominant note that prohibition is recommended. In view of the number of advanced and audacious pseudo-modernist writers who claim to write a new morality and a new psychology, which Matthew Arnold described as a " new licence to commit old sins ", it will be realized what an unenviable public duty these gentlemen carry out in wading through the foul pages of pornographic and salacious books, often containing the coarsest language and the vilest obscenity, or in interpreting the message of weak-eyed and maudlin writers who plead the special case of the vicious, the depraved or the criminal. I would not defile *Hansard* by quotations from such books as these, but if honorable members for their own satisfaction care to peruse excerpts from these banned books, I shall make them available. The following titles, however, indicate clearly enough the objectionable contents of some of these books : - {:#subdebate-35-1} #### Wanton Ways {:#subdebate-35-2} #### Sin Street *This GutterLife.* {:#subdebate-35-3} #### Loose Love *The Story of a Light Lady.* *Death of a Harlot.* And all of these are British publications. There has been much criticism in some metropolitan newspapers of the actions of the Censorship Board, on the ground that what is permitted free circulation in Great Britain should be good enough for us. Honorable members opposite surely would not say that British trade views, or British views in regard to the tariff and industrial matters, should necessarily be good enough for us. There is no analogy between what is considered right there, and what may be considered right here. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports said that he believed that there should be some form of censorship. He believed in the recommendation of a conference of scientists. . {: #subdebate-35-3-s0 .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE:
UAP -- Some typical remarks made by the Censorship Board on general literature are - >It presents no problem, and is unwholesome throughout, very gross in parts, and in the opinion of the board, indecent. > >The board regards this as an unwholesome and indecent book, and recommends that it be prohibited. > >The board regards this book as prurient and degenerate rubbish, and recommends that it be prohibited on the ground of indecency. > >A hook of sexual perversion and in the opinion of the board definitely indecent. The board recom mends that it be prohibited. But worse than these publications are those with innocuous titles which are frequently a disguise for some of the most disgusting . writings of modern times. Simple titles such as *The Scene is Changed; Boy;* and *'The Partners* would deceive bookseller, librarian and public alike, so that these books written for the degenerate and prurient-minded find their way unwittingly into the circulating library and the home. The principal booksellers and librarians are grateful to the Customs Department that there is a. censorship which limits the spread of these moral pollutions and poisons in the written word ;in the same manner as legislation restricts the free sale and distribution of deleterious drugs. Recently, in New South Wales, a man was sentenced to four months imprisonment for having sent an indecent letter through the post, yet there is a tendency on the part of a minority, consisting in part of self-styled intellectuals, to regard the writer of a vile book as being in some way sacrosanct, and different from those who utter obscenities or portray them in films, and to say that the law should not be carried out. That all books and periodicals published in England should be admitted into Australia without censorship, is the objective of the Book Censorship Abolition League, and the first question in the questionnaire which the league is circulating has led astray quite a number of people who do not know that this protection against the dumping of depraved literature in Australia has been in operation since federation, and is fairly and reasonably administered. It is a debatable point whether satisfactory censorship could be exercised through the State laws. It will be realized that, as Aus tralia is a greater importer than a producer of books, control by the Customs at the point of entry is an infinitely better way of dealing with this matter than to leave it to the six separate police forces of the States after the books have been distributed. Honorable members have asked why it is that books which have failed to pass the censor in Australia are permitted to circulate freely in Great Britain. In Great Britain the prevention of the sale of obscene books, pictures, prints, and other articles, is governed by an old act of 1857. Stage plays come within the province of the Lord Chamberlain, a court official, who may refuse to licence a theatre for the production of such plays. The censorship in regard to plays is stricter in England than in Australia, though the prohibition is sometimes circumvented by the production of a play in a private theatre. In Great Britain, films are censored by the trade itself with a network of regulations * concerned with fire, licensing, music, and quota, but with no actual law governing the film. The English act relating to literature is intended to give powers for the suppression of the trade in obscene publications. But the procedure there is not what we in Australia would relish. A complainant who has reason to believe in the existence of such books has only to swear before a magistrate or two justices of the peace ns to their existence, and upon satisfying the magistrate that his belief is well founded, the magistrate issues a search warrant. This empowers the police to enter such house, shop, room or other place with such assistance as may be necessary, to enter in the day time, and, if necessary, to use force by breaking open doors or otherwise, and to search for and seize all such books, papers, writing, prints, pictures, drawings, or other representations, and to carry all the articles so seized before the magistrate issuing the warrant, after which the occupier of such house or shop must appear within seven days to show cause why the articles so seized should not be destroyed. Honorable members can see that our own system is the better. It is amazing to find that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, who, as a former Minister, was apparently satisfied with the law, should now take exception to it. The honorable member finds difficulty in placating both the watersiders of Port Melbourne and the citizens of Williamstown, but his difficulties will become greater when a large part of St. Kilda is added to his electorate. But that is merely by the way. With a very slight amendment, the wording of the proclamation and regulation has been the same since 1921. Except for the deletion of paragraph *f "* where a seditious intention is expressed or seditious enterprise is advocated ", the same clauses of the proclamation prohibiting the importation into the Commonwealth of literature which advocated the overthrow by force or violence of established government of the Commonwealth, or of any civilized country, remain. It is difficult to separate the censorship of general literature prohibited under section 52c of the act from that which falls under the proclamation and regulations of that section, for sometimes both indecency and incitement to violence are combined. An example of this is to be found in a hook printed in England under the title *SS. Utah,* written by Mick Pell, which, although containing certain vulgarities and obscenities, which the hoard did not consider sufficiently indecent or blasphemous to warrant its prohibition, was judged " undoubtedly seditious, tendentious in character, and an incitement to unlawful violence", and accordingly prohibited. As much literature falling under the proclamation and regulations is printed in foreign languages and takes the form of pamphlets, books and Communist propaganda, it will be seen how difficult it is to decide what should be excluded. In deed, there is a good deal of communism behind the whole agitation for the abolition of censorship. The Book Censorship Abolition League, which has apparently been responsible for the greater part of the agitation against the present censorship, has for its immediate object the securing of the right of entry into Australia without censorship of all books at present published and circulated freely in Great Britain. {: #subdebate-35-3-s1 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- The time allotted for this debate has now expired. Motion, by **Mr. White** - *by leave -* agreed to - >That the time for the debate be extended by one hour. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE: -- The Book Censorship Abolition League was formed in Melbourne in November last, and', as the Melbourne press shows, **Mr. J.** M. Harcourt was elected chairman. A few days before the formation of the league the agent for an English publisher wrote to the *Sun-Pictorial* defending a book called *Upsurge,* by J. M. Harcourt - who, I understand, is the sub-editor of the Melbourne *Truth* - the book having been seized by the Western Australian police. This book was later submitted to the Book Censorship Board, which reported *inter aiia* as follows : - >This book ... is disfigured by some grossly indecent passages without any excuse of being necessary to the story. A book cannot bo cut like a film, and if an author chooses to offend in this way he must take the consequences. The board recommends that the book !>o prohibited oil the grounds of indecency. {: .speaker-009FQ} ##### Mr Curtin: -- The book had already been in circulation for some considerable time. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE: -- It entered at a Western Australian port, and when the police saw it they took action. {: .speaker-009FQ} ##### Mr Curtin: -- After six months. {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr Maxwell: -- Does the honorable member for Fremantle suggest that the book should be permitted to circulate? {: .speaker-009FQ} ##### Mr Curtin: -- I do not say anything about the book. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE: -- The Customs Department took the necessary action on the board's recommendation as to its indecency. The author of the letter expressed gratitude to *The Star* on behalf of the "Australian intellectuals in particular " for that paper's anti-censorship campaign, and signed himself " President of the Writers' League, Victorian Section of the- Writers' Internationale ", showing that he is actively associated with the Communist movement. It may also interest honorable members to know that the issue of the *Workers' Voice* of the 1st March reports the formation of a writers' league arising out of the campaign to free Kisch and Griffin, the league being the Australian section of the Writers' Internationale, of which **Mr. J.** M. Harcourt is president in Melbourne and Miss Katherine Susannah Prichard is president in Sydney. The vice-president of the Writers' Internationale is Miss Jean Devanny who, like **Mr. Harcourt,** had an indecent book, *The Butcher's Shop,* prohibited. At a meeting of the Writers' League in Sydney on the 8th March, **Mr. Harcourt** took the chair and executive officers and a strong committee were appointed. Though it may have other objectives, this organization undoubtedly has Communist affiliation, and I bring in the names of those concerned only because it is essential that many who believe that Communist approaches are made mainly among the unemployed and Dy militant tactics adopted in the trade unions, should know that intellectuals, particularly agnostics and free-thinkers, are not forgotten and are catered for by constant reiteration that their cultural development is in some way being cramped. *[Leave to continue given'.]* I find it difficult to decide exactly where the parties in opposition stand on this matter. I appreciate the fact that militant tactics are adopted in some unions. But even so, would honorable members opposite allow the entry into Australia of anything that might emanate from Communist sources? Is any line of demarcation drawn by them? Would they, for example, countenance doctrines such as those that are espoused in *Kropotkin's* *H evolutionary Pamphlets'1.* {: .speaker-009FQ} ##### Mr Curtin: -- They were written twenty years before the communist movement came into existence. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE: -- A typical extract from these pamphlets reads - >The first duty of the revolution will be to make a bonfire of all existing laws as it will of all titles to property. The Labour party supported the proclamation prohibiting the entry into Australia of all forms of literature suggesting the overthrow of government by revolutionary means, the abolition of all forms of Law, and incitement to assassination, yet during its occupancy of the Treasury bench it allowed all kinds of literature to freely come in. I have been through the files. They show that, in the Senate, **'Senator Rae** sought to ascertain when the entry of certain literature would be per mitted. He said " For several days I have asked a question regarding the removal of the embargo upon certain literature, and have been promised that something would be done." On the very next day, the then Attorney-General drafted a new proclamation which placed complete power in the hands of the Minister, and from that day the proclamation prohibiting the entry of certain literature became a dead letter. Although the people of Australia believed that the Government of the day stood for the exclusion of literature of that type, I have not been able to find the record of the prohibition of a single publication. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- That is not so. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE: -- I should like to be informed of what was kept out. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- The indecent book that you mentioned a little while ago was banned by my Government. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE: -- I agree that the Government led by the right honorable gentleman did take a proper stand in connexion with indecent literature. I was referring to seditious literature. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr Brennan: -- It would have to be pretty seditious before I would prohibit it. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE: -- I appreciate the honorable member's point of view, and said so when he was Attorney-General. It may be contended that the good sense of our citizens may be trusted to discard what is either harmful or dangerous. But even if that be true, it is beside the point. Laws are made to be carried out, and are framed for the good of society in the aggregate. I have no doubt that the majority of the people of Australia are proof against subversive propaganda. There are, however, minds that are capable of being influenced by specious approaches, with results that are injurious, not only to themselves, but also to the State; and it is both the right and the duty of the Government to protect them. The depths to which Communist propaganda would sink - and this applies also to books printed in England, where much of the Communist propaganda is produced - is shown in what purports to be a children's book, wherein religion, the law, the Empire, and every tradition revered in England are held up to ridicule and reproach. The production of books is so great that much of what is published does not come' under official notice. But there is a censorship in Great Britain. I could enumerate a long list of books that have been banned there. I have here a book containing matter that is intended to be assimilated by children or by childish minds. It contains an alphabet from which I shall make some quotations. According to this alphabet - "E stands for Empire, built upon blood", opposite which is a pictorial representation of a man being hanged. The next iB " F is for Fascists, a murderous brood", opposite that letter is a pile of skulls surmounted by a Union Jack, with a British officer with drawn sword standing alongside. It says that " H is the holocaust, we'll fight to end ", " J is for Jail, where good rebels are held ", " K stands for Kremlin, where our Stalin lives ". " E revolution, we're going to win " - flags being shown bearing the captions "A 'Soviet Britain" and "Workers unite" - and "Y is for you, who will know how to fight " - a number of children being shown shouting " Soviets for Britain ". Does any honorable member defend such a book as that? If the Labour party will not denounce the Communists, we shall do so, and also see that the law is enforced. The honorable member for Herbert **(Mr. Martens)** evidently misunderstood me when I said that he might speak on behalf of the Italians in the north. I made no reflection upon those people, but merely referred to the Communist propaganda in North Queensland, concerning which Italians had approached me when I was in the Herbert electorate recently. I am sorry that the honorable member is not in the chamber to hear this explanation. I suggest that he should support a policy which aims at the exclusion from Australia of certain literature printed in foreign languages, some of which is intended for Italians in North Queensland and some for Yugoslavs in Western Australia, but all of it definitely revolutionary and seditious. I have mentioned that nobody is forgotten in the Communist approach. There is special literature for Italians, for black races, and for Yugoslavs who are members of the Cultural and Educational Glut in Perth - a body which, I believe, has Com munist leanings. It has written to me stating that it supports the protest which has been made against the banning of any ' literature. Such action, it says, lowers Australia's prestige in the eyes of the world, and interferes with Australia's intellectual advancement. Have we not read similar expressions of opinion in the press ever since the first meeting of the Book Abolition League in November last ? This is a subject of which we want to hear the end, from whatever source it emanates, so that the people will no longer be hoodwinked. The Labour Government, led by the present Leader of the Opposition, banned 147 indecent books out of a total of 294 that had been banned up to the end of 1931. At that time a censorship board was not in- existence, the banning or otherwise of any work being the prerogative of the Minister for Trade and Customs. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Forde)** knows what a difficult task it was. {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr Forde: -- He did his work well. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE: -- I admit that he did in regard to the indecent books. But although, under a proclamation, certain literature was definitely prohibited from coming into Australia, that power was not exercised, because of action that had been taken by the Attorney-General of the day. {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr Forde: -- That is not true. *Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.* {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE: -- Some honorable members of the Opposition have challenged my statement that the proclamation issued during the regime of the Scullin Government was a dead letter. I am compelled therefore to refer to the official files to prove it. On the 13th December, 1929, **Senator Rae** made the following statement: - >For several days I have had a question on the notice-paper relating to the removal of the embargo upon the importation of certain literature, and which has not yet been officially answered. I thought it would be of interest to some honorable senators to know that the Prime Minister personally assured me that the embargo is to be removed, and that the people of Australia will now be free to read what they wish. On the 16th December, a few days later, the then Attorney-General, the honorable 348 *Book* [REPRESENTATIVES.] *Censorship.* member for Batman **(Mr. Brennan),** wrote as follows to the then Minister for Trade and Customs **(Mr. Forde)** : - >I am forwarding herewith, as requested, draft proclamation under the Customs Act 1901-1025, relating to the importation of certain literature. The draft provides that the Minister for Trade and Customs may give his consent to the importation of any such literature, and it will also be noted that the existing proclamation of Kith June, 1921, has been amended in certain other directions. I now quote the proclamation, which reads as follows: - >Whereas by the Customs Act 1901-1925, it is enacted that all goods the importation of which may be prohibited by proclamation are prohibited imports . . . > >And whereas it is desirable to revoke the said proclamation and make other provision in lieu thereof: > >Now therefore I, John Lawrence, Baron Stonehaven, the Governor-General aforesaid, acting with the advice of the Federal Executive Council, do hereby revoke the said proclamation and do hereby prohibit, except with the consent of the Minister of State for Trade and Customs, the importation into the Commonwealth of Australia of any literature wherein is advocated : - {: type="a" start="a"} 0. the overthrow by force or violence of the established government of the Commonwealth or of any State; 1. the overthrow by force or violence of all forms of law; 2. the assassination of public officials; or 3. the unlawful destruction of property. This proclamation may be cited as Customs Proclamation No. 181. - (T. & C. 29B/2880.) Given under my hand and the seal of the Commonwealth at Canberra, this seventeenth day of December, One thousand nine hundred and twenty-nine, and in the twentieth year of His Majesty's reign. {:#subdebate-35-4} #### By His Excellency's Command, {: type="A" start="F"} 0. M. Forde for Minister of State for Trade and Customs. That was published a day after the letter of the Attorney-General. Then a question was put to the Minister regarding his intention in connexion with future admissions, and he replied, by telegram, to the following effect: - {: type="a" start="a"} 0. Permit all literature printed in foreign languages. 1. Permit all literature printed in Great Britain and freely circulated therein. 2. Permit all literature printed in the English-speaking dominions. 3. Literature printed in English in United States, other foreign countries and other dominions to be examined and submitted to me for decision. The next thing I find is that *Kropotkin's Revolutionary Pamphlets* and other revolutionary books were brought under the notice of the Minister of the department, and his minute on the matter was " No action." In addition, I find that scores of publications previously banned as seditious were thus automatically admitted during the dangerous regime of the Lang Government in New South Wales. I wish to make it quite clear that publications alleged to be indecent, blasphemous and obscene are dealt with by the board, but literature alleged to be seditious is dealt with by the Attorney-General and the Minister for Trade and Customs. I have a long list before me of books banned by previous administrations but admitted by the Scullin Administration. I think I heard the honorable member for Batman **(Mr. Brennan)** say previously, by interjection, that he would not prohibit the entry of seditious books. Yet books of that description are prohibited entry, but for very good reasons. As an example of the kind of statement that is objected to,I quote the following excerpt from *Towards the World October: -* >Under the banners of the proletarian revolution the Red class front is being spread and organized for the fight, against the dictatorship of capital, for the dictatorship of the proletariat. > >Mighty mass demonstrations, strikes, mutinies among the soldiers in imperialist armies, revolutionary street fighting- all signalize the growing revolutionary will to fight. In a number of countries, in Germany, Poland and England the wave of revolution is already assuming the character of a stormy mass movement . . > >The signs betoken a storm! The working class of the capitalist world understands these signs, and is arming for an intensified struggle of the revolutionary masses, relying on the experiences of the victorious October revolution, towards the victorious world October. The honorable member for Cook **(Mr. Garden)** said that he could not buy a copy of *The Class Struggle in Britain,* by Ralph Fox. I have a copy of that publication before me, and it is definitely revolutionary. It is banned, yet it was obtained from the Rawson Book Shop, 169 Exhibition-street, Melbourne, the proprietor of which is the treasurer of the Book Censorship Abolition League. I have here the receipt. {: #subdebate-35-4-s0 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- The Minister's time has expired. {: #subdebate-35-4-s1 .speaker-JPN} ##### Mr BLACKBURN:
Bourke .--I should like to have spoken earlier in this debate so that I could have accepted the challenge which the Minister for Trade and Customs **(Mr. White)** threw down when he invited honorable members to attack the censorship on principle and as a whole. I disagree with the censorship upon principle, as a whole. I do not think that any self-respecting country can endure a system under which the right of the people to read whatever they like can be taken away from them by men sitting behind closed doors and without examination in public. I believe that canons of judgment change from time to time. Our ideas of what is sedition change; so do our ideas of what is blasphemy and our ideas of what is obscenity. If any honorable member doubts this I invite him to refer to **Sir James** Stephen's *A Digest of the Criminal Law,* in which he will find set out under separate headings, first, the old view of the old law, supported by authority, and next the modern conception of the law. The modern conception has been made possible only by the fact that courts of law, particularly courts sitting With juries, have refused to convict men who under the old view of the law would be guilty. An illustration of the change of opinion is found in the fact that at the end of the eighteenth century Thomas Paine was prosecuted for publishing a seditious libel. Had he not fieri to Prance he would have been convicted. To-day the memory of Thomas Paine is revered and his work - *The Rights of Man* - is freely read and has inspired thousands. We have also an entirely different standard to-day for determining what is blasphemy. Men who to-day discuss, decorously and seriously, theological and doctrinal principles would have paid a very severe penalty had they so discussed them not so many years ago. Tho standard of obscenity has changed also. A person may to-day go to almost any bookstall and buy '.Flaubert's masterpiece, *Madame Bovary,* but in the fifties Flaubert was prosecuted in France for having written it - a prosecution which was so protracted that it was, in effect, persecution. Walt Whitman's *Leaves of Grass* was a book banned by the Post Office of the United States of America. It could not be carried through the mail. A similar ban has been placed upon many other notable books in various countries. Havelock Ellis's great work *Studies in the Psychology of Sex* was "once a banned book, but every one who has read it knows what a valuable and useful work it is, and how the study of such a book may make life easier and simpler for the rising generation. The fact that standards have changed cannot be doubted. In the circumstances in which we now find ourselves, Ministers and bureaucrats, sitting behind closed doors, should not be allowed to decide what publications are seditious, blasphemous and obscene. Such questions should be determined by courts, preferably courts with juries. No one in England can say to-day what constitutes sedition. We are able to do so in Australia, because the Commonwealth statute has followed the Queensland code in adopting the modern view. But we have been well reminded by a former English Chief Justice. Lord Coleridge, that in the eighteenth century people were sent to gaol, and even transported for having argued dispassionately as to the merits of hereditary monarchy. As to obscenity, I shall give an illustration from our own times to show how views differ. Some honorable members will remember that a man named Chidley was prosecuted and convicted in Sydney for an obscene publication. He appealed to the Full Court, the majority of which upheld the conviction; but 'tinminority judge, that learned Chief Justice **Sir William** Cullen, held that dudley's book was not obscene. Chidley attempted to appeal to the High Court, aud actually obtained special leave to do so. The majority of the High Court later rescinded the' special leave to appeal. They held that a conviction should not be appealed from unless the decision involved a grave miscarriage of justice. They did not hold that the conviction was right : they merely held that it was not unreasonable. The dissenting judge was the Chief Justice who thought that the appeal should have been heard. This difference of opinion shows that each man makes his own definition of obscenity. What is clean to one man is unclean to another. What to one man is 350 *Book* [REPRESENTATIVES.] *Censorship.* a socially useful discussion of matters of public importance is to another man merely filth. In this connexion I quote the following expression of opinion by an American, who has spent most of his life fighting the Federal Post Office on this matter. Theodore Schroeder says - >Obscenity is not a quality inherent in a book but solely and exclusively a contribution of the reading mind, and hence cannot be defined in terms of the qualities of a book. That may be regarded as a rather extreme statement, but it is a fact that obscenity depends largely upon the mind of the person who reads a book, his training, and the repressions he has been under. I suppose many honorable members will recollect the time when Nathaniel Hawthorne's book *The Scarlet Letter* was regarded as obscene and unfit for young men and women to read. I recollect an amusing story of Rhoda Broughton, who lived for a very long time. She said that when she was young her books were thought to be almost as dangerous as the books of Zola, but the third generation considered her work as uninteresting and inoffensive as the works of CharlotteYonge. She said, " "When I was young I was Zola, and now that I am older, I am Yonge". The fact is, of course, that there should be the greatest freedom of discussion of these subjects. Freedom of discussion is always hindered and repression set up by men sitting behind closed doors who give no account of their doings to the public. If the circulation of any book is to be prohibited, it should be done only after a public investigation of its merits by a judge, sitting preferably with a jury, examining the matter and taking evidence upon it. It should not be done by a Minister or any official. {: .speaker-KZF} ##### Mr Lane: -- How many courts would be needed to decide whether books should be read or not read? {: .speaker-JPN} ##### Mr BLACKBURN: -- My honorable friend is surely aware that a very large number of books classed as obscene, blasphemous and seditious, and appearing on the Minister's *index expurgatorius,* are sold every day. At bookstalls in Melbourne and in other cities many books can be purchased which are more obscene and allegedly have a greater tendency to corrupt than many of the banned books. I know this because I have read some of the banned books and a great many others. Those who want to find obscene literature can find it anywhere. I remember **Sir William** Windeyer referring to one of **Mrs. Besant's** books in 1889, and saying that if people want to read obscene matter, they can find it in Lempriere's Dictionary or even in the Bible. The honorable member for Barton **(Mr. Lane),** if he were ever young, would know that this is so. The banning of books should always be a matter for investigation. I am not attacking the Minister or his administration of the law. It was provided in 1902 that blasphemous, indecent and obscene books should not be imported, and regulations have been made to deal with allegedly seditious books. It is the Minister's duty, no doubt, to carry out the law to the best of his ability, but the responsibility for the condition of the law rests upon Parliament, and Parliament should no longer be satisfied with the law as it is. {: .speaker-KFA} ##### Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP -- How would the honorable member carry out his proposal in view of the fact that thousands of books come into Australia every year? Would he set up special courts? {: .speaker-JPN} ##### Mr BLACKBURN: -- As a matter of fact, very few proceedings are taken in England or anywhere else to-day on subjects relating to osbscenity and blasphemy. What happens is that as soon as a book is placed on the *index expurgatorius,* or it is suspected that it has been placed there people become very keen to read it. If the Minister desired to do anything he could co-operate with the State authorities and recommend that the book in question be the subject of police action and subsequent public trial. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- Does the honorable member think that that would be practicable in six States? {: .speaker-JPN} ##### Mr BLACKBURN: -- As an alternative, I suggest that the Minister himself might provide for a public investigation of the merits of the book. *[Leave to continue given.]* If the Minister's officers report that a book is likely to come within one of the prohibited categories there is nothing to prevent him from intimating, not only to the importer, but also to the *Book* [27 March, 1935.] *Censorship.* 351 publisher, that they will have an opportunity to demonstrate at a public judicial inquiry that it is not of an undesirable character. If that were done it would remove a great many objections. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Sir Littleton Groom: -- And would the honorable member allow a full report of the evidence at such proceedings to be published in the press? {: .speaker-JPN} ##### Mr BLACKBURN: -- I would. I remind the honorable member that we used to allow full reports of evidence in divorce cases to be published in the press. Those reports were more injurious to the young than the prohibited books. The great evil of the present procedure is that the vital part of it takes place behind closed doors. No one really wants to import books which, in fact, are wholly devoted to the objects condemned by the regulations or by the Crimes Act. But, on the other hand, men should be free to read what has been said in criticism of the prevailing ideas of social organization - even though such criticism may lead its students to believe that our social organization should be fundamentally changed. The Minister should not have the right to determine that any book falls within the prohibited categories, and that, therefore, its introduction into Australia will be forbidden. For instance, an English magazine, the *Labour Monthly,* which was on the Library table in our State parliament was at the same time on the Minister's index. Who prohibited it I do not know. It was stopped at the customs, and came to our house by post. For some years, I had read it regularly, and, while it was prohibited, I read it intermittently. I could not see how it could be brought within section 14 *a* of the Crimes Act, or within these regulations. It is true that some man might think the magazine could be brought within the section of these regulations, just as at the beginning of federation *Reynolds' Newspaper* was prohibited as a seditious publication, but whether it comes within the section should be the subject of judicial determination after a public investigation. {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr Maxwell: -- Does the honorable member know of any book which he thinks should be banned? {: .speaker-JPN} ##### Mr BLACKBURN: -- I do not. I am accepting the position that the law of this country prohibits the circulation of certain books and writings. But it is desirable, I think, that there should be as much freedom as possible. I do not know of any book that ought to be banned, or of any modern novel that is more obscene than books which to-day have an unquestioned place upon the shelves of public libraries and are accessible to all people. {: #subdebate-35-4-s2 .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE:
Minister for Trade and Customs · Balaclava · UAP -- *by leave -* On the question of secrecy to which the honorable member for Bourke **(Mr. Blackburn)** has just referred, I point out that, so far as ordinary literature is concerned, there is an appeal to a censorship board. That right has operated since 1933. So far as seditious and revolutionary publications are concerned, there is a right of appeal to any court within four months of the date on which any such literature is detained by the Customs Department, and this appeal applies also to any that is deemed to be indecent, blasphemous or obscene. In all cases, the importer concerned may notify the department that he proposes to have the matter tested in a court of law, and if he can prove then that the publication in question is not seditious, revolutionary, indecent, blasphemous, or obscene, the book is admitted and the importer may proceed with its distribution in the ordinary way. I, and, I am sure, any honorable member who happened to be the Minister in office when the application was made, would facilitate access to the court in such cases. This procedure, I contend, is much simpler than that suggested by the honorable member for Bourke in that it does not necessitate action in six different States. The point of entry at the customs is considered to be the best place of stoppage. I submit that the present system is much simpler than that suggested by the honorable member. It has also been constantly asserted that books are confiscated and burned when prohibited by the department. That is not so. Any books that are banned arc returned to the importer who is free to send them back to their source, and receive credit for them. {: .speaker-JPN} ##### Mr Blackburn: -- The act provides that they are forfeited to the Crown. 352 *Book* [REPRESENTATIVES.] *Censorship.* {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE: -- Some of them are, but the course generally taken is similar to that adopted with regard to other goods which may be inadvertently imported. Where it is known definitely that such books are being brought in surreptitiously then they come within the ordinary category of smuggled goods, and are forfeited to the Crown. I propose now to quote statistics which will be of much interest to honorable members. This debate is important to all of us. Honorable members want to understand fully the reason for the agitation that has sprung up. The position has been largely misunderstood, and very often misrepresented. The course to be followed in respect of seditious and revolutionary literature is laid down by statute, and the Government would practically be guilty of treachery to the people if it did not carry out the statute law. Since federation, only some 400 books, including the pamphlets, newspapers and typewritten statements to which I have already referred, have been prohibited, or an average of one a month. Since 1921, even including seditious and revolutionary literature the average of prohibitions during the most intensive period of censorship has been only about six or seven publications per . month. Having regardto these facts honorable members will agree that the number is comparatively small. Students desirous of reading sociological or political works can secure them. In many cases cheap paper editions are prohibited, but the public may have access to such works in our public libraries. Honorable members will agree that this is an unusual agitation, and it is well that it should be discussed. The debate has thrown a good deal of light on the whole subject, and particularly on the manner in which the art is administered If any change is desirable it can be properly discussed in Parliament. I am ready to confer with any honorable member who thinks he can suggest an improvement of the present system, butI do not think that anything brought out in to-day's debate, shows that the act is not just and fair, or not properly administered. {: #subdebate-35-4-s3 .speaker-KOQ} ##### Mr McCALL:
Martin . -I have listened with a great deal of interest to this discussion, and would not have risen at this late hour, but that I desire to refer to one or two statements made by the honorable member for Bourke **(Mr. Blackburn).** Before proceeding to do so, however, I wish to congratulate the honorable member for Melbourne Ports **(Mr. Holloway)** on the manner in which he presented his case. In this respect, [ believe, he has earned the commendation of members on both sides of the House. First of all, the honorable member for Bourke stated that much that in times gone by was considered to be heterodox was orthodox to-day. In that view, I am sure, honorable members will entirely concur. Much that was looked upon in days gone by as seditious has the approbation of most sections of the community at the present time. Those responsible for the censorship of books are sensible of the changing public point of view on various questions, and are not, as the honorable member for Bourke seemed to suggest, of an archaic type of mind. I put it to the House that they take into consideration contemporary opinion, and the change in public thought as time goes on, and consequently, allowing for that outlook, permit such books to enter as they consider to be in the interests of the people as a whole. I rose particularly to comment on statements made by the honorable member for Bourke because he is the only speaker from the other side who has dealt particularly with obscene writings. I hold strong views on that phase of the question. While I have what may be regarded as lenient views on writings dealing with economic and political problems, I hold definitely that it is not very difficult, so far as pornographic writings are concerned, for a normal, well-balanced mind to judge what literature may prove harmful to the community. The honorable member for Bourke has suggested that this question should be left to the decision of various tribunals. I think that such a course is unnecessary. It is well known that a certain degenerate section among the distributors of litorature exploit the public, their sole purpose being to profit at the expense of those whose state of mind isnot on a par with that of members of this House. There are at all times in our midst people who are decidedly influenced by licentious writings, and to allow any one to prey on the minds of such people is not in the interest of the public. On this matter I cannot do better than read the following quotation from the *Bulletin,* of the 6th March : - >Pornography in art means the concentration of the mind on one aspect of life for its own sake, and the exclusion of all other aspects. This concentration finds its extreme expression in the sexual pervert and sometimes ends in thu lunatie asylum, a prison or the gallows. 1 agree with that view and consequently 1 hold that the Government should stand " porter at the door of thought " if we desire to resist the evil effects of the circulation qf pornographic literature. Therefore, I do not agree with the view expressed by the honorable member for Bourke. I consider the Government''; policy in this respect has been justified, and that it can be supported by most of those who have the well-being of the people at heart. In regard to literature on political and economic problems it might be advantageous if the censorship could be divorced as far as possible from party politics. There is good cause for complaint when members of certain parties consider that the authority of censorship is influenced by the representations of the party to which that authority at some particular time is confined, and therefor" that that authority is prone to view certain works from a 'biased standpoint. It is impossible to eradicate such a possibility under the present system. However, if any thing could be done to rectify the position in this respect itwould be in the public interest to so change this form of government control. The present system is by no means perfect, but this debate has given honorable members an opportunity to elicit from the Minister a great deal of information previously unknown to them. During the. early stages of the debate quite a number of speakers did not appear to understand fully the policy of the Government, but the Minister's speech considerably clarified the situation. {: #subdebate-35-4-s4 .speaker-JNP} ##### Mr BAKER:
Griffith .- I j I join with other honorable members in protesting against the present method of censorship of publications. The dissatisfaction that has existed for some time was brought to a head very recently by resolutions carried at the Australian Science Congress, and the Summer School of the Australian Institute of Political Science, as well as by the formation of various leagues in Melbourne and in Brisbane for the purpose of protesting against this particular form of censorship. The Minister for Trade and Customs **(Mr. White)** concentrated upon two points. The first was an endeavour to deal with the prohibition of indecent and obscene literature, and the second an endeavour to prove a connexion between communism and the organizations protesting against the present system of preventing the entry of literature into this country. Taking the latter point first the position is that the censorship leagues which have been formed comprise many men distinguished in science and literature, whose names are household words in this country. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- I gave the origin of the agitation ; I did not mention names. {: .speaker-JNP} ##### Mr BAKER: -- The point is not the question of origin; but rather that these persons who are being sneered at by honorable members opposite are in many instances distinguished in science and literature throughout Australia. The Minister in endeavouring to connect communism with these organizations adopted the course usually followed in this Parliament when sound argument is lacking. The fact that two or three communists support an organization, whatever its objects may be, does not, prove that such organizations are wrong. It is common knowledge that quite a number of worthy organizations, such as those opposed to war, have communists among their members, but that does not prove that the objects of such organizations are entirely wrong. I believe that every man, whether ho be pro-communist or anti-communist, is entitled to give expression to the opinions that he sincerely holds. It is traditional British policy that within very wide limits every person should be entitled to ventilate his opinions in writing or verbally, and that the observance of tills principle is in the nature of a nation nl safety valve. It is 'because of this that the British Empire has not suffered from revolutions, as other nations have suffered, and it is in accordance with the traditional British love of liberty. Nothing is prized more than liberty of thought. With the exception of a few words towards the close of his speech the Minister made very little reference, to the prohibitions of political literature; yet so far as we can discover by far the greater proportion of the literature prohibited from entering this country deals with political subjects. I say " so far as we can discover " advisedly, because the whole system is shrouded in mystery. That is one of the fundamental objections to it. If the Minister would let us know what is happening there might not be so many objections. At present we do not know what is going on. The Minister, by interjection, asked various speakers to name any book to the prohibition of which he objected. Th& difficulty is that we are working in the dark. Almost all the information on the subject which we can obtain has been gathered by pressmen and published in the newspapers. It would appear that the Minister and the department have made every effort possible to prevent information reaching even those who represent the people in this Parliament. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- Any importer of books can get a complete list of those books which are banned. {: .speaker-JNP} ##### Mr BAKER: -- An article dealing with this subject, which appeared in the Melbourne *Herald* of the 5th February, points out that the department - >Along with text books by Lenin and Stalin,tags the memoirs of Oscar Browning of Eton and Cambridge. As the department is reported once to have held up a book on Greenland exploration because it was written by a man named Lindsay, possibly Browning is there because hia Christian name is Oscar. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- That is an example of the ridiculous comments made in the press. {: .speaker-JNP} ##### Mr BAKER: -- I am quoting from the Melbourne *Herald,* which is owned by the Baillieu group, and supports the Government. The article continues - >The list of political books and pamphlets - a number in foreign languages - is now well on its way to swamping the literary section. > >Soon the index, it seems, will be one of the biggest in the world . . . The Secretary of the Book Censorship Abolition League to-day denied the statement by the Minister for Customs "that only about two books a month are banned and in nearly every case because of sheer indecency " and that in addition political books received " a particularly good run". Miss Kemp, the secretary of the Book Censorship Abolition League said that - >On inquiry at the Customs Department, she discovered that books on political subjects had been summarily banned by the Customs Department as follows: - These are the figures which the Minister will not give. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- I gave them to-night. {: .speaker-JNP} ##### Mr BAKER: -- They are- >Before December, 1933, from a date unstated - 60 political books. > >Between December, 1933, and 20th October, 1934 - 79 political books, or more than seven a month. Not five a month, as stated by the Minister. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- Do not those figures coincide with those which I gave? {: .speaker-JNP} ##### Mr BAKER: -- No. The report continues^ - > Between 20th October, 1934, and 9th January, 1935 - twelve political books, or about five a month. These are political books only. From the information which the press has been able to obtain, despite the mystery surrounding this subject, it would appear that a greater number of books dealing with political subjects are banned than all other types combined. At present it is more than ever necessary that we should be able to study both sides of every political question. If an honorable member on this side of the chamber makes a reference to Russia, he is immediately greeted with cheap sneers, and it is suggested that he should " Go and live in Russia." But, in view of the political experiments now being made in Russia, America, Italy and Germany, we should not be deprived of the right to learn what is happening in those countries. Every person interested in the welfare of the nation should be given the opportunity to read of what other countries are doing. We should be permitted to read publications such as the banned *Labour Monthly,* which the *New Statesman and Nation,* one of *Book* [27 March, 1935.] *Censorship.* 355 the most valued periodicals in England, has described as a very fine publication. In the Parliamentary Library therewere until recently 25 banned books, 75 per cent. of which dealt with political subjects. When this agitation arose they were removed from the Library. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- The honorable member will probably find that he is on the wrong scent. Will he give me the list of those books ? {: .speaker-JNP} ##### Mr BAKER: -- These are the things which we have to discover. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- Probably they have not been banned. Will the honorable member give the names? {: .speaker-JNP} ##### Mr BAKER: -- Many are included in the list published in the Melbourne *Herald.* {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- The list published in the press is wrong; it is sheer guess work. {: .speaker-JNP} ##### Mr BAKER: -- 'Certain of these books, including two by Fox, are not included in the list published in the *Herald.* I ask the Government not to treat honorable members of this Parliament, and the public generally, as mental infants, but to give them a right to read literature which must be of undoubted benefit to them. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- The honorable member has exhausted his time. {: #subdebate-35-4-s5 .speaker-KZF} ##### Mr LANE:
Barton .- It appears to me that the honorable member for Griffith **(Mr. Baker),** and some other honorable members opposite, are of the opinion that every book that is published should be admitted into Australia. Many of those mentioned during the debate, and, particularly some of those relating to political subjects, should not be admitted into this country. Motion (by **Mr. Gander)** agreed to - >That the question be now put. Question - That the House do now adjourn - put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. J. Bell.) AYES: 22 NOES: 34 Majority . . 8 AYES NOES Question so resolved in the negative. {: .page-start } page 355 {:#debate-36} ### INVALID AND OLD-AGE PENSIONS BILL 1935 *In committee:* Consideration resumed from the 22nd March *(vide* page 303). Clause 1 agreed to. Clause 2 - >Section seventeen of the principal act is amended by omitting paragraph *(fa).* > > *Section proposed to be amended-* > > *No person shall receive an old-age pension unless - (fa) hehas not, within the period of five years preceding the date of his pension claim, transferred, other- wise than bona fide for value, property of any kind exceeding in value in the aggregate the sum of One hundred pounds:* > > *Provided that if the claimant satisfies the Commissioner that any such transfer of property, though not made for value, was a reasonable giftin the circumstances existing at the time, the claimant shall not, by reason of that transfer, be ineligible for the* **Mr. JAMES** (Hunter) [8.50 J. -I move - >That after the word "omitting", the words " paragraph (o) " be inserted. In the principal act, paragraph c of section 17 debars a person from receiving a pension unless he is of good character. While I do not hold a brief for bad characters, I claim that once a person has been sentenced by a court for an offence, and has served that sentence, lie should not be further punished by the Pensions Department. An old man may have a few drinks, not necessarily with his pension money, but at the invitation of a friend, and, having the misfortune to become drunk, he is picked up by the police, and is subsequently convicted. Such a man may lose his pension for six months or twelve months, and, in one case of which I know, the pension was lost for two years. That is the worst form of punishment that could be inflicted upon him; it is sentencing him to starvation because he is unable to work owing to age and infirmity. {: #debate-36-s0 .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr CASEY:
Acting Treasurer · Corio · UAP -- The honorable member has moved an amendment, the effect of which is that the possession of good character shall no longer be a qualification for an old-age pension. I* bas frequently been held in this House, and not least strongly by members of the Opposition, that a pension is a reward for good citizenship. If the honorable member's amendment were carried, a pension might be payable to any person, whether or not he had been a good citizen. This paragraph, as is the case with all other provisions of the act, is administered with a good deal of sympathy by the Commissioner aud Deputy Commissioners. I can best illustrate this by quoting one example. In 192S, a man was charged with the murder of his wife in peculiarly disgusting circumstances. Owing to the evidence being largely circumstantial, the man was not convicted of murder, but of manslaughter. He was sentenced to seven years' imprisonment, but, after serving a part of that time, he was released on licence. He had had a good character while in gaol, and when he came out, being qualified by age, he applied for the old-age pension. The Commissioner learned from the prison authorities that his conduct in gaol had been excellent, but, being somewhat in doubt about the matter, he discussed it with me, and it was decided that the man's application for a pension should be accepted. It was held that he had redeemed his character, and that he was qualified to receive a pension. {: .speaker-KLL} ##### Mr Makin: -- How long after he was released did he receive his pension? {: .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr CASEY: -- I do not know exactly, but it could not have been very long. He served about five years. There are other cases, however, in which the Commissioner cannot be lenient. I refer particularly to cases of confirmed drunkards, men who are being repeatedly convicted on charges of drunkenness. In one case that was brought under my notice a pensioner was convicted of drunkenness and lost his pension. After a sufficient time had elapsed he applied for his pension again, and it was restored. He was again, convicted, and lost his pension. Again he applied for it, and while the matter was still under consideration he was convicted no fewer than three times for drunkenness. In such circumstances, it would be a waste of public money to continue paying him a pension, because it would bc spent on drink. {: .speaker-KLL} ##### Mr Makin: -- That could be got over by paying the money to a warrantee. {: .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr CASEY: -- That can be done only with the consent of the pensioner. {: .speaker-KLL} ##### Mr Makin: -- The act provides for such an arrangement, and the department insists upon it in certain cases. {: .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr CASEY: -- I do not want to get into a detailed argument on a side issue. This provision in the act is necessary: indeed, the act would be gravely defective without it. It is administered with sympathy, and I think that all decent people are fairly treated under it. {: #debate-36-s1 .speaker-KYZ} ##### Mr RIORDAN:
KENNEDY, QUEENSLAND · ALP; FLP from 1931 .- I should like to know in what State the man mentioned by the Acting Treasurer **(Mr. Casey)** was sentenced for manslaughter, and subsequently received a pension. I am fairly certain that it could not have been Queensland. The Acting Treasurer said that the honorable member for Hunter **(Mr. James)** wanted to make pensions payable to persons of bad character, and he added that it was never intended that that should be done. I do not think it was the contention of the honorable member that pensions should be paid to murderers. The point is that the man had paid the penalty for his crime by, serving a term in prison, and should not thereafter be pursued. Reference has been made to the payment of pensions to persons convicted of drunkenness. I have in mind the case of a man at Hughenden, Queensland, concerning whom the local Church of England clergyman wrote to the Commissioner of Pensions. That man was penalized for practically twelve months because a policeman found him drunk. He was an old bush worker, who had met a number of his mates, who paid for soma drinks for him. Unfortunately, after he emerged from the hotel, he met a young policeman, who was looking for promotion. I know of other policemen, not so keen on gaining promotion by such means, who take pensioners to their homes if they find that they have indulged too freely in spirituous liquors. That is a more humane way to treat such persons. Many men who have been bush workers all their lives have little enjoyment in their declining years other than an occasional drink with their friends. "With liquor at present prices, they are not likely to drink themselves to death on a pension of 17s. 6d. per week.. It is claimed, on behalf of offending pensioners, that it is difficult to get the Pensions Department to take a lenient view of their offences. The department contends that the taxpayers' money should not be granted to men who will squander it. In the cases that I have presented to the department the men concerned have not squandered their pensions. A pensioner living at Camooweal has to pay 5s. 6d., -or practically one-third of his week's pension, for a bottle of beer. Similar prices prevail at Burketown, and through the Gulf country generally. Pensioners in those areas are not able to buy large quantities of liquor with their pensions.. The administration should not penalize a man if he is found intoxicated once, but should give him a chance. I hope that the Minister will see that a more lenient view is taken in these cases. I have in mind the case of an old man at Herberton, who is not on friendly terms with the local policeman. Every time he indulges too freely in drink the policeman arrests him. I believe that I was partly responsible for his last lapse, by giving him a couple of drinks, which resulted in the loss of his pension, which has not yet been restored to him. Honorable members may say to me, " Shame on you for inducing him to drink," but I say, " Shame on the Minister and his officers for depriving the old man of his pension." {: #debate-36-s2 .speaker-KZF} ##### Mr LANE:
Barton .- I have a good deal of sympathy with the case presented by the honorable member for Hunter **(Mr. James).** The pension legislation passed by this Parliament has been administered in a way to which I strongly object. A pensioner who is found guilty of a misdemeanour loses his pension, and has to accept the dole and obtain food relief in order to live. In some cases the administration has shown leniency to offenders. I cite the case of an old man who was deprived of his pension for a month ; but, after he had been to the Salvation Army penitentform and the captain had testified to his change of heart, the pension was restored. Unfortunately, such cases are not so general as they might be. I have interested myself in another pensioner who has been convicted on five occasions. Representations have been made to me by worthy citizens that this pensioner is practically crippled in his legs, and has occasionally to sit on the kerbstone, although he may not be drunk. His pension has, however, been stopped on the ground of drunkenness. The magistrate who convicted him recommended that the administration should pay his pension to some one who would use it on his behalf. As a result of investigations which I instituted through a member of the State Parliament, after I was refused the information, I ascertained that the same policeman had always arrested this man. On one occasion he arrested the old man when within 50 yards of his home. The local baker who witnessed the arrest said that the old man, who was driving a sulky, did not constitute a danger either to himself or any one else, because his horse would have taken him home. The same constable not long before bad arrested for drunkenness a man who sat on the kerbstone because be was ill, as was proved by the fact that he died of haemorrhage later in the cell. Although a man sitting on the kerbstone can do little or no harm, there are officious constables who seem to take a delight in arresting him, whereas had they an atom of human kindness in their nature, they would take the unfortunate man by the arm and lead him home. The administration takes a lot of convincing of the reasonableness of requests by members of Parliament that pensions should be restored to persons who have been found guilty of misdemeanours. No one likes to see an old man the worse for liquor, but it takes very little to throw a man of 65 or 70 years of age off his balance. Honorable members who interest themselves in these cases are probably quite as good judges of the . men concerned as is a magistrate who reads their records on paper. There is need for a change of attitude on the part of the administration, for, as things are, members of Parliament have practically to become investigating officers for the department in order that pensioners may be treated justly. {: #debate-36-s3 .speaker-K9C} ##### Mr GARDEN:
.Cook .- I support the amendment of the honorable member for Hunter **(Mr. James).** I have in mind the case of a man who was convicted of an offence, and while in prison became paralysed right down one side. After some time in prison he was released, and subsequently he applied for a pension. The Pensions Department refused his application on the ground that he had been convicted of an offence. I got in touch with the Controller of Prisons, **Mr. Hinchley,** who appealed to the Pensions Department to grant the man a pension. The Prisoners' Aid Association also made similar representations. This man cannot obtain the dole; he cannot work because of his infirmity; he cannot get food. What is he to do? If it is contended that he was guilty of an offence, the reply is that he has paid the penalty for his crime. I hope that the Minister will consider such cases. {: #debate-36-s4 .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN:
Batman · UAP .- I have a good deal of sympathy with the principle involved in the amendment moved by the honorable member for Hunter **(Mr. James).** I' see no reason for providing in a statute, as a condition precedent to the granting of a pension, that a man must be of good character to entitle him to receive it. I hope that no one will assume from that statement that I am necessarily advocating that men of bad character should be paid pensions out of the revenues of the Commonwealth ; but I point out that it is quite a novel procedure to provide that a man, whose right to a pension is otherwise sustained, must prove to the satisfaction of the commissioner that he is of good character. This Parliament should not set itself up as a censor of the people's morals. There are abundant laws in this country to ensure that the conduct of its citizens conforms to certain standards, and there is ample provision within the law for punishing those who depart from those standards. Those laws are not invoked with hesitation against the poor in the community; certainly they are not invoked with discrimination in their favour. There is no just principle upon which we may employ this vague term " good character ". It is not necessary to prove good character to become a member of Parliament. Indeed, it may be difficult of fulfilment in the case of some of us. The possession of good character is not stipulated as a condition for membership of the Public Service, and in fact is- not usually specifically set out anywhere. Good character is assumed until something is proven against a man to establish that he is of bad character or unworthy to receive a benefit to which he is otherwise entitled. It is a very vague phrase. There are other clauses relating to convictions for drunkenness and repeated convictions for other offences, to which I can make only the most casual reference. I maintain that in every one of those cases the pensioner, having suffered the penalty which the law imposes upon him, should not be further punished. What is meant by good character? Why appoint a tribunal which, behind closed doors, may decide that one man is of good character and another is not of sufficiently good character to receive a pension? We should not be concerned with these moral considerations, except in so far as moral offences *Invalid and Old-age* [27 March, 1935.] *Pensions Bill* 1935. 359 constitute a breach of the law. One commissioner may have exceedingly strong views on intemperance ; another may take the saner view that intemperance is very often, if not always, a "disease in respect of which the patient should be pitied rather than condemned. We are too often told that the pension is an act of charity, and that we, as a benevolent institution, bestow the money upon people who, having no right to it, yet receive it as the result of the taxpayers' generosity. The qualifications of a pensioner are set out in the law, comprising his length of residence, capacity to maintain himself, the extent of his property, and a variety of other things which make it not too easy for any old person to get the pension. Apart from that, the man or woman is, like any other citizen, amenable to the strict laws of the land. We should not allow this vague phrase regarding goodness or badness of character, which may moan anything - one thing to some persons and quite another to others - to be adopted as a qualification, especially as the decision must depend upon ' the varying views of different persons upon moral questions. Those persons will form their opinions in secret, and without being called upon to justify their decisions. {: #debate-36-s5 .speaker-JUQ} ##### Mr CLARK:
Darling .- I support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Hunter **(Mr. James).** During my short term in Parliament a number of cases of pensions being refused on the ground of bad character have come before me. In two instances I have known the persons concerned for some time and consider that they are justly entitled to the pension. Any person who loses his pension under this clause cannot work, and must find himself facing starvation. One man who was convicted of theft many years ago has been refused a pension because of that conviction. Another case which came before me last week is that of an old woman who was refused a pension on the ground of bad character. Both these are cases of real hardship. As regards the proposal to omit section 17 / *a,* I should like to bring certain cases under the notice of the Minister and to receive an assurance from him regarding them. One is that of a man at Dubbo. He applied for the pension, and was turned down on the ground that he had had a certain amount of money and had spent it in a way which the law did not allow. I wish to be assured that that man's case will be dealt with, and his pension granted, under section 17 *f* or 17 *g.* Section 17 of the principal act provides that - >No person shall receive an old-age pension unless - (/) he has not directly or indirectly deprived himself of property or income in order to qualify for or obtain a pension; and (g)he has not at any time within six months been refused a pension certificate except for the reason that he was disqualified on account of his ago or for reasons which are not in existence at the time of the further application. This man should be able to get his pension under those provisions. The facts are that nearly five years ago he received from the estate of his late mother the sum of £44618s. 4d. He admits that he received and spent the money. He says that he notified the Deputy Registrar of the fact and that he has been penalized for being truthful and honest in the matter. He adds - >At the time I received the money I had a son and daughter who were out of employment and owing to their ages they could not obtain Government food relief, and in addition I was compelled to assist my married son, his wife and two children, and by doing this I have to suffer now. I am now and have been for the past four years without a shilling to call my own and have existed on Government food relief. I am a total cripple and have to depend on neighbours once a fortnight to carry me to their cart and drive me to the police station to receive my dole allowance. This is a case of absolute hardship. 1 made a strong appeal to the Deputy Registrar to grant this man a pension. He has been an honest and honorable citizen and spent the money left to him on the upkeep of his family who were in need at the time. I received the following reply from the department - >With reference to your further representations in this case, I have to say that the whole of the circumstances have been carefully considered, but I am sorry it is not possible to avoid 360 *Invalid and Old-age* [REPRESENTATIVES.] *Pensions Bill* 1935. the provision of section17fa of the act with regard to money or property transferred otherwise than bona fide and for value. The claimant dispossessed himself of £1,000 to assist his relatives who were in need. . . . Under all the circumstances, therefore, I am sorry that the pension claim cannot be further considered until a period of five years has elapsed since he disposed of his money. I desire an assurance from the Minister that this man will be favorably dealt with under paragraphsf and *g* of section 17, seeing that section *Ufa* is no longer to be allowed to apply. It is only just that a man who has spent his money in this way should be treated with leniency. He has not dispossessed himself of it for the specific purpose of getting the pension and has not spent it in an unjustifiable way. There is another case which I wish to bring before the Minister. I should like to know whether it comes under paragraph c of section 17, which the honorable member for Hunter wishes to delete. The reply I received in this case, which is that of a man whose pension was stopped last November, was as follows : - >With reference to your personal inquiries concerning the rate of pension due to the above-named,I have to say that in November last it was brought under notice that the pensioner was away from Dubbo, and it was inferred that he was teaching dancing, acrobatics, &c That is a rather humourous reply to receive in relation to an old-age pensioner. I think this case must come under the bad character clause, the department perhaps thinking that no person of good character could be associated with the teaching of dancing or acrobatics. The departmental letter further says - >His pension was therefore suspended. Subsequently on your representations the case was re-heard and a pension granted to commence from the 14th February. After further representations I managed to have the pension restored right back to November. The point I wish to make is that in many cases the act. is not administered in a sympathetic manner. The. men who have the task of administering it find themselves tied by regulations which are unfair in their application. Paragraph *c* of section 17 should certainly be repealed, so that any person who is suffering under it at the present time may receive justice from the department. {: #debate-36-s6 .speaker-KLL} ##### Mr MAKIN:
Hindmarsh .- This section of the act very often brings about serious hardship, owing to the severity with which it has to be administered. In one case the man was convicted on circumstantial evidence in a court in Adelaide, and served his sentence. He proved a most exemplary prisoner, and came out with the best of records. He sought the restoration of his pension, but the department says that no further consideration can be given until June next. He is an invalid, and finds it increasingly difficult to secure the necessities that he requires. He has come to me several times in a state of desperation. Is not such a man likely to be driven to do things that he should not do? Any man who tries to rehabilitate himself should be encouraged, instead of being further penalized by being deprivedof his pension. I realize that this section deals with claimants rather than those persons who have their pensions suspended, but it is closely related to that section dealing with undeserving cases. People should not be deprived of the pension on account of acts of intemperance. It cannot be said that such people are of bad character or undeserving. Many of them are most deserving by reason of the services they have given to their country, yet if a man or woman is convicted of drunkenness on two occasions the pension is suspended for six months. {: .speaker-JUQ} ##### Mr Clark: -- Sometimes for only one occasion. {: .speaker-KLL} ##### Mr MAKIN: -- My experience has been that the pension has been suspended after two convictions. This is unfair, because the offender is not only fined £1 or £2 by the police court for the second offence, but is also deprived by the department of £22 10s. representing six months' pension money. That is not fair. I ask the department to remember that if an aged or invalid person is regarded as unable to exercise proper custody of his pension money, the Deputy Commissioner may issue a warrant entitling another person to receive the money on the pensioner's behalf. I therefore support the amendmnt. {: #debate-36-s7 .speaker-L08} ##### Mr ROSEVEAR:
DALLEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · LANG LAB; ALP from 1936; ALP (N-C) from 1940; ALP from 1941 .- I also support the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Hunter **(Mr. James).** It is unfortunate, from the Government point of view, that the Minister, instead of combating the argument advanced by the honorable member for Hunter, sought to cloud the issue by insinuating that the real intention of the amendment is to make the pension payable to criminals. To support his contention, the Minister cited the case of a man who had been convicted of manslaughter. I take the strongest exception to the Deputy Commissioner of Pensions in any State being set up virtually as a censor of morals, with power to superimpose additional penalties on persons who have already been convicted and dealt with in accordance with the law. A number of such cases have been brought under my notice by persons who may be regarded as disinterested, in that they are not relatives of the individuals concerned. In. a country town, a conviction for inebriety was recorded against the oldest resident. He was almost a total abstainer, but during the Christmas season, he was given drinks by a number of well-wishers, and, for his first offence, his pension was stopped. I venture to say that it would have remained unpaid up to the present time had it not been for representations made to the department through me at the request of business men in the town. The magistrate who tried the case merely sentenced him to be imprisoned until the rising of the court, but the department, by stopping his pension, fined him at the rate of £45 a year ! {: .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr Casey: -- I rise to a point of order. I suggest that the points being debated by members of the Opposition are dealt with substantially under section 51 of the act, and not under the provision now before the committee. {: #debate-36-s8 .speaker-KYI} ##### The CHAIRMAN (Mr Prowse:
FORREST, WESTERN AUSTRALIA I cannot uphold the point of order. The section proposed to be amended deals with the question of good character, and therefore I cannot prevent references to drunkenness. {: #debate-36-s9 .speaker-L08} ##### Mr ROSEVEAR: -- To give an idea how far the department is prepared to go in matters of this kind, I shall cite another case - that of a man who was a victim of his own lack of knowledge of the dole regulations in New South Wales. In the early stages of food relief in that State, the invalid's pension was regarded as income; but subsequently it was not so treated. For the purpose of food relief, a man, who has three or four children, is ignored as a unit in the family. He neither receives food relief, nor is his income taken into account in calculating the income of the family, although previously an invalid pensioner's money was regarded as permissible income of a recipient of the dole. The invalid's pension iu this case, and the small sum earned by his wife and children, totalled a few shillings a week more than the permissible amount of income, and because of that fact he was summoned before the court. He was not fined the difference between the permissible and actual income, but was called upon to repay the value of the whole of the food relief which he had received over the period. This amounted to a penalty of £20, although there was no previous conviction of any kind against him. {: #debate-36-s10 .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- Regarding the ruling I recently gave, I remind honorable members that, under section 51, reference is made to convictions for drunkenness, and I think that any lengthy reference to that aspect of the matter would be irrelevant. {: .speaker-L08} ##### Mr ROSEVEAR: -- I am not dealing with the case of a man charged with drunkenness. This person had no previous convictions against him, but, through ignorance of the dole regulations, he fell foul of the law. This incident occurred over two years ago, and the department superimposed a further penalty upon him by stopping his invalid pension. He has now suffered the loss of his pension for over two years to the total amount of £90. {: .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr Casey: -- Why did not the honorable member invoke section 51? {: .speaker-L08} ##### Mr ROSEVEAR: -- I am invoking the aid of the department at the present time; but why should that be necessary to enable a pensioner to receive simple justice? If a person offends against the laws of a State he i3 fined a specific amount, or if he is sentenced to a term of imprisonment, a definite period is mentioned; but when the Pensions Department imposes its penalties, as provided under the act, no specified time is stated. {: .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr Casey: -- Section 51 deals with the whole matter. {: .speaker-L08} ##### Mr ROSEVEAR: -- I have actual proof of what I am saying, and that is a good deal more substantial than mere theory. This man's pension was stopped for an indefinite period over two years ago, and, so far as he is aware, no maximum period for which the pension shall be withheld has been fixed. Oan the Minister justify such action? {: .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr Casey: -- -The action which the honorable member describes is in direct contravention of section 51, so why does he not invoke its aid? {: .speaker-L08} ##### Mr ROSEVEAR: -- I venture to say that when this case is settled the Minister will not be prepared to see that the back money is paid to this pensioner, if it can be proved that it has been taken from him contrary to section 51. These decisions are never reviewed without outside pressure. I do not know one invalid or old-age pensioner - and there are hundreds of them in my electorate - who has had his pension stopped, and has had it subsequently renewed without outside pressure, yet the Minister persists in saying that the act lays down the period for which persons may be disqualified for the receipt of the pension. If these unfortunate individuals have nobody to make representations on their behalf, the department gives them a life sentence. Once an invalid pensioner is struck off the pension list he is practically left to starve. The dole regulations in New South Wales, which are presumably similar to those in operation in other States, classify an invalid pensioner, not as unemployed, but as unemployable. If the department sees an elderly and sickly unemployed person seeking the dole, it advises him to apply for the pension; but once he becomes an invalid pensioner and is marked down as permanently incapacitated for work, he is no longer regarded as unemployed. He is classed as unemployable and not entitled to the dole. If he commits some paltry offence, the departmental censor of morals, in the shape of the State Registrar, decides that the penalty usually applied to other citizens is not sufficient for the invalid pensioner. When a man who is not a pensioner is arrested for drunkenness and is fined fi, society is satisfied. If, however, he happens to be an invalid pensioner and commits a similar offence, in the view of the censor of morals something further should be done. Why should differentiation be shown in the treatment of these two classes of individuals? The federal department stops the pension, and the State department refuses to recognize the invalid pensioner as unemployed. Of course, he is not prepared to starve, and he can hardly be blamed if he takes part in criminal adventures in order to feed himself. So the treatment of invalid pensioners under this precious section- {: .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr Casey: -- It does not deal with invalid pensions. {: .speaker-L08} ##### Mr ROSEVEAR: -- Let it apply to old-age pensions, and the position is the same so far as food relief is concerned. I have outlined the treatment which is given to these old people under the pretext that the department is trying to secure a moral community, and refuses to pay pensions to persons of bad character. The stopping of their pensions, however, is conducive to criminal practices. {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr Maxwell: -- The case cited by the honorable member is inconsistent with that mentioned by the Minister of a man who, after having served five years' imprisonment for manslaughter, was granted a pension. {: .speaker-L08} ##### Mr ROSEVEAR: -- That is so. Although that man committed manslaughter, his pension was restored, probably as the result of certain representations. But take the case cited by the honorable member for Cook **(Mr. Garden),** that of a man who, while an inmate of a gaol, became paralysed right down the right side. Even the Controller of Prisons in New South Wales made representations on his behalf, yet his pension was not restored. There is also the case of the man who, through lack of knowledge of the dole regulations, fell foul of the law, was penalized to an amount of £20, and in addition has had his pension stopped for two years, which represents a further penalty of £90. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- The honorable member has exhausted his time. {: #debate-36-s11 .speaker-KLC} ##### Mr MAHONEY:
Denison .- I consider that this section of the act is applied improperly to persons who may have offended against the law in their early years. I have had to fight cases of that kind, involving both women and men. It is a scandal and a disgrace to refuse a pension to a woman of 60 years of age because of some misdemeanour iu early life. We should not set ourselves up as judges of the morals of the people. If every person had imprinted on his or her face a record of sins committed, not many would be granted a pension. Those who adjudicate in such matters may have committed greater sins against society than the pensioners upon whom judgment is passed. A conviction for drunkenness should not be regarded as justification for the withdrawal of a pension. By such action the Commonwealth shirks its obligation and throws on the States the responsibility of keeping those who are deprived of the pension, because it is a crime to allow any individual to starve. If the application of this principle were widened I might be disqualified in the future from drawing an old-age pension because of my membership of the Labour party. The administration in Tasmania is fairly liberal, but there have been cases in which it has been necessary to appeal to the Minister. Seldom is a man locked up in that State on the charge of drunkenness. The police are actuated by humanitarian instincts, and when a pensioner is found to be suffering from the effects of alcohol he is either sent home in a cab or placed in a quiet spot where he may recover. The police force of New South Wales might well act a little more sympathetically in such cases. I hope that the amendment will be carried. {: #debate-36-s12 .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI:
Werriwa .- I agree with much of what has been said in support of the amendment. The proposal of the honorable member for Hunter **(Mr. James)** is directed largely to cases in which distinct hardship has been caused. I wish to give one or two instances of the application of the law which have come to my knowledge within the last few months. They relate to in mates of benevolent homes. A remarkable case occurred only the other day. The medical evidence, and that of practically everyone concerned was in favor of the pensioner, who is universally regarded as of excellent character. Unfortunately, however, he sometimes loses control of his limbs and falls down in the street. On the day in question he had not had a drink. When returning to the homo with a. bottle of wine in his hip pocket for a sick inmate he met an acquaintance. While talking to this man he collapsed and fell. The bottle broke, and his clothes became saturated with its contents. The impression that I have received from conversations with the inmates of this home is that the superintendent comes down on them with a sledge hammer and immediately reports them to the department with a view to having their pensions discontinued. These old people receive only 5s. a week out of the pension, the remaining 12s. 6d. going to the home. Some of them are almost on their last legs, and one glass of beer or other alcoholic liquor practically makes them intoxicated. But the small quantity that they imbibe does them no harm. The invariable reply of the department, when a case is brought to its notice, is that the man is of " vicious habits ". Some of those who pass judgment drink as much in a week, without showing any effects, as these old people do in a month. I say nothing against their having a drink ; it does them no harm. The point that I make is that, from the inception of pensions legislation, the pension has been regarded as a right, and not as a charity. The attitude adopted by the department, however, is, " If you are a good boy you will get it, but if you dare to overstep what we regard as the border line between decency and viciousness, or if you happen to have a glass of beer, it will be withheld from you." The position appears to have become aggravated within the last year or two. Since my recent return to this Parliament I have dealt with more cases of the discontinuance of pensions than I handled in my previous membership of twelve years. I do not know whether the Minister is sheltering behind the Deputy Commissioner. It would be interesting to know whether the officials have been given the quiet word to tighten up and save expenditure wherever possible, in order that budgets may be balanced. It seems to me that some influence is behind this filching of the pennies from the old people. If they can afford to have a glass of beer, it is little recompense enough in their old age for having pioneered this country and helped to build up the huge incomes of persons who are financially able to enjoy champagne suppers and. the like. The Government adopts a miserable- attitude when it says that they may not have a glass of beer if they are able to afford it out of the few shillings that they get. If any honorable member met in the streets one of these old men who wanted a glass of beer he would buy it for him. Why not see that that spirit actuates the Pensions Department? I hope that the present practice will be discontinued, and that the taking of a glass of beer will not be made an excuse for the withholding of a pension. I trust that the Minister will advise the department to be a little more lenient, and that, if instructions to economize have been given, they will be withdrawn, so that these old people will not be further persecuted. The withholding of a pension in the case that I have mentioned is an absolute shame. The doctor who attended this man gave evidence in regard to his bodily infirmity, and every one in the institution who knows him gave him a good character. The department insinuates that he was lying, and that he had purchased the bottle of wine for his own consumption. I trust that, as an act of simple justice, the pension of this old man will be restored to him. and that the other cases referred to will be given favorable consideration. {: #debate-36-s13 .speaker-009FQ} ##### Mr CURTIN:
Fremantle .My experience is that pensions have not been discontinued because of the inclusion in the act of the provision which the honorable member for Hunter **(Mr. James)** seeks to remove. However, I do not propose to discuss the discontinuance of pensions. I point out that sub-section c of section 17 is used to deprive applicants of their claim for pensions because of a conviction for a misdemeanour committed, in some cases, many years prior to the date of the application for a pension. I remind the committee - and the Minister for Health **(Mr. Hughes)** will, no doubt, recall the occasion - of the case of a man whose personal record in Australia was beyond all question, but whose political associations had landed him into difficulty which resulted in his conviction for a misdemeanour. His application for a pension was refused because of the provision of the act insisting that an applicant for a pension should be of good character. I would agree with this provision if, in broad outline, the general conduct of the applicant were taken into consideration, but the act is very definite. Under it no person convicted of a serious misdemeanour, no matter how long ago, is able to say that he has always been of good character. There are classes of offences in Australia punishable by severe sentences which are not of the usual type of criminal offences, but are related to offences political in character. Convictions under the Crimes Act may bc regarded as criminal offences, but there are a large number of provisions in the Crimes Act which would convict persons of utterances in a time of stress which were their honest expression of opinion in respect of matters of supreme importance to the individual liberty of citizens. I think this clause is very dangerous in that it does prevent a certain class of applicant from receiving an old-age pension because of offences which, whatever their character, have long been expiated and fully atoned for and, therefore, should not be held against them. I point out to the Acting Treasurer **(Mr. Casey)** that this provision applies only to applicants for oldage pensions, and not to applicants for invalid pensions. {: .speaker-L08} ##### Mr Rosevear: -- It is applied to applicants for invalid pensions also. {: .speaker-009FQ} ##### Mr CURTIN: -- There is no authority in the statute which prescribes that an applicant for an invalid pension shall be examined in regard to his character. The provisions in respect of the discontinuance of pensions are set out in another section of the act. I submit to the Acting Treasurer that the retention of this clause is not necessary. Furthermore, I suggest to the honorable gentlemen that, in determining what he considers to be the obligations of decent *Invalid and Old-age* [27 March, 1935.] *Pensions Bill* 1935. 365 citizenship, he should place the applicant for an old-age pension, so far as his moral character is concerned, on the same plane as the invalid pensioner. I say that more emphatically because it appears that, increasingly, the State is conjuring up as offences what really amount to the exercise by a citizen of his right of public expression. It could quite easily happen that, under the Arbitration Act, members of trade unions could be convicted and sentenced to long terms of imprisonment for participating in strikes. I submit to the Minister for Health that certain statutes of the Commonwealth are not comparable with the ordinary police offences acts or the criminal codes of the States. They are entirely distinctive, because they do not involve ordinary considerations of criminal conduct. The right honorable gentleman will remember that a very distinguished Australian was refused an old-age pension for a long time because of the existence of this provision in the statute-book, and that it was only by subterfuge that a Commonwealth Treasurer was able to circumvent it and provide him with a pension. {: #debate-36-s14 .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr CASEY:
Acting Treasurer · Corio · UAP -- I regret that the Government is unable to accept the amendment, and I move - >That the question be now put. Motion agreed to. Question - That the amendment (Mr. James) be agreed to - put. The committee divided. ( Ch airman - Mr. Pro wse. ) AYES: 24 NOES: 36 Majority . . . . 12 AYES NOES Question so resolved in the negative. Amendment negatived. Mr.ROSEVEAR (Dalley) [10.13].- I wish the Acting Treasurer **(Mr. Casey)** to give me an assurance that the repeal of section 17 *fa* will not adversely affect pensioners. Paragraph *fa* of the section provides - No person shall receive an old-age pension unless - *(fa)* he has not, within the period of five years preceding the date of his pension claim, transferred, otherwise than bona fide for value, property of any kind exceeding in value in the aggregate the sum of One hundred pounds. I direct attention to the fact that both a specified period and a specified amount are mentioned. If this provision is repealed, the section will provide - No person shall receive an old-age pension unless - That provision is indefinite. I wish to know the exact intention of the Government in removing paragraph *fa* from the act. Since the amendments of 1932 were inserted in our pensions law, the Pensions Department has frequently acted upon rulings which may have been in strict conformity with the letter of the law, but were certainly not in conformity with the intention of the Government as stated by the. responsible Minister when the proposed amendments were being considered by Parliament. If the definite period and amount are excised from the act, we may find the Commissioner of Pensions deciding that a person shall not receive a pension if he has within, say, ten years deprived himself of property, of a value of even considerably less than £100. For this reason, I ask that a specific statement be made on the point by the Minister in charge of the bill. {: #debate-36-s15 .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr JAMES:
Hunter -- I move - >That the words "and paragraph *(fb)* " be added to the clause. Paragraph *fb* provides that no person shall receive an old-age pension unless - > **His** relatives, namely, husband, wife, father, mother or children, do not, either severally or collectively, adequately maintain him. I intend, at a later stage, to move a similar amendment to clause 3, which deals with section 22 of the act, and relates to invalid pensions. This discussion, therefore, can cover both old-age and invalid pensions, and the vote may be taken as a test vote covering the two cases. Severe hardship has been inflicted upon some people because it has been ruled by the Pensions Department that certain relatives are adequately maintaining the claimant for the pension. I have in mind the case of a father with an invalid son 28 years of age, and three other children, two daughters and a son, whose ages are twenty years, eighteen years, and fourteen years, respectively. The invalid son applied for a pension, but his claim was rejected on the ground that his father was receiving £5 a week, and was, therefore, able to support him. I interviewed members of this family at Greta yesterday, and learned that the father's income is now only £4 5s. a week. Surely it would not be contended that that is adequate to meet the needs of the six members of the family, including the invalid son. Section 52m of the Pensions Act has been inoperative since last June, under that provision which is repealed by a later clause in this bill, liberal allowance was made to pensioners' relatives who were required to. make contributions towards the cost of the pension. In the case of a married couple the income allowed was £312 per annum - £6 a week - with a further exemption of £50 for each child, and an additional allowance for the education of children as well as for interest payable upon a mortgage and for contributions made towards the maintenance of unemployed relatives. The allowable income for a single man was £208 per annum, equivalent to £4 a week. In the case to which I have just referred the father has an income of only £4 5s. a week - only 5s. a week more than the allowance provided for a single man under section 52m. I, therefore, hope that the Minister will accept my amendment. As the result of the inquisitorial questionnaire sent recently to relatives of claimants for invalid pensions, the department was informed of. the income of the father, and rejected the claim on the ground that the invalid son was being adequately maintained by his father, when, as a matter of fact, he was not living in his father's house, but in Lang-street, Kurri Kurri. His claim having been rejected on this ground, the lad returned to live with his father, and I submit that he is not being adequately maintained. If the Minister will not agree to the repeal of paragraph *fb,* surely he will approve of the continuance of the allowance provided for under section 52m. I make this appeal because the case which I have just cited is typical of many others that have come under my notice. In one, an invalid son, aged 28 years, living in Paxton, has had his claim rejected because his father's income is £5 10s. a week. Another case is that of a man 73 years of age living at Weston. Having been thrifty during his working years, he accumulated a little money which he invested in property, from which he is now collecting a small amount by way of rent. Because he has this' source of income the department has rejected the claim of his son, aged 44 years, for a ' pension, on the ground that he is being adequately maintained. In still another case, the father of a claimant for a pension at Aberdare gets 17s. a day, but the pit in which he is employed works, on an average, only three- days a week. Yet the department considers that his income is adequate for the maintenance of hia invalid son. There is ample evidence that great hardship is undoubtedly being inflicted upon these people. I received a letter, dated the 18th March, 1935, from the Pensions Department regarding a claim for an invalid pension, informing me that the claim had been rejected on the ground that the father was employed at the Pelton colliery ; was earning at the rate of £290 a year ; that he owned the home in which the family resided, and in addition to his wife, had only the claimant to maintain, there being no children under the age of sixteen years. From inquiries which I have made I learn that although there are no children under the age of sixteen years, two of the sons are unemployed, and, consequently, have to be maintained by the father. In view of the cases which I have mentioned, showing that the act operates so harshly in many instances, I hope that the Minister will accept my amendment. {: #debate-36-s16 .speaker-KLL} ##### Mr MAKIN:
Hindmarsh .- Paragraph *fb* of section 17, which the honorable member for Hunter **(Mr. James)** desires to have repealed, deals with applications for old-age pensions. It enacts that no person shall receive an old-age pension unless his relatives, namely, husband, wife, father, mother or children, do not adequately maintain him. This is part of the special legislation passed in 1932, and is unnecessary for the satisfactory administration of the pensions law. Any contribution by the wife is already provided for in another part of the act, and, therefore, any earnings by the wife or husband are actually taken into account in determining the right to a pension. Contributions try sons and daughters towards the assistance of parents are also provided for in another part of the act. It is apparent that this section of the act was originally inserted, and is now being maintained with the object of proving a detriment to parents with children in a fairly good position in life applying for pensions. A father I know is earnestly desirous of a pension, but he has a son who is a doctor, and in view of the present provisions of the act which would advise the son of his application he will not apply for one. He does not desire that his son should be so advised, but he feels that because of his own citizenship he is surely entitled to a pension ; that his own position in life should be considered apart from that of his son. As the act now stands it imposes upon many fathers and mothers a condition requiring them to disclose to their sons or daughters a circumstance which they do not desire to so disclose, as they may feel it humiliates their children. As the act elsewhere provides for taking into account all the income of a parent there is no need for this section, and seeing that it was originally inserted as part of the emergency legislation, and actually used as a detriment to prospective applicants for pensions, it should not now be allowed to remain to continue to work against this section of the people, and possibly deprive them of a right. *[Quorum formed.']* {: #debate-36-s17 .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr HOLLOWAY:
Melbourne Ports -- On two or three occasions I have endeavoured to elicit from the Minister something definite on a particular point which is working to the detriment of some of the people whom I represent. I asked the Minister a question in connexion with a person, no longer a child but an adult, who wanted an invalid pension - whether that adult has still to be brought under that section of the act under which an invalid pension is refused if the parent adequately maintains the invalid. I always thought that that provision applied to juniors and not to adult invalids. Such a position means that if a father or mother refuses to maintain an invalid son who may be, say, 27 years of age, the son could apply to the department and get a pension ; but so long as his parents do not let him starve, then he is not entitled to the pension. In my opinion, the act was not meant to be interpreted in that way. Will the Minister inform me whether the sub-section applies to an adult invalid who is adequately maintained by his parents, or only to child invalids, so long as these are dependent on their parents? If the act is to be interpreted in the way I have described, a man or woman who happens to be stricken with paralysis can no longer feel independent of his or her parents. It would also mean that an invalid child living with his or her parents and maintained by the parents would not be entitled to a pension. There would be no need for a pension in a case of that kind, but when the child becomes an adult and still remains an invalid, perhaps at the age of 30, and does not desire to be a burden on his or her parents, can that invalid get a pension? I know that he or she could get a pension if the applicant. and the parents could just so order things that I could approach the Commissioner and prove that the invalid was not being adequately maintained by the parents. Consequently, under such circumstances, the parents have to enter into a conspiracy in order that their invalid adult child may receive a pension. {: .speaker-KLL} ##### Mr Makin: -. - If the invalid were to leave the home of the parents he or she could secure the pension, but otherwise it would be impossible. {: .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr HOLLOWAY: -- If the Minister is not too sure about the interpretation of this clause, will he make inquiries about it so that in such cases as I have described honorable members can secure a ruling one way or another ? I am notasking for this explanation simply out of curiosity; I have been worried with special cases. For instance, I know of the case of an invalid man, 35 years of age, who is smarting because he is still dependent on his mother and father. The father who is an engineer by profession, and can keep his son, does not complain, but the son complains about his dependence. The parents have said to me that they do not begrudge keeping their son, but that- the latter continually inquires about the position, feeling that, being a man, his parents should no longer be forced to keep him. I understand that invalid parents are entitled to a pension irrespective of whether or not their children can afford to keep them. Therefore, I contend that the law should cut both ways. Again I ask the Minister to look into this matter, and to make sure of the position. {: #debate-36-s18 .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr CASEY:
Acting Treasurer · Corio · UAP , - The honorable member for Dalley **(Mr. Rosevear)** raised a question in connexion with section 17 *fa.* which clearly stipulates that while that section existed in the act the transfer of property described was an absolute bar to getting a pension. Under this amending measure that provision is abolished, and the transfer of property will not now be an absolute bar in an application for a pension. {: .speaker-L08} ##### Mr Rosevear: -- I pointed out that previously in that section there was a time limit, and a specified amount, but that this measure provides no limitation in that respect. {: .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr CASEY: -- In the future, the Government will have to rely for the protection of the revenue on section 17 /, which enacts that no person shall receive an old-age pension unless - he has not directly or indirectly deprived himself of property or income in order to qualify for or obtain a pension. No time or amount is specified in this paragraph, but, like many other provisions in the act, it has to be interpreted by the Commissioner and the deputy commissioners in a reasonable way. I feel sure that we can rely on the officers adopting that attitude. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Sir Littleton Groom: -- Intent has to be shown clearly. {: .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr CASEY: -- It is difficult to discover the intent of the individual, that is, whether actually a person deprives himself of his property primarily in order to qualify for a pension. In future, the deprivation of property, whatever the intent, will not be a bar to an applicant receiving a pension. If the commissioner so decides the value of the property so divested may be held against the amount of the pension granted. {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr James: -- Would that apply to the home that a pensioner may have transferred, but in which he continued to live? Would that be assessed against him? {: .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr CASEY: -- A home transferred to a child? {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr James: -- Yes, in which he continues to live. Under the old provision so long as a pensioner continued to live in a home so transferred, although it was recognized as a transfer, it was not assessed against him. I should like an assurance from the Minister on that point. {: .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr CASEY: -- In those circumstances the Commissioner would not hold the transfer against the pensioner. The Com.sioner has certain discretionary powers, but we can rely upon such powers being *Invalid and. Old-age.* [27 March, 1935.] *Pensions Bill* 1935. 369 exercised sympathetically. The Commissioner considers the circumstances of each case, and if there has been proper consideration for the transfer, that is taken into account. In his discretion any property so transferred is held against the pensioner. As the honorable member for Hunter **(Mr. James)** has intimated, that the vote on section 17 *fb* will guide him as to whether or not he will move an amendment on section 22 *h,* I may speak briefly upon the two points raised. One deals with the adequate maintenance in respect of an old-age pensioner and the other the adequate maintenance of an invalid pensioner. In both cases the revenue must be protected. As pointed out by the honorable member for Hindmarsh **(Mr. Makin)** in respect of old-age pensions, in actual practice this usually applies to the maintenance by a son or a daughter; but I maintain that it is necessary to retain in the act some provision whereby the Government shall not be called upon to maintain a pensioner whose children are in affluent circumstances. Section 17 *fb* must be retained for that reason. {: .speaker-KLL} ##### Mr Makin: -- Are there any glaring caseswhich justify its retention ? {: .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr CASEY: -- There are not many which come to my mind at the moment. {: .speaker-KLL} ##### Mr Makin: -- It should not be allowed to remain in the act. {: .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr CASEY: -- Perhaps it does not matter very much one way or the other, but it acts as a deterrent to gross abuse on the part of some. I have not heard of many such cases. {: .speaker-KLL} ##### Mr Makin: -- Does the Minister not think that it is humiliating to a great many? {: .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr CASEY: -- I cannot support that view-point. An invalid pensioner who is unwilling to be a burden uponhis parents is apparently willing to be a burden upon the State, and in the matter of pride it is a question which is the better course to follow, {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr James: -- Would it not be a burden to a parent whose income was only £4 a week ? {: .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr CASEY: -- It is difficult to canvass the matter of individual cases across the floor of the chamber, particularly when the whole of the facts are not before us. The honorable member for Hunter, with the best possible intentions, finds it difficult to put all the circumstances before the committee. Individual cases should be dealt with departmentally, but in a general way I should say that the maintenance of unemployed members of a family living in a home is taken into account in calculating a pension. {: .speaker-KZF} ##### Mr Lane: -- It is not. {: .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr CASEY: -- I have scrutinized very carefully the instructions given by the Commissioner to Deputy Commissioners in this regard, and I can assure the committee that,in calculating a pension, the maintenance of unemployed members of a family living in a home is taken into account. {: .speaker-KZF} ##### Mr Lane: -- A limit of £6 a week would be fairly satisfactory. {: .speaker-K9A} ##### Mr Gander: -- Would the Minister agree to a limit of even £5 a week? {: .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr CASEY: -- I trust that the committee will agree that these paragraphs are not causing any great hardship, and that reasonable protection has to be afforded tothe revenue. Some reasonable obligation must be assumed by persons in a position to maintain their children. {: .speaker-KLL} ##### Mr Makin: -- As the Minister is not particularly keen, perhaps he will agree to the deletion of the paragraphs. {: .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr CASEY: -- It would be unwise to disregard possibilities such as I have mentioned. {: .speaker-KLL} ##### Mr Makin: -- This is the only provision remaining to which strong exception has been taken. {: .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr CASEY: -- There is no connexion between this and the property provisions introduced in 1932. All that the Government now seeks to do is to delete from the act those sections relating to contributions by relatives and the property provisions introduced in that year. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr Beasley: -- In a couple of months the Minister will be moving to delete this section, when there will then be another general discussion on pensions. {: .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr CASEY: -- Many things may be clone to the pensions law before the present session terminates. {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr James: -- As section 52m does not apply to properties, I do not know why that section should be repealed andthis paragraph allowed to remain operative. 370 *Invalid and Old-age[REPRESENTATIVES.] Pensions Bill* 1935. {: .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr CASEY: -- Sub-section 22 *h* was not an integral part of the provisions relating to property or contributions by relatives. It stands by itself. It has been embodied in our pensions acts in respect of invalid pensions almost since it was first introduced. It has been amended once or twice, but is now, I believe, in the actual verbiage of the original act. In 1932 a similar provision was introduced in" respect of oldage pensions. After full consideration of the matter, I regret that the Government cannot see its way clear to accept the amendment. {: #debate-36-s19 .speaker-KFK} ##### Sir LITTLETON GROOM:
DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND · PROT; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917; IND from 1931; UAP from 1934 -- Section 17 provides, in paragraph *fb,* that - >No person shall receive an old-age pension unless . . . his relatives, namely, husband, wife, father, mother or children do not either severally or collectively adequately maintain him. That provision means that at the time of application the potential pensioner was not being adequately maintained by his relatives, and was, therefore, entitled to a pension. There is no compulsion in the matter. If the relatives refused their support, he would be entitled to a pension. {: .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr Casey: -- There is no compulsion. {: #debate-36-s20 .speaker-KFK} ##### Sir LITTLETON GROOM: -- Other sections have been repealed because it was desired to dispense with the principle of compulsory contribution. If the child of a wealthy parent applies for a pension, there is no obligation on the department to grant it, because he or she is already adequately provided for. {: .speaker-009FQ} ##### Mr Curtin: -- The honorable member must recognize that if an invalid child is living with a parent who is in regular work at the basic wage, that parent is by law obliged to maintain the child, and the child cannot claim a pension. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Sir LITTLETON GROOM: -- It is a question of fact whether the applicant is being adequately maintained. This provision has been humanely administered by the department in the past. In one case that came under my notice the father was in receipt of what appeared to be a fair income, but a pension was applied for in respect of a child. At first it did not seem as if the pension would be granted, but when inquiries were made into the man's financial and family position, and his obligations, a case was placed before the Commissioner, who was satisfied that the man could not adequately maintain the child, and a pension was granted. Under the act the Commissioner is given discretion' in such cases. {: .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr Casey: -- The Commissioner has given instructions to Deputy Commissioners to exercise discretion in the same way. {: .speaker-KLL} ##### Mr Makin: -- In view of the fact that in another part of the act provision is made for calculating the income of an applicant whendetermining a pension, does the honorable member think that this paragraph is necessary? {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Sir LITTLETON GROOM: -- I do not think that affects the question, but I must confess that I am not particularly keen about it. However, if the parents, of their own free will, are adequately supporting their invalid child, there is no urgent need for a pension. {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr James: -- They would be doing an inhumane thing if they refused to keep the child. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Sir LITTLETON GROOM: -- If they are doing the humane thing, and have the means to do it- {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr James: -- Brat in many cases they have not the means. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Sir LITTLETON GROOM: -- Then it becomes a matter of administration, not of law, and a pension should be granted. {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr James: -- When I was inquiring into these cases, I found that the department regarded an income of £4 5s. a week as sufficient for the maintenance by a parent of his invalid child. {: .speaker-KFK} ##### Sir LITTLETON GROOM: -- I was interested in the cases cited by the honorable member, but I should like to hear the department's side of the question. {: #debate-36-s21 .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr CASEY:
Assistant Treasurer · Corio · UAP -- There is one feature of the liberalization of any legislation, and that is that it can be always further liberalized. In this bill the 'Government isgoing a long way to remove two important provisions of the act, and thereby give a substantial measure of relief. There must be certain provisions to protect the revenue against definite abuse. After eighteen months contact with him it is my definite opinion that the Commissioner generally administers the act sympathetically, though honorable members sometimes say that that is not so. I ask honorable members not to press these amendments because the Government* after having given them careful consideration, cannot see its way to accept them. {: #debate-36-s22 .speaker-L08} ##### Mr ROSEVEAR:
Dalley .- The Assistant Treasurer **(Mr. Casey)** said that these provisions were in the act to protect the revenue against abuse, and the honorable member for Darling Downs **(Sir Littleton Groom)** seems to think that their purpose is to prevent the children of wealthy parents from obtaining invalid pensions. As a matter of fact, it is not necessary for the parents to be wealthy for the department to refuse a pension. I have one case in mind which I have repeatedly brought before the department, and which I intend to persevere with until I get a ruling. It concerns a couple and their invalid daughter, an imbecile who is 30 years of age. The father's income consists of his superannuation pension of £14S a year. The department, when assessing the pension payable to the daughter, divides the father's income into three parts, and allots a third to each member of the family, so that the daughter is presumed to be receiving a third of £148. She is then given a pension sufficient to bring her assumed income up to £78 10s. a year. Actually she is receiving only a half pension. Under the Financial Emergency Act the permissible income of a pensioner couple is fixed at £156 a' year, which is £8 more than the income received by the father in the case I have quoted. The department was supplied by me with all the information relevant to the case, including the fact that the father, during the last, twelve months, has had three major operations, and was .preparing to undergo a fourth, while the mother had been for a considerable time an inmate of a hospital. Those facts were known to the Commissioner, because I made it my business to1 acquaint Mm with them. But even then: he would not alter his decision ; he stuck to his precious formula, under which be divided the father's income into three parts. He agreed, however, that if I could produce the bills for medical attention to the parents and the daughter, and evidence that money had been paid for assistance in the home, he would reconsider the case. I produced that evidence, and the Commissioner at last decided to grant the full pension. I maintain that he should have done so in the first instance. If this case is typical of others, then every invalid pensioner ii-: New South Wales, whose circumstances are similar, has been deprived *'.ti* his pension. The act is not being administered for the purpose of protecting the revenue against abuse, or of preventing wealthy people from allowing their children to become pensioners ; it is being administered in defiance of the financial emergency legislation, which gives the permissible income of the parents, from all sources, as £3 a week. I maintain that anything less than that amount should not be taken into account. When the income of a husband and wife falk below £3 a week the Pensions Department should not compel them to maintain an invalid child, either wholly or partly, particularly when that child is over 21 years of age. I am not telling the committee' a fairy story. The Minister has all the information in regard to these cases. From the Commissioner himself I ascertained the method adopted by the department. I asked whether these things were done by regulation, and he replied, " No ; i t is just the department's' method." There is nothing in the act to justify that action ; no regulation sanctions it. It is merely a formula decided upon by the pensions officials themselves, in defiance of the Pensions Act and of the financial emergency legislation. I am confident that, not one honorable member would' support the amendment of the honorable member for Hunter **(Mr. James)** if he thought that he Was doing something which would result in wealthy parents allowing their children to draw the pension. If the experience of the honorable member foi Hunter has been the same as mine - and' the particulars included in the Commissioner's letter are now in the hands of the Acting Treasurer - there is justification for tlie amendment which has been moved, and all honorable members ought to support this attempt to bring about *sr.* improvement of the position. The Minister said that the action taken by the department was actuated by a desire to prevent abuses. I challenge him to find as many persons who have abused the pensions law as we can find persons who have been deprived of their right to . pension by the operation of the scheme or regulation which is being enforced by the Pensions Department. There is protection for the department agains: the applicant for a pension whose parents can keep him; but there is no protection for other applicants. It is not a. matter of people abusing their privileges, but rather, is one of pensioners being robbed by the department. {: #debate-36-s23 .speaker-KZF} ##### Mr LANE:
Barton -- I do not see the necessity for section 17 *fb* for the reason that there is nothing to stop a parent from getting the pension, if he leaves his son's home. I have come across scores of cases in which parents could not get the pension while residing with their children, but there was nothing to prevent them from getting it if they lived in their own homes. I know of a nian who received £200 a year from his wealthy daughter in India, and, in addition, was paid £1 a week by the Pensions Department for years. Provision was made to prevent such things from being done. The law was amended, not because the children would not support their parents, but because the parents claimed the pension, although they were supported by their children. Section 22 raises an entirely different matter. I have in mind a case of a girl 31 years of age suffering from Parkinson's disease, whose parents have an income of only £4 5s. a week. Two other children are out of work. I appealed to *tho Commissioner* three times on their behalf, but without success. Like the honorable member for Melbourne Ports **(Mr. Holloway),** I cannot understand why the department regards as children invalids 21 years of age and over. I know of one case in which a parent whose income is £4 5s. a week is getting half payment for an invalid child, whereas another parent, with the same income, is refused a pension for a. child over * 21 years of age. I confess that the interpretation of these provisions by the department has always been puzzling to me. I have not encountered the same difficulty in connexion with old-age pensions. Should difficulty arise in the case of old-age pensioners, it is sufficient that they get into their own home for them to receive a pension. If they are not receiving sustenance from their children, nothing can prevent them from getting a pension; but the position is different in the case of invalids. In a *motor* accident some time ago a son 25 years of age became dependent on his parents, whose income was £4 5s. a week. It is unfair for the department to say that son was adequately supported by his parents. Being over 21 years of age, he should have been treated as an invalid for whom his parents were not responsible. According to our laws, a parent has no jurisdiction over a child after it has attained the age of 21 years. Why is it that a person over 21 years of age is regarded by the department as being adequately maintained by his parents, when that is not so? I was pleased to hear the case mentioned by the honorable member for Darling Downs **(Sir Littleton Groom),** and shall approach the department in the matter from the other angle of adequate maintenance in the home. I sometimes think the administration makes a differentiation between certain members of the House, because, apparently, some can get things done and others cannot. {: #debate-36-s24 .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr JAMES:
Hunter -- I regret that the Minister has not accepted the amendment, the arguments against which have been very weak. The Government has decided to repeal another section of the act, thus exempting people in affluent circumstances from, the obligation to contribute towards the pensions of their relatives, although a liberal allowance up to £312 a year was already made. In a letter which I have here, dated the 18th of this month, it is shown that the father's income is only £290 a year, yet his invalid son is refused a pension. The honorable member for Darling Downs **(Sir Littleton Groom)** said that there was no compulsion, but no parent w'ill order his child out of his house and refuse to keep him simply because he is not granted an invalid pension. Yet one infers that that is intended to he done. This boy at Greta is in such a state of health that he absolutely can only crawl about the floor. He is intelligent and well read, and said to me, " I am only an encumbrance on my parents. When my pension was refused me, my parents' income was £5 a week, and they have three other children - two sisters and a brother - to keep. The only property they had was the home in which they lived. They had a 5-acre piece of ground which they cultivated, but they could not afford to pay the rates of £1 ls. lOd. a year on it. They did not get a sufficient return from the citrus fruit they grew on it to pay the rates." I pleaded with the lad not to regard himself as an encumbrance, because his parents loved him, and his attitude would only cause them further unhappiness.' At one time, to test the assertion that if he were living somewhere else he could get the invalid pension, the boy went to a relative in Lang-street, Kurri Kurri, yet his pension was refused him there, because the father's income was considered adequate maintenance. Those are the facts, no matter how much the Commissioner may deny them. The father's income is now only £4 5s. a week. Under section 52m, £6 a week was allowed for a married couple and £50 for each child, and a liberal education allowance was made as well. That section is being repealed, yet the Government refuses to repeal section 17 *fb* and section 22 7?. The Government must have a motive, which is, I think, that very few people are affected by sections *17fb* and 22/t, whereas thousands are affected by section 52m. Very few votes are involved in the one ease, whereas thousands of children received those iniquitous questionnaires under section 52m. It is a scandalous shame that the Government, should refuse to do justice to a few poor people who have invalid children. The Government is callous and brutal in its administration, if it allows injustices like these to be inflicted without granting a remedy. The **CHAIRMAN (Mr. Prowse).Order** ! {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr Maxwell: -- Is the honorable member advocating these cases because votes are attached to them? {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr JAMES: -- I absolutely believe that the Government is agreeing to the repeal of section 52m because it affects so many votes. The department stated in the other case thai the father had a wife and no children under sixteen, apart from the claimant, to maintain, yet I am informed by the Mayor of Cessnock, **Mr. Johnny** Brown, who brought this case under my notice, that there are two other sons unemployed, who are not allowed to work for the dole because the father's income is above the limit fixed in the State of New South Wales. They, and the invalid child, and the husband and wife, have all to be maintained out of the £290 a year. There are so few cases of this kind that nobody makes a fuss about them, but a big hueandcry was raised about the questionnaire sent out to relatives under section 52m. Threats were made by some who were in affluent circumstances, including members of Parliament in New South Wales, absolutely challenging the Government to take them to court and compel them to pay, but the Government was not game to accept the challenge. I do not wish to give the impression that those people were not willing to contribute to their parents' support; they did that voluntarily, but they strongly objected to being forced to do it. Many of us would take up the same attitude. The Minister in his second reading speech said he was taking away the compulsory character of the act by repealing section 52m, yet he is actually imposing compulsion under sections 17 *fb* and 22 *h.* Therefore, if a father were callous enough to say to his invalid son - " Get out of my home ", the department would give him a pension ; but it forces an injustice upon the parent by reason of the love which he has for his son. Seeing that a disability of a larger number of pensioners is being removed, I appeal once again to the Minister to do justice to the smaller section in whose interests I am now pleading. The cost would not be more than £2,000 a year throughout the Commonwealth. 374 *Invalid and Old-age* [REPRESENTATIVES.] *Pensions Bill* 1935. {: #debate-36-s25 .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr CASEY:
Acting Treasurer · Corio · UAP -- The Government has considered this amendment, and regrets that it cannot accept it. Since we have a heavy programme ahead of us, I move - >That the question be now put. Motion agreed to. Question - That the amendment (Mr. James') be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. Prowse.) AYES: 24 NOES: 35 Majority . . . . 11 AYES NOES Question so resolved in the negative. Amendment negatived. Clause agreed to. Clause 3 - >Section twenty-two of the principal act in amended by omitting paragraph *(ga)* of subsection (1.) of that section. > > *Section proposed to be amended -* > >-- (1.) No person shall receive an invalid pension unless - (ga) *he has not, within the period of five years preceding the date of his pension claim, transferred otherwise than bona fide for valve, property of any hind exceeding in value in the aggregate the sum of One hundred pounds:* > > *Provided that if the claimant satisfies the Commissioner that any such transfer of property, though not made for value, was a reasonable gift in the circumstances existing at the time, the claimant shall not, by reason of that transfer, be ineligible for the grant of a pension;* > > *his relatives, namely, father, mother, husband, wife, or children, do not, either severally or collectively, adequately maintain him.* {: #debate-36-s26 .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr JAMES:
Hunter . -I move - >That after the letters " *(ga) "* the words and letter "and paragraph *(h) "* be inserted. The debate upon this matter took place on the last amendment. Iunderstand that some Government members have stated their preparedness to vote for this amendment, as it applies only to invalid pensioners. {: #debate-36-s27 .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr CASEY:
Acting Treasurer · Corio · UAP -- It is not necessary again to canvass the arguments of the Government, which, unfortunately, is unable to accept the amendment. I move - >That the question be now put. Motion agreed to. Question - That the amendment be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Prowse.) AYES: 25 NOES: 32 Majority . . 7 *Invalid and Old-age* [27 March, 1935.] *Pensions Bill* 1935. 375 AYES NOES Question so resolved in the negative. Amendment negatived. {: #debate-36-s28 .speaker-JPN} ##### Mr BLACKBURN:
Bourke .- I move - >That the following he added to the clause: - " and > >by adding at the end thereof the following sub-section : - (3.) For the purposes of an invalid pension, a person who is afflicted with a permanent injury or invalidity shall be regarded as permanently incapacitated, if, by reason of the nature of his injury or invalidityhe cannot reasonably be expected to maintain himself by his own labour,". Clearly the intention of the act was, that a man who by reason of permanent injury or disability was prevented from earning his own living should receive an invalid pension. But it has not been administered in that way. It appears to me that the administration gives the go-by to the words " for work ", which occur in one of the earlier sections, and says, " If, as a matter of fact, this person could do work if he could get it, he shall not be entitled to the invalid pension." I shall give two illustrations that have come within my personal knowledge of the way in which the section is applied. The first is the case of a man in a very advanced stage of consumption. He was told that he could work, that he was not totally and permanently incapacitated, and that he must apply for sustenance. The sustenance authorities rejected his claim, and said that his was a case for the benevolent societies. It is to these societies that a man is sent who is considered unfit to work for sustenance. He again applied for the invalid pension. I drew the attention of the department to the position that had been taken up by the sustenance authorities. The department said that it would take up the matter with them. It did so, with the result that the local foreman of the sustenance department suggested that, in order to save further trouble, he would place the man on his pay roll. The foreman says that he is incapable of doing any class of work. He attends the job every day, but merely potters about, and for this he draws sustenance. I think it was clearly the intention of the legislature that in such a case the man should have been granted an invalid pension. The difficulty is that the departmental doctor examines the man and says "I cannot certify that you are permanently and totally incapacitated, if you are able to undertake some class of work. After all you have two hands and two legs." Another case is that of an epileptic woman who was refusedan invalid pension because the doctor certified that she was not totally and permanently incapacitated. I suppose that if she were living in her own home, she would be able to do housework. But the woman could not get employment because no employer would know when these fits might come upon her. This woman has made repeated efforts to secure employment, but has been unable to do so. These persons, by reason of their invalidity, cannot reasonably be expected to maintain themselves by their own labour. My desire is to make the act express clearly the intention of the legislature. The amendment leaves to the Commissioner the decision of the matter. He takes into account all relevant circumstances, and if he decides that the applicant cannot be reasonably expected to maintain himself by his own labour as a result of his infirmity, he will grant the applicant an invalid pension. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- Would it not be wise to include the word "totally"? {: .speaker-JPN} ##### Mr BLACKBURN: -- The word " totally " does not appear in the act. The act uses the phrase, " permanently incapacitated for work". The word " totally " is introduced by regulation. It may be said that the intention of the legislature was that, as a condition pre cedent to the granting of a pension, a person should be permanently and totally incapacitated. I am concerned in putting into' effect the real intention of parliament. I think that formerly before the need for economy was impressed upon the Pensions Department the section was interpreted in this way, but with the pressing need for economy persons who, in the opinion of the departmental doctors, were capable of doing any work at all were excluded from eligibility for an invalid pension. I propose this amendment in the belief that it will give a new orientation to this part of the act. It is fair and reasonable and will give effect to the real intention of parliament. {: #debate-36-s29 .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr CASEY:
Acting Treasurer · Corio · UAP -- If the amendment of the honorable member for Bourke **(Mr. Blackburn)** were accepted, it would mean that the 'whole of the administration of the invalid pensions would be radically altered. The honorable member has clearly of design left out the word " totally ", because, obviously, he meant to cover cases not only of total invalidity, but also of some unspecified degree of partial invalidity. I submit to the committee that the honorable member's amendment brings into one's line of vision partial incapacity for work, and I suggest that if we once get into that field, the whole of the invalid pensions provisions will become unworkable, or will entail very heavy additional expenditure on the part of the Commonwealth Although it is very difficult to arrive at an estimate of what this additional expenditure would be, £1,000,000 is the lowest estimate, the upper limit, being about £2,000,000. The honorable member himself admitted that the acceptance of his amendment would mean taking economic considerations into account, including the location - whether town or country - in which the applicant resides. {: .speaker-JPN} ##### Mr Blackburn: -- I did not say that, and I do not admit it- {: .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr CASEY: -- Possibly the honorable member may not have used those exact words, but I gathered that to be his meaning. However, I say that it would be impossible to avoid considerations such as those I have mentioned if his amendment were accepted. For these and many other reasons it is regretted that the Government is unable to accept the amend ment, and I move - >That the question be now put. Motion - put. The committee divided. (Temporary Chairman - Mr. John Lawson.) AYES: 33 NOES: 24 Majority 9 AYES NOES Question so resolved in the affirmative. Question - That the amendment (Mr. Blackburn's) be agreed to - put. The committee divided. *Invalid and Old-age* [27 & 28 March, 1935.] *Pensions Bill* 1935. 377 (Temporary Chairman - **Mr. John** Lawson.) AYES: 24 NOES: 33 Majority . . 9 AYES NOES Question so resolved in the negative. Amendment negatived. *Thursday. 28 March. 1935.* Clause agreed to. Clause 4- - >All debts due to the Commissioneror the Commonwealth at the date of the commencement of this sectionunder the provisions of any of the sections repealed by this section are hereby cancelled. {: #debate-36-s30 .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY:
West Sydney -- I move - >That the following words be added to the clause: - " and any moneys received by virtue of any of such repealed sections shall be returned to the persons from whom such moneys were received." The acceptance of this amendment will make the provisions of the bill retrospective as from the date when these sections were incorporated in the act. They were inserted in October, 1932, but did not become operative until the 1st January, 1933. The amendment has been circulated sufficiently long for the Government to have given consideration to it. If it is carried,the Government will have no claim whatever on pensioners' property. The amount of money involved is insignificant compared with the measure of injustice that has been inflicted upon those who, perhaps, were without any means of making refunds, but voluntarily agreed to accept the demands of the Pensions Department. In isolated cases, persons upon whom demands were made were forced to raise the amount involved by way of mortgage on properties which had been left to them. As members of the Country party, and particularly their' leader, who is now Acting Prime Minister, were strongly opposed to the incorporation in the act of the provisions relating to the claims on the property of pensioners, we on this side can very well expect them now to support this amendment, the effect of which will be to make retrospective the repeal provisions of this bill. The amendment is entirely in accord with the spirit and intention of the Government in introducing this bill. One of the arguments advanced by the Minister responsiblefor the inclusion in the act of these provisions was that their effect would be to discourage applicants who, in other circumstances, might lodge claims for pensions. Because of the sentimental value attaching to the old home, many persons in every respect eligible for the pension resolved to suffer inconvenience and hardship rather than do anything to jeopardise their equity in the home. The Government has realized that the provisions then inserted in the act did not achieve their purpose, and were of no real value. Consequently, it has decided to repeal them. I, therefore, submit that is is not asking too much to make the repeal provisions retrospective. {: #debate-36-s31 .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr CASEY:
Acting Treasurer · Corio · UAP -- The amendment moved by the honorable member for West Sydney **(Mr. Beasley)** leads one first of all to consider the refunds that would have to be made under section 52 o, which provides for the recovery of pension payments after the 31st December, 1932, from pensioners who own property exceeding £400 in value. In some cases, claims made under this section related to winners of lottery prizes, or those who had received fairly considerable sums of money under wills. 'I am sure that honorable members would not suggest that the Government should not persist in its claims in respect of such cases. The principal section under discussion is, I think 52 e. I am glad to note a change of heart on the part of the honorable member for West Sydney **(Mr. Beasley).** Previously he suggested that the enactment of this section would involve considerable hardship. Now he claims that no cases of hardship were involved. I think the simplest plan for me is to state the amounts that were due to the Government' in respect of pensioners' property, and the amounts actually collected. An amount of £140,000 was claimable on the estates of pensioners, but only £42,000 was actually collected by the Government, £50,000 being in course of collection. The whole of the balance was either waived or arrangements were made for deferred or time payments. {: .speaker-KLL} ##### Mr Makin: -- What is the justification for retaining £42,000 when claims in respect of others are waived? {: .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr CASEY: -- The ' facts disclosed amply justify the attitude of the Government, which has been extremely liberal in its interpretation of the provisions relating to claims on pensioners' property. It collected money only in cases where the estates of pensioners could very well afford to pay without inflicting hardship upon relatives. In no case has the Government sold up any property of deceased pensioners. In more than 60 per cent, of the cases the Government has not insisted on its claims, ot it has allowed payments to he deferred in some way which will, in effect, result in the money not now being paid. {: .speaker-KK7} ##### Mr Jennings: -- Is it not a fact that, in some cases, pensioners had property valued at £5,000? {: .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr CASEY: -- Some estates were of considerable value. The number of claims made upon estates of deceased pensioners was 5,153, the number of claims waived or postponed was 1,785, and the number of claims paid wholly or in part was 2,040. {: #debate-36-s32 .speaker-K9A} ##### Mr GANDER: -- How much money was paid? {: .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr CASEY: -- I have already stated that the amount received by the Government was £42,090 out of a total of £140,000 claimable, so that when this bill is passed the Government will have waived its claim in respect of almost £100,000. In no case, in which the Government has insisted on its claim, has there been any suggestion of hardship. In those circumstances the Government regrets it is unable to make the repeal retrospective. {: #debate-36-s33 .speaker-K9A} ##### Mr GANDER:
Reid .The Minister said that there has never been any hardship inflicted on pensioners iri this matter and that the Government made a claim only in cases where people could afford to pay back the money. I have had a case of the death of an oldaged pensioner who had been insured for between £50 and £60, out of which, after funeral expenses amounting to £25 or £30, and other expenses, had been paid, his daughter, who was an invalid pensioner, had left only £9 10s., for which amount the Minister sent her a bill. Had that girl not had a good representative in this Parliament the Government would have taken that money. {: .speaker-KZF} ##### Mr Lane: -- The honorable member's case is not the only one of that kind. {: .speaker-K9A} ##### Mr GANDER: -- The honorable member for Barton **(Mr. Lane)** apparently has had cases of a similar character. Under this amendment we want the Minister to return the money in cases where people who have experienced hardship make an application to the Government for the return of what has been paid by them. In that request we will not include people who have won lotteries. {: #debate-36-s34 .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr CASEY:
Acting Treasurer · Corio · UAP .- - I ask honorable members not to be affected too much by the case brought forward by the honorable member for Reid **(Mr. Gander).** I *Invalid and Old age* [27 & 28 March, 1935.] *Pensions Bill* 1935. 379 would remind him, and I am sure he will admit it, that the case he refers to was one reported in the *Labor Daily,* the report being accompanied by an admirable inset photograph of the honorable member. In that case the Government did not make a demand as the honorable member claims. It merely presented a statement setting out the amount that was due to the Government and asking whether hardship was to be pleaded. Hardship was pleaded on the part of the person concerned, and, consequently, the Government made no claim on that estate. {: .speaker-K9A} ##### Mr Gander: -- Supposing the girl had paid the amount claimed, what would have happened then? {: .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr CASEY: -- I repeat that the Government did not send this girl a bill, but merely a statement setting out what was due, accompanied by the query I have mentioned. There is nothing further I can add on this subject. The Government very much regrets that it is unable to accept the proposed amendment to make the repeal retrospective. I move - >That the question be now put. Motion agreed to. Question - That the amendment (Mr. Beasley's) be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Prowse.) AYES: 26 NOES: 32 Majority . . 6 AYES NOES Question so resolved in the negative. Amendment negatived. Clause agreed to. Clause 5 agreed to. Clause 6 - (1.) Section fifty-two m of the principal act is repealed. (2.) This section shall be deemed to have commenced on the twenty-first day of June, One thousand nine hundred and thirty-four. (3.) All undertakings given pursuant to section fifty-two m of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act 1908-1932, or of section fifty-two m of that act as subsequently amended, and all orders made under that section, shall be deemed to have ceased to have effect on and from the twenty -first day of June, One thousand nine hundred and thirty-four. {: #debate-36-s35 .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY:
West Sydney -- I move - >That the following words be added to the clause " and any moneys received by virtue of the repealed section 52m shall be returned to the persons from whom such moneys were received ". As I have already indicated, I do not propose to discuss this amendment, for which I have already given reasons. Nor do I intend to divide the committee on it, because, judging by the last vote, it would be useless to do so. {: #debate-36-s36 .speaker-JNP} ##### Mr BAKER:
Griffith .I wish to deal briefly with a point raised from time to time with reference to the money received in the form of contributions by relatives. The reason given 380 *Invalid and Old-age* [REPRESENTATIVES.] *Pensions Bill* 1935. by the Government for the repeal of this provision has been stated to be that the cost of administration was unwarranted. I submit that that is incorrect. I contend that after having brought this legislation into operation the Government did not dare to enforce it. Honorable members on this side of the chamber opposed it from the outset, and consequently were not keen on its being brought into effect. We are pleased that that was not done; but it is only fair to state what has actually happened, and in order to do so I propose to quote from the AuditorGeneral's report of this year which bears out the point I have endeavoured to make on several different occasions during the past months in regard to relatives' contributions. The Auditor-General states - >The legislation, which came into force on the 13th October, 1932, contemplated both voluntary and compulsory contributions. There appears to have been delay in giving effect to Parliament's intention as regards these contributions. Little had been done when, in September. 19.33. the Commissioner of Pensions directed that investigations were to be confined to pensions granted since the 13th October, 1932. However, in March. 1934, the commissioner authorized a complete investigation, and this was in progress when in June, 1934, Cabinet decided to suspend the operation of the section. It has been stated in the press that the Government's effort to induce relatives of pensioners to contribute towards cost ofpensions were ineffectual, but when the operation of the section *was* suspended, preliminary investigations were far from complete and little, if anything, had been done to enforce compulsory contributions . . . Notwithstanding the delays in investigation, contributions amounting bo £2,345 were received during the year, and whan investigation ceased the approximate annual income from contributions was £6.433. A statement appeared in the press some months ago to the effect that only £6 had been collected; but the position was that this amount was collected only from persons who had been granted pensions prior to the 13th October, 1932. {: .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr Casey: -- Is the honorable member sure that he understands the position? {: .speaker-JNP} ##### Mr BAKER: -- Six pounds were collected from certain persons in receipt of pensions prior to the 13th October- {: .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr Casey: -- The honorable member knows what it means. {: .speaker-JNP} ##### Mr BAKER: -- I do. {: .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr Casey: -- Then the honorable member is trying to mislead the committee. {: .speaker-JNP} ##### Mr BAKER: -- The Minister is trying to do that. On several occasions he allowed a definite misstatement of facts to be published in the press throughout Australia. I asked questions from time to time, and it was only at the third attempt that I was able to obtain information to prove that I was right and that the Minister was wrong. The AuditorGeneral points out that when investigations ceased the approximate annual income from contributions was £6,433. I am not suggesting that we wish this legislation to be enforced, but that after passing it the Government did not dare to enforce it, and caused false and untrue statements to be published in the press throughout Australia. {: #debate-36-s37 .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr CASEY:
Acting Treasurer · Corio · UAP -- I am not disposed to enter into the usual controversy with the honorable member for Griffith **(Mr. Baker),** who has on two different occasions made the same accusations which I have answered in each instance. The amount which I previously stated was for a definite period, and was absolutely correct. I gave the honorable member the facts on more than one occasion. I, therefore, propose to ignore completely his juvenile remarks and to confine any further references I have to make to the amendment moved by the honorable member for West Sydney **(Mr. Beasley)** . {: .speaker-JNP} ##### Mr Baker: -- I ask that that remark be withdrawn. {: #debate-36-s38 .speaker-KYI} ##### The CHAIRMAN (Mr Prowse: -- As between the two honorable members, I think that honours are even. {: .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr CASEY: -- The honorable member for West Sydney will realize that the arguments which I adduced previously clause. The Government, therefore, apply with even greater force to this regrets that it cannot accept the amendment, and I move - >That the question be now put. *Invalid and Old-age* [27 & 28 March, 1935.] *Pensions Bill* 1935. 381 Motion - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr Prowse.) AYES: 32 NOES: 24 Majority . . . . 8 AYES NOES Question so resolved in the affirmative. Question- - That the amendment (Mr. Beasley's) be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Prowse.) AYES: 24 NOES: 32 Majority . . . . 8 AYES NOES Question so resolved in the negative. Amendment negatived. Clause agreed to. Title agreed to. Bill reported 'without amendment; report adopted. Thirdreading. {: #debate-36-s39 .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr CASEY:
Acting Treasurer · Corio · UAP -- I ask for. leave to move that the bill be now read a third time. Leave not granted. Motion (by **Mr. Casey)** put - >That the Standing Orders be suspended to enable the remaining stage to be passed without delay. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. J. Bell.) AYES: 32 NOES: 16 Majority . . 16 AYES NOES Question so resolved in the affirmative. Motion (by **Mr. Casey)** proposed - That the bill be now read a third time. {: #debate-36-s40 .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN:
Batman · UAP -- I desire to give the Acting Treasurer **(Mr. Casey)** a final opportunity to move the closure, inasmuch as I have not had an opportunity to discuss this bill at any stage. In principle, the bill is one with which the party of which I am a member naturally agrees, inasmuch' as its persistent agitation has resulted in this belated measure being brought before the House - a measure designed to remove a number of injustices heartlessly imposed by this Government upon the poorest people in the community. But it is a matter of great regret to me that the bill has been forced through in a manner which has prevented me from expressing the views which I strongly hold regarding the restitution of moneys to those persons who have already made payments to the Government, and by reason of their prompt payment are now penalized, whereas those who resisted the law are relieved from any further obligation. I make my protest on this third reading against the conditions which made it necessary, and against members having been denied an opportunity to discuss, it with a view to making it what it ought to be - a measure to make full restitution for the wrong which this Government has done to invalid and old-age pensioners. With that protest, I leave the matter, and I do not thank the Minister for having at this late hour taken the final opportunity to prevent members on this side from expressing their views. Question resolved in the affirmative. Bil] read a third' time. {: .page-start } page 382 {:#debate-37} ### ADJOURNMENT {:#subdebate-37-0} #### King's Jubilee Medal {: #subdebate-37-0-s0 .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
Acting Prime Minister · Cowper · CP -- I move - >That the House do now adjourn. I take this opportunity to answer a question put to me earlier in this sitting by the honorable member for Watson **(Mr. Jennings)** without notice, regarding the purchase and distribution by the Commonwealth Government of the King's Jubilee medal to children in Australia. I told the honorable member that I would make a statement setting gut the facts in regard to it. I now wish to inform the honorable member that the Government has not purchased, nor does it intend to purchase, any King's Jubilee medals for distribution to the children of Australia. In addition to a medal which will be struck in England for official distribution by His Majesty in commemoration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of his accession to the throne, His Majesty has approved of medals, with Their Ma jesties' effigy on the obverse side and a view of Windsor Castle on the reverse side, being struck by the Royal Mint, London, for sale to the public-. These medals are of two sizes, and the Royal Mint, London, has arranged to make available quantities for sale in Australia through the Melbourne and Perth Mints at prices of 25s. and 3s. respectively. Question resolved in the affirmative. House adjourned at 12.52 a.m. (Thursday). {: .page-start } page 382 {:#debate-38} ### ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS *The following answers to questionswere circulated: -* {:#subdebate-38-0} #### Foreign Subsidized Shipping: Empire Policy {: #subdebate-38-0-s0 .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr Francis: s asked the Minister for Commerce, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. During the Ottawa Conference, was it resolved that all Empire committee should meet to recommend a policy for. dealing with' foreign subsidized shipping? 1. Has such an Empire committee been constituted; if so, what ' was the policy decided upon? 2. If it ha-s not been constituted, what action is the Commonwealth Government taking toensure that such a conference is called? {: #subdebate-38-0-s1 .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr Earle Page:
CP -- The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. During the Ottawa. Conference it was arranged that Empire representatives would meet again in London for the purpose of discussing foreign shipping competition. 1. Empire representatives have met frequently to discuss the matter referred to. No change in policy has so far been decided upon. 2. See answer to No. 1. Migration : Recommendations from Imperial Government. {: #subdebate-38-0-s2 .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr Ward: d asked the Acting Prime Minister, *upon notice* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Have the recommendations of the interdepartmental committee, set up by the Imperial Government to inquire into the question of migration, been forwarded to the Commonwealth Government for the expression of an opinion thereon? 1. If so, will he inform the House as to the contents of the reply forwarded to the Government of Great Britain? {: #subdebate-38-0-s3 .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr Earle Page:
CP -- The answer to the honorable member's questions are as follows:- {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Yes. 1. No communication has been sent by the Commonwealth Government in reply. Unemployment Belief. {: #subdebate-38-0-s4 .speaker-JTY} ##### Mr ARCHIE CAMERON:
BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · CP; LP from 1944; LCL from 1951; LP from 1954 n asked the Acting Prime Minister, *upon notice-* >What was the amount per person allowed for unemployment relief : in each State of the Commonwealth on 1st July, 1931, 1st July, 1933, and 1st July, 1934? {: #subdebate-38-0-s5 .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr Earle Page:
CP -- A statement in regard to the position existing in the various States at 1st July, 1931. has been prepared from information obtained from the State governments in that year. Since that date the Commonwealth Statistician has published information on the subject in Labour ReportsNos, 22, 23, and 24. The statement and publications referred to arebeing placed on the table of the Library for the information of the honorable member. If the particulars contained therein are not sufficient for his purposes, I shall be glad, on receipt of an intimation from him, to communicate with the governments of the States with a view to obtaining any additional information which may be required. {:#subdebate-38-1} #### Crimes Act 1914-1932: Treason and Sedition {: #subdebate-38-1-s0 .speaker-JTY} ##### Mr ARCHIE CAMERON:
BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · CP; LP from 1944; LCL from 1951; LP from 1954 n asked the Minister representing the Acting AttorneyGeneral, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Has there been in force a law to punish persons guilty of treason; sedition, and incitement to sedition, since 1st January, 1920? 1. Has that law been in force without a break ? 2. Does that law apply to editors and publishers of newspapers, magazines, and periodicals? {: #subdebate-38-1-s1 .speaker-DQC} ##### Mr Hughes:
UAP -- The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. The crime of treason was provided for in the original Crimes Act of 1914. The provisions relating to seditious enterprises were included in that act in 1920. Section 24c deals with incitement to sedition. That section provides that any person who counsels, advises or attempts to procure the carrying out of a seditious enterprise shall be guilty of an indictable offence. 1. Yes. 2. Yes. Section24d ( 1 ) of the Crimes Act 1914-1932 provides that any person who prints or publishes any seditious words shall be guilty of an indictable offence. Proposal for Naval Base at Hobart. {: #subdebate-38-1-s2 .speaker-KLC} ##### Mr Mahoney: y asked the Minister for Defence, *upon notice -* >Will he lay on the table of the House all papers in connexionwith the proposal for the establishment of a naval base at Hobart in connexion with the defence of Australia? {: #subdebate-38-1-s3 .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr Archdale Parkhill:
UAP -- The proposal for the establishment of a destroyer subbase and a submarine subbase at Hobart is contained in Admiral Henderson's report of 1911. This report was made a parliamentary paper in that year, and may be perused in the Parliamentary Library. There is no file of papers on this subject, as the proposal was never adopted. {:#subdebate-38-2} #### Appointment of Peace Officers {: #subdebate-38-2-s0 .speaker-JVJ} ##### Mr Mulcahy:
LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES y asked the Minister for Defence, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Is it a fact, as reported in the Melbourne press, that the Government has decided to appoint a corps of special federal police officers in Victoria for the purpose of replacing civilian watchmen at barracks and munition establishments ? 1. Is it a fact that both uniformed and plain clothes men are to be appointed to this body? 384 *Answers to* [REPRESENTATIVES.] *Questions.* 2. if the report is correct, is it proposed to appoint similar bodies in other States; what is the proposed strength of the force, a nd what is the Government's object? 3. Will the Minister make a full statement to the House concerning the matter? {: #subdebate-38-2-s1 .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr Archdale Parkhill:
UAP -- The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. The Government has not decided to establish a corps of federal police officers for the purposes indicated, but to appoint as peace officers under the Commonwealth Pence Officers Act practically all the civilian watchmen employed at certain munition establishments and at Victoria Barracks. Melbourne. 1. The persons no appointed will be provided with uniforms. 3 and 4. Peace officers will be employed in Victoria (at munition establishments and at Victoria Barracks) and at the Small Arms Factory. Lithgow.It is not proposed at the present time to alter the existing system of protecting government property in other States. Thirty-nine men are affected by the present change-over. The alteration was considered necessary in the interests of efficiency and for the greater safety and protection of valuable government property. War Service Homes. {: #subdebate-38-2-s2 .speaker-KIO} ##### Mr Hunter:
CP r. - On the 20th March, the honorable member for Reid **(Mr. Gander)** asked the following question, *without notice -* >Will the Minister administering the War Service Homes Department find out how many purchasers of war service homes have been taken to court during the last twelve months? I am now in a position to advise him that 229 warrants of possession were obtained during the last twelve months. Of this number 210 purchasers could make payments, but . 19 declined to do so. As to the balance, 111 of these purchasers made satisfactory arrangements for payments in the future and these warrants were thereupon cancelled. In 19 cases the purchasers were hopelessly involved, and had no reasonable prospect of completing the contract which they had entered into. {:#subdebate-38-3} #### Australia's Gold Reserve {: #subdebate-38-3-s0 .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr Casey:
UAP y. - On the 14th March, the honorable member for D alley **(Mr. Rosevear)** asked the following questions, *upon notice: -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. What amount of Australia's gold reserve has beenconverted to date into British sterling under the powers conferred by the CommonwealthBank Act1932? 1. With the phenomenal increase in gold prices and the depreciation of British sterling, what has been the resultant loss to Australia through the transaction? 2. What amount of gold reserve remains in Australia ? The following information has been furnished by the Commonwealth Bank : - >Practically all of the gold reservehas been sold and is now held in English sterling. The resultant premium was £3,894,904 13s. fid. English. {:#subdebate-38-4} #### Australian Tobacco Industry {: #subdebate-38-4-s0 .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White:
UAP e. - On the 22nd March, the honorable member for Echuca **(Mr. McEwen)** asked the following questions, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. . What is the present rate per lb. of excise upon tobacco, and what has it been during the three previous financial years? 1. What was the total sum collected as excise upon tobacco during each of the last three financial years? 2. How much of this has been collected in each year upon Australian-grown leaf? 3. Can he give an estimate of the expected excise collections from imported and Australiangrown leaf for the current financial year ? 4. What was the number of registered growers in Australia for each of the years 1930, 1931, 1932, 1933. 1934 and for the present year? 5. What was the total amount of Australiangrown tobacco in the years 1929, 1930, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1934 and what is the estimated amount for the present year? 6. What amount of tobacco produced in any of the years from 1930 to 1934 still remains unsold throughout Australia? 7. If the information in paragraph 7 is not available, what was the amount of Australiangrown tobacco sold in each of the Years 1931, 1932,1933 and 1934? 8. What would be the loss of revenue if the excise on Australian-grown leaf produced in the years 1932, 1933 and 1934 had been1s. *per* lb. less than the rate applying during those years? I am now able to furnish the honorable member with the following information : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Present rate, 4s. 6d. per lb. 1931-32, 2s. 4d. per lb. (1st July, 1931, to 25th February. 1932). 4s.6d. per lb. (20th February to 30th . June, 1932). 1932-33, 4s.6d. per lb. 1933-34, 4s. (6d. per lb. 1. On manufactured tobacco (excluding cigarettesand cigars) - *Answers to[27* & 28 March, 1935.] *Questions.* 385 {: type="1" start="3"} 0. Excise duty is chargeable on manufactured tobacco irrespective of whether Australian or imported leaf is used in its production. An estimate of the excise duty collected on manufactured tobacco produced from Australian-grown leaf (including duty on the added matter) is as follows: - 1931 -32 - Not determinable owing to different rates applying during the period. 1932-33- £709.500. 1933-34- £805,500. {: type="1" start="4"} 0. The budget estimate for 1934-35 of excise collection on manufactured tobacco is £3,200,000. On present indications it is estimated that manufactured tobacco produced from Australianleaf, including added matter, will contribute approximately £886.000 to the excise revenue. {: type="1" start="7"} 0. Information not available. 1. 1031-32.not available. 1032-33, approximately 11,000,000 lb. (largelyout of 1931 -32 crop.) 1933-34, 0,206,103 lb. (includes largely purchase of leaf out of 1932-33 crop). 1034-35, (up to end of December, 1934), 3,102,421 lb. (largely out of 1033-34 crop). 2. Provided the reduction in excise duty had not brought about the use of greater quantities of Australian-grown leaf than were actually used during these years, the estimated loss of revenue by a reduction of1s. per lb. on manufactured tobacco (including added matter) produced from Australian-grown leaf would have been - {:#subdebate-38-5} #### Customs Tariff {: #subdebate-38-5-s0 .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White:
UAP e. - On the 15th March, the honorable member for Caprieornia **(Mr. Forde)** asked the following questions, upon *notice : -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. How many items and/or sub-items of theCustoms Tariff have been - (a) reduced, and (b) increased, since6th January, 1932! 1. How many items and/or sub-items of the Customs Tariff have been - (a) reduced, and (b) increased, since the Ottawa agreement was passed in 1932, and bow many of the increases on foreign imports were for the purpose of giving to imports from the United Kingdom preference under the Ottawa agreement? 2. What was the average increase on foreign imports for the purposes of the Ottawa agreement? 3. How many - (a) prohibitions, and (b) surcharges, have been removed since6th January, 1932? I am now able to furnish the honorable member with the following information : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. (a)926 under the British Preferential Turin", and 273 under the General Tariff; (b) 28 under the British Preferential Tariff, and 403 under the General Tariff. 2. (a) 857 under the British Preferential Tariff, and 214 under the General Tariff; (b) 18 under the British Preferential Tariff, and 393 under the General Tariff. The present General Tariff rates are higher on account of Ottawa in 362 instances, of which 357 relate to ad valorem duties. {: type="1" start="3"} 0. Six and a half per cent, ad valorem. 4. (a) 78; (b) 74. Trade With India. {: #subdebate-38-5-s1 .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr Earle Page:
CP e. - On the 22nd March, the honorable member for Boothby **(Mr. Price)** asked the following questions, *uponnotice: -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. What efforts have been made to exploit markets in India for Australian citrus fruits? 1. What steps (if any) have been taken to overcomethe absence of direct shipping to ports in India, with the question of refrigeration and space? I am now in a position to furnish the following reply : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. The market for citrus fruits in India was investigated by the Department of Commerce during 1932, when the possibilities were brought to the notice of Australian exporters. There is a limited market available in India for oranges, lemons, and grape fruit. Australian exporters have not participated in the trade to any extent, owing to intensive competition in these markets, supplies being obtained from South Africa, Rhodesia, Palestine, Spain, United States of America, and Japan. The absence of direct shipping facilities between Australian ports and ports on the Bay of Bengal also hindered exporters in their efforts to participate. 1. The absence of adequate shipping facilities between Australia and ports on the Bay of Bengal was recently the subject of an investigationby the department. This question has been planed on the agenda for the meeting ofthe Federal Advisory Committee on Eastern Trade tobe held in Sydney next month, when it is intended to invite representatives of shipping interests to confer with members of the committee with a view to arriving ata satisfactory solution of this problem.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 27 March 1935, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.